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THE HISTORY OF SCOTLAND, BOOK II
FTER King Fergus had met his end in the manner I have just descibed, a parliament of leading men was convened for the choosing of a king, in which there was a lengthy debate, with many opinions offered. For two of Fergus’ young sons survived, and many were of the opinion that it would be impious towards the gods and odious to men, if these boys, deprived of their father’s support, who deserved to protected with all possible vigilance out of remembrance of his recent merits, were to be cheated of the kinship, or for it to be transferred to others, and to expose Fergus’ house, which deserved the best of the Scottish nation, to be exposed to insult and abuse. Others argued that the boys’ youth made them unfit for rule: their king ought to be a man, prudent and not without experience in handling matters of stae, defending it from enemy harm and foreign wars, and, when the situation so required, exercising justice and authority in coming down hard on his subjects’ malfeasances, maintaining it that is kings’ glory of fair achievements and their reputation for being the best of men that shore up growing realms. Then Sembathes, chieftain of Argathelia and a man always of great influence among the people, spoke thus to the assembly:
2. “My fellow clansmen, there is none of who is not urged by many and various ties of obligation to protect Fergus’ sons, and also his entire house, with all dutifulness and piety. For that man, inspired by his incredible good-will and affection towards this nation, came to us at a very tumultuous time with a large and select band of soldiers. He took consultation for our afflicted condition, he freed us from a very perilous war, he transformed us from enemies into friends and allies, he founded this kingdom, he adorned it with laws, he subdued in battle the Britons, that wealthy, warlike nation which had loathed our very name from the very outset, he drive them far away from our lands and those of the Picts, and finally he made such good dispositions for us that, free from fear of any enemy, we are able peacefully to possess our homes, with no quarreling, no less than other nations and peoples do theirs, as long as there is no internal strife. So, my fellow clansman, would anyone henceforth think us worthy of the kindness of any man at all, or rather of life itself, if we were to cheat the house of Fergus, from which we have received so many benefits, to whom we owe such great thanks, of its due deference? If we were ill-disposed towards these boys, in future how should we be disposed towards those would disturb our commonwealth and towards its enemy? So, as is proper, let our king’s shade see that we are good men and grateful lovers of virtue, who keep in mind the benefit we have received, men such as from the very outset Fergus desired us to be towards himself and his posterity.” Here he pointed to the elder boy. “With happy acclamations you should appoint this royal boy to the throne and bid him rule. This, my fellow tribesmen, I beg and beseech you, in the name our late king’s shade, in the name of our loyalty, in the name of whatever duty and gratitude we owe to the house of Fergus. Do not allow these boys, abandoned and destitute of your aid, to be endangered in respect both to their father’s government and their lives, greatly departing from the dutifulness of good man, rightly rendered hateful to yourselves and mankind, and loathsome to the gods.”
3. The assembly responded to Sembathes’ words with murmurs of applause. Then Francthaus, chieftain of the Brigantine nation, began his speech to the people. “I see, fellow clansmen, that you are divided whether to name Fergus’ son king, for he is a boy and as yet unfit to rule, or rather a man of mature age, strong in counsel and authority. Concerning this boy, Sembathes’ motion would be praiseworthy enough, if in the choosing of a king only gratitude were to be considered. It cannot escape any man’s attention, fellow clansmen, how ungrateful, how base, how impious it would be for Fergus’ house, from which we have received so much bounty, to be cheated of rule by our action. Nor do I think that any such unspeakable crime has entered our minds, to violate our loyalty and hitherto unsullied oath, which long ago we gave of our own free will, to a man who deserved so excellently of ourselves. And so our duty is to decide, not whether his father’s government is owed to this boy, but rather in what way it might be preserved safe and sound until he grows to maturity. For you see, my fellow clansmen, how many evils we would bring down on each of ourselves, on the house of Fergus, on our growing commonwealth, and on this realm, if we were to take Sembathes’ advice and grant supreme rule to a child. Indeed, we would be voluntarily kindling a great blaze of discords for ourselves, since there are many men among us of nearly equal authority and wealth. But care of the king must be entrusted to a single man, not to everybody. Whoever is the custodian of the king, will be regarded as our sovereign, to whose faithfulness the king himself will be entrusted. Is there any one of us who would not compete with all his strength for that honor, for that gift of good fortune? Imagine that we would all agree that some one particular man might enrich his house. As often as it were necessary to make some reform in our commonwealth, or lead an army against our foe, or send ambassadors to foreigners, he would avail himself of our wealth. It would be our duty to pay his expenses and support him, his family, and his insatiable henchmen. We would be giving our wealth to him, not to the commonwealth or the king. Nobody would have a right to be surprised if, abandoning his good disposition for us, he were to change his attitude towads performing his public responsibilities, since a good mind is rarely granted mortals together with good fortune.
4. “And next, suppose that the king has grown up and come to a mature age for government. At the urging of courtiers, perhaps, he will say that he will repair the mistakes made while he was still a boy and punish those who had served as regents. He will say he intends properly to perform the offices of a public magistrate, but he will do nothing of the kind. For at a time when he has the greatest need for guidance, since he is in early adolescence, he will scorn any advisor save for the one urges him to indulge in the worst of misdoing. Hence we would be obliged to witness, greet, pay court to, and adore evil royal minions, not to mention corrupters of human life. And, since the royal authority and its supreme power would stay our our hand, nobody would be found willing to oppose them as our champion. And, to sum up with a generality, to witness a boy on the throne would be the same as to witness our commonwealth tottering, and perhaps even collapsing, to witness thieves existing in our towns and fields, robberies committed in public going unpunished, many murders of our fellow citizens, our realm thrown into confusion, our unbridled nation run wild, lawless, a nation in which scarce a single soul would hold faith or right in reverence. And so I am of the opinion that these sons of Fergus are to be kept under regulation, to be instructed in goodly manners, to be placed under preceptors and taught skills worthy of a king, until they come of age, and that the government should be entrusted to their uncle Ferithar, a leading man, or to someone you adjudge more fit for rule, and under his tutelage his realm will remain safe and sound, to the benefit of the house of Fergus. As long as he lives, this boy will be revered by all men as the heir to the realm; when he dies (as long as the boy is old enough to rule), he will inherit the kingship without any controversy. In this way, satisfaction will appear to have been given to Fergus, who would not have wished to receive any sign of gratitude from us, to the detriment of the commonwealth which he himself founded. I would have this rule for the creation of a king endure forever for our nation, if we have chosen to avoid the kindling of dissent and a host of troubles, if we have chosen to protect and enhance this realm, and live in a manner useful for ourselves and our beloved nation.”
5. When Frachtaus had said these things, or things not very different, in his grave oration, with wonderful consensus they all voted and ordained by public authority that whenever a deceased king left behind a son in his minority, the member of his family fittest to perform public services would govern. And after his death, the realm would indisputably fall to the king’s son, if he was now of mature age to rule. By the same law, to prevent public liberty from ever being endangered, it was forbidden for children to rule. For a number of centuries our countrymen followed this scheme for the creation of kings. Nevertheless, they discoverecd that uncles frequently hatched deadly schemes against nephews, and nephews against uncles, out of the greed for power, so that many murders both of kings and princes ensued, not without great loss to the commonwealth. After these things had been transacted, with great public acclaim they bade Ferithar, the brother of King Fergus, a man of liberal and kindly nature, and yet no less warlike than Fergus, to rule. Having assumed the title of king, he addressed the elders in parliament assembled. The gist of his speech was that he accepted the kingship, not for the sake of acquiring personal wealth and dignity, but in order to act as protector of Fergus’ sons and preserve the kingdom for them, and since he had been appointed their guardian by their father, he would conduct himself with an eye to the happy success of the commonwealth both in peace and war, and would always be as charitably disposed to the boys as a father is to his sons. He then urged the elders to join together in helping and supporting the boys, so that not just himself, but the elders and the entire people would seem to be acting as tutors. Let them bear in mind their father’s good deeds, and never forget them. If any good had been gained from Fergus’ public service, they should wish this to be repaid to his son. They should understand that he himself had been appointed to rule the government for no other reason that he should be a constant bulwark for his wards and for the realm that was their due, and so they should choose upright and proven preceptors and custodians so that they would at once be embed with goodly manners and instruction, and free from plots hatched against them, remaining safe and sound. And he affirmed that he would not accept the emblems of royalty until these things had been accomplished.
6. Ferithar’s words were greeted by the people’s great applause. Everybody was convinced that he was worthy to rule, and that he should continue in his administration. So tutors were chosen for the boys, and custodians granted them in accordance with the elders’ opinion, by whose care they were to be kept free of all troubles. Then Ferithar, sitting on the stone Seat of Destiny reserved for kings and governors of the realm, received the insignia of royalty. These consisted of an unsheathed double-edged sword, a golden rod (that age of the world called it a scepter), and a mural crown, emblems of his government of the nation, protection of liberty, punishment of the guilty, and administration of law and right, and also of his supreme power, conjoined with the due veneration of all men. These regalia of Scottish kings remained unchanged in all respects down to the time of King Achaius, who was the first King of Scots who entered into a perpetual league and alliance with Charlemagne, who was at once King of France and Roman Emperor. He added to the crown’s circle four golden lilies, together with four golden images of the saving Cross, set apart at equal intervals, with the lilies being a little taller, from which one could see the religion and unbroken faithfulness of the Scottish nation.
7. Not long thereafter, Ferithar met at an appointed place with the king of the Picts, where there was much discussion of things advantageous to both peoples, the peace was affirmed, and punishment inflicted on the guilty and on disturbers of the peace. They congratulated each other on having maintained their league inviolate, and urged each other to persevere. Then, having performed the rights customarily performed in that age of the world when kings met for the making of treaties, both king went home with his followers. A few years thereafter, when Ferithar had managed his people with great dexterity and done many noteworthy things for the advantage of the Scots, and all had gone well for the nation because of his observance of faith and right, at the instigation of certain courtiers and others, Fergus’ elder son Ferlegus began to harbor secret designs. And then, with the help of yet more men (particularly those who hated justice) who were drawn into his conspiracy, he furtively sought to contrive his uncle’s murder. When he understood that he had been frustrated in these strivings (they could not escape Ferithar’s notice, since there were men at Ferlegus’ side who reported all his undertakings), he sought to gain the kingship from Ferithar openly. And the king, fearing lest, if his petition were denied, everything would become filled with martial strife, since the matter appeared to be heading towards open violence, put on a happy face and replied that he would gladly abdicate the royal responsibility in a public assembly, just as he had accepted it, and that he had no desire to continue in his government. For now that one of Fergus’ sons had grown to an age where he was fit to rule, he desired nothing more in life than for Fergus’ offspring to be ruling prosperously, so that in death he could report to his brother that the future hope of the house of Fergus was assured. Therefore they should come with him to a public gathering, were he would put off the royal emblems, abdicate supreme rule, and do whatever could serve the advantage of the sons of Fergus.
