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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 54



and upon the day and place appointed for their general meeting, Aurelius placed the crown upon his head, and with royal pomp celebrated the feast of Pentecost, the solemnity whereof he continued the three following days. In the meantime, all places of honour that were vacant, he bestowed upon his domestics as rewards for their good services. At that time the two metropolitan sees of York and Legions were vacant; and with the general consent of the people, whom he was willing to please in this choice, he granted York to Sanxo, a man of great quality, and much celebrated for his piety; and the City of Legions to Dubricius, whom divine providence had pointed out as a most useful pastor in that place. As soon as he had settled these and other affairs in the kingdom, he ordered Merlin to set up the stones brought over from Ireland, about the sepulchre; which he accordingly did, and placed them in the same manner as they had been in the mountain Killaraus, and thereby gave a manifest proof of the prevalence of art above strength.

Chapter XIII. Pascentius brings in the Saxons against the Britons. At the same time Pascentius, the son of Vortigern, who had fled over into Germany, was levying all the forces of that kingdom against Aurelius Ambrosius, with a design to revenge his father’s death; and promised his men an immense treasure of gold and silver, if with their assistance he could succeed in reducing Britain under his power. When he had at last corrupted all the youth of the country with his large promises, he prepared a vast fleet, and arrived in the northern parts of the island, upon which he began to make great devastations. The king, on the other hand, hearing this news, assembled his army, and marching against them challenged the enraged enemy to a battle; the challenge was accepted, and by the blessing of God the enemy was defeated and put to flight.

Chapter 14. Pascentius, assisted by the king of Ireland, again invades Britain. Aurelius dies by the treachery of Eopa, a Saxon.

Pascentius, after this flight, durst not return to Germany, but shifting his sails, went over to Gillomanius, in Ireland, by whom he was well received. And when he had given him an account of his misfortune, Gillomanius, in pity to him, promised him his assistance, and at the same time vented his complaint of the injuries done him by Uther, the brother of Aurelius, when he came for the Giant’s Dance. At last, entering into confederacy together, they made ready their fleet, in which they embarked, and arrived at the city of Menevia. This news caused Uther Pendragon to levy his forces, and march into Cambria to fight them. For his brother Aurelius then lay sick at Winchester, and was not able to go himself. When Pascentius, Gillomanius, and the Saxons heard of it, they highly rejoiced, flattering themselves, that his sickness would facilitate to them the conquest of Britain. While this occurrence was the subject of the people’s discourse, one of the Saxons, named Eopa, came to Pascentius, and said, “What reward will you give the man that shall kill Aurelius Ambrosius for you?” To whom Pascentius answered, “O that I could find a man of such resolution! I would give him a thousand pounds of silver, and my friendship for life; and if by good fortune I can but gain the crown, I promise upon oath to make him a centurion.” To this Eopa replied, “I have learned the British language, and know the manners of the people, and have skill in physic. If, therefore, you will perform this promise, I will pretend to be a Christian and a Briton, and when, as a physician, I shall be admitted into the king’s presence, I will make him a potion that shall despatch him. And to gain the readier access to him, I will put on the appearance of a devout and learned monk.” Upon this offer, Pascentius entered into covenant with him, and confirmed what he had promised with an oath. Eopa, therefore, shaved his beard and head, and in the habit of a monk hastened to Winchester, loaded with vessels full of medical preparations. As soon as he arrived there, he offered his service to those that attended about the king, and was graciously received by them; for to them nobody was now more acceptable than a physician. Being introduced into the king’s presence, he promised to restore him to his health, if he would but take his potions. Upon which he had his orders forthwith to prepare one of them, into which when he had secretly conveyed a poisonous mixture, he gave it the king. As soon as Aurelius had drunk it up, the wicked Ambron ordered him presently to cover himself close up, and fall asleep, that the detestable potion might the better operate. The king readily obeyed his prescriptions, and in hopes of his speedy recovery fell asleep. But the poison quickly diffused itself through all the pores and veins of his body, so that the sleep ended in death. In the meantime the wicked traitor, having cunningly withdrawn himself first from one and then from another, was no longer to be found in the court. During these transactions at Winchester, there appeared a star of wonderful magnitude and brightness, darting forth a ray, at


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