Part II: From Dunwale to the Roman Invasion

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

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The sons of Dunwale, Belin and Brenne

King Dunwale had, by his wife, two living sons,

The elder was named Belin, the younger Brenne,

The brothers were friends, through wise men’s counsel.

Belin gave his dear brother a large part of his realm,

Beyond the Humber, for him to hold in honour.

North and towards the sea, all for his well-being,

That he might be his man, and homage do him.

Belin held the south and Cornwall in his hand,

And Wales he ruled, and ruled it most fairly.

For five years it was thus, with love between them.

And each man loved the other, as his dear brother.

Yet base men served Brenne, ill was their counsel,

Each day they taught him, with craft and cunning,

To seek to break the covenant with his brother.

Now a knight of his household, one of this party,

Who meditated mischief, spoke thus to Brenne:

‘Come tell, my lord, most dear to me of all men,

Why is it that Belin, that is your own brother,

Holds much of the land, while you hold so little?

Had you not the one father, the same mother,

Being of the one line, as all the people know?

Now stands all this land in Belin’s own hand.

With you his man, which is woe and not right.

Are you born of some concubine, to suffer so?

Either you are such that you care not for land,

Or you think to die, and quit the world of men.

Believe the truth, as you believe sworn oath,

That all your people are exceeding wrathful.

Hark to your counsellors, for they will aid you.

We find it wondrous you will not crush him,

For you are much the better in close combat,

Greater is your courage, and your hardihood.

Cheslon, you conquered, and seized his Scotland;

Of Muraine was he king, and fought you boldly,

Before you overcame him and, after, slew him.

With all his army that he brought to this land.

But, most truly, I believe we are hateful to you,

Your thoughts you conceal from your own folk.

Yet on no account will we e’er desert you,

Not once would we do so, on our very lives.

Act now upon our counsel, and take with you

Twelve of your sages, your wisest retainers,

And fare forth tonight, into Norway, outright,

To Alfin, the king, for there you’ll be welcome;

Go greet that land’s ruler, and all his people.

The king has a daughter, she most dear to him,

Ask her for your own, to be your fair queen.

Seeing so fair a knight, he’ll grant her to you.

After that, ask that the king lend you an army,

To lead to this land, and embolden your folk.

Bid every knight whose aid you can muster,

For silver or gold, to come fight in this land,

And we, in a while, shall have hold of the realm.

And work it all secretly, this same campaign,

So, Belin knows naught, though he’s your brother.

Go there, and return swiftly, such is our counsel.

When you return home, then shall we be ready,

With our great host, to march through the country,

Take vengeance on Belin, that on you brings shame.’

So spoke this Malgod, who was ever a traitor;

The others did like, and woe widely they wrought.

Once Brenne had listened, and mused on their advice,

He rejoiced in mind, for their counsel seemed good.

He gave them his answer, that thus he would do,

Then his knights he readied, and went forth by night,

And rode till he reached the court of King Alfin.

The king he greeted, and all of his noblemen,

And the monarch’s reply was exceeding fair.

Then spoke Brenne, and made his request of him,

Sought the king’s daughter to make her his queen.

And the king granted all this that he asked for,

Of gold and treasure, and goods, and warriors;

Then Brenne was bolstered, and blithe at heart.

The maiden he wed, to his bed he now took her.

Seven nights, that seemed seven years, he was there,

Before he returned, to fight with his brother.

Mad indeed were those that so counselled him.

In Norway was Brenne, while Belin was here.

And Belin heard, through some truthful report,

Of his brother’s marriage, where he had gone,

And to what end he was dwelling in Norway.

Belin thought deeply, and then he declared

These words, and this that he uttered was true:

‘Woe on the man that betrays his own brother!

Where be you, my knights; where be you all,

Where be you, liegemen; now let us go forth.’

They marched to Northumberland, where thy took

Many a strong castle, and strengthened the walls.

To the sound of trumpets, he took all the burghs

In his brother’s land, that he’d held in his hand.

He stocked them with food, and many a warrior,

To make sound defence against Brenne’s power.

He and his knights then marched down to the shore,

Where they held the coast, and kept a careful watch.

Now, in Norway, Brenne knew naught of what passed,

And thought his brother knew naught of his doings.

He took leave then of Alfin, the king of Norway,

Who gave him fair reply: ‘E’er may you fare well!

Likewise, Delgan, my daughter, who is dear to me.’

Of Godlac and Delgan

Now, the young queen knew that she must depart,

And yet she had a lover whom she loved deeply,

Twas Denmark’s king, who was dear to her heart.

He was a worthy knight; Godlac he was named.

So, Delgan the queen, she sent into Denmark,

And made known to Godlac, her darling lover,

By means of secret missives for him to read,

That she was wed to Brenne, the King of Britain,

That he’d married her, and taken her to his bed,

All against her will; that thus she was most uneasy,

And that he must take her away to his own land.

She’d but three nights ere Brenne would depart:

‘For soon it must befall that I go from hence,

May you have peace and bliss, ne’er more shall we

Speak, yet greeting I send you, and my gold ring.’

When Godlac read this, then was he filled with woe,

Indeed, he well-nigh swooned there upon his throne,

And his men threw cold well-water, upon his face,

Until he was aroused, though still much afflicted.

He cried outright: ‘Where be you now, my knights?

Go we swift towards the sea, my worthy warriors.’

The king summoned to him all his goodly folk,

Down to the sea they went, and boarded ship.

A fleet was soon formed, and they rode the waves,

Towards the place whence now Brenne had sailed.

Once Brenne was on the high seas, both fleets met,

Ship ran against ship until one shattered to pieces,

Beak rammed against beak, till the weaker sank.

Many a breast was pierced by the thrust of a spear,

Helms rang with the blows, and brave knights fell.

Sorrow was rife, and swiftly did Brenne flee,

With Godlac after; many a ship he captured;

He saw a ship that passed by with silken sails.

He called to his warriors: ‘On, on, you wretches!

For that is the queen’s vessel there before us.

Sail alongside the ship; if you can take her,

Then evermore shall I love you, while I live.’

They bore down hard, and removed the queen.

Godlac slew the crew, and seized the treasure,

Then bore the queen, Delgan, off to Denmark.

Thinking then that he’d have her to himself,

But in a while all things happened otherwise.

Godlac sailed forth, a happy man at heart,

He was set to make Delgan Denmark’s queen;

Yet great ill-luck beset him, all-wise hateful.

In the east a storm arose, the skies darkened,

The wind was against them, the sea enraged,

The waves rose on high, the water seething,

The rigging all tore away, and woe was rife.

Vessels sank; three and fifty ships went down,

The downed sails wallowed in the raging sea.

Godlac’s ship was sound, although he fretted,

And now he set to thinking what he might do.

He seized an axe, its blade sharp and strong,

And severed the mainmast, cutting it in two,

Leaving the sail and shattered spars to drift away.

Thus said Godlac, and sorely he was angered:

‘Let every man strive, so we reach shore alive;

As long as we make land, tis no matter how.’

So, driven by the wind they knew not whither,

After five days of tempest, they came to land.

Belin’s knights, that held the shore, found them,

And seized queen Delgan, and Godlac the king,

And addressed the pair in evil speech, saying:

‘Now are you all but dead; yet still you may live,

If you say whence you come, and what you seek.’

Godlac answered them in these goodly words:

‘We are sea-weary folk, and what I say is true:

These men know not to what land they’ve come.

Nor do we know this shore which late we sought,

Not the land’s name, nor the people, nor its lord;

Nor know we whether we speak not to our foes.

Yet I pray you, noble men, lead us to your king,

And there I may speak to him of joy and sorrow.’

