Copyright
of Monmouth Geoffrey.

The chronicle of the kings of Britain online

. (page 34 of 39)
Online Libraryof Monmouth GeoffreyThe chronicle of the kings of Britain → online text (page 34 of 39)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


rule of St. Benedict was introduced, the Monks refused to give up
that of St. Columban, and the two rules were therefore so combined,

• Probably Ivor. One of ti)is name is ' Oitliis name 1 know nothing, neither
recorded as a Saint of the third century, docs it bcem probable he should have been
Camb Biog: Bishop of Colchester. Stillingfleet has

* In Welsh Rhystyd ; but the name is satisfactorily referred the name of his See
Latin, and he may have been of Jtoraan to Carleon. Ant. Brit. p. 76.

origin.



APPENDIX. No. VI. 3Jf7



that the monasteries were said to be conjointly under the rules of
Benedict and Columban. The object of Columban was probably the
conversion of the Franks, who at that time had over-run Gaul.

To these connections some peculiarities of the Gallican Church
may reasonably be referred. 1. It resisted the use of Images in churches,
or as objects of veneration, long after it had been adopted by Rome.
2d. It resisted appeals to Rome, as late as the ninth century. 3d. In
Gaul, Johannes Scotus, Ratramnus, and Berenger, opposed the doctrine
of the real presence at its rise. And lastly it asserted and regained
some share of its antient independance on Rome.

In France, as in other countries, Rome was careful to profit by
the labours of others; and, where there were Christian Churches, to
claim a power over them ; though to the credit of Pope Gregory the
Great, when Augustine had artfully suggested the extension of his
authority, the Pope in his answer neither claims nor insinuates that he
has authority over any, but the Bishop of Aries ; and as he does both
assert the authority of a superior over this bishop, and direct injunctions
accordingly to him; this circumstance proves decisively, that the other
bishops of Gaul were, at that time, perfectly independant of Rome;
and it may be hoped they will once more be, and will remain so.
Even Augustine himself tacitly admits, that Rome had not exercised,
or claimed authority over any bishop of Gaul, but that of Aries, and
the fact is decisively established by a circumstance relative to himself.
He was obliged to return as far as Aries to be consecrated Archbishop
of Britain. Had any other bishop or archbishop of Gaul been strictly
of the same communion, or subject to Rome, he need not have returned
so far.

In the British Church the mission of Augustine to England may
be considered as a new ^ra. Hitherto it does not appear to have
suffered from persecution, but to have made a constant progress; it
was now to feel a severe reverse from a subtle and ambitious foe, and io



31g APPENDIX. No. VI.



prove its constancy under difficulties and distresses ; which arose, not
from the opposition of the heathen?, but from those \Yho called them-
selves Christians.

The firm and happy resistance made by Dinothus, the celebrated
Abbot of Bangor, and the British bishops, to the arrogant pretensions
of Augustine, have, as to the simple fact, and a few concomitant circum-
stances, been too frequently noticed from the time of Bede to the piesent,
to require repetition. The grounds of that fact however, have been
in general so feebly stated, and so much overlooked, that justice to the
British Church demands a more ample representation of them. The
charge of pride against the British clergy has been repeated from age to
age, though it might be retorted with advantage ; and even according to
Bede, must in fairness and truth be laid to Augustine on the occasion ;
neither, if it were the truth, could it be the whole truth. There is
a virtuous pride of just dignity and principle, as well as a pride which
has nothing to do with either ; and the former was theirs. As to their
consultation with the Hermit, the same may be said of it ; what is told
may be true. He may have suggested the criterion of Christian humi-
lity, which proved the fatal touchstone of the temper of Augustine.
But, valuable as this was, did he suggest nothing more ? Did the length
of his experience, the gravity of his years, the highly estimated learning
and profound sagacity, which a Synod of Bishops thought it expedient to
consult, terminate in one suggestion, which at best has more of subtlety
than real wisdom ? This is not very probable. Bede's account of the
transaction, though not the most full, is still very amusing. Augustine
declares his pretensions, but the bishops do not acquiesce; he therefore
with great condescension works a nn'racle before them, but notwith-
standing this, the hard-headed and hard-hearted bishops remain uncon-
vinced and unaffected. This certainly was very provoking ! And he
was provoked, if not as a Christian, as a Roman, and was the cause of
the martyrdom, if not of them all, of their brethren.



