Six Old English Chronicles/Geoffrey's British History/Book 1 (Annotated)

Translation based on Aaron Thompson & J. A. Giles (1842); see also plain text version

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Whilst occupied on many and various studies, I happened to light upon the History of the Kings of Britain, and wondered that in the account which Gildas and Bede, their elegant treatises, had given of them, I found nothing said of those kings who lived here before the Incarnation of Christ, nor of Arthur, and many others who succeeded after the Incarnation; though their actions both deserved immortal fame, and were also celebrated by many people in a pleasant manner and by heart, as if they had been written. Whilst I was intent upon these and such like thoughts, Walter, archdeacon of Oxford,[1] a man of great eloquence, and learned in foreign histories, offered me a very ancient book in the British tongue, which, in a continued regular story and elegant style, related the actions of them all, from Brutus the first king of the Britons, down to Cadwallader the son of Cadwallo. At his request, therefore, though I had not made fine language my study, by collecting florid expressions from other authors, yet contented with my own homely style, I undertook the translation of that book into Latin. For if I had swelled the pages with rhetorical flourishes, I must have tired my readers, by employing their attention more upon my words than upon the history. To you, therefore, Robert, Earl of Gloucester, this work humbly sues for the favour of being so corrected by your advice, that it may not be thought to be the poor offspring of Geoffrey of Monmouth, but when polished by your refined wit and judgment, the production of him who had Henry the glorious king of England for his father, and whom we see an accomplished scholar and philosopher, as well as a brave soldier and expert commander; so that Britain with joy acknowledged, that in you she possesses another Henry.

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Britain, the best of islands, is situated in the Western Ocean, between France and Ireland, being eight hundred miles long, and two hundred broad. It produces every thing that is useful to man, with a plenty that never fails. It abounds with all kinds of metal, and has plains of large extent, and hills fit for the finest tillage, the richness of whose soil affords variety of fruits in their proper seasons. It also has forests well stocked with all kinds of wild beasts; in its lawns cattle find good change of pasture, and bees variety of flowers for honey. Under its lofty mountains lie green meadows pleasantly situated, in which the gentle murmurs of crystal springs gliding along clear channels, give those that pass an agreeable invitation to lie down on their banks and slumber. It is likewise well watered with lakes and rivers abounding with fish; and besides the narrow sea which is on the Southern coast towards France, there are three noble rivers, stretching out like three arms, namely, the Thames, the Severn, and the Humber; by which foreign commodities from all countries are brought into it. It was formerly adorned with eight and twenty cities, of which some are in ruins and desolate, others are still standing, beautified with lofty church-towers, wherein religious worship is performed according to the Christian institution. It is lastly inhabited by five different nations, the Britons, Romans, Saxons, Picts, and Scots; whereof the Britons before the rest did formerly possess the whole island from sea to sea, till divine vengeance, punishing them for their pride, made them give way to the Picts and Saxons. But in what manner, and from whence, they first arrived here, remains now to be related in what follows.[2]

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After the Trojan war, Aeneas, flying with Ascanius from the destruction of their city, sailed to Italy. There he was honourably received by king Latinus, which raised against him the envy of Turnus, king of the Rutuli, who thereupon made war against him. Upon their engaging in battle, Aeneas got the victory, and having killed Turnus, obtained the kingdom of Italy, and with it Lavinia the daughter of Latinus. After his death, Ascanius, succeeding in the kingdom, built Alba upon the Tiber, and begat a son named Sylvius,[3] who, in pursuit of a private amour, took to wife a niece of Lavinia. The damsel soon after conceived, and the father Ascanius, coming to the knowledge of it, commanded his magicians to consult of what sex the child should be. When they satisfied themselves in the matter, they told him she would give birth to a boy, who would kill his father and mother, and after travelling over many countries in banishment, would at last arrive at the highest pitch of glory. Nor where they mistaken in their prediction; for at the proper time the woman brought forth a son, and died of his birth; but the child was delivered to a nurse and called Brutus.[4]

