Polydore Vergil.

Polydore Vergil's English history, from an early translation preserved among the mss. of the old royal library in the British museum online

. (page 11 of 30)
Online LibraryPolydore VergilPolydore Vergil's English history, from an early translation preserved among the mss. of the old royal library in the British museum → online text (page 11 of 30)
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and made feete for the invasion of hostilitie, partlie having
the cheefe strengthe of soldiers wasted with tyrants, partlie
beeing carried forthe to warre on forraine nations, as it is com-
monlie scene that one discomoditee beefallethe not without an
other. Which thinge bie fame being once bloune abrode, the
Scottes, whether for the hope of bootie or for the desier of novel*
ties, as Gildas testifieth, hastilie issued owte of Ireland in to this
He ; and with owte delaye makinge conspiracie with the Pictes,
and on- all sides assemblinge the lostehopes and raskalls, beganne
with the thefte and robberie of their gooddes, they proceaded to
spoyle them of their cattails, and finallie endevored to plete .pos-
session on the Ilond it selfe. * This mischeefe daylie encreised,
and the bowldnes of these too nations grewe farder then seemed
easie to bee resisted in time to comme, soe that noe manne but
shortli mistrusted the sackinge and distruction of the Ilonde
withoute speedie resistance, aide, and remedie. Brittaine was



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THE THIRD BOOK. 103

then, as I shewed beefore, withoute garrison ; for the which cause
the selie multitude beinge afraide^ as farre unable to decline this
tempeste, sente embassadowres to desier succoure of Aetius, whome
Honorius a little beefore in the roome of Constantius hadde made
cheefe governor of the armies^ a manne discended of the familie
of a senator of Dorostana in Moesia. Aetius, beinge solicited and
moved with the intercession of the Britons^ which as yet re-
mained in dew allegiance^ didd for there defence sende them one
legion owte of Fraunce, of whome the Scottes and Pictes weare
plagued with divers overthrowes, and the Brittishe condition was
well refourroed ; and, leaste this tranquillitee showlde in processe
bee disturbed of their enemies, it seemed goodd to the lodesmen
of this armie that the walle wherof mention was made in the
former booke shoulde bee cedefied beetweene the Romaine pro-
vince and the borders of the Pictes, which was performed accord-
ing to the testimonie of Oildas ; but in that it was more bylded
with turffe then with stone, it was not afterwarde of sufficiencie
to withstande enemies ; and thus at this season was this wall
made bie the capitans sent of Aetius, hot of the Emperours
Hadrianus or Severus, as manie menne have lefte in memorie
verie falselie, if wee beeleeve Oildas, a Brittyshe historiographer.
Brittaine was quiet, throwghe the munition of this one legion,
untill suche time as the Burgonions, bie molestinge of Fraunoe,
caused Aetius of necessitee to revoke his menn oute of the Ilande,
and consequentlie disposinge one legion emong the Parisiens and
Aurelians, and sendinge an other to their winteringe to TaiEcon,
with the rest of his power hee marched towardes the Burgonions.
The Scottes and Pictes streyght after the departure of this legion
or garison invaded the gooddes of the Brittons. They spoyled there
herdes of neate, they robbed them of their sheepe, and, finallie,
wasted their teritories with fier and sworde. Of these sparckes
had flamed a newe and mightie fier of battayle^ if at the com-
maundementof Valentinian (whoe of all things did moste desier to
anticipate warres) the armie which harborowed at Parris hadd nott



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104 HISTORY OF ENGLAND.

aided them at their entretie for succours. At this time allso was
this forsayde wall fenced againe, and was fortified with stone that
it might be more stronge to repell the power of the enemies, so
that now the incursions of Scottes and Pictes beganne to doe lesse
harme. Yet thei within a while, perceaving the Romaine puis«-
saunce to bee greatlie appalled, and allmoste overthrowne, (for soe
fickle are oure treasures that rather they decay then increase,)
thei invaded them with muche more fearoenes then ever they didd
beefore.