APPENDIX. No. VI. 329



The only record of what passed at their conference, I know of,
besides what is mentioned by Bede and Nennius, and their followers,
is the report of ' the speech of Dinothns, giveil by Spelmati from an
antient Ms. in the Mostyn Library.

The mild benevolence and dignified firmness of this speech, imper-
fect as it evidently is, are perfectly characteristic, and agreeable to
what is even acknowledged by the adversaries of Dinothus. It is so meek
in the expression, of that independance, which it maintains, without the
most remote idea or symptom of concession, as to be gratifying to every
liberal feeling. He leaves the inference evident and decisive; but,
he leaves it to the opponent to draw it from the words, beautiful for
their simplicity of expression, and force of intent ; ffe are subject to
the Bishop of Carleon, and he is our superintendant. He acknow-
ledged therefore no other supreme head on earth ; and when the
delicacy of declining would not satisfy, the inflexibility of its purpose
was proved by a resistance continued to the time of the Reformation,
as far as it Avas possible.

Besides this arrogant and iniquitous demand of submission to the
power of the Roman See ; there were also other motives which impeded
their agreement, and which are not alluded to by Dinothus in this
address, which seems to have been delivered at the first conference.
Some of these may have formed a part of the original address, and may
have been forgotten, or lost with the remainder. But neither does Bede
go farther than to acknowledge, that there were three points on which
they differed, viz. the time of observing Easter; the form of Baptism,



• Tlic Welsh (cxt of'tliis siieecli, and the (he original. On (he odier side of tlie

English transla(ion are already given in leaf is tlie (ransladon of a passage from

(he Chronicle, page 177. I do not know Giraldus Canib. relative to (he See of

■whether (lie copy in the Britisli Museum, St. David's, and I am therefore inclined to

was ever in (he Mostyn Library or not. believe, that tiic speech of Dinothus is

It may however be the same; but, as 1 also a translation from some work of GirnN

(hink not, I have said that 1 had not seeu dus.



320 APPENDIX. No. VI.



and the joining with those of the Romish church in preaching to the
Saxons. The last of these depended on the other two as a consequence,
and of course was not an original subject of difference ; neither does it
properly enter into the question. If the British bishops did not agree
in doctrine, they could not join in propagating what they thought erro-
neous. There were also other differences of * ceremonies^ rites, and
customs, which Augustine promises to suffer, though not according to
those of his church.

As to the first point, * the Britons observed Easter according to the
reformed Calendar of Sulpicius Severus, the Romish Church according
to .that of Dionysius Exiguus. The necessity for these corrections had
arisen from the inaccuacy of the old Roman Lunar Cycle of 84 years,
which was nearly two days short of the truth. Sulpicius therefore by
adding the two days to the end of the Cycle, which happened in his
time, subtracted two from the computed age of the subsequent moon,
and that day therefore, which according to the former computation,
would have been the sixteenth, was thenceforth called the fourteenth,
and Easter observed according to it, as the Sunday after the full moon
happened, from the fourteenth to the twenty-second of March. This
rule the British church retained, and hence those who were of iU
communion were called Quarladecimani.

The Church of Rome which had originally used the old Cycle of
84 years, as Usher has fully proved, afterwards, in the sixth century,
adopted the Cycle of Dionysius, better known by the name of the Alex-
andrine Cycle, and according to it observed Easter from the Jifteenth
to the twenty-first day of the moon. The accuracy of the Cycle is the



• Bede Hist. Ec. lib. 2. c. 2. and British Churches followed the rule of

* The substance of this account of the Polycarp, and observed it on the fourteenth
time of Easter is taken from Abp. Usher's day of the moon of March, on whatever
Antiq. Ec. ch. 17. Previous to the time of day of tlie week it fell, which was the
Sulpicius, it is probable that, the Gallican general custom of the Asiatic churches.



APPENDIX. No. VI. 32X



enquiry of the astronomer, and as it is undoubtedly desirable and
proper that this festival of the church should be observed at its regtilar
time; so the anxiety respecting it has also been of essential service
to Chronology. Augustine must probably have known that the Diony-
sian reformation of the Calendar was not of long date, though ' Wilfrid,
about a century after, in his disputation with Colman, asserted that the
observation of Easter from the 15th to the 2 1st, was by tradition derived
from Si. Peter himself.

