Copyright
Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History S.

Proceedings (Volume 18) online

. (page 9 of 24)
Online LibrarySomersetshire Archaeological and Natural History SProceedings (Volume 18) → online text (page 9 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Kentish kingdom just at this time, at once torn by
internal divisions* and still perhaps suffering from the
ravages of Mul and of Ceadwalla. The language of most
of our authorities would lead us to believe that the Kentish-
men offered no resistance, but that, on Ine's entering the
country, they at once sought to make peace by the offer of
the wergild. t And it would almost seem as if Ine did
more in Kent than simply accept the payment offered by
Wihtred. From that time we are told that Wihtred
reigned undisturbed in his kingdom, an improvement in
his condition which may well have been owing to the
powerful ally whose friendship he had purchased. J

The Kentish campaigns of Ine must have virtually es-
tablished the "West- Saxon supremacy over all the English
states south of the Thames. Save during the momentary



* This comes out forcibly in all our accounts, and two of the Chronicles
remark pointedly under 692, ' ' Da waeran ii. cingas on Cent, Wihtred and
Webheard." Henry of Huntingdon (723 B) says pointedly " Eo tempore
erant duo reges in Cent non tam secundum stirpem regiam quam
secundum invasion em." So Bseda, v. 8, " regnantibus in Cantia Victredo
et Susebhardo," but these might after all be only the Kings of East and
West Kent.

t See the extracts above in p. 30. William of Malmesbury alone (i.
35) suggests anything like warfare; " Provinciales paulisper resistere
ausi, mox, omnibus tentatis et viribus in ventum effusis, cum nihil in
pectore Inse quod ignavise conduceret reperissent, dispendiorum suorum
intuitu deditioni consuluere : tentant regium animum muneribus,
solicitant promissis, nundinantur pacem triginta miEibus auri mancis ut
pretio moUitus bellum solveret, metallo prsestrictus receptui caneret."

:J: The word "friendship" occurs only in the latest version of the
Chronicles; " Hig giban him xxx thusenda to f reondscipe. " But
they all immediately speak of Wihtred as taking to the Kentish
Kingdom, whereas he had before been spoken of as one King taken
out of two. Henry of Huntingdon (723 C) says pointedly " Rex Centensis
abhinc semper in pace regiiavit."



KING INE. 33

Mercian domination which, in the course of" the eighth
century, for a while overthrew Wessex itself, Kent and
Sussex henceforth appear as West-Saxon dependencies.
And, if we can venture to accept the notice of Nunna as a
South- Saxon King,* we see that the policy which prevailed
a little later of putting those dependencies under West-
Saxon ^thelings as Under-Kings was already beginning.
This extension of power to the south was, as we have seen,
to be presently counterbalanced by loss of power to the
north, but it does not appear that the northern dominion
of Wessex went back during the reign of Ine. Indeed
from one or two incidental notices we may infer that it
advanced. William of Malmesbury speaks, in somewhat
obscure language, of a triumphant campaign of Ine against
the East-Angles, of which I can find no mention in any
other writer.f But wars and victories of Ine on that
side of England seem to be implied in the fact that, in
the preamble to his Laws, he could speak of the Bishop
of London as " my Bishop."J The great city placed at
the point of meeting of so many kingdoms, perhaps indeed
the whole of the East-Saxon kingdom and diocese, must,
in the seventeenth year of Ine's reign, have acknowledged
at least his supremacy.

* See above p. 26

+ Will. Malmes. i, 35. ' ' Nee solum Cautuaritse, seel et Orientales
Angli hsereditarium exceperiiiit odium, omni nobilitate primo pulsa, post
etiam bello fusa."

J Eareenwokl, "my Bishop," whom we have seen as one of Ine's
counsellors in putting forth his Laws, was Bishojj of Loudon from 675 to
693. See Bada iv. 6. Flor. Wig. 675. Will. Malms. Gest. Pont. 142.
London was therefore in Ine's possession before 693. This bears out the
remark of Lingard i. 158, that " Essex (by what means is unknown)
had already been annexed to his crown." But I do not understand his
reference to William of Malmesbury, who speaks, not of the East-Saxons
but of the East-Angles.

