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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 19

At that time, as he was returning home from his conquest through the Orkney islands, he found thirty ships full of men and women; and upon his inquiring of them the occasion of their coming thither, their leader, named Partholoim, approached him in a respectful and submissive manner, and desired pardon and peace, telling him that he had been driven out of Spain, and was sailing round those seas in quest of a habitation. He also desired some small part of Britain to dwell in, that they might put an end to their tedious wanderings; for it was now a year and a half since he had been driven from his country, all of which time he and his company had been out at sea. When Gurgiunt Brabtruc understood that they came from Spain, and were called Barclenses, he granted their petition, and sent men with them to Ireland, which was then wholly uninhabited, and assigned it to them. There they grew up and increased in number, and have possessed that island to this very day. Gurgiunt Brabtruc after this ended his days in peace, and was buried in the City of Legions, which, after his father’s death, he ornamented with buildings and fortified with walls.

Chapter 13. Guithelin, reigning after Gurgiunt Brabtruc, the Martian law is instituted by Martia, a noble woman.

After him Guithelin wore the crown, which he enjoyed all his life, treating his subjects with mildness and affection. He had for his wife a noble lady named Martia, accomplished in all kinds of learning. Among many other admirable productions of her wit, she was the author of what the Britons call the Martian law. This also among other things king Alfred translated, and called it in the Saxon tongue, _a Marchitle Lage. Upon the death of Guithelin, the government of the kingdom remained in the hands of this queen and her son Sisilius, who was then but seven years old, and therefore unfit to take the government upon himself alone.

Chapter 14. Guithelin’s successors in the kingdom.

For this reason the mother had the sole management of affairs committed to her, out of a regard to her great sense and judgment. But on her death, Sisilius took the crown and government. After him reigned Kimarus his son, to whom succeeded Danius his brother. After his death the crown came to Morvidus, whom he had by his concubine Tangustela. He would have been a prince of extraordinary worth, had he not been addicted to immoderate cruelty, so far that in his anger he spared nobody, if any weapon were at hand. He was of a graceful aspect, extremely liberal, and of such vast strength as not to have his match in the whole kingdom.

Chapter 15. Morvidus, a most cruel tyrant, after the conquest of the king of the Morini, is devoured by a monster.

In his time a certain king of the Morini arrived with a great force in Northumberland, and began to destroy the country. But Morvidus, with all the strength of the kingdom, marched out against him, and fought him. In this battle he alone did more than the greatest part of his army, and after the victory, suffered none of the enemy to escape alive. For he commanded them to be brought to him one after another, that he might satisfy his cruelty in seeing them killed; and when he grew tired of this, he gave orders that they should be flayed alive and burned. During these and other monstrous acts of cruelty, an accident happened which put a period to his wickedness. There came from the coasts of the Irish sea, a most cruel monster, that was continually devouring the people upon the sea-coasts. As soon as he heard of it, he ventured to go and encounter it alone; when he had in vain spent all his darts upon it, the monster rushed upon him, and with open jaws swallowed him up like a small fish.

Chapter 16. Gorbonian, a most just king of the Britons.

He had five sons, whereof the eldest, Gorbonian, ascended the throne. There was not in his time a greater lover of justice and equity, or a more careful ruler of the people. The performance of due worship to the gods, and doing justice to the common people, were his continual employments. Through all the cities of Britain, he repaired the temples of the gods, and built many new ones. In all his days, the island abounded with riches, more than all the neighbouring countries. For he gave great encouragement to husbandman in their tillage, by protecting them against any injury or oppression of their lords; and the soldiers he amply rewarded with money, so that no one had occasion to do wrong to another. Amidst these and many other acts of his innate goodness, he paid the debt of nature, and was buried at Trinovantum.

Chapter 17. Arthgallo is deposed by the Britons and is succeeded by Elidure, who restores him again his kingdom.

After him Arthgallo, his brother, was dignified with the crown, and in all his actions he was the very reverse of his brother. He everywhere endeavoured to depress the nobility, and advance the baser sort of the people. He plundered the rich, and by those means amassed vast treasures. But

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