This being the state of the question as to Easter, and the subject
resting on a scientific calculation, it could not be expected that the
British bishops should at once yield to the mere voice of a foreign autho-
rity on so important a point, when their own custom was derived from
that of the Gallican Church in the person of Sulpicius. Had it been
proposed in a different manner, the event would most probably have
proved otherwise ; for that such was the custom of the churches of North
Britain is evident from Bede's account of the controversy. But in Wales
the custom of observing Easter according to the rule of Polycarp con-
tinued much longer, as appears from the following passage o^ihe^ Annates
Menevenses. " Pascha commutata apud Britones super diem Domini-
" cam, emendante Elbodo." Easterday vsas changed to Sunday by
the correction of Elfod. This was in ^ A. D. 755, and was probably
no more than conforming to the rule of Sulpicius, as a second correction,
I presume that of Dionysius, took place in Wales some time after.

As to the second point. The ceremony of baptism, say^ Dupin,
(speaking of the discipline of the fourth century) was administered at
Easter and Whitsuntide with abundance of ceremonies. One of these
was the chrism, or anointing xssilh oil, introduced by Pope Sylvester 1st.

' Ecde Hist. Ec. lib. 3. c. 25. Komc. Jilfod also had somctliing ainl)i-

* No. 8o6. Mss. Har. Brit. Museum. tious iu bis disposition, for lu^ oudca-

' Brutot'tlic Princes. W. Arcli. vol. II. voured to make tlic Sees olSt. David's and

p. 473. The adoption of it did nevcrtlie- Llandatr subject to Bangor, but it was

less create great disturbances and tumults, resisted on the plea, that those Sees were

possil)ly on a supposition that it was a of older privilege and iudepcndaut in their

dereliction of the old rule of the church, jurisdit tion.
and symptomatic of a defection towards

T t



322 APPENDIX. No. VI.



according to Caranza. The British church probably retained the pri-
mitive form, and the innovations of the Church of Rome were in this
respect a conscientious ground of dissent, and a very just one. It is
also worthy of notice, tliat this is I believe the only occasion, on which
this point is introduced as a ground of difference.

Of the lesser differences referred to by Augustine, that of the
Tonsure was, in the succeeding age, held to be the most considerable.
The custom itself of polling or shaving the heads was, in those times,
necessary for the sake of cleanliness to those, who led a monastic life,
and the whim of some enthusiast having caught at the idea of a resem-
blance in the circle of hair left, Avhen the crown of the head was bared,
to the Crown of thorns, this mode of tonsure was quickly adopted, and
in an age of religious insanitj^, when every childish allusion of the kind
became the basis of a religious rite, it shared the common success of
such silly conceits. At length the particular mode of tonsure became
the badge of adherence to the church of Rome, and hence the question
acquired that importance which we find attributed to it. The British
clergy it appears, shaved or polled the whole head except a small
portion of hair, which they left over the forehead. The subject is
too trifling in itself to waste a thought upon it; but, as it was the
cause of so much absurd discussion, it required to be noticed, in order
to shew that the British clergy differed, even in this respect, from the
Roman ; that they do not appear to have annexed any superstitious
ideas to their mode ; and that they retained it, as not conforming to
the Church of Rome.

As the three points urged by Augustine were the only points
of difference held by him to be essential ; and it cannot be doubted,
but that he was well informed on the subject, it follows incontrovertibly,
that, as to the essential principles of Christianity, he and his successors
had nothing to object; and this is a splendid and glorious testimony of
the facts, (and they are facts extremely inconsistent with a previous
corruption) that the British church was at this time uncontaminated



APPENDIX. No. VI. 323



by Heresy, and was independant of the church of Rome. The extent
of the enquiry then, as to the former, is thus narrowed into the enquiry
as to errors of the church of Rome, which the British church did not
fall into ; and this, with God's help, I will endeavour to ascertain, as
far as may be necessary, as I proceed.

The refusal of the British bishops to unite with those of Rome
was, as it might well have been expected, followed by an inextinguish-
able animosity on the part of the latter, which immediately declared
itself in the threats of Augustine; threats horribly accomplished by the
massacre of the Monks of Bangor soon afterwards. Bede says, that
Augustine was dead when this happened ; but, whether or not, the
massacre may justly be attributed to his suggestions. This event made
coalition impossible, and if it be permitted to consider the permission
of it as providential with regard to effects at a later, and then distant
period, it conduced to preserve the Constitution of England, and to
the success of the Reformation.

