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

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shier, with the partes remayninge of Warwicke and Shropshire,
and so nnitche of Lancaster as apperteineth to the river of Bepill/
In the diocesse of Lincolne, beinge farre the biggeste, are com-
prised those viij. shieres which lie betweene the river of Thames
and Humber, that is to saye Lincolne, Northehampton, Lecester,
Rutland, Huntington, Bedforde, Buckingham, Oxeforde, and the
remnante of Hertfordshire. In the husshopricke of Eley is included
Cambridgeshire and the He of Eley. In the diocesse of Norwige

> Ribble.

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is conteiiiied Suffolke and Norifolke. And this is the Proyince of
tlie Archebusshoppe of Canterburie, which is metropolitane of
Englaade: adjoininge there unto WaUcs, which hath iiij. dioceses,
as hereafter we shall make mention. The bisshopricke of Yorck
hath semblablie Notangham^ire^ Yorkeshire, with the remainder
of Lancashire, Darham diocesse hathe the cowntie of Durham
and Nortbehumbetlande. Finallie Carleyl diocesse hathe Cumber-
lande and Westmerhmde : and this is the other Province or Circuit
of the archbussbope of Yorcke^ which is abo metropolitane of
Bnglonde, yea, and of longe season was allso primate of Scoilandei
as ellswhere we shall make rehersall. Those dioceses are named of
their cities, wherein the sea it selfe of the busshopps consistethe.
Wherefore London of right is cheefe, wheare, indeed, furste of all The sea of
was ordeyned the sea of the archbusshoppe ; but as towchinge the b^^^^J^
transposinge thereof to Canterburie, a citie of Kente, in place ^^^ «^
conveniente we minde to make demonstration; for the famous
citie of London is situate in the cowntie of Middelsaxe, on the
north bancke of the river Thames.

This moste pleasant fludde hath his hedd and originall risinge at Thames.
the village named Winchecombe, and echewhere gatheringe en-
crease of his flowe and streame, first runnethe in length hie Oze-
forde, and afterwarde, havinge full course bie London, hath issue
into the Frenche ocean sea, where beinge receaved in wonderful!
gowlfe, doth twise ebbe and flowe more then Ix. miles in the space
of foure and twentie bowers, to the excedinge great commoditie of
all men, bie cause that bie the meanes thereof merchandise hathe
recourse and accesse to the citie.

In tiiis moste renowned citie is there a bridge of stone of won- The dys-
derous artificiall woorkmanshippe, for therein are conteyned xx. ^^^^^°^
pilea of square stone, Ix. foote of height, xxx. of bredthe, the one Brydge.
beinge distante from the other abowte xx. foote, yet knitte and joy-
ned together with arches, in the toppe whereof bowses one bothe
sides are soe subtilye builded, that it rather representith a streete
of great lenghte then a bridge.

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"Thede- A.^^ *^is Englonde, beinge the chefest parte of Britaine, oii

^"P^^<>^the easte and sowthe side is limited of the ocean sea, on the
weste parte with the bowndes of Comewall and Walls, on the
northe with the river Twede, which devideth the Englishe men
from Scottes, At this Twede endethe the whole knghte of the
region, whiche havinge beginninge at the uttermoste bancke lienge
sowthward is extended even thether hie computation the space of
cccxx. miles. This cowntrie is of all places moste frutefull on this
side of the river of Huraber, for on the other side it somewhat to
muche abowndethe with mountaynes ; for, notwithstandinge to the
beholder afarre of it appearetbe verie champion and plaine, ne*
verthelesse it hathe manye hills, and such as for the moste parte
are voyde of trees, with most delectable valleys, wherein the moste
parte of the inhabitantes, especiallie the nobles, have placed their
manners and dwellinge-howses ; whoe, accordinge to their aunciente
usage, do not so greatlie affecte citties as the commodious nearenes
of dales and brookes, there dwellinge somewhate neere together,
mindinge (as I suppose) therebie more easilie to eschewe the
tempesteous blastes of boisterous windes, bie cause the Ilande
itself is naturallie subjecte to greate windes, wherebie it coraethe
to passe that the ruralls and common people, bie the entercourse
and daylye conference which they have with the nobilitie, con-
fuselie dwellinge emonge them, are made verie civill, and so
consequentlie their citties nothinge famous. This river, which
before I named Humber, havinge beginninge on this side Yorcke^
and streightweye tuminge towarde the sowthe, takethe forthe-
with his course into the easte, and so hath issue into the
ocean sea, beinge firste augmented bie the rivers Dune and
Trente. This Trente hathe his originall founteyne not farre from
Stafforde, whiche, passinge thoroughe Darbie and Lecestre, and
flowinge nighe unto Lichefielde and Nothingham, declinethe to-
wardes the right hande ; but the other, that is to witte Dunne,
bendethe unto the lefte hande, soe that Dunne and Trente be-
twene them make the flow now called Axolme; and not farre

