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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 30

readily executed his orders with great bravery, and made a violent assault upon the city, the walls of which were in a very short time battered down, and a passage made into it. After these preparations, they began a bloody assault upon the Romans, who, seeing their fellow soldiers falling before them without intermission, persuaded Gallus to offer a surrender on the terms of having quarter granted them, and leave to depart: for they were now all killed except one legion, which still held out, Gallus consented to the proposal, and accordingly surrendered himself and his men to Asclepiodotus, who was disposed to give them quarter; but he was prevented by a body of Venedotians, who rushed upon them, and the same day cut off all their heads upon a brook within the city, which from the name of the commander was afterwards called in the British tongue Nautgallim, and in the Saxon Gallembourne.

Chapter 5. Asclepiodotus obtains the crown. Diocletian’s massacre of the Christians in Britain.

The Romans being thus defeated, Asclepiodotus, with the consent of the people, placed the crown upon his own head, and governed the country in justice and peace ten years, and curbed the insolence and outrages committed by plunderers and robbers. In his days began the persecution of the emperor Diocletian; and Christianity, which from the time of king Lucius had continued fixed and undisturbed, was almost abolished over the whole island. This was principally owing to Maximianus Herculius, general of that tyrant’s army, by whose command all the churches were pulled down, and all the copies of the Holy Scriptures that could be found, were burned in the public markets. The priests who, with the believers under their care, were put to death, and with emulation pressed in crowds together for a speedy passage to the joys of heaven, as their proper dwelling place. God therefore magnified his goodness to us, forasmuch as he did, in that time of persecution, of his mere grace, light up the bright lamps of the holy martyrs to prevent the spreading of gross darkness over the people of Britain; whose sepulchres and places of suffering might have been a means of inflaming our minds with the greatest fervency of divine love, had not the deplorable impiety of barbarians deprived us of them. Among others of both sexes who continued firm in the army of Christ, and suffered, were Alban of Verulam, and Julius and Aaron, both of the City of Legions. Of these, Alban, out of the fervour of his charity, when his confessor, Amphibalus, was pursued by the persecutors, and just ready to be apprehended. first hid him in his house, and then offered himself to die for him imitating in this Christ himself, who laid down his life for his sheep. The other two, after being torn limb from limb, in a manner unheard of, received the crown of martyrdom, and were elevated up to the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem.

Chapter 6. An insurrection against Asclepiodotus, by Coel, whose daughter Helena Constantius marries.

In the, meantime Coel, duke of Kaercolvin or Colchester, made an insurrection against king Asclepiodotus, and in a pitched battle, killed him, and took possession of his crown. The senate, hearing this, rejoiced at the king’s death, who had given such disturbance to the Roman power and reflecting on the damage which they had sustained by the loss of this kingdom, they sent Constantius the senator, a man of prudence. and courage, who had reduced Spain under their subjection, and who was above all the rest industrious to promote the good of the commonwealth. Coel, having information of his coming, was afraid to engage him in battle, on account of a report, that no king was able to stand before him. Therefore, as soon as Constantius was arrived at the island, Coel sent ambassadors to him with offers of peace and submission, on condition that he should enjoy the kingdom of Britain, and pay no more than the usual tribute to the Roman state. Constantius consented to this propose and so upon their giving hostages, peace was confirmed between them. The month after Coel was seized with a very great sickness, of which he died within eight days. After his decease, Constantius himself was crowned, and married the daughter of Coel, whose name was Helena. She surpassed all the ladies of the country in beauty, as she did all others of the time in her skill in music and the liberal arts. Her father had no other issue to succeed him on the throne; for which reason he was very careful about her education, that she might be better qualified to govern the kingdom. Constantius, therefore, having made her partner of his bed, had a son by her called Constantine. After eleven years were expired, he died at York, and bestowed the kingdom upon his son, who, within a few years after he was raised to this dignity, began to give proofs of heroic virtue, undaunted courage, and strict observance of justice towards his people. He put a stop to the depredations of robbers, suppressed the insolence of tyrants, and endeavoured everywhere to restore peace.

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