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^ Tac. Germ. 10.

^ Kemble, " Saxons in England," i. 19.

^ The sons of the mythical Wonred were named " Wolf" and "Boar."
Beow. 2964, 2965. Other examples may be found in Mr. Kemble's
Essay on the "Anglo-Saxon Nicknames," Archceologia (Winchester, 1845).

^ Numerous examples will be found in the Codex Diplomaticus. Com-

Origins of English History. 365

name, of one who bought as much land as an ox-hide
would cover and thereby gained a kingdom, of three
hundred chieftains in Kent or Thuringia slain with knives
concealed at a banquet, and of a princess, as in the legend
of Nennius, exchanged for three provinces by the king and
his fur-clad councillors. Hengist seems to be ubiquitous,
and fills all kinds of characters. In one storv he serves as
a legionary in the army of Valentinian the Third : in
another he comes as " the wickedest of pagans " to ravage
the coasts of Gaul. In the fragmentary poem which is
known as "the Fight of Finnesburg" Hengist leads a
band of Jutish pirates to burn the palace of the Frisian
king: "the hall blazes in the moon-light, the spear clangs,
and shield answers to shaft"; but in the legends of the
Frieslanders themselves he is claimed as the father of
their kings, and as the builder of their strongholds on the

The Chroniclers next record the beginning of the con-
pare the names of Hengistbuiy Head, Hengstdown in Cornwall, Hinxworth,
and Henstridge (" Hengestes-ricg ") on the Stour. Kemble. Cod. Diplom.
374, 455, 1002 J " Hengest-helle," Hasted, Hist. Kent, iii. 171. Com-
pare also Edwy's donation of twenty "boor-lands" to the monastery of
Abingdon : " aliquam terrae portionem, id est secundum estimationem
20 cassatorum tribus in locis, illic ubi vulgariter prolatum est cet Hengestes
ige," &c. These " cassates " or "householders" lands " are called " bur-
land " in the schedule of boundaries. Cod. Diplom. 1216; Leo. Rect.
Sing. Person. 6.

^ Beowulf, 227, 1083, 1096, 1 127. For the "Fight at Finnesburg,"
see the editions of Beowulf by Thorpe, p. 227, by Kemble, i. 239, and by
Arnold, p. 204, and Grein. Biblioth. i. 341. John of Wallingford calls
Hengist " omnium paganorum sceleratissimus," and mentions his attacks on
the Gaulish coast. The Ravenna Geographer calls him " Anschis," Ravenn.
V. 31 : but this was a Frankish name; Duke Anschis was brother of St.
Clou and father of Pepin the Short. Will. Malmesb. Gesta, i. 68. The
Frisian legends treat Hengist as the founder of Leyden and the builder of a

366 Origins of English History.

quest of Sussex, a kingdom at first renowned for the
daring exploits of its founders, though its later history is so
obscure that nothing is heard about it between the capture
of the Roman towns and the conversion of the South-
Saxons in the year 68 1 . The little country "shut in among
the rocks and forests " was unable in the age of Bede to
find support for more than seven thousand households, and
the historian drew a lamentable picture of the poverty and
rudeness of the people. When St. Wilfrid first preached
at Selsey they did not even know how to catch sea-fish,
though they had nets for eels, and were so wild and
untaught as to have retained the custom of making "the
journey to Woden": for we are told that, when pressed
by famine, forty or fifty men together would join hands and
leap over the cliffs into the sea.^

The charters relating to the See of Chichester show
that Sussex was divided into several petty kingdoms,
before it sank into the position of a duchy under the
Mercian kings.^ The Chroniclers however confine them-

temple of " Warns " or Woden at Doccum. Hamcon. Frisia, 2)?) ; Suffrid.
Antiqu. Fris. ii. 1 1 ; Kemp. Hist. Fris. ii. 21, 22,