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from thence united a litle on this side the towne in aunciente
time named Kyngstone^ but now called Hull (well knowen bie
reason of the assemble marte of biers and sellers) theye runne into
Humber^ throwghe the which owt of Fraunce^ Germanic, and Den*
marcke, there bothe commodious and safe passage. The grownde
is marvelous fruitefuU, and aboundantlie replenished with cat-
tayle^ wherebie it commethe to passe that of Englishe men moe
are grasiers and masters of cattayle then howsbande men or
laborers in tilling of the fielde, so that allmoste the third parte of
the grownde is lefte unmanured, either for their hertes, or falowe
deere, or their conies or their gotes (for of them allso are in
the northe partes no small number) ; for allmoste everie where a
man maye se clausures and parckes paled and enclosed, fraughte
with suche venerie, which, as they minister greate cause of
hun tinge, so the nobilitie is muche delited and exercised therein.
Thus muche for the firste parte of Britaine, leste I shall peradven-
ture seeme tedious, seinge that as towchinge the situation thereof
hereafter, and eche where through all this worcke, I meane to
entreate in places convenient.

Scotland is the other parte of Brytaine, whereof I will some- Tl»?<^?- ^
what at large entreate in this place, to the entente I maie have Scotland.
no occasion hereafter to declare the situation thereof. In aun-
ciente memorie it appearethe to have had beginninge at the
mountaine called Grampius, beinge continued in lenght on the
uttermoste bownde towarde the northe: but, after the distruo-
tion of Pictland, it did extende even to the ryver Twede, yea
sumetyme unto Tine, the uncerteyne chaunce of battayle shewinge
like mutabilitie in that pointe as it dothe in all other thinges ;
wherefore the length thereof from the ryver Twede to the fordeste
bowndes is accownted to conteyne cccclxxx. miles ; but bie howe
much it is more longe than the realme of Englande, so much it
is lesse in bredthe, for yt endethe like a wedge, that is to saye,
small and sclender in the extremest parte, for the mountayne
Grampius, beinge huge and rowghe (whereof Tacitus makethe

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mention in the Life of Julins Agricola), dotlie ?unne throughe the
middell of Scotland from the shore lienge over agaynste Grermanie^
that is to weete from the entree of the ryrer Dee,it hathe exconrse
to the Irish seas^ even unto the greate meere or lake called
Lomund^ which liethe betweene that border and this forenamed
monntayne. Nexte unto the river Twede (which, springinge oute
of a little hill somwhat beyonde Roxburrow, runnethe into the

TlMmarshe. Germanian ocean sea), sowthwarde enseweth that region which
men call Marchelande, which is nothinge elis bat the verie borders
and marches of Englisshemen and Scotts: which is dissevered
bie the river Twede from Northehnmberland, the fasdeste cowntie
of Englande ; the chefest towne thereof is Berwxcke^ which in owre
time is subjecte to Englishemen. I suppose the same in times
paste to have bene the cheef citie of the inhabitantes of the hills
Cheviot Scotland on the weste sometime bordered on Cumberland,