At this time Aetius sente noe aydes to the Brittons, notwith-
standinge they emestelie required the assistanceof Remains; how*
beit it maie be dowbted whether he wolde not sende in that hee
was scarse frindlie affected towards Valentinian, or whether he
Gowlde not, beinge detained and vexed with greater cares of more
pemicius warres ; but how soe ever it was, it did ingenerat great
mischeefe, bothe to the Romans and Brittons, yet the Brittishe
nation in woordes plaintife miserablie lamented their chaunce,
writing in this wise, as Gildas witnessethe. ^ The mowminge of the
Brittons sent to Aetius three times, beeinge Consul : Wee implore
and beeseeche thee that thow wilte vouchsafe to sende succours to
us, the Romane province, oure contrie, our wives and children,
being at this instant in extreme daunger. The barbarus people
raginge, drivethe us to the verie seas ; the sea repelleth us againe
unto them. Thus are wee extinguished in doble funerall ; ether
the swoorde of savage creatures cuttethe our throtes, or otherwise
wee are drenched in surge of water ; nether have wee lefte enie
succor or releefe in these mischeves ; wherefore generallie wee are
all thie peticioners that, accordinge to the singuler disposition of
thie naturall clemende, it shall please thee to assiste and releeve us.'
Bie these woordes wee may well knowe that the Brittons in fine
didd not forsake the Romaines but gretlie against their wills, for
now, beinge accustomed to imperie, thei hadd them in estimation
of whome they hadde learned civile and goodd manners, as Corne-
lius Tacitus makethe minde; for the sonnes of princes weare



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THB THIRD BOOK* 105

wholye fostered in Uberall sciences ; tbeir wittes flourished, not so
muche abhorringe the Romaine language as semestlie desierus of
eloquence. Emonge other things the Romaine attire grew into
reputation, and gownes weare commonlie wome; yea, if it bee
trew that Gildas writethe, they learned the sciens of warfare. And
thus Brittaine was loste of the Romaines allmoste five hundred
yeare after the entrie thereunto of Julius Caesar ; and thus, all-
moste in the same verie momente, havinge attained libertie, entered
into moste truculent warrs, wherby he did lese both name and em-
pire, as ahaU hereafter bee declared, and that was the xvj. yeare
fro the beginning of the reigne of Theodosius with Valentinianus
Augustus, the sonne of his aunte, the yeare of our Lord ccccxliij.
In the meane time, while the Britons contrived the time in
sending embassadours about the treatie for succours, the Scottes
possessed the uttermoste parte of the He which boundeth from the
momitaine Grampius northewarde, which they have at this daye,
naminge the same according to them selves, Scotlonde. And this
is the thirde people which, after the Kctes, firste, as wee sayd bee-
fore, camm owt of Scithia into lerlond, next in Brittaine there
pladng them selves: The capitaine of the bende of the Scotts, as
Beda testifietb, was Reuda. But the Scottishe coronographers make
computation that long before Reuda one Fergusius camme into
Brittaine, who gave to cognisance in his standerde the Redd Lion
Vbich the kinges doe now use, and that for his fortunate adminis-
tration of all others he was first called kinge of his nation, after
whome in deade succeeded his nephew Rewthere, in ample wise
enlarging his dominion, whome Beda called Rewda. But parad-
ventur there wiU bee somme which will not a littel bee aggreeved
at these thinges, for of late one Gawine Dowglas, Bishop of Dun-
chell, a Scottishe manne, a manne as well noble in ligneage as
vertewe, when he understoode that I was purposed to write this
historic hee camme to commune with mee ; in forthe with wee fell
into friendshippe, and after he vehementlie requiered mee that in
relation of tile Scottishe affaires I showlde in no wise follow the

OAMD. SCO. p



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106 HISTORY OP ENGLAND.

