Part I: From Brutus to Dunwale

Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2023, All Rights Reserved.

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Translator’s Introduction

Layamon, an English poet of the late 12th/early13th century, describes himself in his surviving work, Brut, as a priest living at Ernley (Erneleye or Earnley, now Areley Kings, ten miles north of Worcester, England) beside the Severn. Brut, written in Anglo-Saxon dialect, was most probably composed sometime between 1189 and 1215, during the reign of King John.  Known also as the Chronicle of Britain, it derives from Wace’s Anglo-Norman French work, the Roman de Brut, which is in turn a version of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain). The latter, in a mixture of legend and historical surmise, provided the first work following the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (created in the late ninth century during King Alfred’s reign) to relate anything like a history of Britain. The title Brut reflects the claim that a certain Brutus of Troy was Britain’s legendary founder.

Layamon’s work is a lengthier development of the works of Wace and Geoffrey, and contains a more extensive account of King Arthur’s life and deeds. Written in a loosely alliterative style, the two halves of each line are occasionally linked by rhyme. The most complete surviving manuscript is Cotton Caligula A ix, in the British Library, dating from the third quarter of the 13th century.

Dates and comments given in brackets after a heading provide possible dates, derived from external historical sources, for events in Layamon’s account.


The Author’s introduction

There was a priest in this land, his name Layamon,

And he was Leuca’s son, God’s grace be upon him.

He dwelt at Ernley, beside the noble church there,

On the banks of Severn, fast there by Radistone.

Pleasant, he found it; and many a book he read there.

It came to his mind, and became his foremost thought,

That he’d set down the noble deeds of the English,

Who those people were, where they had come from,

That, of the English lands, first took possession,

After that great Flood, sent by the Lord on high,

The which destroyed all living things on Earth,  

Except for Noah, and Shem, and Japheth, and Ham,

And their four wives, who were with them in the Ark.

Layamon then journeyed, through the land, far and wide,

And sought for noble books, to take for a pattern.

He found one in English, by the Venerable Bede,

And another book in Latin, made by Saint Albin

With that fair Augustine who brought us baptism.

Then, a third book he found, and set it between them,

That was made by a French clerk, one Wace by name,

Which he, a fine writer, had gifted noble Eleanor,

And she was queen to Henry, high king of all the land.

Layamon laid the three books he’d gathered before him,

And turned the leaves lovingly, may the Lord bless him,

Took a pen in his fingers, and wrote on the parchment,

And set together all of the true words he found there,

Until, of the three books, he had made a single one.

Now Layamon prays that each good and honest man,

For the Love of the Lord, that shall read of this book

And learn from the writing, may say this, truthfully:

‘Upon the soul of his father, he that did him engender,

And the soul of his mother, she who gave him birth,

And upon his own soul, may the best befall. Amen.’

Now he speaks, with lofty tongue, the priest of this land,

All that the books said, that he took for his pattern:

Aeneas of Troy (Eratosthenes dated the fall of Troy to 1184BC)

The Greeks had conquered, and laid waste, great Troy,

And all the land about it, and slain all its people,

In revenge for the taking of Menelaus’ queen,

Whom Paris had stolen by a stratagem of his,

Helen, for whom that day, a hundred thousand lay dead.

Out of that fight, that waxed exceeding fierce,

Aeneas, the prince had escaped with much toil.

He had his son with him, whom he’d led to safety,

Ascanius by name; he had no other children.

Aeneas, and his companions, now set out to sea.

Twenty good ships he’d filled, and well-filled were they

With his kith and kin, who now followed the prince,

With the men and goods, they had brought to the shore,

And the ships fared far and wide, over the wintry sea,

From storms and ill-weather, suffering injury.

And so, with pain, and trouble, they came to land.

To where Rome now stands, to Italy, they came,

For as yet Rome was still unfounded neath the sun.

Aeneas the prince, with this band of followers,

Had wandered far and wide, over the wide waters.

Many a land he’d skirted, yet counsel had failed him.

He came to Italy’s shore; to him it seemed pleasing.

He found food in that land, and gained it honourably,

With gifts and with gold, and by speaking peaceably.

The Tiber’s mouth he found, where the sea meets the sand,

Near to that very place, where Rome now stands.

Latinus was the king there, a noble man was he,

One possessed of wealth, a man full of wisdom,

Bowed down with years, such was the will of God.

There Aeneas came, and greeted the old king,

Who in turn received him, amidst all his people.

Much land he gave him, more land he promised,

All along the shoreline, and far and wide inland,

Which displeased the queen, though she endured it.

Now the king had a daughter, to him most dear,

And he promised her to Aeneas, to be his wife,

And the kingdom also, when his day was done,

For he had no son, and the sorer was his heart.

Aeneas in Italy

Lavinia the maid’s name, that was queen thereafter,

And fair was that woman, and admired by all.

But Turnus, that was called the Duke of Tuscany,

He loved the maid, and would wed her with honour,

And said he would take her to be his noble queen.

Yet word came to him, and it was widely known,

That King Latinus had given his Lavinia,

His beloved daughter, to Aeneas as his bride.

Then was Turnus sorry, and sorrowful in mood,

For he yet longed for her; he had pledged his love.

Troubled by his wrath, Turnus now made war,

And fought against Aeneas, in fiercest fight,

Hand to hand, those warriors fought each other;

And toiling in battle, there mighty Turnus fell,

His sword hacked to pieces, his honour the less.

Aeneas took Lavinia, lovingly, to wife;

He was king, she his queen, and they ruled the realm

In harmony and peace, and much loved were they.

The lordship of Ascanius his son

Once Aeneas had won Lavinia and the realm,

He built a strong castle, with lofty stone walls;

Lavinia was his wife, so he named it Lavinium,

Because of his love for her, his well-beloved.

Four winters he held his fair lady in honour,

Then after the fourth he died, to his friends’ sorrow.

Lavinia the queen, bore his child in her womb,

And, not long thereafter, had a son for solace.

Silvius Aeneas he was named, full nobly.

Now, Ascanius his brother, who with his father

Had fled from Troy, took charge of the infant,

Ascanius was the royal child’s half-brother,

For they were not born, that pair, of the same mother.

Creusa, King Priam’s daughter, bore Ascanius,

She that Aeneas, his father, lost when Troy fell,

For, in that fight, she was captured by the foe.

Ascanius, for many a year, held the kingdom,

And, in the realm, he built a great township.

Alba Longa the name by which he called it,  

And the place was well-wrought in but little time.

His stepmother held it: for love of his brother

He gave her the land, and Lavinium, the castle,

That Aeneas had made, while he was yet living;

And all this he granted her till her life’s ending.

The Penates, the divinities folk worshipped there,

That Aeneas, midst his host, had brought from Troy,

Were in Alba Longa, though soon they departed;

Forth with the wind, the Fiend sped back with them.

Ascanius the wise, who ruled in the king’s stead,

Four and thirty winters, he cared for his people,

And he held the land, in peace and tranquility,

Then came his life’s end, although he was loth.

To Silvius his half-brother, Lavinia’s son,

Passed all of that realm Aeneas had possessed.

Silvius, the son of Ascanius

Ascanius had a son, called Silvius, also,

The child being named for the father’s half-brother,

Yet a brief life had Silvius, for his own son

Shot him thereafter, and so caused his death.

When Silvius was young, he loved a maiden,

Lavinia’s niece, and in secret he loved her.

It came to pass, as it does nigh everywhere,

That this young woman found herself with child,

While Ascanius yet lived, the lord of this land.

The thing was discovered, her state soon known,

And so, Duke Ascanius, lord of the kingdom,

Summoned all those who knew the incantations,

For he would learn, by means of the dark arts,

What this thing might be she had in her womb.

They cast their spells, the Fiend was amongst them,

And found by their craft, things most sorrowful.

For the woman would bear a son, wondrous to tell of,

Since he would slay both his father and mother;

Through him they would die, death they would suffer,

And he be driven, through their death, from the land,

Yet, after a long while, be welcomed with honour.

And thus, as the lots were cast, so it all happened.

Brutus, the son of Silvius

When her time came, and the boy-child was born

In this town of Alba Longa, the mother died,

While the child, its mother’s bane, yet survived.

The son was named Brutus, nor was he like to die.

He lived, and he throve, and he loved virtue well.

Now, when he was fifteen, one day he went hunting,

And his father with him, who thereby was undone.

For they came on a herd of deer, a mighty herd;

The father drew near them, to his own misfortune.

Towards his son, he drove them, to his harm.

Brutus fired an arrow, to bring down this ‘tall’ deer,

And his own father fell, pierced through the chest.

Woeful then was Brutus, and woeful while he lived,

Through the death of his father, whom he had slain.

And when the huntsmen came, who were of his House,

And learned of the arrow, and how he had killed him,

They banished him from the land, and forth he went,

Over the ocean stream, reaching the shores of Greece.

And there he found kinfolk, many exiles from Troy,

Dispersed at the city’s fall, now led by Helenus

Who was son to King Priam; full many of that nation

Who were nobly born, yet now were rendered slaves.

Many a year had passed, since his kin had come there,

The men waxed in numbers, the women had thriven,

And many were the herds of cattle that grazed there.

Now Brutus had been in that land but a brief while,

Ere he was loved by all, and won him much honour.

For he was a man most like to please the people,

Being free-handed, which brings honour to a man.

By all was he beloved, all those who looked on him,

Thus, they gave him gifts, and courteous greeting.

They said to him aloud, and in private meeting,

That if he were brave enough, and dared attempt

To lead them thence, lead them from bondage,

He should be their duke, and thereby rule them.

They said: ‘We have here, beside all the women

That bear no weapons, seven thousand knights.

The youths, and the children, can tend the cattle.

For much we’d bear, much sorrow we’d endure,

Could we but leave this land, and win our freedom.’

And all that were present confirmed this judgement.

Assaracus pledges allegiance to Brutus

Now in Greece was a young man, thirty years old,

Assaracus his name, and of noble lineage,

His father a lordly Greek, his mother of Trojan birth,

Though she was a concubine, so of lesser worth.

Nonetheless it befell, within a few years, or so,

That the father was dead, and lost to his kinfolk.

Three castles he had given to Assaracus his son,

And all the land besides, that lay thereabout.

Assaracus had a brother, that was born in wedlock.

This brother held the rest of all the father’s land,

In accord with the heathen law ruling that place,

And loathed the former, who held the three castles,

Gifts soundly given, from the hand of their father.

He desired them so Assaracus might not prosper.

Thence arose strife and slaughter, and many an evil.

Assaracus, a fine knight, took the fight to the Greeks,

And had much aid in this, from his powerful friends,

From full many a Trojan, born of his mother’s kin,

Due to the bonds of love, so forged between them.

Assaracus now advised them, communing in secret,

That he and all the Trojans should appoint Brutus

With his own help, to be their duke, and lead them,

And grant him their homage, with all due honour.

Brutus sent his heralds, far and wide, o’er the land,

Summoning his folk to him, to open assembly.

The men and the women, the poor and the wealthy,

All these he summoned, then sent them to safety,

But for seven thousand men, manning the castles,

And many that rode to seek arms and provisions,

For great was their need; the lesser folk were led

To the hills, his armies before and behind them.

Brutus writes to the king, Pandrasus

He then took counsel, communing with a few,

And wrote a fair letter, filled full with wisdom,

Greeting Pandrasus, the king, in words of peace,

And sent him that letter, which stated within it:

‘Since in mortal shame, and in great dishonour,

They, that are of the Dardanian race descended,

Now dwell in this land, in disgrace and bondage,

Thralls to hard labour, they have met together,

As worthy folk, that would gain their freedom,

And all are agreed that I should be their duke.

We have in our castles seven thousand soldiers,

And, in the mountains, wait many thousands,

Who would rather live on the mast from the trees,

Like the wild swine that root in your forests,

Than further suffer their harsh state of bondage.

So, wonder not that, longing for their freedom,

They beg you, in friendship, to set them free.