At length, after fifteen years were expired, the youth accompanied his father in hunting, and killed him undesignedly by the shot of an arrow. For, as the servants were driving up the deer towars them, Brutus, in shooting at them, smote his father under the breast. Upon his death, he was expelled from Italy, his kinsmen being enraged at him for so heinous a deed. Thus banished he went into Greece, where he found the posterity of Helenus, son of Priamus, kept in slavery by Pandrasus, king of the Greeks. For, after the destruction of Troy, Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, had brought hither in chains Helenus and many others; and to revenge on them the death of his father, had given command that they should be held in captivity. Brutus, finding they were by descent his old countrymen, took up his abod among them, and began to distinguish himself by his conduct and bravery in war, so as to gain the affection of kings and commanders, and above all the young men of the country. For he was esteemed a person of great capacity both in council and war, and signalized his generosity to his soldiers, by bestowing them all the money and spoil he got. His fame, therefore, spreading over all countries, the Trojans from all parts began to flock to him, desiring under his command to be freed from subjection to the Greeks; which they assured him might easily be done, considering how much their number was now increased in the country, being seven thousand strong, besides women and children. There was likewise then in Greece a noble youth named Assaracus, a favourer of their cause. For he was descended on his mother's side from the Trojans, and placed great confidence in them, that he might be able by their assistance to oppose the designs of the Greeks. For his brother had a quarrel with him for attempting to deprive him of three castles which his father had given him at his death, on account of his being only the son of a concubine; but as the brother was a Greek, both by his father's and mother's side, he had prevailed with the king and the rest of the Greeks to espouse his cause. Brutus, having taken a view of the number of his men, and sen how Assaracus's castles lay open to him, complied with their request.

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Being therefore, chosen their commander, he assembled the Trojans from all parts, and fortified the towns belonging to Assaracus. But he himself, with Assaracus and the whole body of men and women that adhered to him, retired to the woods and hills, and then sent a letter to the king in these words:—

"Brutus, general of the remainder of the Trojans, to Pandrasus, king of the Greeks, sends greeting. As it was beneath the dignity of a nation descended from the illustrious race of Dardanus, to be treated in your kingdom otherwise than the nobility of their birth required, they have betaken themselves to the protection of the woods. For they have preferred living after the manner of wild beasts, upon flesh and herbs, with the enjoyment of liberty, to continuing longer in the greatest luxury under the yoke of slavery. If this gives your majesty any offence, impute it not to them, but pardon it; since it is the common sentiment of every captive, to be desirous of regaining his former dignity. Let pity therefore move you to bestow on them freely their lost liberty, and permit them to inhabit the thickest of the woods, to which they have retired to avoid slavery. But if you deny them this favour, then by your permission and assistance let them depart into some foreign country."

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Pandrasus, perceiving the purport of the letter, was beyond measure surprised at the boldness of such a message from those whom he had kept in slavery; and having called a council of his nobles, he determined to raise an army in order to pursue them. But while he was upon his march to the desert, where he thought they were, and to the town of Sparatinum, Brutus made a sally with three thousand men, and fell upon him unawares. For having intelligence of his coming, he had got into the town the night before, with a design to break forth upon them unexpectedly, while unarmed and marching without order. The sally being made, the Trojans briskly attack them, and endeavour to make great slaughter. The Greeks, astonished, immediately give way on all sides, and with the king at their head, hasten to pass the river Akalon,[5] which runs near the place; but in passing are in great danger from the rapidity of the stream. Brutus galls them in their flight, and kills some of them in the stream, but some on the banks; and running to and fro, rejoices to see them in both places exposed to ruin. But Antigonus, the brother of Pandrasus, grieved at the sight, rallied his scattered troops, and made a quick return upon the furious Trojans; for he rather chose to die making a brave resistance, than to be drowned in a muddy pool in a shameful flight. Thus attended with a close body of men, he encouraged them to stand their ground, and employed his whole force against the enemy with great vigour, but to little or no purpose; for the Trojans had arms, but the others none; and from this advantage they were more eager in the pursuit, and made a miserable slaughter; nor did they give over the assault till they had made nearly a total destruction, and taken Antigonus, and Anacletus his companion prisoners.

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Brutus, after the victory, reinforced the town with six hundred men, and then retired to the woods, where the Trojan people were expecting his protection. In the meantime Pandrasus, grieving at his own flight and his brother's captivity, endeavoured that night to re-assemble his broken forces, and the next morning went with a body of people which he had got together, to besiege the town, into which he supposed Brutus had put himself with Antigonus and the rest of the prisoners that he had taken. As soon as he was arrived at the walls, and had viewed the situation of the castle, he divided his army into several bodies, and placed them round it in different stations. One party was charged not to suffer any of the besieged to go out; another to turn the courses of the rivers; and a third to beat down the walls with battering rams and other engines. In obedience to those commands, they laboured with their utmost force to distress the besieged; and night coming on, made choice of their bravest men to defend the camp and tents from the incursions of the enemy, while the rest, who were fatigued with labour, refreshed themselves with sleep.