8. Ferithar’s timely words made such an impression on the young man’s mind that he undertook no evil against his uncle. Setting aside his hatred, he went with him to a parliament of leading men, where the king, setting his nephew Ferlegus on his right side, thus began to speak: “Since the question has arisen, excellent fathers, whether it is or is not expedient to entrust supreme power to this child of Fergus, none of you is unaware that this government (for which no man is less worthy than myself) was freely bestowed on me by yourself, not just so that I might rule it by my just administration, but also so that, thanks to my protection, it might remain safe and sound until the sons of Fergus could grow to maturity. You yourselves know how many labors and risks I have undergone on behalf of the public safety, and for the happiness of this young man’s reign, but I prefer to pass these over in silence, lest I seem to be indulging in excessive self-glory and begging for your undeserved favor. For I would be monstrous, and not rightly to be called a man, if, not being blessed with children myself, I did not exercise all dutifulness in protecting my nephews and bequeathed this kingship to anyone else, if I were to attempt to cheat those of that which is due to them by national law, and indeed by my own. Therefore Ferlegus, now grown up, scarcely committed any offense in asking me for the kingship. For he is a comely young man endowed with a robust frame, lively wit, and an indomitable spirit most willing to undergo hardship, and he is daily growing fitter for public responsibilities. My old age, which is now lying on me heavily, requires that I go into retirement. And so, I beg, allow me now to lay down this public responsibility which I received by your authority, and bestow it on Ferlegus, since it is scarcely proper that I perform it because of my feeble old age, which some people rightly call a disease. No man is fitter for it than this young fellow, to whom it belongs by right, nor, in my opinion, no more well-suited. Take back, Fathers, these royal insignia, returned with far more enthusiasm than I received them, I cheerfully resign my office.”
9. At this statement, there arose a confused public outcry, such as happens at these times, and when this was quieted down by the elders’ authority, there ensued entreaties of men asking him to continue in his administration, nor to have any fear of the inconveniences of old age, since his public responsibilities were managed by counsel and authority, which old men possess in abundance, rather than physical strength. This was their unanimous opinion, that law they had enacted a few years previously regarding the creation of a king was not to be abolished, and the elders expressed their indignation against Ferlegus. Although when he first came into the meeting they had greeted him with many honors in the presence of the multitude, they took him aside in private and rebuked him because he had sought the kingship without permission of the elders and had eluded his custodians, so that the royal lad would understand that he must fully obey the decrees of the leading men and public legislation. And so when Ferlegus, weeping and devoid of counsel, attempted to depart from the meeting with some of his followers, he was forcibly detained by the elders, and his supporters were arrested and thrown into chains. Thereupon some members of Ferlegus’ faction, seeking to avoid punishment, revealed to the multitude the conspiracy against the king and its principal leaders. The people were so enraged by what they said that, had the royal authority not prevented them, they would have torn Ferlegus apart at the meeting. And so it came about that the king begged that the young man go unpunished, although he knew full well the lad’s disposition against himself, so that he would not seem to be playing the part of a severe father towards his nephew, but rather a pious one. In order to quiet the popular uproar, by decree of the elders new custodians were appointed for Ferlegus. The leading men of the conspiracy were punished on the spot, and the parliament then dissolved. The king devoted his attention to the conduct of pubic business, as before, and for a while continued to appear in public so that he could mete out justice to every man, in accordance with good and right.
10. These were the accomplishments of Ferithar. In the third month after they were done, the king suddenly died by night, after having governed for fifteen years, and it was uncertain whether this happened by fate or the machinations of Ferlegus’ faction. It enhanced the suspicion in which Ferlegus was held that, taking along certain criminal fellows, he first fled to the Picts. Then, learning that a deadly scheme against himself was afoot, he cursed Pictish treachery and removed to Britain, where he lived out the rest of his life in disgrace. After the death of Ferithar, a parliament of elders and the entire nation was appointed to be held at Dunstaffnage (this was the name of a very famous castle that once existed in Argathelia), where by their free vote they could decree whom they wished to received the kinship. On the appointed day, moved by his late father’s good deeds, which was still fresh in their memories, with full accord they all elected Fergus’ younger son Mainus as king. Mainus was twenty-four years old when he was elected to govern. He was a man of very different nature than his brothers, and of a modest mind. He hated like the plague authors of factions, men of contumacious character, thieves, despoilers of fields, degenerates, and felons of any stripe. He wielded his supreme power with great moderation and a fair balance, and he allowed every man his say regarding the matter in controversy in his own village or in any assembly. If these were of a kind that could not readily be resolved by others, he would make an annual progress through the villages and towns of his entire people and adjudge such cases, at which time he would also preside over executions of those condemned to death, a method of judgment he observed throughout his life. A number of years thereafter this office devolved on another magistrate, the Great Justice, the title of the supreme judge of public cases in our age, and his annual sessions are commonly called the called the High Court of Justiciary.
11. At this time King Chrinus of the Picts sent ambassadors to Mainus, congratulating the new king. There mission was to renew the old peace by a new treaty, and urge him to stand by his father’s commitment, and they were to urge that this a thing that would be conducive to the peace, repose, and tranquility of both peoples. Manius, instructed by the elders of his nation met in private session, gave the ambassadors a friendly reception and replied as they wished. After a few days, after peace between these peoples had been renewed, the ambassadors were dismissed. And so the Scottish kingdom in Albion began to flourish in secure repose and settled peace. And the king was convinced that human affairs cannot grow in the absence of justice, piety and religion, that kingdoms and everything else on earth are subject to the power of the gods, that all human strivings are in vain if the gods are not propitious, and that there is no surer defense for realms than their good-will. And so, to inspire his people to religion, he added certain new sacred ceremonies to the ancient rites performed in honor of the immortal gods, and commanded that huge stones be set up in circles at various places, as the matter required, with the largest stone set at the south of the circle to be employed as an altar, where burnt-offering might be offered to the gods. As evidence of this, such great stone circles exist to our own day, and are commonly identified as ancient temples of the gods. And whoever has seen these will be bound to wonder by what art or physical strength stones of such size were brought together. In that age of world sacrifices to the gods consisted of grain or cattle, with a certain fixed amount set aside for the support of the priests, although these were few in number. He also began a monthly ritual for Diana, whom the people of that time regarded as the patroness of forests and hunters. And so it came about that after the moon had come together with the sun, at the first sight of this each man would greet it with prayers, a practice which became a long-standing tradition with posterity. Mainus was also responsible for the introduction of other rites and holy ceremonies, as prescribed in the ancient scrolls of the Egyptians, to be performed in our national way.
12. After Mainus had furnished his people with these sacred and civil institutions, having reigning for twenty-seven years, he handed over the kingship to his son Dornadilla and departed this life, at a time when Elganus was ruling the Britons and Thaara the Picts. Having received the kingship, Dornadilla struck a new pact with the Britons by means of his ambassadors, and renewed the one with the Picts. A lover of peace who loathed all war and all manner of dissent, he took great pleasure in the things which pertained to a quiet, tranquil life. He delighted in the hunt, hunting-hounds, and hunters themselves. He forbade hunting-hounds to be bred with their dams, since their offspring (as we too believe nowadays) were wholly unfit for the hunt, and he commanded by edict that each man should support two tracking-dogs and one hound for the royal hunt. If one of the hounds should chance to lose an eye or some other member which rendered it less useful for the hunt, it should be maintained at public expense. Any man who had killed a wolf should be given a cow, likewise at public expense. It has been an ancient custom of our nation to hunt down this beast with great energy, since they are very harmful to cattle. At this time, there being no internal strife or foreign wars, the Scots in Albion were wholeheartedly devoted to the hunt, thinking that whatever exercised human wit to be far superior to ignoble idleness, and they began to observe certain traditions regarding hunting. The most important was that the man whose hound first attacked a stag and pursued it until the killing, he should receive the animal’s back. The man whose hound came up second took the head and the horns, and the disemboweled body was to be shared out according to the decision of the leader of the hunt. The innards and guts were duly given parceled out among the hounds. If any dispute arose, by common assent they would appoint a judge who, having invoked Diana, the avenger of lawbreaking, would settle the quarrel.
13. It is uncertain whether these laws (as some record) were deliberately instituted by this king as a means of putting the people’s recreation on an a safer footing by wholly eradicating all grounds for discord and quarrelling, not infrequently the source of great mischief, or whether they grew to be customary by tacit public consent, but in any event I know for a fact that they have gained the force of law throughout all the districts of Scotland, and have observed that even today they remain inviolate among hunters everywhere. Dornadilla also wished the laws enacted by Fergus to be observed by one and all. He added new penalties to be imposed on transgressors of those statues, with various means of punishment appointed for various offenses (they had previously been punished as the elders saw fit), and set these down on tablets, designating them as laws. He entrusted these tablets to the safekeeping to the single man who appeared best and most learned, whom he called the interpreter of the law, so that he might show both to a convicted felon and to his judge what penalty was specified by the tablets, and so that the people might see that in the correction of wrong doing the judge was not deviating from the right. In that age of the world no magistrate pronounced sentence on any man, even the guiltiest, without first having first displayed the tablets to the people and reading out the prescribed sanction. In later times this manner of passing judgment became so traditional that condemned parties gladly submitted to the punishment prescribed by the tablets, no matter how harsh, but complained against even the lightest penalties not inscribed on the tablets, as being unjustly imposed. This method of judgment has remained among the Hebridians, and cannot in any way be abolished. for they have interpreters of the law (called Interpreters), and they regard no man’s judgment as proper without a decreed taken from their tablets.