So, the knights led them to their sovereign king;

Godlac and the queen, friends, goods, and all,

Saying they were in Britain, in Belin’s land.

Now, once before the king, he called out, wisely:

‘Hail to you King Belin, whose brother is Brenne.

My name is Godlac, lord of a people am I,

For I am King of Denmark, and this is Delgan.

Brenne, he came to Norway, to Alfin its king.

The king gave him Delgan, my lover, to wed.

Messengers came and told me the truth of this;

They said when he would leave along with her.

I fared towards him with forty goodly ships,

And as many knights as the ships would bear.

His fleet was vast, full seven hundred vessels,

And I launched a sea-battle, and Brenne fled.

His crews, I conquered, and full many were slain.

And then I found Delgan, that is my beloved.

I tell you, in truth, your brother he still lives,

For he held his course and he came to harbour,

As I met the queen’s ship sailing on swiftly,

And so followed after, and brought it to heel.

Then was I blithe indeed, glad to be yet alive.

Then, on the high seas, the wind against me,

The weather grew wild, and the sea was wrath.

And drove my vessel here, to your country.

And now I seek mercy, being in your power.’

The king had them held, in a place most secure,

In a strong castle, once therein well-guarded.

Now but four weeks after all this had passed,

Brenne touched upon the shores of Scotland,

With four hundred ships, doomed all his folk.

He sent news of his coming to Belin, his brother,

And bade him send the queen to him quickly,

With that King Godlac who slew all his men.

And, if he failed to do so, the worse for him:

‘Through the land I will go, and slay all I find,

With fire and the blade, and never will I cease,

Except you give me all of that which I ask for,

And quit my land, and go into your kingdom,

And yield me my burghs, and my fine castles,

My towns, and towers, whose loss harms me.’

Forth went the messenger, to Belin the king,

And spoke the words from Brenne his brother.

And Belin denied him all that he asked for.

While he yet lived, never would he yield so.

The man returned, and relayed this to Brenne.

Brenne was wrathful, and summoned his forces,

And armed his soldiers, preparing for battle,

Gathering his brave knights, full ready to fight.

Belin and Brenne battle for the kingdom

On his side, Belin advanced to meet him.

Much anger was there by the wood at Kalatere,

Where those two met, and with evil greeting.

Together they came now, in swift encounter,

Fiercely they battled and, there, thousands fell.

Now Belin fought well, and so did his Britons,

Most valiant were they and swept o’er the field,

Till Brenne retreated, then fled with his people,

Towards the shore, and with great misfortune.

And Belin came after and hunted them all down;

Sixty thousand the dead that lay on that ground.

Brenne came to his ship, that stood by the shore;

The ship he boarded, with but twelve good men,

No others reached safety, of all that vast army.

O’er the sea he sailed, and so escaped to France,

And as for the wounded, they fled to the woods.

When the battle was done, and Brenne had fled,

Belin held a husting, at York, of his earls.

He asked the wisest to give him good counsel,

What should he do now with this same Godlac

This King of Denmark, that he held confined.

For Godlac had sent him word by one trusted,

If he were set free from these bonds he hated,

That he would be Belin’s man, good and true.

And yield all the gold in the land of Demark,

And send three thousand pounds every year,

And, against his pledge, grant noble hostages,

If he would let him and his comrades depart,

And lead her he loved dearly into Denmark.

King Belin now granted him all that he asked,

And allowed him to go, with all his companions.

Belin had tribute secured, with those pledges,

And won Godlac’s homage, so gaining honour,

While Godlac led forth that woman so fair,

Having paid dearly, he knew, for the pleasure.

Belin’s reign as King of Britain

Belin ruled the realm well, for many a year,

And so maintained the kingdom in freedom;

He made sound peace, and his folk held to it.

Good and strong then, were the laws he made,

And all loved the monarch that ruled this land.

Now Belin held power o’er all of Britain,

He travelled the country, laying down the law.

He viewed the woods, and the wildernesses,

The meadows, and moors, and the high hills,

Burghs and towns, all that was in the realm.

The king bethought him what he might do.

He began a road that was long, and straight,

Well-wrought and wide, through all his kingdom,

And the Fosse Way he and his folk named it.

It ran from Totnes to the north, to Caithness,

Totnes in Cornwall, to Caithness in Scotland.

And another road he made, one most useful,

That ran from Southampton out to St Davids.

And a third he made that divided the realm.

Once these ‘streets’ were laid, he made laws,

That whoever broke the peace, on the road,

Then his life was made forfeit to the king;

He that met others there should give fair greeting.

These were the king’s roads that I have named.

Now, Brenne, the king’s brother, was in France;

In his heart was much anger, shame in his mind,

That he’d lost his land, and the one he held dear.

It shamed him greatly that he was so disgraced.

He dwelt in France with his twelve companions.

And he served the king, and pleased him greatly,

Such that the French folk showed him all respect.

For Brenne had gained much wealth and shared it,

He was not covetous, but generous with his gifts.

He was a noble lord there, good were his deeds;

All things went well for him; he was respected.

Once he was widely-known there, and famous,

Known to all folk, and a favourite of the king,

Then his friends sought audience of the monarch,

That he should assist him, and his fine people,

To regain all his lands from Belin his brother.

The king so promised, and well it was fulfilled.

Brenne contests the realm once more

Brenne took his leave, then he sought out Seguin,

Lord of Burgundy and ‘Britain beyond the sea’.

The former greeted this lord and sought his aid,

He said he would serve him, and hold him master,

And bowed to him humbly, as his beloved lord.

The duke was pleased, and gave him fair welcome.

Brenne was accomplished, and great his skills,

Brenne knew the ways of both hawk and hound,

He knew how to play most adroitly on the harp,

And for his knowledge the courtiers loved him.

So, this lord made him welcome, like to a son.

The duke had a daughter, one most dear to him.

Yet he lacked a son, a thing that saddened him.

The duke beheld Brenne, handsome in body,

And said to him, and declared the truth of it:

‘Brenne you are handsome and nobly-born,

A brave knight, and fair and pleasing to me.

You came over the sea, are of royal issue,  

And obey my wishes, such that I love you.

All that I promised you, to that will I hold.

I will give you my daughter who is dear to me,

And, after my day, shall you rule my realm,

For all my barons approve of this matter

That thus it be done, and you command them.’

Then Brenne answered, humble was his speech:

‘I thank you for it, and likewise all your people,

For the great honour that thereby you show me.’

All was performed as the duke had promised,

Blithe was the court, for Brenne wed the maid,

And with much honour he dwelt with the duke.

After a year had passed, in this same manner,

The duke died, and Brenne now ruled the realm,

And all of its folk held him dear as their life,

For he held the peace, and was mild with all men.

Much land he possessed, and he kept all in hand,

And had a good wife he loved more than his life.

Now, within a year or two, Brenne bethought him,

Of how Belin his brother had seized all his land,

So, he sent messengers through all Burgundy,

And they gathered his forces in, far and wide.

When the host was rendered innumerably vast,

He marched into Normandy, then set out to sea,

And, safe and sound, soon reached this country.

Then, Brenne descended, in force, on this land.

The news reached Belin, twas said to be true,

That Brenne his brother had entered the realm,

And with an innumerable host he had landed.

King Belin summoned the men of his kingdom,

Bidding them come to him, this side the sea,

To come at his need, and drive out the strangers.

His army was ready, and forthwith they marched,

Until the two armies closed upon each other.

Queen Tonuenne reconciles the two brothers

Now the old queen, Tonuenne, was still living,

And she was the mother of Belin and Brenne.

She was most wise, that she now well-showed.

She dressed in a skirt that was naught but tatters,

And she drew the hem well-nigh to her knees,

And she went barefoot, and all this to do good.

She went to the host that had come to this land,

And asked whereabouts in the field was Brenne.

