Page images
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]




That the English nation was invited by the Britons into Britain; and they soon at first drove their enemies far [off]. But not a long time after they covenanted with them, and turned their weapons against the Britons, their allies.

I. Then it was about four hundred and forty-nine years from [our] Lord's incarnation that Marcianus, the emperor, undertook the government, and held it seven years; he was the forty-sixth from Augustus, the emperor. Then the nation of the English and Saxons was invited by the foresaid king, and came into Britain in three great ships, and received a dwellingplace in the eastern part of this island, by command of the same king who invited them hither, that they should war and fight for their country. And they soon made war against their enemies, who had oft before harried on them from the north; and the Saxons then got the victory. Then they sent home messengers, and bade them tell of the fruitfulness of this land and the sloth of the Britons; and they soon sent hither a greater ship-force of stronger warriors, and there was an invincible host when they were joined together. And the Britons gave them a dwelling-place among them, that they should war and strive against their foes for the peace and safety of their country, and they should give them a livelihood and honor for their labor.

2. They came from the three strongest nations of Germany, that [is] from the Saxons, the Angles, and the Geats (Jutes). From the Jutes' origin came the Kentish men and the Wight

setters; that is, the nation which inhabits the Isle of Wight. From the Saxons, that is, from the land which is called Old Saxony, came the East Saxons and South Saxons and West Saxons. And from the Angles (or English) came the East Anglians and Middle Anglians and Mercians, and all the Northumbrian kin; the country which is named Angulus is betwixt the Jutes and the Saxons. It is said that from the time when they went thence until to-day it lies waste. Their leaders and generals then at first were two brothers, Hengist and Horsa. They were the sons of Wightgilse, whose father was called Witta, and his father was called Wihta, whose father was named Woden, from whose stock the kingly kin of many tribes drew its beginning.

3. There was then no delay, so that greater hosts came heap-meal from the nations which we mentioned before; and the folk which came hither began to wax and spread so much that they were a great terror to the same inhabitants of the land who had formerly invited and called them hither.

4. After these things they made a truce for some time with the Picts, whom they had formerly driven far away by fighting; and then the Saxons sought causes and opportunities of their separation from the Britons, and showed openly and told them, unless they gave them a greater livelihood, that they would themselves take and harry where they could find it; and they soon fulfilled the threat with deeds,— burnt and harried and slew from the east sea on to the west sea, and none withstood them. The vengeance was not unlike that by which the Chaldeans long ago burnt the walls of Jerusalem, and destroyed the kingly buildings with fire for the sins of God's people. So, then, here by that wicked nation, yet by the righteous judgment of God, nearly every city and land were forharried. Royal buildings and private rushed and fell, and everywhere priests and mass-priests together were struck and killed among the altars; bishops with the people, without any respect of dignity, were consumed with steel and flame, nor was there any who might give burial to those who were so cruelly killed; and many of the miserable remnant were seized in waste places and stabbed heap-meal; some for hunger went into the hands of their foes, and promised perpetual servitude on condition that food should be given to them; and some went sorrowing over sea; some abode in their country, fearing, and, in wretched life, always dwelt in woods and wastes and on high cliffs, with sorrowing mind.


That the Britons at first got a victory over the English nation. Their general was one Ambrosius, a Roman.

I. And then after the army returned home, and had driven out and scattered the inhabitants of this island, then began they piece-meal to take mind and main, and went forth of the dark places in which they formerly were behid, and all with one-minded consent prayed for heavenly help, that they might not be everywhere blotted out even to utter destruction. Their general and leader at that time was Ambrosius, by surname Aurelianus. He was a good man, and a moderate man of Roman kin. In this man's time the Britons took mind and main, and he called them forth to the fight, and promised them victory, and they also in the fight through God's help got the victory; and then from that time, sometimes the Britons, sometimes the Saxons obtained the victory, until the year of the besetting of Baddesdown [hill], when they made a great slaughter among the English kin, about four and forty years. after the English kin's coming into Britain.


That Germanus, the bishop, coming to Britain in a ship with Lupus, by divine might stilled first the rage of the sea, afterwards [that] of the Pelagians.