VOL. XVIII., 1872, PART II. E



34 PAPERS, ETC.

Of wars with Mercia, which, in the next reign, become
the main subject of West-Saxon history, we hear only
once under Ine. But that single notice is one which
makes us eagerly wish to learn something more as to the
relations between the two rival kingdoms. A battle, said
to have been attended with unusual and equal slaughter
on both sides, was fought in 715 between Ine and Ceolred
of Mercia "set Wodnesbeorge " or " Eet Woddesbeorge.'^*
This is most likely Wanborough in Wiltshire, a place on
the heights near Swindon, conspicuous for the singular
outline of its church with a western tower and a central
spirelet. A fight at such a point implies an invasion of
the West-Saxon territory by the Mercian King. The
description of the battle itself, and the absence of any
recorded results, would lead us to think that, after a
drawn battle — for the victory is not assigned to either side
— Ceolred found that the better part of valour prompted
him to go home again.

We now come to the wars of Ine with the Welsh.
And these suggest an earlier question, namely as to Ine's
personal relations to the British nation. It has been
hinted that he was something more than the conqueror
and lawgiver of the Britons, that he was one of them-
selves, at least through one of his parents. There exists,
in the form of Welsh history, a burlesque of the true
history of Centwine, Ceadwalla, and Ine, which really



* The Chronicles, 715, simply say " Her Ine and Ceolred gefuhton set
Wodnesbeorge. " So Florence. William of Malmesbiiry does not men-
tion the Mercian warfare. It is in Heiuy of Huntingdon (M. H. B.
724 C. ) that we read "Ine xxvi. anno regni sui pugnavit contra
Ceolred regem Merce, filinm EdeLredi regis, apud Wonebirih ; adeo antem
horribiliter pugnatum est utrinque, ut nesciatur cui elades detestabilior
fwitigerit. "



KING INE. 35

goes further away from the truth than the Somerton ro-
mance about Ine^s election and marriage. The English
heroes are turned into Britons and are made to win vic-
tories over the English, while the one Welsh prince whose
existence is really ascertained, the one who plays a real part
in the history of the time, is wholly left out of the
story. Of the existence of Gerent King of West- Wales
there is no doubt ; he was the adversary of Ine and
the correspondent of Ealdhelm ; but he does not figure
in the Welsh legend. Instead of him we get Cad-
walader and Ivor, and the chief actions attributed to
them are simply borrowed from the real actions of Cead-
walla and Ine. The chances are that they are real
persons, and that the likeness of their names to those of
the English princes suggested the bold step of attributing
their deeds to them also. In the Latin text of the
Annales CambricB we read that in 682 Catgualart the son
of Catguolaum died of a general mortality which seems
to have affected all Britain.* This entry we might pass by
without notice. But, if we stop to think about it at all, we
can have no manner of doubt that it means that Catgualart
died in Britain of the plague under which the country
was suffering. One cannot doubt that the Catgualart of the
Annals is the same person as the Kadwaladyr of the legend,
and we may pretty safely set down that the authentic
history of Cadwalader — or whatever the right name is —
is about as long as the authentic history of lioland; that is
to say, it consists of the date and manner of his death. If
we turn from the simple entry of the Annals to the version
of the Brut y Tywysogion published by the Master of tlie



* Ann. Camb. 682. "Mortalitas magna fuit in Britannia, in qua
Catgualart filius Catguolaum obiit. "'