She found him armed, and preparing for battle,

Where his men were donning their breastplates.

She approached him as she had been directed,

Then rushed to embrace her youngest in her arms.

Full oft she clasped him, full oft she kissed him:

‘Ah, what now Brenne, what mischief is this?

If you slay your brother, you have no other;

You are but the twain, my sons both are you.

Think of your mother, think of your honour,

Think on my counsel, that are my dear son.

These are the breasts that suckled you, child,

Here is the woman that gave you your life,

Here is the womb where long you first lay.

This body, the same, put it not now to shame,

See me not slay myself for your ill deeds.

Seven years have passed since you were here,

Now you break covenant, with your brother.

You were his man, you he loved like a son,

And oaths you swore, that you’d ne’er deceive.

You are in the wrong, and so do yourself harm.

O’er the waves you went, all without his leave,

To King Alfin there, and married his daughter,

Yet now you come to this land with an army,

Shaming yourself, to fight with your brother.

At sea you were troubled by Denmark’s king,

Thereafter you came here, met you with harm

And fled o’er the wave, yet now come again.

You seek to be lord of the land, worse for us,

Your foreign army will slaughter your kindred;

Yet none should seek to oppress the defeated,

Nor any wreak evil upon their own country.

My beloved Brenne, now soften your thoughts,

Lay down you war-gear, and your red shield,

Lay down your spear, and your sword so strong,

Hark to your mother now, and love your brother.’

Her sad tears trickled down over her face,

Brenne perceived it, his heart was saddened.

He let his spear fall, and it slid to the ground.

He cast his fine shield far out into the field.

He hurled down his sword, and cast off his mail,

Then he and his mother fared forth full mildly,

And, in the open field, Belin approached them.

And there wept his brother, as did the other.

Then their mother spoke, gentle her speech:

‘You, my beloved sons, go you together,

And be ever in concord, and so live blithely,

Kiss and embrace, as do all worthy kinfolk.

Though you be knights, awhile was I a queen,

And tis not unfitting your mother so bids you.’

Then they embraced that pair of royal sons;

Before the armies they swore new friendship.

The trumpets blew loud, the people were blithe,

The gleemen sang, to the sound of the pipes;

So great was the joy it could ne’er be greater.

Thus was Brenne reconciled with his brother,

He then called a gathering of all his nobles,

They to come to London, or forfeit forty pounds,

There to join in the husting, before the king.

And so, all the nobles assembled in London.

There was Belin the king, and all his kingdom,

Britons and Scots, and many another thane,

And there was Brenne, the Duke of Burgundy.

Then were the brothers blithe in their mood,

And host there to guests from many a land.

The kings took counsel of all their noblemen,

And determined to lead an army to France.

In France the laws were strange in those days,

And strange the customs, there were four kings.

Said Belin to Brenne: ‘We’ll go forth swiftly,

Into this France, and we’ll conquer in battle.’

They blew the trumpets, and gathered their forces,

And sailed the sea, and fine was the passage;

With nine hundred ships, they entered the roads.

They entered the land, and oppressed the people.

To the four kings these ill tidings now came,

That Belin was come, and Brenne his brother,

With a numberless host, to conquer all France.

Belin and Brenne wage war in France

The kings met together, and oaths they swore

That together they’d live or they’d die as one.

And treat each other as if they were brothers.

A binding oath they swore, and full well it held.

They assembled an army, exceeding strong,

And then they marched, swiftly, towards Belin,

Ere they met with Belin, they came upon Brenne,

Together the pair advanced, leading their forces,

And foe against foe there, fiercely they fought.

There Scots and Britons marched side by side.

And Belin their lord went forth before them,

Alongside Brenne and his knights of Burgundy.

They smote there as one, and helmets resounded,

Broad spears were broken, shields were shattered,

While the red blood flowed, as brave warriors fell.

There was much gnashing of teeth, and destruction;

The hills and the dales were clothed with the dead.

Belin raised his helm, and called out to Brenne:

‘See you not, my brother, the French are broken,

While the bulk of our army is sound and whole.

Let us fare forth ourselves, and fierce be the onset,

And lay point and edge of our blades upon them!’

Brenne was bold indeed, and this he welcomed.

All that they came upon, all those men they slew;

And the four French kings they laid on the ground.

Any knights that escaped them, fled to a castle,

And they pursued them, with spear and sword;

No other course had those but to long for peace.

The pair took the castle, the folk there they slew.

Thus, those two conquered the country of France.

In that same year was Belin made emperor,

With his brother Brenne, they ruled together,

For in that battle all France they had gained,

And all of the free lands that lay about her.

The brothers agree to venture to Rome

Now that a wealth of land was in their hand,

They spoke together, the two noble brothers,

And declared that they would hold a husting

Of all the noblemen that obeyed their law,

In all of the countries now under their rule.

There all agreed they would venture to Rome,

And avenge, on the folk there, Remus the fair,

Whom, in Rome, his brother Romulus slew,

Many years before, ere a multitude dwelt there.

Now the kings went forth, as they had agreed,

And gathered their forces in the land of France.

When all had assembled, they marched forth,

Their vast host so mighty, and innumerable,

That scarce could the camp there hold them all.

They passed by Mont Aiguille, all of that army,

And then to the place that they call Mont Cenis.

Then they conquered both Turin and Ivrea,

Capturing all of the burghs of Lombardy,

From Venaus to Pavia and Cremona,

From Milan, to Piacenza and Bologna.

Next, they crossed over the water of Taurim,

And then they proceeded over Bardun.

They swiftly conquered all of Tuscany.

In Sulmona, they slew many a thousand,

And so, the army drew closer to Rome,

Though long it seemed ere they had reached it.

Then the people of Rome were sorely afeared,

For ill news came there from Belin the king.

All of the magistrates dwelling in Rome,

And all the rich men that governed the city,

Had between them chosen two lords that year

To defend the land and govern the people,

And lead the army where it was needed.

The names of those two lords I will tell you;

The one was Gabius, the other Prosenna.

These lords were alert, both fine brave men.

All the folk in Rome obeyed their counsel.

These two came to the wise men of Rome,

And sought their decision, in time of need,

Whether to summon troops to counter Belin,

Or speak with him, and seek to forge a peace.

There were, among these, men of cunning,

Who thought to deceive Belin with their wiles.

They took to debating, and wrought a plan,

That they should not go forth as if to fight,

‘Rather we’ll go in peace and seek friendship,

We will set in their hands all that Rome owns,

And honour them in the land, as men their lord,

Give them gold and silver, and all this realm,

All of the possessions that they might seek,

And our children as hostages if they wish,

Every noblest son that dwells in this city,

The very finest lads that may be chosen,

Those most fair, hostages four and twenty,

And yearly tribute, a thousand pounds in gold.

These two kings are strong, of a foreign land,

They have a vast host, and none e’er greater.

These kings are young, and high in courage,

And, as soon as they hear this offer of ours,

Accept it they will, for they could ask no more,

Except, in truth, that we seek of them mercy.

And if it turns out well, and they accept this,

And depart our land, and return to their own,

We shall be free to live as we would wish,

For better it is we lose our dear children,

Than that we follow a course that slays us,

And all Rome be set on fire, and consumed,

And all the neighbouring land about Rome

That is now so fertile be widely devastated.

For if Tervagant, this land’s deity, so wills,

We shall deceive and, later, destroy them.

Such that they’ll ne’er return home in safety.

Then said they in the hall: ‘This we approve.’

The Roman envoys seek audience of Belin

The lords made ready, dressed in rich garb,

And, with as many knights as seemed good,

They mounted fine horses clad in rich palls,

And each man grasped a purse full of red gold.

