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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 14

which was his due by right of birth. Stirred up with these and the like suggestions he marched with an army through Cunedagius’s country, and began to burn all before him. The war thus breaking out, he was met by Cunedagius with all his forces, who attacked Margan, killing no small number of his men, and, putting him to flight, pursued him from one province to another, till at last he killed him in a town of Kambria, which since his death has been by the country people called Margan to this day. After the victory, Cunedagius gained the monarchy of the whole island, which he governed gloriously for three and thirty years. At this time flourished the prophets Isaiah and Hosea, and Rome was built upon the eleventh before the Kalends of May by the two brothers, Romulus and Remus.

Chapter 16. The successors of Cunedagius in the kingdom. Ferrex is killed by his brother Porrex, in a dispute for the government.

At last Cunedagius dying, was succeeded by his son Rivallo, a fortunate youth, who diligently applied himself to the affairs of the government. In his time it rained blood three days together, and there fell vast swarms of flies, followed by a great mortality among the people, After him succeeded Gurgustius his son; after him Sisillius; after him Jago, the nephew of Gurgustius; after him Kinmarcus the son of Sisillius; after him Gorbogudo, who had two sons, Ferrex and Porrex, When their father grew old they began to quarrel about the succession; but Porrex, who was the most ambitious of the two, forms a design of killing his brother by treachery, which the other discovering, escaped, and passed over into Gaul. There he procured aid from Suard king of the Franks, with which he returned and made war upon his brother; coming to an engagement, Ferrex was killed and all his forces cut to pieces. When their mother whose name was Widen, came to be informed of her son’s death, she fell into a great rage, and conceived a mortal hatred against the survivor. For she had a greater affection for the deceased than for him, so that nothing less would appease her indignation for his death, than her revenging it upon her surviving son. She took therefore her opportunity when he was asleep, fell upon him, and with the assistance of her women tore him to pieces. From that time a long civil war oppressed the people, and the island became divided under the power of five kings, who mutually harassed one another.

Chapter 17. Dunwallo Molmutius gains the sceptre of Britain, from whom came the Molmutine laws.

At length arose a youth of great spirit, named Dunwallo Molmutius, who was the son of Cloten king of Cornwall, and excelled all the kings of Britain in valour and gracefulness of person. When his father was dead, he was no sooner possessed of the government of that country, than he made war against Ymner king of Loegria, and killed him in battle. Hereupon Rudaucus king of Kambria, and Staterius king of Albania, had a meeting, wherein they formed an alliance together, and marched thence with their armies into Dunwallo’s country to destroy all before them. Dunwallo met them with thirty thousand men, and gave them battle; and when a great part of the day was spent in the fight, and the victory yet dubious, he drew off six hundred of his bravest men, and commanded them to put on the armour of the enemies that were slain, as he himself also did, throwing aside his own. Thus accoutred he marched up with speed to the enemy’s ranks, as if he was of their party, and approaching the very place where Rudaucus and Staterius were, commanded his men to fall upon them. In this assault the two kings were killed and many others with them. But Dunwallo Molmutius, fearing lest in this disguise his own men might fall upon him, returned with his companions to put off the enemy’s armour, and take his own again; and then encouraged them to renew the assault, which they did with great vigour, and in a short time got the victory, by dispersing and putting to flight the enemy. From hence he marched into the enemy’s countries, destroyed their towns and cities, and reduced the people under his obedience. When he had made an entire reduction of the whole island, he prepared for himself a crown of gold, and restored the kingdom to its ancient state. This prince established what the Britons call the Molmutine laws, which are famous among the English to this day. In these, among other things, of which St. Gildas wrote a long time after, he enacted that the temples of the gods, as also cities, should have the privilege of giving sanctuary and protection to any fugitive or criminal, that should flee to them from his enemy. He likewise enacted, that the ways leading to those temples and cities, as also husbandman’s ploughs, should be allowed the same privilege. So that in his day, the murders and cruelties committed by robbers were prevented, and everybody passed safe, without any violence offered him. At last, after a reign of forty years spent in these and other acts of government, he died, and was buried in the city of Trinovantum, near the temple of Concord, which he himself built, when he first established his laws.

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