14. These were pretty much all of Dornadilla’s accomplishments, for he died at Bergonium in the twenty-eighth year of his reign, leaving behind a son named Reuther, who was to young to inherit the throne. For which reason, in accordance with the law I have described, the government of Scotland passed to Dornadilla’s brother Nothatus, a handsome man seemingly possessed of a character very fit for kingship. He ruled for scarce two years, for he plunged the people into such abject servitude that he was rightly called a tyrant by one and all. He did away with law and ruled by wrongdoing, hounding the people with his depredations and the nobles with exile and murder, making his name hateful to everybody and his government a weak one. He was often advised by his followers that he should abstain from his shameful and criminal mischiefmaking, but he he scarcely did so. Rather, his crimes grew along with his years, and, with all sense of shame removed, he turned into a savage beast. And (as is always the case) such great crimes did not go unavenged. For Dowall, the chieftain of the Brigantines, always a hot-blooded fellow, and a man whom the king had tried to murder because he mistrusted his power and uprightness, entered into an association with certain nobleman to whom this haughty government was hateful. To prevent their faction from becoming unpopular, they appointed young Reuther to be king. A little later, Dowall seized an opportunity for committing the premeditated crime, when he learned by spies that the king was holding certain secret conversations with a small number of companions. He suddenly introduced young Reuther into the palace, accompanied by large number of his faction wearing armor, where many of that persuasion had already stationed themselves by prearrangement, so as to be at hand to help him in the doing of the deed. Dowall first delivered himself of a bitter harangue against Nothatus, railing at the man’s impudence and treachery on the grounds that he had despoiled Reuther of his father’s kingdom. Nor was this enough for that most depraved of all men, but he had also ruled in a very self-serving and hateful way, not by any single manner of tyranny, since he had harbored secret grudges against the leading members of the people, on whom depended the welfare of the commonwealth, and had encompassed their stealthy murder. Nothatus replied to Dowall’s hostile speech by saying that the man was acting like a lunatic and that he had rightfully assumed the kingship. Nor should they hope for a more tolerant government than they were then experiencing: Dowall’s rash folly demanded that in future malevolent undertakings should punished with all the greater severity, and what they had devised against himself should immediately be done to the authors of the conspiracy. Provoked by these words, Dowall grew furious, immediately hurled himself against the king, and, without any need for bidding, his supporters did what they had already determined to do at his behest. They slaughtered Nothatus, together with many nobles, particularly those who had disliked Dowall’s faction.
15. Next they set Reuther on the royal throne, handed him the insignia of supreme power, and saluted him as king. This was a thing very hateful to the elders of the kingdom. For they took it greatly amiss that a king had been attacked by a deadly subterfuge, and that a plebiscite for the choosing of a king, something approved by nobles and the people for many years, had been forestalled by the felonious device of a private man. In despite of the venerable authority of the law, a boy, incompetent to govern, had been hailed as king. Therefore, when a parliament had been assembled, Nothatus’ brother-in-law Ferquhard, chieftain of the nation of Novanta, a man of shrewd wit and very avid for power, imagined that the time for great undertakings was at hand, and that no more opportune step towards the supreme rule he had already determined to seek could be offered. So, just as if he had chosen to champion his nation’s cause, he stood up and delivered himself of a lengthy complaint that Dowall had treacherously encompassed the killing of King Nothatus, and had advanced a boy to the supreme magistracy, to the harm of the commonwealth, so that he himself might all the easier exercise his tyranny over the people. He then advised that they should bethink themselves of the welfare of the multitude: if they did not suppress Dowall’s nascent tyranny (for he was undoubtedly going to govern in Reuther’s stead), civil wars would break out among the leading men, and, indeed, that any day now they would, perhaps, experience the collapse of the kingdom. As Ferquhard was delivering this speech, Dowall came along with a crowd of soldiers, having learned by spies what was being readied against himself. Ferquhard and the others who had come to the parliament immediately took to their heels. Hereupon some clan chieftains were killed. Ferquhard, having received many wounds, barely escaped Dowall’s clutches. Making his escape with difficulty, he and his supporters crossed over to the Hebrides.
16. A few days later, throngs of Hebridians came to Ferquhard at Isla (Isla, as I have said before, is the largest of all the Hebrides, from which the crossing over to Albion is quite short. There also came some clan chieftains who had disliked Dowall’s faction from the very outset, fleeing, as they said, the wrath of that sacrilegious tyrant. Then Ferquhard, in order to bring the people’s minds over to his way of thinking, is reported to have said, “My brave fellows, if we were observing the law for creating a king legislated by public authority, it would be pointless for me to address you today from this place, since we would be free to enjoy the rule of Nothatus, flourishing with authority and counsel, living in peace and leisure with no internal sedition. But since this excellent king has been taken away from us by the scheming of that most criminal Dowall, to the unspeakable detriment of the commonwealth, and we see a little boy ruling contrary to law, a boy innocent of any ability to govern, and that criminal traitor daily becoming more hostile to our lives and the common weal, I fail to see what could be less suitable for us than, having no faith in our nation or ourselves, as if we had been defeated without first trying our fortune in battle and avoiding the foeman’s wrath, we should womanishly lie about in this place. For in my opinion no other way is so conducive to increasing our enemies’ strength and diminishing our own. For this cruel enemy has polluted his hands, not just with the blood of our nation’s best men, but also with the sacred blood of a king. And, so that nothing would remain on which we might pin our hopes, he treacherously killed all men of military age in Albion who were our supporters. And the old men who he imagined might aid us with their counsel he has placed under arrest, and is holding them in public custody in such a way that we may rightly regarded them as dead. And he arranged that young Reuther, whom he himself appointed to be king, should marry the daughter of King Gethus of the Picts, trusting that, thanks to that kinship, he might all the easer overwhelm us in this civil war.
17. “And, as I have been advised by a letter from certain men he has appointed to his privy council, he is determined that after he has defeated us (heaven forfend that this should happen!) he will gouge out our eyes and cut off our ears, noses, and privy parts, and then preserve us as a constant mockery. But, brave sirs, you must trust that all of these things can be avoided thanks to divine good-will, and that the avenging gods will exact from this sacrilegious enemy, this violator of law and right, the same punishments he has devised to be inflicted on us because of our adherence to equity and justice. Nor should we doubt that, if we are determined to fight for faith, for liberty, justice, and religion, with the help of the gods themselves, all will turn out well and prosperously for ourselves. For we have learned from the examples set by foreigners and our own ancestors that the gods have often visited their vengeance on the perfidy of many men, by the action of only a few. And so I urge you, let us go, if we are men, if we are worthy of our ancestors, and wish to be deemed the true descendents of those men, who braved so many dangers for the sake of their liberty and to defend the right, and who protected these homes, given them by the friendly gods, against their most malevolent enemies, when it was granted them go grow together into a single people, let us defend the just and right, together with our wives and children (and a man should think nothing dearer, fairer, or more honorable than these) against our very arrogant enemy, thinking it far more honorable to entrust our entire cause to fortune than, having disgracefully lost our eyes and with our limbs cut off, to live on as a laughing-stock. For, as far as victory goes, I think that nothing will happen more easily than our triumph over men whom the gods’ favor has undoubtedly abandoned, because of their violation of right and slaughter of innocent men. Let us go, I say, against our enemy with all our strength both of body and mind. And, if our liberty, wives and children, our lives and our honor have any weight with us, let us be determined either to gain death or victory, and (if the gods are willing) let us have our revenge, not just for the unspeakable murder of King Nothatus and his kinsmen and the violation of right, but also for the harm that this most impious tyrant has in mind to inflict on us, and also on our children and ourselves, and even our very death. For in this way, and no other, we will avoid the disgrace that hangs over our heads.”
18. Ferquhard’s oration moved the clan chieftains together with the entire multitude, but nothing aroused them to take up arms so much as the very shameful punishment their very savage enemy intended to inflict on them. So the fear which had gripped them a little before turned into anger, and clasping hands wet with human blood (as was their national custom), with a common voice they swore to use steel, fire, and all the might they could summon to avenge the undeserved death of King Nothatus and the rest who died by faithless Dowall’s deceits. In taking this oath, they called on the gods to bear witness. Not long thereafter, having recruited an army from Ireland, Argathelia, Novanta, and the other nations which had homes nearest to the Hebrides, Ferquhard set sail for Albion with many ships. When they had arrived here, with great eagerness they all armed themselves against Dowall’s supporters, and took a vow not to leave the battle before they had either avenged the brutal murder of Nothatus and his kinsmen, or had died to the last man in the fight. Not unaware of what was afoot, Dowall and his men ran to arms. Twice in one day battle was joined not far from Bergonium, and twice Dowall’s army was put to rout, not without slaughter, although Ferquhard only had ten thousand men under arms. On that day, about eight thousand of Dowall’s men fell by the time the battle was broken off at nightfall. But at first light, Dowall’s followers, partly angered by the loss of life they had suffered, and partly set afire by their sense of shame, renewed the fight with great ferocity. Within Dowall’s army was King Gethus of the Picts with great forces of his nation, and his son-in law, the young Reuter, together with a number of Scottish nobles who were striving to maintain Dowall’s cause. Likewise no few men of Pictish blood, men of considerable authority among their fellow countrymen, had sided with Ferquhard, inspired by long-standing friendship, the law of hospitality, or (as often happens) because they had received gifts, as well as men of Lugia, Cornana, Martha, Argathelia, Novanta, the Hebrides, and those who dwelt by the Irish Sea. These all fell to fighting fiercely, and with great strength withstood the onslaught. The battling was very savage on both sides, and a doubtful victory ensued. For, when they had maintained the fight for some time, both sides fell back, both because of the slaughter they were suffering and out of fear of losing the victory. In this encounter King Gethus of the Picts, along with many nobles and commoners of his nation, Dowall, Ferquhard, and nearly all the Scottish clan chieftains were killed. And on that day the killing was so great that, of of the entire multitude of those who had engaged in the fight scarcely eight hundred men remained alive, all the rest being killed to the last man.
19. When the following day dawned, when the surviving remnants of Ferquhard’s army discovered that Dowall’s forces had abandoned the battlefield, they energetically pursued the fugitive, putting to the sword those they apprehended in mid-flight, their arms thrown away. The fight was continued all the way to Castle Callendar. Here the young King Ruether was taken and fetched back to Bergonium, but he was spared, both because of the recent good deeds of his father Dornadilla, and because they were aware that his youth made him blameless. The result of this miserable killing was that no men either of Scottish or Pictish blood survived who were able to govern their nations or protect it against an enemy. Word of this common slaughter of Scots and Picts was brought to the Britons, the traditional enemy of them both, who imagined the time was at hand to take a step towards extending their rule over all Albion, so with a great army, assembled by command of their elders, they invaded the territory of the Picts, laying everything low. This inflicted no less grief on the Pictish nobles who had survived the sad slaughter, and on the entire nation, than had the loss of their bravest men in the recent civil strife. Therefore, lest they be destroyed by war and become quick prey for their enemy, seeing that everything was full of the invaders’ pilling and polling, the left behind their fields, farmsteads and towns, emptied of their cattle and all their moveable property, took their wives and children, and secretly departed away by long and difficult marches: partly by land and partly by sea, they retreated to the Orkneys, and there they chose themselves a new king, Gethus, the brother of the previous Gethus. There they remained for a number of years, living in peace and harmony with the previous inhabitants, since neither people did any harm to the other. This, I imagine, is why some of our national historians call the islands of the Orkeys were an ancient Pictish kingdom. Meanwhile, the Britons, ranging through Deira and Pithland (modern Lothian), captured undefended towns and castles and garrisoned them But they spared those rendered helpless because of their sex or old age, everywhere refraining from slaughter, and all the more eagerly because they understood that the people, worn down by multiple massacres, was defenseless. So, leaving a strong garrison in Pithland, they led their army into Scottish territory. At their arrival, the Scots (whom necessity had forced to unite in concord a little previously) were greatly afraid, but then their fury supplied them with strength and courage, so they came a-running to arms. Two thousand Scotsmen were lost in a battle near the Caledonian Forest, and the rest took flight and melted away in various directions.