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But the besieged, standing on the top of the walls, were no less vigourous to repel the forces of the enemies' engines, and assault them with their own, and cast forth darts and firebrands with a unanimous resolution to make a valiant defence. And when a breach was made through the wall, they compelled the enemy to retire, by throwing upon them fire and scalding water. But being distressed through scarcity of provision and daily labour, they sent an urgent message to Brutus, to hasten to their assistance, for they were afraid they might be so weakened as to be obliged to quit the town. Brutus, though desirous of relieving them, was under great perplexity, as he had not men enough to stand a pitched battle, and therefore made use of a strategem, by which he proposed to enter the enemies' camp by night, and having deceived their watch to kill them in their sleep. But because he knew this was impracticable without the concurrence and assistance of some Greeks, he called to him Anacletus, the companion of Antigonus, and with a drawn sword in his hand, spake to him after this manner:—

"Noble youth! your own and Antigonus's life is now at an end, unless you will faithfully perform what I command you. This night I design to invade the camp of the Greeks, and fall upon them unawares, but am afraid of being hindered in the attempt if the watch should discover the strategem. Since it will be necessary, therefore, to have them killed first, I desire to make use of you to deceive them, that I may have the easier access to the rest. Do you therefore manage this affair cunningly. At the second hour of the night go to the watch, and with fair speeches tell them that you have brought away Antigonus from prison, and that he is come to the bottom of the woods, where he lies hid among the shrubs, and cannot get any farther, by reason of the fetters with which you shall pretend he that is bound. Then you shall conduct them, as if it were to deliver him, to the end of the wood, where I will attend with a band of men ready to kill them."

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Anacletus, seeing the sword threatening him with immediate death while these words were being pronounced, was so terrified as to promise upon oath, that on condition he and Antigonus should have longer life granted them, he would execute his command. Accordingly, the agreement being confirmed, at the second hour of the night he directs his way towards the Grecian camp, and when he was come near to it, the watch, who were then narrowly examining all the places where any one could hide, ran out from all parts to meet him, and demanded the occasion of his coming, and whether it was not to betray the army. He, with a show of great joy, made the following answer:—"I come not to betray my country, but having made my escape from the prison of the Trojans, I fly thither to desire you would go with me to Antigonus, whom I have delivered from Brutus's chains. For being not able to come with me for the weight of his fetters, I have a little while ago caused him to lie hid among the shrubs at the end of the wood, till I could meet with some one whom I might conduct to his assistance." While they were in suspense about the truth of this story, there came one who knew him, and after he had saluted him, told them where he was; so that now, without any hesitation, they quickly called their absent companions, and followed him to the wood where he had told them Antigonus lay hid. But at length, as they were going among the shrubs, Brutus with his armed bands springs forth, and falls upon them, while under the greatest astonishment, with a most cruel slaughter. From thence he marches directly to the siege, and divides his men into three bands, assigning to each of them a different part of the camp, and telling them to advance discreetly, and without noise, and when entered, not to kill any body till he with his company should be possessed of the king's tent, and should cause the trumpet to sound for a signal.

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When he had given them these instructions, they forthwith softly entered the camp in silence, and taking their appointed stations, awaited the promised signal, which Brutus delayed not to give as soon as he had got before the tent of Pandrasus, to assault which was the thing he most desired. At hearing the signal, they forthwith draw their swords, enter in among the men in their sleep, make quick destruction of them, and allowing no quarter, in this manner traverse the whole camp. The rest, awakened at the groans of the dying, and seeing their assailants, were like sheep seized with a sudden fear; for they despaired of life, since they had neither time to take arms, nor to escape by flight. They run up and down without arms among the armed, whithersoever the fury of the assault hurries them, but are on all sides cut down by the enemy rushing in. Some that might have escaped, were in the eagerness of flight dashed against rocks, trees, or shrubs, and increased the misery of their death. Others, that had only a shield, or some such covering for their defence, in venturing upon the same rocks to avoid death, fell down in the hurry and darkness of the night, and broke either legs or arms. Others, that escaped both these disasters, but did not know whither to fly, were drowned in the adjacent rivers; and scarcely one got away without some unhappy accident befalling him. Besides, the garrison in the town, upon notice of the coming of their fellow soldiers, sallied forth, and redoubled the slaughter.

