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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 32

being unwilling to recede from his proposal, sent his son Mauricius to Rome to acquaint Maximian with what had passed. Mauricius was a person of large and well-proportioned stature, as well as great courage and boldness, and could not bear to have his judgment contradicted without a recourse to arms and duelling. On presenting himself before Maximian, he met with a reception suitable to his quality, and had the greatest honours paid him of any that were about him. There happened to be at that time a great contest between Maximian and the two emperors, Gratian and Valentinian, on account of his being refused the third part of the empire, which he demanded. When, therefore, Mauricius saw Maximian ill-treated by the emperors, he took occasion from thence to address him in this manner: “Why need you, Maximian, stand in fear of Gratian, when you have so fair an opportunity of wresting the empire from him? Come with me into Britain, and you shall take possession of that crown. For king Octavius, being now grown old and infirm, desires nothing more than to find some such proper person, to bestow his kingdom and daughter upon. He has no male issue, and therefore has asked the advice of his nobility, to whom he should marry his daughter with the kingdom: and they to his satisfaction have past a decree, that the kingdom and lady be given to you, and have sent me to acquaint you with it. So that if you go with me, and accomplish this affair, you may with the treasure and forces of Britain be able to return back to Rome, drive out the emperors, and gain the empire to yourself. For in this manner did your kinsman Constantius, and several others of our kings who raised themselves to the empire.

Chapter 10. Maximian, coming into Britain, artfully declines fighting with Conan.

Maximian was pleased with the offer, and took his journey to Britain; but in his way subdued the cities of the Franks by which he amassed a great treasure of gold and silver, and raised men for his service in all parts. Afterwards he set sail with a fair wind, and arrived at Hamo’s Port; the news of which struck the king with fear and astonishment, who took this to be a hostile invasion. Whereupon he called to him his nephew Conan, and commanded him to raise all the forces of the kingdom, and go to meet the enemy. Conan, having made the necessary preparations, marched accordingly to Hamo’s Port, where Maximian had pitched his tents who upon seeing the approach of so numerous an army, was under the greatest perplexities what course to take. For as he was attended with a smaller body of men, and had no hopes of being entertained peaceably, he dreaded both the number and courage of the enemy. Under these difficulties he called a council of the oldest men, together with Mauricius, to ask their, advice what was to be done at this critical juncture. “It is not for us,” said Mauricius, “to hazard a battle with such a numerous and powerful army: neither was the reduction of Britain by arms the end of our coming. Our business must be to desire peace and a hospitable treatment till we can learn the king’s mind. Let us say that we are sent by the emperors upon an embassy to Octavius, and let us with artful speeches pacify the people.” When all had shown themselves pleased with this advice, he took with him twelve aged men with grey hairs, eminent beyond the rest for their quality and wisdom, and, bearing olive-branches in their right hands, and went to meet Conan. The Britons, seeing they were men of a venerable age, and that they bore olive-branches as a token of peace rose up before them in a respectful manner, and opened a way for their free access to their commander. Then presenting themselves before Conan Meriadoc, they saluted him in the name of the emperors and the senate, and told him, that Maximian was sent to Octavius upon an embassy from Gratian and Valentinian. Conan made answer: “Why is he then attended with so great a multitude? This does not look like the appearance of ambassadors, but the invasion of enemies.” To which Mauricius replied: “It did not become so great a man to appear abroad in a mean figure, or without soldiers for his guard; especially considering, that by reason of the Roman power, and the actions of his ancestors, he is become obnoxious to many kings. If he had but a small retinue, he might have been killed by the enemies of the commonwealth. He is come in peace, and it is peace which he desires. For, from the time of our arrival, our behaviour has been such as to give no offence to any body. We have bought necessaries at our own expenses, as peaceable people do, and have taken nothing from any by violence.” While Conan was in suspense, whether to give them peace, or begin the battle, Caradoc, duke of Cornwall with others of the nobility, came to him, and dissuaded him from proceeding in the war after this representation; whereupon, though much against his will, he laid down his arms, and granted them peace. Then he conducted Maximian to London, where he gave the king an account of the whole proceeding.

Chapter 11. The kingdom of Britain is bestowed on Maximian.

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