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The Text of Gildas: de Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae. (Parts 1 and 2, chapters 1-37)
Robert Vermaat

The English text (and the notes) is a reprint of a part of Williams, Hugh ed. and trans.: Gildas, The Ruin of Britain &c. (1899), Cymmrodorion Record Series, No. 3.
Transcribed by
Roger Pearse.

The Latin text is based on Mommsen, Theodor ed. (1892): Gildas, De excidio Britanniae, in: Chronica Minora Saec. iv, v, vi, vii vol. 3, pp. 1-85, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores, (Berlin repr. 1961) and Gildas: The Ruin of Britain and other works, Latin and trans. M. Winterbottom, History from the Sources 7, (Old Woking 1978).
Transcribed by
Keith Matthews and Robert Vermaat.

I edited the text slightly to compare both English and Latin parts better. I also added some of the notes to the English text to the Latin original.

The Ruin and Conquest of Britain   De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae

1. WHATEVER my attempt shall be in this epistle, made more in tears than in denunciation, in poor style, I allow, but with good intent, let no man regard me as if about to speak under the influence of contempt for men in general, or with an idea of superiority to all, because I weep the general decay of good, and the heaping up of evils, with tearful complaint. On the contrary, let him think of me as a man that will speak out of a feeling of condolence with my country's losses and its miseries, and sharing in the joy of remedies. It is not so much my purpose to narrate the dangers of savage warfare incurred by brave soldiers, as to tell of the dangers caused by indolent men. I have kept silence, I confess, with infinite sorrow of heart, as the Lord, the searcher of the reins, is my witness, for the past ten years or even longer; I was prevented by a sense of inexperience, a feeling I have even now, as well as of mean merit from writing a small admonitory work of any kind.


1. in hac episola quicquid deflendo potius quam declamando, uili licet stilo, tamen benigno, fuero prosecutus, ne quis me affectu cunctos spernentis omnibusue melioris, quippe wui commune bonorum dispendium malorumque cumulum lacrimosis querelis defleam, sed condolentis patriae incommoditatibus miseriisque eius ac remediis condelectantis edicturum putet, quia non tam fortissimorum militum enuntiare trucs belli pericul mihi statutum est quam desidiosorum, silui, fateor, cum immenso cordis dolore, ut mihi renum scrutator testis est dominus, spatio bilustri temporis uel eo amplius praetereuntis, imperitia sic ut et nunc una cum uilibus me meritis inhibentibus ne qualemcumque admonitiunculam scriberem.

I used to read, nevertheless, of the wonderful legislator, that he did not enter the desired land because of hesitation in a single word; that the priest's sons, through bringing strange fire to the altar, perished in sudden death; that the people who transgressed the words of God, 600,000 of them, two faithful ones exceptcd, although beloved of God, because unto them the way was made plain over the bed of the Red Sea, heavenly bread was given as food, new drink from the rock followed them, their army was made invincible by the mere lifting up of hands----that this people fell in different places by wild beasts, sword and fire throughout the desert parts of Arabia.   legebam nihilominus admirandum legislatorem ob unius uerbi dubitationem terram desiderabilem non introisse: filios sacerdotis alienum admouendo altari ignem cito exitu periisse: populum uerborum dei praeuaricatorem sexcentorum milium duobus exceptis ueracibus et quidem deo carissimum, quippe cui iter leuissime stratum profundi glarea maris rubri, cibus caelestis panis, potus nouus ex rupe uiator, acies inuicta manuum sola intensa erectio fuerit, bestiis ferro igni per arabiae deserta sparsim cecidisse:
After their entrance by an unknown gate, the Jordan, so to say, and the overthrow of the hostile walls of the city at the mere sound of trumpets by God's command, I read that a small mantle and a little gold appropriated of the devoted thing laid many prostrate; that the covenant with the Gibeonites, when broken (though won by guile), brought destruction upon some: that because of the sins of men we have the complaining voices of holy prophets, and especially of Jeremiah, who bewails the ruin of his city in four alphabetic songs.   post ingressum ignotae ac si iordanis portae urbisque aduersa moenia solis tubarum clangoribus iussu dei subruta, palliolum aurique parum de anathemate praesumptum multos strauisse: gabaonitarum irritum foedus, calliditate licet extortum, nonnullis intulisse exitium: ob peccata hominum querelas sanctorum prophetarum uoces et maxime hieremiae ruinam ciuitatis suae quadruplici plangentis alphabeto.
I saw that in our time even, as he wept: The widowed city sat solitary, heretofore filled with people, ruler of the Gentiles, princess of provinces, and had become tributary. By this is meant the Church. The gold hath become dim, its best colour changed; which means the excellence of God's word. The sons of Zion, that is, of the holy mother the Church, famous and clothed with best gold have embraced ordure. What to him, a man of eminence, grew unbearable, has been so to me also, mean as I am, whenever it grew to be the height of grief, whilst he wailed over the same distinguished men living in prosperity so far as to say: her Nazarenes were whiter than snow, ruddier than old coral, fairer than sapphire.   uidebamque etiam nostro tempore, ut ille defleuerat, ‘solum sedisse uerbem uiduam, antea populis plenam, gentium dominam, principem prouinciarum, sub tributo fuisse factam’, id est ecclesiam, ‘obscuratum aurum coloremque optimum mutatum’, quod est uerbi dei splenorem, ‘filios sion’, id est sanctae matris ecclesiae, ‘inclitos et amictos auro primo, amplexatos fuisse stercora’; et quod illi intolerabiliter utpote praecipuo, mihi quoque licet abiecto, utcumque ad cumulum doloris crescebat dum ita eosdam statu prospero uiuentes egregios luxerat ut diceret: ‘candidiores nazaraei eius niue, rubicundiores ebore antique, sapphiro pulchriores’.
These passages and many others I regarded as, in a way, a mirror of our life, in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and then I turned to the Scriptures of the New; there I read things that previously had perhaps been dark to me, in clearer light, because the shadow passed away, and the truth shone more steadily.   ista ego et multa alia ueluti speculum quoddam uitae nostrae in scripturis ueteribus intuens, conuertebar etiam ad nouas, et ibi legebam clarius quae mihi forsitan antea obscura fuerant, cessante umbra ac ueritate fimius inluscente.
I read, that is to say, of the Lord saying: I am not come but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel. And on the other side: But the sons of this Kingdom shall be cast into outer darknesses, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Again: It is not good to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs. Also: Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.   legebam, inquam, dominum dixisse: ‘non ueni nisi ad oues perditas domus israel’. et e contrario: ‘filii autem regni huius eicientur in tenebras exteriores, ibi erit fletus et stridor dentium’. et iterum: ‘non est bonum tollere panem filiorum et mittere canibus’.
I heard: Many shall come from east and west and recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven; and on the other hand: And then shall I say unto them: depart from me ye workers of iniquity. I read: Blessed are the barren and the breasts that have not given suck; and on the contrary: Those who were ready, entered with him to the marriage feast, then came also the other virgins saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; to whom the answer was made, I know you not. I heard certainly: He who believeth and is baptised, shall be saved, he, however, who believeth not shall be condemned.   itemque: ‘uae uobis, scribae et pharisaei, hypocritae’. audiebam: ‘multi ab oriente et occidente uenient et recumbent cum abraham, isaac et iacob in regno caelorum’; et e diuerso: ‘et tunc dicam eis: discedite a me, operarii iniquitatis’. legebam: ‘beatae steriles et ubera quae non lactauerunt’; et e contrario: ‘quae paterae eran, intrauerunt cum eo ad nuptias, postea uenerunt et reliquae uirgines dicentes: domine, domine, aperi nobis; quibus responsum fuerat: non noui uos.’
I read in the apostle's word that a branch of the wild olive had been grafted into the good olive tree, but that it must be broken off from partaking in the root of fatness of the same, if it did not fear, but should be highminded. I knew the mercy of the Lord, but feared his judgment also; I praised his grace, but dreaded the rendering unto each one according to his works.   audiebam sane: ‘qui crediderit et baptizatus fuerit, saluus erit, qui autem non crediderit, condemnabitur’. legebam apostoli uoce oleastri ramum bonae oliuae insertum fuisse, sed a societate radicis pinguedinis eiusdem, si non timuisset, sed alta saperet, excidendum.
As I beheld sheep of one fold unlike one another, I called Peter, with good reason, most blessed on account of his sound confession of Christ, but Judas most unhappy because of his love of covetousness; Stephen I called glorious, because of the martyr's palm; Nicolas, on the contrary, miserable, owing to the mark of unclean heresy.   sciebam misericordiam domini, set et iudicium timebam; laudabam gratiam, sed redditionem unicuique secundum opera sua uerebar; oues unius ouilis dissimiles cernens merito beatissimum dicebam petrum ob christi integram confessionem, at iudam infelicissimum propter cupiditatis amorem, stephanum gloriosum ob martyrii palmam, sed nicolaum miserum propter immundae haeresos notam.
I read, indeed: They had all things in common, but I read also: Why did ye agree to tempt the Spirit of God? I saw, on the contrary, what great indifference had grown upon the men of our age, as if there were no cause for fear.   legebam certe: ‘erant illis omnia communia’; sed et quod dictum est: ‘quaere conuenit uobis temptare spiritum dei?’ uidebam e regione quantum securitatis hominibus nostri temporis, ac si non esset quod timeretur, increuerat.
These things, and many others which I have decided to omit for the sake of brevity, I pondered over with compunction of heart and astonishment of mind. I pondered----if the Lord did not spare a people, peculiar out of all the nations, the royal seed and holy nation, to whom he had said: Israel is my first born ----if he spared not its priests, prophets, kings for so many centuries, if he spared not the apostle his minister, and the members of that primitive church, when they swerved from the right path, what will he do to such blackness as we have in this age? An age this to which has been added, besides those impious and monstrous sins which it commits in common with all the iniquitous ones of the world, that thing which is as if inborn with it, an irremovable and inextricable weight of unwisdom and fickleness.   haec igitur et multo plura quae breuitatis causa omittenda decreuimus cum qualicumque cordis compunctione attonita mente saepius uoluens, si, inquam, peculiari ex omnibus nationibus populo, semini regali gentique sanctae, ad quam dixerat: ‘primogenitus meus israel’, eiusque sacerdotibus, prophetis, regibus, per tot saecula apostolo ministro membrisque illius primitiuae ecclesiae dominus non pepercit, cum a recto tramite deuiarint, quid tali huius atramento aetatis facturus est? cui praeter illa nefanda immaniaque peccata quae communiter cum omnibus mundi sceleratis agit, accedit etiam illud ueluti ingentium quid et indelebile insipientiae pondus et leuitatis ineluctabile.
What say I? Do I say to myself, wretched one, is such a charge entrusted to thee (as if thou wert a teacher of distinction and eminence), namely to withstand the rush of so violent a torrent, and against this array of growing crimes extending over so many years and so widely, keep the deposit committed to thec, and be silent? Otherwise this means, to say to the foot, watch, and to the hand, speak.   quid? (mihimet aio) tibine, miser, ueluti conspicuo ac summo doctori talis cura committitur ut obstes ictibus tam uiolenti torrentis, et contra hunc inolitorum scelerum funem per tot annorum spatia interrupte latetque protractum serues depositum tibi creditum et taceas? alioquin hoc est dixisse pedi: speculare et manui: fare.
Britain has rulers, it has watchers. Why with thy nonsense art thou inclined to mumble? Yea, it has these; it has, if not too many, not too few. But, because they are bent clown under the pressure of so great a weight, they have no time to breathe. My feelings, therefore, as if fellow debtors with myself, were alternately engrossed by such objections, and by such as had much sharper teeth than these. These feelings wrestled, as I said, for no short time, when I read: 'There is a time to speak and a time to keep silence, and wrestled in the straight gate of fear, so to speak. At length the creditor prevailed and conquered. He said: If thou hast not the boldness to feel no fear of being branded with the mark that befits golden liberty among truth-telling creatures of a rational origin second to the angels, at least shrink not from imitating that intelligent ass, inspired, though mute, by the Spirit of God. Unwilling it was to be the carrier of the crowned magician about to curse the people of God; it bruised his feeble foot in the narrow path near the wall of the vineyards, though it had on that account to feel his blows like those of an enemy. She pointed out to him the angel from heaven, as if with the finger, holding his naked sword and opposing them (whom he in the blindness of cruel stupidity had not observed), though the magician, ungrateful and furious, was unrighteously beating her innocent sides.   habet britanni rectores, habet speculatores. quid tu nugando mutire disponis? habet, inquam, habet, si non ultra, non citra numerum. sed quia inclinati tanto pondere sunt pressi, idcirco spatium respirandi non habent. praeoccupabant igitur se multo talibus obiectionibus uel multo his mordacioribus ueluti condebitores sensus mei. hi non paruo, ut dixi, tempore, cum legerim ‘tempus esse loquendi et tacendi’, et in quadam ac si angusta timoris porticu luctabantur. obtinuit uicitque tandem aliquando creditor, si non es, inquiens, talis audaciae ut inter ueridicas rationalis secundae a nuntiis deriuationis creaturas non pertimescas libertatis aureae decenti nota inuri, affectum saltem intellegibilis asinae eatenus elinguis non refugito spiritu dei afflatae, nolentis se uehiculum fore tiarati magi deuoturi populum dei, quae in anguesto maceriae uinearum resolutum eius attriuit pedem, ob id licet uerbera hostiliter senserit, cuique angelum caelestem ensem uacuum uagina habentem atque contrarium, quem ille cruda stoliditate caecatus non uiderat, digito quodammodo, quamquam ingrato ac furibundo et innoxia eius latera contra ius fasque caedenti, demonstrauit.
In my zeal, therefore, for the holy law of the Lord's house, constrained by the reasons of my own meditation or overcome by the pious entreaties of brethren, I am now paying the debt[1] exacted long ago. The work is, in fact, poor, but, I believe, faithful and friendly to all noble soldiers of Christ; but severe and hard to bear to foolish apostates. The former of these, if I am not mistaken, will, peradventure, receive it with the tears that flow from the love of God; the others, also, with sorrow, but the sorrow which is wrenched from the anger and timidity of an awakened conscience.   in zelo igitur domus domini sacrae legis seu cogitatuum rationibus uel fratrum religiosis precibus coactus nun persoluo debitum multo tempore antea exactum, uile quidem, sed fidele, ut puto, et amicale quibusque egregiis christi tironibus[2], graue uero et importabile apostatis insipientibus. quorum priores, ni fallor, cum lacrimis forte quae ex dei caritate profluunt, alii autem cum trisitia, sed quae de indignatione et pusillanimitate deprehensae conscientiae extorquetur, illud excipient.

2. Before, however, fulfilling my promise, let me attempt to say a little, God willing, concerning the geographical situation, the stubbornness, the subjection and rebellion of our country; also of its second subjection and hard service; of religion, persecution, and holy martyrs, of diverse heresies; of tyrants, of the two nations which wasted it; of defence and of consequent devastation; of the second revenge and third devastation, of famine; of the letter to Agitius; of victory, of crimes; of enemies suddenly announced; of the great well-known plague; of counsel; of enemies far more fierce than the first; of the ruin of cities, of the men who survived; of the final victory won by the mother country, which is the gift granted by the will of God in our own times.[3]


2. sed ante promissum deo uolente pauca de situ, de contumacia, de subiectione, de rebellione, item de subiectione ac diro famulatu, de religione, de persecutione, de sanctis martyribus, de diuersis haeresibus, de tyrannis, de duabus gentibus uastatricibus, de defensione itemque uastatione, de secunda ulitone tertiaque uastatione, de fame, de epistolis ad agitium, de uictoria, de sceleribus, de nuntiatis subito hostibus, de famosa peste, de consilio, de saeuiore multo primis hoste, de urbium subuersione, de reliquis, de postrema patriae uictoria, quae temporibus nostris dei nutu donata est, dicere conamur.

Description of Britain.

3. THE island of Britain is situated in almost the furthest limit of the world, towards the north-west and west, poised in the so-called divine balance which holds the whole earth. It lies somewhat in the direction of the north pole from the south-west. It is 800 miles long, 200 broad,[4] not counting the longer tracts of sundry promontories which are encompassed by the curved bays of the sea. It is protected by the wide, and if I may so say, impassable circle of the sea on all sides, with the exception of the straits on the south coast where ships sail to Belgic Gaul. It has the advantage of the estuaries of two noble rivers, the Thames and the Severn, arms, as it were, along which, of old, foreign luxuries were wont to be carried by ships, and of other smaller streams; it is beautified by 28 cities,[5] and some strongholds, and by great works built in an unexceptionable manner, walls, serrated towers, gates, houses, the roofs of which, stretching aloft with threatening height, were firmly fixed in strong structure.[6] It is adorned by widespread plains, hills in pleasant situations adapted for superior cultivation, mountains in the greatest convenience for changing pasture of cattle. The flowers of divers colours on these, trodden by human footsteps, gave them the appearance of a fine picture, like a chosen bride adorned with various jewels. It is irrigated by many clear springs, with their full waters moving snow-white gravel, and by shining rivers flowing with gentle murmur, extending to those who recline on their banks a pledge of sweet slumber, and by lakes overflowing with a cool stream of living water. 


De situ.

3. brittannia insula in extremo ferme orbis limite circium occdentemque uersus diuina, ut dicitur, statera terrae totius ponderatrice librata an africo boriali propensius tensa axi, octingentorum in longo milium, ducentorum in latio spatium, exceptis diuersorum prolixioribus promontoriorum tractibus, quae arcuatis oceani sinibus ambiuntur, tenens, cuius diffusiore et, ut ita dicam, intransmeabili undique circulo absque meridianae freto plagae, quo ad galliam belgicam nauigatur, uallata, duorum ostiis nobilium fluminum tamesis ac sabrinae ueluti brachiis, per quae olim transmarinae deliciae ratibus uehebantur, aliorumque minorum meliorata, bis denis bisque quaternis ciuitatibus ac nonnullis castellis, murorum turrium serratarum portarum domorum, quarum culmina minaci proceritate porrecta in edito forti compage pangebantur, molitioibus non improbabiliter instructis decorata; campis late pansis collibusque amoeno situ locatis, praepollenti culturae aptis, montibus lternandis animalium pastibus maxime couenientibus, quorum diuersorum colorum flores humanis gressibus pulsati non indecentem ceu picturam eisdem imprimebant, electa ueluti sponsa monilibus diuersis ornata, fontibus lucidis crebris undis niueas ueluti glareas pellentibus, prenitidisque riuis leni murmure serpentibus ipsorumque in ripis accubantibus suauis soporis pignus praetendentibus, et lacubus frigidum aquae torrentem uiuae exundantibus irrigua.

Character of people.

4. This island, of proud neck and mind, since it was first inhabited, is ungratefully rebelling, now against God, at other times against fellow citizens, sometimes even against the kings over the sea and their subjects. For what deeper baseness, what greater unrighteousness, can be or be introduced by the recklessness of men, than to deny to God fear, to worthy fellow citizens love, to those placed in higher position the honour due to them, without detriment to the faith----than to break faith with divine and human sentiment, and having cast away fear of heaven and earth, to be governed by one's own inventions and lusts?


De contumacia.

4. haec erecta ceruice et mente, ex quo inhabitata est, nunc deo, interdum ciuibus[7], nonnumquam etiam transmarinis regibus et subiectis ingrata consurgit. quid enim deformius quidque iniquius potest humanis ausibus uel esse uel intromitti negotium quam deo timorem, bonis ciuibus caritatem,, in altiore dignitate positis absque fidei detrimento debitum denegare honorem et frangere diuino sensui humanoque fidem, et abiecto caeli terraeque metu propriis adinuentionibus aliquem et libidinibus regi?

I, therefore, omit[8] those ancient errors, common to all nations, by which before the coming of Christ in the flesh the whole human race was being held in bondage; nor do I enumerate the truly diabolical monstrosities of my native country, almost surpassing those of Egypt in number, of which we behold some, of ugly features, to this day within or without their deserted walls, stiff with fierce visage as was the custom. Neither do I, by name, inveigh against the mountains, valleys or rivers, once destructive, but now suitable for the use of man, upon which divine honour was then heaped by the people in their blindness. I keep silence also as to the long years of savage tyrants, who are spoken of in other far distant countries, so that Porphyry, the rabid eastern dog in hostility to the Church, added this remark also in the fashion of his madness and vanity; Britain, he says, is a province fertile in tyrants. Those evils only will I attempt to make public which the island has both suffered and inflicted upon other and distant citizens, in the times of the Roman Emperors. I shall do it, however, to the best of my ability, not so much by the aid of native writings or records of authors, inasmuch as these (if they ever existed) have been burnt by the fires of enemies, or carried far away in the ships which exiled my countrymen, and so are not at hand, but shall follow the account of foreign writers, which, because broken by many gaps, is far from clear.   igitur omittens priscos illos communesque cum omnibus gentibus errores, quibus ante aduentum christi in carne omne humanum genus obligabatur astrictum, nec enumaerans patriae portenta[9] ipsa diabolica paene numero aegyptiaca uincentia, quorum nonnulla liniamentis adhuc deformibus intra uel extra deserta moenia solito mores rigentia toruis uultibus intuemur, neque nominatum inclamitans montes ipsos aut colles uel fluuios olim exitiabiles, nunc uero humanis usibus utiles, quibus diuinus honor a caeco tunc populo cumulabatur, et tacens uetustos immanium tyrannorum annos, qui in aliis longe postis regionibus uulgati sunt, it ut porphyrius rabidus orientalis aduersus ecclesiam canis[10] dementiae suae ac uanitatis stilo hoc etiam adnecteret: ‘britannis’, inquiens, ‘fertilis prouincia tyrannorum’, illa tantum proferre conabor in medium quae temporibus imperatorum romanorum et passa est et aliis intulit ciuibus et longe positis mala: quantum tamen potuero, non tam ex scriptis patriae scriptorumue monimentis, quippe quae, uel si qua fuerint, aut ignibus hostium exusta aut ciuium exilii classe longius deportata non compareant, quam transmarina relatione, quae crebris inrupta intercapedinibus non satis claret.

Subjection by Rome.

5. The Emperors of Rome acquired the empire of the world, and, by the subjugation of all neighbouring countries and islands towards the east, secured through the might of their superior fame their first peace with the Parthians[11] on the borders of India. When this peace was accomplished, wars ceased at that time in almost every land. The keenness of this flame, however, in its persistent career towards the west, could not be checked or extinguished by the blue tide of the sea; crossing the channel it carried to the island laws for obedience without opposition; it subjugated an unwarlike but faithless people (not so much as in the case of other nations by sword, fire, and engines, as by mere threats or menaces of judgments) who gave to the edicts merely a skin-deep obedience, with resentment sunk deep into their hearts.


De subjectione.

5. etenim reges romanorum cum orbis imperium obtinuisset subiugatisque finitimis quibusque regionibus uel insulis orientem uersus primam parthorum pacem indorum confinium, qua peracta in omni paene terra tum cessauere bella, potioris famae uiribus firmassent, non acies flammae quodammodo rigidi tenoris ad occidentem caeruleo oceani torrente potuit uel cohiberi uel extingui sed transfretans insulae parendi leges nullo obsistente aduexit, imbellemque populum sed infidelem non tam ferro igne machinis, ut alias gentes, quam solis minis uel iudiciorum concussionibus, in superficie tantum uultus presso in altum cordis dolore sui obedientiam proferentem edictis subiugauit.