That the same [prelate] enlightened the alderman's blind daughter, and after that, coming to the holy Alban, there first received his reliques, and also set thereto the reliques of the holy Apostles and of other martyrs.


That the same bishop by reason of infirmity was detained there, and by prayer quenched the burnings of the houses, and was himself healed of his illness by a vision.


That the same bishops gave the Britons divine help in a fight, and so returned home.


That the twigs of the Pelagian pestilence sprouting again, Germanus, coming back to Britain with Severus, first renewed the steps of a halt youth, and after that, having condemned and reformed the heretics, he renewed the steps of right belief to God's people.


That the Britons rested from foreign wars, vexed themselves with intestine broils, and sunk themselves in many sins.


That the holy pope Gregory sent Augustine with monks to preach God's word and belief to the English nation; and likewise with a confirmatory epistle strengthened them, that they should not leave off the labor.

1. When according to forthrunning time [it] was about five hundred and ninety-two years from Christ's hithercoming, Mauricius, the emperor, took to the government, and had it two and twenty years. He was the fifty-fourth from Augustus. In the tenth year of that emperor's reign, Gregory, the holy man, who was in lore and deed the highest, took to the bishophood of the Roman Church, and of the apostolic seat, and held and governed it thirteen years and six months and ten days. In the fourteenth year of the same emperor, about a hundred and fifty years from the English nation's hither coming into Britain, he was admonished by a divine impulse that he should send God's servant Augustine, and many other monks with him, fearing the Lord, to preach God's word to the English nation.

2. When they obeyed the bishop's commands, and began to go to the mentioned work, and had gone some deal of the way, then began they to fear and dread the journey, and thought that it was wiser and safer for them that they should rather return home than seek the barbarous people, and the fierce and the unbelieving, even whose speech they knew not; and in common chose this advice to themselves; and then straightway sent Augustine (whom they had chosen for their bishop if their doctrines should be received) to the pope, that he might humbly intercede for them, that they might not need to go upon a journey so perilous and so toilsome, and a pilgrimage so unknown.

3. Then St. Gregory sent a letter to them, and exhorted and advised them in that letter: that they should humbly go into the work of God's word, and trust in God's help; and that they should not fear the toil of the journey, nor dread the tongues of evil-speaking men; but that, with all earnestness, and with the love of God, they should perform the good things which

they by God's help had begun to do; and that they should know that the great toil would be followed by the greater glory of everlasting life; and he prayed Almighty God that he would shield them by his grace; and that he would grant to himself that he might see the fruit of their labor in the heavenly kingdom's glory, because he was ready to be in the same labor with them, if leave had been given him.


That Augustine came into Britain-first in the Isle of Thanet, and preached Christ's belief to the king of the Kent-men; and so with his leave preached God's word in Kent.

1. Then Augustine was strengthened by the exhortation of the blessed father Gregory, and with Christ's servants who were with him returned to the work of God's word, and came into Britain. Then was at that time Ethelbert king in Kent, and a mighty one, who had rule as far as the boundary of the river Humber, which sheds asunder the south folk of the English nation and the north folk. Then [there] is on the eastward of Kent a great island [Thanet by name], which is six hundred hides large, after the English nation's reckoning. The isle is shed away from the continuous land by the stream Wantsum, which is three furlongs broad, and in two places is fordable, and either end lies in the sea. On this isle came up Christ's servant Augustine and his fellows - he was one of forty. They likewise took with them interpreters from Frankland (France), as St. Gregory bade them; and he sent messengers to Ethelbert, and let him know that he came from Rome, and brought the best errand, and whosoever would be obedient to him, he promised him everlasting gladness in heaven, and a kingdom hereafter without end, with the true and living God.

2. When [he then] the king heard these words, then ordered he them to abide in the isle on which they had come up; and their necessaries to be there given them until he should see what he would do to them. Likewise before that, a report of the Christian religion had come to him, for he had a Christian wife, who was given to him from the royal kin of the Franks - Bertha was her name; which woman he received from her parents on condition that she should have his leave that she might hold the manner of the Christian belief, and of

« PreviousContinue »