The rhrer of which is separated from the vale of Anandia bie the river Solve,
o ^7- Betweene these twooe regions Cheviot hills shewethe it selfe som-

Rckland, what sccretelie. On this Marcheland borderethe Picklande, at this

j^mIHJ^ time termed Laudonia, endininge towarde the easte, havinge
as greate scarsitie of trees, as to muche abowndinge ia moun-
taynes. The townes therein of greateste names are these:
Dunbar, Haddington, Leethe, Northe Berwicke, and Edenborrowe,
the kynges cheefe pallaice wherein is a towre of no smalle

The river strengthe, called the Castil of Maidens, envirroned with the river

of Forth. Forthee, which as yet runneth into the ocean sea of Germanic.
It makethe a wonderous greate mere called the Scottish Sea,
wherein (omitting the rest) there is an isle dedicated to Sainte
Colummbe, commonle named Aemonia, and that also is divided
from Laudonia with a river. The region adjoyninge beinge

Fyfe. plentifull in all thinges of the common people is named Fife,
wherein are divers civill townes, as Dmnfermile and Cypres ; but
of all oliiers most excellente and notorious is thowght Sainte
Andrewes, the more renowned bie reason of the universitie, and
sea of the archebisshoppe, beinge thmne residente and metropo-

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Ktane of all Sootiland. On the other side> towarde the Irishe
oo6te noitiiewBrde, it hathe Nithesdale^ so called of the lirer run-
ning bie^ whereas are twoo stronge and well fensed townes^ Dan-
fireye and Dunglasse* On the sowthe side Oallowey is adjoininge^ Galloway,
a province more commodious for the fom^ of cattayle then
the tilthe of come, wherein is the splendent bowse and aunciente
churche of Sainte Ninian, adonied especiallie bie the sea of the Called
bysshoppe. In this discourse or space nere unto the towne ^

named Wigton^ is there a poole of wonderous nature. For
notwitbstaiidinge throughe the rigor of winter parte thereof be
never soe stifflie congeled with froste, yet parte remaynethe un-
frosen. Next unto this is Caricta, in times paste notable bie reason
of the towne Carleis, or Caricton, whereof paradventure it hathe
the name derived. Above this Crea or Caricta is Aer, or rather P^*^
Elgovea, for soe it is termed of Ptolemei^ on the weste side border^ termed
inge on the ocean sea, wherein is that poole which beefore I ^'®■•
named Lomund, of exoeadinge greatnes, for therein are conteyned
divers littell iles at the roote of the mounteyne Grampius, from
the which the castell of Dunbriton is vii. miles distante ; whereas
the river Bodotria, nowe called Levnie, entrith intoClote, whereof The nyer
hereafter we shall entreate in more ample wise. A greate way on
this side Orampius the greatest river of all Scotland, named Taus, The river
hathe his hedd and springe owte of a lake o( the same name, ^^'
which, passinge bie Atholia and Calidon or Calendar and divers
other places, runnethe bie the towne in fore time named Perthe^
and now Saint Ihons; and finallie havinge his course bie Dondey,
in auntient memorie called Alectum, it burstethe forthe into the
Germanian sea, making an exceadinge greate flowe at the verie
entrie, whereof Tacitus also maketh rehersall. Right over agaynste
the bancke of Taus liethe Anguise, with whose streames this plea^ Anguise.
sant province is refresshed and watered, and is dissevered from
Fife, The countrie Atholia lienge northwarde, as it is, is not farre Atbole.
from these three beinge moste delectable soyles of Scotland, soe
is it not of alL others most unfrutefuU or bamdne.