This they request, in the words here written:

That they may dwell, wherever they choose to,

In peace, and at liberty, in friendship with you.

Yet if you deny them, the worse shall it be.’

Now Pandrasus he took the letter in hand

And he read the writing, with growing anger;

Strange they seemed the words held within it.

Then he spoke openly, menacingly, saying:

‘They have writ this to their own destruction.

These slaves in my land make threats against me.’

Then through all the land went a royal summons,

Calling both rich and poor to a great assembly,

All the fighting men that could bear a weapon,

On pain of life and limb, all those in that land.

And on horse, and on foot, forth the folk journeyed.

The king threatened Brutus, likewise Assaracus,

With besieging all of their loathsome company,

And when, by force, they were swiftly defeated,

He would hang them all from the tallest trees.

The king sends his armies against Brutus and Assaracus

Brutus heard, and the news he heard was true,

That Pandarus the king, with a mighty army,

Yet doomed to perish, was marching towards them.

Brutus took counsel as to what was best to do.

He took his brave men, that goodly company,

And marched to the woodland, to the wilderness,

To a narrow place where the king must pass by.

Brutus had good men, as many as were needed,

Three thousand warriors he led to that ambush.

The king came riding, with his nobles about him,

And there Brutus struck them a sudden grim blow;

He struck those Greeks fiercely, in grim onslaught,

The Greeks unaware of the harm he’d intended,

And they turned, and they ran, the noble lords fled.

A river named Achalon was not far away,

And into the water plunged many a thousand.

Brutus came after, and endlessly harried them,

With sword and with spear, he drove and scattered them,

In the water and on land, he struck those men down.

The king fled swiftly when he saw his friends fallen.

Mickle folk there were slain, and in many a wise.

The king flees and his brother Antigonus is defeated by Brutus

Now the king had a brother, nor had he another,

Antigonus his name, a great lord of Greece.

He viewed his brother’s men, saw how they fared there,

On land, in the water, the which was loath to them.

Antigonus, his warriors gripping their weapons,

Advanced towards Brutus, to his own destruction.

Their hosts met together, revealing great courage,

And one, that was nigh them, might have beheld there,

Many a man sore wounded, and many a mishap,

Many a head or limb there, strewn on the ground.

Many a man fought hard, many a man took flight,

Many a man, for his sins, was felled in that battle.

The Trojans slew the Greeks that were near them,

There Brutus took Antigonus, Pandrasus’ brother,

And led him prisoner, glad to have captured him.

He had him tight bound, with many a binding,

And those of his company, those he’d had by him.

This he learned of, Pandrasus; little it pleased him,

That his brother Antigonus was bound, a captive.

The king sent word, wherever his land stretched,

Summoning all those that could march or ride,

To come to him, at the castle of Sparatin,

And no castle was stronger in all of Greece.

He thought it the truth, though true it was not,

That Brutus held there all those he had taken,

And they yet alive, in the depths of the castle,

And Brutus himself was there with the spoils.

But Brutus wrought better, and better befell him.

He placed there six hundred of his good knights,

While he went swiftly, in strength, to the woods.

The king now marched with his men to the castle,

And lay all about it, his enemies within.

And, on every side, men besieged that fortress.

They often assailed the walls, charging together.

With steel weapons, they dealt men bitter strokes

With shafts and with stones, they made fierce conflict;

Amidst Greek fire, the ill-fated lay fallen.

There was much bloodshed, disaster was rife.

The knights in the castle countered them strongly,

So, the king’s host might not take and slay them;

While the king, of his men, lost many a thousand.

Pandrasus besieges the castle at Sparatin (Sparta?)

The king, now mourning the loss of his men,

Drew back for a while, threatening the castle,

Telling those within that, once he had won there,

He would slay them all, he would burn them alive.

Then he dug a great ditch that was wondrous deep,

All about the fortress, filled with branches of thorn,

And he lay thereabout, and repaired his losses.

The king was wrath, and he swore many an oath,

That he’d not retreat till his enemies were dead.

In the castle were many men, food they wanted,

For the food soon went, since many consumed it.

They chose a messenger, good in a time of need,

And sent him to Brutus, he who was dear to them.

He greeted their lord then, with many a fair word,

And asked him to aid them with all of his strength.

While they were yet safe there, all his good men.

Brutus bethought him of the great need they had

And said to himself, in his heart, these true words:

‘Who helps his good friends, he honours himself,

And so will I honour mine, while I’m yet living.’

Brutus and Anacletus

Now, there was a nobleman named Anacletus

Captured with the king’s brother that lay bound.

Brutus seized him, his mood sanguine and bitter,

And grasped him by the hair, as if to slay him,

Laying his naked sword against his neck.

And these were the words, that fell Brutus said:

‘You’re a dead man except you obey my will,

As is your lord, as well, if you fail to do so.

Do as I wish, and you’ll aid the two of you.’

Said Anacletus: ‘Lord, I will do your will,

With all my might, and aid my lord, and I.’

‘Do so, and the better it shall be for you,

You shall have life and limb, and be my friend,’

Said Brutus, and swore he’d not break his word.

Then said Brutus, of knights among the best:

‘Anacletus dear friend, tonight you shall go,

At the perfect time, when men go their beds,

Wending your way to the tents of the king,

And when you come to the knights that guard him,

There you must gather a good seven hundred,

The keenest warriors, and then address them,

And, speaking in a familiar way, declare:

‘I, Anacletus, whom you know, have broken free

Of the heavy bonds that Brutus laid upon me;

And another thing, moreover, the king’s brother

I have brought from that slaughterhouse of a prison

Where he held him, and tomorrow would hang him,

And I have concealed him in the woods nearby.

Knights, come with me, and let the king sleep sound,

And, trusting in fortune, go abroad, quiet as thieves,

And I will lead you to where I hid my lord,

At the edge of the wood, in among the branches.

And you will do well to bring him to the king;

Since this is his only brother, he has no other.’

He was known to the knights, they all knew him,

They thought that the words he said were all true,

But all were false, for the man betrayed his folk.

Nowhere is a man so wise he may not be fooled.

Anacletus went before, the knights followed after.

He went towards the pass, as Brutus had ordered,

Where Brutus had set his men before and behind.

The way was long and narrow, the cliffs were steep.

Brutus now attacked the foe with all his forces.

He caught them there together, and none he spared.

Some he slew, some he bound, the rest he let live,

Disposing of all in the way he thought best.

Brutus gathers his forces to attack the king

Brutus then divided his whole army in four,

And commanded his men to battle for honour,

The young and the old, the strong and the bold,

And fight bravely, faithfully against the foe,

Advancing full swiftly against Pandrasus.

‘I forbid,’ Brutus said, ‘all my loyal thanes,

By the great love that there is between us,

That none prove so wild or devoid of wit,

That he speaks to another, or utters a sound,

Till he hears my war-horn blown right loudly,

For I will advance to the tent of the king,

And, as soon as I can alight from my steed

And blow my war-horn so all may hear it,

Then, my men, lay on; wake them from sleep

And see that the Greeks all slide to the ground;

They are fated to fall, for our enemies are they.’

The enemy camp is assailed

Then all his knights did as Brutus commanded,

While he rode on before, to the tent of the king,

Leapt from his steed, and blew his horn loudly.

His Trojans heard; they advanced on the Greeks,

Awakening men outright, midst dreadful slaughter.

There, heads were destined to fall on the field,

Full many a limb; their ill-fortune the worst,

Many a thousand fled, trailing their entrails,

As Brutus, amidst his knights, captured the king.

Still whole, fully sound, he cried out aloud:

‘I have this folk’s king, now fell all his people!

Let none of them flee alive to their bolt-holes,

And their king I will now lead away beside me.’

And he then took possession of all before him,

And raised the siege of Sparatin his castle.

The aftermath of Brutus’ victory

On the morrow, with daylight, the night departed,

Brutus summoned all of his dear comrades,

Ordering them for love of him, all that good host,

To take up the slain, and in the earth bury them;

Deep in a common grave they should set the dead.

And soon it was done, full many toiled at the work.

And all the spoils they’d won those knights shared;

With honour, all his loyal men Brutus rewarded.

Once this deed was done, he performed another.

He had heralds climb on high and loudly proclaim

That all his good folk should gather, in that morn,

And all his noblemen should assemble with them,

And right joyfully they were gathered there that day.

All his folk, all the goodly knights, assembled,

And their lord spoke, and this to them he said:

‘Listen my knights, come, listen my loyal lads,

And give me your counsel, as you think is good.

I have bound in close bonds the king of this land,

And his brother also, and so much the better.

His people slain, now he hates me the more,

For all he had I have given my noble friends.

If it be your counsel, all you good men of mine,

I’ll cut off his head with a stroke of my sword.

For if you so will it, his blood I will spill,

Yet if you wish, I will grant him his freedom,

If he gives me treasure, of gold and silver,

All of his wealth, in exchange for his life.’

Then all his noble knights answered their lord.

Some there were agreed he should slay the man,

And possess the land, and be their crowned king,

And some said otherwise, so the speeches went.

‘Give us this king,’ some said, ‘all of his gold,

And all of the treasure he has in this land,

Give us robes and rich clothing, and give us horses,

Give us one furthest part of his whole kingdom,

Give us hostages too, and well done shall be all.’

Membricius advises that they leave the land and seek another


Now many a nobleman that heard was uncertain

Whether twas better to fare forth or dwell there.

And, while they debated, up spoke Membricius,

Who was a rich and a most prudent noble,

Wise and thoughtful, of sound understanding:

‘What is this, you Knights, what is this, you say,

Here amongst you all? There is none has spoken

Words sound enough to rightly advise us.

Yet if you will give me leave, my lord Brutus,

And if you approve of my right to give counsel,

Then I will give you the best of my own advice.’

And the folk answered: ‘That we fain would hear.’

Then spoke Membricius, and loudly he cried it:

‘Let us demand of the king all these good things:

That, first of all, he shall grant us our freedom,

And then let us ask that he gives his daughter

To be bound in wedlock with our Lord Brutus.

And then as much of his corn as contents us,

And of gold and of treasure, and of fine horses.

And all the best of the stores that his knights hold,

And all the fine ships that belong to this land,

And all that is needed for those vessels to sail,

And money and weapons, that we may go forth,

Then fare over the sea, wherever we wish to,

And so, sail on at length, till we come to land,

And journey through all that land till we come

To a place that is fitting and, there, Lord Brutus

We may crown as our king, who of us is the best,

And this king’s fair daughter, Ignogen, queen.

For if we should live on here amongst the Greeks,

They will prove our foes, for we stood against them.

And their kindred we slew, that sleep in the earth,

So, to them we are hateful, for that great injury.

They’ll seek to beguile us, through their evil craft,

And the worse for us, then the better they’ll like it,

Since, with our weapons, we’ve slain their kindred,

And many a thousand, there, with our right hands.

Placing our trust in them will bring us all to death,

Confidence in their justice will bring destruction;

The more they wax in strength, the worse our fate.

Well may I say, for I think this thing is true,

There’s no man so high, there’s no man so low,

That we’ve not felled some dear friend to the ground.

And so, if you agree, you who are wise in thought,

Let us depart this land where the folk loathe us.

All their goods we’ll take, and leave them little.

Let them dwell in misery, having lost so much;

We’ll depart with their wealth, if all are agreed,

For all the goods in this land we’ll bear with us.

And they, now wretched, will e’er be afflicted,

While the rich have room to ward off wretchedness.’

Pandrasus replies to Brutus’ demands

His words having ended, his speech was approved.

Any who’d been there had heard a mighty din,

Many a shout, much clamour from many men,

For they all cried thus: ‘Membricius speaks true!’

Since all there agreed that his counsel was sound.

They had the king brought from incarceration,

And his brother too, both that pair together,

Before lord Brutus, and bound with iron bands.

They called to the king, loathsome words they cried.

They said he should hang from the highest tree,

Or by horses drawn apart, in pain and torment,

If he would not let them depart the land freely,

And grant them all the goods he might possess,

And all his good ships floating upon the flood,

And his daughter Ignogen to be their duke’s queen.