Insurrection against Rome.

6. Immediately on their return to Rome, owing to deficiency, as they said, of necessaries provided by the land, and with no suspicion of rebellion, the treacherous lioness killed the rulers who had been left behind by them to declare more fully, and to strengthen, the enterprises of Roman rule. After this, when news of such deeds was carried to the senate, and it was hastening with speedy army to take vengeance on the crafty foxes, as they named them, there was no preparation of a fighting fleet on sea to make a brave struggle for country, nor a marshalled army or right wing, nor any other warlike equipment on land. They present their backs, instead of their shields, to the pursuers, their necks to the sword, while a chilling terror ran through their bones: they hold forth their hands to be bound like women; so that it was spread far and wide as a proverb and a derision: the Britons are neither brave in war nor in peace faithful.[13]


De rebellione.

6. quibus statim romam ob inopiam, ut aiabant, cespitis repedantibus et nihil de rebellione suspicantibus rectores sibi relictos ad enuntianda plenius uel confirmanda romani regni molimina leana trucidauit dolosa[12]. quibus ita gestis cum talia senatui nuntiarentur et propero exercitu uulpeculas ut fingebat subdolas ulcisci festinaret, non militaris in mari classis parata fortiter dimicare pro patria nec quadratum agmen neque dextrum cornu aliiue belli apparatus in litore conseruntur, sed terga pro scuto fugnatibus dantur et colla gladiis, gelido per ossa tremore currente, manusque uinciendae muliebriter protenduntur, ita ut in prouerbium et derisum longe lateque efferretur quod britanni nec in bello fortes sint nec in pace fideles.

Second subjection and servitude.

7. The Romans therefore, having slain many of the faithless ones, reserving some for slavery, lest the land should be reduced to destitution----return to Italy leaving behind them a land stripped of wine and oil. They leave behind governors as scourges for the backs of the natives, as a yoke for their necks, so that they should cause the epithet of Roman slavery to cling to the soil, should vex the crafty race not so much with military force as with whips, and if necessary, apply the unsheathed sword, as the saying is, to their sides. In this way the island would be regarded not as Britannia but as Romania, and whatever it might have of copper, silver, or gold would be stamped with the image of Caesar.


Item de subiectione ac diro famulatu.

7. itaque multis romani perfidorum caesis, nonnullis ad seruitutem, ne terra penitus in solitudinem redigeretur, mancipalibus reseruatis, patria uini oleique experte relicta italiam petunt, suorum quosdam relinquentes praepositos indigenarum dorsis mastigias, ceruicibus iugum, solo nomen ramanae seruitutis haerere facturos ac non tam militari manu quam flagris callidam gentem maceraturos et, si res sic postulauisset, ensem, ut dicitur, uagina uacuum lateri eius accommodaturos, ita ut non britannia, sed romania censeretur et quicquid habere potuisset aeris argenti uel auri imagine caesaris notaretur.

Rise of Christianity.

8. Meanwhile, to the island stiff with frost and cold, and in a far distant corner of the earth, remote from the visible sun, He, the true sun, even Christ, first yields His rays, I mean His precepts. He spread, not only from the temporal firmament, but from the highest arc of heaven beyond all times, his bright gleam to the whole world in the latest days, as we know, of Tiberius Caesar. At that time the religion of Christ[14] was propagated without any hindrance, because the emperor, contrary to the will of the senate, threatened with death informers against the soldiers of that same religion. 


De religione.

8. interea glaciali figore rigenti insulae et uelut longiore terrarum secessu soli uisibili non proximae uerus ille non de firmamento solum temporali sed de summa etiam caelorum arce tempora cuncta excedente uniuerso orbi praefulgidum sui coruscum ostendens, tempore, ut scimus, summo tiberii caesaris, quo absque ullo impedimento delatoribus militum eiusdem, radios suos primum indulget, id est sua praecepta, christus.

The Diocletian persecution.

9. Though these precepts had a lukewarm reception from the inhabitants, nevertheless they continued unimpaired with some, with others less so, until the nine years' persecution of the tyrant Diocletian. In this persecution churches were ruined throughout the whole world, all copies of the Holy Scriptures that could be found were burnt in the open streets, and the chosen priests of the Lord's flock butchered with the innocent sheep, so that if it could be brought to pass, not even a trace of the Christian religion would be visible in some of the provinces. What flights there were then, what slaughter, what punishments by different modes of death, what ruins of apostates, what glorious crowns of martyrs, what mad fury on the part of persecutors, and, on the contrary, what patience of the saints, the history of the church narrates. In consequence the whole church, in close array, emulously leaving behind it the darkness of this world, was hastening to the pleasant realms of heaven as to its own proper abode.


De persecutione.

9. quae, licet ab incolis tepide suscepta sunt[15], apud quosdam tamen integre et alios minus usque ad persecutionem dioceltiani tyranni nouennem[16], in qua subuersae per totum mundum sunt ecclesiae et cunctae sacrae scripturae, quae inueniri potuerunt, in plateis exustae et electi sacerdotes gregis domini cum innocentibus ouibus trucidati, ita ut ne uestgium quidem, si fieri potuisset, in nonnullis prouinciis christianae religionis appareret, permansere. tunc quantae fugae, quantae strages, quantae diuersarum mortium poenae, quantae apostatarum ruinae, quantae gloriosorum martyrum coronae, quanti persecutorum rabidi furores, quantae e contrario sanctorum patientiae fuere, ecclesiastica historia narrat[17], ita ut agmine denso certatim relictis post tergum mundialibus tenebris ad amoena caelorum regna quasi ad propriam sedem tota festinaret ecclesia.

Holy Martyrs.

10. God, therefore, as willing that all men should be saved, magnified his mercy unto us, and called sinners no less than those who regard themselves righteous. He of His own free gift, in the above mentioned time of persecution, as we conclude, lest Britain should be completely enveloped in the thick darkness of black night, kindled for us bright lamps of holy martyrs. The graves where their bodies lie, and the places of their suffering, had they not, very many of them, been taken from us the citizens on account of our numerous crimes, through the disastrous division caused by the barbarians, would at the present time inspire the minds of those who gazed at them with a far from feeble glow of divine love. I speak of Saint Alban of Verulam, Aaron and Iulius, citizens of Caerlleon, and the rest of both sexes in different places, who stood firm with lofty nobleness of mind in Christ's battle. 


De sanctis martyribus.

10. magnificauit igitur misericordiam suam nobiscum deus uolens omnes homines saluos fieri et uocans non minus peccatores quam eos qui se putant iustos. qui gratuito munere, supra dicto ut conicimus[18] persecutionis tempore, ne penitus crassa atrae noctis caligine britannia obfuscaretur, clarissimos lampades sanctorum martyrum nobis accendit, quorum nunc corporum sepulturae et passionum loca, si non lugubri diuortio barbarorum quam plurima ob scelera nostra ciuibus adimerentur, non minimum intuentium mentibus ardorem diuinae caritatis incuteren: sanctum albanum uerolamiensem, aaron et iulium[19] legionum urbis ciues ceterosque utriusque sexus diuersis in locis summa magnanimitate in acie christi perstantes dico.

11. The former of these, through love, hid a confessor when pursued by his persecutors, and on the point of being seized, imitating in this Christ laying down his life for the sheep. He first concealed him in his house, and afterwards exchanging garments with him, willingly exposed himself to the danger of being pursued in the clothes of the brother mentioned. Being in this way well pleasing to God, during the time between his holy confession and cruel death, in the presence of the impious men, who carried the Roman standard with hateful haughtiness, he was wonderfully adorned with miraculous signs, so that by fervent prayer he opened an unknown way through the bed of the noble river Thames, similar to that dry little-trodden way of the Israelites, when the ark of the covenant stood long on the gravel in the middle of Jordan; accompanied by a thousand men, he walked through with dry foot, the rushing waters on either side hanging like abrupt precipices, and converted first his executioner, as he saw such wonders, from a wolf into a lamb, and caused him together with himself to thirst more deeply for the triumphant palm of martyrdom, and more bravely to seize it. Others, however, were so tortured with diverse torments, and mangled with unheard of tearing of limbs, that without delay they raised trophies of their glorious martyrdom, as if at the beautiful gates of Jerusalem. Those who survived hid themselves in woods, deserts, and secret caves, expecting from God, the righteous ruler of all, to their persecutors, sometime, stern judgment, to themselves protection of life. 


11. quorum prior postquam caritatis gratia confessorem persecutoribus insectatum et iam iamque comprehendendum, imitans et in hoc christum animam pro ouibus ponentem, domo primum ac mutatis dein mutuo uestibus occuluit et se discrimini in fratris supra dicti uestimentis libenter persequendum dedit, ita deo inter sacram confessionem cruoremque coram impiis romana tum stigmata cum horribili fantasia praeferentibus placens signorum miraculis mirabiliter adornatus est, ut oratione feruenti illi israeliticae arenti uiae minusque tritae, stante diu arca prope glareas testamenti in medio iordanis canali, simile iter ignotum, trans tamesis nobilis fluuii alueum, cum mille uiris sicco ingrediens pede suspensis utrimque modo praeruptorum fluuialibus montium gurgitibus aperiret et priorem carnificem tanta prodigia uidentem in agnum ex lupo mutaret et una secum triumphalem martyrii palmam sitire uehementius et excipere fortius faceret. ceteri uero sic diuersis cruciatibus torti sunt et inaudita membrorum discerptione lacerati ut absque cunctamine gloriosi in egregiis ierusalem ueluti portis martyrii sui trophaea defigerent. nam qui superfuerant siluis ac desertis abditisque speluncis se occultauere, expectantes a iusto rectore omnium deo carnificibus seuera quandoque iudicia, sibi uero animarum tutamina.

12. Thus when ten years of the violence referred to had scarcely passed, and when the abominable edicts were disappearing through the death of their authors, all the soldiers of Christ, with gladsome eyes, as if after a wintry and long night, take in the calm and the serene light of the celestial region. They repair the churches, ruined to the ground; they found, construct, and complete basilicae in honour of the holy martyrs, and set them forth in many places as emblems of victory; they celebrate feast days; the sacred offices they perform with clean heart and lip; all exult as children cherished in the bosom of their mother, the church.


12. igitur bilustro supra dicti turbinis necdum ad integrum expleto emarcescentibusque nece suorum auctorum nefariis edictis, laetis luminibus omnes christi tirones quasi post hiemalem ac prolixam noctem temperiem lucemque serenam auare caelestis excipiunt. renouant ecclesias ad solum usque destructas; basilicas sanctorum mertyrum fundant construunt perficiunt ac uelut uictricia signa passim propalant. dies festos celebrant, sacra mundo corde oreque conficiunt. omnes exultant filii gremio ac si matris ecclesia confoti.


For this sweet harmony between Christ the head and the members continued, until the Arian unbelief, fierce as a snake vomiting forth upon us its foreign poison, caused deadly separation between brethren dwelling together. In this way, as if a path were made across the sea, all manner of wild beasts began to inject with horrid mouth the fatal poison of every form of heresy, and to inflict the lethal wounds of their teeth upon a country always wishful to hear something new and, at all events, desiring nothing steadfastly.

  De diversis haeresibus.

mansit namque haec christi capitis membrorumque consonantia suauis, donec arriana perfidia, atrox ceu anguis, transmarina nobis euomens uenena fratres in unum habitantes exitiabiliter faceret seiungi, ac sic quasi uia facta trans oceanum omnes omnino bestiae ferae mortiferum cuiuslibet haeresos uirus horrido ore uibrantes letalia dentium uulnera patriae noui semper aliquid audire uolenti et nihil certe stabiliter optinenti infigebant.

The tyranni.

13. At length also, as thickets of tyrants were growing up and bursting forth soon into an immense forest, the island retained the Roman name, but not the morals and law; nay rather, casting forth a shoot of its own planting, it sends out Maximus[20] to the two Gauls, accompanied by a great crowd of followers, with an emperor's ensigns in addition, which he never worthily bore nor legitimately, but as one elected after the manner of a tyrant and amid a turbulent soldiery. This man, through cunning art rather than by valour, first attaches to his guilty rule certain neighbouring countries or provinces against the Roman power, by nets of perjury and falsehood. He then extends one wing to Spain, the other to Italy, fixing the throne of his iniquitous empire at Trier, and raged with such madness against his lords that he drove two legitimate emperors, the one from Rome, the other from a most pious life. Though fortified by hazardous deeds of so dangerous a character, it was not long ere he lost his accursed head at Aquileia: he who had in a way cut off the crowned heads of the empire of the whole world.


De tyrannis.

13. itemque tandem tyrannorum uirgultis crescentibus et in immanem siluam iam iamque erumpentibus insula, nomen romanum nec tamen morem legemque tenens, quin potius abiciens germen suae plantationis amarissimae, ad gallias magna comitante satellium cateuera, insuper etiam imperatoris insignibus, quae nec decenter usquam gessit, non legitime, sed ritu tyrannico et tumultuante initiatum milite, maximum mittit. qui callida primum arte potius quam uirtute finitimos quosque pagos uel prouincias contra romanum statum per retia periurii mendaciique sui facinoroso regno adnectens, et unam alarum ad hispaniam, alteram ad italiam extendens et thronum iniquissimi imperii apud treueros statuens tanta insania in dominos debacchatus est ut duos imperatores legitimos, unum roma, alium religiosissima uita pelleret. nec mora tam feralibus uallatus audaciis apud aquileiam urbem capite nefando caeditur, qui decorata totius orbis capita regni quodammodo deiecerat.

Picts and Scots.

14. After this, Britain is robbed of all her armed soldiery, of her military supplies, of her rulers, cruel though they were, and of her vigorous youth who followed the footsteps of the above-mentioned tyrant and never returned. Completely ignorant of the practice of war, she is, for the first time, open to be trampled upon by two foreign tribes of extreme cruelty, the Scots from the north-west, the Picts from the north; and for many years continues stunned and groaning.[21]


De duabus gentibus vastatricibus

14. exin britannia omni armato milite, militaribus copiis, rectoribus licet immanibus, ingenti iuuentute spoliata, quae comitata uestigiis supra dicti tyranni domum nusquam ultra rediit, et omnis belli usus ignara penitus, duabus primum gentibus transmarinis uehementer saeuis, scotorum a circione, pictorum ab aquilone calcabilis, multos stupet gemitque annos

Defence made against them.

15. Owing to the inroads of these tribes and the consequent dreadful prostration, Britain sends an embassy with letters to Rome, entreating in tearful appeals an armed force to avenge her, and vowing submission on her part to the Roman power, uninterrupted and with all strength of heart, if the enemy were driven away. A legion is forthwith prepared, with no remembrance of past evil, and fully equipped. Having crossed over the sea in ships to Britain, it came into close engagement with the oppressive enemies; it killed a great number of them and drove all over the borders, and freed the humiliated inhabitants from so fierce a violence and threatening bondage. The inhabitants were commanded to build a wall across the island, between the two seas, so that, when strongly manned, it might be a terror to repel the enemies and a protection to the citizens. The wall being made not of stone but of turf, proved of no advantage to the rabble in their folly, and destitute of a leader.


De defensione.

15. ob quarum infestationem ac dirissimam depressionem legatos romam cum epistolis mittit, militarem manum ad se uindicandam lacrimosis postulationibus poscens et subiectionem sui romano imperio continue tota animi uirtute, si hostis longius arceretur, uouens. cui mox destinatur legio[22] praeteriti mali immemor, sufficienter armis instructa, quae ratibus trans oceanum in patriam aduecta et cominus cum grauibus hostibus congressa magnamque ex eis multitudinem sternens et omnes e finibus depulit et subiectos ciues tam atroci dilacerationi ex imminenti captiuitate liberauit. quos iussit construere inter duo maria trans insulam murum, ut esset arcendis hostibus turba instructus terrori ciuibusque tutamini; qui uulgo irrationabili absque rectore factus non tam lapidibus quam cespitibus[23] non profuit.

Repeated devastation.

16. The legion returned home in great triumph and joy when their old enemies, like rapacious wolves, fierce with excessive hunger, jump with greedy maw into the fold, because there was no shepherd in sight. They rush across the boundaries, carried over by wings of oars, by arms of rowers, and by sails with fair wind. They slay everything, and whatever they meet with they cut it down like a ripe crop, trample under foot and walk through.


Itemque vastatione.

16. illa domum cum triumpho magno et gaudio repedante illi priores inimici ac si ambrones lupi profunda fame rabidi, siccis faucibus ouile transilientes non comparente pastore, alis remorum remigumque brachiis ac uelis uento sinuatis uecti, terminos rumpunt caeduntque omnia et quaeque obuia maturam ceu segetem metunt calcant transeunt.

Second revenge.

17. Again suppliant messengers are sent with rent clothes, as is said, and heads covered with dust. Crouching like timid fowls under the trusty wings of the parent birds, they ask help of the Romans, lest the country in its wretchedness be completely swept away, and the name of Romans, which to their ears was the echo of a mere word, should even grow vile as a thing gnawed at, in the reproach of alien nations. They,[24] moved, as far as was possible for human nature, by the tale of such a tragedy, make speed, like the flight of eagles, unexpected in quick movements of cavalry on land and of sailors by sea; before long they plunge their terrible swords in the necks of the enemies; the massacre they inflict is to be compared to the fall of leaves at the fixed time, just like a mountain torrent, swollen by numerous streams after storms, sweeps over its bed in its noisy course; with furrowed back and fierce look, its waters, as the saying goes, surging up to the clouds (by which our eyes, though often refreshed by the movements of the eyelids, are obscured by the quick meeting of lines in its broken eddies), foams surprisingly, and with one rush overcomes obstacles set in its way. Then did the illustrious helpers quickly put to flight the hordes of the enemy beyond the sea, if indeed escape was at all possible for them: for it was beyond the seas that they, with no one to resist, heaped up the plunder greedily acquired by them year by year.


De secunda ultione.

17. itemque mittuntur queruli legati, scissis, ut dicitur, uestibus, opertisque sablone capitibus, inpetrantes a romanis auxilia ac ueluti timidi pulli patrum fidissimis alis succumbentes, ne penitus misera patria deleretur nomenque romanorum, quod uerbis tantum apud eos auribus resultabat, uel exterarum gentium opprobrio obrosum uilesceret. at illi, quantum humanae naturae possibile est, commoti tantae historiae tragoediae, uolatus ceu aquilarum equitum in terra, nautarum in mari cursus accelerantes, inopinatos primum, tandem terribiles inimicorum ceruicibus infigunt mucronum ungues, casibusque foliorum tempore certo adsimilandam hisdem peragunt stragem, ac si montanus torrens crebris tempestatum riuulis auctus sonoroque meatu alueos exundans ac sulcato dorso fronteque acra, erectis, ut aiunt, ad nebulas undis (luminum quibus pupilli, persaepe licet palpebrarum conuolatibus innouati, adiunctis rimarum rotantium lineis fuscantur) mirabiliter spumans, ast uno obiectas sibi euincit gurgite moles[25]. ita aemulorum agmina auxiliares egregii, si qua tamen euadere potuerant, praepropere trans maria fugauerunt, quia anniuersarias auide praedas nullo obsistente trans maria exaggerabant.

18. The Romans, therefore, declare to our country that they could not be troubled too frequently by arduous expeditions of that kind, nor could the marks of Roman power, that is an army of such size and character, be harassed by land and sea on account of un-warlike, roving, thieving fellows. They urge the Britons, rather, to accustom themselves to arms, and fight bravely, so as to save with all their might their land, property, wives, children, and, what is greater than these, their liberty and life: they should not, they urge, in any way hold forth their hands armourless to be bound by nations in no way stronger than themselves, unless they became' effeminate through indolence and listlessness; but have them provided with bucklers, swords and spears, and ready for striking. Because they were also of opinion that it would bring a considerable advantage to the people they were leaving, they construct a wall, different from the other, by public and private contributions, joining the wretched inhabitants to themselves: they build the wall in their accustomed mode of structure, in a straight line, across from sea to sea, between cities, which perhaps had been located there through fear of enemies; they give bold counsel to the people in their fear, and leave behind them patterns for the manufacture of arms.
On the sea coast also, towards the south, where their ships were wont to anchor, because from that quarter also wild barbarian hordes were feared, they place towers at stated intervals, affording a prospect of the sea. They then bid them farewell, as men who never intended to return.
[28 additional note]


18. igitur romani, partiae denuntintes nequaquam se tam loboriosis expeditionibus posse frequentius uexari et ob imbelles erraticosque latrunculos romana stigmata[26], tantum talemque exercitum, terra ac mari fatigari, sed ut potius sola consuescendo armis ac uiriliter dimicando terram substantiolam coniuges liberos et, quod his maius est, libertatem uitamque totis uiribus uindicaret, et gentibus nequaquam sibi fortioribus, nisi segnitia et torpore dissolueretur, inermes uinculis uinciendas nullo modo, sed instructas peltis ensibus hastis et ad caedam promptas protenderet manus, suadentes, quia et hoc putabant aliquid derelinquendo populo commodi adcrescere, murum non ut alterum[27], sumptu publico priuatoque adiunctis secum miserabilibus indigenis, solito structurae more, tramite a mari usque ad mare inter urber, quae ibidem forte ob metum hostium collocatae fuerant, directo librant; foria formidoloso populo monita tradunt, exemplaria instituendorum armorum relinquunt.
in litore quoque oceani ad meridianam plagam, quo naues eorum habebantur, quia et inde barbaricae ferae bestiae timebantur, turres per interualla ad prospectum maris collocant, et ualedicunt tamquam ultra non reuersuri.

Third devastation.

19. As they were returning home, the terrible hordes of Scots and Picts eagerly come forth out of the tiny craft (cwrwgs) in which they sailed across the sea-valley, as on Ocean's deep, just as, when the sun is high and the heat increasing, dark swarms of worms emerge from the narrow crevices of their holes. Differing partly in their habits, yet alike in one and the same thirst for bloodshed ----in a preference also for covering their villainous faces with hair rather than their nakedness of body with decent clothing----these nations, on learning the departure of our helpers and their refusal to return, became more audacious than ever, and seized the whole northern part of the land as far as the wall, to the exclusion of the inhabitants.


Tertiaque vastatione.

19. itaque illis ad sua remeantibus emergunt certatim de curucis[29], quibus sunt trans tithicam uallem euecti, quasi in alto titane incalescenteque caumate de arissimis formanium couerniculis fusci uermiculorum cunei, tetri scottorum pictorumque gentes, moribus ex parte dissidentes, sed una eademque sanguinis fundendi auiditate concordes furciferosque magis uultus pilis quam corporum pudenda pudendisque proxma uestibus tegentes, cognitaque condebitorum reuersione et reditus denegatione solito confidentiores omnem aquilonalem extremamque terrae partem pro indigenis muro tenus capessunt.

The famine.