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▼enitie of

On the. other side liethe Argatelia, which in that it aboundethe
with mores, it yeldes more plenteouslie fodder than corne. The
uttermoste border thereof approcheth so neere unto Irelonde that
there are scarselie sixteene miles between them, in the which
place is that promontorie which they call the hedd of their
grownde. Plinie in his treatie of Irelonde, and iiij. booke, witnes-
sethe that the Silurians in olde time were lordes thereof, whose
wordes are these in effecte. This Irelond is placed a little above,
verie nere to the people of Siluria, namelie within xx. miles,
betweene the which and Elgovia westwarde there is the teritorie
of Sterlinge, so named of a towne therin conteined. In this
place the foreste Calidon, usuallie termed Calendar, had his
originall, beinge greatlie spredde in bredthe and length towardes
the inward partes of the riolme. In this woodde there are bredd
white oxen havinge manes like liones, naturallie so wilde and
savage that bie no meanes they can be tamed ; neverthelesse, after
experience hadd once taught that there fleshe was saverie and
pleasaunte in taste, there continuallie followed suche wracke and
slaughter that bie reporte theie are allmoste all exhauste and
<»>nsumed. There is also there the castell of Caledon, situate
on the bancke of the river Taus caUed DunchelL Owt of a litle
hill apperteyninge to this foreste the river Glote hathe his springe,
and. havinge broade chanell towcheth it selfe in the Irishe ocean
aea ; for, havinge as it were reflection agaynste the botom of the
mountayne Grampius, and tuminge southward, it is receyved
with suche wonderfull sourge of the sea, that (as Tacitus dothe
write) it semed to the Romaines that there was besides it an other
ilond beyonde.

Of this river the valey throughe the which it hathe passage
is called Glotesvale, wherein is allso the dtie Glasquen, a re-
nowned universitie. Moreover towardes the easte is annexed
the province called Anguise, and Merina, borderinge on the sea ;
in it is the towne which they calle Fordune, of a wonderfull forti-
fied situacion, and well knowne bie reason of the reliques of Sainte

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Pallad, an apostle of no smalle credit emonge the Scotts. On
the same side is the cowntie Marria, notable throughe the citie Marra.
Aberdon, planted betweene twooe rivers^ Don and Dea, sufficientlie
enoughe knowen throughe the scholes and artes there professed.
Next aftei* these succedeth Monrovia^ which is environed with Murrey.
twooe fladdes, Nesse and Spea : at the verie entrie standethe the
towne named Eflgis ; abowte the banckes there is greate store of
woodde, replenished with all sortes of wilde beastes^ and a lake
allso called Spina^ abowndinge in the multitude of swannes.
And within the midst hearof is the cowntie of Rossa^ stretchinge Rone,
forthe even to the uttermost comer: for on bothe sides it
towcheth the ocean sea, beinge beste husbanded and tilled in
partes neere to the easte. There is in it a porte so commodious
to those saylinge^that commonlie it is called the Haven of Healthe
or Safetie; the name of the toime is Thane. The uttermoste
bownde of the ile is verie shorte, for the end is so narrow that
it is scarselie xxx. miles broade, and, being fensed with iij. pro-
montories, as it were arches, it firmelie resisteth the violent
assawtes of the ocean sea, and, havinge in it two tominges en-
closed of these mountaines, it hathe oerten receptacles whereinto
it reoeiveth the water quietlie. This daie men call that streight-
ness of the earthe Cathanesia, windinge towards the DewcaUan Cathnea.
sea. Thus muche of the partes particularelie.

The Scottishe land hathe eche where havens of greate safetie, and
entraunces bie sea, with pooles, fennes, fluddes, and fownteines well
stored with fyshe, mounteynes also having levell grownde in the
toppes of them plenteouslie yeldinge forrage for cattail, with wooddes
runninge fiiU of wilde beastes, throwghe the opportunitie of which
places theie have bene allwaies so releved that as yet alltogether
the cowntrie never had the overthrowe. For firste the fennes and
wooddes have ministred refuge ; the wilde beaste and fyshes have
armed them againste famin. Abowt Scotlande in the Irishe sea
there are extante more than fortie ilondes of Plinie, comprised
under the titill of Britaine ; of others theie were named as to them

