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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 52



“Though all should be unanimous for setting him at liberty, yet would I cut him to pieces. The prophet Samuel is my warrant, who when he had Agag, king of Amalek, in his power, hewed him in pieces, saying, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. Do therefore the same to Hengist, who is a second Agag.” Accordingly Eldol took his sword, and drew him out of the city, and then cut off his head. But Aurelius, who showed moderation in all his conduct, commanded him to be buried and a heap of earth to be raised over his body, according to the custom of the pagans.

Chapter 8. Octa, being besieged in York, surrenders himself to the mercy of Aurelius.

From hence Aurelius conducted his army to York, to besiege Octa, Hengist’s son. When the city was invested, Octa was doubtful whether he should give him any opposition, and stand a siege against such a powerful army, After consultation upon it, he went out with his principal nobility that were present, carrying a chain in his hand, and sand upon his head, and presented himself to the king with this address: “My gods are vanquished, and I doubt not that the sovereign power is in your God, who has compelled so many noble persons to come before you in this suppliant manner. Be pleased therefore to accept of us, and of this chain. If you do not think us fit objects of your clemency, we here present ourselves ready to be fettered, and to undergo whatever punishment you shall adjudge us to.” Aurelius was moved with pity at the spectacle, and demanded the advice of his council what should be done with them. After various proposals upon this subject, Eldad the bishop rose up, and delivered his opinion in these words: “The Gibeonites came voluntarily to the children of Israel to desire mercy, and they obtained it. And shall we Christians be worse than the Jews, in refusing them mercy? It is mercy which they beg, and let them have it. The island of Britain is large, and in many places uninhabited. Let us make a covenant with them, and suffer them at least to inhabit the desert places, that they may be our vassals for ever.” The king acquiesced in Eldad’s advice, and suffered them to partake of his clemency, After this Eosa and the rest that fled, being encouraged by Octa’s success, came also, and were admitted to the same favour. The king therefore granted them the country bordering upon Scotland, and made a firm covenant with them.

Chapter 9. Aurelius, having entirely routed the enemies, restores all things in Britain, especially ecclesiastical affairs, to their ancient state.

The enemies being now entirely reduced, the king summoned the consuls and princes of the kingdom together at York, where he gave orders for the restoration of the churches, which the Saxons had destroyed. He himself undertook the rebuilding of the metropolitan church of that city, as also the other cathedral churches in that province. After fifteen days, when he had settled workmen in several places, he went to London, which city had not escaped the fury of the enemy. He beheld with great sorrow the destruction made in it, and recalled the remainder of the citizens from all parts, and began the restoration of it. Here he settled the affairs of the whole kingdom, revived the laws, restored the right heirs to the possessions of their ancestors; and those estates, whereof the heirs had been lost in the late grievous calamity, he distributed among his fellow soldiers. In these important concerns, of restoring the nation to its ancient state, repairing the churches, re-establishing peace and law, and settling the administration of justice, was his time wholly employed. From hence he went to Winchester, to repair the ruins of it, as he did of other cities; and when the work was finished there, he went, at the instance of bishop Eldad, to the monastery near Kaercaradoc, now Salisbury, where the consuls and princes, whom the wicked Hengist had treacherously murdered, lay buried. At this place was a convent that maintained three hundred friars, situated on the mountain of Ambrius, who, as is reported, had been the founder of it. The sight of the place where the dead lay, made the king, who was of a compassionate temper, shed tears, and at last enter upon thoughts, what kind of monument to erect upon it. For he thought something ought to be done to perpetuate the memory of that piece of ground, which was honoured with the bodies of so many noble patriots, that died for their country.

Chapter 10. Aurelius is advised by Merlin to remove the Giant’s Dance from the mountain Killaraus.

For this purpose he summoned together several carpenters and masons, and commanded them to employ the utmost of their art, in contriving some new structure, for a lasting monument to those great men. But they, in diffidence of their own skill, refusing to undertake it, Tremounus, archbishop of the City of Legions, went to the king, and said, “If any one living is able to execute your commands, Merlin, the prophet of Vortigern, is the man. In my opinion there is not


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