Then the king bethought himself what he might do,

Full sorry to be alive, these tidings loathe to him.

For he feared death, was sore troubled in mind.

This Pandrasus answered them words of woe:

‘You seek my daughter the fair, and I in bonds,

And my brother, Antigonus, likewise tormented,

Have slain all my men, and demand my treasure,

And then that my daughter wed whom she loathes.

Yet the man that is bound he needs must bow low.

All you ask I grant, though tis loathsome to me,

And yet if you would but dwell in this country,

I would grant lord Brutus a third of all my land,

And free his folk, and take oaths of friendship,

And grant to your duke Ignogen my daughter,

And thus, we might live as true brothers together,

And live out our lives, and spend them as one.’

Brutus insists on their departure

Then Brutus, that was their duke, he answered him:

‘This will we not have, now fare forth from the land,

And so, we will spare you truly, thus, from death.

If you would seek to live, grant us now, all we wish.’

The king sent his men forth, through the land of Greece,

And commanded they bring there all he possessed,

And ready the vessels he had, that rode the flood.

And all those so commanded they did as he sought,

So, they might save their lord from pain and death.

And all his men did, as asked, at his sole behest.

The ships were readied, and all well-filled with goods,

Then the king gave his daughter to Brutus in marriage,

And so, what was pledged it was now all delivered.

Brutus, having wed Ignogen, sets sail

Then the whole of that host departed presently.

All those many knights went down to the sea;

Much were they blithe, those Brutus had with him.

Now Brutus led Ignogen aboard a fine vessel.

They righted the ropes, and they reared the mast,

Raised the sails, the wind stood as they wished.

Sixteen times twenty ships went from the haven,

And four great vessels too, all fully laden

With the finest stores and weapons Brutus had.

Then they went forth, out of the land of Greece,

Over the wide seaways, the wild waters tame.

The island of Logice and the temple of Diana

Two whole days and two nights they were out at sea,

And then, on the third day, their vessel came to land,

Logice that isle was called, of folk there were none,

Neither of men nor of women, its paths deserted.

Brigands had ravaged the place, slaying its people,

And so, it lay waste, bereft of all human life.

But a host of wild deer caused them to wonder,

Which the Trojans approached and did as they would,

And bore to their ships the creatures they slew there.

They found in the island a castle most strong.

The walls had toppled, the great halls were fallen.

A temple they found that was wrought of marble,

Both tall and wide, and the goddess possessed it.

Within was an image, made like to a woman,

It was fair and noble, and the heathen named her

The goddess Diana, and the Fiend he loved her.

She wrought wondrous magic; the Fiend helped her.

She was queen of the woods, all that cover the earth.

In the heathen rites, she was held a high goddess.

To her were drawn all those skilled in the craft,

And things-to-come she would make known to them,

In visions, and dreams, as they were sleeping.

While there were living folk on that island,

They worshipped her likeness; the Fiend possessed it.

So, Brutus learned, from those in his vessel,

Who had been there before, and knew of the rites.

He then took twelve sages who were his wisest men,

And a priest of his creed, of the heathen ways,

Gerion the priest was named, one of high standing.

They went to the shrine, where Diana’s image stood,

Brutus entered the shrine, the twelve were with him,

And he told all the people to wait there, outside.

A vessel he bore, in his hand, of red gold,

Milk was within the thing, mingled with wine,

The milk of a white hind, he himself had slain.

He lit a fine flame to burn by the altar there,

Then nine times he circled the altar, twas needful,

And prayed to the Lady, she that was dear to him;

With his mild words he entreated her might.

Oft he kissed the altar, with beseeching looks,

And, with these mild words, poured milk on the fire:

‘Lady Diana; Diana, beloved of us,

Noble Diana, aid me, in my hour of need.

Teach me, and counsel me, with your wisest craft,

Whither I might sail, and there lead my people

Into a fine country where they all might dwell.

If I should win that land, and my people enter,

I will build, in your name, a spacious temple,

And there will honour you, with high worship.’

Diana’s prophetic words

So, spoke Brutus, and took up the hind’s hide,

And, before the altar, spread it, much like a bed.

Then he knelt upon it, and lay down upon it,

And began to slumber, and thereafter to sleep.

And as he lay sleeping, in dream it seemed to him

That his lady Diana beheld him, lovingly,

With a kindly smile, she made him a promise,

While graciously placing her hand on his head,

And this she said to him, while he lay sleeping:

‘Past France, to the west, you shall find a fair land,

By the sea surrounded; and there you shall prosper.

There you’ll find fish and fowl; there fine deer dwell.

There is wood, there is water, and many a wilderness.

The land is most pleasant, with clear-flowing springs,

Though many a strong giant inhabits that land.

Albion, they call it, and no man lives there now.

There you shall go, and there build a new Troy.

There, of your line, shall its high kings be born,

And your powerful kin shall rule all that country,

And be praised on earth, and you whole and sound.’

Then Brutus awoke, and felt that his life was blessed.

He thought of his dream, and all she had prophesied.

And lovingly told all she’d said to his people,

How he had dreamt, and the lady had greeted him.

He thanked her earnestly, in most gracious words.

He had made her a promise, and well he fulfilled it,

That her he would worship, and build her a temple,

With her image in red gold, when he reached land.

And that, all of his life, he’d obey her command.

Brutus departs from Logice

They took leave of the lady, and boarded the ship,

And the wind and weather bore them on smoothly,

Thirty days, thirty nights, they sailed straight ahead.

Past Africa, they voyaged, to west and to north.

Through the waters of Silvius, and Philisteus,

By Ruscikadan, they sailed over the sea,

And by the mountainous country of Azare.

On the sea they met pirates, the fiercest of those days,

And strongest, full fifty ships; many their enemies.

With Brutus they fought, and felled some of his men;

Triumphant, he slew the doomed, binding the quick.

Many the fine spoils, there, that lord Brutus won,

Of treasure and stores, his honour the greater.

There was never a man of his that was now so poor,

That he had not fine gold, and good cloth upon him.

Then they fared forth on a voyage of many days.

Upon the Malva, a river, that flowed full long

They disembarked, then, in Mauritania.

They roamed o’er that land and its people they slew,

And all the food and the drink that they found there,

Whatever seemed good, they bore to their vessels.

He joins forces with Corineus of Spain

Then they fared forth, full prosperous their passage,

Many the spoils they had gathered ere sailing.

They came to the Pillars of Hercules, great his strength,

And there were tall posts of stone, solid the marble.

Hercules wrought them and, thereabouts, the land

Was long and was broad, in their hand they held it.

There they found mermaids, creatures of great deceit,

Women they seem, but below the waist they are fish.

They have so sweet a song, be the day e’er so long,

None weary of hearing the sound of their singing,

Half woman, half fish, this world’s tokens surely,

Their songs are so sweet, that few can forgo them.

Brutus heard tell, from his sailors’ murmuring,

Of the foul deceits that the mermaids practised.

He had men to the halyards, sails to the topmast,

To run before the wind, plough the sounding waves.

From every side, the mermaids swam to them,

Greatly they sought to thwart them with evil craft,

And yet Brutus escaped them without being harmed,

Sailed on straight ahead, the ships running swiftly.

A steersman gave him glad tidings, sighting Spain.

They drew towards harbour; his folk were most blithe.

To the land they came, and good folk they found there,

A fourfold host of many a thousand men,

Fine knights, that were ready and eager to fight.

They were their kinsmen, and so much the better,

These were four hosts of men driven from Troy.

Antenor had led them there, he their commander,

He that fled Troy, with that great host of people,

When the Greeks took the city with bitter slaughter.

Corineus was now their duke, since Antenor died;

Corineus was a fine man, a leader of ample might.

For powerful and strong was he, like to a giant.

Corineus now heard that Brutus had come thither,

That was glad to be alive; ne’er had he felt blither.

The two met together, and oft clasped each other.

Brutus told him his news, that he sought out a land

Where he might dwell, and with him his good people.

Corineus answered him: ‘Then, I shall go with you,

And all my dear folk, and share our fate with you.

And hold you as chief, and our lord you shall be.’

This the pair so agreed, and sailed on together.

They anchor at Nantes, in the Loire estuary

From Spain they steered a course towards Britain;

Armorica it was called, before it was named so.

Past Poitou on the right, there they came to land,

In a lovely place, where the Loire joins the sea.

Seven nights and a day, Brutus lay in that haven,

And he sent out adventurers, to view the country.

To Goffar, the king of Poitou, twas not pleasing,

To find that adventurers were scouting the land.

The king ordered counsellors, wise men and eloquent,

To travel towards the coast, there where the host lay,

And learn of the knights there, what it was they sought;

And, if peaceful, whether they’d meet with the king,

Or whether they were hostile, and bent on fighting;

Numbert led the men whom he sent on that errand.

Corineus was in the woods, chasing the deer there,

With five hundred knights, hounds, and hunting horns.

Corineus encounters Numbert the envoy

There they came upon Numbert, the king’s envoy,

And Numbert called out to them, crying loudly:

‘Whence be you from, knights, that act so boldly?

You hunt in the king’s chase, and so you must die.

You shame my monarch, you’ll feel his anger,

His chase is denied you, and so you must suffer.’

Corineus was angered, advancing towards him,

Filled with wrath, he then spoke this speech to him:

‘Knight, you’re a fool, to utter such words to me.

If you king forbids it, so much the worse for him.

I’ll not cease from hunting, despite this ban of his.

I shall slaughter both hind and hart, all that I find.’

Then Numbert was angered, that was the king’s steward,

He had a strong bow that he gripped in his hand,

And strung it, and drew it, though to his own harm.

He set there an arrow, and let it fly fiercely,

But past bold Corineus’ side, the dart glided.

Corineus paled, but swift struck it aside,

Then, like a lion, he leapt towards Numbert,

And, with all his strength, he grasped at the bow.

He smote Numbert with it, and shattered his skull,

Such that blood and brains burst from the wound.

Those who were with the victim fled swiftly,

And sought King Goffar, and gave the ill-tidings,

That Numbert was slain, that was his steward.

The king was sore grieved, and saddened at heart,

And sent his messengers o’er all the kingdom,

And gathered his warriors, those men ill-fated.

King Goffar sends out his army

The army was summoned, and then it marched forth,

Towards Brutus’ camp where he lay, by the shore.

Now Brutus was wary, a wise man in warfare,

He sent out spies to gaze on the king’s army,

To view where they went, and where they might fight.

The spies were sent forth, and soon they returned,

And came to their lord, where he lay in the haven,

And spoke these words to him, true-tongued were they:

‘Hail to you, Brutus, the noblest amongst us!

Now, Goffar the king has gathered his army,

A great host, and strong, and these were his words,

That he would slaughter all those found alive;

The ships he would sink, and the women he’d drown;

None here would he leave in the land of the living.’  

So, Brutus sent all the young folk to the ships,

And he shared out his stores among the people,

Then Brutus the Good, he spoke to his men:

‘You men are dear to me, hark to my counsel,

Come you men never back to this haven,

Until my word I grant, in plain speech, to you,

That I have the upper hand o’er the king.’

Brutus and Corineus fight against King Goffar

Brutus gathered his knights, and straight forth he went,

To where he was counselled the king would pass

As he rode, with that host of men, upon the way.

Their forces met, and right fiercely they fought;

That was a great battle, many doomed there to die.

There many a brave man was hewn by the steel;

All day the fight lasted, fell many a good knight.

Corineus advanced now, and to himself he said:

‘Come, Corineus, are you not a chosen knight?

Show forth your strength, reveal your great might,

And so, strike these folk of Poitou to the ground.’

Corineus attacked them, like to a savage wolf

That rushes among the sheep working them harm.

He grasped in his right hand his sword broad and strong,

And all that he struck with it tumbled to earth.

Though a man be e’er so strong, and all clad in iron,

If with that sword he smote, he rose no more.

When he had hewn two hundred good men at least,

From the point to the hilt his blade broke in his hand.