The antient British church thus divided from Rome, maintained
itself for some time in Scotland, and I believe much longer than it is
generally thought to have done. In Ireland it continued to the reign
of Henry II. and in Wales protected by those mountains, which pre-
served the spirit of independance unsubdued till the country was
united with England under a Tudor, it was kept alive and cherished,
and at once coalesced with the Reformation.

Greatly as the British church had been afflicted by the loss of so
many pious men at Bangor, those who survived the massacre were not
the less zealous ; and it may well be supposed that their zeal became
the more active and determined.

That they did not confine it to Wales is proved by the resistance
which Wilfrid met with from the Mercian, and other Bishops of
England. It may however be objected, that Bede has given the credit
of the conversion of the Mercians to the clergy of the Scottish church,

T t 2



334



APPENDIX. No. VI.



in such a manner as apparently excludes those of Wales from any share
of the labour. It is true he does so. The reason of this is evident from
what he says concerning Osrich and Eanfride, the sons of Edwin,
both of whom forsook the Church of Rome after their father's death.
" ' Wherefore the historiographers and writers of that time have
" thought it best, that the memorie of those apostate kings being
*' utterly forgotten^ the self-same year should be assigned to the reign
" of the king that followed next." And again he says on the same
subject, ^ " It was agreed upon by one accord of all writers that the
" name of those that forsoke Christ, his fayth shuld be utterly rased out
*' of the rolle of Christian kinges, neither any yere of their raigne
regislredP

Here then we find it io be an acknowledged principle^ that in
cases deemed to come under this description, history was to be defal-
cated and even falsified ; and it cannot be doubted but that, as the
Welsh clergy, after the conference with Augustine, kept aloof from the
Romish church, they and their church were so considered. Whereas
the greater part of the bishops of North Britain were induced to join
them, and they being originally of Scottish, that is Irish descent, the
same policy e converso required that every possible compliment should
be paid to the Scottish church. With what a jealous attention should
such historiographers be read ? And is it not reasonable and just to
believe that though such men may have wished to blot out their memory,
and in a great degree have done so, a few of the Scottish church alone
could not have been the sole instruments, but that their brethren of
Wales should also have concurred in the same pious labour ! Happily
some proof of it exists, and it has already been laid before the reader.

From this time the remainder of the history of the British church
down almost to the time, of. the Reformation, is the history of continual

' Bede Hist. £c. lib. 3, ch. I. Slapjl- => Ibid, cli 9.
ton's Translation.



APPENDIX. No. VI.



325



inroads made upon it by the Romish clergy as far as the poKer of the
English monarchs could support them; and that they could go no
farther than as they were thus supported, proves the persevering
adherence of the Welsh to their antient church. To extirpate it was
the great object of their adversaries, because it was a permanent excep-
tion to the supremacy of Rome, as well as hostile to its peculiar doc-
trines ; and there can be little doubt but that the wars against Wales
were promoted by them for these reasons. It would not be consistent
with the present purpose, to trace the regular progress of these usur-
pations, and it must therefore suffice to note the instances in which they
were the most prominent, together with some of their consequences.

The massacre of Bangor having been represented as judicial in-
fliction of divine wrath, accomplishing a prophecy of Augustine, the
necessity of it being known, in order to give him credit for a prophetic
character, has probably been the cause of its being rescued by Bede
from oblivion ; though as Mr. Warrington has very justly observed
of the subsequent defeat of Edefrid who perpetrated it; ' " There was
" something singidar in the fortunate event of that day as an act of
" retaliative justice, and as it severely punished, in the sight of
" Bangor^ the recent desolation of its monastery." This remark is
the more impressive as Dinothus himself was a spectator of the victory.
But the massacre of Bangor was in reality only the beginning of the
persecution. From that time forward, through .the same malignant
and ever active policy, the fury of those who made inroads into Wales,
whether Saxons or Danes, was aimed in the most pointed manner at,
and fell with its most savage elfect upon, the churches and ecclesiastics.
Whether they entered the country as foes in general to it, or as
adscititious aid to a party of the natives, every occasion was marked
by this species of ravage and persecution, as the following extract from
the W^elsh Chronicles, published in the Archaiology of Wales, will fully
and lamentably evince.



326



APPENDIX. No. VI.



M.D.720. The Saxons destroyed the churches of Llandaff, Monmouth,
and Llanbadarn ; and killed Aidan, bishop of LlandafF.
B. T.