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But Brutus, as I said before, having possessed himself of the king's tent, made it his business to keep him a safe prisoner; for he knew he could more easily attain his ends by preserving his life than by killing him; but the party that was with him, allowing no quarter, made an utter destruction in that part which they had gained. The night being spent in this manner, when the next morning discovered to their view so great an overthrow of the enemy, Brutus, in transports of joy, gave full liberty to his men to do what they pleased with the plunder, and then entered the town with the king, to stay there till they had shared it among them; which done, he again fortified the castle, gave orders for burying the slain, and retired with his forces to the woods in great joy for the victory. After the rejoicings of his people on this occasion, their renowned general summoned the oldest of them and asked their advice, what he had best desire of Pandrasus, who, being now in their power, would readily grant whatever they would request of him, in order to regain his liberty. They, according to their different fancies, desired different things; some urged him to request that a certain part of the kingdom might be assigned them for their habitation; others that he would demand leave to depart, and to be supplied with necessaries for their voyage. After they had been a long time in suspense what to do, one of them, named Mempricius, rose up, and having made silence, spoke to them thus:—

"What can be the occasion of your suspense, fathers, in a matter which I think so much concerns your safety? The only thing you can request, with any prospect of a firm peace and security to yourselves and your posterity, is liberty to depart. For if you make no better terms with Pandrasus for his life than only to have some part of the country assigned you to live among the Greeks, you will never enjoy a lasting peace while the brothers, sons, or grandsons of those whom you killed yesterday shall continue to be your neighbours. So long as the memory of their fathers' deaths shall remain, they will be your mortal enemies, and upon the least trifling provocation will endeavour to revenge themselves. Nor will you be sufficiently numerous to withstand so great a multitude of people. And if you shall happen to fall out among yourselves, their number will daily increase, yours diminish. I propose, therefore, that you request of him his eldest daughter, Ignoge,[6] for a wife for our general, and with her, gold, silver, corn, and whatever else shall be necessary for our voyage. If we obtain this, we may with his leave remove to some other country."

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When he had ended his speech, in words to this effect, the whole assembly acquiesced in his advice, and moved that Pandrasus might be brought in among them, and condemned to a most cruel death unless he would grant this request. He was immediately brought in, and being placed in a chair above the rest, was informed of the tortures prepared for him unless he would do what was commanded him, he made them this answer:—

"Since my ill fate has delivered me and my brother Antigonus, I can do no other than grant your request, lest a refusal may cost us our lives, which are now entirely in your power. In my opinion life is preferable to all other considerations; therefore, wonder not that I am willing to redeem it at so great a price. But though it is against my inclination that I obey your commands, yet it seems matter of comfort to me that I am to give my daughter to so noble a youth, whose descent from the illustrious race of Priamus and Anchises is clear, both from that greatness of mind which appears in him, and the certain accounts we have had of it. For who less than he could have released from their chains the banished Trojans, when reduced under slavery to so many great princes? Who else could have encouraged them to make head against the Greeks? or with so small a body of men vanquished so numerous and powerful an army, and taken their king prisoner in the engagement? And, therefore, since this noble youth has gained so much glory by the opposition which he has made to me, I give him my daughter Ignoge, and also gold, silver, corn, wine, and oil, and whatever you shall find necessary for your voyage. If you shall alter your resolution, and think fit to continue among the Greeks, I will grant you the third part of my kingdom for your habitation; if not, I will faithfully perform my promise, and for your greater security will stay as a hostage among you till I have made it good."