20. News of this defeat brought scarcely less grief to the helpless common folk than if the entire Scottish nation had perished in that fight, and it was commonly said that the time had come in which, Fergus’ kingdom having been lost, all the Scottish race, together with its very name, was abolished in Albion. But the Britons, heartened by their successes, learned that some of the Scottish nobles who had escaped their clutches had retired to Bergonium to defend King Reuther (for he and a few other members of Fergus’ line still survived), and that others had taken their wives and children and crossed over to the Hebrides, at the command of King Owen (who then ruled the Britons), drew up their ranks and straightway marched towards Bergonium with the intention of capturing Reuther and the nobles with him there. Having a look at the castle and it natural defense, they understood that it could not be taken save by a siege, so they built a wall around it. For a very long time, the Scots withstood the siege. Finally, their grain-supply exhausted, they were so oppressed by a lack of victuals that, lest they fall under their enemies’ power, they chose men by lot whose bodies would feed the rest. But they came to dislike this way of living, since sometimes the lot would fall on those of good fighting ability, and sometimes on the more prudent, upon whom everybody’s fortune depended. And so, after various deliberations about the final outcome of their fortunes, they decided to venture a sally, while they still had the strength. First of all Colan, the chieftain of the nation of Novanta, took a hundred chosen men of his clan, broke out, and reached a nearby hill, where he came to blows with the enemy. The men of Novanta, who only made this sally so they might die for the common safety, fought stoutly until Colan and his fellow clansmen, overwhelmed by the strength and number of the enemies, perished to the last man. While the Britons were engaged in this fight with the Scots, young King Reuther and everybody else who had been at Bergonium went out the postern gate and came to ships in a nearby harbor, purposely outfitted there with their nautical gear and armaments, and from that place he was brought by his subjects, first to the Hebrides, and then to Ireland, enjoying a happy crossing. Irate that King Reuther had thus escaped harm, the Britons took revenge by killing a large number of common folk. Then they turned to Scotland’s fortified places and castles, of which some freely surrendered and others were taken without any long siege. The Scots whom flight had saved during the battles that had been fought, existing in scattered regions, saw that they were far inferior to the Britons in strength, nor sufficiently numerous to be able fight them on equal terms, retired to mountain-ridges and defended themselves against the enemy by the steepness of those places, where they lived on a hard and sparing diet of milk, roots, and certain blackberries (for those hilly regions abound in berry-bushes), and thus supported their life in summers. In winters they survived on the meat of game and sometime on cattle stolen from the flatlands, while making bloody raids on the Britons set over the subservient common folk.
21. This war lasted for about twelve years, during which time nearly all the Scots and Picts who remained in Albion lived in ignoble servitude to the Britons. While these things were transpiring in Albion, in Ireland Reuther’s wife presented him with a son named Thereus. A little later, inspired by letters from the Pictish King Gethus (at the time he was on Pomonia, the largest of the Orkneys) and the Scots in Albion, he determined to cross to Albion. The following summer, having assembled auxiliaries from all quarters, he took as many ships as he could collect, set sail from Ireland, and sail to the Hebrides. Having increased his army, he came to Albion at the Gulf of Velaus (the name of a loch in the western part of Lugia, commonly called Loch Braun). When his army had been set ashore, they killed the first man they met, and each man licked is blood from the swordpoint, then held the sword aloft and prayed that that in a prosperous battle he would gain worthy revenge for the blood of his ancestors. Then they started a southward march. But they received the news that King Gethus of the Picts had arrived with an army recruited from his German friends, and that he was not thirty miles away in Lugia, so they awaited his arrival. On the third day the two kings met with mutual congratulations at Lugdale (now called Digdale). The following day, they took their armies and moved southward. And all the Scots and Picts in Albion came to the king, so that a very large army was gathered more quickly than anyone could anticipate. When these things were announced to King Sisslius of the Britons (since Owen had passed away a little earlier), he assembled an army out of his subjects and marched to meet the enemy. The Scots and Picts ignored the common folk of the Britons and bypassed the fortifications in which they were keeping garrisons, and, invading Britain, lay most foul waste to all things. For the sake of requiting this damage, Sisillius immediately encountered the Scots and Picts with a battle. After this had gone on a while, at length the Britons fell back from their enemy.
22. Everybody agreed that Reuther’s fine feats gained the day. And so the place where the battle was fought was named Rethirdale, which is to say the Vale of Reuther, after the victor, a name that went down to posterity. This was a triumph bloody for both victors and vanquished, so much so that, having lost many thousands of men, they abandoned all hope of repairing their armies and went home. A little while thereafter, by the agency of ambassadors a peace was settled between the kings. The Scots and Picts took back their castles and fortifications, and their British garrisons were given leave to depart in peace. The year in which Reuther was restored to his kingdom was the year 4995 of Creation, 204 years before the advent of Christ, and 546 years after the foundation of the city of Rome. When Bede mentions Reuther and his return to Albion (although he calls it a first arrival) in his Ecclesiastical History, he calls him Reuda. But I have imitated the writers who have recorded our national history, and employed the name they used, unchanged. Henceforth Reuther engaged in no wars with foreigners, and experienced no internal seditions, and died at Bergonium in the twenty-sixth year of his reign, in the year of Creation 4997.
23. After his death, lest the Scottish kingship become endangered by devolving on Reuther’s son Thereus, whom I mentioned a little while ago, a boy barely ten years ago, an in accordance with the popular vote the elders bade Reuther’s cousin Reutha assume the kingship. He was a quick-witted man. Reuda was the first of all our kings who commanded that the feats of brave men and those who had done fine things for their nation’s sake should be memorialized. Those who died fighting the Britons should be honored with conspicuous monuments, and obelisks should be erected over their tombs to match the number of men they had killed. A large quantity of these obelisks can still be seen in the Highlands. In later times the custom arose that the tombs of the most famous and distinguished men were held in veneration like shrines, and men would build cairns of stones and erect large one on which were inscribed the shapes of fish, snakes, and birds (that age used these instead of letters of the alphabet for writing arcane things), to advise passers-by who they were and what fair things they had achieved in life. Ariculture, the tending of cattle, and their enthusiastic relish for hunting brought out it about that medicine and the mechanical arts were neglected and forgotten. Therefore, to make good the lack, Reutha decreed that artisans in each craft were to be fetched from elsewhere and distributed through the individual districts where the courts sat (nowadays called counties), and be maintained partly at public expense and partly at private, so as to make the burden of their support as easy as possible. For (there being no use of coined money in this age of the world) a private citizen’s bull would be butchered in every district, so that the head would go to the blacksmith, the neck to the forester, the tongue to the judge, one of the chucks to the soothsayer (they called such a derach in our old tongue), both kidneys and some small ribs to the carpenter, the rest of the robs to the physician, and each would receive a fixed amount of oats and grain by right as their annual fee. And other men received other parts of the bull. Our age observes this practice of sharing out a bull still being observed by the Hebridians. And since Reutha was aware that a large number of men, either injured by wounds or suffering from disease, were dying because of the incompetence of physicians, he passed a law, with the support of the elders, that no man should claim to be a physician if not well skilled in that art, as established by long experience, and established a penalty of death for those who failed to comply. For previously our countrymen did not use actual physicians. Rather, any man could call himself such, and in accordance with the ancient Egyptian custom they would carry an ailing patient to the marketplace, or set him out in a public street, so that they might consult passers-by who had suffered from a similar malady, or who knew someone who had, about how they had escaped, and it was deemed a crime to pass by any invalid in silence.
24. While Reutha was intent on these and similar civic matters, a delegation of King Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt came to Albion in order to determine the location of this island, its shape, and the manners of its inhabitants. Reutha gave them a very friendly reception, all the more gladly because they represented the nation from which his ancestors had once come. They were escorted around the territories of the Scots and Picts by royal servants, and (as King Ptolemy had commanded) wrote down whatever they learned about our promontories, estuaries, nearby islands, cities, notable castles, lochs and mountains, and the variation of our days and nights. The Egyptian king was minded to compile a description of the entire world, all its islands available to human access, and the location of its estuaries, cities, and promontories, with their longitudes and latitudes ascertained by astronomical instruments. There exists a massive tome started by him, subsequently brought to completion by Ptolemy of Alexander, a famous astronomer of his own day, who lived during the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian, a work that is beyond all doubt both useful and well worked-out, known to posterity as Ptolemy’s Geography. When in the course of exploring our Scottish territories these ambassadors had carefully noted our rites and ceremonies, or means of speaking of and writing down sacred matters, our language, our shaven heads and lack of baldness, our habit of going about in the sun with little if any protection, , and our other national habits scarcely different from those of the Egyptians, they returned to King Ptolemy in Egypt. Henceforth Reutha ruled with a fair-dealing government, with all things pacified and no war, for nearly fourteen years, and yet he was afraid lest this great good fortune would lead to a sad ending. He summoned Reuther’s son Thereus, an outstanding young man conspicuous for his great probity, to a public assembly, where he praised him, and steadfastly maintained that he was capable of governing ably and with probity, and that the kingship was his by hereditary right. He himself was all but wholly consumed by old age, and had no wish to continue in power. And so, by authority of the elders and with the people voting their consent, he retired to private life, having reigned for seventeen years.
25. After gaineing the royal title, for his first six years Thereus equaled the most excellent of our kings in his virtue. Thereafter, adopting a character very different from his father’s, he had no enthusiasm for piety nor justice. Wallowing in filth, a mocker of religion, he took no vengeance on public theft. Corrupted by their king’s manners (for a people is wont to mirror its king), the people grew savage. And so murders of nobles and the best of the people ensued, and robbers and plunderers of estates and fields were greatly revered as leaders, the common folk having been bled white. It finally came to such a pass that no man expected any better form of government as long as Thereus was king. The clan chieftains, troubled by the unworthiness of the thing, and regarding it as unworthy that men distinguished for their probity should obey such a corrupt monster, convened a parliament of elders, and out of their multitude not a one of them did not vote to take punishment on Thereus and remove him from the kingship. Hearing of this association, Thereus feared for his life and, cursing his subjects and fellow clansmen, went into voluntary exile among the Britons, from whom he often requested support for regaining his throne, but in vain, passed a long and shameful life at Eboracum, and finally died there in ignominious old age. He reigned for twelve years.