36 PAPERS, ETC.

Kolls, we shall find that our hero has grown a good deal.
We now hear that in 681, the year of the great mortality,
" Cadwalader the Blessed, the son of Cadwallon, the son of
Cadvan, King of the Britons, died at Borne, on the twelfth

day of May, and henceforth the Britons lost the

crown of the kingdom and the Saxons gained it/^* This
is the first form of the legend, a form most likely arising
out of a not very difficult mistake. Annals and inscrip-
tions at Rome recorded how a King from Britain with a
name not unlike that of Cadwalader had come to Rome
and had died there.f Ceadwalla the King from Britain
would be easily mistaken for Cadwalader the British King,
and the prilgi'image and death of the Englishman would
be transferred to the Briton. The year is shoved back
seven years to the date of the real death of Cadwalader,
but the day of the month is kept, with a most curious
mistake. Ceadwalla died on the twentieth of April, that is,
according to the Latin reckoning, on the twelfth day be-
fore the Kalends of May.J The Welsh writer, not under-

* I copy the Englisli version of tLe Master of tlie EoUs' Briit (London,
1860), 681. It seems needless to copy the Welsh texts, of which I at
least understand only a word here and there. On this matter of Cad-
walader see Haddan, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents, i. 202.

t Take for instance the metrical inscription quoted by Bffida (v. 7) and
Paul Warnefrid (vi. 15), in which there is nothing about Angles or
Saxons, but Ceadwalla is spoken of as " sospes veniens supremo ex orbe
Britanni." The prose inscription in which Ceadwalla is called "Rex
Saxonum," perhaps not without a reference to the relations of his house
with Sussex and Essex — which is given in Ba?da, is not given by Paul.
Paul, we may add, speaks of Caedwalla as " Cedoaldiis Piex Anglorum
Saxonum." Later on (vi. 28) he says "His etiam diebus duo reges
Saxonum, ad vestigia Apostolorum Pvomam venientes, sub velocitate ut
optabant defuncti sunt." This can hardly mean Ceadwalla and Ine ;
the two Kings are most likely Cenred of Mercia and Offa of Essex.
See BBeda v. 19, Chronicles, 709.

t Bffida V. 7. " In albis adhuc positus languore correptus, duodecimo
Kalendarum Maiarum die solutus a carne, et beatorum est regno sociatus
in co3lis." From the prose inscription it would seem that he was buried
the same day.



KING INE. 37

standing the backward fashion of the Roman almanack,
mistook this for the twelfth of May, a mistake which
Geoffrey of Monmouth set right.* What is meant by the
crown of the kingdom being lost by the Britons and
gained by the Saxons I do not profess to know. The
time of Ceadwalla and Ine is a time of English victory,
but there is no such marked conquest or overthrow of any
Welsh kingdom just at this time as to account for so re-
markable an expression as this.

When we turn from this version of the Brut to the
fuller one published by the Cambrian Archjeological As-
sociationf we see how legends grow. The acts of Cead-
walla had, in the first instance most likely by an honest
confusion, become the acts of Cadwalader. The next
stage was to trick them out with new and imaginary detail.
In the first version Cadwalader simply takes the place of
Ceadwalla ; now a great deal is told of Cadwalader which
certainly never was told of Ceadwalla. The plague begins
in 674 ; for fear of it Cadwalader and many of the best
men of the Britons seek shelter with their kindred in
Armorica. There they stay eleven years, till 685, when
the plague ceases, and Cadwalader "places the isle of
Britain and its crown under the protection of, and in
pledge with, Alan, King of Armorica.^' He then, by the



* Galf. ]\Ion. Lib. ix. "Tunc Cadualladrus abjectis miindialibua
pi'opter Deum regiuimque perpetiium venit Romaru : et a Sergio papa
coulirmatus, inopiuo etiam langxiore correj^tus, duodecima autem die
Kalendarum Maiaruin, anno ab incarnatioue domiuica sexceutesimo
octogesimo nono, a contagione carnis sohitus ccelestis regni aid am in-
gressus est." Here Geoffrey evidently follows Bseda, and takes the date
of the death of Ceadwalla, whde the Brut keeps to the real date of the
death of Cadwalader.

t Brut y Tywysogion : The Gwentian Chronicle of Caradoc of Llan-
carvan, with a translation by the late Aneurin Owen, Esq. London, 1863.