Then Corineus, much angered, these words he cried:

‘Woe to the smith that wrought you with his hand!’

Then he gazed all about him, filled with his anger,

And seized a great battle-axe from a man’s hand,

And those that were near him he set on and slew.

The king took to flight, and his host they fled after,

Corineus then followed, pursuing them keenly,

And in fury he called to them, did that knight:

‘Why do you flee Goffar, now, with your forces?

You should forego the like, if you’d drive us hence,

You must fight harder if you would see us depart!’

And, riding on swiftly, no man could abide him.

Suard, the king’s man

The king had a steadfast thane, Suard his name.

And he looked back at Corineus, pursuing.

Now, Suard led a host of three hundred horsemen;

He turned about swiftly, and then he fought boldly.

Yet Suard could hold his ground there but awhile,

For Corineus attacked him with all his great might;

He struck Suard on the head, felling him to the earth,

Slashing his chest across, down to the ribs beneath,

For none was so forceful they could endure him.

Corineus sliced them, down to their rib-bones, thus,

Scattered them on the field, many a thousand died.

And those men that fled him, they met with Brutus,

All those that came to him, that great leader slew.

King Goffar seeks aid from the Twelve Companions

So, then King Goffar took stock of his losses,

And, not without hardship, fled from the fight.

He fled from the land, abandoning his people,

He fled into France, where he found friendship,

To the Emperor, and his Twelve Companions,

And told of the harm that Brutus had done him.

In France they lay those Twelve Companions,

The ‘Douze-Pairs’ the French folk called them,

For all those twelve were mighty noblemen,

Kings they were titled, and oft made it known.

They promised Goffar that they would aid him,

Free him of foes, so that he might breathe easy.

They sent throughout France, gathered their forces,

For a full seven-night, they summoned their men.

Brutus builds a fortress in Armorica

Then Brutus led all his host into Armorica,

And was filled with delight at the spoils he gained.

He scoured the land, and the towns he burned,

He harried that land, which he held in his grip.

All the land he ruled, and its power he wielded.

He advanced with his host, to a broad hill-top,

It was tall and fair, and he gazed all about him.

He took counsel and, there, a fort would build;

And when it was built, it was good and strong.

A little while after, King Goffar attacked him,

With a mighty army of folk out of France,

And out of the countries that France bordered.

When Goffar the king learned of the fortress,

He was so pained that his wits nigh left him.

He led his most eager troops there, swiftly,

Then split them in twelve battalions, advancing,

To meet with the Trojans that came against them,

Who laid on the ground three thousand Frenchmen.

The French were dismayed, but fought nonetheless,

And so, with harsh insults pushed back the Trojans,

Then drove Brutus and all back into the fortress,

And, in that same onset, felled many a man of his.

All day they assailed and assaulted that fortress,

Until they, at nightfall, could battle no longer.

There was dread in the fort; at midnight they gathered,

And took counsel that, into the woods, Corineus

Would lead all the folk that he had in his force.

And so, they marched out, all as silent as thieves,

Into the dense woods that stretched all around them,

While Brutus took charge of the fortress, and held it.

Brutus and Goffar contest the fortress at Tours

On the morrow, at dawn, when day comes to men,

Was Brutus emboldened, as the wild boar rallies

When the hounds surround it, deep in the forest.

He commanded his men to don their breastplates,

And grip their weapons, to advance to battle.

They drew back the gates, and went forth boldly,

They reached the French and attacked them fiercely.

Hard was the fight on each side, and weary;

Many a man fought; many a knight was slain.

Brutus had there a kinsman, named Turnus,

So furious in battle that soon he was slain.

For he felled the Frenchmen in many a wise;

With his own hand, he felled many a hundred,

But strayed too far from his close companions,

Till, on every side, by the foe surrounded.

Their weapons wounded him, swiftly they slew him.

Brutus found him dead, and bore him within,

And there he was buried beside the stone wall.

So, from him, Tours that fortress was named,

And the region Touraine, from the dead Turnus.

Then Brutus went forth, and fared to the fight,

There to wreak revenge, for love of his friend.

The foes met together, and fought full fiercely,

There, the clashing of swords, in grievous battle,

A furious fight, where many were doomed to die.

Wondrous fierce was the battle, till Corineus

Came with his strong force to succour his leader.

Brutus struck one flank, Corineus the other.

They shot flights of arrows, sharpened and fatal,

And killed all the Frenchmen, all they could find.

They won the field, and slew all their foes there.

And no man, that was born, was ever so wise

He could tell in a day all the count of the dead,

The thousands on thousands they felled to the ground.

Brutus sails, and lands at Dartmouth, by Totnes

Then Brutus blew loud, and gathered his nobles,

And they spoke together, and took wise counsel,

And resolved, in that forum, to fare on their way.

It was declared, and proclaimed throughout the army,

That Brutus the Good would set forth on the sea.

They marched to the ships with all of their spoils,

All the gold, and the silver, of Goffar the king,

And that of the Frenchmen who died in the battle,

Then fared forth from the haven, the warriors blithe.

The wind matched their will, the wild fish leapt,

Full blithe were the men, for the waters were calm.

The fleet sailed onwards till they reached this land,  

At Dartmouth by Totnes; well pleased was Brutus.

The ships beached on the sand; all the folk landed.

Then had Brutus the gift, that Diana had promised

In the Isle of Logice, now they’d reached shore.

Much was the joy and the mirth of his people,

And they gave most humble thanks to the goddess,

That they now enjoyed the day they had longed for.

The Giants of Albion

Twenty strong giants they found in the land,

I’ve heard not their names in song, or in speech,

Except that of him who was their high chief,

Gogmagog he was called; he the most powerful,

A foe to the gods, and beloved of the worst.

Brutus and his good folk now perceived them,

And shot their steel arrows towards them, swiftly.

That did them much harm, so they fled to the hills,

And withdrew, in the wilderness, into their caves.

It befell on a day that Brutus, with all his folk,

Performed holy rites, with most noble worship,

And partook of food and drink, and made merry.

Things of gold and silver they bore in their hands,

And their horses and clothes delighted the people.

Those good folk they were blither than ever.

Descended the twenty giants from the hillside,

And they were all mighty, both tall and strong.

Trees as clubs they bore, and advanced together,

They charged at Brutus’ folk and did them harm.

In but a little while, they slew there five hundred,

With clubs and stones fierce trouble they made.

But, the Trojan men, they returned in strength,

Let fly their arrows, and forced the giants to flee;

They let their darts fly, there, from every side

And the giants now fled who had seemed so bold.

Nineteen were slain, and Gogmagog captured,

And so, before Brutus they brought him alive.

Brutus had him bound, tight as was needed,

So that they then might make trial of his strength.

Gogmagog, before Brutus, would fight Corineus.

Brutus played judge, from the heights of a hill,

And, upon the cliffs there, the Trojans now gathered.

Corineus and Gogmagog wrestle on the cliffs

Forth came Corineus, advancing full boldly,

And the giant also, so that all there beheld them.

Many a man looked on, many a woman watched,

A host of good folk were there at the wrestling.

The pair raised their arms, and gripped one another,

Breast against breast, till their bones nigh cracked.

They thrust out their legs; those fighters were strong.

Head clashed with head, while the folk gazed on.

Often, they fell, as though they would lie there,

Often, they leapt up, as though they had wings,

And deadly glances would flash from their eyes.

They gnashed their teeth, raging like wild boars.

Now, their faces were swollen, and black of hue,

Now they were red with the force of their anger,

Each of them strained there to conquer the other.

With skill, deceit, and with marvellous strength.

Gogmagog bethought him, and thrust Corineus

From off his breast, then drew him towards him,

And, gripping him tight, he broke four of his ribs,

Marring him mightily; he shrugged it off bravely.

Though little seemed lacking to end his challenge,

Yet Corineus took thought as to what he might do.

He stretched out his arms, and gripped Gogmagog,

Till the bones of the back broke; grasping his waist,

He heaved him up grimly, there on the cliff top.

Corineus gripped him, and flung the giant down,

And as he was falling, his bones broke asunder,

His body was shattered, ere he fell to the ground.

And so, down to Hell went that mighty opponent.

Now the cliff has a name, and forever is called so,

Among all of the peoples, tis Gogmagog’s Leap;

And with that foe’s ending, the giants were dead.

The Trojans settle in Albion, renamed as Britain

Now all of that country was in Brutus’ sole hands.

And the Trojan men, having won past their perils,

Then were they blithe in their hearts, and rejoiced.

And they built them houses, and held them securely;

They made villages, towns, and they tilled the earth;

Their seed corn they sowed, meadows they mowed.

All the land they ploughed as seemed good to them,

For all was their own, that they looked upon there.

The land was called Albion, Brutus came upon,

But he said that it should be called so no more,

That after his own should its name be fashioned.

He was named Brutus, the land he called Britain.

And the Trojan men that declared him their lord,

They called themselves Britons, after that name.

And the name lasts yet, and cleaves to this land.

The origin of the name England

Then to Corineus, his most dear companion,  

Brutus gave of the land, placing it in his hand.

Corineus, its lord, his realm he called Corinee.

And later the folk, who dwelt in that region,

Called that land Cornwall, changing its name.

Their own Trojan speech altered later to British,

But the English host changed its name again,

For Gurmund came, and he dwelt in this land.

This Gurmund, it was, that drove out the Britons,

And his men he called by the title of Saxons,

From the tip of Germany; the Angles their tribe.

From Angles came Englishmen, and thus England.

The English conquered, and subdued the Britons,

Such that they ne’er might rise by dint of counsel.

Brutus held Britain, Corineus held Cornwall.

Brutus took all his folk that made up his army,

And placed them about him; they were dear to him.

Corineus called, to his side, all his chosen men,

And he placed them all, here and there, as needed.

Their numbers waxed, and full well they throve,

Each had what they wished, and in no great time,

The folk were so many there was no end to them.

Brutus bethought him; he beheld all his people.

He beheld all the mountains, both tall and fair,

He beheld the vales, that were sweet and spacious,

He beheld the waters, the herds of wild deer,

He beheld all the fish, and the birds of the air,

He beheld the pastures, the lovely woodlands,

He saw how the leaves blew, saw how the corn grew,

And all that he viewed here was dear to his heart.

The founding of London (Trinovant)

Then he thought of Troy where his kin had suffered,

And he journeyed all over, viewing the land.

He found a most pleasant site, close to the water,

And twas there he began to raise a rich burgh,

With bowers and halls, and with high stone walls.

The burgh was built well, and wide and spacious.

The burgh was most fair, and he gave a name to it,

And a glorious name, it was called Troy the New,

As a mark of the kindred, from whom he had come.

Much later, the people, when speaking its name,

Uttered it otherwise; Trinovant they called it.

After many a winter, it chanced there arose,

A most powerful king, of Brutus’ true line.

And he was named Lud, and the burgh he held dear,

And there he did dwell, for many a winter.

And had it proclaimed, among all the people

That it be named Caerlud, after their king.

After that came other kings, and new customs,

And men called it Luddon, throughout all the land.

Later the English ruled, London they called it,

Later the French ruled, who came here, and conquered,

And in their land’s language, they called it Londres.

Thus has the fair burgh fared since it was reared,

Thus has this isle of ours passed from hand to hand.

Such that the burghs, that Lord Brutus first founded,

And the names they were granted in Brutus’ day,

Are nigh destroyed through the changes of rulers.

The death of Brutus, and the division of Britain

When Brutus had built the burgh he named New Troy,

He caused many of his dear folk to settle there;

He handed it into their care, and wrought all well,

Laying upon them laws that were good and fair.

And he saw to it that their dealings were loving,

That each was respected by night and by day;

Those that would not behave must be punished,

And if they proved evil enough, they should hang.

On account of this, they feared the hand of justice,

And were a folk that did good, and loved counsel.

Brutus ruled this land four and twenty winters,

And had three fine sons of Ignogen his queen.

When their father died, they were of one mind;

In the burgh of New Troy, they saw him buried,

Which Brutus found much pleasure in making.