Accordingly he held a council, and directed messengers to all the shores of Greece, to get ships together; which done, he delivered them to the Trojans, to the number of three hundred and twenty-four, laden with all kinds of provision, and married his daughter to Brutus. He made also a present of gold and silver to each man according to his quality. When everything was performed the king was set at liberty; and the Trojans, and released from his power, set sail with a fair wind. But Ignoge, standing upon the stern of the ship, swooned away several times in Brutus's arms, and with many sighs and tears lamented the leaving her parents and country, nor ever turned her eyes from the shore while it was in sight. Brutus, meanwhile, endeavoured to assuage her grief by kind words and embraces intermixed with kisses, and ceased not from these blandishments till she grew weary of crying and fell asleep. During these and other accidents, the winds continued fair for two days and a night together, when at length they arrived at a certain island called Leogecia, which had been formerly wasted by the incursions of pirates, and was then uninhabited. Brutus, not knowing this, sent three hundred armed men ashore to see who inhabited it; but they finding nobody, killed several kinds of wild beasts which they met in the groves and woods, and came to a desolate city, in which they found a temple of Diana, and in it a statue of that goddess which gave answers to those that came to consult her. At last, loading themselves with the prey which they had taken in hunting, they return to their ships, and give their companions an account of this country and city. Then they advised their leader to go to the city, and after offering sacrifices, to inquire of the deity of the place, what country was allotted them for their place of settlement. To this proposal all assented; so that Brutus, attended with Gerion, the augur, and twelve of the oldest men, set forward to the temple, with all things necessary for the sacrifice. Being arrived at the place, and presenting themselves before the shrine with garlands about their temples, as the ancient rites required, they made three fires to the three deities, Jupiter, Mercury, and Diana, and offered sacrifices to each of them. Brutus himself, holding before the altar of the goddess a consecrated vessel filled with wine, and the blood of a white hart, with his face looking up to the image, broke silence in these words:—

    Diva potens nemorum, terror sylvestribus apris;
Cui licet amfractus ire per æthereos,
Infernasque domos; terrestria jura resolve,
Et dic quas terras nos habitare velis?
Dic certam sedem qua te venerabor in ævum,
Qua tibi virgineis templa dicabo choris!
    Goddess of woods, tremendous in the chase
To mountain board, and all the savage race!
Wide o'er the ethereal walks extend thy sway,
And o'er the infernal masions void of day!
Look upon us on earth! unfold our fate,
And say what region is our destines seat?
Where shall we next thy lasting temples raise?
And choirs of virgins celebrate thy praise?

These words he repeated nine times, after which he took four turns round the altar, poured the wine into the fire, and then laid himself down upon the hart's skin, which he had spread before the altar, where he fell asleep. About the third hour of the night, the usual time for deep sleep, the goddess seemed to present herself before him, and foretell his future success as follows:—

    Brute! sub accasum solis trans Gallica regna
Insula in oceano est undique clausa mari:
Insula in oceano est habitata gigantibus olim,
Nunc deserta quidem, gentibus apta tuis.
Hanc pete, namque tibi sedes erit illa perennis:
Sic fiet natis altera Troja tuis.
Sic de prole tua reges nascentur: et ipsis
Totius terræ subditus orbus erit.
    Brutus! there lies beyond the Gallic bounds
An island which the western sea surrounds,
By giants once possessed, now few remain
To bar thy entrance, or obstruct thy reign.
To reach that happy shore thy sails employ
There fate decrees to raise a second Troy
And found an empire in thy royal line,
Which time shall ne'er destroy, nor bounds confine.

Awakened by the vision, he was for some time in doubt with himself, whether what he had seen was a dream or a real appearance of the goddess herself, foretelling to what land he should go. At last he called to his companions, and related to them in order the vision he had in his sleep, at which they very much rejoiced, and were urgent to return to their ships, and while the wind favoured them, to hasten their voyage towards the west, in pursuit of what the goddess had promised. Without delay, therefore, they returned to their company, and set sail again, and after a course of thirty days came to Africa, being ignorant as yet whither to steer. From thence they came to the Philenian altars, and to a place called Salinae, and sailed between Ruscicada and the mountains of Azara, where they underwent great danger from pirates, whom, notwithstanding, they vanquished, and enriched themselves with their spoils.