38 PAPERS, ETC.

bidding of an angel, goes to Rome, stays five years, and
dies. Geoffrey of Monmouth adds further details still.

Now in the Annales Cambrife the entry of the death of
Catgualart in his own island by the plague is all. We
have not a word about going to Rome or going to
Armorica. In two manuscripts indeed the Armorican
story is stuck in ;* no one, I think, who has any sort
of habit of criticism will doubt that it simply is stuck
in, and that the other text is the older and the genuine
one. And again, we have, in the genuine text, no mention
of Catgualart^s successor. We have no entry at all that
concerns us during the whole of Ine^s reign, except some
battles in 722 of which I shall speak presently. But in
the older Brut we read under 683.

* ' And after Cadwalader, Ivor, son of Alan, King of Armo-
rica, which is called Little Britain, reigned ; not as a King, but
as a chief or prince. And he exercised government over the
British for forty-eight years, and then died. And after him
Rhodri Molwynog reigned."

This does not greatly concern us ; we have only to
ask in what relation this somewhat shadowy Ivor from
Britanny, who was no King, but only a chief or prince,
stood to King Gerent of Cornwall, whose existence and
whose kingship are as certain as those of Ine himself.
But in the other Brut, under the same year 683, we find
something quite different.

" Alan, King of Armorica, sent his son Ivor, and his
nephew Ynyr, and two strong fleets, to the island of Britain ;
and war ensued between them and the Saxons, in which they
partly succeeded. Then Ivor took upon him the sovereignty
of the Britons. After that the Saxons came against him with



* ' ' Pro qu9. [mortalitate] Catwaladir filius Catwallaun in Minorem
Britanniam aufugit." " Et Cadwallader rex Britanniam dereliquit et ad
Armoricam regionem perrexit."



KING IX E. 39

a powerful army ; and in a pitched battle Ivor and the Britons
put them to flight after a bloody battle, and acquired Cornwall,
the Summer Country, and Devonshire completely. And then
Ivor erected the great monastery in Ynys Avallen, in thanks-
giving to Grod for his assistance against the Saxons."

The next entry in 698 contains an account of certain
physical marvels which in the elder Brut are placed in the
years 688 and 690, and then it tells us ;

"Ivor went to Rome, where he died, after maintaining the
sovereignty of the Britons twenty- eight years with great praise
and wisdom. He gave many lands to churches in Wales and
England."

What is all this but simply to take the actions of Ine
and attribute them to Ivor? Ine was a benefactor of
Glastonbury ; Ine went to Rome and died ; so these
actions are assigned to Ivor. Nay more, the victories of
the English over the Welsh are turned about into victories
of the Welsh over the English. The great victory of
Ivor in 683, in which he acquired Cornwall, the Summer
Country, and Devonshire, is simply the victory the other
way, when, in 682 or 683, Centwine drove the Britons to
the sea. Of this victory I shall speak presently ; as yet
it is enough to say that, as Ivor takes the place of Ine
and does his deeds, the fact that the imaginary Welsh
victory of 683 is attributed to Ivor may lead us to believe
that Ine had a hand in the real English victory of that
time. All here will doubtless recognize the land spoken
of by the Welsh writer as "the Summer Country,-" the
land of the Sumorsaetas, the "^estiva regio^'' of the Life of
Gildas.* But I trust that there is no need for me to stop

* We read in the Vita Sancti Gildse, 10 (p. xxxix. Stevenson) how
Gildas "reliquit insulam [the Steep Holm], ascendit naviculam, et
ingressus est Glastoniam cum magno dolore, Meluas rege regnante in
astivd regione.



40 PAPERS, ETC.

to show tlie utterly mythical nature of a story which
makes the Britons in 683 have any need to " acquire
Cornwall and Devonshire/' Instead of having to acquire
them, they had never lost them ; whatever we make
of Ivor, King Gerent, the glorious lord of the western
realm, was undoubtedly reigning over them.