president of an bistorie of a certaine contriraan of his, promlsinge
within few dayse to sende mee of those matters not to be con-
temned, which in deade bee perfourmed, in the which there was a
▼erie auncient originall of that people in this wise : Gathelus, the
Sonne of Neolus, king of the Atheniens, flienge from the harde
servage of his father, departed into ^gipte to aide Pharao against
the ifitbiopians, unto whome Moses was sente from Oodde, with
the which benefit the iGgiptian kinge beinge stirred, gave his
daughter named Scota in marriage to Grathelus, whoe forthewith
serchinge new dwellinge places arrived in Spaine, and inhabited
that coste which after him was called Portugallia, as who woulde
saye the porte of Oathelus, terminge his subjects Scotts, accord-
inge to the name of the noble woman his wife, Scota. Thus hav-
inge issew and propagation of discent, three hundred yeare after,
the Scotts beinge brought into Irelond hie their kinge Simon Bre*
<shus, weare the beginninge of a newe kingdom, and finallie, before
the comminge of Christe, camme into Albion. It followed conse-
quentlie that the Pictes not longe after camme allso owte of Sci-
thia in to Albion, and that these two exteme nations had issewe of
stemme and sncrease of kingdom in that coste of the Ilond which
is now called Scotlonde, from which time they aUways mantayned
warrs with the Brittons, with the Romains, and Julius Caesar
especiallie, the Scottes remayninge still inviolate, as not disturbed
from their degree. Finallie this was there in written, that owlie
theire Kinge Rewtheres havinge evel succes at home in his troubles
with the Brittons, didde once avoyded his contrie and fledde into
Irelonde ; and that within a while after haveinge encreased bis
power with Irisshe menne retowrned to his former possessions ;
and that in this beehalfe Beda was nott of sufficient perseveraunce^
which calleth this retome the firste comminge of the Scottes in to
Albion. All this was donne beefore the comminge of Our Savior.
As soone as I hadde redde these thinges, accordinge to the olde
proverbe, I seemed to see the beare bringe foorthe her younglinges.
Afterwarde^ when for recreation wee mette together^ as wee weare



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THE THIRD BOOK. 107

accustomed^ this Gawine demaunded mie opinion. I aunswered^
that as towchinge there originall I wowlde not greatlie contende,
seinge that for the moste parte all contries weare woonte to drawe
the principles of there pedegree ether from the Goddes or from
heroicall nobles, to the ende that they which afterwarde beinge
not easie of beeleefe minded to skanne and derive theim, when
they showlde hardlie find enie thinge of more ccrteintee, they
showld rather bee constreyned to beeleve it firmelie then enie
farder to laboure vainelie. But to bee shorte, this in noe wise
kanne agree that the Scottes and Pictes, two mightie people,
showlde soe longe reigne in the Ilond, showlde performe so manie
battailes, showlde soe often foyle the Britons and Romains, mo-
leste them, and vanquisshe them, and yet noe antique or grave
writer once make rehersall of theim ; especiallie seeing that jCffisar,
Tacitus, Ptolome, and Plinie (levinge to reherse the others) doe
eche wheare in there histories make mention of the people named
Trinobantes, Cenigmani, Segontiaci, Ancalites, Bibroci, Brigantes,
Silures, Iceni, Ordolucae, Vicomagi, Elgouee, with the other con-
tries of Brittaine ; but of the Scotts and Pictes not a woorde, bie
cause as yeat they weare not in this region, which forsothe is to
bee thoughte the verie cause whie late writers have soe slacklie
used the memoriall of theim. Wherefore I towlde him, even as
frindlie as trewlie, that as conceminge the Scottes and Pictes bee*
fore there comminge into Brittaine, (which Bedas in his time hadd
well assigned,) it showlde not bee lawful for me to intermeddell, The datie
bie reason of the present which is incident to an historien, which toiiom!"
is that hee showld nether abhorre the discooveringe of falsehoode, pi^er.
nether in anie case alowe the undermininge of veritee, nether to
gyve suspition of favor nor yeat of envy.

This Gawine, noe doubte a sincere manne, didd the lesse dis-
sent from this sentence, in that it plainelie appeared to him that
reason and trewthe herin well agreaed, soe easlie is trewthe all-
waise discolowred from feyned phansies. But I did not longe
«njoy the fruicion of this mie frind, for in the yeare of our Lord



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108 HISTORY OF ENGLAND.