1 Ante p. 88 3 Bede, Hist. Eccl. iv. 13. The peninsula of Selsey was
the first point occupied by the South-Saxons. A. S. Chron. amio 477 ;
Kemble, Cod. Diplom. 992. The peninsula, when given to Wilfrid, was
considered to contain enough land for eighty-seven families. The grant
included the inhabitants as well as their lands, and the bishop's first act
was to baptize and enfranchise the two hundred and fifty serfs. He found
five or six Irish monks established between the forest and the sea at
Bosham ; this monastery and the newer foundation at Selsey were after-
wards united in the Bishopric of Chichester. Lappenberg quotes the life of
St. Wilfrid by iEdde for a description of the condition of the country :
" provincia gentilis quee prae rupium multitudine et silvarum densitate aliis
provinciis inexpugnabilis exstitit." Hist. Engl. i. c. 7.

^ The following grants are printed by Kemble. Nothelm, King of the

Origins of Ejiglish History. 367

selves to the wars of the first invasion. " In the year 477
came ^lle with his three sons to Cymen's-Ore, and there
they slew many Welsh, and some they drove into the
forest called Andred's-Lea : and when eight years had
passed they fought again at a place called Markrede's-
Burn," After six years more they encamped against
Anderida, a fortress which had been erected for the
defence of the " Saxon Shore," and destroyed it so utterly
that '' not one single Briton there was left alive. "^

The sack of Anderida is a sign of the blind ferocity
which distinguished the first invasions. The ruins near
Pevensey have for centuries represented all that remained
of the " noble city."^ Many of the towns and castles

South-Saxons, with the assent of Wattus, an under-king or " sub-regulus,"
gives 38 "householders' lands '' to the Princess Nothgith in a.d. 692. Cod.
Diplom. 995. King Nunna grants to the monks of Selsey the lands of four
holdings in one place and of four households in another, " in Herotonum
4 manentes et Braclaesham-stede 4 cassatos," Hid. 999. Nunna, with the
assent of Wattus, gives 20 hides or " tributaries' lands " to the Bishop, ibid.
1000, The kings Nunna and Osmund grant " aliquantulam terram, id est
quatuor tributarios " to Berhfrid, who had given himself and all his posses-
sions to the Bishop ; and his release is added, ibid. looi. Osmund gives
twelve hides of arable with certain woodlands and appurtenances : " id est
1 2 tributarios terrae quae appellatur Ferring cum totis ad earn pertinentibus
campis silvis pratis fluminibus fontanis et silvatica Coponora et Titlesham."
ibid. 108. The same King with his several "Dukes "gives 15 hides to
St. Peter's Church, "aliquantulam terram in loco qui dicitur Hanefeld 15
manentium," ibid. 1009: and eighteen hides, " decem et octo manentes"
in another place, ibid. 10 10. In the year 780 a grant to the Church is
made by " Oslac Duke of the South-Saxons," and is confirmed by Offa
King of Mercia.

^ A. S. Chron. cinn. 477, 485, 491. The three sons of ^lle were
called Cymen, Wlencing, and Cissa. The name of the last is preserved
in that of " Cissanceastir," or Chichester, formerly the City of the

^ " Ita urbem destruxerunt quod nunquam postea resedilicata est; locus


68 Origins of English History.

were doubtless burned and uprooted by the rough tribes
who made their homes in the forest, for the new comers
hated the Hfe of cities and dwelt like their forefathers
in hamlets scattered along the banks of a stream or in
the glades of a favourite wood/ Some of the towns,
which were spared at first, fell afterwards in the civil wars,
and many more were left in contemptuous neglect to
crumble in the wind and the rain. But the English kings,
as time went on, learned to hold their courts in the
fortresses, to choose an ancient city for a metropolis, to
grant a Roman town to a favourite retainer, or to set up
their own farmsteads on the ruins of the desolated palaces,^
The people, as they became more civilised, began to
regard these remnants of the past with feelings of wonder

tantum quasi nobilissimse urbis transeuntibus ostenditur desolatus." Henr.
Hunt. ii. TO.

^ Tac. Germ. c. i6; Ammian. Marcell. xvi. 2, 13.