CAMD. soc. c

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The Ilancis semed coiiTenient ; of some Mevanies, of others Hebrides ; wherof
mon^lax ^^^^ manieatthe least are xxx. miles in length xij. in bredthe;
^' emonge these there is one called lona, greter of fame throwghe the

Scottishe kinges there buried. All the inhabitantes speke the
Irishe speehe, which argueth that of them thei had their beginninge.
Theliondcs Beyonde Scotland toward the Northe Pole are the lies Orcades (ac-
zzz. cordinge to the authoritie of Ptolomei), xxx. in number, part of

them consistinge in the Deucalion parte in the Germanian ocean
sea; the cheefe of them men call Panonia, bie cause the bishoppe
therein is resident, beinge under the Scottis jurisdiction. The
people use the tongue of the Gothes, which maie be a proof that
their discent is derived from the Germanians ; theie are taule in
stature, sounde as well as in the disposition of minde as constitu-
tion of bodie, and^ notwithstandinge their cheefe meate is fishe, yet
are they longe lived, for the earthe continuallie allmoste being
hardened with cowlde, doth hardlie beare come, and trees not
at all.

The ile Thule is behinde the ilondes called Orchades, the which
now they caule Ila, from the which (accordinge to Plinie) the ysee
and frosen seas are distant the saylinge of one daye, wherein is
Iselande, unto the which in sommer season yearlie our marchaunde
men doe repaire to bie their fisshes ; and for because it liethe
farre northe under the sterre called Arctos men suppose it to be
Thule. Thus mutche I thought good to speake of the proportion
and placinge of Scodonde ; neither will I altogether use silence as
The nature towchinge the nature and behavior of the people. Those Scotts
▼ior of the which inhabit the southe, beinge farre the beste parte, are well
Sootts. manured and somewhate of more gentle condicion, using the
Englishe tongue, and in steade of woodde, whereof there they have
smalle store, they make fire of a certeyne kinde of blackstone
which they digge owt of the grounde. The other parte thereof,
beinge mutche imder the northe and full of hills, a moste harde
and roughe kinde of men dothe possede, which are not without
good cause called wilde and savage ; they have theire soulgiars

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clokes and inner gaimentes died with saffron accordinge to the
Irishe fasshion,and goe with their legges bare unto the knees : theire
cheefe weapons are bowes and arrowes,and a brode slawght swerde
and a dager sbarpe onelie on the one side. Theie all have the Irish
speache, and the sustenannce of their boddie consistethe in fish,
milke, cheese^ and flesh, for the which cause thei mainteyne a
greate number of cattaylle : they differ all generalli from English-
men in laws and decrees^ for they have in use the ciyill lawe as
allmoste all other nations doe, as hereafter shalbe declared ; but
the Englishe people usethe propre and municipall lawes. In some
thinges there is no difference or dissimilitude : for there tongues
are all one, the features and attire of bodies Uke, like hautnes and
corage in battayle, and equaU desire of huntinge to the nobilitie,
even from their childhode. Their bowses in the countrie are verie
narrowe, and covered either with strawe or with reedes, wherein
bothe theye and their cattayle do harborowe all together. Besides
Saint Ihones towne, there is not one enclosed with walles, which
a man maye ascribe to the vaUaunce of their minde, seinge that
aU their tuition and saftie theie referre to the strenghte of theyr
bodies. As towchinge the sharpnesse of their witt, nature semethe
nothinge to have fayled them, as theire erudition and literature
dothe well declare ; for to what arte soever they applie them selfe,
they profite therein withowte difiicultie. But of them suche as
yelde themselves to eas, to slewthe and unscillfulness, theie, in all .
that theie maye avoydinge travayle even in theit extreme penurie^
boste of their nobilite, as whoe shoulde saye better it weare that a
man in gentilbloode shoulde wante, then bie crafte(«) or science to
gather for his livinge ; nevertheless they are cownted devowte and
sownde as towchinge relligion.