To oppose their attacks, there was stationed on the height of the stronghold, an army, slow to fight, unwieldy for flight, incompetent by reason of its cowardice of heart, which languished day and night in its foolish watch. In the meantime the barbed weapons of the naked enemies are not idle: by them the wretched citizens are dragged from the walls and dashed to the ground. This punishment of untimely death was an advantage, forsooth, to them that were cut off by such an end, in so far as it saved them, by its suddenness, from the wretched torments which threatened their brethren and relatives.

  De fame.

statuitur ad haec in edito arcis acies, segnis ad pugnam, inhabilis ad fugam, trememntibus praecordiis inepta, quae diebus ac noctibus stupido sedili marcebat. interea non cessant uncinata nudorum tela, quibus miserrimi ciues de muris tracti solo allidebantur. hoc scilicet eis proficiebat immaturae mortis supplicium qui tali funere rapiebantur, quo fratrum pignorumque suorum miserandas imminentes poenas cito exitu deuitabant.

Why should I tell more? They abandon their cities and lofty wall: there ensues a repetition of flight on the part of the citizens; again there are scatterings with less hope than ever, pursuit again by the enemy, and again still more cruel massacres. As lambs by butchers, so the unhappy citizens are torn in pieces by the enemy, insomuch that their life might be compared to that of wild animals. For they even began to restrain one another by the thieving of the small means of sustenance for scanty living, to tide over a short time, which the wretched citizens possessed. Calamities from without were aggravated by tumults at home, because the whole country by pillagings, so frequent of this kind, was being stripped of every kind of food supply, with the exception of the relief that came from their skill in hunting.   quid plura? relictis ciuitatibus muroque celso iterum ciuibus fugae, iterum dispersiones solito desperabiliores, iterum ab hoste insectationes, iterum strages accelerantur crudeliores; et sicut agni a lanionibus, ita deflendi ciues ab inimicies discerpuntur ut commoratio eorum ferarum assimilaretur agrestium. nam et ipsos mutuo, perexigui uictus breui sustentaculo miserrimorum ciuium, latrocinando temperabant: et augebantur externae clades domesticis motibus, quod huiuscemodi tam crebis direptionibus uacuaretur omnis regio totius cibi baculo, excepto uenatoriae artis solacio.

Letter to Agitius.

20. The miserable remnant therefore send a letter to Agitius, a man holding high office at Rome; they speak as follows:----To Agitius, in his third consulship, come the groans of the Britons; a little further in their request: the barbarians drive us to the sea, the sea drives us upon the barbarians; by one or other of these two modes of death we are either killed or drowned; and for these they have no aid. In the meantime, the severe and well-known famine presses the wandering and vacillating people, which compels many of them without delay to yield themselves as conquered to the bloodthirsty robbers, in order to have a morsel of food for the renewal of life. Others were never so compelled: rather issuing from the very mountains, from caves and defiles and from dense thickets, they carried on the war unceasingly. 


De epistolis ad Agitium.

20. igitur rursum miserae mittentes epistolas reliquiae ad agitium romanae potestatis uirum, hoc modo loquentes: ‘agitio[30] ter consuli gemitus britannorum;’ et post pauca querentes: ‘repellunt barbari ad mare, repellit mare ad barbaros; inter haec duo genera funerum aut iugulamur aut mergimur;’ nec pro eis quicquam adiutorii habent. interea famis dira ac famosissima uagis ac nutantdibus haeret, quae multos eorum cruentis compulit praedonibus sine dilatione uictus dare manus, ut pauxillum ad refocillandam animam cibi caperent, alios uero nusquam: quin potius de ipsis montibus, speluncis ac saltibus, dumis consertis continue rebellabant.

The victory over Picts and Scots.

Then for the first time, they inflicted upon the enemy, which for many years was pillaging in the land, a severe slaughter: their trust was not in man but in God, as that saying of Philo goes: we must have recourse to divine aid where human fails.[31] The boldness of the enemy quieted for a time, but not the wickedness of our people; the enemy withdrew from our countrymen, but our countrymen withdrew not from their sins. 

  De victoria.

et tum primum inimicis per multos annos praedas in terra agewntibus strages dabant, non fidentes in homine, sed in deo, secundum illud philonis: ‘necesse est edesse diuinum, ubi humanum cessat auxilium.’ quieuit parumper inimicorum audacia nec tamen nostrorum malitia; recesserunt hostes a ciuibus nec ciues a suis sceleribus.

21. It was the invariable habit of the race, as it is also now, to be weak in repelling the missiles of enemies, though strong to bear civil strifes and the burdens of sins; weak, I say, to follow ensigns of peace and truth, yet strong for crimes and falsehood. The shameless Irish assassins, therefore, went back to their homes, to return again before long. It was then, for the first time, in the furthermost part of the island, that the Picts commenced their successive settlements, with frequent pillaging and devastation.


21. moris namque continui erat genti, sicut et nunc est, ut infirma esset ad retundenda hostium tela et fortis esset ad ciuilia bella et peccatorum onera sustinenda, infirma, inquam, ad exequanda pacis ac ueritatis insignia et fortis ad scelera et mendacia. reuertuntur ergo impudentes grassatores hiberni domos, post non longum temporis reuersuri. picti in extrema parte insulae tunc primum et deinceps requieuerunt, praedas et contritiones nonnumquam facientes.

Growth of crimes among the Britons.

During such truces, consequently, the ugly scar is healed for the deserted people. While another more poisonous hunger was silently growing on the other hand, and the devastation quieting down, the island was becoming rich with so many resources of affluence that no age remembered the possession of such afterwards: along with these resources of every kind, luxury also grew.[32] It grew, in fact, with strong root, so that it might fitly be said at that same time: such fornication is actually reported as is not even among the gentiles.
But it was not this vice alone that grew, but also all to which human nature is generally liable: especially the vice which to-day also overthrows the place that appertains to all good in the island, that is to say, hatred of truth together with those who defend it, love of falsehood together with its fabricators, undertaking evil for good, respect for wickedness rather than for kindness, desire of darkness in preference to the sun, the welcoming of Satan as an angel of light.
Kings were anointed, not in the name of God, but such as surpassed others in cruelty, and shortly afterwards were put to death by the men who anointed them, without any enquiry as to truth, because others more cruel had been elected. If, however, any one among them appeared to be of a milder disposition, and to some extent more attached to truth, against him were turned without respect the hatred and darts of all, as if he were the subverter of Britain; all things, those which were displeasing to God and those which pleased him, had at least equal weight in the balance, if, indeed, the things displeasing to him were not the more acceptable. In this way that saying of the prophet which was uttered against that ancient people might be applied with justice to our country: Ye lawless sons, he says, have forsaken God and provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger. Why will ye be stricken any more when ye add iniquity? Every head is weak and every heart grieving; from the sole of the foot to the crown there is no soundness in it.

  De sceleribus.

in talibus itaque indutiis desolato populo saeua cicatric obducitur, fame alia uirulentiore tacitus pullulante. quiescente autem uastitate tantis abundantiarum copiis insula affluebat ut nulla habere tales retro aetas meminisset, cum quibus omnimodis et luxuria crescit. creuit etenim germine praepollenti, ita ut competentur eodem tempore diceretur: ‘omnino talis auditur fornicatio qualis nec inter gentes.’
non solum uer hoc uitium, set et omnia quae humanae naturae accidere solent, et praecipue, quod et nunc quoque in ea totius boni euertit statum, odium ueritatis cum assertoribus amorque mendacii cum suis fabricatoribus, susceptio mali pro bono, ueneratio nequitiae pro benignitate, cupido tenebrarum pro sole, exceptio satanae pro angelo lucis.
ungebantur reges non per deum sed qui ceteris crudeliores exstarent, et paulo post ab unctioribus non pro ueri examinatione trucidabantur aliis electis trucioribus. si quis uero eorum mitior et ueritati aliquatenus propior uideretur, in hunc quasi britanniae subuersorem omnia odia telaque sine respectu contorquebantur, et omnia quae displicuerunt deo et quae placuaerunt aequali saltem lance pendebantur, si non gratiora fuissent displicentia; ita ut merito patriae illud propheticum, quod ueterno illi populo denuntiatum est, potuit aptari, ‘filii’ inquiens ‘sine lege, dereliquistis deum, et ad iracundiam prouocastis sanctum israel. quid adhuc percutiemini apponentes iniquitatem? omne caput languidum et omne cor maerens: a planta pedis usque ad uerticem non est in eo sanitas.’
The coming of the enemy suddenly made known.

In this way they did all things that were contrary to salvation, as if there were no remedy to be supplied for the world by the true Healer of all men. It was not only men of the world who did this, but the Lord's flock itself also and its pastors, who ought to have been an example to the whole people; they, in great numbers, as if soaked in wine through drunkenness, became stupified and enervated, and by the swelling of animosities, by the jar of strifes, by the grasping talons of envy, by confused judgement of good and evil, were so enfeebled that it was plainly seen, as in the present case, that contempt was being poured out upon princes, and that they were led astray by their vanities and error in a trackless place, and not on the way. 

  De nuntiatis subito hostibus.

sicque agebant cuncta quae saluti contraria fuerint, ac si nihil mundo medicinae a uero omnium medico largiretur. et non solum haec saeculares uiri, sed et ipse grex domini eiusque pastores, qui exemplo esse omni plebi debuerint, ebrietate quam plurimi quasi uino madidi torpebant resoluti et animositatum tumore, iurgiorum contentione, inuidiae rapacibus ungulis, indiscreto boni malique iudicio carpebantus, ita ut perspicue, sicut et nunc est, effundi uideretur contemptio super principes, seduci uanis eorum et errare in inuio et non in uia.

22. Meanwhile, when God was desirous to cleanse his family, and, though defiled by such a strain of evil things, to better it by their hearing only of distress, there came like the winged flight of a rumour not unfamiliar to them, into the listening ears of all----that their old enemies had already arrived, bent upon thorough destruction, and upon dwelling in the country, as had become their wont, from one end to the other. Nevertheless they in no way profited by this news; rather like foolish beasts, with clenched teeth, as the saying is, they bite the bit of reason, and began to run along the broad way of many sins, which leads down to death, quitting the narrow way though it was the path of salvation. 


22. interea uolente deo purgare familiam suam et tanta malorum labe infectam auditu tantum ribulationis emendare, non ignoti rumoris penniger ceu uolatus arrectas omnium penetrat aures iamiamque aduentus ueterum uolentium penitus delere et inhabitare solito more a fine usque ad terminum regionem. nequaquam tamen ob hoc proficiunt, sed comparati iumentis insipientibus strictis, ut dicitur, morsibus rationis frenum offirmantes, per latum diuersorum uitiorum morti procliue ducentem, relicto salutari licet arto itinere, discurrebant uiam.

The noted plague.

Whilst then, according to the words of Solomon, The stubborn servant is not corrected by words, the foolish nation is scourged and feels it not: for a deadly pestilence came upon the unwise people which, in a short time, without any sword, brought down such a number of them that the living were unable to bury the dead.

  De famosa peste.

dum ergo, ut salomon ait, ‘seruus durus non emendatur uerbis’, flagellatur stultus et non sentit, pestifera namque lues feraliter insipienti populo incumbit, quae in breui tantam eius multitudinem remoto mucrone sternit, quantam ne possint uiui humare.
But they were not corrected even by this pestilence, so that the word of Isaiah the prophet was fulfilled in them: And God has called to lamentation and to baldness and the girdle of sack-cloth: behold they kill calves, and slay rams, behold they eat and drink and say, 'Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow let us die'   sed ne hac quidem emendantur, ut illud esaiae prophetae in eo quoque impleretur dicentis: ‘et uocauit deus ad planctum et ad caluitium et ad cingulum sacci: ecce uitulos occidere et iugulare arietes, ecce manducare et bibere et dicere: manducemus et bibamus, cras enim moriamur’.

In this way the time was drawing nigh when the iniquities of the country, as those of the Amorites of old, would be fulfilled. A council is held, to deliberate what means ought to be determined upon, as the best and safest to repel such fatal and frequent irruptions and plunderings by the nations mentioned above. 

  De consilio.

appropinquabat siquidem tempus quo eius iniquitates, ut olim amorrhaeorum, complerentur. initur namque consilium quid optimum quidue saluberrimum ad repellendas tam ferales et tam crebras supra dictarum gentium irruptiones praedasque decerni deberet.

23. At that time all members of the assembly, along with the arrogant usurper Vortigern, are blinded; such is the protection they find for their country (it was, in fact, its destruction) that those wild Saxons, of accursed name, hated by God and men, should be admitted into the island, like wolves into folds, in order to repel the northern nations. Nothing more hurtful, certainly, nothing more bitter, happened to the island than this. What utter depth of darkness of soul! What hopeless and cruel dulness of mind! The men whom, when absent, they feared more than death, were invited by them of their own accord, so to say, under the cover of one roof: Foolish princes of Zoan, as is said, giving unwise counsel to Pharaoh. 


23. tum omnes consiliarii una cum superbo tyranno Vortigerno[33] caecantur, adinuenintes tale praesidium, immo excidium patriae ut ferocissimi illi nefandi nominis saxones deo hominibusque inuisi, quasi in caulas lupi, in insulam ad retundendas aquilonales gentes intromitterentur. quo utique nihil ei usquam perniciosius nihilque amarius factum est. o altissimam sensus calignem! o desperabilem crudamque mentis hebetudinem! quos propensius morte, cum abessent, tremebant, sponte, ut ita dicam, sub unius tecti culmini inuitabant: ‘stulti principes’, ut dictum est, ‘taneos dantes pharaoni consilium insipiens’.

The Saxons prove far more cruel than the former enemies.

Then there breaks forth a brood of whelps from the lair of the savage lioness, in three cyulae (keels), as it is expressed in their language, but in ours, in ships of war under full sail, with omens and divinations. In these it was foretold, there being a prophecy firmly relied upon among them, that they should occupy the country to which the bows of their ships were turned, for three hundred years; for one hundred and fifty----that is for half the time----they should make frequent devastations. They sailed out, and at the directions of the unlucky tyrant, first fixed their dreadful talons in the eastern part of the island, as men intending to fight for the country, but more truly to assail it. To these the mother of the brood, finding that success had attended the first contingent, sends out also a larger raft-full of accomplices and curs, which sails over and joins itself to their bastard comrades. From that source, the seed of iniquity, the root of bitterness, grows as a poisonous plant, worthy of our deserts, in our own soil, furnished with rugged branches and leaves.
Thus the barbarians, admitted into the island, succeed in having provisions supplied them, as if they were soldiers and about to encounter, as they falsely averred, great hardships for their kind entertainers. These provisions, acquired for a length of time, closed, as the saying is, the dog's maw. They complain, again, that their monthly supplies were not copiously contributed to them, intentionally colouring their opportunities, and declare that, if larger munificence were not piled upon them, they would break the treaty and lay waste the whole of the island. They made no delay to follow up their threats with deeds.

  De saeviore multo primis hoste.

tum erumpens grex catulorum de cubili laeanae barbarae, tribus, ut lingua eius exprimitur, cyulis, nostra longis nauibus, secundis uelis omine auguriisque, quibus uaticinabatur, certo apud eum praesagio, quod ter centum annis patriam, cui proras librabat, insideret, centum uero qunquaginta, hoc est dimidio temporis, saepius uastaret, euectus, primum in orientali parte insulae iubente infausto tyranno terribiles infixit ungues, quasi pro patria pugnaturus sed eam certius impugnaturus. cui supradicta genetrix, comperiens primo agmini fuisse prosperatum, item mitit satellitum canumque prolixiorem catastam, quae ratibus aduecta adunatur cum manipularibus spuriis. inde germen iniquitatis, radix amritudinis, uirulenta plantatio nostris condigna meritis, in nostro cespite, ferocibus palmitibus pampinisque pullulat.
igitur intromissi in insulam barbari, ueluti militibus et magna, ut mentiebantur, discrimina pro bonis hospitibus subituris, impetrant sibi annonas dari: quae multo tempore impertitae clauserunt, ut dicitur, canis faucem. item queruntur non affluenter sibi epimenia contribui, occasiones de industria colorantes, et ni profusior eis munificentia cumularetur, testantur se cuncta insulae rupto foedere depopulaturos. nec mora, minas effectibus prosequuntur.

24. For the fire of righteous vengeance, caused by former crimes, blazed from sea to sea, heaped up by the eastern band of impious men; and as it devastated all the neighbouring cities and lands, did not cease after it had been kindled, until it burnt nearly the whole surface of the island, and licked the western ocean with its red and savage tongue. In this assault, which might be compared to the Assyrian attack upon Iudaea of old, there is fulfilled in us also, according to the account, that which the prophet in his lament says:
They have burnt with fire thy sanctuary in the land, 
They have defiled the tabernacle of thy name;

and again,
O God, the gentiles have come into thine inheritance, 
They have defiled thy holy temple,
and so forth. In this way were all the settlements brought low with the frequent shocks of the battering rams; the inhabitants, along with the bishops of the church, both priests and people, whilst swords gleamed on every side and flames crackled, were together mown down to the ground, and, sad sight! there were seen in the midst of streets, the bottom stones of towers with tall beam
[35] cast down, and of high walls, sacred altars, fragments of bodies covered with clots, as if coagulated, of red blood, in confusion as in a kind of horrible wine press: there was no sepulture of any kind save the ruins of houses, or the entrails of wild beasts and birds in the open, I say it with reverence to their holy souls (if in fact there were many to be found holy), that would be carried by holy angels to the heights of heaven. For the vineyard, at one time good, had then so far degenerated to bitter fruit, that rarely could be seen, according to the prophet, any cluster of grapes or ear of corn, as it were, behind the back of the vintagers or reapers.


24. confouebatur namque ulitionis iustae praecedentium scelerum causa de mari usque ad mare ignis orientali sacrilegorum manu exaggeratus, et finitimas quasque ciuitates agrosque populans non quieuit accensus donec cunctam paene exurens insulae superficiem rubra occidentalem trucique oceanum lingua delamberet. in hoc ergo impetu assyrio olim in iudaeam comparando completur quoque in nobis secundum historiam quod propheta deplorans ait: ‘incenderunt igni sanctuarium tuum in terra, polluerunt tabernaculum nominis tui’, et iterum: ‘deus, uenerunt gentes in hereditatem tuam; coinquinarunt templum sanctum tuum’,
et cetera: ita ut cunctae coloniae crebris arietibus omnesque colonis cum praepositis ecclesiae, cum sacerdotibus ac populo, mucronibus undique micantibus ac flammis crepitantibus, simul solo sternerentur, et miserabili uisu in medio platearum ima turrium edito cardine euulsarum murorumque celsorum saxa, sacra altaria, cadauerum frustra, crustis ac si gelantibus purpurei cruoris tecta, uelut in quodam horrendo torculari mixta uiderentur, et nulla esset omnimodis praeter domorum ruinas, bestiarum uolucrumque uentres in medio sepultura, salua sanctarum animarum reuerentia, si tamen multae inuentae sint quae arduis caeli id temporis a sanctis angelis ueherentur. ita enim degenerauerat tunc uinea illa olim bona in amaritudinem uti raro, secundum prophetam, uideretur quasi post tergum uindemiatorum aut messorum racems uel spica.

25. Some of the wretched remnant were consequently captured on the mountains and killed in heaps. Others, overcome by hunger, came and yielded themselves to the enemies, to be their slaves for ever, if they were not instantly slain, which was equivalent to the highest service. Others repaired to parts beyond the sea, with strong lamentation, as if, instead of the oarsman's call, singing thus beneath the swelling sails:
Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for eating,
And among the gentiles hast thou scattered us.
Others, trusting their lives, always with apprehension of mind, to high hills, overhanging, precipitous, and fortified, and to dense forests and rocks of the sea, remained in their native land, though with fear.


25. itaque nonnulli[36] miserarum reliquiarum in montibus deprehensi aceruatim iugulabantur: alii fame confecti accedentes manus hostibus dabant in aeuum seruituri, si tamen non continuo trucidarentur, quod altissimae gratiae stabat loco: alii transmarinas petebant regiones[37] cum ululatu magno ceu celeumatis uice hoc modo sub uelorum sinibus cantantes: ‘dedisti nos tamquam oues escarum et in gentibus disperisti nos’: alii mantanis collibus minacibus praeruptis uallatis et densissimis saltibus marinisque rupibus uitam suspecta semper mente credentes, in patria licet trepidi persabant.

After a certain length of time the cruel robbers returned to their home. A remnant, to whom wretched citizens flock from different places on every side, as eagerly as a hive of bees when a storm is threatening, praying at the same time unto Him with their whole heart, and, as is said,
Burdening the air with unnumbered prayers,
that they should not be utterly destroyed, take up arms and challenge their victors to battle under Ambrosius Aurelianus. He was a man of unassuming character, who, alone of the Roman race chanced to survive in the shock of such a storm (as his parents, people undoubtedly clad in the purple, had been killed in it), whose offspring in our days have greatly degenerated from their ancestral nobleness. To these men, by the Lord's favour, there came victory.
  tempore igitur interueniente aliquanto, cum recessissent domum[38] crudelissimi praedones, roborante deo reliquiae, quibus confugiunt undique de diuersis locis miserrimi ciues, tam audie quam apes alueari procella imminente, simul deprecantes eum tot corde et, ut dicitur, innumeris ‘onerantes aethera uotis’, ne ad internicionem usque delerentur, duce ambrosio aureliano[40] uiro modesto, qui solus forte romanae gentis tantae tempestatis collisione occisis in eadem parentibus purpura nimirum indutis superfuerat, cuius nunc temporibus nostris suboles magnopere auita bonitate degenerauit, uires capessunt, uictores prouocantes ad proelium: quis uictoria domino annuente cessit.

The final victory over the Saxons. Siege of Mons Badonicus.

26. From that time, the citizens were sometimes victorious, sometimes the enemy, in order that the Lord, according to His wont, might try in this nation the Israel of to-day, whether it loves Him or not. This continued up to the year of the siege of Badon Hill, and of almost the last great slaughter inflicted upon the rascally crew. And this commences, a fact I know, as the forty-fourth year, with one month now elapsed; it is also the year of my birth.
But not even at the present day are the cities of our country inhabited as formerly; deserted and dismantled, they lie neglected
[43] until now, because, although wars with foreigners have ceased, domestic wars continue. The recollection of so hopeless a ruin of the island, and of the unlooked-for help, has been fixed in the memory of those who have survived as witnesses of both marvels. Owing to this (aid) kings, magistrates, private persons, priests, ecclesiastics, severally preserved their own rank.
As they died away, when an age had succeeded ignorant of that storm, and having experience only of the present quiet, all the controlling influences of truth and justice were so shaken and overturned that, not to speak of traces, not even the remembrance of them is to be found among the ranks named above. I make exception of a few
[44] -a very few- who owing to the loss of the vast multitude that rushes daily to hell, are counted at so small a number that our revered mother, the church, in a manner does not observe them as they rest in her bosom. They are the only real children she has.
Let no man think that I am slandering the noble life of these men, admired by all and beloved of God, by whom my weakness is supported so as not to fall into entire ruin, by holy prayers, as by columns and serviceable supports. Let no one think so, if in a somewhat excessively free-spoken, yea, doleful manner, driven by a crowd of evils, I shall not so much treat of, as weep concerning those who serve not only their belly, but the devil rather than Christ, who is God blessed for ever. For why will fellow-citizens hide what the nations around already not only know, but reproach us with?