MDXXi. he died of the plague in London. After this ensewed
these two kinges of Scotts^ Eugenius the First and Fei^sius the
Second. Eugenius was slaine in battayle of the Pictes, being then
under the Romaine allegiaunce ; wherefore the Scottes, misdowbt-
ing their saftie^ and mindinge to beestow them selves somme
wheare, in sondrie ways fledd owte of the Ilonde. After xliij.
yeares the bannished Scottes were reclamed, parUie owte of Ire-
lond, partlie owt of Norway, hie the Pictes, whoe feared the power
of the Komains ; and thei camm home under the conduite of
their lodesmanne Fergusius. After Fergusius succeeded his sonne
Eugenius, whoe, confederinge with the Pictes, beganne so sore to
oppresse the Britons that at the verie firste encounter, as wee saide
beefore, thei weare constrained to expostulat succors of the Ro-
mains. But Eugenius lived not longe, so that in his steede suo^
ceeded his brother Dongardus ; and now I retome to mie matter.
The Scottes havinge prosperus successe didd the more licen-
tiuslie invade the inhabitants of this Ilonde, more like to raveninge
spoylers then noble warriars, contumeliuslie egginge and provok-
inge their adversaries to fyghte. The Brittons being forsaken of
Aetius, albeit they reposed more safetie in enie thinge then in
fightinge, nevertheles, cauUnge to minde there owlde valiaunce,
and well perceavinge that in soe greate perturbation of all thinges
they muste either geeve wowndes or suffer bloodshedde, they
wolde noe longer bee of demisse spirits and abased corage ; but
beiiige as it weare stirred up with the blaste of trumpe, or enraged
with some furie, they sodainlie proceaded againste their enemies,
which wandered more dissolutelie then they weare accustomed, as
they which thought nothing was to bee misdowbted; they caused
themme to forsake their grounde whome they firste mett with all,
and russhinge into the middest of these miscreantes made great
slaughter. The Brittaines wear superiors in this conflicts most
excellentlie conqueringe which were woonte to be conquered ; yeat
there enemies neverthelesse, assaienge their chaunoe, did againe
assaulte them. They tooke booties, they roved heere and there.



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TH£ THIRD BOOK.



they stroyed feeldes, they fiered howaes, they slewe aU those thei
mette, with owte respecte of age ; they didd all these kindes of
injuries as thoughe them selves hadde beene voyde of all infirmite.
With this feare manie weare so astonied that of there owne francke
will they ministered all suche thinges as their enemies hadd neade
of^ which thinge seemed to bee of soe great force that it muche
more amazed them then battayle it selfe. The Britons in these
evels, hie necessitee constreined to doe that which seemed most
expedient to keepeaway hostilitee, tooke deliberation and comicell,
and forthewith renewed, restored, and enlarged that wall which
wee saide beefore was erected bie the soldiers of Aetius. This
woorcke for a time restrained the rude raginge of the frenetick
Scotts, which notwithstandinge afterwarde burste foorthe, encresed
with more beastlie feritee, for not long after they camm to skale the
wall, whome the Britons hardelie and not warelie inowghe resist-
inge, they threwe the wall flatte on the grounde, puttinge there
adversaries to flighte, and chasing them with the sworde ; nether
yet dide the Scottes enjoye this victorie withowte bloodshedde, for
their king, Dongardus, was slaine in the fighte, after whome suc-
ceeded Constantine. In the necke of this mischeefe was sodayne-
lie annexed a great skarsetie of corne, wherebie manie sterved
bie famine, for the continuance of warres caused the grownde to
be desolate and unmanured; yeat was it a cause that, after over-
throwes on both sides, the desier of warre sone waxed cowld
on bothe parties, and that plentie more abundantlie ensewed bie
the more diligent tilthe of their feeldes. This divine benefit was
hurtefull to the Brittons, (as Gildas writeth,) for they beg^nninge to
rejoyse, instead of abstinence and shamefacednes embraced plea-
sures and vice, wherebie it camme to passe that leaste this nation,
which continuallie offended, showlde lacke feare and daungers, bie
the juste judgement of Godde, there arose a great pestilence,
wherbie (as the same manne purportethe) was exhauste and de-
stroied an incredible companie of menne, which diseas was within
a littel after annexed with another, for they weare miserabUe