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From thence, passing the river Malua, they arrived at Mauritania, where at last, for want of provisions, they were obliged to go ashore; and, dividing themselves into several bands, they laid waste the whole country. When they had well stored their ships, they steered to the Pillars of Hercules, where they saw some of those sea monsters, called Sirens, which surrounded their ships, and very nearly overturned them. However, they made a shift to escape, and came to the Tyrrhenian Sea, upon the shores of which they found several nations descended from the banished Trojans, that had accompanied Antenor in his flight.[7] The name of their commander was Corineus,[8] a modest man in matters of council, and of great courage and boldness, who, in an encounter with any person, even of gigantic stature, would immediately overthrow him,as if he were a child. When they understood from whom he was descended, they joined company with him and those under his government, who from the name of their leader were afterwards called the Cornish people, and indeed were more serviceable to Brutus than the rest in all his engagements. From there they came to Aquitaine, and entering the mouth of the Loire, cast anchor. There they stayed seven days and viewed the country. Goffarius Pictus, who was king of Aquitaine at that time, having an account brought him of the arrival of a foreign people with a great fleet upon his coasts, sent ambassadors to them to demand whether they brought with them peace or war. The ambassadors, on their way towards the fleet, met Corineus, who was come out with two hundred men, to hunt in the woods. They demanded of him, who gave him leave to enter the king's forests, and kill his game; (which by an ancient law nobody was allowed to do without leave from the prince.) Corineus answered, that as for that matter there was no occasion for asking leave; upon which one of them, named Imbertus, rushing forward, with a full drawn bow leveled a shot at him. Corineus avoids the arrow and immediately runs up to him, and with his bow in his hand breaks his head. The rest narrowly escaped, and carried the news of this disaster to Goffarius. The Pictavian general was struck with sorrow for it, and immediately raised a vast army, to revenge the death of his ambassador. Brutus, on the other hand, upon hearing the rumour of his coming, sends away the women and children to the ships, which he took care to be well guarded, and commands them to stay there, while he, with the rest that were able to bear arms, should go to meet the army. At last an assault being made, a bloody fight ensued; in which after a great part of the day had been spent, Corineus was ashamed to see the Aquitanians so bravely stand their ground, and the Trojans maintaining the fight without victory. He therefore takes fresh courage, and drawing off his men to the right wing, breaks in upon the very thickest of the enemies, where he made such slaughter on every side, that at last he broke the line and put them all to flight. In this encounter he lost his sword, but by good fortune, met with a battle-axe, with which he clave down to the waist every one that stood in his way. Brutus and every body else, both friends and enemies, were amazed at his courage and strength, for he brandished about his battle-axe among the flying troops, and terrified them not a little with these insulting words, "Whither fly ye, cowards? whither fly ye, base wretches? stand your ground, that ye may encounter Corineus. What! for shame! do so many thousands of you fly one man? However, take this comfort for your flight, that you are pursued by one, before whom the Tyrrhenian giants could not stand their ground, but fell down slain in heaps together."

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At these words one of them, named Subardus, who was a consul, returns with three hundred men to assault him; but Corineus with his shield wards off the blow, and lifting up his battle-axe gave him such a stroke upon the top of his helmet, that at once he clave him down to the waist; and then rushing upon the rest he made terrible slaughter by wielding about his battle-axe among them, and, running to and fro, seemed more anxious to inflict blows on the enemy than careful to avoid those which they aimed at him. Some had their hands and arms, some their very shoulders, some again their heads, and others their legs cut off by him. All fought with him only, and he alone seemed to fight with all. Brutus seeing him thus beset, out of regard to him, runs with a band of men to his assistance: at which the battle is again renewed with vigour and with loud shouts, and great numbers slain on both sides. But now the Trojans presently gained the victory, and put Goffarius with his Pictavians to flight. The king after a narrow escape went to several parts of Gaul, to procure succours among such princes as were related or known to him. At that time Gaul was subject twelve princes, who with equal authority possessed the whole country.[9] These received him courteously, and promise with one consent to expel the foreigners from Aquitaine.

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Brutus, in joy for the victory, enriches his men with the spoils of the slain, and then, dividing them into several bodies, marches into the country with a design to lay it waste, and load his fleet with the spoil. With this view he sets the cities on fire, seizes the riches that were in them, destroys the fields, and makes dreadful slaughter among the citizens and common people, being unwilling to leave so much as one alive of that wretched nation. While he was making this destruction over all Aquitaine, he came to a place where the city of Tours now stands, which he afterwards built, as Homer testifies.[10] As soon as he had looked out a place convenient for the purpose, he pitched his camp there, for a place of safe retreat, when occasion should require. For he was afraid on account of Goffarius's approach with the kings and princes of Gaul, and a very great army, which was now come near the place, ready to give him battle. Having therefore finished his camp, he expected to engage with Goffarius in two days' time, placing the utmost confidence in the conduct and courage of the young men under his command.