De postrema patriae victoria quae temporibus nostris Dei nutu donata est.

26. ex eo tempore nunc ciues, nunc hostes, uincebant, ut in ista gente experietur dominus solito more praesentem israelem, utrum diligat eum an non: usque ad annum obsessionis badonici montis[41], nouissimaeque ferme de furciferis non minimae stragis, quique quadragesimus quartus[42] (ut noui) orditur annus mense iam uno emenso, qui et meae natiuitatis est.
sed ne nunc quidem, ut antea, ciuitates patriae inhabitantur; sed desertae dirutaeque hactenus squalent, cessantibus licet externis bellis, sed non ciuilibus. haesit etenim tam desperati insulae excidii insperatique mentio auxilii memoriae eorum qui utriusque miraculi testes extitere: et ob hoc reges, publici, priuati, sacerdotes, ecclesiastici, suum quique ordinem seruarunt.
at illis decedentibus cum successiset aetas tempestatis illius nescia et praesentis tantum serenitatis experta, ita cuncta ueritais ac iustitiae moderamina concussa ac subuersa sunt ut earum non dicam uestigium sed ne monimentum quidem in supra dictis propemodum ordinibus appareat, exceptis paucis et ualde paucis qui ob amissionem tantae multitudinis, quae cotidie prona ruit ad tartara, tam breuis numerus habentur ut eos quodammodo uenerabilis mater ecclesia
[45] in suo sinu recumbentes non uideat, quos solos ueros filios habet.
quorum ne quis me agregiam uitam omnibus admirabilem deoque amabilem carpere putet, quibus nostra infirmitas in sacris orationibus ut non penitus conlabatur quasi columnis quibusdam ac fulcris saluberrimus sustentatur, si qua liberius de his, immo lugubrius, cumulo malorum conpulsus, qui seruiunt non solum uentri sed diabolo potius quam christo, qui est benedictus in saecula deus, non tam discptauero quam defleuero. quippe quid celabunt ciues quam non solum norunt sed exprobrant iam in circuitu nationes?


General Denunciation of Princes and Judges.

27. Kings Britain has, but they are as her tyrants: she has judges, but they are ungodly men: engaged in frequent plunder and disturbance, but of harmless men: avenging and defending, yea for the benefit of criminals and robbers. They have numerous wives, though harlots and adulterous women: they swear but by way of forswearing, making vows yet almost immediately use falsehood. They make wars, but the wars they undertake are civil and unjust ones. They certainly pursue thieves industriously throughout the country, whilst those thieves who sit with them at table, they not only esteem but even remunerate. Alms they give profusely, but over against this they heap up a huge mountain of crimes. They take their seat to pronounce sentence, yet seldom seek the rule of right judgment. Despising the innocent and lowly, they to their utmost extol to the stars the bloody-minded, the proud, the murderous men, their own companions and the adulterous enemies of God, if chance so offers, who ought, together with their very name, to be assiduously destroyed. Many have they bound in their prisons, whom they ill-use with weight of chains, more by their own fraud than by reason of desert: they linger among the altars in the oaths they make, and shortly afterwards look with disdain on these same altars as if they were dirty stones.


27. reges habet britannia, sed tyrannos; iudices habet, sed impios; seape praedantes et concutientes, sed innocentes; uindicantes et patrociniantes, sed reos et latrones; quam plurimas coniuges habentes, sed scortas et adulterantes; crebro iurantes, sed periurantes; uouentes, sed continue propemodum mentientes; belligerantes, sed ciuila et iniusta bella agentes; per patriam quidem fures magnopere insectantes, sed eos qui secum ad mensam sedent non solum amantes sed et munerantes; eleemosynas largiter dantes, sed e regione inmensum montem scelerum exaggerantes; in sede arbitraturi sedentes, sed raro recti iudicii regulam quaerentes; innoxios humilesque despicientes, sanguinarios superbos parricidas commanipulares et adulteros dei inimicos, si sors, ut dicitur, tulerit, qui cum ipso nomine certatim delendi erant, ad sidera, prout possunt, efferentes; uinctos plures in carceribus habentes, quos dolo sui potius quam merito protuerunt catenis onerantes, inter altaria iurando demorantes et haed eadem ac si lutulenta paulo post saxa despicientes.

Denunciation of the Five Princes. 

Constantinus of Damnonia.
28. Of this so execrable a wickedness Constantine, the tyrannical whelp of the unclean lioness of Damnonia, is not ignorant. In this year, after a dreadful form of oath, by which he bound himself that he would use no deceit against his subjects, making his oath first to God, and secondly to the choirs of saints and those who follow them, in reliance upon the mother (the church), he nevertheless, in the garb of a holy abbot, cruelly tore the tender sides of two royal children, while in the bosoms of two revered mothers ----viz., the church and the mother after the flesh----together with their two guardians. And their arms, stretched forth, in no way to armour, which no man was in the habit of using more bravely than they at this time, but towards God and His altar, will hang in the day of judgment at thy gates, Oh Christ, as revered trophies of their patience and faith. He did this among the holy altars, as I said, with accursed sword and spear instead of teeth, so that the cloaks, red as if with clotted blood, touched the place of the heavenly sacrifice.


28. cuius tam nefandi piaculi non ignarus est inmundae leaenae damnoniae tyrannicus catulus constantinus
[46]. hoc anno, post horribile iuramenti sacramentum, quo se deuinxit nequaquam dolos ciuibus, deo primum iureque iurando, sanctorum demum choris et genetrice comitantibus freis, facturum, in duarum uenerandis matrum sinibus, ecclesiae carnalisque, sub sancti abbatis amphibalo, latera regiorum tenerrima puerorum uel praecordia crudeliter duum totidemque nutritorum quorum brachia nequaquam armis, quae nullus paene hominum fortius hoc eis tempore tractabat, sed deo altarique protenta in die iudicii ad tuae ciuitatis portas, christe, ueneranda patientiae ac fidei suae uexilla suspendent – inter ipsa, ut dixi, sacrosancta altaria nefando ense hastaque pro dentibus lacerauit, ita ut sacrificii caelestis sedem purpurea ac si coagulati cruoris pallia attingerent.

This deed he committed, after no meritorious acts worthy of praise; for, many years previously he was overcome by frequent successive deeds of adultery, having put away his legitimate wife, contrary to the prohibition of Christ and the Teacher of the gentiles, who say: What God hath joined let man not separate, and: Husbands love your wives. For he planted, of the bitter vine of Sodom in the soil of his heart, unfruitful for good seed, a shoot of unbelief and unwisdom, which, watered by public and domestic impieties as if by poisonous showers, and springing forth more quickly to the displeasure of God, brought forth the guilt of murder and sacrilege. But as one not yet free from the nets of prior sins he heaps new crimes upon old ones.   et hoc ne post laudanda quidem merita egit, nam multis ante annis crebris alternatisque faetoribus adulteriorum uictus legitima uxore contra christi magistrique gentium interdictum depulsa dicentium: ‘quod deus coniunxit, homo non separet’ et ‘uiri, diligite uxores uestras’.
amarissima enim quoddam de uite sodomorum in cordis sui infructuosa bono semini gleba surculamen incredulitatis et insipientiae plantauerat, quod ulgatis domesticisque impietatibus uelut quibusdam uenenatis imbribus irrigatum et ad dei offensam auidius se erigens parricidi sacrilegiique crimen produxit in medium. sed nec adhuc priorum retibus malorum expeditus priscis recentia auget malis.

29. Come now! (I reprove, as if present, one whom I know to be yet surviving). Why art thou confounded, thou murderer of thine own soul? Why kindlest thou, of thine own accord, the ceaseless flames of hell against thyself? Why, taking the place of thine enemies, piercest thou thyself, under no compulsion, with thine own sword and spear? Were not those very cups, poisonous with crimes, able to satisfy thy heart?
Look back, I beseech thee, and come to Christ, since thou labourest and art bent down with thy huge burden, and He, as He has said, will give thee rest. Come to Him who willeth not the death of a sinner, but that he should be converted and live: break, according to the prophet, the chains of thy neck, thou son of Sion. Return, I pray, though from the far-off secret haunts of sins, to the tender father who----for the son that despises the unclean food of swine, and fears the death of hard famine, and returns to himself-----has been accustomed in gladness to kill the fatted calf and to bring forward the first garment and royal ring for the erring one, and with a foretaste of heavenly hope thou shalt feel how the Lord is kind. For if thou despisest these admonitions, know that thou shalt even soon be whirled round and burnt in hell's indescribable dark floods of fire.


29. age iam (quasi praesentem arguo, quem adhuc superesse non nescio) quod stupes, animae carnifex propriae? quid tibi flammas inferni uoluntarie accendis nequaquam defecturas? quid inimicorum uice propriis te confodis sponte ensibus hastis? an ne ipsa quidem uirulenta scelerum ac si pocula pectus tuum satiare quieuerunt?
respice, quaeso, et ueni ad christum, siquidem laboras et inmenso pondere curuaris, et ipse tu, ut dixit, requiescere faciet; ueni ad eum, qui non uult peccatories mortem, sed ut conuertatur et uiuat; dissolue secundum prophetam uincula colli tu, fili sion; redi, rogo, e longinquis licet peccatorum recessibus ad piisimum patrem, qui despicienti porcorum sordidos cibos ac pertimescenti dirae famis mortem et reuertenti sibi laetus occidere consueuit uitulum filiuo saginatum et proferre primum erranti stolam et regium anulum, et tum spei caelestis ac si saporem praegustans senties quam suauis est dominus. nam si haec contempseris, scias te inextricabilibus tenebrosisque ignium torrentibus iam iamque inferni rotandum urendumque.

30.  Thou also, lion whelp, as the prophet says, what doest thou, Aurelius Caninus? Art thou not swallowed up in the same, if not more destructive, filth, as the man previously mentioned, the filth of murders, fornications, adulteries, like sea-waves rushing fatally upon thee? Hast thou not by thy hatred of thy country's peace, as if it were a deadly serpent, or by thy iniquitous thirst for civil wars and repeated spoils, closed the doors of heavenly peace and repose for thy soul? Left alone now, like a dry tree in the midst of a field, remember, I pray thee, the pride of thy fathers and brothers, with their early and untimely death. Wilt thou, because of pious deserts, an exception to almost all thy family, survive for a hundred years, or be of the years of Methuselah? No. But unless, as the Psalmist says, thou be very speedily converted to the Lord, that King will soon brandish his sword against thee; who says by the prophet: I will kill and I will make alive: I shall wound and I shall heal, and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. Wherefore shake thyself from thy filthy dust, and turn unto Him with thy whole heart, unto Him who created thee, so that when His anger quickly kindles, thou mayest be blest, hoping in Him. But if not so, eternal pains await thee, who shalt be always tormented, without being consumed, in the dread jaws of hell.


30. quid tu quoque, ut propheta ait, catule leonine, aureli canine[47], agis? nonne eodem quo supra dictus, si non exiiabiliore parricidiorum forniactionum adulteriorumque caeno uelut quibusdam marinis irruentibus tibi uoraris feraliter undis? nonne pacem patriae mortiferum ceu serpentem odiens ciuiliaque bella et crebras iniuste praedas sitiens animae tuae caelestis portas pacis ac refrigerii praecludis? relictus, quaeso, iam solus ac si arbor in medio campo arescens recordare patrum fratrumque tuorum superuacuam fantasiam, iuuenilem inmaturamque mortem. num centennis tu ob religiosa merita uel coaeuus mathuselae exceptus paene omni prole seruarberis? nequaquam. sed nisi citius, ut psalmista ait, conuersus fueris ad dominum, ensem in te uibrabit in breui suum rex ille qui per prophetam ‘ego’ inquit ‘occidam et ego uiuere faciam; percutiam et ego sanabo, et non est qui de manu mea possit eruere.’ quam ob rem ‘excutere de faetido puluere’ tuo et conuertere ad eum toto corde, qui creauit te, ut ‘cum exarserit in breui ira eius, beatus sis sperans in eum’, sin alias, aeternae te manebunt poenae conterendum saeua continue et nequaquam absumendum tartari fauce.

Vortiporius, prince of the Demetae (Dyfed).
31. Why also art thou, Vortipor, tyrant of the Demetae, foolishly stubborn? Like the pard art thou, in manners and wickedness of various colour, though thy head is now becoming grey, upon a throne full of guile, and from top to bottom defiled by various murders and adulteries, thou worthless son of a good king, as Manasseh of Hezekiah. What! do not such wide whirlpools of sins, which thou suckest in like good wine, nay, art thyself swallowed by them, though the end of life is gradually drawing near----do these not satisfy thee? Why, to crown all thy sins, dost thou, when thine own wife had been removed and her death had been virtuous, by the violation of a shameless daughter, burden thy soul as with a weight impossible to remove?


31. quid tu quoque, pardo similis moribus et nequitiis discolor, canescente iam capite, in throno dolis pleno et ab imis uertice tenus diuersis parricidis et adulteriis constuprato, bono regis nequam fili, ut ezechiae manasses, demetarum tyranne uortipori
[48], stupide riges? quid to tam uiolenti peccatorum gurgites, quos ut uinum optimum sorbes, immo tu ab air uoraris, appropinquante sensim uitae limite non satiant? quid quasi culminis malorum omnium stupro, propria tua amota coniuge euisdemque honesta morte, impudentis filiae quodam ineluctabili pondere miseram animam oneras?

Spend not, I beseech thee, the remainder of thy days in offending God, because now is the acceptable time and the day of salvation shines upon the faces of the penitent, during which thou canst well bring to pass that thy flight be not in winter or on the Sabbath. Turn (according to the Psalmist) away from evil and do good, seek good peace and follow it; because the eyes of the. Lord will be upon thee when thou doest good, and his ears unto thy prayers, and he will not destroy thy memory from the land of the living. Thou shalt cry and he will hear thee, and save thee from all thy tribulations. For Christ never despises the heart that is contrite and humbled by the fear of Him. Otherwise the worm of thy agony shall not die, and the fire of thy burning shall not be quenched.   ne consumas, quaeso, dierum uod reliquum est in dei offensam, quia nun tempus acceptabile et dies salutis uultibus paenitentium lucet, in quo bene operari potes ne fiat fuga tua hieme uel sabbato. ‘diuerte’ secundum psalmistam ‘a malo et fac bonum, inquire pacem bonam et sequere eam, quia oculi domini super te bona agentem et aures eius erunt in preces tuas et non perdet de terra uiuentium memoriam tuam. clamabis et exaudiet te et ex omnibus tribulationibus tuis eruet te’. cor siquidem contritum et humiliatum timore eius nusquam christus spernit. alioquin uermis tortionis tuae non morietur et ignis ustionis tuae non extinguetur.

32. Why dost thou, also, wallow in the old filth of thy wickedness, from the years of thy youth, thou bear, rider of many, and driver of a chariot belonging to a bear's den, despiser of God and contemner of His decree, thou Cuneglas (meaning in the Roman tongue, thou tawny butcher)?
Why dost thou maintain such strife against both men and God? Against men, thine own countrymen, to wit, by arms special to thyself; against God, by crimes without number? Why, in addition to innumerable lapses, dost thou, having driven away thy wife, cast thine eyes upon her dastardly sister, who is under a vow to God of the perpetual chastity of widowhood, that is as the poet says, of the highest tenderness of heavenly nymphs, with the full reverence, or rather bluntness, of her mind, against the apostle's prohibition when he says that adulterers cannot be citizens of the kingdom of heaven? Why dost thou provoke, by thy repeated injuries, the groans and sighs of saints, who on thy account are living in the body, as if they were the teeth of a huge lioness that shall some day break thy bones?
Cease, I pray, from anger, as the prophet says, and forsake the deadly wrath that shall torment thyself, which thou brcathest against heaven and earth, that is, against God and His flock. Rather change thy life and cause them to pray for thee, to whom is given the power to bind above the world, when they have bound guilty men in the world, and to loose, when they have absolved the penitent.
Be not, as the apostle says, high-minded, nor have thy hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but in God who giveth thee many things richly, that by an amendment of life, thou mayest lay in store for thyself a good foundation against the time to come, and mayest have the true life; that is, of course, the eternal life, not that which passeth away.
Otherwise thou shalt know and see, even in this world, how evil and bitter it is to have abandoned the Lord thy God, and that His fear is not with thee, and that in the world to come thou shalt be burnt in the hideous mass of eternal fires, without, however, in any way dying. For the souls of sinners are as immortal for never-ending fire as those of the saints are for joy. 


32. ut quid in nequitiae tuae uolueris uetusta faece et tu ab adolescentiae annis, urse, multorum sessor aurigaque currus receptaculi ursi, die contemptor sortisque euis depressor, cuneglase[49], romana lingua lanio fulue? quare tantum certamen tam hominibus quam deo praestas, hominibus, ciuibus scilicet, armis specialibus, deos infinitis sceleribus?
quid praeter innumerabiles casus propria uxore pulsa furciferam germanam eius, perpetuam deo uiduitatis castimonium promittentem, ut poeta ait, summam ceu teneritudinem caelicolarum, tota animi ueneratione uel potius hebetudine nympharum contra interdictum apostoli denegantis posse adulteros regni caelestis esse municipes suspicis? quid gemitus atque suspiria sanctorum propter te corporaliter uersantium, uice immanis laeanae dentium ossa tua quandoque fracturae, crebris instigas iniuriis?
desine, quaeso, ut propheta ait, ab ira, et derelique exitiabilem ac temetipsum maceraturum, quam caelo ac terrae, hoc est deo gregique eius, spiras, furorem. fac eos potius mutatis pro te orare moribus, quibus suppetit supra mundum alligandi, cum in mundo reos alligauerint, et soluendi, cum paenitentes soluerint, potestas.
noli, ut ait apostolus, superbe sapere uel sperare in incerto diuitiarum, sed in deo, qui praestat tibi multa abunde, ut per emendationem morum thesaurizes tibi fundamentum bonum in futurm et habeas ueram uitam, perennem profecto, non deciduam;
alioquin scies et uidebis etiam in hoc saeculo quam malum et amarum est reliquisse te dominum deum tuum et non esse timorem eius apud te et in futuro taetro ignium globo aeternum te exuri nec tamen ullo modo mori. siquidem tam sceleratorum sint perpeti immortales igno animae quam sanctorum laetitiae.

Maelgwn of Anglesey (?) Maglocunus insularis draco. 
33. And thou, the island dragon, who hast driven many of the tyrants mentioned previously, as well from life as from kingdom, thou last in my writing, first in wickedness, exceeding many in power and at the same time in malice, more liberal in giving, more excessive in sin, strong in arms, but stronger in what destroys thy soul----thou Maclocunus, why dost thou obtusely wallow in such an old black pool of crimes, as if sodden with the wine that is pressed from the vine of Sodom?
Why dost thou tie to thy royal neck (of thine own accord, as I may say), such heaps, impossible to remove, of crimes, as of high mountains? Why showest thou thyself to Him, the King of all kings, who made thee superior to almost all the kings of Britain, both in kingdom and in the form of thy stature, not better than the rest in morality, but on the contrary worse?
Give a patient hearing for awhile to an undoubted record of those charges which, passing by domestic and lighter offences----if, indeed, any are light----shall testify only the things which have been proclaimed far and wide, in broad daylight, as admitted crimes.
In the first years of thy youth, accompanied by soldiers of the bravest, whose countenance in battle appeared not very unlike that of young lions, didst thou not most bitterly crush thy uncle the king with sword, and spear, and fire?
Not regarding the prophet's word when it says: Men of blood and deceit shall not live out half their days. What wouldst thou expect of retribution for this deed alone from the righteous judge, even if such consequences as have followed were not to occur, when He likewise says by the prophet: Woe unto thee that spoilest; shalt thou not be spoiled? and thou that killest, shalt not thou thyself be killed? and when thou hast made an end of thy spoiling, then shalt thou fall. 


33. quid tu enim, insularis draco, multorum tyrannorum depulsor tam regno quam etiam uita supra dictorum, nouissime stilo, prime in malo, maior multis potentia simulque malitia, largior in dando, profusior in peccato, robuste armis, sed animae fortior excidiis, maglocune[51], in tam uetusto scelerum atramento, ueluti madidus uino de sodomitana uite expresso, stolide uolutaris?
quare tantas peccaminum regiae ceruici sponte, ut ita dicam, ineluctabiles, celsorum ceu montium, innectis moles? quid tu non ei regum omnium regi, qui te cunctis paene brittanniae ducibus tam regno fecit quam status liniamento editiorem, exhibes ceteris moribus meliorem, sed uersa uice deteriorem?
quorum indubitatam aequanimiter conuiciorum auscultato parumper adstipulationem, omissis domesticis leuioribusque, si tamen aliqua sunt leuia, palata solum longe lateque per auras admissa testaturam.
nonne in primis adolescentiae tuae annis auunculum regem cum fortissimis propemodum militibus, quorum uultus non catulorum leonis in acie magnopere dispares uisebantur, acerrime ense hast igni oppressisti, parum cogitans propheticum dictum, ‘uiri’, inquiens, ‘sanguinem et doli non dimidiabunt dies suos’?
quid pro hoc solo retributionis a iusto iudice sperares, etsi non talia sequerentur quae secutae sunt, itidem dicente per prophetam: ‘uae tibi qui praedaris, nonne et ipse praedaberis? et qui occidis, nonne et ipse occideris? et cum desiueris praedari, tunc caedes’?

34. When the dream of thy oppressive reign turned out according to thy wish, didst thou not, drawn by the desire to return unto the right way, with the consciousness of thy sins probably biting days and nights during that period, first, largely meditating with thyself on the godly walk and the rules of monks, then, bringing them forward to the knowledge of open publicity, didst thou not vow thyself for ever a monk? Without any thought of unfaithfulness was it done, according to thy declaration, in the sight of God Almighty, before the face of angels and men. Thou hadst broken, as was thought, those big nets, by which fat bulls of thy class are wont to be entangled headlong, that is, thou hadst broken the nets of every kind of royalty, of gold and of silver, and what is mightier than these, of thine own imperious will. And thyself didst thou profitably snatch like a dove, from the raven, strongly cleaving the thin air in rustling flight, escaping the cruel claws of the speedy hawk with sinuous windings, to the caves of the saints, sure retreats for thee, and places of refreshment.
What gladness would there be for thy mother, the church, if the enemy of all mankind had not disastrously dragged thee off, in a way, from her bosom! What plentiful touchwood for heavenly hope would blaze in the hearts of men without hope, if thou didst persevere in good! What and how many rewards of the kingdom of Christ would wait thy soul in the day of judgment, if that crafty wolf, when from a wolf thou hadst become a lamb, had not snatched thee from the Lord's fold (not greatly against thy will), to make thee a wolf from a lamb, like unto himself!
What joy thy salvation, if secured, had furnished to the gracious Father and God of all saints, had not the wretched father of all the lost, like an eagle of mighty wings and claws----the devil, I mean----against every right, snatched thee away to the unhappy troop of his children!