Such is the growth of the story of Ivor. In the genuine
Latin Annals he does not appear at all. In the earlier
Welsh Brut, he appears as a prince from the Lesser Britain
reigning in the Greater, an account which may possibly be
true. In this version no actions are attributed to him, but
this lack is filled up in the later Brut, where he does many
of the real deeds of Inc. So myths grow and prosper.
But later interpolators are sometimes less lucky. The
interpolator of the Annales Cambrige thought he was bound
to stick in the great name of Ivor somewhere. But he
did not stick it in at 683, but at 722, a year of which we
have spoken already and shall speak again, and he makes
Ivor the British leader in the battles of that year. And
again in 734 he sticks in the words " Ivor filius Cad-
wallader." This is probably meant for the date of his
death, which the reckoning of the earlier Brut would put
in the year 731. But the entry should at any rate be
noticed, as making Ivor the son, not of any Armorican
Alan, but of Cadwalader himself.

Such are the fables, from which, as from most other fables,
we may, by carefully turning them inside out, pick up a
hint or two for the true history. To the meagre sources
of that true history we will now turn. I take the history
of the conquest of Somerset for granted as far as Dr.
Guest has made it out. Ceawlin in 577 won the land
between the Avon and the Axe at the battle of Deorhani.



KING INE. 41

Bath, or its ruins, then became English ; so did the site of
Bristol. But the Britons still held a long strip of land
running up towards Malmesbury. This Cenwealh won by
the battle of Bradford in 652. His later victory at the
Pens in 658 advanced the West-Saxon frontier to the Parret,
and made Glastonbury and the site of Wells English.
Then, exactly as before, the progress of the West-
Saxon arms stopped for a while. As no advance was
made between the victory of Ceawlin in 577 and the vic-
tory of Cenwealh in 652, so no advance was made between
the victory of Cenwealh in 658 and the victory of Cent-
wine in 683. The interval is not so long, but it is equally
well marked, and another equally marked interval comes
between the victory of Centwine in 683 and the other
recorded victory of Ine in 710. The truth seems to be
that the several English powers were so constantly oc-
cupied in warfare with one another that warfare with the
Welsh was carried on only now and then in intervals of
special leisure. A great part of the interval, the first ten
years at all events, between 683 and 7 10 is filled up with
the Kentish warfare of Ceadwalla and Ine, and the victory
of 710 comes immediately after the abdication of the
Mercian King Cenred in 709, as if that were a safe
moment for warfare at the other end of the kingdom.
However this may be, these two entries contain the whole
of our authentic knowledge as to the Welsh warfare of
this time. The entry of 683 tells us only that Centwine
drove the Britons to the sea.* That of 710 tells us that



* Clironicles, 682, 683. "On thissum geare Centwine geflienide
Bretwalas [al Bryttas] otli sse." Hemyof Huntingdon (M. H. B. 718 D.)
gives no fresh detail. " Centwine rex vii. anno regni sui congressus
est Brittamios, eosque male resistentes victoriosus et vehemens csede
et incendiis usque ad mare fugavit."

VOL. XVIII., 1872, PART II. r



42 PAPERS, ETC.

Ine and Nunna fought with Gerent the Welsh King.*
Henry of Huntingdon is, as usual, somewhat fuller. He
describes the battle, as often happened, as at first favour-
able to the Welsh, who slew the Ealdorman Higbald ;
but in the end the English, he tells us, gained a com-
plete victory.f I hope that this entry does not throw much
suspicion on Henry of Huntingdon's accounts generally.
I have always looked on the fuller details which we find in
his history as coming from old ballads and traditions
which he Latinized, just as he Latinized the song of
Brunanburh. But this account of Higbald certainly
reads as if it came, not from a ballad, but from a misunder-
standing of the words of the Chronicles. Two of these
record under this year the violent death of one Higbald
or Sigbald, but they do not say who he was, how he was
killed, or who killed him4 His death need not have
been a West-Saxon event at all, and the words of the
entry would certainly not lead us to think that he died in
the battle against Gerent.