And afterwards these three all met together,

And, with love, they then divided this whole land.  

Now the eldest of the brothers was named Locrin;

He was the wisest of the three, and the wariest,

He was the strongest, and most resolute of will.

For his share, he took the land across the south,

And that realm was called, in his honour, Locres.

Camber was the second, the middle brother,

That land which fell to him was called Cambrie,

Which is that wild land the Welsh folk love.

Later it was called Wales, for Queen Galoes,

And for Duke Galuan; the Welsh they were called.

The third was Albanac, whom Humbert destroyed;

Albanac held the land at the north end of the isle,

That which is now called Scotland by the people,

Which Albanac, in his day, called Albanie.

Locrin’s realm stretched to the south and east,

Albanac had all that there was to the north,

While Camber held all to the west of Severn.

The three brothers, when they possessed this land,

Showed their great love for all their people,

In peace and friendship for seventeen winters.

The arrival of Humber, King of Humbrie

After these seventeen years, and not long after,

A chief arrived that was the king of his people,

Humber he was called, the king of Humbrie,

Evil were his customs, and eager his men.

He had wasted many a land, many a people,

And many a hundred isles by the sea-strand.

All the greatest part from here to Germany.

King Humber, and all the fleet that bore his army

Entered Albanac’s land, and fought the people,

Burning, ravaging, dealing the folk much harm.

Albanac came to seek him with a great force,

They met together, and many a warrior died.

All of Albanac’s men were felled to the ground,

Except those that fled to the woods and coverts.

While Albanac himself was slain in the fight.

Such harm in the land wrought Humber the strong.

Those that escaped the fight, and fled that realm,

Went into the British lands of Locrin the bold.

They told him, in true and sorrowful speech,

How that his brother Albanac had been slain.

And that Humber it was that had destroyed him.

So then, the remaining brothers met together,

Locrin and Camber, and brought all their men,

And all of the brave knights they could gather.

Then towards Humber they marched, in strength.

Humber was so angered, now he held the land,

That he sailed the Scottish seas with his warriors,

For they were eager to conquer all of Britain.

And Locrin and Camber now came against them,

They roused their armies; war was upon the folk.

There Humber was slain, and all the folk were blithe;

Through Locrin and Camber, all his men were lost,

And with great trouble he fled, and into a river,

Where he, and much of his army, were drowned.

Humber that flow was named, for the dead chieftain,

Who with his host had made war in Germany,

Greatly wasted the land, and harmed the people.

Astrild and Locrin

Humber had captured, there, three fair maidens;

The one was named Astrild, a high king’s daughter,

And the fairest of all the women in this world.

These three were in the ships with Humbert’s men,

They that had charge of his treasure while he fought.

When Humber was drowned, and dead, in the river,

Locrin and Camber advanced upon his fleet.

To take ownership of all that he had possessed.

Among those aboard ship, they found these maidens,

Locrin saw Astrild there, and lovingly beheld her;

He took her in his arms, and joy was in his heart,

And he said to the maiden: ‘Good will come to you.

Woman you are comely; I shall take you to wife,

And hold you in high honour, as my fair queen,

All the while I live, and I shall have no other.’

Corineus was yet alive, that was Duke of Cornwall

And he had one daughter, and she to him was dear.

Now Locrin was pledged to take her hand in marriage,

And had plighted his troth, before all the household,

But now Locrin would quit her, for Astrild’s sake.

Corineus heard this, he that was Cornwall’s duke,

That his beloved daughter was scorned by Locrin,

Corineus was troubled, and in melancholy mood.

He advanced into Britain, until he met with Locrin.

Now upon his shoulder, he bore a great battle-axe,

He stood before Locrin, and loathly looked on him.

And these words he spoke, that warrior Corineus:

‘Know now, Locrin, know now you loathsome fellow,

Know now, you blatant fool, woe will come upon you.

You have scorned my daughter, she who was dear to me,

Insulting myself thereby, and surely you shall die.

I marched with your father, and I led his army,

Im many a day of toil and sweat, many a sore combat,

Many a vicious onset, with many a mighty blow,

And many a wound, in many a wondrous fight,

I suffered in the field, battling before Brutus,

He that was my dear friend, and my noble lord.

Now, shall you die; for he was ne’er your father;

If you were Brutus’ son, you’d not so shame me.

For love of him, I’ve laid full many a giant low,

And yet you’d repay all my labours with harm,

By deserting my lovely daughter Gwendoline,

For this foreign maid, she that they call Astrild.

You know not from what land she came hither,

Nor what foreign king might be her father,

Nor what foreign queen might be her mother.

For love of her you’ll have what you will hate,

For you shall be hewn asunder by my axe.’

Corineus heaved on high, his axe descended,

And struck upon the stone where Locrin stood.

The hard stone shattered, as Locrin stepped back.

And all then hastened to them from every side,

To part them: strife was among those people,

There was many a proud word; and the noblest

Now held a great council, the highest in the land.

They’d not allow, for the sake of foreign gold,

That things go ill twixt Locrin and Corineus,

But, having consulted, and taken council, they

Would have Locrin take Gwendoline to wife,

And hold to the pledge he’d given Corineus,

Be true to his word, and keep the people’s love;

While Astrild he should send from out the land.

Locrin approved the decision of his council;

He took Gwendoline as his spouse and queen.

And he declared, even though it was untrue,

That he would send fair Astrild from the land.

Yet he did not so, thinking to deceive them,

But summoned a hired man, whom he trusted,

And ordered him to go secretly from the court,

To the town that was later called Trinovant,

And that in our speech is now known as London.

And once there, making haste with everything,

To build a lodge, underground, beautiful and fair,

With walls of cut stone, and doors of whale-bone,

And in a place most fair, private from the people,

And set therein much fuel, and clothes a-plenty,

Robes, and purple-dyed capes, and golden plate,

Much wine, wax-candles, many a pleasant thing,

And then go forth himself, in the dark of night,

And, in deepest secrecy, lead Astrild therein.

This, that noble man did, as Locrin had demanded,

For all good men should do as their lord commands.

Astrild was seven years in this underground lodge,

Never seen without, and none knew she was there.

Except for King Locrin, and his close companions.

When he went to Trinovant, he told Gwendoline

He’d be there seven nights to worship his deity,

And would do so in secret, for else he dared not,

Lest any man learnt what he sought to do there.

This Gwendoline believed; such was his craftiness;

So acted Locrin the wild; Astrild he got with child,

And Gwendoline his wife, with child were these two.

The birth of Locrin’s daughter Abren, and son Madan

Astrild bore a daughter, within her lodge of stone,

And she was baptised, in accord with their rites.

The child was named Abren, and none was fairer.

Gwendoline had a son; she was blithe at heart,

And Madan he was named, that son of the king.

The child waxed and throve, and was loved by all.

When he could walk, and talk and speak with folk,

The king had brought to him his fair son Madan,

And sent him to Corineus, and into that realm,

That he might instruct him, teach him manners,

And that he did most loyally, as long as he might.

Then came the time that each man must abide,

And Corineus the strong reached his life’s end.

On Corineus death, Gwendoline is sent back to Cornwall

The king heard of it, and much the news pleased him!

For, when he knew, in truth, that Corineus was dead,

He next summoned twelve good men of his people,

And they led Gwendoline back to her father’s realm,

Into that Cornwall which was her native country.

Now Gwendoline was home, with her son Madan,

And much she complained of that fact to her men,

All those that were of his household while he lived.

She gathered together her friends, her kith and kin,

And all of the knights she could draw to her cause,

And all of that country’s folk that gave her support,

And foreigners who flocked to her from many lands,

That pledged to fight for her, for silver and gold,

And bade them, for her sake, revenge her injury.

Now Locrin the king had taken Astrild to wife,

For she pleased him, and had made her his queen.

Beneath the cloak of bliss there came many harms.

His men told Locrin that, into the realm he ruled,

Came Gwendoline with an army from her land,

To wreak revenge on the king, and on his queen.

Locrin is slain in battle, near the river Stour

The king with all his host advanced against her,

And they met in close encounter by a river;

That river, they named the Stour, was in Dorset,

The battle was fierce, and there Locrin was slain.

For an arrow pierced his heart, and so he fell.

There he was killed, and most of his army too.

While those who remained alive fled far away.

Gwendoline therefore had now the upper hand,

And all his realm the former queen possessed.

She went to the castle where Astrild now dwelt,

And she ordered Astrild and Abren to be bound,

And had the pair of them cast into deep water,

Wherein they were drowned, and so put to death.

Then was Gwendoline queen over that people.

She, after thinking deeply, then commanded

That the river where they drowned, be called

The Avon, on account of the daughter Abren,

And for Locrin’s sake, who was her royal lord,

He who had begotten Abren upon Astrild.

So died the king, his new queen, and the child.

Tis Avon yet, that at Christchurch meets the sea.

Gwendoline then held power o’er all of Britain,

And was well-disposed to grant each man his right.

All could travel safely, though they carried red gold.

Ten years she’d been with Locrin, in grief and woe.

Fifteen years and nine days, after Locrin was dead,

She ruled Britain, and governed as do the best,

In peace and concord, and happy were her people.

Then she gave all of his father’s realm to Madan,

And to Cornwall she fared, to her father’s realm,

And dwelt in that land, much to the people’s joy.

Madan is succeeded by his sons, Menbriz and Malin

Now Madan wedded a wife who was most fair,

And by her had two sons, yet both were wicked.

Menbriz was the elder, and Malin the younger.

Forty years, Madan held his realm, with honour,

And, at his life’s end, considering what to do,

He divided his rich kingdom between his sons.

But when he was dead the two sons plotted evil;

Between them trouble arose, the pair were foes.

Sorrow and slaughter there was, of their enmity.

Menbriz acted basely, he was the worst of traitors.

He seemed to make peace with his brother,

For he promised true friendship to the other.

And appointed a day when all the noblemen

Would come together, in peace and amity.

On the day that was set, they met together.

Menbriz had named a truce, but now made war.

He wrought sorrow enough; he slew his brother,

And so won all this land, he held in his power.

The reign, and death, of Menbriz

Menbriz hated his kin, none of them was pleasing;

The wealthy he made wretched; the poor cursed him.

If any was so great that the king might not be seen

To slay him openly, the man soon died of poison.

A fair wife Menbriz wed, and begat on her a son,

Ebrauc he was called, famed throughout the land.

Menbriz worked evil, and the worst fate took him.

Evil was pleasing to him, he scorned his fair queen,

He took servants to his bed, abandoning his wife.

Twenty years he held the land, and harmed the people,

But then a time came when he too came to harm,

For he went amidst the woods, riding all alone,

Hunting a wild deer, and thereby suffered death.

Midst the trees, he’d found a fair and wondrous hind,

And with great clamour the hunt had followed after,

Riding on so wildly. that the king went all astray,

Till he had beside him not a single one of his men.

He soon arrived in a valley where he met his death,

For he happened upon a pack of ravenous wolves.

The wild creatures leapt upon him from every side

And they clawed him and tore him limb from limb.

And attacked his mount also, thus, both were dead.

So fared Menbriz who’d betrayed his brother Malin.

Ebrauc the son of Menbriz

Menbriz had but the one son, by his lovely queen,

And that was Ebrauc, among the noblest of kings

That e’er held this land, and e’er ruled the people.

His kindred he enriched, the wealthy and the needy,

The rich caused no hurt, and the poor went free.

He caused the fields to be tilled, and all loved him,

In all manner of ways, joy was there in that realm.

He kept a goodly peace; no man broke his word.

Knights he possessed, good, strong, and forceful;

They all longed for war, and the gods were angry.

The king, he knew it well, but he dared not say so.

He had good ships built, and launched by the shore,

And, after a while, the fleet was all set to sail,

And he filled the ships with his noble knights,

And sent them into France with a mighty army.

They conquered France, and lands far beyond,

They conquered all that about that country lay.

Great was the treasure they amassed as spoils,

And they came hither home, all safe and sound.