34. nonne postquam tibi ex uoto uiolenti regni fantasia cessit, cupiditate inlectus ad uiam reuertendi rectam, diebus ac noctibus id temporis, conscientia forte peccaminum remordente, de deficio tenore monachorumque decretis sub dente primum multa ruminans, dein popularis aurae cognitioni proferens, monachum sine ullo infidelitatis, ut aiebas, respectu coram omnipotente deo, angelicis uultibus humanisque, ruptis, ut putabatur, capacissimis illis quibus praecipitanter inuolui solent pingues tauri moduli tui retibus, omnis regni auri argenti et quod his maius est propriae uoluntatis distentionibus ruptis, perpetue uouisti, et tete, ac si stridulo cauum lapsu aerem ualide secantem saeuosque rapidi harpagones accipitris sinuosis flexibus uitantem ad sanctorum tibi magnopere fidas speluncas refrigeriaque salubriter rapuisti ex coruo columbam?
o quanta ecclesiae matri laetitia, si non te cunctorum mortalium hostis de sinu quodammodo euis lugubriter abstraxisset, foret! o quam profusus spei caelestis fomes desperatorum cordibus, te in bonis permanente, inardesceret! o qualia quantaque animam tuam regni christi praemia in die iudicii manerent, si non lupus callidus ille agnum ex lupo factum te ab ouili dominico, non uehementer inuitum, facturus lupum ex agno sibi similem, rapuisset!
o quantum exultationem pio omnium patri deo sanctorum tua salus seruanda praestaret, si non te cunctorum perditorum infaustus pater, ueluti magnarum aquila alarum unguiumque, daemon infelici filiorum suorum agmini contra ius fasque rapuisset!

Not to be tedious----thy conversion unto good fruit brought as much joy and pleasantness, both to heaven and earth, as now thy accursed reversion to thy fearful vomit like a sick dog, has caused of sorrow and lamentation. When this reversion had come to pass thy members are presented as weapons of unrighteousness unto sin and the devil, which ought to have been eagerly presented, with proper regard to good sense, as weapons of righteousness unto God.
When the attention of thy ears has been caught, it is not the praises of God, in the tuneful voice of Christ's followers, with its sweet rhythm, and the song of church melody, that are heard, but thine own praises (which are nothing); the voice of the rascally crew yelling forth, like Bacchanalian revellers, full of lies and foaming phlegm, so as to besmear everyone near them. In this way the vessel, once prepared for the service of God, is changed into an instrument of Satan, and that which was deemed worthy of heavenly honour is, according to its desert, cast into the abyss of hell.
  ne multa, tantum gaudii ac suauitatis tum caelo terraeque tua ad bonam frugem conuersio quantum nun maeroris ac luctus ministrauit ad horribilem, more molossi aegri, uomitum nefanda reuersio. qua peracta exhibentur membra arma iniquitatis peccato ac diabolo quae oportuerat saluo sensu auide exhiberi arma iustitiae deo.
arrecto aurium auscultantur captu non dei laudes canora christi tironum uoce suauiter modulante neumaque ecclesiasticae melodaie, sed propriae, quae nihil sunt, furciferorum referto mendaciis simulque spumanti flegmate proximos quosque roscidaturo, praeconum ore ritu bacchantium concrepante, ita ut uas dei quondam honore caelesti putabatur dignum merito proiciatur in tartari barathrum.

35. Yet not by such stumbling-blocks of evils, as if by a kind of barrier, is thy mind, dulled through a load of unwisdom, retarded; but impetuous like a young colt, which, imagining every pleasant place as not traversed, rushes along, with unbridled fury, over wide fields of crimes, heaping new sins upon old.
For contempt is thrown upon thy first marriage, though after thy violated vow as a monk it was illicit, yet was to be assumed as the marriage of thine own proper wife; another marriage is sought after, not with anybody's widow, but with the beloved wife of a living man; and he not a stranger, but thy brother's son.
On this account, that stiff neck, already weighted with many burdens of sins (to wit, a double daring murder, the killing of the husband above named, and the wife that was for a time regarded by thee as thine), is bent down through the extreme excess of thy sacrilegious deed, from lowest crimes to still lower. Afterwards thou didst wed her, by whose collusion and intimation, the huge mass of the crimes grew suddenly so big, in public, and (as the false tongues of thy flatterers assert, at the top of their voice, though not from the depth of their heart), in a legitimate marriage, regarding her as a widow; but our tongues say, in desecrated wedlock.


35. nec tamen tantis malorum offendiculis tuus hebetatus insipientiae cumulo sensu uelut quodam obice tardatur, sed feruidus ac si pullus, amoena quaeque inpergrata putans, per extensos scelerum campos inreuocabili furore raptatur, augendo priscis noua piaculis.
spernuntur namque primae post monachi uotum inritum inlicitae licet, tamen propriae coniugis praesumptiuae nuptiae, aliae expetuntur non cuiuslibet relictae, sed uiri uiuentis, non externi, sed fratris filii adamatae. ob quod dura ceruix illa, multis iam peccaminum fascibus onerata, bino parricidali ausu, occidendo supra dictum uxoremque tuam aliquamdiu a te habitam, uelut summo sacrilegii tui culmine de imis ad inferiora curuatur.
dehinc illam, cuius dudum colludio ac suggestione tantae sunt peccatorum subitae moles, publico e, ut fallaces parasitorum linguae tuorum conclamant, summis tamen labiis, non ex intimo cordis, legitimo, utpote uiduatam, nostrae uero sceleratissimo adsciuisti conubio.

What saint is there whose bowels, moved by such a tale, do not at once break forth into weeping and sobbing? What priest, whose righteous heart is open before God, on hearing of these things, would not, with great wailing, instantly say that word of the prophet: Who will give water unto my head, and a fountain of tears unto my eyes? And I shall weep day and night the slain of my people.
Alas! little didst thou, with thy ears, listen to the prophet's reproof when it thus speaks: Woe unto you, ye impious men, who have abandoned the law of the Most High God: and if ye be born, ye shall be born for a curse; and if ye die, your portion shall be for a curse. All things that are of the earth shall go to the earth, so shall the wicked from curse unto perdition. It is understood if they return not unto the Lord, at least, when such an admonition, as the following, has been heard:
My son thou hast sinned; add no more thereto but rather pray to be relieved of thy old sins.
And again: Be not slow to be converted unto the Lord, nor defer it from day to day, for His anger shall come suddenly; because, as the Scripture says: When the king hearkens to an unrighteous word, all that are under him are wicked. Surely, as the prophet has said: A just king elevates the land.
  cuius igitur sancti uiscera tali stimulata historia non statim in fletus singultusque prorumpant? quis sacerdos, cuius cor rectum deo patet, non statim haec audiens magno cum ululatu illud propheticum dicat: ‘quis dabit capiti meo aquam et oculis meis fontem lacrimarum? et plorabo in die et nocte interfectos populi mei.’
heu! siquidem parum auribus captasti propheticam obiurgationem ita dicentem: ‘uae uobis, uiri impii, qui dereliquistis legem dei altissimi: et si nati fueritis, in maledictionem nascemini et si mortui fueritis, in maledictionem erit pars uestra. omnia quae de terra sunt, in terram ibunt: sic impii maledictione in perditionem’: subauditer, si non reuertantur ad deum exaudita saltim tali admonitione:
‘fili, peccasti. ne adicis ultra, sed et de pristinis tuis deprecare’; et iterum: ‘non tardes conuerti ad dominum neque differas de die in diem. subito enim uenit ira eius’, quia, ut scriptura ait, ‘rege audiente uerbum iniquum omnes, qui sub illo sunt, scelesti sunt’. nimirum ‘rex’, ut propheta dixit, ‘iustus suscitat regionem’.

36. But warnings are certainly not wanting to thee, since thou hast had as instructor the refined teacher of almost the whole of Britain.[52] Beware, therefore, lest what is noted by Solomon happens unto thee: As one who rouses a sleeper from deep sleep, is he who speaks wisdom to a fool; for in the end of his speaking he will say, 'What saidst thou first ?' Wash thine heart, O Jerusalem, as is said, from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved.


36. sed monita tibi profecto non desunt, cum habueris praeceptorem paene totius britanniae magistrum elegantem. caueto igitur ne tibi quod a salomone notatur accidat: ‘quasi qui excitat dormitantem de graui somno, sic qui enarrat stulto sapientiam: in fine enim narrationis dicet: quid primum dixeras?’ ‘laua a malitia cor tuum’, sicut dictum est, ‘hierusalem, ut saluus sis’.

Despise not, I pray thee, the unspeakable mercy of God, when, through the prophet, he calls the wicked from their sins, as follows: Instantly shall I speak to the nation and to the kingdom, so that I may pluck up, and scatter, and destroy, and ruin. He earnestly exhorts the sinner to repentance in this passage: And if that nation repent of its sin, I also shall repent respecting the evil which I spake to do unto it. Again: Who will give them such a heart that they may hear me, and keep my precepts, and it may be well unto them all the days of their life.
Again, in the song of Deuteronomy, he says: They are a people void of counsel and understanding. O that they were wise, that they understood and foresaw their last end! how one shall chase a thousand and two put ten thousand to flight. Again, in the gospel, the Lord says: Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I shall cause you to rest.
[53] Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; because I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
  ne contemnas, quaeso, ineffabilem misericordiam dei, hoc modo per prophetam a peccatis impios prouocantis: ‘repente loquar ad gentem et ad regnum, ut euellam et dissipem et sedtruam et disperdam’. peccatorem hoc uehementer ad paenitentiam hortatur: ‘et si paenitentiam egerit gens illa a peccato suo, paenitentiam et ego agam super malo quod locutus sum ut facerem ei’. et iterum: ‘quis dabit eis tale cor, ut audiant me et custodiant praecepta mea et bene sit eis omnibus diebus uitae suae?’
itemque in cantico deuteronomii: ‘populus’, inquit, ‘absque consilio et prudentia: utinam saperent et intellegerent ac nouissima prouiderent. quomodo persequatur unus mille et duo fugent decem milia?’ et iterum in euangelio dominus: ‘uenite ad me omnes, qui laboratis et onerati estis, et ego uos requiescere faciam. tollite iugum meum super uos et discite a me, quia mitis sum et humilis corde, et inuenietis requiem animabus uestris’.
For if thou hear these things with deaf ears, thou contemnest the prophets, thou despisest Christ, and me, though a man of the lowest estate I grant, thou regardest as of no weight, though at any rate I keep that word of the prophet with sincere godliness of mind: I shall surely fill my strength with the spirit and power of the Lord, so as to make known unto the house of Jacob their sins, and to the house of Israel their offences, lest I be as dumb dogs that cannot bark. Also that word of Solomon, who says thus: He that saith that the wicked is just, shall be accursed of the people, and hated of the nations: for they who convict him shall hope better thing's. Again: Thou shalt not respect thy neighbour to his own ruin, nor hold back word in the time of salvation. Also: Pluck out those that are drawn unto death, and redeem those that are slain, spare not, because, as the same prophet says, riches shall not profit in the day of wrath; righteousness delivereth from death. If the righteous scarcely be saved where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? That dark flood of hell[54] shall roll round thee with its deadly whirl and fierce waves; it shall always torture and never consume thee, to whom, at that time too late and profitless, shall be the real knowledge of pain and repentance for sin, from which the conversion to the righteous way of life, is delayed by thee.   nam si haec surdis auribus audias, propheats contemnas, christum despicias, nosques, licet uilissimae qualitatis simus, nullius momenti ducas (propheticum illud sincera animi pietate seruantes utcumque: ‘si non ego impleuero fortitudinem in spiritu et uirtute domini, ut enuntiem domui iacob peccata eorum et domui israhel scelera eorum’, ne simus ‘canes muti non ualentes latrare’, et illud salomonis it dicentis: ‘qui dicit impium iustum esse, maledictus erit populis et odibilis gentibus: nam qui arguunt, meliora sperabunt’, et iterum: ‘non reuearis proximum in casum suum. nec retineas uerbum in tempore salutis’, itemque: ‘erue eos qui ducuntur ad mortem et redimere eos qui interficiuntur ne parcas’, quia ‘non proderunt’, ut idem propheta ait, ‘diuitiae in die irae: iustitia a morte liberat’; ‘si iustus quidem uix saluus sit, impius et peccator ubi parebit?), ille profecto te tenebrosus tartari torrens ferali rotatu undisque ac si acerrimis involvet semper cruciaturus et numquam consumpturus, cui tunc erit sera inutilisque poenae oculata cognitio ac mali paenitudo, a quo in hoc tempore accepto et die salutis ad rectum uitae differtur conuersio.

Reasons for Introducing Words of the Holy Prophets (sancti vates).

37. Here indeed, or even before, was to be concluded this tearful and complaining story of the evils of this age, so that my mouth should no further relate the deeds of men. But let them not suppose that I am timid or wearied, so as not to be carefully on my guard against that saying of Isaiah: Woe unto him who calleth evil good, and good evil, putting darkness for light, and light for darkness, bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. Who seeing do not see, and hearing do not hear, whose heart is covered with a thick cloud of vices. Rather, I wish succinctly to relate what threatenings, and how great, the oracles of the prophets exclaim against the above-named lascivious and mad five horses of the retinue of Pharaoh, by whom his army is actively incited to its ruin in the Red sea, and those like unto them. By these oracles, as if by a noble roof, the undertaking of my little work is safely covered, so that it may not stand open to the rain-storms of envious men, which shall rush upon it, vieing with one another.


37. Hic sane vel antea concludenda erat, uti ne amplius loqueretur os nostrum opera hominum, tam flebilis haec querulaque malorum aevi huius historia[55]. Sed ne formidolosos nos aut lassos putent quominus illud Isaianum infatigabiliter caveamus: 'vae', inquiens, 'qui dicunt bonum malum et malum bonum, ponentes tenebras in lucem et lucem in tenebras, amarum in dulce et dulce in amarum', 'qui videntes non vident et audientes non audiant', quorum cor crassa obtegitur quadam vitiorum nube, libet quid quantumque his supradictis lascivientibus insanisque satellitum Faraonis, quibus eius periturus mari provocatur exercitus strenue rubro, eorumque similibus quinque qquis minarum prophetica inclamitent strictim edicere oracula, quibus veluti pulchro tegmine opusculi nostri molinem, ita ut ne certatim irruituris invidorum imbribus extet penetrabile, fidissime contegatur.

Let, therefore, the holy prophets speak for me now, as they did formerly----they who stood forth as the mouth, so to speak, of God, the instrument of the Holy Spirit with prohibition of sins unto men, befriending the good----against the stubborn and proud princes of this age, lest they say, that out of my own invention and mere wordy rashness, I am hurling against them such threatenings, and terrors of such magnitude. For to no wise man is it doubtful how much more grievous are the sins of this time, than those of the primitive time, when the apostle says: He that transgresses the law, is put to death on the word of two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishments, think ye, is he worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God?   Respondeant itaque pro nobis sancti vates nunc ut ante, qui os quodam modo dei organumque spiritus sancti, mortalibus prohibentes mala, bonis faventes extitere, contumacibus superbisque huius aetatis princibus, ne dicant nos propria adinventione et loquaci tantum temeritate tales minas eis tantosque terrores incutere. Nulli namque sapientum dubium est in quantis graviora sunt peccata huius temporis quam primi, apostolo dicente: 'legem quis transgrediens duobus mediis vel tribus testibus moritur: quanto putatis deteriora mereri supplicia qui lilium dei conculcaverit?

Notes. Most notes are taken from: Gildas, The Ruin of Britain &c., ed. and trans Hugh Williams, in: Cymmrodorion Record Series, No. 3. (1899), at: http://www.ccel.org/p/pearse/morefathers/gildas_02_ruin_of_britain.htm, but with my emendations.

[1] Gildas regards his work as a "debt" contracted long ago in answer to the pious entreaties of his friends: it is also a "promise" made ten years back. Such a statement would warrant us in regarding the strictures of the book as sentiments entertained by a large circle of British men in the sixth century; the numerous suggestions also found in the work as to the ideas held by the writer respecting the due performance of duties by ministers of the church, and his estimate of those found wanting, were in no way peculiar to himself. He represents feelings and ideas common to him and many of his contemporaries.
[2] Tironibus. The word tirones does not seem in Gildas to carry the meaning of "young." Though ordinarily denoting a young soldier, a recruit, or in any profession "non aetate sed usu forensi atque exercitatione tironem," yet Jerome in his monastic writings seems to have given it the meaning of anyone who has become a follower of Christ. In his Vita Hilarion., 5, he mentions tirunculos Christi apparently in this meaning. Neither Forcellini nor Du Cange renders any help here, unless it be where the latter gives instances of a castellanus or a castri vassallus being called tyro. In c. 73 the word is applied to the writers of the New Testament or to the apostles and martyrs mentioned in the New Testament: in c. 12, omnes Christi tirones is certainly equivalent to "all Christians." Tiro also = catechumenus.
[3] The list of subjects of which Gildas intends to give a brief account, introductory to his more serious task, may be classified under four heads:

  1. Britain itself; the weak unfaithfulness of its inhabitants towards the Romans leading to subjection and punishment; i.e., a geographical description of Britain; an account of the stubbornness of its people, their subjection, the rebellion, the second subjection and hard service. Here we have the relation of Britain to Rome only, Rome being God's avenger.
  2. An account of the rise of the Christian religion; persecution (in the world at large and in Britain), martyrs, heresies.
  3. Tyrants, whose abandonment of the island left it open to the attack of the "two nations"; defence (with the aid of a Roman legion); devastation, second revenge (this time again successful by Roman aid); third devastation, famine, letter to Aetius, victory, crimes. Gildas begins his account of "the two nations," Scots and Picts, not at the point when their ravages began, but at a juncture which makes the story a telling one for his purpose: that is, when, owing to the action of the tyrannus Maximus, the country was left defenceless against these barbarians. On Aetius, see c. 20.
  4. The same enemies suddenly announced, the plague, the counsel entertained by the Britons to invite the Saxons, etc. This last part of the narrative relates the struggles of the Britons with the Saxons, beginning again not with the earliest attacks of these barbarians, but with a significant policy which changed the whole attitude of affairs. The narrative ends with victory and peace. (See Introduction).