Here then are our only two direct accounts as to the
warfare with the Welsh between the victory of Cenwealh
at the Pens in 658 and the destruction of Taunton by
iEthelburh in 722. Their result evidently was such an
extension of the West-Saxon territory that, whereas in 658
it stopped at the Parret, in 722 it took in Taunton. But



* Chronicles, 710. *' Ine and Nun [al. Nunna] his mseg gefuhton with
Gerente Wala cyninge," or, as it stands in Canterbury and Abingdon,
" with Gerente tham cinge."

+ Hen. Hunt. M. H. B. 724 B. " Cujus pugnse principio occisus est
dux Higebald ; ad ultimum vero Gerente cum suis faciem ab Anglis
avertit, et fugiens arma et spolia sequentibus reliquit."

t Chronn. Wig. Petrib. 710. "And tham ilcan geare man ofsloh
Hygbald," or, as it stands in Worcester, " Sigbald."



KING INE. 43

there are expressions In the Chronicles which may perhaps
help us a little further. In recording the victory of Cent-
wine in 682 it is specially marked that the Welsh were
driven to the sea, just as it was marked in 658 that they
were driven to the Parret. I should infer from this that
Centwine^s victory gained for the West-Saxons the sea-
coast west of the mouth of the Parret, the coast of
Watchet, which afterwards figures in the Danish in-
vasions. In short, Centwine's victory made the English
masters of Quantock, as Ceawlin^s victory, a hundred
years before, had made them masters of Mendip. How
far west towards Dunster, Minehead, Porlock, and Linton
the frontier may have reached I do not profess to say.
We might expect that the hills of Exmoor would be one
of the districts in which the Britons would hold longest;
but the English may very well have made settlements on
the coast long before the mountain tribes were wholly
subdued or driven out. In this campaign then I conceive
that the West-Saxons won the sites of Bridgewater and
Watchet ; and we may, I think, venture to picture Cent-
wine as forcing the gate, the Lydiard, so well known to this
Society by other associations, and driving the Welsh up
the valley where in after days Crowcombe was given for
the repose of the soul of Godwine. In this victory of
Centwine we may, I think, set down Ine as taking a part.
In the Welsh legend this defeat is turned into a victory,
a victory of Ivor, which suggests the presence of Ine.
And another legend has led us to fix the government of
his father the Under-King Cenred in the land of the
Sumorsaetas, that is, before 682, the land between Avon
and Parret only. Nothing is more likely than that the
victory should be won by the head King of all Wessex,
supported by the son of the Under-King of the district



44 PAPERS, ETC.

bordering on the seat of war. It is not unlikely that the
valour of Ine shown at the foot of Quantock may have
had much to do with placing him on the throne of Cerdic
at Winchester.

The result of the victory of Ine himself as head King,
the victory of Ine and Nunna over Gerent in 710, is less
clearly marked, but a process of exhaustion would lead
us to think that the land which was won by it was the
south-western part of Somerset, Crewkerne, Ilminster,
and that district. The Tone may not unlikely have been
the frontier from 682 to 710. How far either conquest
reached westward, whether either of them took in any part
of Devonshire, we can only guess. In default of direct evi-
dence either way, we may assume that the boundary of the
shires, which must mark something, answers pretty well
to the extent of the conquests of Centwine and Ine. We
thus find the conquest of Somerset spread over a space of
one hundred and thirty-three years, from the overthrow^ of
the three Kings by Ceawlin at Deorham to the overthrow of
Gerent by Ine and Nunna — I wish I could more distinctly
say where. And mark further that the conquest was made
at three different times, and that the land won at each of
these times of conquest answers pretty well to one of our
latest political divisions. The first conquest of Ceawlin
south of the Avon answers nearly to that division of the



Online LibrarySomersetshire Archaeological and Natural History SProceedings (Volume 18) → online text (page 9 of 24)