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History Of The Britons

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History Of The Britons
page 5

soldiers, did them considerable injury; thus Caesar was once more compelled to return without peace or victory. The Romans were, therefore, a third time sent against the Britons; and under the command of Julius, defeated them near a place called Trinovantum [London], forty-seven years before the birth of Christ, and five thousand two hundred and twelve years from the creation. Julius was the first exercising supreme power over the Romans who invaded Britain: in honour of him the Romans decreed the fifth month to be called after his name. He was assassinated in the Curia, in the ides of March, and Octavius Augustus succeeded to the empire of the world. He was the only emperor who received tribute from the Britons, according to the following verse of Virgil: "Purpurea intexti tollunt aulaea Britanni." 21. The second after him, who came into Britain, was the emperor Claudius, who reigned forty-seven years after the birth of Christ. He carried with him war and devastation; and, though not without loss of men, he at length conquered Britain. He next sailed to the Orkneys, which he likewise conquered, and afterwards rendered tributary. No tribute was in his time received from the Britons; but it was paid to British emperors. He reigned thirteen years and eight months. His monument is to be seen at Moguntia (among the Lombards), where he died in his way to Rome. 22. After the birth of Christ, one hundred and sixty-seven years, king Lucius, with all the chiefs of the British people, received baptism, in consequence of a legation sent by the Roman emperors and pope Evaristus.(26)

(26) V.R. Eucharistus. A marginal note in the Arundel MS. adds, "He is wrong, because the first year of Evaristus was A.D. 79, whereas the first year of Eleutherius, whom he ought to have named, was A.D. 161." Usher says, that in one MS. of Nennius he found the name of Eleutherius.

23. Severus was the third emperor who passed the sea to Britain, where, to protect the provinces recovered from barbaric incursions, he ordered a wall and a rampart to be made between the Britons, the Scots, and the Picts, extending across the island from sea to sea, in length one hundred and thirty-three miles: and it is called in the British language Gwal.(27) Moreover, he ordered it to be made between the Britons, and the Picts and Scots; for the Scots from the west, and the Picts from the north, unanimously made war against the Britons; but were at peace among themselves. Not long after Severus dies in Britain.

(27) Or, the Wall. One MS. here adds, "The above-mentioned Severus constructed it of rude workmanship in length 132 miles; i.e. from Penguaul, which village is called in Scottish Cenail, in English Peneltun, to the mouth of the river Cluth and Cairpentaloch, where this wall terminates; but it was of no avail. The emperor Carausius afterwards rebuilt it, and fortified it with seven castles between the two mouths: he built also a round house of polished stones on the banks of the river Carun [Carron]: he likewise erected a triumphal arch, on which he inscribed his own name in memory of his victory.

24. The fourth was the emperor and tyrant, Carausius, who, incensed at the murder of Severus, passed into Britain, and attended by the leaders of the Roman people, severely avenged upon the chiefs and rulers of the Britons, the cause of Severus.(28)

(28) This passage is corrupt, the meaning is briefly given in the translation.

25. The fifth was Constantius the father of Constantine the Great. He died in Britain; his sepulchre, as it appears by the inscription on his tomb, is still seen near the city named Cair segont (near Carnarvon). Upon the pavement of the above-mentioned city he sowed three seeds of gold, silver and brass, that no poor person might ever be found in it. It is also called Minmanton.(29)

(29) V.R. Mirmantum, Mirmantun, Minmanto, Minimantone. The Segontium of Antoninus, situated on a small river named Seiont, near Carnarvon.

26. Maximianus(30) was the sixth emperor that ruled in Britain. It was in his time that consuls (31) began, and that the appellation of Caesar was discontinued: at this period also, St. Martin became celebrated for his virtues and miracles, and held a conversation with him.

(30) This is an inaccuracy of Nennius; Maximus and Maximianus were one and the same person; or rather no such person as Maximianus ever reigned in Britain.
(31) Geoffrey of Monmouth gives the title of consul to several British generals who lived after this time. It is not unlikely that the town, name, and dignity, still lingered in the provinces after the Romans were gone, particularly as the cities of Britain maintained for a time a species of independence.

27. The seventh emperor was Maximus. He withdrew from Britain with all his military force, slew Gratian, the king of the Romans, and obtained the sovereignty of all Europe. Unwilling to send back his warlike companions to their wives, children, and possessions in Britain, he conferred upon them numerous districts from the lake on the summit of Mons Jovis, to the city called Cant Guic, and to the western Tumulus, that is, to Cruc Occident.(32) These are the Armoric Britons, and they remain there to the present day. In consequence of their absence, Britain being overcome by foreign nations, the lawful heirs were cast out, till God interposed with his assistance. We are informed by the tradition of our ancestors that seven emperors went into Britain, though the Romans affirm there were nine.

(32) This district, in modern language, extended from the great St. Bernard in Piedmont to Cantavic in Picardy, and from Picardy to the western coast of France.

28. Thus, aggreeably to the account given by the Britons, the Romans governed them four hundred and nine years.

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