^ See Bede's notices of the metropolitan cities of Canterbury, Hist.
Eccl. i. 215, 26, ^^вАҐ. of London, ibid. i. 29, ii. 3 : of York, Wid. i. 29, ii. 14,
20 : of AVinchester, ih'id. iii. 7, v. 18: of royal "villae" established in Roman
towns, at "Derventio," Hid. ii. 9 : at" Cataracta" or Catterick, Hid. ii, 14,
iii. 14 : at " Campodunum," Wid. ii. 14 : at the station "Ad Murum," il'id.
iii. 22: and see his account of Dunwich and Lincoln, il-'id. ii. 15, 16: of
Othona or " Ythan-caestir," Hid. iii. 22 : and of " Calcaria," iVid. iv. 23.
Among the towns given to soldiers were " Cnobhere's-burg," the Roman
station at Burgh Castle, in which a monastery was afterwards established,.
ihid. iii. 19. The Roman station at Reculver was also given to a monas-
tery, ih'id. V. 8. See the list of towns in Kemble's " Saxons in England,"
ii. 550- Compare Bede's account of the foundation of the See of Rochester :
" Justum . . . ordinavit in civitate Dorubrevi quam gens Anglorum a
primario quondam illius, qui dicebatur Hrof, Hrofaescaestre cognominat."
Hist. Eccl. ii. 3. The derivation is omitted in the English version, and
other forms of the word indicate that " Hrof " was an imaginary person.
See Ethelbert's charter of April 28th, a.d. 604, in which' he grants lands,
"in Hrofi-brevi " near ths " Southgate-street " and the " Broadgate."
Kemble, Cod. Diplom. t.

Origins of English History. 369

and regret. Their poets lamented the destruction of "the
joyous halls," of the ruined towers and bare walls coated
with frost. " The old time has fled and is lost under
night's dark veil." The elegy called "The Ruin" tells
how such a castle fell, as the towers of Anderida had
fallen, and how the earth was shaken as the furnaces of
the baths exploded in flame and steam. " Wondrous the
wall-stone that Weird hath broken . . . the roof-tree riven,
the gray gates despoiled. Often that wall withstood
Raeghar and Readfah, chieftain after chieftain rising in
storm. Bright was the burgh-place, and many the princely
halls, and high w^as the roof of gold . . . And the court is
dreary, and the crowmed roof lies, low in the shadow of
the purple arch. Princes of old time, joyous and gold-
bright and splendidly-decked, proud and with wine elate,
in war-gear shone. They looked on their treasures, on
silver and gems and on stones of price, and on this bright
burgh of their broad realm. The stone court stands, the
hot stream hath whelmed it, there where the bath was hot
on the breast,"^

We now pass to the rise of the House of Cerdic and the
foundation of the little states of the " Gevissi " which in
course of time were united in the West-Saxon kingdom.
The country appears to have been occupied by indepen-
dent bands of settlers, who governed themselves at first
according to the democratic forms to which they had been
accustomed at home. The Continental Saxons in the time

^ The extracts are translated from the poems in the Exeter Book
ascribed to " Cynewulf." Thorpe, Cod. Exon. 292, 476, 478. The
characteristic alliteration has been preserved as far as was practicable.
For the personification of "Weird" or Destiny, see Kemble, Saxons in
England, i. 400 : " it shall befall us as Weird decideth, the lord of every
man." The Fates are the " weird sisters." Grimm, Deutsch. Mythol. 377.


370 Origins of English History.

of Bede were still governed by a great number of chief-
tains, each managing the affairs of a province or district,
and having authority over the reeves or head-men of the
villages : when a war broke out one of the number was
chosen by lot to lead the national forces, but on the return
of peace they all became equal again. ^ The system
resembled in many respects the institutions described by
Tacitus : for even in the states which were ruled by kings
the chieftains arranged the smaller matters of government,
and had the task of carrying out what the people decided
in their national assemblies, and we are told that some of
the chieftains were elected at the same assemblies to
administer justice in the country-districts and villages, each
having with him a hundred assessors or " companions " to
give advice and to add authority to his decisions.^ The
English of the southern settlements soon adopted a
fashion, which the Franks had introduced as soon as they
had occupied the country round Tongres and Cambray,
and chose kings from their noblest families to rule their
states and shires.^

^ Bede, Hist. Eccl. v. lo. The "Old Saxons" here described were
established in the neighbourhood of the Rhine. Their customs were not
in all respects similar to those of their English kindred. Will. Malmesb.
Gesta. i. 80.

