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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 22

Chapter 3. Caesar is routed by Cassibellaun.

On receiving this answer, Caesar made ready his fleet, and waited for a fair wind to execute his threats against Cassibellaun. As soon as the wind stood fair, he hoisted his sails, and arrived with his army at the mouth of the river Thames. The ships were now just come close to land, when Cassibellaun with all his forces appeared on his march against them, and coming to the town of Dorobellum, he consulted with his nobility how to drive out the enemy. There was present with him Belinus, general of his army, by whose counsel the whole kingdom was governed. There were also his two nephews, Androgeus, duke of Trinovantum, and Tenuantius duke of Cornwall, together with three inferior kings, Cridious, king of Albania, Guerthaeth of Venedotia, and Britael of Dimetia, who, as they had encouraged the rest to fight the enemy, gave their advice to march directly to Caesar’s camp, and drive them out of the country before they could take any city or town. For if he should possess himself of any fortified places, they said it would be more difficult to force him out, because he would then know whither to make a retreat with his men. To this proposal they all agreed, and advanced towards the shore where Julius Caesar had pitched his camp. And now both armies drew out in order of battle, and began the fight, wherein both bows and swords were employed. Immediately the wounded fell in heaps on each side, and the ground was drenched with the blood of the slain, as much as if it had been washed with the sudden return of the tide. While the armies were thus engaged, it happened that Nennius and Androgeus, with the citizens of Canterbury and Trinovantum, whom they commanded, had the fortune to meet with the troop in which Caesar himself was present. And upon an assault made, the general’s cohort was very nearly routed by the Britons falling upon them in a close body. During this action, fortune gave Nennius an opportunity of encountering Caesar. Nennius therefore boldly made up to him, and was in great joy that he could but give so much as one blow to so great a man. On the other hand, Caesar being aware of his design, stretched out his shield to receive him, and with all his might struck him upon the helmet with his drawn sword, which he lifted up again with an intention to finish his first blow, and make it mortal; but Nennius carefully prevented him with his shield, upon which Caesar’s sword glancing with great force from the helmet, became so firmly fastened therein, that when by the intervention of the troops they could no longer continue the encounter, the general was not able to draw it out again. Nennius, thus becoming master of Caesar’s sword, threw away his own, and pulling the other out, made haste to employ it against the enemy. Whomsoever he struck with it, he either cut off his head, or left him wounded without hopes of recovery. While he was thus exerting himself, he was met by Labienus, a tribune, whom he killed in the very beginning of the encounter. At last, after the greatest part of the day was spent the Britons poured in so fast, and made such vigorous efforts, that by the blessing of God they obtained the victory, and Caesar, with his broken forces, retired to his camp and fleet. The very same night, as soon as he had got his men together again, he went on board his fleet, rejoicing that he had the sea for his camp. And upon his companions dissuading him from continuing the war any longer, he acquiesced in their advice, and returned back to Gaul.

Chapter 4. Nennius, the brother of Cassibellaun, being wounded in battle by Caesar, dies.

Cassibellaun, in joy for this triumph, returned solemn thanks to God; and calling the companions of his victory together, amply rewarded every one of them, according as they had distinguished themselves. On the other hand, he was very much oppressed with grief for his brother Nennius, who lay mortally wounded, and at the very point. of death. For Caesar had wounded him in the encounter, and the blow which he had given him proved incurable; so that fifteen days after the battle he died, and was buried at Trinovantum, by the North Gate. His funeral obsequies were performed with regal pomp, and Caesar’s sword put into the tomb with him, which he had kept possession of, when struck into his shield in the combat. The name of the sword was Crocea Mors (Yellow Death), as being mortal to every body that was wounded with it.

Chapter 5. Caesar’s inglorious return to Gaul.

After this flight of Caesar, and his arrival on the Gallic coast, the Gauls attempted to rebel and throw off his yoke. For they thought he was so much weakened, that his forces could be no longer a terror to them. Besides, a general report was spread among them, that Cassibellaun was now out at sea with a vast fleet to pursue, him in his flight; on which account the Gauls, growing still more bold, began to think of driving him from their coasts. Caesar, aware of their designs, was not willing to engage in a doubtful war with a fierce people, but rather chose to go to all their first nobility with open treasures, and reconcile them with presents. To the common people

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