754. They killed Cynfelach, bishop of Glanmorgan. B. T.

860. They broke down all the Churches and Monasteries in
Gwent, Glanmorgan, Demetia, and Cardigan. B. I.

864. The Ecclestics were partly destroyed, and partly expelled.
B.S.

893. The Danes destroyed Llan-IUtyd fawr, Cynffig, and Llan-
carvan.

904. St. Eavid's was ravaged. B. T.

944. The bishop of St. David's was killed by the Saxons. B. I.

961. Rhodri ap Morgan, being made bisl op of Llandaff con-
trary to the Pope's will, was poisoned. B. T.

978. The Saxons ravaged the churches in Lleyn and Clebynog-
fawr. B. T.

980. St. David's was ravaged by the Danes, B. T.

986. The Danes ravaged Cornwall, Devon, and Somerset, and

landed in Gwyr, and destroyed the monastery of Cen-
nydd, and other churches. B. T.

987. The fraternities (or as the Chronicle terms them families)

of Llanbac'arn, St. David's, Llan lUtyd, Llan Garmon,
Llan Rhystyd and Llan Dydock, were destroyed by the
Danes and Saxons. B. T.

99 L St. David's destroyed a third time. B.S.

996. St. David's was burned and the bishop killed, B. T.
1011. St. David's was ravaged. B.S.



• In this extract, the letters B. S. denote gion, and B. I. Brut levan Brechfa.
Brut y Saeson. B. T. Brut y Twyso-



APPENDIX. No. VI.



327



A.D. 1021. St. David's was plundered, and Demetia ravaged, by the
Danes.
1071. St. David's and Bangor were ravaged. B.I.
1079. St. David's was ravaged. B. T.

1087. The shrine and treasures of St. David were stolen by

persons unknoun. B. T.

1088. The church was again plundered, and the town burned.
1106. Walter, Bishop of (iiucester, with his followers, destroyed

the Churches at Llandewi Brefi, and others. B. I.
1156. St. Mary's and St. Peter's Churches in Angle?ev, were

laid in ruins by the Saxons, which they were directed

to do by a divine I'evelation. B. S.
>Such is the horrible detail of a continued persecution for four
hundred years, in order to establish Popery in Wales. The bishops and
clergy were butchered, or driven into exile; and their churches and
monasteries plundered and destroyed ; and still, with a just satisfaction
it may be said, it was not able completely to effect its object in its own
way. It did unhappily reduce the natives of the country almost to
a savage state ; because that man without religion becomes savage.
It destroyed their own religious instructors ; but they retained an
abhorrence for those who were the cause of their destruction. Perhaps
no country of equal extent has suffered more, if so much, in defence
of pure Christianity ; but she has seen an ample Christian retribution
contributing blessings, by means of her children, to those who had per-
secuted them. Tyndal translated the Bible, and the Tudor's established
the Reformation.

Intrusions into the churches of Wales began early.
A.D. 872. On the death of Einion, bishop of St. David's, Hubert,

a Saxon was intruded.
1089. Joseph, bishop of the same See was deposed by William 1st.

and Wilfrid intruded.



338



APPENDIX. No. VI.



A.D. 1112. On the death of Griffri there, Bernard was intruded, and
the See lost its privileges.

The first church, at least of any note, of which the Romish clergy
gained possession, in what was then Wales, was that of Llandaff, which
they did in the eleventh century, and it appears from the book of this
church, that they began immediately to seek out authorities for claiming
endowments in the writings of their predecessors, and produced some
said to be Teilo's ; but whether these were so, may well be doubted.
Their next step was to commute penances for grants of land ; and in
some cases, probably where they feared resistance, if a chieftain was
subjected to ecclesiastical censure, he was mulcted of his land, and
banished. By such means in the next century, almost the whole
county of Glanmorgan became the property of the church of Llandaff.
To give this church the credit of sanctity, the remains of Dubricius and
others were brought thither from the Isle of Bardsey, where till then
they had remained undisturbed.

Until the time of Henry lid. the See of St. David's had, notwith-
standing the intrusion of Barnard into it by Henry 1st. maintained its
metropolitan jurisdiction over the Churches of Wales. In order to
overthrow this, the monastery of Ewenny seems to have been built as
an advanced post, and the remains of this structure at present shew it to
have been a post of danger. The building still exists, though much



Online Libraryof Monmouth GeoffreyThe chronicle of the kings of Britain → online text (page 34 of 39)