"- Tac. Germ. 11, 13. The district, or "pagus,"' administered by the
chieftain may be regarded as the original " shire," which as the kingdoms
increased in size became the subdivision of a larger shire, and in course of
time accquired the Frankish name of " Centena " or Hundred. The old
county-court on this view represented the national assembly of an extinct
kingdom, and the hundred-court the assembly of one of its original districts.

^ " Tradunt . . . (Francos) primum quidem littora Rheni amnis in-
coluisse : dehinc, transacto Rheno, Thoringiam transmeasse ibique juxta
pages vel civitates reges crinitos super se creavisse de prima et ut dicitur
nobiliori suorum familia." Gregory of Tours, Hist. Franc, u. 9. The

Origins of English History. 371

A later age attributed the whole credit of the West-
Saxon conquests to the great princes in whose family the
supremacy was finally established ; and we may assume in
fact that the kings of the smaller districts would be
subordinate to the military head of the nation in all that
concerned the repulse of an invasion or the levying of
external war. The Chroniclers show us the coming of
two chieftains from the Elbe, Cerdic and his son Cynric,
claiming to be of the line of Balder the Fair, the brightest
of the offspring of Woden/ We are told in one account
that they fought on the day of their landing against a large
force which had been assembled in expectation of their
coming, the Saxons standing firm in front of the ships on
the beach, and the Britons exhausting themselves in vain

English nobles and free-men were all " long-haired," and the kings were
distinguished by a circlet of gold worn round the head. Kemble, Saxons
in England, i. 155. Three under-kings concur in a grant by the King of
Surrey. Cod. Diplora. 987. There were apparently seven kings in Kent
at the same time, ih'id. 151. We are told that Edwin "went against the
West-Saxons, and there slew five kings." A. S. Chron. anno 626. Compare
Bede's account of the succession of the Kings of Wessex : " acceperunt
subreguli regnum gentis et divisum inter se tenuerunt annis circiter decem."
Hist. Eccl. iv. 12.

^ With respect to this claim we may refer to William of JMalmesbury.
" Possem hoc loco istius (Idae) et alibi aliorum lineam seriatim intexere, nisi
quod ipsa vocabula barbarum quiddam stridentia minus quam vellem
delectationis lecturis infunderent. Illud tantum non immerito notandum,
quod cum Wodenio fuerint tres filii, Weldegius, Withlegius, Beldegius :
de primo reges Cantuaritarum ; de secundo, Merciorum ; de tertio, West-
Saxonum et Northanhimbrorum, praeter duos . . . originem traxerint."
Gesta. i. 44. And again, of Hengist and Horsa he says : " erant abnepotes
illius antiquissimi Woden," ibid. i. 5. " Bseldeg " is the Balder of the
Scandinavian mythology. Grimm, Deutsch. Mythol. 202. For places in
England named after this god, as Baldersby, Balderston, and the like,
see Kemble, Saxons in England, i. 2)^;;^, and Ethelred's grant of land near

Balder's-Lea " in Wiltshire, Cod. Diplom. 1059.

24 *

372 Origins of English History.

attempts to break the pirates' line.^ We are shown the
spot where they disembarked, by a headland at the mouth
of a stream falHng into the Southampton Water,' and can
trace their advance along the coast. We learn the places
where they fought in the forest and by the ford on the
Avon, and where thev overthrew the King in whom some
have recognised the majestic figure of Ambrosius, "Now
came two Aldermen to Britain, Cerdic and his son Cynric,
with five ships, at a place called Cerdic's-Ore, and on that
same day they fought against the Welsh : and after twelve
years they slew a British king whose name was Natanleod,
and with him five thousand men : and after that the countrv
was called Natan-Lea as far as Cerdic's-Ford : and when
eleven years had passed, they took upon them the kingdom
of the West-Saxons, and in the same year they fought once
more with the Britons at the place called Cerdic's-Ford :
and ever since then the royal race of the West-Saxons has
reigned.'" "And on that day," says the historian, "a great