Then forward they rode, for four whole days,

Till they came to the place where Belin was,

Midst all his host, with Brenne his brother.

The Roman lords asked where the kings lay,

And were shown the royal tents in the field.

Swiftly they fared, till they arrived thither,

And were much taken by the sight they saw,

So vast a host it filled them with wonder.

They saw Belin the king come from his tent,

And, courteously, went down on one knee;

They knelt before the king, upon the ground.

And then spoke humbly to him in these words:

‘Lord, have mercy, you are the sovereign king,

We thus yield to you Rome, and all our realm,

And all of the lands that girdle Rome about.

And all of the treasures that we have in hoard,

All of the wealth that your men might seek.

And oaths we’ll swear that we tell no lie,

By our almighty god, that we call Dagon,

We shall be your men, and exalt your honour,

Every night and day, and with true devotion,

And we will deliver to you, from our realm,

Four and twenty children of noble birth,

The chosen ones, of our greatest families.

We shall come, in time of need, to your aid,

And send our armies whither you may say.

We were sent hither to further this offer,  

And we seek your mercy now and evermore.’

Belin was silent; the envoys spoke untruths,

The king believed all they said was sooth,

Yet they thought to slay him and his brother.

The king gave utterance, and mildly he spoke:

‘Your promise is fair, and if to this you hold,

Twill be the best for you, and this covenant

I will endorse if you take me for your lord,

To have and hold your land, and we be friends.

In seven-nights’ time, in the morn, bring to me,

Your gold, and your gifts, and your hostages,

And bring you before me the nobles of Rome,

And swear it on oath, for that will be better,

And become my men, and exalt my honour,

And if you’ll not do so, then you will I slay.

Now ride you home swiftly, here I’ll await you;

If you speak the truth, come seven-days hence,

But, if you speak falsehoods, remain in Rome

And I’ll come to you, bringing sorrow and care.’

The deceivers set off, and rode back to Rome,

And there made ready their gifts and hostages,

And, on the day set, they brought them to Belin.

He welcomed them, and offered his friendship.

They delivered the hostages, were now his men,

And, the covenant sworn, then away he went,

While the arrant deceivers rode back to Rome.

Belin and Brenne decide to invade Germany

Now Belin and Brenne together took counsel,

And debated as to the course they should take.

They’d enter Lombardy, and on to Germany,

And conquer that land, and the folk within it.

The men of Germany learned of their coming,

And they gathered a mighty host against them,

Summoned from all the lands of the emperor.

As soon as the men of Rome were certain

That Belin and Brenne had both departed,

They made ready two hundred bold riders,

And sent them swiftly, to follow in haste,

And they caused another host to set forth,

Ten thousand strong, of their finest knights,

To go before them, and aid the emperor,

To fight with Belin, and halt and hold him,

And the troops of Rome rode behind them.

They thought them near, among the high hills,

And sent their ranks deep into the narrows,

To slay lord Belin, both he and his brother,

They forgot the hostages, the longed-for peace,

Their oaths, the covenant, and met with sorrow.

For Belin, and his brother, became aware

Of the treachery now practised by Rome,

And the aid it offered the German emperor.

Then they took counsel, great was their need,

And decided that Brenne should turn about,

To fight with the Roman army and fell them.

While Belin passed the mountains in strength,

To engage with the emperor, and his Germans.

And seek to conquer them there, if he might,

And whichever brother might win his battle,

Would then ride swiftly to aid the other.

Brenne fights the Roman army, Belin the imperial troops

The men of Burgundy turned back with Brenne,

And of France and of Poitou, swearing loyalty,

And Maine and Touraine served him most truly,

And Flanders and Normandy aided him freely,

With the hosts of Lorraine, there in full strength,

And of Gascony, who scorned to make peace.

The men of many lands marched with Brenne,

To meet Rome’s army that had followed after.

Brenne and his knights progressed towards them.

When they saw Brenne and his force advancing,

The ranks of the Romans were minded to flee.

He pursued them, and many were slaughtered,

While many indeed fled, and then ran for Rome.

Brenne, that noble lord, pursued them slowly,

With his army, in strength, he marched on Rome.

King Belin, meanwhile, campaigned in Germany,

With forces enough, nigh beyond all measure,

Britons, and Welshmen, Scotsmen, and Danes

Led by Godlac their king, a good man at need.

When the ten thousand knights, out of Germany,

Aiding the emperor, heard that Brenne was close,

Had broken the Romans, and had scattered them,

They took counsel, and rode there, ere he arrived.

Now Belin heard news of Brenne his brother,

How he’d sped forth, and the deeds he had done,

And a second messenger came, who told him

That the ten thousand knights out of Germany,

All eager to fight, would now advance on Rome.

They were preparing thus to march at nightfall.

Now Belin was wise in warfare, and cautious,

And full many a German he’d hewn in pieces,

And many a knight had he bound and secured.

He had captured two learned men in the fight,

Who knew the laws, and spoke the language,

And King Belin, he led them aside, and said:

‘Harken you, knights, to what I make known,

In tight constraint I have you both held here,

If you do as I bid you now, both shall go free,

With fine garments on you, and riches beside.

Go along with me, and your friend shall I be.

If you, who know the country, will lead me

To the right road that you know of full well,

Along which this army of knights are riding

Then we shall surprise them swiftly, and fight,

And fell all those foes, and fare after Brenne,

And, with wise counsel, Rome we’ll besiege.

This I beg you to do, so we may all succeed.’

They were both wise, with their wits about them,

And agreed to all that King Belin requested,

And led them forth towards Mont Aiguille.

They entered a vale among the mountains,

Where the foe must pass, men that were fated.

Now Belin lay, silently, there in ambush,

And the army came that was headed for Rome.

Then Belin attacked them, to front and to rear,

They all unarmed, when the alarm was raised,

For they thought themselves quite safe from attack.

Belin defeats the imperial army; the brothers besiege Rome

King Belin took none alive, for all were slain.

He’d not a single knight that failed that day,

Nor any servant that fought not like a lord,

Nor never a squire but was furious in fight.

The battle lasted from midnight till the dawn,

And that day they scoured the mountainsides,

And slew all those that had escaped by night.

Next morn he caused the trumpets to be blown,

Gathered his host, and ordered them outright

To take themselves to the road that led to Rome,

To reach Brenne his brother, who’d gone ahead.

Brenne heard of this, and waited for the other.

Then forth they marched till they reached the city.

That burgh they now besieged with their forces,

And the folk within fought fiercely against them.

Belin and Brenne surrounded them all about,

While the enemy fired arrows and darts enough.

And poured boiling lead down over their heads,

Beams of woods, and stones, and boiling water.

Right well those folk defended the walls of Rome.

Such that for all the cunning of Belin’s warriors,

And all the labour of his fighting men in attack,

They failed to breach the wall, or take the city.

But he lost many thousands of good men there,

And retreated from the walls, saddened at heart.

The brothers bethought them what they might do.

And agreed together: ‘Bring forth the children,

Those four and twenty hostages that we hold,

And set up the gallows whereon to hang them,

And so, avenge the treachery of our enemies,

For yet we shall conquer them, to their woe.’

The gallows were raised, the hostages appeared,

And they hung them there before their fathers,

Woe to the parents viewing their sons’ hanging.

Their mouths uttered fierce oaths, from the heart,

Let the worst come, never would they make peace.

These were the richest and the noblest of all

That saw with their own eyes what those men did,

That hung their children from the gallows-tree.

The earls that should defend them were far-off,

For both Gabius and Prosenna were long gone,

Into Lombardy, to search for reinforcements,

That might aid them against Belin and Brenne.