Ebrauc was our first king that pillaged abroad,

Whose army passed the sea and ventured there.

For a long time after, the people were wealthy,

Made so by the spoils of his foreign campaign.

Ebrauc builds burghs at York and Maiden Castle (Durham?)

Then it came to the good king Ebrauc’s mind,  

That he would have built two mighty burghs.

He took his men and fared forth into the north;

On this side of Scotland, there he would bide.

First, he made a burgh and called it Caer Ebrauc,

The other he made on a down, naming it Adud.

What was first Caer Ebrauc became Eborac;

Invaders came and they called it Eoverwic.

Those men of the north that ruled thereafter,

In their ill-fangled custom renamed it York.

Then further north the king made a new burgh,

Upon Agnetes mount, and most wondrous fair,

Maiden Castle; I know not why it was done.

Ebrauc lived long, and held the land with honour;

Sixty winters he was king, and held it in peace.

Many women had he to his bed, great progeny,

Twenty sons alive, each by a different mother.

He fathered thirty daughters, and all were fair.

Of his sons I will tell you, hark to their names:

Brutus Vert-Escut, Margadud; Sisilvius, Regin, Bladud,

Moruit, Lagon, Ebedluan; Ricar, Spaden, Gaul, Pardan,

Eldad, Gangu, Kerin, Luor; Ruc, Assarac, Buel, Hector,

These were the sons of Ebrauc, the noble king.

Hear now the names of his daughters, nobly-born,

The eldest, that was Gloigin; Ocidas, Ourar, Ignogen,

Guardid, Radan, Guendlian; Angarad, Guenboden, Methalan,

Malure, Ecub, Zangustel; Scadud, Kambrada, Methahel,

Gaz, Echem, Nest, Gorgon; Wladus, Ebraen, Blangru, Ebron,

Bedra, Aballac, Eangnes; Andor, Scadiald, Galoes.

It was after this Galoes that Wales was named,

And she was the fairest; above all the others

Beloved by the king, all her sisters and brothers.

Andor was the best mannered, her actions were good.

While Gloigin, the eldest was, in all things, wisest.

Silvius King of Lombardy was their near-kin.

He sent a rich envoy to Ebrauc, king of this land.

He bade him send his daughters, whom he would give

To his wealthy nobles to wed, to their Trojan kin,

Rich men of their race, in Lombardy, over the sea.

No women there, in Lombardy were to their taste,

So, he sought the king’s daughters, that all might wed.

King Silvius won his boon, as king of Lombardy.

And these, of his Trojan kin, he drew to his court.

Some of the brothers went thither with their sisters.

They procured ships, and then procured weapons,

They procured men who could give them counsel,

Through all the land they sent to gather an army,

From Britain, through Lombardy, entered Germany.

His brothers named as their leader, Assarac of our land;

With wisdom and caution, they went, till they were there.

Many a fort they won; slew, burnt, and conquered the land.

The reign of King Leil, and the founding of Carlisle

Ebrauc held this realm; sixty winters was he the king.

And he retained his eldest son here, by his side,

He was greatly renowned, was this Brutus Vert-Escut,

Who held the realm twelve years, after his father died.

And he had a son named Leil, who held it after him,

For full five and twenty years, from his father’s death.

Leil built a noble burgh, twas comely and most fine,

As mark of his kingship, and called the place Caer Leil,

And in all the Northlands there was no place so fair.

Leil the king held the land well, and firm his rule,

Yet, when near to his life’s end, dire evil befell him.

Fort all his wealthy earls, and his noble barons,

Brought fierce conflict, nor for the king would cease,

The king had naught from all those men but scorn,

And every wilful man, there was, but did as he willed.

Then the king fell sick, broken by grievous sorrow,

And soon there came the day that the king lay dead.

The reign of Rudhudibras, the founding of Winchester and Canterbury

The king he had a son, who was himself a good man,

He was a fine, brave knight; his name Rudhudibras.

This knight he took power, and then held the realm,

And for nine and thirty winters he ruled this land,

After the death of his father, that true king, Leil.

He calmed the folk, and fair peace he wrought,

Set sound laws, and was stern towards the foolish.

He loved all those folk that followed his laws,

And with rich gifts he honoured all good men.

He ordered peace and quiet, on pain of life and limb.

He built a most noble burgh called Winchester,

For such a thing was most pleasing to his mind.

And afterwards Rudhudibras built Canterbury,

And Cestesbury Castle, on Waledures Down.

Yet, ne’er has there come about a stranger thing,

A great eagle, that perched on the wall, gave a cry,

A cry that Rudhudibras the king himself heard,

And every one of the knights that were with him.

In that cry, the bird foretold the death of the king,

And Rudhudibras soon died; woe to the people!

Bladud’s reign, the healing waters at Bath

His son was named Bladud, he was a vigorous man,

He was both large and strong, and rich and mighty.

He knew the evil craft, and spoke with the Fiend,

And all that he wished to know the Fiend told him.

Now, this same King Bladud he built warm baths,

With much skill, and much artistry, out of stones

Broad as beams, that he laid round a wellspring,   

For those waters flow hot, and heal the people.

Bladud built a temple not far from these baths;

It was made in the name of a heathen deity.

Who’d hear her name, Minerva she was called,

He’d fond belief in her, called her ‘the Lady’.

He had a fire kindled, that blazed in the temple,

And never was quenched, winter or summer,

But was tended ever, as the king commanded,

To the worship of ‘the Lady’, dear to his heart.

Thus did Bladud the king, as was widely known.

Bladud’s magical flight, and death

When he’d done this thing, he thought of another,

He boasted he’d fly in the likeness of a bird.

So, his folk might see him, and his flight behold.

He wrought him wings, of which he had much shame.

For to London he went, with many of his folk.

There he donned his wings, and his flight began.

Borne by feathers, he thus took to the sky,

He flew high in the air, close to the heavens,

But the wind blew counter, the wings weakened,

The strings broke, that held them outstretched,

And he fell to the ground: so King Bladud died.

He fell upon a place that there was in London.

The shrine of Apollo, a fiendish heathen god.

He fell upon the roof, and was dashed to pieces.

Thus was this kingdom of its king bereaved.

Twenty winters had Bladud the realm in hand,

After his father’s death, that Rudhudibras,

Who was son of King Leil, the noble king.

King Lear, and the founding of Leicester

Now Bladud had a son, and he was named Lear.

After his father’s death, he held this lordly land,

For the whole of his life, for full sixty winters.

He built a noble burgh, through his artful craft,

And after himself he caused it to be named.

Caer Lear the burgh was called, dear to the king,

That we folk call Leicester in our native tongue.

In the olden days it was a burgh most noble,

Yet afterwards there came upon it much sorrow,

Such that it was destroyed, the people slaughtered.

Sixty winters did Lear govern this whole land;

The king had three daughters by his noble queen,

But he had no son, and by that he was saddened,

None to sustain his honour, but his three daughters.

The eldest daughter she was named Gornoille,

The second was Regau, the third was Cordoille,

She was the youngest, and in looks the fairest,

And as dear to her father as was his own life.

Now the king grew old and, failing in strength,

He thought what he might do, as to the realm,

After his death, and declared thus, to himself:

‘The realm I’ll divide between my daughters;

I’ll grant them the land, and they shall share it.

But first I would know which cares for me most,

And she shall have the best part of my kingdom.’

Thus thought the king, and thereafter he wrought.

He summoned Gornoille, his comely daughter,

From her chamber, to speak with her dear father.

And thus, as he sat in state, spoke the old king:

‘Tell to me, in truth, Gornoille, my daughter,

That are so dear to me, how dear am I to you?

How worthy are you to wield the sovereignty.’

Gornoille was wary, as women must ever be,

And spoke a falsehood to her father the king.

‘Beloved father dear, as I hope for mercy

So help me Apollo, in whom is all my trust,

You are dearer to me than is the whole world;

And more will I say, you are dearer than life.

And this is the truth, that I speak, believe me.’

Lear, the king, believed in his daughter’s lie,

And this was the answer that he gave to her:

‘I say to you, Gornoille, beloved daughter dear,

Good shall you receive for your fair saying.

I am, in my old age now, much enfeebled,

And you love me more than your life itself.

I will divide my noble land in three parts,

And you shall have the best, my dear daughter,

And you shall have for spouse my finest thane,

The finest of all the noblemen of my realm.’

After this the old king spoke with the second:

‘Regau, beloved daughter, come now, counsel me,

Say, before my folk, how dear am I in heart?’

She answered prudently, and not from her heart,

‘All that is alive is not half so dear to me,

As is your life itself, before my very own,’

Yet spoke not a word of truth more than her sister.

Though her father believed the falsehood wholly.

Then said the king, for her answer pleased him:

‘The third part of my land I shall grant to you.

And you shall take and wed the lord you choose.’

Even now the king would quit not his folly,

He bade his daughter Cordoille come before him,

She was the youngest, and of word the truest,

And the king loved her more than the other two.

Cordoille had heard the lies they had told the king,

She swore a lawful oath that she would not lie.

The truth she would tell whether twas liked or not.

Then said the aged king, foolishness followed him:

‘I would hear from you, Cordoille, my daughter,

 So, help you Apollo, how dear is my life to you?’

Then gave answer Cordoille, loudly and clearly,

With a smile, and playfully, to her dear father:

‘You are most dear to me, since you are my father,

And to you am I dear, as I am your daughter,

True is my love for you, since we are closest kin,

And, as I do hope for mercy, I say you more:

You are worth as much as you are master of,

And while you have it, others will love you,

For soon is he scorned, the man that has little.’

So said the maid Cordoille, and then fell silent.

Now the king was wrath; she had not pleased him.

He thought twas contempt for him she had shown,

That she thought him worthless, nor did she love him,

As did her two sisters, who had both told a lie.

Then the king’s face turned black, as if in mourning,

His skin was now dark of hue, he grieving deeply.

And the king was so angered he fell in a swoon.

Then slowly he rose, and the maid was afeared,

And his speech broke forth; it was evil he uttered.

‘Hark to me, Cordoille, now I shall speak my will,

Of my daughters the dearest, now the most hated,

You shall hold never a part of my kingdom;

Between the other two, shall I divide my realm,

And you shall want, and wander in wretchedness;

Never did I ween that you would shame me so;

And thus, shall you die, now flee from my sight,

Your sisters shall have the land; such is my will!

The Duke of Cornwall shall wed my Gornoille,

And the Scottish king shall wed Regau the fair.

And to them I shall grant the realm I rule over.’

Then the old king did all that he said he would.

Oft was the maiden sad, never worse than then.

Woe was in her mind, given her father’s wrath.

She went to her chamber where oft she sat sorry,

Because she’d not lie to the father she loved.

The maid was most shamefast, her father she shunned,

As was the best counsel; and kept to her chamber.

And suffered in her mind, and much she mourned.

And thus, things stood awhile, in this same wise.

The division of his kingdom, Cordoille’s exile

In France, there was a king, rich and most eager,

Aganippus was his name, chief of his people;

He was made king when young, wife he had none.

He sent a message into this land of ours,

And Lear the king he greeted in amity.

And said his wish was to ask for Cordoille,

And he would wed her, and make her his queen,

And thereafter do all for her she might wish.

For British travellers had told of the maid,

Of her grace and kindness, before the king,

Of her great beauty, and of her true honour,

How patient she was, and of her fine manners.

No woman so courteous in all of Lear’s land.

Then, King Aganippus had sent to King Lear.

Lear now bethought him of what he might do.

He caused a letter to be writ, of the noblest,

And sent it by messenger then, into France.

Thus spoke the king’s letter, and widely twas known:

‘Lear of Britain, who is king of that country,

Greets Aganippus, noble monarch in France.

My thanks you have earned, for your fair offer,

And for your fair message given in greeting.

And now I’d have you know, as is written here,

That my whole realm I’ve divided in two,

Granting one half to each of my daughters,

Those two of the three who are dearest to me.

A third I do have, I know not where she is,

For she has scorned me as one of no worth.

And, on account of my age, does despise me.