1 " Cerdic's-Ore " is supposed to be a headland at the mouth of the
River Itchin. The compound "ore" in such words as Cymen's-Ore and
Cerdic's-Ore means " a shp of land between two waters," at the mouth of a
river or the outlet of a lake. Laing, Sea-kings of Norway, i. 1195 Kemble,
Cod, Diplom. 88, 123, 346, 441, 597. Gaimar, Hist. Engl. 822, speaks
of Cerdic's-ore as a place known in his time :

" Cerdic od son navire

Arriva a Certesore

U/i moncel H pert uncore :

La arriva il e sonjiz,

Engleis rappellerent Chenriz ;

Hors e Hefigesju lur ancestre

Sicom conte la Veraie Geste.'"

" A. S. Chron. ann. 495, 508, 519. In the year 527 the two kings

fought another battle in " Cerdic's-Lea/' which is thought to be Bernwood

Forest, and in 530 " they took the Isle of Wight, and slew many men at

Wihtgar's-Burg." The name of the British king is continued in those of

Origins of English History. 373

blow fell upon the dwellers in Albion, and greater yet had
it been but for the sun going down : and the name of
Cerdic was exalted, and the fame of his wars and of the
wars of his son Cynric was noised throughout the land."^

We shall not linger over the monotonous tale of con-
quest and shall only cite one more description taken as it
is supposed from some lost Chronicle of the Jutes, which
shows again how the exploits of the lesser chieftains were
used to augment the renown of Cerdic, as Arthur has
attracted to his name the exploits of a whole age of
chivalry or as Roland towers above his peers in the cycle
of Carolingian romance. We are told that in the year 514
" came West-Saxons with three ships to the place called
Cerdic's-Ore," where Stuf and Wihtgar, the chieftains of
the Jutes, fought with the Britons and put their army to
flight: "and their chieftains took the country far and wide,
and through their deeds the strength of Cerdic became
terrible, and he passed through all the land in his dreadful
might." "

several places near the New Forest, as Netton and Netley. Compare the
form " Natan-grafum " or " Netgrove," Kemble, Cod. Diplom. 90.

1 Henr. Huntingd. ii. 17.

2 Henr. Huntingd. ii. 14. Stuf and Wihtgar are called the nephews of
Cerdic, whose sister may have been married to a Jutish prince, though it is
possible that interpolations were made in the Chronicle to adapt it to the
history of the royal family of Wessex. Their line ruled in the Isle of Wight
till the slaughter of the sons of King Arvald in a.d. 686, when the islanders
were converted to Christianity. Bede, Hist. Eccl. iv. 16. Their family is
mentioned in Asser's Life of Alfred : " His mother was Osburga, daughter
of Oslac chief-butler to King Ethelwulf : he was a ' Goth ' (Jute) by nation,
descended from the ' Goths ' and Jutes, of the seed of Stuf and Wihtgar,
two brothers who were dukes, and who, having received possession of the
Isle of Wight from Cerdic their uncle and his son Cynric, slew the few
British inhabitants whom they could find in that island at a place called
Wihtgara- burgh (Carisbrook) : for the other inhabitants of the island had
either been slain or had escaped into exile." Vita Alfred. 2.

374 Origins of English History.

The greatness of Wessex begins in the victories of
Ceawlin, the " wonder of the English " and the hated
destroyer of the Britons, renowned for his long predomi-
nance over all the English states and for the tragic disaster
in which his kingdom and his life were lost.^

He first appears as a leader of the armies of his father
Cynric at the Battle of " Barbury Hill," where the Britons
so nearly retrieved their fortunes by adopting the Roman
discipline. They formed, it is said, in nine lines, three in
the van and three for the supports, the rest being posted
in the rear: the archers and javelin-men were thrown out
in the front, and each flank was guarded bv cavalrv, in
imitation of the tactics which had been used in the
Imperial legions. " But the Saxons formed all in one line
together, and charged boldly on and fought it out with
their swords amid the falling banners and breaking spears,
until the evening came on and the victory still remained