It would be well to keep in mind that (1) is a period of revolt, (3) of inroad. (See Additional Note at end of c. 18).
[4] Gildas is frequently said to have derived his geographical details from Orosius (Hist., i, 2, 77), but what the Spanish presbyter wrote may have been a common-place in Gaul and Britain by the time of Gildas, and even from other sources. Pliny gives the same length and breadth: insula habet in longo milia passuum DCCC, in lato milia CC. The words of Orosius run thus: Britannia oceani insula per longum in boream extenditur; a meridie Gallias habet.... haec insula habet in longo milio passuum DCCC, in lato CC; the measurements, we see, are stated word for word the same as by Pliny. Orosius says, "towards the north" as to the position of the island, in which he is followed by Gildas, though in poetic language; but Gildas has the further detail that with respect to the continent Britain lies towards the west-north-west and the west (circium occidentemque versus). The two writers may well be independent of one another. In the remainder of this description, Gildas draws upon his own personal acquaintance with his native island, lingering over each detail, though in faulty style. On the geography of Britain and Ireland in ancient writers, see Bunbury, History of Ancient Geography, vol. i, p. 584, etc.
[5] Twenty-eight cities. Suetonius, in Vesp. 4, mentions that there were twenty cities in Britain. It is difficult to define the special character of the towns and town population that had grown up in Britain under Roman rule. From the material supplied in Hübner's Corpus Inscr. Lat., vol. vii, and a few other sources, it may be concluded that besides the great military posts the civil development of Britain was somewhat insignificant. Gildas informs us that the wall (of Hadrian) ran "between cities" (inter urbes, quae ibidem forte ob metum hostium collocatae fuerant). There were no doubt garrison towns where the auxiliary cohorts were stationed: there were also, Eburacum, where the Vlth legion was fixed; Deva, with the XXth; and Isca, with the IInd Augusta. Besides these military stations, though Gildas speaks of cunctae coloniae and coloni in c. 24, not more than four are known that were, strictly speaking, coloniae, viz., Eburacum, Camulodunum, Glevum, Lindum. Many small towns are named, especially towards the south and south-east; but Wales, in Hübner's map of places yielding inscriptions, is almost a blank. The single municipium known, Verulamium, is accidentally mentioned by Gildas, as well as Caerlleon (i.e., Caer legion = Legionum urbs). The Historia Britonum gives a list of these twenty-eight, which Zimmer argues must have been drawn up some time before A.D. 796 (Nennius, Vindicatus, pp. 108-110). He notices the intervocalic "g" in Cair Legion, Cair Segeint, Cair Guorthigirn.
[6] We find a free rendering into Welsh of several portions of Gildas in Ystorya Brenhined y Brytanycit, by Geoffrey of Monmouth (+ A.D. 1154). The Welsh quotations are from the edition of The Bruts, by Mr. Gwenogfryn Evans; the very slight variations made will explain themselves as simply intended to render the passages easier to read.
[7] Civibus. The term cives, citizens of the Roman Empire, is throughout employed by Gildas to designate his countrymen. By this character they are, in his eyes, to be distinguished from the "barbarians."
[8] Gildas, in his narrative, intends to omit all reference to four subjects, (1) He will not treat of the pre-Christian beliefs which the Britons had in common with the whole human race; he naturally calls them "errors." (2) The forms of old idolatry, remains of which still survived "inside and outside the deserted walls" of temples, will not be recounted. (3) Superstitious honours paid to mountains, valleys and rivers, he will not exclaim against. (4) He will be silent respecting the old years of tyrants, evidently having his eye particularly on Maximus, A.D. 383-388. His attempt will be to narrate the evils which Britain suffered herself and those which she inflicted on others "during the times of the Roman emperors." These limitations are instructive, inasmuch as they show how the narrative itself is ruled by the spirit of the whole "Epistle."
[9] Portenta. Vol. vii of Hübner's Corpus Inscr. Lat. bears ample evidence that the worship, e.g., of Mithra, had spread in Britain, the monuments of which were mainly erected by Roman officers. Gildas in the word portenta seems to refer to such remains of oriental cults. Cf. Jerome, Ep., 107, 2: nonne specum Mithrae et omnia portentosa simulacra quibus Corax, Nymphus, Miles, Leo, Perses, Helios, Dromo, Pater initiantur.
[10] Porphyrius rabidus orientalis adversus ecclesiam canis. Porphyry (233-304) is called orientalis as a Greek writer; besides other (philosophical) works he wrote also a work in xv Books "Against the Christians." [...] He is several times named by Jerome, always with Celsus and Julian, as an opponent of Christianity, e.g., Ep. 57; but in the Preface to the De Viris Illustribus, we find the very appellation "rabid dog" applied in the plural to Celsus, Porphyry and Julian. Discant igitur Celsus, Porphyrius, Iulianus rabidi adversus Christum canes.
In Ep. 133, Jerome, while answering the Definitiones et Syllogismi of Coelestius (the Irish companion of Pelagius), says: "Lastly (an objection which your friend Porphyry is wont to make against us), what reason is there that the compassionate and merciful God has suffered whole nations, from Adam to Moses and from Moses until the advent of Christ, to perish through ignorance of the Law and His Commandments? For neither Britain, a province fertile in tyrants, nor the people of Ireland .... knew Moses and the prophets (Neque enim Britannia fertilis provincia tyrannum et Scoticae gentes ., . .)." Jerome probably intends a thrust at the Briton (?) Pelagius, and Coelestius the Irishman; but Gildas has evidently fallen into the error of ascribing the words of Jerome himself to Porphyry. The Benedictine editors seem also to take this view, that Porphyry is only credited with the character of the objection. The quotation as it is, together with the words which introduce it, allows us to conclude that Gildas was conversant with the writings of Jerome, and in particular with such as treat of the doctrines of Pelagius, though the latter is not mentioned by him. We cannot, therefore, argue from his silence that he "knew nothing" of the Pelagian heresy.
[11] The first Parthian peace. There appears to be some confusion in the mind of Gildas here: the passage will bear a good meaning, if understood of the peace made shortly after the death of Trajan, A.D. 117; therefore the expedition to Britain mentioned by Gildas here is that under Hadrian, who in A.D. 122 built the great wall called after him. Why does Gildas select this particular time? The answer may be found in the word "unfaithful;" after the great advances and improvements made under Agricola (78-85), which, no doubt, ceased not with his abrupt departure, the Britons soon show themselves restless under Roman rule. This, to the mind of Gildas, proved them to be an "unfaithful people," and the record of their swift subjection under such a character serves well the special purpose of his work. See Additional Note, c. 18.
[12] Leaena dolosa. These words have been frequently understood as referring to Boudicca's revolt against Suetonius Paulinus, when the latter was in Anglesey, A.D. 62, but the date of the "First Parthian Peace" makes this impossible. Zimmer is of opinion that the words imply a reminiscence of that vassal queen. This, again, is not very probable, because Gildas shows a fondness elsewhere for the term "lioness," as applied to a country: in c. 23 leaena barbara stands for the home of the Saxon hordes, and in c. 27 for the kingdom of Damnonia. It is difficult to fix the date of this second expedition of the Romans against Britain. Was it that of Antoninus Pius, who in 143 built the second wall----the vallum of turf----between Clyde and Forth, or the expedition of Septimius Severus in 193? Gildas' account is extremely vague; yet, as he mentions no other visit of Roman forces until the end of the fourth century, and implies extensive provisions for the consolidation of the Roman power in the island, it is not improbable that he has the successful work of Severus in his mind.
A difficulty arises with the last sentence of c. 7. Mr. Rhys (Celtic Britain, p. 19) concludes that British coinage came to an end about the time of Claudius (died A.D. 54), or soon after 69; and in the Monumenta Hist. Brit., p. clii, we read: "After the expedition of Claudius and his establishment of the Roman power in Britain, the Britons discontinued the art of coining." Reference is made there, in a note, to the present passage of Gildas as " confirming this opinion." Such confirmation is not possible if the view taken here be correct, i.e., that Gildas has selected the expedition of Hadrian as his starting-point, unless Gildas is erroneously ascribing to the time of Severus what had already taken place in the time of Claudius. The work of Severus in Britain was, however, far more effective than anything that could be accomplished with the limited occupation secured under Claudius. Moreover, while it was quite natural that Roman coins should be current in Britain from an early period, the policy of forbidding British coinage was barely possible until the time of Severus, and it is something of this kind that is implied in the words of Gildas. It is curious that the name of no emperor later than Constans (A.D. 337-350) is found on inscriptions in Britain.
[13] Vergilius, Aen. ii, 120.
[14] If we read this section with care we find that Gildas is not referring to the introduction of Christianity into Britain; his meaning seems to be that the sun rose for Britain as for the whole world by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is evidently taking his information (ut scimus) from the Latin version of Eusebius' Chronicon. This reads: "When Pilate sent information to Tiberius of the doctrine of the Christians, Tiberius referred it to the Senate, so that it should be received among the other sacred records. But when it was decided by the city fathers that the Christians should be expelled from Rome, Tiberius in an edict threatened the accusers of the Christians with death. Tertullian writes so in his Apologeticus" (Pilato de Christianorum dogmate ad Tiberium referente Tiberius retulit ad senatum, ut inter cetera sacra reciperetur. Verum cum ex consulto patrum Christianos eliminari Urbe placuisset, Tiberius per edictum accusatoribus Christianorum comminatus est mortem. Scribit Tertullianus in Apologetico. An. Abr. 2053.) Eus. Chron., Schöne, ii, p. 151. Tert., Apol. 5.
[15] Quae, licet ab incolis tepide suscepta sunt. This is all that Gildas says respecting the evangelisation of Britain. Whether he knew more as to the first preachers of Christianity it is impossible to tell, but his words imply that its spread among the native population (incolae) of the island was exceedingly slow: they received it "coldly." Among Roman officials and foreign immigrants it may have spread early, so that the few remains which now attest an early Christian church in Britain belong to them, and are found in the parts most thoroughly Romanised. According to the evidence furnished by Hübner's seventh volume of Latin inscriptions, we gather that heathenism of various types continued long, even among these provincials. Mithra and Cybele, Tyrian Hercules and Phoenician Astarte, had their worshippers: at York there was a temple to Serapis, and at Caerlleon, in South Wales, the Roman Legate, Postumius Varus, restores a temple of Diana late in the third century, that is, not very long before that Council of Aries (314) which we know so well. Christian inscriptions are more numerous in Wales than in any other part of Britain, yet neither there nor in the other parts do they indicate a date earlier than the middle of the fifth century. Of Britain, as well as of Gaul, the words of M. le Blanc are true, that the legendary stories of a conversion "by explosion" have no evidence whatever in their favour. "L'ecole historique n'admet point chez nous un Christianisme fait, comme on 1'a dit, par explosion" (Preface, xli, Insc. Chretiennes de la Gaule). A solid historic truth lies in that curt tepide of Gildas.
[16] Novennem, the nine years' persecution. The meaning to be attached to this expression may be gained from c. 12, "when ten years had not yet been com-pleted." Eusebius speaks of the persecution as having lasted ten years (... H. E., viii, 15), yet both numbers admit of ready explanation. The first Edict of Diocletian, of which Gildas gives the first and second provisions, was issued in February 303, and the Edict of Milan, terminating state persecution of Christianity, appeared towards the end of 312. The period was in this way a good deal more than nine years, though not quite ten. Gildas seems to be simply copying or enumerating, in order, the provisions of Diocletian's Edicts as stated in Rufinus' version of the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius. By the first provision of Edict I, the churches were to be levelled to the ground; by the second, the Scriptures were to be burnt; another provision, involving degradation, finds no mention in this narrative of Gildas. Edict II published not long after, commanded all church officers to be imprisoned without even the option of recantation. Edict III (or so-called Edict) again soon followed, leading to the application of torture, which too often resulted in death, though death hitherto had not been enjoined as a punishment. With Edict IV, in 304, the persecution reached its fiercest point by reproducing the former measures of Decius: commanding all men to offer sacrifice and libations to heathen deities, it brought in its train the atrocities described by Eusebius, and chronicled in so many Acta Martyrum. An African writer of the fourth century describes the persecution in words that remind us of Gildas here: "It made some martyrs, others confessors; some it demeaned in a calamitous death; it spared only those who succeeded in hiding themselves" (Optatus, De Schism. Donat., i, 13).
[17] Ecclesiastica historia narrat. Under this term we are to understand the Latin version of Eusebius' Historia Ecclesiastica, by Rufinus. But the mention of "ecclesiastical history" suggests the very question that has been asked by several. Scholl was probably the first to suggest that Gildas is here adopting the description he found in Eusebius of the Diocletian persecution, and applying the same to Britain. But this chapter is in fact not a description of persecution in Britain; it rather describes what took place "over the whole world" (per totum mundum) and as such is a resume of Book VIII in Eusebius' History. The actual course of events is followed by Gildas, just as the edicts succeeded each other, and as described by Eusebius in the second chapter of the book named----the ruin of churches, burning of Scriptures, slaughter of Christians. Further, when the final step was taken by the emperors in the issue of the fourth Edict, the real object had become (as here stated by Gildas) the extermination of Christianity. It is hardly just to say: "Gildas' general statement respecting this persecution rests (as usual with him) upon an unauthorised transference to the particular case of Britain of the language of Eusebius (H. E., viii, 2) relating to the persecution in general, and is conclusively contradicted by Eusebius himself and by Sozomen and Lactantius" (Haddan and Stubbs, Councils, i, p. 6, n.). The last italics are mine: but this is what Gildas does not do in this part; he is simply summarising what "Ecclesiastica Historia" narrates respecting the church in general. His definite references to Britain are moderate. (Vide next note.)
Besides the places named in Eusebius, one might consult the De Morte Persecutorum of Lactantius; and, in addition to the notes of Heinichen (pp. 381, 405) on the former, Mason on The Persecution of Diocletian, chs. v and vi, and the notes in McGiffert's translation of Eusebius, pp. 325, 397.
[18] Ut conicimus. These words imply that Gildas had no definite information respecting the exact time of the martyrdoms mentioned in this section. The reading of Codex X, ut cognoscimus, is evidently a gloss, echoing the fixed tradition of the copyist's own time. That the martyrdom of St. Alban took place during the Diocletian persecution is, therefore, a guess on the part of Gildas. He evidently found the narrative given here in some lost Acta or Passio, and we find that Beda has added other details from some second Acta also lost. Now, many of these acts of martyrdom are found void of all details as to time and place, as, for instance, those condemned by the famous Decretum of Pope Gelasius in 496 (Hefele, ii, 618); if such a one had come into the hands of Gildas, it was natural that he should conjecture the events there narrated to have taken place in the last great persecution. One is tempted also to notice a difference of reading found here in some codices, as possibly recording a different, if not the original, tradition; these are, uellonnensis E, uellamien-scm C, uellomiensem D. Nevertheless, it is, perhaps, safest to conclude that Gildas found Verulamium fixed in tradition as the place of suffering of a martyr bearing the name Albanus, though it is not named in the account given by the author of the Life of Germanus of a visit paid by the Gallic bishops Germanus and Lupus (A.D. 429) to the tomb of Alban: "The priests," we read, "sought the blessed martyr Albanus in order to render thanks, by his mediation, to God; where Germanus, having with him relics of all the apostles and of different martyrs, offered prayer, and commanded the grave to be opened in order to place there the precious gifts." (V. Germ., i, 25.) We can thus say that Albanus was known and revered as a martyr c. 429, while the place of his martyrdom appears for the first time in this chapter of Gildas' work. In the edition of Jerome's Martyrology, lately prepared by De Rossi and Duchesne (for Aa. Ss., Nov.,Tom. ii) one codex, the Cod. Bern. (c. A.D. 770), records "in Britain was Albinus martyr, along with others, 889 in number, placed in the list of those whose names are written in the book of life." We are informed in the Prolegomena of several indications, that the exemplar from which this MS. was copied had been in the possession of, or written by, someone connected with Ireland. If so, we find in this 889 about the earliest example of the amplification which the words of Gildas underwent at the hands of later writers. Its exaggeration raises the question whether persecution was possible in Britain, inasmuch as it belonged to the part of the Empire assigned to Constantius, as Caesar of the West or Gaul. It has been held that Gildas is contradicted by Eusebius and Lactantius, who are understood as asserting that Constantius had no part in the persecution (Eus., H. E., viii, 13, 13: Vita Const., I, 3. 17: Lact. De Morte Pers., xv: Letter of Donatist bishops to Constantine in Optat. De Schism. Don., i, 22). In his anxiety to exonerate the father of Constantine the Great, Eusebius maybe regarded as having gone too far when he said that he destroyed none of the church buildings, .... Lactantius expressly states that the churches, as mere walls which could be restored, were pulled down by him, but that he kept intact and safe the true temple of God, that is, the human body. Nam Constantius, ne dissentire a maiorum praeceptis videratur, conventicula, id est parietes qui restitui poterant, dirui passus est; verum autem dei templum, quod est in hominibus, incolume servavit. It must be remembered that Constantius was only Caesar of the "parts beyond the Alps," and that he did not visit Britain until A.D. 306, the year of his death at York. The Caesar's power was limited, which would render the name of Maximian as a rabid persecutor, especially after the fourth Edict of 304, the more potent name with many governors and magistrates. Constantius was bound to conform to the policy of the Augusti in carrying out edicts which bore his own name as well as theirs. When, therefore, it is known that many martyrdoms did take place in Spain, though that country belonged to Constantius, it is not unreasonable to suppose that Britain had witness of the same sufferings, especially before 306, when he himself arrived in the island. Some confirmation of this view is afforded by the numerous place-names beginning with Merthir, or Merthyr, found in parts of Glamorgan, and more sparsely in Monmouth and Brecknock. Vide Additional Note after c. 26.
[19] Aaron et Iulium Legionum urbis cives. Of these two martyrs nothing more is known than is told us here by Gildas. Mason, in The Persecution of Diocletian, p. 146, calls them "two clergymen of Caerleon," an epithet the justice of which can neither be proved nor disproved. Dr. Plummer (vol. ii, p. 20) in his Notes on Beda, says that "the story of Aaron and Julius must be considered extremely doubtful," and refers us to Haddan and Stubbs, i, 6, for confirmation. One finds it difficult to understand why this story must be doubted. There must have been a tradition to this effect at Caerlleon in the sixth century, and in the Book of Llandav we find evidence of the very local tradition that has been said to be wanting. The Index of that book mentions about eighteen place-names beginning with Merthir (modern Welsh, Merthyr), one of which is Merthir lun (Iulli) et Aaron. A merthyr means, as its Latin original martyrium denotes, "place of martyr or martyrs," that is, a church built in memory of a martyr, and generally over his grave. The word is found in Jerome's Chronicon: Cuius industria in Hierosol. martyrium extructum est; it is used also by Adamnan in his De Locis Sacris: inter illam quoque Golgotham basilicam et martyrium, i, 8. Du Cange quotes Isidore, xv, 9: Martyrium, locus martyrum, Graeca derivatione, eo quod in memoriam martyris sit construction, vel quod sepulcra sanctorum ibi sunt martyrum (Greek, to_ martu&rion). We can hardly doubt that such a name as Merthyr, from martyrium, is as old as llan, or cil, or disert, if not indeed older. This at once carries it beyond the sixth century. Now the boundary of this particular merthir is: "The head of the dyke on the Usk; along the dyke to the breast of the hill, along the dyke to the source of Nant Merthyr, that is Amir" (pp. 225, 226, 377). Here we have a merthyr of Julius and Aaron in the neighbourhood of Caerlleon. A grave objection may meet us here; many of the persons whose merthyr survives as a place-name belong to the mythical progeny of Brychan, killed, it is said, by the "pagan Saxons." These shadowy beings cannot disturb the main argument.
[20] There is a striking resemblance between Gildas' way of describing the double crime of Maximus and the language of Sulpicius Severus in his Vita Martini. It seems impossible that it could be accidental. St. Martin had been approached by Maximus with great respect; "though repeatedly invited to his table he absented himself, saying that he could not partake of his table qui imperatores unum regno, alterum vita expulisset (V. M., 20, 2). Orosius also describes the double atrocity, but in words that show no close similarity to those of Gildas: " Ubi Gratianum Augustum subita incursione perterritum . . . dolis circumventum interfecit, fratremque eius Valentinianum Augustum Italia expulisset" (Hist., vii, 34, 10).
[21] The Scoti came from the North West (a circione). This would fit well with the explanation that at this time they had made no fixed settlements in the land subsequently called after them Scotland. Until the tenth century, Scoti or Scotti, and Scotia or Scottia, in Latin writers, mean respectively Irishmen and Ireland: in c. 21 Gildas calls them grassatores Hiberni. After the Dalriad migration of Irish settlers in Cantyre and the island of Islay, about A.D. 502, there were Scoti "qui Britanniam inhabitant," as Beda could write in Book I of his History; but at the time to which Gildas refers any occupation that might have taken place was merely migratory. The first mention of Picts, by the Panegyricus of A.D. 292, refers also to Hiberni. We find an irruption of Scots and Picts (Scottorum Pictorumque gentium ferarum excursus) first mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus, Book xx, i, I, while writing of Julian's activity in Gaul (A.D. 360). Four years later, he relates, the Picti, Saxones, Scotti, and Atacotti, were harassing the country (xxvi, 4, 5). It is not strange, therefore, when contingents from over the seas had been, thus so long, abetting the northern barbarians, that Gildas should speak of transmarinae gentes, though the Picts did not come under that designation. Beda, in copying Gildas, gives an explanation of the term: "we say transmarinae gentes, not because they were outside Britain, but because they were remote with respect to the Britons, and two bays intervened" (H. E., i, 12). Plummer pronounces this to be a very forced gloss (vol. ii, p. 23); cf. also the words of c. 17, which tell us that they were driven over seas by the Roman troops: trans maria fugaverunt. The adverb, primtim, has been understood as implying that this rush of Scots and Picts, about A.D. 383, was their first inroad into Britain. Gildas is not guilty of such an error, because primum must be taken as qualifying calcabilis. Previous to the departure of Maximus, carrying the Roman army with him to the continent, the barbarians had always found a Roman force to contend with: now, "for the first time" the country is open (calcabilis) to their attack.
[22] Legio. Maximus crossed over to Gaul in 383, and after the murder of Gratian was unwillingly acknowledged Emperor by Theodosius and Valentinian. When Valentinian fled, the usurper approached Italy, being at Aquileia in September or October 387, and at Rome early in 388. His death took place in the summer of that year, so that it was impossible for any Roman armament to help the Britons in repelling the barbarian marauders before 388 or 389. . The "many years" (multos stupet gemitque annos) of suffering, to which Gildas alludes in the previous section, are explained by this fact. We know also that the xxth legion, stationed at Chester, was withdrawn by Stilicho in 402 or 403; and from Claudian's De Bella Getico (vv. 416-418), that it had previously served against the Picts and Scots. This legion may, therefore, have been part of the force employed in the attack now mentioned.
[23] Cespitibus. Two walls are mentioned by Gildas, one of turf and another of stone. Hadrian (cf. c. 17), whose policy seems everywhere to have been a policy of caution, built a wall in A.D. 122, along the more southern line from the Tyne to the Solway. It was, then or afterwards (by Severus?), made of stone, and formed the practical frontier of the province. In 143 the turf wall (murus cespiticius) of Antoninus Pius was constructed from Clyde to Forth. Now the Welsh "Brut" of Geoffrey of Monmouth understands the construction of the stone wall mentioned in c. 17 as the rebuilding of Hadrian's wall, or, as it is called there the wall of Severus. The earthen wall, which Gildas in this section describes as being built, may, therefore, naturally be regarded as the murus cespiticius of Antoninus Pius repaired or rebuilt. The Romans now drive the barbarians to the more northern line, commanding the Britons to reconstruct the no-doubt ruinous rampart: at a later period (c. 17), they are satisfied with the safer boundary between Tyne and Solway.
[24] This second expedition of the Romans against the Scots and Picts must have taken place before A.D. 407, in which year the tyrannus or usurper, Constantine, left Britain for Gaul. We are able to fix the possible time for the two expeditions. No forces could be spared during the five years' reign of Maximus (383-388), nor during the struggles of Constantine (407-411): we are thus limited to a period of about eighteen years, 389-407. The arrangements for defence described in the next section may have been Constantine's plans and efforts to make Britain secure in his rear. His departure proved to be the final abandonment of Britain by the Empire.
[25] Gurgite moles, cf. Verg. Aen., ii, 427: Oppositasque evicit gurgite moles.
[26] Romano stigmata: a stigma (sti/gma) was a brand impressed upon slaves and artisans, as a mark of ownership, or for identification. Stigmata, hoc est nota publica, fabricensium brachiis, ad invitationem tironum, infligatur, ut hoc modo saltem possint latitantes agnosci. Cod. Theod. x, 22, 4. In the present passage the marks or emblems of Roman power would be the disasters inflicted upon the barbarians, and these again were visible in the Roman army and navy, as the means of effecting them. It is, however, possible that Gildas is using the word, in a sense not found elsewhere, for the Roman standards. Scholl includes stigma in his list of words found only in Gildas, or found very rarely.
[27] Murum non ut alterum. The wall of Hadrian rebuilt of stone. Vide note, p. 34. Gildas speaks of two walls being built, one of turf, the other of stone: in fact, the two walls had been so constructed from the first, the stone wall in A.D. 122, the turf in A.D. 143, so that his words can imply no more than the repairing of them, though the repairs needed, after so many years of neglect and ruin, must have been extensive in the extreme.
[28] ADDITIONAL NOTE TO CC. 5-7, 13-18.