Yet there came a messenger from the two earls,

Who bore a letter to all the burghers of Rome,

Telling them that the earls would come that night,

With ten thousand knights, and a mighty army,

An immense host of foot-soldiers, to follow,

Who would slay King Belin and his brother,

Both of them together; said the messenger:

‘Trust my news and, as soon as it is evening,

Send forth your knights, and begin a battle,

And, ere it be daylight, the truth I tell you,

Gabius and Prosenna will bring their troops,

And will take vengeance fiercely on your foes.’

So, when day was done, they opened the gates,

And began a mighty battle against their foes,

And they fought all night till the break of day.

Then saw they the approach of a mighty host,

Gabius and Prosenna, arrived from Lombardy,

With a great force, marching towards Brenne.

And thereon Brenne’s forces resisted strongly,

While Belin attacked the force holding Rome,

And they fought fiercely with endless slaughter.

There was great woe, as many a Briton fell,

There, Belin and Brenne received great harm.

And men cried to them, from the walls of Rome:

‘What do you, and your British king, do here?

Think you with your stratagems, you wretches,

To conquer Rome? Think you with brute force

To fell our people, and thus enrich yourselves?

You’ll drink your own blood, woe be upon you!

You, our children’s bane, shall be cut to pieces;

For our people shall fell you, all to your loathing.’

Belin and Brenne withdrew from the fighting,

Behind a great ditch they caused to be delved,

So that all their force might be well-defended.

And there they spoke, and communed a while.

It was not long ere they agreed between them:

‘If we fare hence, then they will follow after,

And if it befalls that we reach home in safety,

Our hearts will be sore, and our kin reproach us.

Take the sword to them, they shall be destroyed,

While our kindred we’ll honour, and our knights.

For tis e’er a better thing to die with honour,

Than to go safely, and yet disgrace our kin.’

The while that they spoke thus, and communed,

The folk in Rome thought that they must depart,

And said, as they took counsel, behind the walls:

‘For, now, they’ll go hence, abandoning the fight.’

But Belin and his brother, determined otherwise.

Belin and Brenne attack the city

Rome sent forth forty hundred steadfast knights,

To a noble fortress, so that they then might keep,

A close watch on Belin, and Brenne his brother,        

And fight with them boldly if they chose to stay,

And the rest of Rome’s army went behind them,

To slay all between them, and right their wrongs.

These knights were on the march, outside Rome,

When Belin and Brenne gave out their orders:

‘Alight from your steeds, stand on your own two feet,

Carve your long spears, render them short and strong,

Trim your shields, make them but targes, and we

Swear now to fight, and live or die, beside you.

Let every man prove himself sure and steadfast,

And the poorest man shall be rich indeed this day.

Blow your trumpets now, and gather your forces,

And make we of our troops, fifty battalions,

And over each, shall be our bravest chieftains,

To embolden them, and so hold them together,

Then, from every side, advance you to the walls,

Fare forward swiftly, and all things shall be well.’

They blew their trumpets for those in Rome to hear,

And the whole camp strode forth, marching bravely.

When those in Rome saw Belin and his brother,

They called aloud to summon up all their forces:

‘Now our foes shall flee, as we march upon them.’

With the vanguard there went forth Prosenna,

Gabius followed with fifteen hundred knights,

With their shields and lances that were heavy,

While the enemy was swift, their weapons light.

The armies met and fought each other fiercely.

They of Rome were mounted, their foes on foot,

And the latter went boldly against the Romans,

And they slew their horses, so they were bested.

Gabius, they killed, and Prosenna they captured,

And they wreaked their will on the men of Rome,

For every man they slew that stood against them.

The sack of Rome (Taken by the Gauls in 390BC, after the battle of the Allia)

They shattered the walls of Rome on every side,

Then they swarmed within, and captured the city,

Thus, Rome was taken, that city rich and strong,

And they found therein gold, and much treasure.

They burst the locks, and drew forth the jewels,

The palls and purple cloths wrought in Apulia,

All the treasures that were many and precious.

There was many a poor man that became rich.

For a seven-night, every knight had his wish

Of both silver and gold enough, in that land.

And both the kings then wrought many a fair thing,

Re-timbering the halls, and repairing the walls,

That were shattered to pieces in the fierce fight.

They had men climb on high, and tell all the folk:

That the king would speak, and affirm the peace;

That none be so mad as to shed another’s blood,

Nor seek his goods of him, except he granted it;

While all of those fugitives that had fled Rome,

Might now return, if they kept the king’s peace,

As the king’s loyal men, and did as they’d heard.

All might come in friendship, live their life there,

And obey the same laws as made by their elders.

‘And Belin our king grants Rome to his brother,

And Brenne shall dwell here as your emperor,

While Belin will take leave of you, and depart,

And seek a course that will lead him to Britain.

Great was the weeping when Belin went thence,

But they found solace in Rome’s rich kingdom.

Brenne dwelt there, and was King of Lombardy,

While Belin, the king, he returned to this land.

He carried out royal works, saw to his fortresses,

He righted the halls, and strengthened the walls,

Had chambers built, and towers raised on high,

And all of that land he governed with honour.

Thus, full fifteen years, did Brenne rule Rome,

Then he lay dead, and the Romans were free,

For they took back their lands, into their hands,

Their burgh and their liberty, once he had died.

Belin founds Caerleon

In this land, Belin, meanwhile, made strong laws,

And the laws were good, that stood in his day.

Belin went forth to Wales, there he built a burgh,

Nobly twas made, beside Usk, the broad river,

From that same flood the place took its name.

To the king twas dear, and Caer-Usk he called it,

And Caerleon twas after, and I’ll tell you why.

Twas about seven years after Brenne’s decease,

And in Rome they said: ‘He brought us sorrow;

Now he is buried let us deal with the Britons.

Into their land we’ll fare, bring them woe and care.’

And so, they sent forth, from the Roman army,

Four companies like to those we call fyrds,

That in those days the Romans called legions,

Where in every legion were many warriors,

Six thousand, six hundred, and sixty comrades.

They came o’er the water, in warfare were wise,

And did much hurt, in this land, to the people,

Yet ever themselves they remained unharmed.

Now, every year they would winter in Wales,

Having conquered the burgh called Caer-Usk,

And stayed till more of their countrymen came.

Thus, they renamed Caer-Usk as Caer-Legion,

While those who came after called it Caerleon,

Now I have told you the source of the name

Of that fort Caerleon, that lies in Glamorgan,

Return we to Belin, that fortunate ruler.

Once he had built it and named it Caer-Usk,

And it was strong and fair, he travelled thence.

The building of Belin’s tower, and Billingsgate

He rode to London, the burgh he loved greatly.

He began there a tower, in that place the strongest,

And a water gate, with much art, thereunder.

And the men of that time called it Belin’s Gate,

And now, and for evermore, so the name stands.

Belin the king lived well, and lived blithely,

And all of his people loved him exceedingly.

In his day there was meat beyond measure,

While through drunken surfeit thousands perished.

That king, Belin, lived long ere his ending came.

In London he died, and sorrowful his people;

Woe to the living, that the monarch was dead!

They went to his hoard, and they took of his gold,

And they wrought a tomb, of gold and of gems,

And entombed the king, that was their lord Belin.

They raised him up high on the Tower’s heights,

That men might behold him, wide o’er the land.

This they did from love; for their dear lord was he.

The reign of Gurguint, Belin’s son

So departed Belin the king, and came his son,

Gurguint, after him, that was Gurguint Bertruc.

Nobel and prudent, he ruled the realm wisely,

Peace and concord he loved, the wicked he loathed.

He maintained the peace, as his father before him,

As best as one might, but the men of Denmark,

They refused outright to send tribute to Britain,

Neither gold, nor treasure, nor the goods of the land.

King Gurguint bethought him what he might do.