Walles is the thirde parte of this Ilonde, beinge one the lefte The dis-
hande, nere to the middell of Englonde, and in similitude some- y^^^^
whate like to a towming downe :(^) it runnethe forthe within the
ocean sea like to an half ilonde, wherewith it is environed on all sides,
savinge on the easte parte, and there it boundethe on the river

(*) arte, tnterlm, 0*) beading or compasing bancke, for interim.

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Scverae. Called Severnc, which disseverithe the Welche and Engliahe

people (albeit there are manie writers of late time which limite

Walles and Englonde at the citie Hereforde), adjudging that the

beginninge of Walles is at the towne called Cheepstowe^ where

the river named Vey^ beinge encreaside with the river Logus or

Luggus^ and flowing bie Hereforde^ towchethe it selfe in the sea.

This river hathe his springe in the middeste of WaUes^ owte of

the same hiU which Severne springethe (I dowbte whether it arise

owte of the same founteyne). Cornelius Tacitus thinketh the

same to bee called Anton^ as in another place yow shall heare. For

even thether dothe extende a greate arme of the sea, which, entringe

/ into the soyle on the weste side, dothe on the right hande ranne

bie Cornwall, on the left hande throughe Walles. The which

description, notwithstandinge it savorethe of late yeares, yet I am

not agreeved to foUowe it. Wherefore Walles as it were with a

streight line is extended from Chiepstow where it beginnethe a

little above Shropshire unto Chester towardes the northe. Yftt is

crediblie lefte in writinge that those Britons which wear sunnivors

and safe after the spoyles and destruction of their contreye, in

conclusion to have commen into Walles, usinge the opportunitie

of the mountaynes, wooddes, and fennes (whereof that countrie is

full) for their refuge and saftie, in the which place as yet they con-

tinewe. This lond afterwardes the Englishe people named

WeishmeD. Walles, and the Britons inhabitantes Walshman, for in the Saxon

speeche Wallsemati is nothinge ells but an aliente or straunger,

even as to us the Italien or Frenchemen are. Wherefore the

Ingiysh- Englishmen, a people of Germanic or Saxonie, beinge seased in the

™®°* realme of Britayne did calle the Britons that were the remaynders

of their ruined contrie accordinge to their accostomed use WaUs-

hemen, bie cause they hadd a diverse language, and the Countrie

Walles : which names remayned as well to the nation as to the

londe, so that the Britons loste bothe name and contrie together.

Hon orthe' ^^^^ ^^ ^^® trewc formc and derivation of their name, which (for as

WeUhe mutche as I knowe) noe man hath fownde owt heretofore, so that

tiame. ^,j^^ ^^ thinketh that they have their name ether of kinge or

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T1|E FIRST BOOK. ^^Ssi^is^^ - -'^^^ 13

qaene of like appellation no doubte thei are deceived^ The
fieldes of the coontrie are for the moste parte barraine, yet so
mutche the lesse fniitefull in that they lacke husbandinge and
tilthe ; wherebie it cometh to passe that the roralles (•) lire ^
hardelie, eatinge oaten breade^ and drinckinge ther milke ether
meddeled with water or ells whaye; and the younger sorte^
roTinge abroade and wanderinge, moleste as well their owne natives
as also other with their thefte and roberies. There are manie
townes with Castles verie well embateled^ and iiij Dioceses of Fonn Ut-
Busshoppes, if Hereford bee aocownted in Englond, accordinge ^|^~ ^
td the newe descriptions. The firste is the bisshoppricke of
Meneve, at this daye called the bisshopricke of Saint Davides^ an
anndente dtie, and placed on that shore which liethe agaynste
Ireland westwarde ; the second is the bisshopricke of Landafe; the
third is the bisshopricke of Bangore; the fourth is the bisshopricke
of Saynte Assaves ; which all are under the jurisdiction of the
Archebusshoppe of Canterburie. Whereas the Welche speeche
differethe from the Englishe, they which derive their race and
stemme from the Troian stocke affirme that their tongue is com- y

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 2 of 30)