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Goffarius, being informed that the Trojans were in those parts, marched day and night, till he came within a close view of Brutus's camp; and then with a stern look and disdainful smile, broke out into these expressions, "Oh wretched fate! Have these base exiles made a camp also in my kingdom? Arm, arm, soldiers, and march through their thickest ranks: we shall soon take these pitiful fellows like sheep, and disperse them throughout our kingdom for slaves." At these words they prepared their arms, and advanced in twelve bodies towards the enemy. Brutus, on the other hand, with his forces drawn up in order, went forth boldly to meet them, and gave his men directions for their conduct, where they should assault and where they should be on the defensive. At the beginning of the attack, the Trojans had the advantage, and made a rapid slaughter of the enemy, of which there fell near two thousand, which so terrified the rest, that they were on the point of running away. But, as the victory generally falls to that side which has very much the superiority in numbers, so the Gauls, being three to one in number, though overpowered at first, yet at last joining in a great body together, broke in upon the Trojans, and forced them to retire to their camp with much slaughter. The victory this gained, they besieged them in their camp, with a design not to suffer them to stir out until they should either surrender themselves prisoners, or be cruelly starved to death with a long famine.

In the meantime, Corineus the night following entered into consultation with Brutus, and proposed to go out that night by by-ways, and conceal himself in an adjacent wood till break of day; and while Brutus should sally forth upon the enemy in the morning twilight, he with his company would surprise them from behind and put them to slaughter. Brutus was pleased with this stratagem of Corineus, who according to his engagement got out cunningly with three thousand men, and put himself under the covert of the woods. As soon as it was day Brutus marshaled his men and opened the camp to go out to fight. The Gauls met him and begin the engagement: many thousands fall on both sides, neither party giving quarter. There was present a Trojan, named Turonus, the nephew of Brutus, inferior to none but Corineus in courage and strength of body. He alone with his sword killed six hundred men, but at last was unfortunately slain himself by the number of Gauls that rushed upon him. From him the city of Tours derived its name, because he was buried there. While both armies were thus warmly engaged, Corineus came upon them unawares, and fell fiercely upon the rear of the enemy, which put new courage into his friends on the other side, and made them exert themselves with increased vigour. The Gauls were astonished at the very should of Corineus's men, and thinking their number to be much greater than it really was, they hastily quitted the field; but the Trojans pursued them, and killed them in the pursuit, nor did they desist till they had gained a complete victory. Brutus, though in joy for this great success, was yet afflicted to observe the number of his forces daily lessened, while that of the enemy increased more and more. He was in suspense for some time, whether he had better continue the war or not, but at last he determined to return to his ships while the greater part of his followers was yet safe, and hitherto victorious, and to go in quest of the island which the goddess had told him of. So without further delay, with the consent of his company, he repaired to the fleet, and loading it with the riches and spoils he had taken, set sail with a fair wind towards the promised island, and arrived on the coast of Totnes.

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The island was then called Albion,[11] and inhabited by none but a few giants. Notwithstanding this, the pleasant situation of the places, the plenty of rivers abounding with fish, and the engaging prospect of its woods, made Brutus and his company very desirous to fix their habitation in it. They therefore passed through all the provinces, forced the giants to fly into the caves of the mountains, and divided the country among them according to the directions of their commander. After this they began to till the ground and build houses, so that in a little time the country looked like a place that had been long inhabited. At last Brutus called the island after his own name Britain, and his companions Britons; for by these means he desired to perpetuate the memory of his name. From whence afterwards the language of the nation, which at first bore the name of Trojan, or rough Greek,[12] was called British. But Corineus, in imitation of his leader, called that part of the island which fell to his share, Corinea, and his people Corineans, after his name; and though he had his choice of the provinces before all the rest, yet he preferred this country, which is called in Latin Cornubia, either from its being in the shape of a horn (in Latin cornu), or from the corruption of the said name. For it was a diversion to him to encounter the said giants, which were in greater numbers there than in all the other provinces that fell to the share of his companions. Among the rest was one detestable monster, named Goëmagot,[13] in stature twelve cubits, and of such prodigious strength that at one shake he pulled up an oak as if it had been a hazel wand. On a certain day, when Brutus was holding a solemn festival to the gods, in the port where they at first landed, this giant with twenty more of his companions came in upon the Britons, among whom he made a dreadful slaughter. But the Britons at last assembling together in a body, put them to the rout, and killed them every one but Goëmagot. Brutus had given orders to have him preserved alive, out of a desire to see a combat between him and Corineus, who took a great pleasure in such encounters. Corineus, overjoyed at this, prepared himself, and throwing aside his arms, challenged him to wrestle with him. At the beginning of the encounter, Corineus and the giant, standing, front to front, held each other strongly in their arms, and panted aloud for breath, but Goëmagot presently grasping Corineus with all his might, broke three of his ribs, two on his right side and one on his left. At which Corineus, highly enraged, roused up his whole strength, and snatching him upon his shoulders, ran with him, as fast as the weight would allow him, to the next shore, and there getting upon the top of a high rock, hurled down the savage monster into the sea; where falling on the sides of craggy rocks, he was torn to pieces, and coloured the waves with his blood. The place where he fell, taking its name from the giant's fall, is called Lam Goëmagot, that is, Goëmagot's Leap, to this day.