He sent messengers, far and wide, through the realm,

He summoned his folk and made ready an army,

A mighty host he raised, of innumerable men.

Then they boarded ships, and held from the shore,

Over the salt stream, as it seemed good to them.

On the second day they came nigh to Denmark,

And the king disembarked, for such was his wish.

Tribute he asked of that land that his father held,

That King Godlac had given him of his free will.

Then said Godlac’s son, with an angry tongue:

‘Though twas my father’s will, such is not mine.

Depart now, from out my land, if you would live.’

The word came to Gurguint that was Britain’s king:

‘Where be you, my knights? Where be you, my thanes?

Where be you my warriors, all of my valiant men?

Ride you and march, and burn up all this land,

And slay all the men that you come upon here,

Their wives and their children cast in the water,

And shatter their walls, and set fire to their halls,

Raze all their towers, and scorch their chambers.

Till they know I am Britain’s king, lord of the land,

And that they must yield, as they did to Belin.’

Forth went the host, as the monarch had bid them,

In strength went they, and did harm to that realm.

The king of that land, with a powerful army,

Came against Gurguint, and great was its strength.

They fought hard, but Gurguint slew the Danish king,

And the warriors of Denmark he felled to the ground.

He marched to the burgh, and all there submitted,

For all had he conquered, the best with the worst.

His men they became, and fast oaths they swore,

And gave him in hand three hundred hostages,

And all of the treasure that Godlac had promised,

When Belin had freed him and his companions.

King Gurguint now returned to this land of ours,

And he laid his course by the furthest Orkneys.

And he met, out at sea, with thirty good vessels.

The ships they were filled with men and women,

And weapons of many a kind, and most excellent.

It appeared to the king much the strangest thing,

He wondered what were the ships he found there.

So, he sent out a boat, and he asked that they say

Whence they had come, and what they might seek.

And if they would speak with the king, in peace.

Then their high chieftain gave him good answer:

‘We would speak with the king, for peace we seek.’

They met together, and soon achieved concord.

Then said Pantolaus, their chief, to King Gurguint:

‘We are sea-weary folk, driven here by the wind.

I am Pantolaus, and you are now lord o’er us.

Your land this is, and your laws we will keep,

You may rule us all, we’ll abide by your will.

From Spain was I driven, with all my noble folk,

Long have we sought a land, by the sea’s shores,

One where we might live, and one pleasing to us,

And yet before now we have found no such thing,

No land for our people wherein we might dwell.

We have known much harm, and hunger and thirst,

Much struggle and strife, among these wild waters,

Now we beg your favour, that we might no longer

Endure this, and if it’s your will, and you grant it,

And allow us this furthest end of your kingdom,

We will be your folk, and uphold your honour,

And will dwell in this place for the rest of our lives.’

Then answered Gurguint, that was Britain’s king,

‘That I’ll not do, though accepting your homage,

For, indeed, I will send you into another land,

Knowing not who you are, or whence you come.

You shall have steersmen to further your passage,

Four hundred brave knights of mine I will lend you,

To secure you a land, in which you might live.

And follow your laws, and so govern your people.’

Then Gurguint sent all those folk into Ireland,

That knew no folk since Noah’s flood drowned it.

The settlement of Ireland

Then Gurguint went forth, and entered that island,

And Pantolaus dwelt there, and had of the best.

He had himself crowned king, and his wife queen.

And he made strong laws to govern his people,

That had many a sorrow endured on the waves.

For seven long years they had wandered the sea,

Their clothes were in tatters, ill they were clad,

Half-naked were they, and yet nothing they cared

Who viewed the limbs they had on their bodies.

Thus, they ruled that land, long they all prospered,

While Gurguint dwelt blithely in this realm of ours,

And sound was the peace, the while his life lasted.

In Caerleon he died, and all his people sorrowed.

The reign of Guencelin and Marcie

A brave son he had, and he was named Guencelin,

He ruled the folk, this land, after his father died.

He was, throughout all, a good and an honest king.

He led a noble life, and a virtuous wife he had,

Marcie she was called, her name is widely known,

Now and for evermore, here, she’s remembered.

The queen loved knowledge, wise in book-learning,

She treasured the lore, lovingly in her heart,

And of her great wisdom, the folk spoke widely,

Saying how wise she was in all worldly doom.

Then wrought she the laws, that folk abided by;

This code she wrought, and the Britons called it,

After their lady, the Marciane law.

Many a hundred winters thereafter,

Came Alfred the king, England’s darling,

And wrote that British law in the English tongue,

And he changed its name to the Mercian law.

And this I say to you, for true is the thing,

That she made it first, and not Alfred the king.

She, the queen wrought it, that was named Marcie,

While King Alfred only penned it in English.

The reign of Sillius

Now the wise queen had, by her worldly king,

A little son, and he was named Sillius.

She had no other, which brought the queen woe.

This child, Sillius, was but seven years of age,

When his father died and forsook his people.

His mother held the realm, with counsel ruled it,

And raised her son well, she, ever beside him.

When her son was older, and bold on horseback,

He was crowned king, to the folk twas pleasing.

He was a goodly man, and would live peaceably,

Yet he lived but half our years, ere he was dead.

He left two sons, who followed their father’s ways,

The elder was Rummarus, Damus the younger.

Rummarus ruled awhile, Damus came after him.

The reign of Morpidus

This Damus, in his day, favoured a concubine,

And he had, by this woman, a headstrong son.

He was named Morpidus, strongest of men,

In body and thews, of all in this land of ours.

He gained the kingdom, and held authority.

He was keen, strong, liberal, tall in stature,

And had been a fine king, but for his cruelty.

When he was angered, he’d instantly kill a man,

No knight was so powerful he’d not slay him,

Whether right or wrong, on the spot, he’d die;

But, when he was calm, did all a man bade him.

In truth, it did much harm to so fine a man,

That because of his wrath his wits went awry.

At that time the Duke of Moray campaigned,

Made a great foray here, and harmed the folk,

He came by the sea-coast, and did much hurt,

Many wrongs he committed, cruel in a fight.

Beside the shore he entered Northumberland,

And there he began to build a mighty fortress,

And took the land about to his own two hands.

Morpidus, the bold, he was mightily enraged,

And he sent through the land to gather an army,

With which he met the duke at the dawn of day.

There, was many a good Briton, many a knight,

And they fought the duke’s army, all that morn,

And the king overcame the duke, nigh on noon,

Who turned to flee, the king following after.

Then the king slew the duke, and all his people;

Before the day was over, dead were they all.

Harsh was the fighting, the cause being right,

And all that he found, that day, in that place,

He caused them to be burnt or be flayed alive.

And those who saw those scenes, they related

That Morpidus, the strong, with his own hand,

Smote with the sword, and slew, seven hundred.

He caused a ditch to be dug, both long and deep,

And had all the mounds of corpses cast within,

Then he kept this land safe, for a goodly time,

So freely granting the people peace and quiet.

Morpidus and the sea-monster

Meanwhile strange tidings came to this realm,

And it was made known to Morpidus the king

That a wondrous beast had risen from the sea.

From Ireland had this creature travelled hither,

And was attacking people all along the shore.

Often it slew a hundred in but a single day,

And then the monster returned to the deep.

Thus, it came to land and troubled the people,

It terrified all the folk and ravaged the towns,

Such that the folk fled from it, on every side.

The king heard of this, and was sorry at heart.

Thither the king went, though to his own harm.

He went to deal with the beast, but reaped his death.

Once as far south as the beast’s lurking place,

He ordered all his men into the castle nearby,

And had them wait, while he rode on alone.

Then forth the king went, bearing his weapons,

A sharp sword, a bow, and a quiver of arrows,

The bow being strong, and a spear full long.