A success, gained by Cuthwulf the king's brother, gave
to the West-Saxons the command of the Upper Thames
and of the rich Vale of Aylesbury, so that their territories
covered all the districts now included in Buckinghamshire
and Oxfordshire.^ A few years afterwards three British

^ " In the year 552," says the English Chronicle, " Cynric fought against
the Britons at a place called Searo-burh (Old Sarum) and put them to flight
. . . and in the year ^c^6 Cynric and Ceawlin fought against the Britons
at Beranburh (Barbury Hill) . . . and in the year 570 Ceawlin succeeded
to the kingdom of the West-Saxons." William of Malmesbury describes
Ceawlin as the ruin of his friends and of his foes : " Cujus spectatissimum
in proeliis robur annales ad invidiam efferunt, quippe qui fuerit Anglis
stupori, Britonibus odio, utrisque exitio." Gesta. i. 17.

^ Henr. Huntingdon ii. 22.

^ A. S. Chron. ami. 571. "Now Cutha {aViter 'Cuthwulf') fought
against the Britons at Bedford and took four towns." These places are

Origins of English History. 375

kings were slain at the decisive battle of Deorham, and the
fortresses of Bath, Cirencester, and Gloucester fell into the
hands of the English.^ It was to these exploits that
Ceawlin owed that dignity of "Bretwalda," which -^lle
before him had gained by the destruction of Anderida :
and, whatever may have been the meaning of the
title, it is clear that it imported at least a leadership,
if not an imperial supremacy, over all the neighbouring

It is supposed that Ceawlin or his lieutenants passed up
the Valley of the Severn soon after the Battle of Deorham,
and destroyed the great fortress of "Uriconium" which at
that time formed the capital of the kings of Powys. The
English, according to the elegy attributed to Llywarch the

usually identified with Lenborough a hamlet near Buckingham, Aylesbury,
Bensington, and Ensham. Kemble, Saxons in Engl. ii. 295. Guest's
Early English Settlements, Arckceologia (Salisbury, 1849) 71.

^ A. S. Chron. ami. 577. "Now Cuthwine and Ceawlin fought against
the Britons, and they slew three kings, Conmaegl and Condidan and
Farinmaegl at the place called Deorham (Dyrham), and took three cities
from them, Gloucester and Cirencester and Bath." The descent of Farin-
maegl King of Builth is traced to Vortigern in ' Nennius.' Hist. Brit. 49.

"" Freeman, Norm. Conqu. i. 27. Opinions have differed as to the meaning
of the word Bretwalda. Palgrave and Lappenberg take it as equivalent
to " ruler of Britain." This view is supported by Professor Rhys. Celtic
Britain, 136. Kemble construed it "broad-ruling," and saw in it a dignity
without duty, hardly more than an " accidental predominance." Saxons in
England, ii. 18. The list of those who obtained this " diicatns" includes
Ethelbert of Kent, who broke the power of the petty kings as far as the
Humber, Redbald of East Anglia who obtained it even in the lifetime of
Ethelbert, and the three great Northumbrian kings, Edwin, Oswald and
Oswy, whose supremacy did not extend to Kent. The Chronicle adds the
name of Egbert of Wessex, in whose case the name may have been used
vaguely as an ornamental title of dignity. Bede, Hist. Feci. ii. 5. " Now
Egbert subdued the kingdom of the Mercians and all that was south of the
Humber, and he was the eighth king who was Brytcnwahhi." A. S. Chron.
ann. 827.

376 Origins of English History.

Aged, marched from " Pengwern," or Shrewsbury, to the
"lusty white town" by the Wrekin. The poet mourns
over the death of King Kynddylan and the gloom of his
deserted halls. "The Eagle of Pengwern with his gray
and horny beak, loud is his scream and hungry for flesh,
loud is his clamour and hungry for the flesh of Kynddylan! "
And he laments over the ruined towers, the broken shields
and blood upon the fallows, and the churches burning

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