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110 HISTORY OP ENGLAND.

oppressed with a sodidne invasion of the barbarus people^ and
brought to suche greate distresses that to their utter undoeing (I
thincke their destenie drawinge them) they weare enforced to
sende for into the Hon the Saxon Englishemen, noe dowte men
of exceadinge stowtenes and valiance, but not soe faytheful, as
they afterward hadd experience^ not without there marvelus dis-
commoditee. Moreover the Brittons, seinge soe great broyles
hanginge over there hedds^ bothe of Scottes and Pictes, most
feerce and truculent enemies, and fearing least while they mayn-
tained forinsecall battayles there mighte spring domesticall con-
tention for the sufferaintee^ sithe it is naturallie grafted in the dis-
position of all men bothe highe and low to thirste and affecte
honors and lordeshipp^ thei determined to electe somme one
Kinge and sole monarche. Wherefore assembling a counsel, the
more parte bie and bie adjudged that this title and dignitee showlde
be bestowed on one Yortigerius, bie cause that of all men he was
of greatest authoritee, nobilitee, and vertew ; which sentence was
not ownelie defined bie them, but approved of all others. Vorti-
gerius is made their kinge, whoe, nothinge oblivius for what cause
he was enhaunced to the kingdom in this trowblesom season,
accounted nothing more better then to beestowe all his cogitations
and care on the common wealthe, to provide, to foresee, to caste
all meanes how the fatall ende of his contrie, which was now all
moste comme, mighte bee kepte awaye, or at the leaste wise pro-
roged. Yeat, leaste hee mighte seeme to take too muche uppon
himme, he would attempte nothinge withoute the avisement of his
wise councell, therefore everie firste daye hee tooke deliberation
of his domesticalls and generallie all his princes, conferringe with
themme and measuringe bothe there owne puissance and the
strength of theire enemies, diligentlie discussinge, revoltinge, and
contrivinge what remedie shoulde seeme convenable accordinge to
the inclination of the time. In conclusion, the piers of tbe
reallme, misdoubtinge their riches and wealthe, and especiallie the
kinge himselfe, was fullie resolved to accite and send for the Saxon



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THB THIRD BOOK. Ill

Englishemen, a people verie notable throughe there renowne of
chivalrie. Then were certaine speedelie sent in to Germanie^
which with monnie, giftes, and promises^ should tempte^ exhorte^
and allure theim to there succours^ which if they denied not^ they
showld forthwith bring theim into Brittaine. The Saxons assone
as they hadd harde these tidinges, as menn desierus to serve for
stipende, chosing forthe a stowte bende of lustie yowthes, and
committinge them to shippes, under the conduite of the two
bretheme Hengistus and Horssus, forthewith tooke their race into
the Ilonde the gcccxlix. yere of our Salvation. The kinge enter-
teyned them curteuslie^ and assigned them Eente for there habita-
cion and dwellinge place, and from thence bie and bie brought
theim to the Scottes and Pictes, distroyenge the contrie on all
sides. For a while the skirmishe was manfullie perfowrmed on
bothe sides, but the Englishe menne calling to minde that this
was the day which showlde ether purchase to theim ceternall fame
and glorie emonge the Brittons, or otherwise perpetuall ignominie
and repulse, doobled there force in suche violent wise that there
enemies, not able to endure there vehement assautes, were put to
flighte and eche wheare slayne. The kinge, obteyninge this
victorie, regrated with woorthie rewarde these straungers, throwghe
whose hardines hee hadd conquered his enymyes. Somme there
are that write that the Saxons weare not sente for of the kinge,
but bie casualtie arrived in the Ilonde, havinge this occasion of
there voyage. Surelie emonge the Englishe Saxons, a moste war-
like nation, it was the custom that when the multitude admownted
to suche infinitee of numbre that the soyle coulde not easlie sus-
teyne them, at the commaundement of their princes, bie lotte the
cheefe of there yowthe showlde bee picked foorthe, and soo exter-
mined their costes, bothe to serche new contries, and aUso to
make warrs ; thus it feU owte that they arrived in Brittaine pro-
misinge there service under the kinge.

