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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 82

Hoel who shared with Arthur in his conquests. Of her was born Alan; of Alan, Hoel your father, who while he lived was a terror to all Gaul.”

Chapter 7. Brian kills Edwin’s magician.

In the meantime, while he was spending the winter with Salomon, they entered into a resolution, that Brian should pass over into Britain, and take some method to kill Edwin’s magician, lest he might by his usual art inform him of Cadwalla’s coming. And when with this design he had arrived at Hamo’s Port, he took upon him the habit of a poor man, and made himself a staff of iron sharp at the end, with which he might kill the magician if he should happen to meet with him. From thence he went to York, where Edwin then resided; and having entered that city joined himself to the poor people that waited for alms before the king’s gate. But as he was going to and fro, it happened that his sister came out of the hall, with a basin in her hand, to fetch water for the queen. She had been taken by Edwin at the city of Worcester, when after Cadwalla’s flight he was acting his hostilities upon the provinces of the Britons. As she was therefore passing by Brian, he immediately knew her, and, breaking forth into tears, called to her with a low voice; at which the damsel turning her face, was in doubt at first who it could be, but upon a nearer approach discovered it to be her brother, and was near falling into a swoon, for fear that he might by some unlucky accident be known and taken by the enemy. She therefore refrained from saluting him, or entering into familiar discourse with him, but told him, as if she was talking upon some other subject, the state of the court, and showed him the magician, that he was inquiring for, who was at that very time walking among the poor people, while the alms were being distributed among them. Brian, as soon as he had taken knowledge of the man, ordered his sister to steal out privately from her apartment the night following, and come to him near an old church without the city, where he would conceal himself in expectation of her. Then dismissing her, he thrust himself in among the crowd of poor people, in that part where Pellitus was placing them. And the same moment he got access to him, he lifted up his staff, and at once gave him a stab under the breast which killed him. This done, he threw away his staff, and passed among the rest undistinguished and unsuspected by any of the by-standers, and by good providence got to the place of concealment which he had appointed. His sister, when night came on, endeavoured all she could to get out, but was not able; because Edwin, being terrified at the killing of Pellitus, had set a strict watch about the court, who, making a narrow search, refused to let her go out. When Brian found this, he retired from that place, and went to Exeter, where he called together the Britons, and told them what he had done. Afterwards having despatched away messengers to Cadwalla, he fortified that city, and sent word to all the British nobility, that they should bravely defend their cities and towns, and joyfully expect Cadwalla’s coming to their relief in a short time with auxiliary forces from Salomon. Upon the spreading of this news over the whole island, Penda, king of the Mercians, with a very great army of Saxons, came to Exeter, and besieged Brian.

Chapter 8. Cadwalla takes Penda, and routs his army.

In the meantime Cadwalla arrived with ten thousand men, whom king Salomon had delivered to him; and with them he marched straight to the siege against king Penda. But, as he was going, he divided his forces into four parts, and then made no delay to advance and join battle with the enemy. wherein Penda was forthwith taken, and his army routed. For, finding no other way for his own safety, he surrendered himself to Cadwalla, and gave hostages, with a promise that he would assist him against the Saxons. Cadwalla, after this success against him, summoned together his nobility, that had been a long time in a decaying state, and marched to Northumberland against Edwin, and made continual devastations in that country. When Edwin was informed of it, he assembled all the petty kings of the Angles, and meeting the Britons in a field called Heathfield, presently gave them battle, but was killed, and almost all the people with him, together with Osfrid, his son, and Godbold, king of the Orkneys, who had come to their assistance.

Chapter 9. Cadwalla kills Osric and Aidan in fight.

Having thus obtained the victory, Cadwalla marched through the provinces of the Angles, and committed such outrages upon the Saxons, that he neither spared age nor sex; for his resolution being to extirpate the whole race out of Britain, all that he found he put to extreme tortures. After this he had a battle with Osric, Edwin’s successor, and killed him together with his two nephews, who ought to have reigned after him. He also killed Aidan, king of the Scots, who came to their assistance.

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