She made me so wrathful, ill fall upon her,

That of all my land, and all of my people,

Of all I possess, or may own to in future,

She shall have naught of it, nay not a whit.

Yet if you will have her, for the maid is fair,

I’ll set her aboard a ship, and send her to you,

In the clothes she has on, she’ll have no more.

If you will receive her, then that I shall do.

Such is the case, and sound health I wish you.’

This letter reached France and the noble king,

He had the thing read, dear was the news to him.

Then the king thought, that it was mere guile,

That Lear, the father, would keep her from him,

And ever more madly he longed for the maid.

Then the king, Aganippus, said to his barons,

‘I am wealthy enough, no more gold do I need,’

Ne’er shall this Lear keep now the maid from me,

But I will wed her, and she shall be my queen.

Her father may keep his land, his gold and silver,

I ask none of his treasures, for I have enough,

All but this maid Cordoille; she is all my wish.’

By word and letter, he often addressed this land,

Bidding King Lear send him his lovely daughter.

And he would receive her richly, and with honour.

Then the old king summoned his noble daughter,

And let her pass overseas, in the clothes she wore,

And with naught else, for her father waxed severe.

Aganippus, the French king, welcomed the maid,

And, pleasing the folk there, made her his queen,

And there she remained, most dear to the people.

Lear reaps the results of his own folly

Now, the old king, Lear, lived on, in this land,

Having gifted his daughters all of his kingdom.

He had married Gornoille to Scotland’s king,

Maglaunus his name, whose power was great;

And to Cornwall’s duke, Regau his daughter.

Then it befell, and it was not long thereafter,

The duke and the Scottish king spoke together.

In secret conversation, exchanging counsel,

That having all this land in their own hands,

They would feed Lear the king while he yet lived,

And house him night and day, with forty knights

Of theirs, and find for him hawks and hounds,

That he might ride and hunt, about the country,

And live a life of bliss for the rest of his days.

And Lear heard this, but afterwards disdained it.

First Lear went to dwell with the Scottish king,

With Maglaunus his son-in-law, and Gornoille.

The king was welcomed in generous manner,

He was well-served there by his forty knights,

With horses and hounds, all that was due him.

But then it befell, and not long thereafter,

That Gornoille bethought what she might do.

For her father’s state she thought brought ill,

And she complained of it to her lord, Maglaunus,

And said to him in bed, as they spoke together,

‘Say, my lord, sweet man that is dearest to me,

Is not my father, methinks, no longer sane?

No worship he knows, and his wits are lost.

Methinks that the old man is in his dotage.

Day and night he’s forty knights to serve him,

All those thanes he has, and all their servants,

Hawks, and hounds, by which we take much harm.

Nowhere do they speed, and ever they spend,

And all the fine efforts we make for them,

They receive blithely, and all that we receive

Is base ingratitude for the gifts we grant them.

They bring shame on us, and they beat our men,

My father has here far too many an idle man.

A good fourth of them let us now thrust forth,

Thirty are quite enough for our house to host,

We have cooks enough for us in the kitchen,

We’ve porter and cupbearers enough for all.

Let some of his great throng fare where they will,

As I hope for mercy, I’ll suffer it no longer!’

All this Maglaunus listened to, from his wife,

And then he answered her in a noble speech:

‘Lady you are wrong, have we not wealth enough?

Leave your father in bliss, he’ll not live long.

If foreign kings were to hear of such a thing,

And that we acted so, all would reproach us.

We should let him have the folk that he wishes,

Such is my counsel, for soon he will lie dead.

We have now, in our hands, half his kingdom.’

Then said Gornoille: ‘Lord, leave this to me,

I will manage the whole, and so dismiss them.’

As a stratagem, she sent to the knight’s lodgings,

And told them to go their way, they’d not be fed,

A fourth, that is, of the thanes and their servants,

Of those that had come there with Lear the king.

Soon Lear heard of this, and the man felt wrath.

Then spoke out the old king, in woeful words,

Thus said Lear the king, with pain in his voice:

‘Woe to the man that holds his land with honour,

Yet gives it his child while he might yet enjoy it,

For well it may befall, of that same he’ll repent!

Now I will at once fare forth and into Cornwall,

And there I hope for fair counsel of my daughter,

That has Hemeri as her duke, and half my kingdom.

Forth went the king to the south, to the western tip

Of Britain, to Regau his daughter, lacking counsel.

On reaching Cornwall, there he was well-received.

And dwelt there six months, with all of his retinue.

Then said Regau, to her noble Duke, Hemeri:

‘Lord, hearken to me, for I say to you, in truth,

We have done unwisely, in welcoming my father,

With his thirty knights, for the thing’s not pleasing.

Let us do away with twenty, ten are sufficient.

They drink and eat, and yet are no use to us.’

Then said Hemeri the duke, betraying the old man,

‘So ever I be alive, he shall have but five,

Tis retinue enough for all that he seeks to do,

And, if he will fare hence, let him soon do so.’

All they performed, much as they had spoken,

Removing the knights and all of their servants,

And left him bereft of all but five thanes.

Leir the king saw this; woe while he lived.

His mind was troubled and he mourned greatly,

And these words he said, with a sorrowful face:

‘Good fortune, fair fortune, how you deceive us!

Scarcely these two full years have passed by me,

Since I was wealthy, and had my knights by me.

Now have I reached a day where I sit naked,

Bereaved of possessions; then, woe unto me!

I was with Gornoille, my goodly daughter,

With thirty knights still, I dwelt in her land,

And might have lived so, but thence I departed;

I thought to do better, but worse have received.

I’ll again to Scotland, to see my fair daughter,

To ask for her pity, and that she respect me,

And will receive me, with but my five knights.

For there will I dwell, and endure this harm,

But a little while, for I shall not live long.’

So, Lear the king went forth to his daughter,

There, in the north, she lodged him three nights,

On the fourth day, she swore, by the powers above,

That he should make do with but one knight there.

And if he would not, he might fare where he would.

Now great was Lear’s woe, never greater than this,

Then said the old king, sorrow was in his heart:

‘Woe death, woe death, that you do not take me!

True spoke Cordoille, my youngest daughter,

For I see it all now; she was long dear to me,

But loathed thereafter; yet she said most truly:

He that has little is held worthless, and hated,

And my worth was measured by what I possessed.

True all the young maid said, wisdom follows her.

While I had my kingdom, my people loved me;

For land and their fees, my earls fell to their knees.

Now am I a wretched man, and no man loves me.

Ah, my daughter spoke true, and now I believe her.

While both of her sisters told me a falsehood,

Said I was dear to them, dearer than life itself.

Cordoille, my daughter, told me full honestly,

She loved me as dearly as one should a father.

What more, then, should I ask of a dear daughter?

Now will I go forth, and sail over the sea,

And learn of my Cordoille what is her will.

Her true words I took in anger, all to my shame,

For, now, I must beg for that which I despised.

The worst she might do is forbid me her land.’

Lear went aboard ship, with a single servant,

Into that ship he went, and no man knew him.

Lear seeks sanctuary in France

Over the sea they sailed, and soon made harbour.

Forth went King Lear, with but the one servant,

They asked for the queen that they might see her,

And people told them where the queen might be.

Lear went into a field, to rest his weary bones,

And sent ahead his servant, his trusted man,

Who reached the queen, and said to her, privately:

‘Hail to you fair queen, I am your father’s man;

Your father has come hither, his land foregone.

Both of your sisters, indeed, have foresworn him,

And out of dire need he is come to this country.

Help him if you may; as your father tis but right.’

Then the queen, Cordoille, sat silently the while,

And reddened where she sat, as from drinking wine,

With the servant kneeling, who soon would prosper.

For her voice broke forth, and she spoke kindly:

‘Lord Apollo, I thank you, that he has come to me!

For good tidings are these, that my father is alive,

And let me die, if I grant him not good counsel.

Listen now good servant, and hark to what I say,

I will give you a rich coffer, coins secure within,

And the contents shall be worth a hundred pounds.

I shall give you a fine steed, one good and strong,

To carry this weight of coins to my dear father.

And say to him I greet him with good greeting,

And bid him go swiftly to some noble burgh,

And find fair lodging there within that town,

And buy at once all that he’s most in need of,

Meat, and drink, and rich and decent clothing,

Hounds, and hawks, and the finest steeds to ride,

And let him keep forty knights in company,

And let them be clad in rich and noble garments.

And have a fine bed made up, and bathe himself,

And have his blood let, be it little and often.

When you need more silver, seek it from me,

And I will send him enough from my own,

So that nothing be known of his former state,

By his new servants, nor by these our thanes.

When forty days are gone, make it known anon,

To my own lord, that Lear is here in the land,

Come over the waves, to visit his daughter.

And I will make pretence that I knew it not,

Then come you with my father to greet my lord,

And fain to rejoice at this unexpected meeting.

So, send this in writing to my lord and king.

Now these coins receive and see you do well;

And if you do this, twill be to your benefit.’

The servant took the coffer, and went to his lord,

To Lear the king, and told him these good tidings,

Where he lay in a field, all woeful, on the ground.

Soon the old king was wondrously comforted.

And these few words he said, in a humble voice:

‘After evil comes good, well is he that receives it.’

They sought a burgh, as the queen had commanded,

And there did all as she had bidden them do.

And then, when forty days had passed and gone,

Then Lear the king had his most loyal knights

Go and greet Aganippus, his noble son-in-law,

And say to him that he had come into the land,

To see his daughter, whom he held most dear.

Aganippus was most blithe that Lear had arrived,

And rode to meet him, with all his company,

And Cordoille his queen; so, Lear had all his wish.

They met together, and full oft they embraced,

They rode to the burgh, and joy was in the house.

The sound of trumpets rose, and the fifes played,

All the halls were hung with fair tapestries,

And with gold-plate every board was decked.

And gold rings had every man on his fingers,

Fiddles and harps accompanying the singing.

The king had criers stand on the town wall

And cry, from on high, that King Lear was come:

‘Know, says Aganippus, who is lord over all,

That you shall obey this Lear that is a king,

And he shall be as a lord of this kingdom,

For as many years as he seeks to dwell here,

With Aganippus our king as his underling.

He that would keep his life, avoid all strife,

He that breaks the peace, he shall be punished.

And he charges all his people to observe this.’

Then answered the people: ‘So shall we do,

Both at home and abroad, all the royal will.’

Through all that same year, all was done so.

With much amity, and with much concord.

Lear returns to Britain with an army

When the year was done, Lear would go home,

To his own country, and asked the king’s leave.

Then King Aganippus answered him thus:

You shall not go there without a great army,

And so, I will lend you of my noblest knights,

Five hundred ships, all filled with the finest,

And all it behoves them to have on campaign.

And your daughter Cordoille, queen of this land,

She shall fare with you, and that mighty host.

And go the land where you were once king,

And if you find any that would oppose you,

Deny you your rights, deny you your kingdom,

Then fight them straight, fell them to the ground,

Win back the land, and set it in Cordoille’s hand.

So that she might rule it, long after your day.

So spoke Aganippus, so did the old king,

And all he wrought, as his friend had taught him.

To this land he came with his dearest daughter

Made peace with the best, that chose to submit,

And he felled all those that fought against him

And so all of this kingdom he won to his hand,

And gave it to Cordoille, that was queen of France,

And so, things stood for some while to come.

The death of Lear, and of Cordoille

Now Lear he lived for three years thereafter,

Then came his last days, and the king lay dead,

And his daughter laid him to rest in Leicester,

There in Janus’ temple, or so the book says.

And Cordoille held this land, of her strength,

For full five years was Cordoille our queen here,

But, in the meanwhile, her French lord, he died.

Word came to Cordoille that she was a widow;

And when the tidings came to Scotland’s king,

That both Lear and King Aganippus were dead,

He sent envoys to Britain, thence into Cornwall,

And urged its duke to war in the southlands,

While he in the north would conquer the land.

For it brought much grief to him, much sorrow,

That ever this queen should rule o’er the country.