26. While Thereus languished in exile at Eboracum, lest their commonwealth suffer any harm for want of a supreme magistrate, the Scottish elders voted to make Conan, leader of the Brigantines, an interrex (now called a regent), for he had always enjoyed especial authority among them. With great exertions he brought it about that the grudges that had arisen among the nobility thanks to Thereus’ sloth were assuaged. A lover of peace and a loather of seditious men, he suppressed the commotions of pillagers with many punishments. He pursued thieves and robbers everywhere, and when he caught them they ended their lives on a rope. During the time of his government, all things were safe and sound in broad daylight, their was no fear of thieves or robbery. Finally, hearing of the death of Thereus, he convened a public parliament at Bergonium, so that the kingdom of the Scots might pass to its heir. After Conan had resigned his office, at the behest of the multitude he hailed Thereus’ brother Josina as king (Thereus having had no sons). After being hailed as king, by means of his ambassadors Josina renewed the old pacts with the Picts and Britons. He befriended physicians and surgeons, since he was raised in Ireland and grew to manhood in the company of such men. Nor was he himself ignorant of medicine, since he had skilled knowledge of the virtues of herbs, the sole remedies our countrymen of those times employed for the healing of wounds and disease. The large number of maladie visible in our day were unknown to our ancestors, and scarce any man suffered, except because of the stone, or because surplus phlegm, or some similar frigid or humid ailment @@@@@@ overcoming their human temperament was supplying the cause. For they lived upright lives, employing parsimony to protect their bodies from ill health, and this protracted the lives of our people. But when they began to neglect their ancestral diet and devoted themselves to every manner of delicacy, together with foreign delicacies, foreign and previously unheard-of maladies broke out. And, since the traditional remedies were of no avail, new ones were invented, and countless ones fetched from abroad. But these too were quickly overwhelmed by novel foodstuffs.
27. These things about old-fashioned Scottish parsimony, diseases, and medicine are said here only in passing, and a fuller discussion is reserved for more appropriate contexts. During the reign of Josina two men of venerable appearance, shipwrecked and all but naked, and accompanied by some islanders as companions, came to Josina at Bergonium. It is written that these were Spanish priests who had been borne on a Lusitanian ship. After they had begun a voyage to Athens, they were driven by the force of storm, scarcely a light one, and cast ashore after their ship had been sunk by the savagery of the sea. Contrary to all expectation, they and a few others had been spared from the danger. But, no matter where they came from, it is agreed that they were philosophers. When they had entered his presence, the king treated them with great veneration and bade them dine with himself, be lodged in his palace, and be given everything they required. When two weeks had passed, and these men had been refreshed by rest and nourishment after having exhausted their bodies with sleeplessness and exertion, the king summoned them and invited them to tell him what they had learned about the nature of his land, and the manners and customs of his people. They unhesitatingly responded they had not yet discovered these things (neither their adverse fortune nor the short time they had been here allowed this), but, as far as they could tell by conjecture, our land was more fit for minerals and mining than crops, and contained more wealth and fruitfulness in its veins than on its skin, as they could tell by studying the influence of heaven. As for the nation’s customs, they remarked that the Scots were ill-instructed about religion, since, in the Egyptian manner, they attributed bestial forms to the gods and represented them by any old shape, whereas only that was God which contained mankind, this earth, and the universe, that which men have called heaven, the universe, and the nature of all things, and no man either could or should represent His appearance as resembling an animal or anything else. Therefore it was proper to abandon images and worship heaven’s God with prayerful words, in a sanctuary or temple built for that purpose, attributing to Him no form, adoring him only with incense, offering up prayers, and always expecting some good from Him. This might particularly be done by those who lived a chaste, upright life with justice, but not by others.
28. By repeating over and over these and similar things concerning religion, they convinced no small number of men, finally bringing them to the point that they abandoned their idols of Apis and Isis (for our people then worshiped them as gods), anda many men piously worshiped the God of heaven. Others, who could not be persuaded to devote themselves to the living God, continued going the traditional shrines of the gods, where, in their traditional ancestral way, they consulted those gods and their oracles, and worshiped the statues of beasts and cattle as if they were gods. But no man could by any means be induced to admit that the sun, moon, stars, and other lights of heaven, which travel together with the sky itself, lacked divinity. For, deceived with their ancient error, they stubbornly clung to this notion, since they could perceive nothing fairer, more sublime, and more wonderful than the sun, moon, and other stars,, and so they worshiped them as if they were endowed with divinity (I mean they worshiped the sun under the name of Phoebus, and the moon under that of Diana, whom they had always thought to be the patroness of hunters). These things which I have hitherto related about the kings of the Scots are taken from Vairement, John Campbell, and Cornelius Hibernicus, who, as I stated at the beginning of my history, I have chosen to follow, as being the most reliable of the authors who have recorded our national history.
29.Josina reigned for twenty-four years, and died at Bergonium, a very old man. A little before his death, his son Fynnan had been declared king in accordance with the popular will. Fynnan’s reign was gentle, moderate, and most welcome to the people. He granted lands and estates to the clan chieftains, whom he regarded as pillars of public safety, and he placed all his hope for defending the realm in the good-will of his nobles. He did nothing save by decree of the elders and increased the number of privy counselors, so that, thanks to their very multitude, his scheme of administration would be regarded as more just and more welcome. Lest the king might appear to be governing by private counsels, he ordained that royal and public affairs should not be managed without the advice and guidance of the elders: the king should not enter into, or break off, any war, peace, treaties or alliances on his own authority, without the approval of the clan chieftains. He gained the affection of the Scottish nation, partly by his good-will, and partly by conferring benefits, and in this way he was secure among his own people, assailed by no foreign wars, and overflowing with wealth. And so he applied himself to restoring and enhancing religion, which (as he thought) had been harmed by his father. First of all, he restored the idols of the gods, so the might be worshipped by all men. And yet he did not decree that the cult of the living God introduced by his father’s authority ought to be abolished. Rather, he gave each man the freedom to adore the god of his choosing. Most importantly, he gathered together the leaders of the church, called in the ancient Scottish language durcerglii, giving them a headquarters in Albion where they might preside over lesser priests, supervise public and private sacrifices, and exhort men to religion. So that this foreign word might acquire a Latin flavor, Roman writers called these priests Druids. By decree of the king and the elders, their duty was to preside over public sacrifices, interpret religion, introduce solemn sacred rites, and instruct the sons of noblemen with the improved learning and manners that they themselves had acquired at Athens. By the same law he enjoined that a single man should preside over all the Druids and enjoy supreme authority among them, and that fire should be borne before him to symbolize his dignity and honor. When he died, he should be replaced, either by the man who surpassed the others in dignity or who won an election.
30. To these Druids was given the island of Mona (which, being far removed from Britain and Ireland, was at that time all but connected to Brigantia and the mainland, but nowadays is separated by a considerable stretch of sea and lies twenty-four miles offshore), so their sacred leaders might live there in a consecrated place, the headquarters of all Druids. Scattered through various districts, the rest should attend to their sacred duties. At a certain fixed time of year all should convene at Mona in accordance with the decision of their supreme leader, so that, if something touching on religion had chanced to done amiss, they might take common council for its repair. Subsequently (but some time later) they had made such progress in their studies of natural history and morality, subjects to which they were greatly devoted, that in all men’s eyes they were regarded as (and indeed were) the most just of men. Hence legal books and many private and public suits were entrusted to them, and they appointed penalties for the guilty and rewards for those who had done well. They debarred from their rites those who did not abide by their decisions (always a very serious punishment for our people), and those so excluded were accounted as impious criminals. All men shrunk from them and avoided any conversation, so that they themselves might not be contaminated and incur divine displeasure. Nor was any justice dispensed for their benefit if they asked for it, nor was any honor awarded them. The Druids were free of the requirement to perform any military service, and enjoyed immunity in all things. Many Roman writers, most particularly Pliny, Tacitus, Strabo, and Caius Julius Caesar, claimed that the religion of the Druids originated in Britain (although, after the custom of Roman writers, they called all Albion by the name of Britain), and that it was subsequently introduced into Gaul.
31. King Fynnan was praised, not just for his religious activities, but also for his civic ones, with which he wonderfully ornamented his realm. And his glory was enhanced because he married his son Durstus to Agasia, daughter of the king of the Britons. By means of this marriage, he befriended many members of the Britons’ nation. In the end he died at Camelodunum, where he had chanced to come a little earlier for the sake of consoling the king of the Picts, who was then suffering from a grave malady, after having reigned over the Scots for thirty years. His corpse was borne to Bergonium, and buried in the royal tomb. His son Durstus was appointed in his place, a man of unbridled lust and a devotee of drunkenness, and therefore possessed of a very different character than his father. He bitterly hated those whom his father had won over by his acts of kindness, who, out of affection for his father and inspired by the recollection of his recent life, tried to urge him to change his ways. He abolished the custom of consultation with the elders regarding public matters: in considering the most difficult matters, he relied on the advice of very wicked men who encouraged his corrupt ways and devised new kinds of pleasure.Some of the nobles his father had appointed to his privy council he killed, others he drive into exile or despoiled of their fortunes on spurious pretexts. Matters came to such a pass that he encompassed the murder, not just of those he hated, but also of those from whom he could hope for booty. And he divorced Agasia, the daughter of the king of the Britons, having first foully prostituted her to a gang of buffoons, and introduced a crew of whores into the palace.
32.While the king was devoting himself to these and similar felonious dealings, the Hebridians and the men of Novanta, Argathelia, Lugia, and various other districts exchanged representatives, by whose agency they formed the bonds of an alliance and erupted in war against Durstus. For they so greatly loathed his tyranny that they could no longer maintain their loyalty to him. And, lest they appear to be in violation of the public faith due a king, they avowed they were waging war, not against the king, but against his pestilential advisors, alleging that, if they did not quickly come to the aid of the Scottish commonwealth, beyond doubt it would soon suffer very great harm. When the confederates were preparing an army, the nearby people brought in help from every side, enflamed with the desire to put an end to such hateful tyranny. But some refused their support, thinking that the confederates were after power and the royal title, not striving for the public welfare. And so Durstus, troubled by this domestic upheaval and conscious of his unspeakable crimes, turned his felonious mind to treachery, intending to destroy the ators by guile, since he saw no other way to escape imminent peril. His first trick was to feign repentance, admit his crimes, and claim that he wholeheartedly desired to make amends and change his government for the better, so that by this pretended peace he might all the better crush the rebels.
