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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 31

Chapter 7. The Romans desire Constantine’s assistance against the cruelty of Maxentius.

At that time there was a tyrant at Rome, named Maxentius, who made it his endeavour to confiscate the estates of all the best of the nobility, and oppressed the commonwealth with his grievous tyranny. Whilst he, therefore, was proceeding in his cruelty, those that were banished fled to Constantine in Britain and were honourably entertained by him. At last, when a great many such had resorted to him, they endeavoured to raise in him an abhorrence of the tyrant, and frequently expostulated with him after this manner: “How long, Constantine, will you suffer our distress and banishment? Why do you delay to restore us to our native country? You are the only person of our nation that can restore to us what we have lost, by driving out Maxentius. For what prince is to be compared with the king of Britain, either for brave and gallant soldiers, or for large treasures? We entreat you to restore us to our estates, wives, and children, by conducting us with an arm to Rome.”

Chapter 8. Constantine, having reduced Rome, obtains the empire of the world. Octavius, duke of the Wisseans, is put to flight by Trahern.

Constantine, moved with these and the like speeches, made an expedition to Rome, and reduced it under his power, and afterwards obtained the empire of the whole world. In this expedition he carried along with him three uncles of Helena, viz. Leolin, Trahern, and Marius, and advanced them to the degree of senators. In the meantime Octavius, duke of the Wisseans, rebelled against the Roman proconsuls, to whom the government of the island had been committed, and having killed them, took possession of the throne. Constantine, upon information of this, sent Trahern, the uncle of Helena, with three legions to reduce the island. Trahern came to shore near the city, which in the British tongue is called Kaerperis, and having assailed it, took it in two days. This news spreading over the whole country, king Octavius assembled all the forces of the land, and went to meet him not far from Winchester, in a field called in the British tongue Maisuriam, where he engaged with him in battle, and routed him. Trahern, upon this loss, betook himself with his broken forces to his ships, and in them made a voyage to Albania, in the provinces of which he made great destruction. When Octavius received intelligence of this, he followed him with his forces, and encountered him in Westmoreland, but fled, having lost the victory. On the other hand, Trahern, when he found the day was his own, pursued Octavius, nor ever suffered him to be at rest till he had dispossessed him both of his cities and crown. Octavius, in great grief for the loss of his kingdom, went with his fleet to Norway, to obtain assistance from king Gombert. In the meantime he had given orders to his most intimate adherents to watch carefully all opportunities of killing Trahern, which accordingly was not long after done by the magistrate of a certain privileged town, who had a more than ordinary love for him. For as Trahern was one day upon a journey, from London, he lay hid with a hundred men in the vale of a wood, through which he was to pass, and there fell upon him unawares, and killed him in the midst of his men. This news being brought to Octavius, he returned back to Britain, where he dispersed the Romans, and recovered the throne. In a short time after this, he arrived to such greatness and wealth that he feared nobody and possessed the kingdom until the reign of Gratian and Valentinian.

Chapter 9. Maximian is desired for a king of Britain.

At last, in his old age, being willing to settle the government, he asked his council which of his family they desired to have for their king after his decease. For he had no son, and only one daughter, to whom he could leave the crown. Some, therefore, advised him to bestow his daughter with the kingdom upon some noble Roman, to the end that they might enjoy a firmer peace. Others were of opinion that Conan Meriadoc, his nephew, ought to be preferred to the throne, and the daughter married to some prince of another kingdom with a dowry in money. While these things were in agitation among them, there came Caradoc, duke of Cornwall, and, gave his advice to invite over Maximian the senator, and to bestow the lady with the kingdom upon him, which would be a means of securing to them a lasting peace. For his father Leolin, the uncle of Constantine, whom we mentioned before, was a Briton, but by his mother and place of birth he was a Roman, and by both parents he was descended of royal blood. And there was a sure prospect of a firm and secure peace under him, on account of the right which he had to Britain by his descent from the emperors. and also from the British blood. But the duke of Cornwall, by delivering this advice, brought upon himself the displeasure of Conan, the king’s nephew, who was very ambitious of succeeding to the kingdom, and put the whole court into confusion about it. However, Caradoc,

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