Longistus, a manne of great witte and wisedom, fealinge the
king's minde^ who ownlie rested in the valiaunce of EngUshemenn,



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112 HISTORY OF ENGLAND.

and having goodd triall in the fertilitee of the contrie^ beganne
more profoundlie to waye with himselfe bie what crafte or subtilitee
bee mighte bie littel and littel comprise a kingdom for hime and
his in the Ilond. Wherfore firste bie stelthe he beganne with
munition to fortefie the place which was geeven himme to inhabit,
to enlarge the bowndes, to confirme it with garrisons, then bee
goethe abowte to persuade the kinge that a greater numbre of
menne showlde bee sente for owte of Germanic, that with there
assistance the Ilond beinge corroberat, it mighte strike a certaine
terror into the adverse parte, and yealde quietnes to himme and
his. The kinge, not knowinge the iminent chaunce, wolde in noe
wise contemne this device, which in deede was full of treason. It
cam to passe, that in shorte time a huge number of people cam
into Brittaine, and vrith them, as menne say, the dowghter of
Hengistus was brought, called Ronix, a virgin of woonderfuU
bewtie, to tempte the minde of Vortigerius, for this Englishe
manne didd allredie sufficientlie smell to what vice the kinge was
prepense. Bede affirmethe that the Saxons, the Vites, and the
Englishemenn, thee most feerce nations of Germanic, camm toge-
ther into the Ilond, and that of the Vites discended the Kentishe
men, and they which at this time inhabit the He of Weyghte, bein
over againste the others ; but of the Saxons camme they which
are termed Est Saxons, Sowthe Saxons, and Weste Saxons ; but of
the Englishemen, ether of the place or of there queene so called,
discended the Este Angles and they which inhabite the middell of
the soyle, and the inhabitants of Northehumberland, whose capi-
taines weare Hengistus and Horssus. Cornelius Tacitus makethe
especiall memorie of the Englishemen in that booke which bathe
written of the situation of Germanic, yeat callethe them not An-
glos, but Anglios, so that the name conteineth three silables, and
this letter i is the laste saving one. But let us retome to our
former beginninge. Hengistus, perceavinge his people to bee
▼erie well accepted of the kinge, beganne so like a foxe to deale
with him, that bee mighte inflame his minde with loove, which is



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THE THIRD BOOK, US

the thinge which aboove all others dothe blinde, bewitche with
follie, and somtimes destroye men^ yeat with suche pleasaunte
poyson that they perishe withoute open greefe. Hengistus in-
vited and entertayned the kinge at a suraptuus^ pleasaunte^ and
well furnished supper; and it was soe ordered that when all
thinges weare warmed with wines the dowghter of Hengistus was
at hande, geevinge the cuppe looverlike to Vortiger, with all the
grace and neatenes that might bee^ accordinge to the fasshion of
her contrie. The kinge, assone as hee hadd fixed his ies on the
mayden, sodainlie was enravished with this bayte, being bothe
delighted with her beawtie, and havinge taken vewe of her beha-
vior, in so mutche that now not so wise as was fitting unto himme,
hee divorcing within a litteU while after his former wife, maried
this truUe, geevinge therin the moste detestable example within
the memorie of manne. This hainus deade of the kinge bredd
offence in the mindes of his nobles, and hastened the distruction
of the contrie, for the Saxons, understandinge the allienge of there
stock with the kinge, gathering a great companie, camme in suche



Online LibraryPolydore VergilPolydore Vergil's English history, from an early translation preserved among the mss. of the old royal library in the British museum → online text (page 11 of 30)