33. And so he announced to the leaders of the association that henceforth he consented to manage his government in accordance with their will, and to punish the guilty parties at whose urgings he had so long impiously and unjustly ruled the commonwealth. It would be criminal for a king to fight against his subjects when their intention was not to despoil a ruler of his realm, but to return him to the condition from which, as all men thought, he had strayed. Let them send a witness, and he would swear an oath in the presence of Diana and their other ancestral gods, binding himself by curses and imprecations, to do as they wished. And they should declare whatever else they required of him. So that sure faith would be placed in these things, he remanded to public custody certain courtiers at whose suasion he had committed many misdemeanors, as if they would soon be punished. And he dressed up other base-born men in finery and sent them to the members of the association in chains, to be punished as they saw fit. The members of the association, responding all too gullibly to the king’s blandishments, sent Doron, a chieftain of the race of Novanta, to Durstus. The king led him to the altar of Diana, took the goddess’ statue from the priest, and swore with the utmost execrations and sincere faith that he sought the friendship of the members of the association, and forgave them all their guilt, and he would henceforth count them among his closest friends and would not govern save in accordance with their decisions. When these things were related to the members of the associaiton and their allies, they became filled with vain hope and, setting aside their anger and hatred, went to the king. The king talked to them placidly, so that his words and expression appeared to promise the same thing. Therefore peace was celebrated with the rejoicing of one and all, and previously unheard-of oaths of good faith were taken by both parties. Happy because of these things (as it seemed), the king invented the leading confederates to a banquet. Soon, when they had entered Bergonium and the king had shut himself up in its stronghold, armed men, who had been concealed for this purpose, sprang forth from their hiding-places and butchered the unarmed members of the associaiton who had come to the castle, killing them to the last man. Their wives, who at the king’s bidding had accompanied their husbands to this deadly banquet, after vainly having tried to offer themselves to the murderers in place of their husbands, dispersed, having torn their vestments and hair, with loud exclamations calling on the gods who avenge broken faith. They left Bergonium and went back to their own homes, all the more wretched, as they regarded themselves, because they had not been permitted to die together with their husbands.
34. Durstus’ bloody crimes and treachery did not long go unpunished. For the surviving confederates immediately reassembled their army, summoning both men and women of fighting age. They surpassed all expectation with the speed with which many thousands of them besieged Bergonium, where Durstus (hateful to one and all for his unspeakable slaughter of the nobles) was staying. Some came up to the walls, demanding Durstus for punishment and calling that out they would soon find out whether he was better at war than at crime. Dursus was haunted by furies, not knowing what to do, and, placing all his hopes in desperation, in the company of only a few supporters (and disorganized ones, at that) launched an attack on the enemy. Battle had barely been joined when (in less time than it takes to describe) Durstus was at once despoiled of life and kingdom. His death occurred in the ninth year of his reign. He was not forbidden royal burial, since the elders did not think his corpse could inflict any further damage. When Durstus was buried and his sons carried off to Ireland by their friends after the anger of the members of the association had cooled down, a parliament was convened and the nobles debated the kingship. All were agreed that the king should not be chosen from the family of Durstus, fearing that such a king would some day take vengeance on them for Durstus’ death. So the subject of their debate was who (and, most importantly, belonging to what family) was a man worthy of royal majesty. Some favored bestowing the throne on Ragaon, chieftain of the Brigantians. Others supported the islander Cornalus, who was the first of all to begin the association against Durstus. But he was easily rejected by the outcries of many men, as being the least fit for rule of all men, since in his intemperance he seemed destined to grant freebooters complete license, should he obtain the kingship. Some would entrust the government to Corimanus, clan chief of the men of Novanta. And so, when opinion was divided and, after much quarreling, the matter seemed headed for civil war, Caronus of Argathelia, a man of great authority among his people and a lover of peace, thus addressed the elders:
35. “Having experienced Durstus’ tyrannous rule, and knowing about the civil war waged by our ancestors Dowall and Ferquhard, you can easily gather how unwelcome it is to the people, and dangerous for the realm, to have a tyrant governing by deceit, and how dangerous internal sedition is for our commonwealth. For in that war the ruin of our kingdom, gained at the cost of so much effort and continued by so much exertion, was almost achieved. In it, the best of our nation fell by the sword, our common folk were reduced to the vilest of servitude, and beyond all doubt the Scottish name would have been obliterated, had men persisted any longer in that deadly civil war. We have heard our fathers telling us how at Bergonium, when our countrymen were besieged by the Britons, they were reduced by starvation to support their lives by eating human flesh, and after a deadly battle necessity obliged them to achieve concord and abide in faith to their king to the very end for the sake of their nation and their liberty; how King Reuther, having all but lost his kingdom, escaped his enemies’ clutches by a risky sally; how Colan, the bravest of all Scotsmen, together with a choice band of soldier, honorably died fighting for the security of king and nation; of how noble women, driven frantic, chose death in order to escape shameful servitude. What else but civil war has brought our countryman to such a point that, defeated and eluding their enemies, they sought help and safety by living as exiles in foreign parts? No matter how well endowed they are with martial virtue, the Britons would never have raged against our lands and estates with their ravaging, had not we not paved them a highway with our civic strife. Therefore, my most brave gentlemen, we must take great care lest this arising civil discord grow to be a public danger, for nothing has greater power to weaken the strength of our government.
36. “You have lately freed the nation of fear of a most cruel tyrant, you have avenged the blood shed by those nobles treacherously murdered by Durstus. Now your greatest task is to take counsel for our affairs. Perish the thought, my fellow clansmen, that you throw away this victory, gained by much exertion, by your domestic quarrels! Perish the thought that men you have conquered in an easy battle should gain their greatest wish and see you inflicting mutual wounds on each other! You see that the common folk are overjoyed at Durstus’ death, and eager to choose a king in accordance with your will. While this desire persists, you must consult concerning supreme power, and chose a king who will protect your interests. Otherwise, beyond all doubt, we can look forward to nothing but civil war, public and private catastrophes, the slaughter of our noblemen, and the ravaging of our fields. And you will encounter those who are ready to inflict capital punishment on you, accusing you of having acted treasonably.” Both the nobles and the commoners admired Caronus for saying such things and entrusted to him, all responsiobility for conducting this business. After consultations with the leaders of the people he quickly settled on Durstus’ cousin Ewen, who was then in exile in Pithlandia because he had always opposed the king’s corrupt ways, so that government would remain within the royal family, and pronounced him king, with popular acclaim. So a little later they fetched him from Pithlandia, and brought him to Bergonium, clad in royal array and preceded by the insignia of kingship, with joyous popular outcries. At first the men of the Bergonium garrison intended to deny him entry. But, seeing their walls surrounded by such a multitude of men, and that they themselves, destitute of all help, could not long resist, they surrendered the stronghold and freely submitted to Ewen. And so, after he had entered Bergonium and was seated on his royal throne, at his command the elders of the realm clasped his hand and bound themselves by oath henceforward to abide in sincere loyalty to him.
37. Ewen was the first of all the kings of Scotland who demanded this oath of fealty from his subjects, a custom that endured for many a century. By way of imitation, at their creation clan chieftains compelled their clansmen to clasp hands and swear their obedience. Nor is this ritual extinct in our day. In choosing a so-called tribe captains, the Highlanders and Hebridians observe nearly identical ceremonies. When one of these has been duly performed, at the nearest market town they employ a very loud-voiced herald to forbid any member of that claim not to call a new leader by anything but that that ancient and time-honored title, upon pain of death. And at all places, when a man hears that edict proclaimed, he removes his hat and bends his knee, and attends to it with all reverence, as if he were at church. This, I am led to conjecture, is the reason that in their commerce and business dealings our countrymen who live in the Highlands and the Hebrides, are accustomed to swear oaths by the hand, foot, and name of their leader, as if it were something sacred and divine, and think it a mortal sin to commit perjury against such an oath.
38. But I must continue concerning Ewen. In order that his reign might be shored up by virtue, he decreed that young men should receive an austere and harsh upbringing, sleep at night on hard boards with no mattresses, exercise themselves with bow and arrows, wrestling and running, and become accustomed to bear arms, and also to abstain from any activities that tend to render the mind effeminate, so that, should the need to fight for their nation ever arise, they would not be soldiers wallowing in softness or luxury, but might protect the realm by their virtue. He visited nearly all the Scots’ districts for the sake of administering justice, subjecting some of the worst offenders to whippings and inflicting the ultimate penalty on others. While Ewen was occupied with these things, Pictish ambassadors came to him requesting his help in preventing enemies from invading their territories, in accordance with their treaty. For, having depopulated Deira, the Britons had arrived at Pithlandia, and doubtlessly a siege was threatening Camelodunum. Ewen agreed to the ambassadors’ requests, and, having quickly assembled a large number of men, he marched against the Britons. With the addition of the Scots, the Picts’ spirits rose. Then the allied Scots and Picts moved against the Britons, as if to a victory already gained, such being their eagerness to gain revenge for the injuries they had received in the previous years. Nor were the Britons behindhand in coming to meet them. A very sharp battle ensued, with the victory long remaining in doubt. Nightfall put an end to this conflict, a very baleful one for both sides, with the matter still hanging in the balance. On that same night the allied kings, discovering their strength had been shattered, with many of their men slain the battle, fearfully retreated to the hills of Pithlandia. The Britons, afflicted by no less loss, abandoned all hope of repairing their army and departed at first light, looking very much like runaways, leaving behind in Pithlandia their very abundant bootly. When the allied Scots and Picts saw from the faraway hills that the fields were empty of soldiers, and informed by their scouts that there was no deceit in the Britons’ departure, they came down to the valley and took possession of the booty the Britons had carried away, and restored what they could to its proper owners. The rest of the loot, consisting of the cattle and proptrty which the fleeing Britons had abandoned on the fields, were divided up by the soldiers.