Gildas in these chapters refers to Roman interference as exercised on four different occasions. Unless we condemn the whole narrative as confused and undeserving of credit, it may be well to endeavour to find some points in which the account given of Roman visits touches well ascertained facts of history. Such an enquiry will, I believe, yield some results not devoid of interest.
1. Remembering that the leading purpose of this work was to bring about a reformation of morals in Church and State, that it is in fact a Sermon, or a "Tract for the Times," we must recognise that the writer is in no way bound to present his facts in due order of occurrence. Even more may be said: he is not bound to narrate events which, because of their high importance in fashioning subsequent events, have a special claim upon a historian. He is free, and in a way would be wise, to choose those that have a special bearing upon the message he brings to the notice of his readers. This is exactly what Gildas seems to me to have done: in no way does he call this part "a history;" his intention is simply to say "a few things" respecting the points named by him, before fulfilling his solemn promise (ante promisum Deo volente pauca .... dicere conamur).
The first visit or expedition of the Romans to Britain is placed by him "after the first peace with the Parthians." The empire of the world had been won, and an almost universal peace had come to pass (c. 5). Gildas may have read the Third Book of Orosius' Historiae, where we find similar mention of a Parthian peace (post Parthicam pacem), followed by a general cessation of war, and obedience to Roman law. This was in B.C. 20 under Augustus, after the advance of Tiberius Nero into Armenia. (A full account is given in Merivale's Rome under the Emperors, vol. iv, p. 173.) Orosius relates these events in order to show that the light of Christianity came into the world at the same time (quodsi etiam, cum imperante Caesare ista proucnerint, in ipso imperioCaesaris inluxisse ortum in hoc mundo Domini nostri Jesu Christi liquidissima probatione manifestum est.----Hist., iii, 5, 8). Gildas also introduces the rise of Christianity, but after relating the events of two Roman expeditions to Britain.
Now, by many writers, both these have been understood as the expeditions of Julius Caesar (B.C. 55, 54). The Preface, for instance, to the Mon. Hist. Britannica, speaking of the narrative of Gildas, says: " It may be divided into two periods; the former extends from the first invasion of Britain by the Romans to the revolt of Maximus at the close of the fourth century, and the latter from the revolt of Maxirnus to the author's own time." I find it very difficult to accept this view. In any way some confusion in the mind of Gildas may be assumed, who, we again remind ourselves is writing not with a historian's interest in facts as such, but with a reformer's bent to find a moral purpose in them. He is, however, definite in certain limits he sets to himself. " Those evils only will I attempt to make public which the island has both suffered and inflicted upon other and distant citizens, in the times of the Roman Emperors" (c. 4). The Parthian peace of which Orosius speaks was secured under Augustus, many years after the death of Julius Caesar, therefore the first expedition described by Gildas, if after this Parthian truce and the subsequent universal peace, cannot be the attempted, though barely successful, conquest of Britain by Caesar. The expedition, according to Gildas, is due to the stubbornness (contumacia) of an unfaithful people (infidelem populum), that is, it was an expedition to punish not to conquer. Such a one could only take place " under the Roman Emperors" after the ten years' work of conquest and settlement during the reign of Claudius (A.D. 43-53). The vigorous measures under Vespasian's generals," particularly Agricola, were intended to advance the Roman occupation, though Agricola, it is well khown, succeeded in attaining larger and more permanent results. These, also, must precede the events narrated by Gildas.
We, therefore, look out for " a peace with the Parthians," followed by a punitive expedition to Britain, and find the former in the peace made by Hadrian, shortly after the death of Trajan, A.D. 117, the latter in the expedition of Hadrian. Hadrian's policy of caution aimed at the maintenance of peace by restricting warlike operations " Adeptus imperium . . . tenendae per orbem terrarum paci operam intendit." This is said by Aelius Spartianus, who in mentioning the difficulties adds further: " Britanni teneri sub Romana ditione non poterant." It was then that the great wall from Tyne to Solway was built (A.D. 122). " Under Hadrian," we read in Mommsen's work: " A severe disaster occurred here, to all appearance a sudden attack on the camp of Eburacum, and the annihilation of the legion stationed there, the same gth legion which had fought so unsuccessfully in the war with Boudicca. Probably this was occasioned, not by a hostile inroad, but by a revolt of the Northern tribes that passed as subjects of the empire, especially of the Brigantes. With this we have to connect the fact that the wall of Hadrian presents a front towards the south as well as towards the north; evidently it was destined also for the purpose of keeping in check the superficially subdued North of England (The Provinces, i, iSS)." It may not be wrong to conclude that Gildas, with some confusion in that word "first Parthian peace," has selected this instance, first of all, to point his moral of "evils suffered" for "evils inflicted" by an "unfaithful people" (A.D. 122-124).
2. At what time must we place the second expedition? Unfortunately it is only described in high-flowing language, almost turgid, void of all details: no name or date is supplied us. The first impression is that it occurred not long after troops had been withdrawn owing to the heavy burden of maintaining them. If so, then we may regard this second visit of the Romans as that which was made under Pius Antoninus to punish renewed conflicts on the part of the Brigantes. At that time, the Roman boundary was extended further north and fixed, though only for a time, by the turf wall built between Clyde and Forth (A.D. 143). But there seem to have been serious disturbances in Roman Britain, as well as renewed attacks by the Caledonians and Maeatae, so that Severus found himself led to interfere by an expedition in 209, during the operations of which he died at York in 211. Either of these two visits of Roman forces would fit the description given by Gildas, while the fact that no further troubles of any kind are mentioned until the end of the fourth century, may incline us to decide in favour of the expedition of Severus.
3. There is a long interval from 122 or 209 to 383, of which not a word is said by Gildas. He then introduces Maximus, the " tyrannus" or usurper, and makes his first mention of the marauding incursions of the Picts and Scots. However, I believe a good reason for this silence is not far to seek. It has struck many as strange that this historiographus, as he is called by the mediaeval writers, should not have said a word about Constantius Chlorus and his son Constantine embarking together from Boulogne in 306, on purpose to drive back the Picts and Scots, nor of the splendid deeds of Constantine in the war against them. There was a more terrible incursion of these barbarians, aided by the Attacotti, about 368, when the Franks and Saxons also harassed the opposite Gallic coast, plundering and burning and murdering prisoners.* Yet Gildas makes no mention of this, or of the successful attack made upon them by Theodosius, father of Theodosius the Great, nor is anything said respecting the rebuilding of ruined cities and military posts, effected by him in that year (Amm. Marcell., xxviii, 3).
Gildas, had he been writing as a historian, would be rightly censured for such grave omissions as these, but his motive and plan is different. On that account we cannot wonder that he passes by events, however important, which do not show the Britons to be a guilty people, suffering because of their evil ways. In 306 and 368, the Britons were faithful Roman subjects, who could in no way have contributed to the calamities of the empire. It was otherwise in 383. Was it not Britain herself that sent forth the usurper Maximus? Such is the view that Gildas takes, and, moreover, his action in denuding Britain of Roman troops, for the first time after Agricola's settlement, laid the island bare to the plundering expeditions of the barbarian tribes. For these reasons, a more detailed account is given both of Maximus himself and of the fresh inroad which followed his abandonment of the island, than of the two early expeditions against British revolt. That the usurpation of Maximus could be laid to the charge of Britain herself, as Gildas represents the matter, finds no insignificant support in some ancient writers. Orosius describes the tyrannus as a man of strong character and probity, worthy to be Augustus, but created emperor against his will (in Britannia invitus propemodum ab exercitu imperator creatus, Hist., vii, 34.) Zosimus dwells upon the unpopularity of Gratian at the time among the soldiery, owing to the favour shown by him to the barbarian Alani (..., Hist. Nova, iv, 35). " It is possible that he (Maximus) was rather the instrument than the author of the mutiny" (Hodgkin's Italy and Her Invaders, i, 401). Now this is exactly the implication of Gildas' language: non legitime, sed ritu tyrannico et tumtdtu ante initiatum milite, Maximum mittit (Britannia).
Maximus crossed over into Gaul, taking with him the greater part of three legions: with these and the forces which joined him on the continent, he was able soon to make himself master of almost the whole of Europe west of Italy.
The further words of Gildas, which describe this progress, show that he was writing this part also of his narrative with a firm grasp of the real facts of the time.
He gives prominence to cunning artfulness (callida ars), to perjury and falsehood, on the part of Maximus, which unamiable features of his character are amply attested by writers of the fourth and fifth centuries. Socrates describes the guile by which the young emperor Gratian was captured and murdered (... H. E., v, 11); Sozomen speaks of the specious pretext he advanced that he would " allow no innovation to be introduced with respect to the national faith and church order." Mr. Hodgkin, in narrating the meeting of the two armies, that of Maximus and Merobaudes, Gratian's counsellor and general, adds: " For five days there were slight and indecisive skirmishes, but during all this time Maximus and his right-hand man, Andragathius, the commander of his cavalry, were tampering with the fidelity of Gratian's troops." At a later time, when Theodosius was making his preparations to suppress him, aided by the Gothic focdorati, the man of whom Gildas speaks with such sincere reprobation is thus described by the same historian: " Indeed, Maximus, whose one idea of strategy seems to have been to bribe the soldiers of his opponent, had actually entered into negotiations with some of the barbarians, offering them large sums of money if they would betray their master" (Italy and Her Invaders, i, 403, 465). Gildas fixes our attention upon Maximus because through him, the second stage of " the evils suffered " by Britain, begins in a highly aggravated form. But he may have felt also that this usurper, in whose usurpation Britain had a guilty share, had been a prominent figtlre in history. Ambrose of Milan gives an account of two embassies to him, in which the wily Maximus found the great bishop too astute for him; he is spoken of in the writings of Zosimus, of the ecclesiastical historians Socrates and Sozomen, of Jerome, Augustine, Orosius and Sulpicius Severus, probably others, besides several Chronica and Annales. After reaching Italy in 387, and Rome itself early in 388, the energy of Theodosius the Great brings his career to an end; he was captured and put to death "at the third milestone from Aquileia" on August 28th (Prosper Tiro, Chron., and Socrates, H. E., v, 14).
It is only now that Gildas, for the first time, mentions the Picts and Scots, old enemies though they had been, because Britain was guilty of the old sin of unfaithfulness, and secondly, because not until then had the barbarians found the civilised parts of the island empty of proper garrisons to obstruct their path. It was the best opportunity for robber-inroads.
4. Two Roman expeditions are mentioned by Gildas as taking place after Maximus had carried the forces needed for defence over to Gaul. The brief account given above will aid us in finding the terminus a quo for the time during which these took place. The position of Maximus, though strong, made it impossible for him to spare any of the old garrisons, much less any other forces, to take the field in Britain against the Scots and Picts.+ It may be concluded, therefore, that no expedition could come until Theodosius had afresh reorganised the empire. This brings us to the year 389. It is possible also to fix a terminus ad quem.
In the last days of December, 406, the Vandals and Alani crossed the Rhine for a furious attack upon the rich provinces of Gaul ( Wandali et Halani Gallias trajecto Rheno ingressi II k. Jan. Prosper Tiro, M. G. H., ix, p. 465). In consequence, great dissatisfaction arose in Britain, where many Gallic detachments were then serving, and moved by fear of a general collapse of the empire, they proceeded to set up a new emperor. After making trial of several, they eventually fix on one bearing the noble name of Constantine, ..., Sozom., H. E., ix, II; vide also Oros., vii, 40. "Having perpetrated extensive murder, they----i.e., the Vandals, Alani and Suabians----became objects of fear even to the armies serving in Britain, and drove them, through fear of an attack against themselves, to proceed to the election of tyrants such as Marcus and Gratian, and after these Constantine" (Zosimus, vi, 3, i). On this act, Mr. Hodgkin, in the first volume of Italy and Her Invaders, p. 740, remarks: "Where the liegemen of a constitutional king change a ministry, the subjects of an elected emperor upset a dynasty." The discontented army of Britain was led over to Gaul in the year 407 by Constantine, the third tyrannus, of whose deeds a full account by Dr. Freeman will be found in the English Historical Review, 1886, in his article on " Tyrants of Britain, Gaul and Spain," or in the above-named work of Mr. Hodgkin. At no time, therefore, in the year 407, or subsequently, could any detachment of Roman forces be sent over to Britain, because this usurpation of Constantine, with his four years of power over the Prefecture of the Gauls, was the beginning of the final abandonment. " It was not Britain that gave up Rome, but Rome that gave up Britain." By A.D. 446, we know from Gildas, there were hardly any of the old Roman families left in the island.
Between 383 and 389, as has been said, no succour by the empire could have been despatched to Britain; from 388-9 onwards order and authority were being restored in the West by Theodosius the Great, and continued until 406 or 407. This is, therefore, the interval during which the two expeditions mentioned by Gildas must have taken place, that is, a period of about eighteen years (A.D. 389-407). It would be natural that Theodosius, while reorganising Italy and the Prefecture of the Gauls, after the defeat and execution of Maximus, should not delay in sending succour to Britain. It is certainly difficult to find definite evidence of such assistance. Socrates mentions Chrysanthus, a Novatian bishop at Constantinople, who was drawn into the episcopate against his will. His work as bishop began in 407, but before that he had filled several public offices about the palace, and after being raised to consular rank in Italy, was appointed by Theodosius the Great, Vicar of Britain. In the tasks of this office he acquitted himself well (H. E., vii, 12). It is just possible that in him we have one of the men employed by Theodosius in undoing the havoc caused by Maximus in Britain, which would mean repelling the barbarians.
Theodosius died in 395, and from that time until his death in 408, Stilicho was actual, though not nominal, ruler of the West. Claudian's verse has preserved many particulars respecting this brave soldier and strong minister of Honorius, and as the poems do not extend beyond the year 404, the frequent mention of Britain found in them must refer to events anterior to that date. These may be read in the Man. Hist. Brit., xcvii, xcviii, therefore I shall only quote the following from the poem on the Gothic war (De Bella Getico, A.D. 402 or 403):

" Venit et extremis legio praetenta Britannis 
Quae Scoto dat frena truci, ferroque notatas 
Pertegit exsangues Picto moriente figuras."

We have, therefore, clear evidence that measures were taken to repress the barbarians of the North after the death of Maximus, and before 402. I am further tempted to add the following quaint translation given by Speed in his Great Britaine, from the poem " On the First Consulship of Stilicho," of the year 400. Britain is made to say of Stilicho----

" When Seas did foame with strokes of Oares,
        That beat the billowes backe, 
His force effecting with his cares,
        Prevented still my wracke: 
He bade me fear no forraine powers,
        That Picts or Scots could make, 
Nor of the Saxons that on Seas,
        Uncertaine courses take."

The reference to Picts and Scots by Claudian may be pushed back some years earlier even than 400.++ It is, however, unimportant to make any endeavour by way of fixing any precise year. We find it proved for us that help was actually sent to Britain by the Empire during the very time it was possible so to send it. Gildas is in this way vindicated as to the genuineness of his facts, though his mode of describing them may certainly be still open to suspicion. He has been accused of confusion, because historians have sought in his narrative what it could not have entered his thought to narrate. For instance, it was supposed that in c. 17 he was describing the successes of Theodosius (Senior), which took place in 368; but because Gildas places the events of that chapter subsequent to the usurpation of Maximus (383-388), his work was thrown aside with some amount of contempt.
5. The third appeal to Rome was made, according to him, at the time when Aetius was consul, in 446, but was of necessity fruitless. The Empire was sinking. If, however, the views advanced in this note be correct, or approximately correct, they will help us further to understand his elation that, at last, victory over the old enemies came to the Britons " for the first time after many years: primum per multos annos? These " many years," as we have seen, would date at latest from Constantine's elevation in 407. The last help rendered by Rome was the empty letter of Honorius, sent about 410 to the Britons, " that the cities must take care of themselves." ... (Zosimus, vi, 10, 2).
The next and final disaster came by the deliberate admission of the Saxons into the island.

[Footnotes to the additional note]

* The words of Ammianus Marc., xxvii, 5, 8, have been usually understood as if the Franks and Saxons were ravaging Britain itself along with the northern nations. But must we not understand Gallicanos vero tractus Franci et Saxones isdem confines .... violabant, in the sense taken above?

+ St. Ambrose reminds Maximus, in the second embassy, of the latter's project to enter Italy "followed by barbarian battalions" (barbarorum stipatus agminibus, Ep. 24).

++ It is interesting to remember, once more, that the xxth legion, Valeria Victrix, established hitherto at Chester, was recalled to the continent by Stilicho about 402; but Claudian's poem, De Bello Getico, proves that it had, before its withdrawal, done service against the Picts and Scots, as formerly, under Hadrian and Pius, as well as in the expeditions of Severus, it had taken part in the same work (see Mommsen's Das Römische Heer in Britannien, s. 27).