Yet their sons should not, that were nobler than she,

For were they not the sons of her elder sisters.

‘We’ll bear it no more; we shall have all the land!’

So, a war they began, and mischief came quickly.

These sons of her sisters now gathered an army,

Their names they were Morgan and Cunedagius.

They oft led their forces forth, often they fought,

And oft were on top, and oft were defeated,

Until at the last they achieved what they wished,

They slew the Britons, and captured Cordoille.

Then they imprisoned her in a house of torment,

And the sons oppressed her more than they ought,

Till she, so distraught she was hateful to herself,

Seizing a long knife, therewith took her own life.

Twas an evil thing, that she was driven so to do.

Morgan And Cunedagius contest the realm

Then was this realm in the hands of those two sons,

Morgan and Cunedagius; they conquered in battle,

And divided all this noble land between them.

Cunedagius held the east as far as the Humber,

Morgan the west and north, and so they held the land.

For a full two years, having taken possession thus.

Now, when the two years were gone, they quarrelled.

Morgan was in Scotland, the far north he had in hand;

In Cornwall, Cunedagius had many a fine place.

Morgan had in his household a host of knights

Who loved not the people; they loathed them all.

They spoke with Morgan and scorned his manhood.

And this these wicked wretches said to their lord:

‘Why will you not fare forth, lord, with an army,

March through all Britain and take it to your hand?

For we feel much shame, and are angered at heart,

That you share a realm that should be yours alone.

Are you not brave, and born of the eldest sister?

Yet you share it with one who lessens your honour.’

Thus, they addressed him, so spoke the traitors.

And urged him on, the while, till he believed them.

He gathered an army that was exceeding strong.

He passed over the Humber and did great harm.

He harried, and burnt, and the folk he destroyed.

The news soon came south, and wide was it known,

That Morgan led an army, and harmed the people.

When Cunedagius heard what Morgan had done,

He became filled with wrath, and said these words:

‘Covetousness be accursed, many a man you harm,

Through you, my cousin Morgan loses honour.

And for that he shall pay dearly, should I yet live.’

Then Cunedagius sent men throughout the land,

And gathered in a host; and made ready an army.

With honour he marched, towards Morgan his cousin,

But when they met, and he’d fight, then Morgan fled,

While Cunedagius chased him from place to place.

Morgan fled into Wales, his cousin chased after,

And there, when his army had overtaken Morgan,

Struck off his cousin’s head, who had fared the worst,

And slew every man of that host that he came nigh,

Except such wretches as hid, and escaped alive.

They took Morgan’s body, and laid it in the ground.

Deep they buried him, that had been lord of Wales.

That place was named Margan, after Lord Morgan.

The reign of Cunedagius (contemporary with the founding of Rome, 753BC)

Now Cunedagius held this land, and was its lord,

And three and thirty winters he ruled this realm.

In peace and concord, to the joy of all his friends.

In Cunedagius day, that was king of our people,

Romulus and Remus, twin brothers, founded Rome.

Though he was his brother, the former slew the other,

After those thirty winters, Cunedagius lay dead.

The reign of Riwald his son

He had one noble son, and he was called Riwald,

He was wise and just; thus, he governed this land,

And all that lived, in this his kingdom, loved him.

At this time, there came a wondrous happening,

Such as has never been known before or since.

From the skies came a flood; three days it rained blood,

Three days and three nights, and caused great harm.

When the rain was gone, there came another marvel,

There came black flies, and these flew into folk’s eyes,

Their mouths, noses, and rendered their lives wretched.

Such a multitude of flies, they spoiled the grass and corn,

And woe were all the people that dwelt in this land.

Thereafter, came such sickness few emerged alive,

And came evil news that King Riwald was dead.

The brief reigns of Gurgustius, Sisillius, Lago, Mark, and Gorbodiagus

King Riwald had a son, that was named Gurgustius,

He held the land for half a year, and then he died.

Sisillius reigned thereafter, but he was soon dead,

Then came Lago, who lived for eight weeks only.

And next King Mark, that for thirty weeks was king.

Gorbodiagus the good, he then reigned five years.

And that king had two sons and both were wicked,

The elder was named Fereus, the younger Poreus,

The conflict between Fereus and Poreus

This pair were so wild, and averse to each other,

That they were all enmity, and ever at variance,

And each hated the other, as no brother should,

And both brought hatred, and harm to this land,

Till Gorbodiagus, the father, feared his two sons,

For even before him the pair would seek to fight.

The elder said all this land he’d have to his hand,

The younger gave him answer: ‘I, with this spear,

Would sooner slay you than see you possess it,

While I am alive.’ Now, Poreus, the younger,

Had so wicked a heart, and so hated his brother,

He thought to destroy him, in some subtle wise.

Fereus heard it mooted, by one that was truthful,

That his brother sought his death, and sad was he.

He did what he thought best, and sailed o’er the sea,

And went to greet the king of France, one Siward,

He offered obedience, saying that he would serve

As his loyal knight, both by night and by day.

The king was glad of his coming, and those with him,

And, once in his household, esteemed him greatly.

So, for full seven years there, he served the king,

To the king was pleasing, and also the queen.

The seven years now over, Fereus sought leave,

To return once more into his own country,

The king lent him an army of his finest men,

While he himself sent messengers far and wide,

Summoning all the knights that they could find,

Then he went aboard ship, with all his great host,

And they all reached this land of ours, safely.

Anon they began to fight, and he killed his foes,

But his brother, Poreus, marched against him,

And being powerful in battle, Fereus he slew,

And his mighty army he felled to the ground.

Judon was their mother, who was high and noble,

She wept greatly at this act of fratricide,

Whereby her younger son had slain the elder.

The dead son dearer to her, the living odious.

The living son was now so hateful to her,

That she thought to rob him of his very life.

The death of Poreus, and civil conflict

Poreus lay abed, there great danger befell him.

Where he lay in comfort and sleeping soundly.

His mother came there, in hatred and cunning,

With six other women, all gripping long knives.

And there the wicked woman murdered her son,

For she cut her son’s throat; woe to her forever!

Then the evil women sliced his corpse to pieces,

And split apart his limbs; each from the others.

Then was there much talk throughout the realm

Of Judon the queen and how she slew her son,

And of the deep sorrow that afflicted the land.

For Fereus was dead, and now Poreus also,

And the mother had lost the respect of all folk,

Nor were there living now any close-kindred,  

That might take upon them the rule of the realm,

Nor man nor woman, but this wretched Judon.

Now the folk gathered, and drowned her in the sea.

Then arose great strife, for the peace was broken,

And harsh was the conflict, with theft and pillage,

Each man robbed another, though it be his brother,

Mischief was in the land, and woe to the weak!

Here was hunger and hatred, here was greatest harm,

Here was much slaughter, till few remained alive.

Now, there were four rich men, with a vast host,

They oppressed all others, crushed them beneath.

And these four spoke together and they declared

That they’d divide all of this land between them.

Thus, they spoke, and thereafter did as they’d said.

Of the four of them, Stater was Scotland’s king,

While in Logres the kingdom was ruled by Piner,

Cloten had Cornwall, and Rudauc North Wales.

Though Cloten had greatest right to rule the realm,

The others were stronger and far wealthier

In hoarded gold, other treasure, and in land.

Cloten, they hated and despised his forces,

Yet Cloten that Cornwall held, held it in peace.

Now Cloten had a son who was mortal bold,

He was handsome, tall, and brave in a fight.

He was eager in battle, and open-handed,

Many the goodly virtues he kept in mind.

Dunwale Molinus battles for the kingdom

Dunwale Molinus was this bold son’s name,

He the finest man that e’er ruled this realm.

Bearing weapons, on his well-handled steed

He ranged o’er this land as if he were a lion.

He killed Piner the king, and slew his army,

Trampling all that withstood him under-foot.

And all of Logres he held beneath his hand,

Then he changed course, and went forth to Wales,

And, there, met King Rudauc, brave in battle.

Beside whom fought Stater, Scotland’s king.

They spoke there of concord, friendship and peace.

And oaths they took, that they swore not to break.

So, they all agreed, and away went Dunwale

And all his men, back to Cornwall his country.

Once Stater knew Dunwale was now far off,

He advanced further with his vast Scotch army,

While Rudauc with his Welsh added to the host.

Into the land they advanced and harried the folk,

Wide they roamed, and many a town they burnt.

Did great harm, and much of the land laid waste.

News of this reached Dunwale, yet in Cornwall,

Tidings of what Rudauc and Stater had wrought,

Then said Dunwale, who was a steadfast man:

‘Now are they forsworn, with their treachery.

By Apollo, never shall I believe them more.

Now we shall meet together, and race to battle,

And let right, under the heavens, then prevail!

Send my messengers forth throughout the land,

And say to all men that would hold true to me,

And would win true peace, to gather here soon.

And send abroad after other warlike warriors,

That would fight for me, for silver and for gold,

And I will march to battle, to fight for my rights,

Against these perjurers, that are thus foresworn.

Well oft do they fail, those that are in the wrong,

None foresworn can maintain their honour long.’

When Dunwale had spoken all his folk concurred.

He summoned a force greater than any on earth

Since the days when Brutus first landed here.

He gathered his forces and marched in great state,

Against those kings, and met them upon the weald.

They battled together, bravely both sides fought;

The ill-fated fell, men’s faces were wan and pale,

As all the fields about were dyed with their blood.

Many a brave man’s sword was hacked to pieces.

Dunwale was wondrous eager for the fight,

The battle was hard fought and harsh and long,

Dunwale had many a fine knight on that field,

Wise, and wary, and many an enemy they slew.

Dunwale bethought him as to what they might do.

He drew from his army six hundred noble knights,

The best in combat, all the hardiest of his men,

And thus, he said to them, speaking to them apart:

‘Take we these weapons that lie upon the field,

And hold our broad-shields before our chests,

Then take to the flank as if part of their army,

While our other forces seem to press the fight.

When Stater’s folk see our bright shields draw near,

Then it will seem to them to be most pleasing,

For, seeing our weapons, they will think us friends.

We shall be ready, and slay Rudauc their king,

Then shall we fell the King of Scotland, Stater.

In strength we shall pierce the enemy ranks,

Slay our foes, and leave them dead on the field.

So spoke Dunwale, that was a daring warrior,

And all this they wrought as he’d commanded.

They grasped the shields that lay upon the field;

Broad and strong were these, adorned with gold.

They advanced in combat towards the two kings,

Who were pleased, seeing the shields they bore,

Thinking, by those tokens, these were their men.

As Dunwale drew near he ordered they be slain:

‘Put them to the sword, for they are forsworn!’

Rudauc, they slew, while Stater they captured,

And then that Scottish king they dismembered.

Their blades strong, they sliced away at his flesh.

Then they rode to re-join their companions,

And, once together, they smote the foe as one,

Whose kings were dead; their forces scattered;

Their knights defeated, and their honour fallen.

He defeats and slays the two kings, Rudauc and Stater

Dunwale’s men slew all that they came nigh,

And all that great host they felled to the ground.

Except such wounded as escaped, filled with woe.

Now had Dunwale all this land in his two hands,

And proved a noble king, known far and wide.

And many a wonder the books tell of the man.

He was the first, since Brutus came to Britain,

To set a gold wreath, in triumph, on his head,

And he brought such peace, such tranquility,

That many of his laws stood long thereafter.

He made a decree, confirming it with an oath:

Each to enjoy the same peace as he himself;

Each traveller that had slaughtered, or stolen,

And he escaped into a burgh, to be bailed,

And then, and evermore, to be shown mercy,

To go to his home, and keep his possessions,

And all that sought to harm him to suffer doom;

And all former crimes the king now forgave.

The king made many laws that yet hold today,

And the laws he made in his day were sound.

The death of Dunwale

Forty winters he ruled, and bliss was in this land,

And then the king died, and woe to his people.

His earls came together, they laid him in the earth,

In London’s fair burgh, they interred him nobly;

In a rich temple there, and with gold entombed.

The End of Part I of Layamon’s ‘Brut