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Brutus, having thus at last set eyes upon his kingdom, formed a design of building a city, and, with this view, traveled through the land to find out a convenient situation, and coming to the river Thames, he walked along the shore, and at last pitched upon a place very fit for his purpose. Here, therefore, he built a city, which he called New Troy; under which name it continued a long time after, till at last, by the corruption of the original word, at came to be called Trinovantum. But afterwards when Lud, the brother of Cassibellaun, who made war against Julius Caesar, obtained the government of the kingdom, he surrounded it with stately walls, and towers of admirable workmanship, and ordered it to be called after his name, Kaer-Lud, that is, the City of Lud. But this very thing became afterward the occasion of a great quarrel between him and his brother Nennius, who took offence at his abolishing the name of Troy in this country. Of this quarrel Gildas the historian has given a full account;[14] for which reason I pass it over, for fear of debasing by my account of it, what so great a writer has so eloquently related.

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After Brutus had finished the building of the city, he made choice of the citizens that were to inhabit it, and prescribed them laws for their peaceable government. At this time Eli the priest governed in Judea, and the ark of the covenant was taken by the Philistines.[15] At the same time, also, the sons of Hector, after the expulsion of the posterity of Antenor, reigned in Troy; as in Italy did Sylvius Aeneas, the son of Aeneas, the uncle of Brutus, and the third king of the Latins.[16]

Footnotes Edit

  1. Thought by Giles to be Walter Mapes, a satirical poet who lived a generation or two later than Geoffrey.
  2. Compare Gildas, The Ruin of Britain 3; Bede, Ecclesiastical History 1.1; Historia Brittonum 7-9.
  3. For the story of the refugee Trojans down to Sylvius, see: Virgil, Aeneid; Livy, Ab Urbe Condita 1.1-3 etc. The only known earlier source for Brutus is Historia Brittonum 10 (9th Century).
  4. Welsh Bryttys (Cooper).
  5. Welsh Ystalon (Cooper). Giles suggests the Achelous or the Acheron.
  6. Welsh Enogen (Cooper).
  7. Virgil, Aeneid 1.241.
  8. Welsh Koroneys (Cooper).
  9. The Welsh version in Jesus College MS LXI adds "But king Karwed ruled over them all" (Cooper).
  10. The reference to Homer cannot be identified. The founding of Tours by Brutus is also found in the Historia Brittonum 10.
  11. Welsh Y Wen Ynys ("the white island", Cooper). Giles: The earliest real notice of Albion occurs in a work attributed to Aristotle [De Mundo, sec. 3], who wrote, before Christ 340, "Beyond the Pillars of Hercules is the ocean which flows round the earth. In it are two very large islands, called Britannic; these are Albion and Ierne," etc.
  12. Curvum Graecum, "Crooked Greek". Welsh translations of Geoffrey's History render this as Cam Roeg: Geoffrey has evidently translated into Latin a Welsh pun on Cymraeg, the native word for the Welsh language (A. O. H. Jarman (1966), Geoffrey of Monmouth p. 29).
  13. Thorpe: Gogmagog. Welsh Gogmagoc (Cooper).
  14. This story does not appear in any of the surviving works of Gildas, nor in the Historia Brittonum, which was sometimes attributed to him.
  15. 1 Samuel 4. This synchronisation is similar to Historia Brittonum 11.
  16. Giles: About 1100 BC.