At his saddle he bore an axe, and a keen knife.

Then forth he advanced, and towards the place

Where he had heard that the fierce beast dwelt.

Forward he fared, until he found the creature,

And he let fly his sharpest arrows towards it.

All of them he shot, and after that rode nearer,

Attacking the monster wildly on his steed.

He fired his arrows till his strong bow broke,

He grasped his spear, that he’d set in the ground,

Then he rode at the beast, and struck it on the neck,

The beast rearing backwards, the spear breaking.

Then the fiend reared up, and rushed at his steed,

And bit into its breast, piercing sinew and bone,

Such that its liver and lungs spilled to the earth.

And the king drew his sword, twas made for him,

And he smote the beast anon, upon the head-bone,

So, the blade sank in, as the hilt broke in his hand.

The beast opened its jaws, and drove at the king,

And severed him at the waist; thus, the fight ended.

So fared the king, who had thus proved over-eager,

For that man is a fool, that takes upon himself

More than he can do; he shall fare the worse.

Unwisdom is rash, for it urges its lord onwards,

And e’er, in a moment, fells him to the ground.

The people greatly mourned the king’s mishap,

Though they were blithe at the death of the beast.

The reign of King Gorbonian

That king, he had five sons by his fair queen,

The eldest was Gorbonian, a fine and noble man,

Argal was the second of Gorbonian’s brothers,

The third of the five, he was named Elidur,

The fourth Jugenes, the youngest was Peredur.

Gorbonian, as eldest, he was king of this land.

He was a monarch wise and well-mannered,

Prudent, and just, and temperate, and most fair.

He kept the country at peace, and as he willed,

And ruled in good faith, while his reign endured,

And this, indeed, he maintained to his life’s end.

In London he was buried and sad were the people.

The reign of Argal

Thereafter came another, twas Argal his brother,

The second born, and he was crowned as king;

The most wicked man that ever held the realm.

Evil was dear to him, and all justice hateful.

Whoever had riches, him he made wretched;

Good men he hated, and the wicked raised up.

He gathered together a wealth of treasure;

Ever he thought about evil, and ill his deeds.

Thus, Argal led his life from youth to grave.

The rich met together, the noble and mighty,

Conducting their husting in high dudgeon,

And they swore an oath, which they then held to,

To do all they might to banish Argal the king.

Far from this realm, the nobles banished him,

And they crowned another, Elidur, his brother.

The reigns of Elidur, three times king, and of his younger brothers

He was third born; they welcomed him in peace,

And made him their king, that courageous knight,

And he was of temperate speech with every man,

Straight with the good, and stern with the foolish.

Argal that was driven out, woeful was he at heart,

He fared to many lands, and besought the people,

Beseeching many a king, many an emperor,

Many a wealthy thane, and many a bold servant.

He besought all the folk, that he passed among,

To grant him their aid, in his great time of need.

With strength or stratagem, to regain his realm,

Yet ne’er found a man that would serve his cause,

Nor assist him, in any manner, hither to fare,

Nor promise a single thing that might help him.

Then Argal the king felt woe, sorry his mood,

Saddened at heart for the great harm done him.

Argal bethought him then what he might do.

He would return once more, and seek his brother,

Or see if he might win grace from any man.

It was about five winters since he’d gone hence,

After the time he’d brought woe on himself,

That Argal came in disguise, entered this land.

Not even his own kin knew that he was here,

None knew it was he that e’er had known him.

He asked whereabouts he might find the king,

And was told where the monarch was hunting,

With his company in the woods of Kalatere.

He met the king, and he greeted him humbly:

‘Lord king,’ said he, ‘may you live hale and sound;

My brother, Elidur, may you e’er be wealthy.

Though I dare not have the people here know

Whom I might be, and that I was once their king,

Yet I seek your mercy, now, and for evermore.’

Then, said Elidur: ‘Your presence is pleasing.’

To his brother he came and kissed him lovingly,

And Elidur, the king, had tears in his eyes.

And with great kindness, comforted his brother.

And had him led, in peace, and with kindness,

To the castle, within this realm, named Clud.

And let him bathe, while a bed was prepared,

Keeping all secret, and his name concealed.

Who ever heard tell in any book, or story,

That one brother e’er did so for another,

As Elidur, the king, for his brother Argal?

The king feigned sickness, as if it were so,

Retired to his chamber, and took to his bed.

Then he sent men forth, throughout the realm,

And summoned all his thanes, to gather to him.

In word and writing, he let his nobles know,

That their king might not be long for this earth.

And sought their counsel, ere shortly he be dead,

And advice as to where his body might best lie.

The summons was known o’er all the land,

And the nobles all came to the king’s burgh,

To that great husting, where they might speak.

The king and his brother were in their chamber,

Where they had eaten well, and taken drink.

The king took to his bed, while his brother hid,

And with him the closest friends he had alive,

Forty good knights, all clad in solid chain-mail,

With sword and shield, ready for any fight.

The king lay in his bed, as if he were like to die;

To the hall he sent word, by his close attendant,

And ordered his noblemen to talk more quietly,

For his head ached so he could scarce endure it,

Being forced to listen to the noise of so many.

He had his door guarded so no man might enter,

Nor might any man alive come to the castle,

Unless he were summoned by king’s messenger.

The king now arose, set chain-mail on his back,

And grasped in his hand a heavy battle-axe,

And he called to Argal, his brother, in the room,

And they sent a messenger down into the burgh,

Calling the highest thane to come to the king.

Once in the chamber, then the monarch seized him,

He leapt towards him, as if to destroy him.

And his knights surrounded him, stern of face,

As if they would hew that nobleman to pieces.

Then said Elidur the king: ‘Now will I kill you,

Unless you are full quiet, and do all that I will.’

Thus answered the thane: ‘That would I fain.’

‘If you would live, become my brother’s man;

This is Argal the king, banished from the land,

And now come hither again, your king he shall be.’

The thane was most quiet, and did the king’s will,

And the king had him placed in a secret room,

And had a knight summon another nobleman,

And acted towards him, as he had to the other.

Thus dealt Elidur the king with his great nobles,

One by one, till all of them were closeted.

Then he did another thing, led forth his brother

And, with much rejoicing, brought him to York,

Where all of his people had gathered together.

Before all the folk, he took his crown in hand,

Set it on his brother’s head, and made him king.

Afterwards Argal was the noblest of rulers,

Evil he forewent, and ever the good he sought.

He acted most mildly towards both old and young,

And, of a certainty, showed justice towards all.

The land was quiet, and stood in that same state,

For a full ten years, till their king fell ill.

There he lay, in sickness, for a year and a day,

And could not be cured; and so, King Argal died.

Then came the people in one place together,

And took Elidur, and restored his sovereignty;

With much joyfulness, they crowned him king,

Power vested in him, the noblest of his people.

Now Jugenes and Peredur, witnessing that Elidur

Was thus the sovereign king o’er all the land,

They gathered many men, of many a kind,

And led their army throughout the kingdom.

The two hosts came together, that of Elidur

And the forces of Jugenes and Peredur,

Fiercely they fought, and brave knights were slain,

Then, midst the fight King Elidur took to flight,

With his two brothers, in full force, pursuing.

Jugenes and Peredur, captured the fleeing Elidur.

And led him to London; woeful were his people.

In a tower most strong they placed King Elidur.

Many a day, many a year, he lay in that tower,

While his two brothers ruled o’er all this land,

For Jugenes held half, as far as the Humber,

All of the south, that brother held in his hand,

While Peredur held the rest, from Humber north.

Yet soon thereafter Peredur ruled it all,

For Jugenes lived but seven years longer.

Then had Peredur all this country in his hand,

And was wicked and loathsome to the people.

Yet death came suddenly, and struck him down.