[29] Curucus, or curuca. Irish, curach; Welsh, corwc; Modern Welsh, corwg, corwgl, cwrwgl, whence English coracle. In Adamnan's Life of Columba, we read that timber for building was to be conveyed over sea in boats (scaphis) and cwrwgs (curucis). The term, though originally denoting, as now in Wales, a skiff made of osier twigs covered with ox-hide, must be taken as denoting also the rude Celtic ship. The Martyr. Dungall. Aa. Ss. Mart., iii, p. 268 B, says: "in those parts there was at that time (sixth century) a mode of navigating by the use of osier twigs covered with ox-hide, which was called in the Irish tongue (Scotica lingua) currach." But the curaci, used by Columba and his friends, were provided with sail-yards (antennae), sails (vela), and rigging (rudentes). Adamnan's Vita Columbae, ii, 45, Reeves' ed., pp. 176, 177.
[30] Agitius. Gildas seems to have had access to a copy of the actual letter sent, but either he or the Britons made a mistake in the Consul's name. This is generally regarded as Aetius; and some continental editions of Gildas, e.g., the Bibl. P.P. Paris, read Aetium, and Aetio here. Aetius was Consul for the third time, along with Symmachus, in A.D. 466; his other consulships fell in 432 and 437. From 433 to 450, he exercised supreme control over the affairs of the Western Empire, under Placidia and Valentinian. The abject tone of the letter to him is in keeping with the times: its florid wording is not strange.
[31] Dr. Wendland, the co-editor with Dr. Leopold Cohn of the edition of Philo that is now being published in Berlin, regards the following as the' nearest approach to Gildas' quotation from Philo, but adds that no Latin version is known of the Vita Mosis (Letter to Dr. Mommsen. See his edition, p. 6). Philo vita Mosis I, 31, p. 108; ...
[32] It is impossible to tell what amount of definite fact there may be in this description of prosperity and moral decay. Though the style makes us suspicious, yet as the years of plenty were subsequent to 446, the old men of Gildas' childhood and youth must have moved in the living tradition of them.
[33] Superbo tyranno. [My italics and alteration to supply the name of Vortigern. MS Avranches A 162, (later 12th C.) actually has: superbo tyranno Vortigerno. MS Cambridge X (13th C.) has: Gurthigerno Brittanorum duce. Bede also places the name Vortigern here. Hugh Williams followed the traditionally used MS, as did Mommsen. Williams originally translates 'superbo tyranno' with 'proud tyrant'. Below, it can be read he did not trust the occurrance of the name and supposed it had come from later MSS, slipping into the text. I do not agree.]
The native king is called tyrannus, because the sole legitimate authority, that of Rome, was absent. Procopius, who was a younger contemporary of Gildas, relates that after the death of the tyrant Constantine (A.D. 411), "the Romans were no longer able to save Britain, but it remained from his time continuously under tyrants" (... ). Codex A reads tyranno Uortigerno, and X tyranno Gurthigerno Britannorum duce (giving thus its later form to the name, in the same way as Guenedotia takes the place of Venedotia), and the words of course appear in Gale's edition based on the latter MS. The name may have slipped into MSS. of Gildas from the Historia Britonum of Nennius, or perhaps from Beda (H. E., i, 14), who writes, placuitque omnibus cum rege suo Uortigerno, and in the Chronicle, Vertigerno. Nearly all the MSS. of Nennius have the late form, Guorthigernus, which in Welsh becomes Gwrtheyrn. That Gildas is not ignorant of the former predatory visits of the Saxons (as attested by Ammianus Marcellinus, and by the early title "Count of the Saxon shore"), is evident from the words, "whom in their absence they feared more than death." Men are not feared in their absence except through previous unhappy acquaintance, so that the Britons must have had experience of the hated Saxons at times anterior to this compact struck with them. The same conclusion may also be drawn from the closing sentence of c. 18: "They build towers on the south coast where ships were usually anchored because from that quarter also wild beasts of barbarians were to be feared." These could be no other than the Saxons. Zimmer appears to me entirely wrong in concluding that British tradition, c. 540, knew nothing of a previous presence of the Saxons in Britain: "von einer fruheren anwesenheit derselben in Brittanien weiss sie absolut nichts" (Nennius Vindic., 190).
There is nothing direct in the narrative of Gildas to fix the date of this coming of the Saxons at the invitation of the Britons. It cannot, however, be very long after the time clearly furnished by the third consulship of Aetius (Agitio ter consuli, c. 20). This being in A.D. 446, the approximate dates given by Beda seem to be derived from it, though he connects the time of the settlement of the Saxons with certain imperial events. A full note by the Editor of M. H. B., p. 120, collects the different dates assigned by Beda. They are, 452 in the Chronica, 449 in the Historia (5, 15; v. 24), 447 implied in i, 23, and v. 23; other parts suggest 448. The Chronicle, however, does not fix the date to any given year, and the adverb circiter is added in the other places. We learn from Gildas all that Beda knew. About 446 the Britons gain the victory which causes the grassatores Hiberni to flee homewards, but only to return at no long interval (post non longuin temporis reversuri); to meet that return the Saxons are invited to come, and we may be well satisfied that no nearer date can be found than c. 447. The Gallic Chronicle of the year 511 (printed in M. Germania: Hist., vol. ix, p. 660), opposite A.D. 441-442, gives: Brittaniae usque ad hoc tempus variis cladibus eventibusque latae in dicionem Saxonum rediguntur. (Mommsen conjectures late vexatae). It is difficult to reconcile this difference of five years, unless a Saxon invasion of that time be regarded as one (perhaps the worst) of those which had made the Britons fear the Saxons "more than death."
The Historia Britonum follows a different tradition: it is to the effect that the three ships which brought Horsa and Hengist came as the Ships of exiles (expulsae in exilio).
Cyulis or ciulis, as the word is in X, must be the same as the English keel. Geoffrey of Monmouth changes it into tres celoces, quas longas naues dicimus; in the Welsh, deir llog hirion.
Prolixiorem catastam, cf. c. 109: rectius erat ut ad career em vel catastam poenalem quam ad sacerdotium traheremini, where catasta must mean a scaffold as used for the punishment of criminals. In this passage the word classis, i.e., fleet, is substituted for it by Beda: mittitur confestim classis prolixior. One instance from an unpublished MS, treatise on military tactics is furnished by Du Cange, where the word is used for a heap of felled wood: Facial lignaria incidere de quibus fiant in diversis locis foci in die snae discessionis, et accensis catastis lignorum statim discedat cum suo exercitu. Such a meaning would easily give the signification of a raft, in which sense Gildas employs the word here as a contemptuous expression with ratibus. Dr. Davies, in his Latin-Welsh Dictionary, gives the Welsh carchardy = prison-house, for catasta. The only other meaning given by Du Cange is that of an instrument of torture, a wooden rack, made in the shape of a horse, equuleus, or a " bed of iron" on which martyrs were placed, fire being kindled beneath. Scala, vel gemis poenae equideo similis is quoted from a gloss in Mai, Tom. vii, p. 554, and from A ug. in Psalm 96: Habebant gaudia in catasta, qui Christum praedicabant inter tormenta. Several Acta furnish examples: for instance, Acta Perpetuae et Felicitatis: Ascendimus in catasta = scaffold.
[34] Jerome's first revision of the Old Latin Psalter, made A.D. 383, and called Psalterium Romanum, reads, as Gildas here, coinquinarunt (... in LXX). But the second, the Psalterium Gallicum of A.D. 392, preserved in the Vulgate, has polluerunt, which is the rendering of ... in the previous quotation. In chapters 30, 104, we have further indications that Gildas used an old Psalter, probably older than either revision of the old Latin made by Jerome.
[35] Or, with lofty door.
[36] Nonnulli .... alii .... alii . . . alii. Gildas describes the fate of his countrymen in this struggle, (1) Many were killed outright; (2) others were reduced to life-long slavery; (3) others took refuge in parts beyond sea; (4) others betook themselves to hilly districts and the rugged sea-coasts. These last are the reliquiae, the remnant, who before Gildas' own time had, with the assistance of their British fellow-countrymen (cives) succeeded in wresting back several cities and districts from the terrible enemy. Two remarkable successes came at a time when a considerable part of the Saxons had returned to their own settlement. The first occurred under the leadership of Ambrosius Aurelianus; the second came by the siege of Badon Hill; both exceeded all expectation or hope on the part of the British. At the time when Gildas wrote, there were many alive who had been eye-witnesses of the two events, who could not, he remarks, refrain from frequent mentioning of them. He himself was born in the very year of the later victory, forty-three years and one month from his time of writing; but the success to which the generalship of Ambrosius Aurelianus led was acquired at no considerable time before that, as it must fall within the memory of one life. If we take the year of Gildas' birth as c. A.D. 500, then the battle of Badon Hill took place c. 456-7, and the successes of Ambrosius Aurelius may be put not far from A.D. 450. [I do not agree. In 'Gildas - when did he write', I have established that Gildas seems to indicate that he wrote 44 years after probably the victory of Ambrosius over the Saxon invaders, yet after the battle of Badon, which happened within living memory of a generation that had grown up in peace. Gildas most probably put the siege of Badon between 490 and 510: http://www.vortigernstudies.org.uk/artsou/gildwhen.htm]
[37] Transmarinas petebant regiones. Gildas in these words certainly implies that there was an emigration of a considerable part of the Britons of this island to the continent. He has already intimated the same in c. 4, where he tells us that his information is derived not from native sources but from continental ones. What might have existed of the former had, he says, either been burnt by the enemy, or carried far away by that fleet which conveyed his countrymen into exile. This was the beginning of Britanny, or Armorica, but the emigration continued far on into the seventh century. Another view, maintained by many, maybe stated in the words of Dr. Freeman: "Here the ante-Roman population still kept its Celtic language, and it was further strengthened by colonies from Britain, from which the land took its later name of the Lesser Britain, or Britany" (Hist. Geogr. of Europe, p. 93). French writers, especially French Celtic scholars, hold a very different opinion. M. Loth, for instance, in his exhaustive History of the British Emigration in Armorica. thus sums up the conclusions of M. de Courson: " In every place where the insular Britons are not established, the names of places are Gallo-Roman; men's names are Latin or German. The territory of Rennes and that of Nantes .... are of this kind. The old Vannetais, even, towards the end of the fifth century, presents the same character. The tyrant of Vannes, in the Life of St. Melanius, is named Eusebius, his daughter Aspasia, and the " villa " in which he resides Prima Villa. Everywhere, on the contrary, where the Britons are established, the names of men and of places present a Celtic character. Men's names are the same as in Wales and Cornwall; the names of places are generally preceded by a British prefix, as in the island; tref (hamlet), ploi, plou, pleu, plo (plebs = Welsh plwyf, meaning at first a congregation, then the district inhabited by the congregation of any given church); caer (a fortified place, and, simply, a village); llan (a monastery, generally, then a church), etc. The terminations are equally distinct. The Britons do not derive names of places in -acum (-ac) from names of persons, a formation very frequent in a Gallo-Roman country. In a word, throughout the zone occupied by the immigrants, all is transformed, all is Celtic (Brito-Celtic): we are in Britannia; at Rennes and at Nantes we are in Romania" (p. 84). This account of the fact that a Brito-Celtic people are found settled on the peninsula which forms the extremity of the "tractus Armoricanus," about the middle of the sixth century, is amplified by M. Loth. He notices at length the special characteristics of different Celtic languages, which make it impossible for us to regard the people of Britanny as a portion of the old Celtic inhabitants of Gaul surviving there: reference is made to the use of Britannia, etc., by Gregory of Tours in the Historia Francorum, to ancient Lives of Saints, which describe their crossing over from Britain to Lesser Britain (Britannia Minor) with crowds of companions, and to a large bulk of historic matter in ancient annalists and poetry. Taking all things together, a host of lines converge upon one fact: that from about A.D. 500 to 590 there was a strong stream of emigration to the continent. It had, probably, begun earlier, and it continued later, but during the whole lifetime of Gildas there were periods of emigration. Two of his old fellow-disciples, Samson and Paul Aurelian, left their native land and settled in Britany. (Vide L'Emigration bretonne en Armorique, par J. Loth. 1883.)
[38] Domum: this can only mean the place assigned to them by treaty in Britain, not their original home on the Continent. The sentence, therefore, implies an ebb in the flood of Saxon conquest.
[39] Verg. Aen. ix. 24.
[40] Ambrosio Aureliano. Ambrosius Aurelian has become known in Welsh literature as Emrys Wledig, or, as the Historia Britonum gives the name, Embreis Guletic. According to Gildas, he is (1) a Romanus, a member of one of the few old aristocratic families then remaining in Britain; (2) his ancestors had worn the imperial purple: he may have been a descendant of some tyrannus that had assumed the title of Augustus in Britain; (3) he was a vir modestus, which implies kindness of disposition with unassuming manners: the mention of this quality goes far to prove that the information had come to Gildas from some one personally acquainted with the victorious leader; (4) his descendants, grandchildren probably, were intimately known to Gildas. Ussher (Antiquities, vol. v, c. xiii, p. 513) has drawn attention to the false reading indutus for indutis, which the first edition of Polydore Vergil introduced. In this way Ambrosius Aurelian himself assumed imperial power "for the struggle" (collisioni for collisione) against the Saxons. But, though one codex, A, reads indutus, the way in which Beda paraphrases Gildas shows plainly that he must have read indutis: occisis in eadem parentibus regium nomen et insigne ferentibus. H. E., i, 16. With Beda agrees the Historia Britonum of Nennius, which makes Ambrosius say that his father was of consular rank (c. 42). The Irish version of Nennius adds an interpretation of Guletic, in Latin, as meaning king of the Britons (rex Britonum). Maximus is also styled Maxim Guletic (Archiv fur Celt. Lexicogr., i., s. 206), but, in the case of both, its implication appears to be that of a commander. Geoffrey of Monmouth absurdly makes him the son of the tyrannus Constantine, whom he represents as king of Britain, along with Constans the monk and Uthur ben dragon: "Ac or wreic honno y bu idaw tri meib. Sef oed y rei hynny, Constans ac Emrys Wledic ac Uthur ben dragon" (Brut., p. 126). We seem to have here a reminiscence of both Gildas and Orosius. In Gildas, Geoffrey found that the family of Ambrosius had worn, the purple, which may well mean that he was descended from one of the many tyranni who had assumed the title of Augustus in Britain. Orosius, on the other hand, furnishes the romancist with a father for Ambrosius in the person of the tyrannus Constantine. He had a son Constans, that from a monk became a Caesar, but this son was killed in Spain in A.D. 412, and Constantine himself in the previous year. [Adversus hos Constantinus Constant em filium suum----pro dolor!----ex monacho Caesarem factum----in Hispanias misit----Oros. Hist., vii, 40, 7.] Yet according to Geoffrey's story, Emrys and Uthur must have been men in years long before Constans left his monastery, that is, long before 411, nevertheless, the former lived to conquer the Saxons about the year 450! This is still worse if we fall into the mistake of taking Geoffrey's Constantine, as he himself suggests, to be Constantine the Great.
[41] Ad annum obsessionis Badonici montis. Since the publication of Dr. Guest's papers ("Origines Celticae," 1883), the conclusions at which he arrives respecting the location of Badonicus mons have been very generally accepted. Treating of "The early English Settlements in South Britain," he maintains that Mount Badon or Badon Hill is not Bath, but Badbury, in Dorset. "Its elevated site, its great strength and evident importance, and its name, all alike favour the hypothesis " (vol. ii, p. 189). His hypothesis was accepted by Freeman and Green. But it is one extremely difficult to fall in with, and must, one feels, be put aside for the older view. There was no need of a very elevated site to build a fortress, while the neighbourhood of Bath would supply hills for such a purpose. Moreover, the very similarity of sound in Bad-bury and Bad-on-icus is itself something to rouse suspicion rather than to suggest Dr. Guest's inference. The name Mons Badonis is found in Nennius's Historia Britonum as the place where the "twelfth battle" was fought under Arthur. The Annales Cambriae place Bellum Badonis opposite a doubtful date (A.D. 516); a fragment published in the Brut of Llyfr Coch o Hergest speaks of the " battle of Badwn " (giveith Badwn) p. 404, while other parts of the Brut mention Kaer Vadon, and once there is mention of esgob Bad. In all these places there can be no doubt that the meaning is Bath, as in " capitulum LXVIII " of the Historia Britonum (p. 130 Mommsen's edn.); De stagno calido, in quo balnea sunt Badonis (baths of Badon) secundum uniuscuiusque voti desiderium. Cf. Camden's Britannia, Somersetshire, p. 70 (edn. of 1645).
42] Quique quadragesimus quartus.....There has been much controversy as to the meaning of these words. Beda took them to mean, forty-four years after the coming of the Saxons to Britain: quadragesimo circiter et quarto anno adventus eorum in Britanniam. M. de la Borderie, in an article in Revue Celtique, vi, 1-13, holds that Beda's rendering is the true one, and in this way arrives at the conclusion that the date assigned to the siege of Badon Hill by the Annales Cambriae is incorrect. Certainly A.D. 516 cannot be the date of that battle for several reasons; the entry in the Annales Cambriae has all the appearance of an erroneous borrowing from Nennius, c. 56, of matter not found in the Irish translation, and extremely legendary in character. Dismissing the date 516, M. de la Borderie arrives at 493 as the date of the battle, which, he holds, Beda deduced from Gildas, rightly understanding his words to convey the meaning of forty-four years after the settlement of the Saxons. But the French scholar inserts the words adventus eorum in Britanniam before ut novi. In the note on Ambrosius Aurelian we have had an instance of the way in which Beda mixes literal quotations from Gildas with his own words, interpreting the latter's meaning in better words or phrases. As no MS. authority exists for this insertion of M. de la Borderie's, it seems  far better to regard the words adventus eorum in Britanniam as Beda's own interpretation of Gildas. Ussher (vol. v, p. 544) holds that Beda has misunderstood Gildas's words, and gives himself the following paraphrase of the passage: "perinde ac si dixisset, a clade Badonica quadragesimum quartum tunc (tempore quo scripta ab eo ista sunt) numerari cepisse annum; unico quippe anni illius mense adhuc elapso; idque ex sua ipsius aetate se novisse." " As if he had said that from the loss inflicted at Badon, the forty-fourth year-had then (at the time he wrote) begun to be counted; one month in fact of that year was gone, and this he knew from his own age." Mommsen feels that the passage can hardly give a good meaning, and, though reluctantly, proposes-an emendation of it. The difficulty, he feels, lies in the strange ut novi, but if the sentence be read: quique quadragesimus quartus [est ab eo qui] orditur annus mense iam uno emenso, qui et meae nativitatis est, then the meaning is perfectly clear. (Man. Germ. Hist., iii, p. 8.) When we think of the many involved scraggy sentences which Gildas writes elsewhere, we do not wonder at the ut novi, which the recollection of his own age forced to an undue prominence before his mind: by inserting it in brackets the sentence is tolerably easier, and can only give the meaning deduced by Ussher, and favoured by Mommsen.
[43] The description given here of the atrocities perpetrated in this invasion is so definite in details that it must have come to Gildas from eye-witnesses. He himself saw the ruined cities, desertae dirutaeque hactenus squalent (chapter 26).
[44] This passage mentions two generations. First, there were the men who had witnessed the disasters suffered from the Saxons and had survived them to enjoy a time of quiet in lives void of reproach. Secondly, after they had passed away, there came a generation of men who, like Gildas himself, had experience only of the period of non-molestation by outside enemies. It is the deterioration of these that he laments in the present work. But there are also the few select ones, so few that even the venerable mother, the church, hardly knows them as her only real sons. Who are they? To answer this question fully we must consult cc. 65, 69, 92; yet in the main it would be right to say that he has the monks in his thoughts. We find a reference to this passage in c. 65, and therein also, it may be mentioned in passing, strong evidence that this work of Gildas never really consisted of two different parts----Historia and Epistola----much less that they were written at different times. " I ask pardon of these men, as I have said in a previous part," so writes Gildas in the chapter named, " whose life I not only praise, but also esteem above all the wealth of the world, and of which, if possible, I long for a share, sometime, before I die." For Gildas, and, apparently, for his contemporaries also, in both the Irish and British churches, the original idea of monasticism had undergone a great change. It had ceased to be a purely contemplative life, or one of secluded discipline of the individual soul unto holiness, as Eucher's beautiful De Contemptu Mundi describes it. Gildas, though a monk, is mixing in the battle of public life, and the present work is part of the task which he fearlessly carried out. "There was a prophet of the people in the time of the Britons called Gildas. He wrote about their misdeeds: how they so angered God, that at last He caused the army of the English to conquer their land, and utterly destroy the strength of the Britons. And that came about through the irregularity of the clergy, and the lawlessness of the laity" (Wulfstan, Anglo-Saxon Homilies). Notwithstanding the position in which Gildas finds himself, the place of honour in his mind belongs to those who lived in the cloisters: they are the saints, the only real sons of mother church: sancti Dei, id est, monachi, as said by Salvian. would express his idea also. The Welsh language itself still bears evidence how such words as sanctus (sant), religiosi (crefyddwyr), took a special meaning, at first no doubt a fuller meaning than hitherto, when men regarded their adoption of the cloistered life as their " conversion." But it is very significant that Gildas nowhere presses this life upon anyone, cleric or layman, as a cure for the excesses which he denounces. Wherefore we find him, in this, to be out of the fashion of his age, though we may see in it also the keen moderation that is so evident in the " Fragments," and which the correspondence of such men as Finnan, a sanctorum Hiberniac magister, shows to have been valued in distant places (Columb., Kp. I, in M. Germ. H., iii, 159). His words, however, imply-strange though it seems-that monasticism had not spread largely in Britain by c. 540. See Introduction.
[45] Mater ecclesia is of constant occurrence in ecclesiastical Latin as early as Cyprian; matris sinus also in the same connection.
[46] Damnonia in the sixth century would correspond roughly to the present county of Devon. Aldhelm, between 675 and 705, addresses his letter of admonition to " Geruntius King and the priests (i.e.. bishops) of Damnonia." A poem addressed to Aldhelm about the same date reads:
" quando profectus fueram
Usque diram Domnoniam per carentem Cornubiam." 
Cornubia (Cornwall) seems to have been a separate kingdom.
[47] Aurelius Caninus: We have no place mentioned as forming the kingdom of this prince. It seems natural, with Zimmer (Nenn. Fznd.,p. 307), to regard it as lying between Damnonia and the next named Demetia. His kingdom might well include parts of the present counties of Somerset, Gloucester, Monmouth, Glamorgan, and Caermarthen, perhaps, with Caerlleon (Legionum urbs) as capital. Geoffrey of Monmouth reads Conane. Dr. Guest is inclined to conclude that Constantine and Aurelius Conan were the degenerated descendants of Ambrosius Aurelianus, mentioned in c. 25. This is not a conclusion that one can well rest in.
[48] Vortipori. Vortiporius is King of Demetia (Dyfed), which roughly corresponded to the present county of Pembroke. The Welsh form of the name appears as Guortepir map Aircol map Triphun in the Genealogies from Harleian MSS., edited by Mr. E. Phillimore in Y Cymmrodor, vol. ix, p. 171. " Aircol must be the Welsh reduction of the Latin Agricola" Rhys' Celtic Britain, p. 253.
[49] Cuneglase. This name and the whole passage, present many difficulties. Gune-glasus may have had an older form, Cuno-glasus, found in many names, e.g., Cuno-maglus ( = Cynfael), Cuno-valus (Cynwal), Cuno-belinus (Cynfelyn), etc. The first element of the compound is connected either with cuno- in the sense of high or noble, as cun, a top, or summit, cynnu, to raise, or with cu, gen. cunos, a. dog. Maglo-cunus may have the same root, with the meaning of "great lord." (See Holder, Alt-Celtisches Sprachschatz, Rhys' Celtic Britain, p. 286, The Academy, October 12th and 19th, 1895). The meaning dog would connect itself better with butcher, but glas is an odd addition in the sense of fulvus ---- deep reddish-yellow, or tawny; the green grass, the blue sea, the gray mare, are each termedglas in modern Welsh, but we find it impossible to connect the adjective with a colour that comprises red and yellow. It has been proposed to take cunus as fulvus, i.e., honey-coloured, and glas as lanio: this hardly removes the difficulty, while the order is decidedly unfavourable to it. I feel that Gildas must have fallen into a mistake, in the heat of his desire to fasten an ugly nickname upon Cuneglasus.
Later, the name took the form Cun-glas or Conglas; in the Genealogies it appears as Cinglas, and may perhaps be found in Cynlas (Y Cymmrodor, ix, 172).  Cinglas map Eugein dant gwin, map Enniaun girt, map Cuneda," may be compared with " Mailcun map Catgolan lauhir, map Ennian girt, map Cuneda;" so that we find Cinlas and Mailcun (Maglocunus of next section) to be both descended from Cunedda, and both grandsons of Enniaun. With this suggestion it seems fair to conclude that the kingdoms of the two were contiguous. Zimmer places that of Cinglas in the district between the Teifi and the Dee, where descendants of Cunnedda are known to have ruled.
I have ventured to print urse and ursi, instead of Urse, Ursi, as other editions do. The word appears to me to be employed by Gildas as an epithet, parallel with the animal names----catulus for the king of Damnonia, catulus leoninus for Aurelius Caninus, pardo for Vortiporius, and draco for Maglocunus. An attempt has been made to connect Ursus with arth in the Welsh name  Arthur, which is Welsh for Arturius (Arcturius). (Academy, October 12th, 1895.)
Were we to adopt the reading cesor of A, we should find a meaning closely allied with lanio, i.e., hewer of many, one who mangles or tears in pieces. Auriga currus receptaculi ursi describes, probably, well-known habits of this prince; he drives a chariot, but in the eyes of Gildas, that chariot is but the mean appanage of a bear's ugly den, his place of retreat: hence the singular term, receptaculum.
[50] The "authority to bind and loose" is, we see, a settled, part of British ideas respecting Church discipline and life in the sixth century. According to c. 109, it is given to " Peter and his successors," i.e., the bishops, but Gildas draws a definite distinction; the priest must be a holy priest: the promise is made omni sancto sacerdoti. Such men as he is writing against, though ordained bishops, have by their unholy lives, he adds (c. 109), forfeited this authority. They are barely Christians (c. 92).
[51] Maglocune. Maglocunus is the Mailcun of the previous note, great-grandson of Cunedda Wledig. The name appears as Maelgwn in modern Welsh, generally Maelgwn Gwynedd, designating him as king of that portion of North Wales which was called Venedotia, and later Gwenedotia. The ancient Gwynedd extended from the river Clwyd (according to some, from the river Conway) westward, and to the south as far as the Mawddach or Dyfi. Maelgwn had as teacher the celebrated Illtud, and may or may not have been at his monastery at the same time as Gildas himself. The vow to take upon himself the secluded discipline of a monk came after having a taste of the stormy life of a king: the monastery, however, was abandoned, and Maelgwn seems----partly through his own brilliant qualities, partly as a family right----to have attained a position of pre-eminence over the other princes, or, as Gildas puts it, "te cunctis paene Britanniae ducibus tam regno fecit (Deus) quam status liniamento editiorem......" On the legend, which gives at least an echo of this fact, see Welsh Laws (1841), ii, 49-51. According to the Annales Cambriae, he died of the great plague in the year 547: " An. [547] mortalitas magna in qua pausat Mailcun rex Guenedotiae." The date, 547, can only be an approximate one. Petrie, in the first edition, which appeared in the Monum. Hist. Brit., supplied 444 as the year of the Christian reckoning corresponding to ANNUS I of the Annalist, though, as he confesses, there is no certainty with respect to the era adopted by him (De aera vero, unde in annalibus condendis exorsus sit chronographus, minime constat). Some well-known dates of events are a few years wrong; others, especially the later ones, correct, as given in the Annales. Dr. Stokes does not add the corresponding years for the Irish Annals of Tigernach, which he edits in the Revue Critique (1896), but gives in brackets those of other Annals. Now the Tigernachian Annals say: K. vn. Mortalitas magna, which means that it occurred during a year in which the Kalends, or 1st of January, was a Saturday. The Annals of Ulster place it in 551, those of Inisfallen in 541 (Rev. Celt., p. 140). Not one of the three Irish documents agrees quite with the Welsh, but the errors cannot be important in any. We therefore adopt 547 as the approximate date of Maelgwivs death. But, as he was alive when Gildas wrote, it has been rightly concluded that the De Excidio must have been written before 547. On the whole question of date, see Introduction. 
Insularis draco is explained in Celtic Britain- as implying that "island" is Britain itself, not Mona. When we reflect that "dragon" is the last of the opprobrious epithets----cur, whelp, leopard, bear, dragon----applied to the five kings, one is drawn to the belief that even the insularis is also intended to wound. If so, the reference must be to Maelgwn in his island home, Mona.
[52] This teacher is generally regarded to be Illtud, who is not named owing to his pre-eminence, and from a feeling of reverence on the part of the writer (see Introduction).
[53] Gildas, when quoting elsewhere consecutively from the Gospels, has a text almost identical with that of the Vulgate; but here, quoting probably from memory, his text is the same as the partially revised Old Latin Codex Brixianus (f), ...
[54] Although Gildas mingles his denunciatory message to the five princes with affectionate appeals for reform, yet he ends each message with lavish threatening of the torments of hell. The appellations used by him for the place of torment are inferno, or infernum and tartarus. The Latin versions had made the former word familiar everywhere as the name for "the grave," or Hades, the abode of the dead. In this sense it is the equivalent of the plural inferi, as exaudivit me de venire inferni (Jonah, ii, 3), in the Latin version of Irenaeus: descendant . ... in infernum (...) Gen. xxxvii, 35. Its Welsh derivative, uffern, is employed with the same meaning in most places of the authorised Old and New Testament. But it was used also as a name for a place of punishment (locus supplicioriini atque cruciatorum, Jerome in Is. xiv, 7-11), and Jerome understood the words of the creed, descendit ad inferna, in this sense. Cyprian seems to have used inferi only, while inferus appears a few times in the Latin Bible, e.g., Rev. vi, 8, et inferus (...) sequebatur eum, where the Welsh version has uffern, the English hell. Tartarus, though not so frequently found, is employed for " hell " as early as Tertullian, and in the letter of Roman presbyters to Cyprian: parauit caelum sed parauit et tartarum,Ep., xxx, 7. It is evident that neither inferi nor tartarus were in common use, because infcrnus has given enfer to the French language and uffern, or yffern, to Welsh. Cornish and Armorican have allied forms, ifarn, yffarn; iffern, iverus.
[55] This "tearful narrative of complaint" (flebilis querulaque historia) includes the part beginning, in c. 26, where the older men die and are succeeded by an age ignorant of the earlier struggles with the Saxons, with experience only of the present time of quiet. The story ends with c. 36. Bede's well-known words about Gildas, that he wrote " with tears in his language" (flebili sermone, i, 22), may have been borrowed from this passage, as also the name liber querulus, so frequently applied to this work. The phrase querula historia means a narrative setting forth definite charges or complaints. In Col. iv, 13, we have probably the Latin querela reproduced by the Authorised Versions, Welsh and English, in the (now) archaic cweryl and quarrel. "If any man have a quarrel (= complaint) against any."


  • Gildas: De excidio Britanniae, ed. Theodor Mommsen, in: Chronica Minora Saec. iv, v, vi, vii vol. 3, pp. 1-85, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores, (1892, Berlin repr. 1961).
  • Gildas: The Ruin of Britain and other works, Latin and trans. M. Winterbottom, History from the Sources 7, (Old Woking 1978).*
  • Gildas: De Excidio Brittonum, trans. John Allan Giles, in: Six Old English Chronicles, of which two are now first translated from the monkish Latin originals (London, George Bell and Sons, 1891), full text (English), at: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/gildas-full.html.
  • Gildas The de excidio Britonum (The Ruin of Britain): ed. and Latin Keith Matthews (2000), based on Mommsen's version, at: http://www.kmatthews.org.uk/history/gildas/frames.html
  • Gildas, The Ruin of Britain &c., ed. and trans Hugh Williams, in: Cymmrodorion Record Series, No. 3. (1899), at: http://www.ccel.org/p/pearse/morefathers/gildas_02_ruin_of_britain.htm.

The sources on Vortigern - The Text of Gildas: de Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae. (Parts 1 and 2, chapters 1-37) is Copyright © 2005, Robert Vermaat. All rights reserved.

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