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Geoffrey of Monmouth History of the Kings of Britain

 
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Geoffrey of Monmouth
History of the Kings of Britain
page 17



When he had thus gained universal affection, he began to consult with himself how he might take revenge upon his brother Belinus. And when he had signified his intentions concerning it to his subjects, they unanimously concurred with him, and expressed their readiness to attend him to whatever kingdom he pleased to conduct them. He therefore soon raised a vast army, and having entered into a treaty with the Gauls for a free passage through their country into Britain, fitted out a fleet upon the coast of Neustria, in which he set sail, and with a fair wind arrived at the island. Upon hearing the rumour of his coming, his brother Belinus, accompanied with the whole strength of the kingdom, marched out to engage him. But when the two armies were drawn out in order of battle, and just ready to begin the attack, Conwenna, their mother, who was yet living, ran in great haste through the ranks, impatient to see her son, whom she had not seen for a long time. As soon, therefore, as she had with trembling steps reached the place where he stood, she threw her arms about his neck, and in transports kissed him; then uncovering her bosom, she addressed herself to him, in words interrupted with sighs, to this effect:— “My son, remember these breasts which gave you suck, and the womb wherein the Creator of all things formed you, and from whence he brought you forth into the world, while endured the greatest anguish. By the pains then which I suffered for you, I entreat you to hear my request: pardon your brother, and moderate your anger. You ought not to revenge yourself upon him who has done you no injury. As for what you complain of, that you were banished your country by him, if you duly consider the result, in strictness can it be called injustice? He did not banish you to make your condition worse, but forced you to quit a meaner that you might attain a higher dignity. At first you enjoyed only a part of a kingdom, and that in subjection to your brother. As soon as you lost that, you became his equal, by gaining the kingdom of the Allobroges. What has he then done, but raised you from a vassal to be a king? Consider farther, that the difference between you began not through him, but through yourself, who, with the assistance of the king of Norway, raised an insurrection against him.” Moved by these representations of his mother, he obeyed her with a composed mind, and putting off his helmet of his own accord, went straight with her to his brother. Belinus, seeing him approach with a peaceable countenance, threw down his arms, and ran to embrace him; so that now, without more ado, they again became friends; and disarming their forces marched with them peaceably together to Trinovantum. And here, after consultation what enterprise to undertake, they prepared to conduct their confederate army into the province of Gaul, and reduce that entire country to their subjection.

Chapter 8. Belinus and Brennius, after the conquest of Gaul, march with their army to Rome.

They accordingly passed over into Gaul the year after, and began to lay waste that country. The news of which spreading through those several nations, all the petty kings of the Franks entered into a confederacy, and went out to fight against them. But the victory falling to Belinus and Brennius, the Franks fled with their broken forces; and the Britons and Allobroges, elevated with their success, ceased not to pursue them till they had taken their kings, and reduced them to their power. Then fortifying the cities which they had taken, in less than a year they brought the whole kingdom into subjection. At last, after a reduction of all the provinces, they marched with their whole army towards Rome, and destroyed the cities and villages as they passed through Italy.

Chapter 9. The Romans make a covenant with Brennius,but afterwards break it, for which reason Rome is besieged and taken by Brennius.

In those days the two consuls of Rome were Gabius and Porsena, to whose care the government of the country was committed. When they saw that no nation was able to withstand the power of Belinus and Brennius, they came, with the consent of the senate to them, to desire peace and amity. They likewise offered large presents of gold and silver, and to pay a yearly tribute, on condition that they might be suffered to enjoy their own in peace. The two kings therefore, taking hostages of them, yielded to their petition, and drew back their forces into Germany. While they were employing their arms in harassing that people, the Romans repented of their agreement, and again taking courage, went to assist the Germans. This step highly enraged the kings against them, who concerted measures how to carry on a war with both nations. For the greatness of the Italian army was a terror to them. The result of their council was, that Belinus with the Britons stayed in Germany, to engage with the enemy there; while Brennius and his army marched to Rome, to revenge on the Romans their breach of treaty. As soon as the Italians perceived their design, they quitted the Germans, and hastened to get before Brennius, in his march to Rome. Belinus had intelligence of it, and speedily marched with his army the same


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