So evil was his life that the Fiend seized him.

Then the people gathered, and fared to London,

And freed Elidur, where he lay, in the tower,

And, a strange thing, made him, a third time, king.

Then was he steadfast, as the day is bright,

Ruled the land well, and by the folk did right.

In bliss he lived, to the joy of his people,

And when from life he did wend, made a fine end.

The line of succession from Elidur to Enmaunus

Then the son of his brother Gorbonian reigned,

That had been the eldest of the five brothers.

The knight was named Lador, this island’s king,

Yet this Lador he lived but a little while.

He was followed by Morgan, Argal’s son,

He held the land a year and then he died.

Next came Enmaunus, who was his brother.

These were Argal’s sons, and each was king.

The reign of King Enmaunus

This same Enmaunus ruled the kingdom such

That ne’er a thane but would have seen him slain,

For all folk he loathed and rendered them poor.

To all men he ran counter; the Fiend loved him.

Till even his own courtiers wished him dead.

In the end, the folk of this land drove him forth,

Exiled him, and banished him far from the realm.

For his enmity, they drove him from this land,

In sorrow, full sore, and he came here no more.

And then the highest nobles they met together,

And chose them a king, of the best of knights.

He was Jugenes’ son, that was Peredur’s kin.

Thus, Iwallo was made king, good in everything.

The order of kings from Iwallo to Cherin

Iwallo wrought well, like the best of his ancestors,

For in acts of goodness the man was well-versed.

He practised the virtues, and bettered the people.

Yet the sad misfortune was he lived not long.

No more than seven years did he rule this land,

Dead was Iwallo the king; the people mourned.

Afterwards, a king reigned here called Rime,

The son of Peredur, that was Elidur’s brother.

And then came Gorontes, he was Elidur’s son,

And next Catulus, that was son of Gorontes.

Then Coillus ruled; his father was Catulus.

Next was Porex the king, that was of their kin.

Followed by Cherin, that was kin to this same.

The reigns of Cherin and his sons

Now Cherin ruled long in this land of ours,

Though, of the six kings that reigned before him,

None of them was king more than seven years.

Cherin lived long, and drank much mead and wine;

All the king’s powers were consumed by drink,

And he lost all honour, through his drinking,

Nor did any manner of good towards his people.

But the strangest thing was that in all his reign,

For he ruled this land for many a long year,

Not a single foreign ruler sought out his land,

But the realm was at peace, and all was well.

Then came that day when the king lay dead.

To him his noble queen had borne three sons.

The eldest of these was named Fulgenius,

The younger sons were Aldus and Andragus.

However, but a little while lived these same.

Each of them was, for a time, king of this land.

But within four years, each of them was dead.

King Urian, and his successors, to Merian

The youngest of the brothers was the finest;

This same Andragus had but the one son.

Urian, was he named, that afterwards was king;

Only a year he lived, as monarch, then he died.

After King Urian came Eliud, his kinsman,

Then Cledaus, Doten, and Gurguincius.

These same three kings held the kingship,

One after another, until all three were dead.

Naught did they here, neither good nor evil.

The reign of Merian and his successors

Then there came Merian; he was a man most fair.

Hawks and hounds he kept, that were numberless,

Thus, every day, he hunted, and chased the deer.

And he was so fair a man, that women loved him.

Though he knew it, yet the thing pleased him not,

For he e’er loved his queen his whole life through.

After him Bledon, his son, was a glorious king.

He had wealth enough, and shared it with his men;

Never was there a king so generous in all things.

After him, came his son, and Cap was his name,

And after him Oein, that was over-fond of evil.

Next followed Sillius, and he was Oein’s son.

The king after him, was one named Blethgabreat.

Since the world began, no man was so skilled in song;

And harp, and psalter, and fiddle, and horn-pipe,

Tympanum, and lyre; gleemen were dear to him.

He knew all the songs and music of every land;

Of him there was much speech in every realm.

Such that all of those folk that heard tell of him

Called him divine lord of the craft of music.

Ever the king was glad, ever he loved to play,

And, thus, he lived his life the while that he lived.

The line of succession from Blethgabreat to King Lud

Afterwards his brother, named Arkinaus, was king.

He ruled the land for seven years, in peace he dwelt.

Then his son was king, who lived most wickedly,

Men called him Aldolf, that king’s deeds were evil.

There was never a good wife, in this land he ruled,

That he turned not to an adulteress, if she was fair.

Though an earl’s wife, he’d rob her of her honour.

And thereby disgraced both the young and the old.

For this wicked custom, folk hated him to the death,

And yet, despite that, he’d not cease from acting so.

After him twas Redion that governed this kingdom,

Half a year and seven nights, and then died outright.

Next Redert his brother, for less time than the former.

Then came one that ruled well, named Samupensel,

So powerful he was, he was unlike every other.

After him came Pir, with a head of wiry gold hair,

Such that folk wondered whence came one so fair.

And after him Capor, was the king of all this land.

The next was Eligille; he kept all the realm at peace.

He was a man most wise; all he did was done well.

And so, in bliss he ruled, for five and twenty years.

Afterwards, for forty years, his son Heli was king,

Who partly kept the peace, partly men fought him.

He was a man most brave, and had three lively sons.

Lud, the first was named, he was a man most brave,

And, the second son, he was called Cassivellaunus.

After King Heli, Lud, his son, long ruled this land.

And this man was a monarch both brave and keen,

And strong and powerful, for wise counsel he loved.

The reign of King Lud

He fared over the land, and every burgh made strong.

Castles, Lud wrought; London he loved above all.

While Lud held this land, that city was Trinovant,

And no fortress there, but the tower Belin made,

Of which this book has told the history before.

King Lud had the wall laid, about London burgh,

That has lasted till our day, and long will last yet.

He built many a hall, and strong were they withal.

He ordered each rich man to split his wealth in two,

And take the one half, and build a fair dwelling.

All the evil men he expelled from out the burgh,

And the burgh he honoured, and he made it fair.

He renamed the place; he called it after himself,

Caer-Lud he named it, and made that known to all.

This he did for a reason that, after he was dead,

Many a man would speak of all the king had done.

Later there came folk, from abroad, into this land,

And called the burgh Lundin, after their manner.

Afterwards came the Saxons and called it Lundene,

And the name they used lasted long in this land.

Thereafter came the Normans with their evil ways,

And named it Londres, and harmed the people.

Well, this land fared, until the king’s end came.

Lud the king was dead, in London men laid him.

There were noble earls laid him down by a gate,

That men called Port-Lud in the British tongue,

Afterwards there came English men full bold,

And they in their own tongue called it Ludes-Gate.

And so, it has long stood with that same name.

There were left two children, the sons of Lud,

The elder son of the king was Androgeus,

And the younger, he was named Tennancius.

They were but young when their father died,

And so, their father’s brother, Cassivellaunus,

Had himself crowned king, and he reared them,

And he nurtured them, for love of his brother.

This Cassivellaunus then ruled all the land,

And the people loved him, his law was good.

He established fair customs in our country,

And he was a just king, and a noble knight.

The children flourished, and held land in hand,

For the king gave them two fine earldoms.

Androgeus, being the eldest, held London,

And therewith the king gave him all of Kent;

And he bade Tennancius hold all Cornwall,

Thus, these two brothers held the earldoms,

As long as they held the king their high lord,

For he was the lord and master of this land.

Awhile they were friends, as were their men,

The land fared well, and was ruled in peace.

But later they quarrelled, and all fared worse.

Then it was the Romans came to this country,

And demanded tribute paid in gold or silver,

Though ne’er, in living memory, had any sought

To demand of the king that governed this land,

That this country should render tribute to Rome.

The End of Part II of Layamon’s ‘Brut’