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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 80

them, Brian wept, and shed tears so plentifully, that the king’s face and beard were wet with them. The king, imagining that it rained, lifted up his face, and seeing the young man in tears, asked him the occasion of such sudden grief. “Good reason,” said he, “have I to weep continually, as well as the whole British nation, which has groaned under the oppression of barbarians ever since the time of Malgo, and has not yet got a prince, to restore it to its ancient flourishing state. And even the little honour that it had left, is lessened by your indulgence; since the Saxons, who are only strangers, and always traitors to our country, must now be permitted to wear the same crown as you do. For when once they shall attain to regal dignity, it will be a great addition to their glory in the country from whence they came; and they will the sooner invite over their countrymen, for the utter extirpation of our race. For they have been always accustomed to treachery, and never to keep faith with any; which I think should be a reason for our keeping them under, and not for exalting them. When king Vortigern first retained them in his service, they made a show of living peaceably, and fighting for our country, till they had an opportunity of practising their wickedness; and then they returned evil for good, betrayed him, and made a cruel massacre of the people of the kingdom. Afterwards they betrayed Aurelius Ambrosius, to whom, even after the most tremendous oaths of fidelity, at a banquet with him they gave a draught of poison. They also betrayed Arthur, when, setting aside the covenant by which they were bound, they joined with his nephew Modred, and fought against him. Lastly, they broke faith with king Careticus, and brought upon him Gormund, king of the Africans, by whose disturbances our people were robbed of their country, and the king disgracefully driven out.”

Chapter 3. A quarrel between Cadwalla and Edwin.

At the mention of these things, Cadwalla repented of entering into this treaty, and sent word to Edwin that he could by no means induce his counsellors to consent to his petition. For they alleged that it was contrary to law and the ancient establishment, that an island, which has always had no more than one crown, should be now under subjection to two crowned heads. This message incensed Edwin, and made him break off the conference, and retire into Northumberland, saying, he would be crowned without Cadwalla’s leave. When Cadwalla was told this, he declared to him by his ambassadors that he would cut off his crowned head, if he presumed to wear a crown within the kingdom of Britain.

Chapter 4. Cadwalla is vanquished by Edwin, and driven out of the kingdom.

This proved the occasion of a war between them, in which, after several engagements between their men, they at last met together themselves beyond the Humber, and had a battle, wherein Cadwalla lost many thousands of his followers, and was put to flight. From hence he marched with precipitation through Albania, and went over to Ireland. But Edwin, after this victory, led his army through the provinces of the Britons, and burning the cities before him, grievously afflicted the citizens and country people. During this exercise of his cruelty, Cadwalla never ceased endeavouring to return back to his country in a fleet, but without success; because to whatever port he steered, Edwin met him with his forces, and hindered his landing. For there was come to him from Spain a very skilful soothsayer, named Pellitus who, by the flight of birds and the courses of the stars, foretold all the disasters that would happen. By these means Edwin, getting knowledge of Cadwalla’s return, prepared to meet him, and shattered his ships so that he drowned his men, and beat him off from all his ports. Cadwalla, not knowing what course to take, was almost in despair of ever returning. At last it came into his head to go to Salomon, king of the Armorican Britons, and desire his assistance and advice, to enable him to return to his kingdom. And so, as he was steering towards Armorica, a strong tempest rose on a sudden, which dispersed the ships of his companions, and in a short time left no two of them together. The pilot of the king’s ship was seized immediately with so great a fear, that quitting the stern, he left the vessel to the disposal of fortune; so that all that night it was tossed up and down in great danger by the raging waves. The next morning they arrived at a certain island called Garnareia, where with great difficulty they got ashore. Cadwalla was forthwith seized with such grief for the loss of his companions, that for three days and nights together he refused to eat, but lay sick upon his bed. The fourth day he was taken with a very great longing for some venison, and causing Brian to be called, made him acquainted with it. Whereupon Brian took his bow and quiver, and went through the island, that if he could light on any wild beast, he might make booty of it. And when he had walked over the whole island without finding what he was in quest of, he was extremely concerned that he could not gratify his master’s desire; and was afraid

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