39. Afterwards King Ewen returned to Bergonium, where he consoled his subjects, awarding both public and private gifts to those who had lost kinsmen in the war. He decided henceforth to govern his realm in peace, and to uphold justice and law by means of chosen judges in individual districts who might pronounce laws for their peoples. He was likewise responsible for a decree that in individual districts there should be appointed inspectors to hunt out thieves, robbers, and highwaymen, and that these men should be given land to dwell on and grain out of the public store. Within our memory this kind of men still existed in many parts of Scotland who retained this public subsidy, although the responsibility of their office had grown obsolete. He built a citadel not far from Bergonium at a place very impregnable by its nature, and called it Evonium after himself, although it is now commonly called Dunstaffnage, or Steven’s Castle. He continued to reign for many years, to the great advantage of all men. At length he departed this life, after having possessed the kingship for nineteen years. His funeral was overseen by his bastard son Gillus, a sly man most greedy for power, who attended to it with false tears and arranged for him to buried with royal estate (as it was then reckoned to be) in a tomb hard by Evonium, and at that place erected a number of obelisks in Ewen’ memory. blab
40. To make it more august, the two sons of Durstus I mentioned a little earlier were present at the funeral, Dothan and Dorgall, who even then were seeking to foment sedition in order to gain the throne. A little while before he died King Ewen had recalled them from exile and had treated them with much honor, as befitted a king’s sons. They were twins born at the same time, so that it was hard to ascertain which was the elder and so qualified to rule, and this created a bitter rivalry between the brothers, as each, avid for the throne, schemed against the other. Gillus increased the brothers’ hatred by alleging many feigned and invented sleights, so that each brother armed himself for the other’s destruction. Day by day the rivalry increased, to the point that no device was left untried. Finally, at Gillus’ urging, they agreed that this brotherly quarrel over who was entitled to the kingship would be settled according to the judgment of their kinsmen, but each of them set his own advantage ahead of the right, so that they heeded no man, exchanged insults, and went away with the matter unsettled. Nevertheless the kinsmen were reassembled by order of Gillus and brought into a secret conclave together with a few nobles, and a deliberation was held for the sake of reconciliation. They considered both dividing the realm in two and adjudging it to somebody else, but this inflamed the young men’s minds more than it calmed them. Then, with Gillus bawling out feigned accusations that sedition was afoot, by prearrangement his soldiers killed them both. When this has been done, Gillus immediately leapt up and went running through the fields, exclaiming that he had escaped a great danger and had scarce gotten away unscathed, since the royal boys had tried to kill him. At the same time he commanded his followers, who were standing in a field, to take him away somewhere where he could be safer, for he would be killed on the spot if he did not resort to flight. They took what he said at face value and accompanied him as he ran to Evonium. He entered the castle with many soldiers as the nobles pursued him, and, having gained control of its stronghold, he stationed the soldiers in various places so they could kill anyone who would refuse his demands, if such there would be. He himself stood in a high place where he would be visible to one and all, and in a lengthy harangue railed against the squabbling, willfulness, greed, insolence, ancestral cruelty, and every manner of crime of those royal young men whom he had just killed, employing many arguments that they had been unfit to reign. He thanked the gods that they themselves had been killed (as he alleged) by the very traps they had set against himself. Thanks to the gods’ kindness, the nation had been freed of their insatiable lust for power and their bloodthirsty tyranny. At the conference he had greatly exerted himself on behalf of the national safety and brotherly concord. But, after he had failed to make any headway, he had been the victim of a surprise attack and had barely gotten away safe and sound. The sons of King Durstus had been killed by some unknown hand. He added that he himself had been appointed regent of the realm in King Ewen’ testament, and that, as a measure to guarantee the safety of Ewen’ family, he had likewise been charged with the responsibility of sharing out the royal herd and moveable property among the nobles and soldiers who had obeyed the king with sincere faithfulness in his lifetime, something he promised he would do straightway. Furthermore, he employed many words in urging that they should entrust the government to himself until it was ascertained to whom the kingship belonged by right, lest the commonwealth suffer any harm by the internal sedition which was now undoubtedly pending, vowing that he would manage it stoutly and energetically.
41. Those who were present and heard his speech were not unaware of the fraud. Yet, lest they suffer something harsher, they feigned their consent and bade him rule. Having adopted the royal title, as a means of shoring up his reign Gillus required an oath of fealty from everyone who had not been present at his oration. And immediately he freely shared out all the king’s cattle to those who adopted his point of view, thus gaining the favor of many men. But the same ambition and very depraved greed for possessions which had driven Gillus to seek the kingship clung to him now he was sitting on the throne. For he greatly pondered by what means he might strip Durstus’ family and their friends of their wealth and kill them to the last man, so that he alone might gain the kingship, unrivalled. Three children of Dothan, son of the former King Durstus, survived on Mona, being raised by the Druids: Lysmore, a boy of twelve years, Cormach, aged ten, and Ederus, three years younger. Gillus left Evonium and went as quickly as he could to Mona to fetch the royal lads to the mainland, pretending he wished to raise them to maturity in the company at Bergonium, in the company of boys their own age. Lysmore and Cormach, clad in their finery, went to greet the arriving king with the politesse they had been taught by the Druids. But, by a stroke of fortune, Ederus was suffering from a serious malady. In order to conceal his deceitfulness, Gillus embraced them with a shower of kisses, many more than required by true affection. He spent that night in making up to the boys, making the Archdruid greatly suspicious that fraud was afoot. On the following day, he had a lengthy conversation with the Archdruid and his fellows about religion, sacrificial rites, settling disputes about boundaries and legacies, avenging murders other great crimes. On the third days, standing amidst the Druids and next to the Archdruid, clad in the customary sacrificial robe, he participated in many solemn ceremonies, making offerings to their ancestral gods, and he made sure that the royal boys were present at the sacrifice. Then, having performed the requisite religions acts, he set sail from the island with Lysmore and Cormach, together with their foster-father and brothers (for in tose days the people had no less affection for their foster-fathers, mother and brothers than for their true parents and brothers, a custom still observed by our Highlanders). After a few days they came to Evonium, and soldiers were left behind on Mona with instructions to put the boy Ederus to death on a predetermined day.
42. At the behest of the Druids, Ederus’ nurse, who had had her own suspicions from the outset, furtively put the still-ailing boy aboard a ship, and brought him to Argathelia. When she had set the boy on dry land, she carried him on her shoulder up to the ridge of a very high mountain, all but unreachable because of its cold, where for several months he lived in a cave, supporting life on a very austere diet of plants and roots. And, by bidding of Gillus, on the night that he had come to Evonium both boys were butchered in the embrace of their foster-parents, vainly begging for his protection against the savagery of the cruel murderer. Meanwhile the king, informed of Ederus’ flight, took the thing greatly amiss, and, first killing the soldiers whom he had left behind on Mona to murder the boy, he ordered the fugitive to be hunted down and put to death. When rumor had it that the boy had been taken to Ireland, he was reluctantly obliged to break off his search. Not long thereafter he held a parliament of nobles at Bergonium, at which he said much about the administration of the commonwealth, about justice, religion, piety, and the defence of the realm, and in a lengthy speech he requested them to ratify his reign. He kept harping on the zeal with which a man deserved to be raised to the throne who had greatly exerted himself lest the commonwealth be harmed by internal strive or be damaged by the rashness of an immature king, and who had removed the leaders of faction. Nor was he to be held accountable because the royal boys had died by some misfortune, since such was the will of the gods: for, just as they had founded the realm, so they had adjudged that it was not to be governed by rulers feeble because of their sex or age, but only by men of proven virtue. It was needful to do away with pestilent fellows and those who encouraged factions, since by their efforts quarrels might easily arise, to the destruction of many men.
43. When Gillus had said these or similar things, he retired to the stronghold of Evonium in the company of the nobles who had been present. Immediately the principal members of Durstus’ family and their friends, of whom many had been gathered by Gillus at Evonium, began to be slaughtered by his order, and the savagery raged to the point that neither age nor sex availed any of the victims. At the cries of the dying, many of the nobles who were standing by the king shivered and turned pale, fearing lest they too would meet their ends. The king consoled them and begged them to have good confidence regarding themselves: if they stood by their faith, they would fare better than those who had fallen. After these things had been done, since his evil deeds always inspired his felonious mind to do yet worse, he decided to make a progress through the counties of his realm in order to root out the supporters of Durstanus’ family. And so, leaving Evonium, he came to Argathelia, where he found a number of Dothanus’ associates and had them put to death for no other reason that they had supported the man. Then, raging though other counties, this hard-handed fellow left no form of cruelty undone. When rumor spread of these and nearly countless deeds unworthy of a king, the Brigantes, Silures, the men of Argathelia, the islanders of Novanta, and nearly all other the Scottish people with any skill at warfare, unable to tolerate his government, collected an army and set in motion a war against Gillus, but did so with such great prudence and caution that the tyrant was unaware of any popular unrest until the war was begun. After a few days, when he himself had levied an army, he left Evondium. But when it was necessary to fight (for the enemy were in sight, standing in battle array), he found himself. destitute of any help from his supporters, whom he had befriended merely by his largesse and had retained in their faith only by fear of himself. So he abandoned his army, few in numbers and disorganized, and furtively made his escape, carried to Ireland in a fishing-boat.
44. When his soldiers became aware of this, they freely surrendered themselves to Cadallus, chieftain of the Brigantines, who was in command of his faction’s forces. He, accepting their sworn loyalty, immediately launched an attack on Bergonium, which almost immediately volunteered to yield without resistance, and there to general acclaim he was appointed interrex (what we nowadays call a regent). Setting aside all other public and private concerns and having placed strong garrisons in his castles, he thought he should pursue Gillus wherever he went, so that he could not scrape together an army of men who had no regard for faith or right (and there were plenty of these in the Hebrides from the very beginning) and renew the war. So he crossed over to the island of Isla with his army, and there the aforementioned royal boy Ederus was brought to him by Durstus’ surviving friends, as to a sure and unique refuge. Cadallus received the boy and to sent him to Brigantia, so that he might grow to maturitiy and be reserved for the kingship at Epiacum (modern Hexham), the name of the Brigantes’ largest town. At that time Gillus came to Ireland, not without a receiving a very friendly reception from the locals, and in a parliament of their elders he expended many words on complaining about the insults he had received from the Scots of Albion, and that he had been very disgracefully robbed of his kingdom, particularly by the doing of Cadallus. No place in Albion was safe for himself; thanks to the conspirators’ schemings, all things threatened him with death. And so he begged their help in recovering his throne, promising with many an oath by his authority to transfer the Hebrides to the kingdom of Ireland. Seduced by his promise that they would gain power over the Hebridians, the men of Ireland scarcely disdained their good fortune, and promised they would lend their support.
45. So they soon assembled an army and prepared to cross to Albion with full force, to restore Gillus to his throne. When these things were reported to Cadallus, he abandoned the Hebrides and brought his army over to the mainland, where he immediately held a parliament at Bergonium for the choosing of a king. For he had no hope that he could resist Gillus, were he not fighting under the auspices of a king. The elders of the realm assembled and by its common vote elected Ewen, a distinguished man and nephew to King Fynnan by his brother Dowall. Ewen had recently come to Albion with Cadallus from the island of Gavara, where he had lived in disguise for some years, avoiding Gillus’ savagery. He, having ascended the throne, fortified the seaboard places where he imagined Gillus and his forces might come, to prevent his landing. Gillus, learning these things, abandoned his idea of attacking Albion with his army, and crossed over to Islay where he slaughtered the locals and drove off great booty, sparing neither sex nor age, and inflicted great damage on the crops that stood in the fields, burning whatever could not be carried away. King Ewen and the nobles of the realm who kept him company were greatly incensed by this damage and immediately armed themselves for revenge. Calling in fighting men from all sides, they prepared a great army, so that they might cross over to Ireland and pursue Gillus. By public decree the responsibility for this business was entrusted to Cadallus, chieftain of the Brigantes, a man of proven virtue. A number of ships that seemed sufficient for transporting this expedition were collected at the harbor of Bergonium, and from there Cadallus and his forces were quickly borne to Ireland. When his army was landed there, a daily influx of deserters made it swell to the point that it seemed adequate, not just for defeating Gillus, but also for defeating all Ireland.
46. Learning of this, Gillus drew up his men in due order and led them against the enemy. Anticipating a conflict, Cadallus led all his forces out into a nearby field, and when the signal for fight had been given, the armies rushed together. For a little while the battle was fought with vigor. But at length Gillus’s soldiers grew wearer and less vigorous in the struggle, especially because they appeared to be harming their own nation, and in the end a great number of them went over to Cadallus’ side. Seeing this and fearing lest, were he taken alive by Cadallus, there would be no manner of ignominy to which he would not be subjected, Gillus elected to cast off his badges of royalty and join a few others in flight. And so he hid himself in a dark forest adjoining the battlefield. Meanwhile, since Cadallus was stoutly maintaining his fight, whereas Gillus’ forces grew discouraged at the flight of their leadera nd refused to continue the struggle on behalf of a runaway coward who refused to fight for himself, so they voluntarily surrendered to Cadallus. After he had accepted their submisison and sworn an oath promising them full pardon and amnesty for their wrongdoing, he immediately sent men in search of Gillus. For a number of days, he could not be found. But in the end he was discovered in a forest cave surrounded by a shady grove, hiding and all but starved to death, and his head was cut off and brought to Cadallus, to general rejoicing. This was the end received by Gillus, who had trusted over-much in his strength and wit, after having ruled in the Scots in Albion for two years. But after he had thus brought the war to a happy conclusion, when he was bringing his army back to Albion with many spoils of war, by the influence of an unhappy star Cadallus was stricken by a mighty gale at sea and lost the greater part of his men.
47. For this reason the people was considerably more affected with grief than with joy for the successful battle. For the few men who had survived the disaster were confronted by wretched mothers and wives of those consumed by the angry sea, asking about their men. As soon as the fatal catastrophe of their menfolk became clear, they filled everything with their howls and plaintive tears. Amidst this scene their commander Cadallus, disembarked from his ship, clad in a servant’s garments. He stretched forth his hands to heaven and accused the public misfortune and the gods, for they had taken so many men and transformed a victory they themselves had granted into general calamity. The spectacle he presented extracted tears and great lamentation from all who were present. King Ewen came along with an escort of nobles, encountered this public grieving, and attempted to console Cadallus, saying, “You have brought me and the entire Scottish people no little solace, brave Cadallus, because you have brought your victorious home to Albion unharmed by the enemy. After standards had been joined in a land-battle, you have conquered our enemy in a foreign country, calmly fighting for your nation and commonwealth. The tyrant Gillius is bested, that foul source of so many ills, who (thanks to the gods’ opposition, as was only just) could not rescue himself from his adversaries by flight. His head, shamefully cut off, is brought to Albion, so that even in death he will not go without mockery and insult for his hateful tyranny. Spoils have been taken from the enemy, and many of our fellow countrymen who repented their actions have been pardoned, so that room might been given to mercy amidst our prosperity. Thanks to your effort and industry, our army was kept safe and sound far from our nation, suffering no harm. Nothing, in short, has been left undone under your supervision which pertains to a vigorous and prudent general. These glories of war, these honors of victory could not be taken away from you.
48. “So you have no reason for your anger against heaven or Fortune. For, even if a great part of your army has been destroyed by the inclemency of sea and weather, Fortune has preserved you alone from this great catastrophe, you, the glory of our race, and returned you safe to your nation after having conquered our enemy. That you enjoyed a happy voyage to Ireland, that you bested our enemy and drove them to rout, that you gained possession of their spoils, and that you kept your soldiers safe from all enemy harm, this is a gift of the gods. The gods have reclaimed what is theirs, but saved you, to your honor. You are able to rejoice in your virtue. Our enemy might be able to delight in the your army was fated to suffer. But they can find no glory in this, since the men drowned in the sea were not killed by themselves, nor can they boast that those who were returning here had been routed by their doing. If any shreds of our property, or of the spoils you so vigorously stripped from them, should be cast up by the storm and come into their possession, no man can fail to notice that these are not spoils gained by their virtue in battle, but the remnants left behind by shifting Fortune. For the unsteady condition of human affairs has these twists and turns, so that adversity is born out of prosperity, and prosperity out of adversity. These, beyond all doubt, are the rewards of the Fates, and since the Fates cannot be moved, mortals should not grieve over them. So come now, indomitable Cadallus, bear this reversal of fortune in a fine way, as befits a wise man, and preserve yourself for a more favorable lot. You must understand that your army has been afflicted and stricken by the angry gods, not by the enemy. Understand that it belongs to the gods, not to men, to make good this calamity and heal this savage wound, for they govern human empires not as mankind would wish, but according to their own will and decision. Join us in putting on a happy face, so that both our friends and our enemies might appreciate that you cannot be budged from equanimity by any fate, and, just as you are indomitable in battle, so you will remain of a steady frame of mind.”
49. When King Ewen had spoken those things, the noblemen present, urging the same things, sought to console Cadallus. He suppressed his grief for a little while and, insofar as he could, feigned a happier expression amidst such great loss of life, although nothing pained him worse than that the awful bane, which had consumed so many brave men, had spared him, and let him survive to witness such a great calamity of his followers. And when he had remained a few days at Evonium for the sake of consolation, he dismissed the rest of the forces and, taking his own men who had survived the tragedy, departed for Epiacum in Brigantia. The poet Claudian and various other authors have written about this slaughter inflicted on the inhabitants of Ireland by the Scots of Albion. Now that Gillus was dead and his Irelandn followers and other cohorts conquered, King Ewen was relieved of the fear of of war. Desirous to govern the Scots realm by justice, he made a progress through all its districts and did away with evildoers. Then he went to Epiacum with the intention of visiting Cadallus, upon whom with royal generosity he had bestowed Epiacum and other castles, together with estates and land in Brigantia, as a reward for his most loyal disposition towards himself and the commonwealth, and he determined that henceforth all administration of justice in Brigantia would be left to Cadallus’ decision.
50. Afterwards Ewen, with a distinguished company of nobles, met with the king of the Picts in the land of Brigantia, where, after many consultations about the advantageous and honorable management of affairs, the peace between their peoples was confirmed by a new treaty. A marriage ensued which cemented their friendship all the more, when Ewen wed Siora, a fair maiden who was the daughter of King Gethus III. The marriage was celebrated at Epiacum with such ceremonies as were observed in that age. The Archdruid was present, fetched from Mona, so that the presence of such a great man would make the rites all the more distinguished. Returning not long thereafter to Evonium together with his wife, he received a letter from the governor of the people of Lugia that men of the Orkneys had crossed the Pictish Bosphorus at Duncansbay Head (a promontory of Caithness) in many ships, and, having disembarked, had foully ravaged Cornana and a great part of Lugia, killing some inhabitants and meting out rough treatment to others. Exasperated by this insult, Ewen immediately mustered an army and moved against the Orkney men (who were wandering abroad in Lugia for the purpose of pillaging). Marching by day and by night, he arrived there quicker than did the word of his approach. The Orkney men were thrown in a panic by King Ewen’ unanticipated arrival and decided to save themselves by flight. But, frustrated in this attempt, they were obliged to join battle with the Scots. Bested and routed by them in a light skirmish, they took to their heels and fled to the tops of some hills, in which the region abounds. The Scots pursued the fugitives and did not break of the chase before they had driven them to the sea, where some got away in skiffs, for the violence of the pursuers prevented them from launching their longboats. But the rest were either cut down by the sword or drowned. Their king Balus, downcast, abandoned hope and killed himself lest he be taken prisoner.
51. This victory gained Ewen great popularity. Then he dismissed his army and prepared to make a progress along that coastline of Albion washed by the Irish Sea. In the course of this journey, he took advantage of the opportunity to found a town at the mouth of the river Lochty, which he named Inverlochy after the river. Here he wished that there be an asylum, sacred to the immortal gods, so that it would be a capital offense to inflict any harm on even the guiltiest of men, should he take refuge there. Long centuries afterward, great numbers of traders came here from France and Spain, since that estuary was contains an incredible store of salmon, haddock, herring, sea calves, sheatfish, and the other marine life that sea has to offer. The ruins of this town still remaining, showing visitors what it once was like. He likewise founded another town on the east coast of Albion, not very far from Loch Ness (which I have already described), called Inverness after the loch and the river that discharges into it. Once upon a time, German merchants flocked there, every year bringing wares not produced by that district, for the use of its inhabitants, and taking home the skins of martens, beavers, and similar animals, in which their nobles dressed themselves, together with other trade goods. The town still remains. Although it once abounded with many fine wares, it has frequently been afflicted by the murders, plundering and pillaging to which its inhabitants are addicted, but it still retains its ancient name.
52. King Ewen, distinguished for his accomplishments in peace and war, passed the rest of his life with happy success, having no enemy at home or abroad. With wonderful skill and gentleness he resolved the civil strive from which the Hebridians suffered for a little while. For both as a private citizen and a king he had an inexpressible loathing of civil war. A little before his death, he visited Epiacum to keep an eye on the safety of Cadallus’ family, for by this time Cadallus had died. At his first arrival he settled a quarrel by dividing Cadallus’ property between his two sons in accordance with their father’s dying wishes. He also presided over Cadallus’ funeral rites. Just like nearly all other mortals, at this time our ancestors were deceived by the folly of paganism, and worshiped evil demons. He set up a lifelike statue of Cadallus in the marketplace at Epiacum. And, such being the memory of Cadallus, he commanded that this statue be adored with incenses and libations of strong wine. Not many days thereafter, stricken with constant grief out of longing for Cadallus, he began to suffer from a grave malady. He quickly abandoned any hope of regaining his health, and summoned his royal young son Ederus (whom I have mentioned a little earlier), the rightful heir to his kingship, and advised him to protect his subjects from all harm; he should injure no man; he should never bestow office on an enemy of justice; he should attend to important things and leave trifles to others; he should conduct himself in such a way that he he would deserve to rule over all others; even when pressed by great evils, he should never declare war; but if fight he must, he should regard no martial task as beneath his dignity; he should never turn his back on mercy, that most important virtue for a prince; he should attend to religion and worship the gods, because their good-will is the surest protection for realms. When Ewen had given this and other similar pious advice, he bequeathed the kingship to Ederus and passed way, having reigned seventeen years and being the fourteenth king to rule after Fergus, who founded the Scottish kingdom in Albion. At Epiacum there is a statue erected in honor of Ewen, which for many years thereafter silly paganism worshiped with its sacred rites. These things about Ewen the king and Cadallus, the chief of the Brigantines, are taken from John Campbell, Vairement, and Cornelius Hibernicus; the doings of other kings, as excerpted from these and other writers, will be set forth in the sequel.
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