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THE HISTORY OF SCOTLAND, BOOK VI
FTER the death of Ethodius, the kingdom of Scotland did not long go without a ruler. For at a parliament convened for the election of a king, the elders, supported by the vote of the people, haled Ethodius’ son Athirco, barely of sufficient age to rule. He received the kingship with everyone’s support and congratulation, giving a display of uprightness at the beginning of the realm. For at meetings he showed himself to be moderate, easy, and affable. He was devoted to the most honorable pursuits, and he kept around himself those who were familiar with sacred learning and the history of his ancestors. He was preoccupied with individual competitions, in the gymnasium, and in the other exercises of his mind or body, liberal towards all men, and he won over many to his favor and friendship. By these and similar tokens of his uprightness he soon gained a great name.
2. But his virtues did not grow along with his age. For by the time the eighth year of his realm had been completed, he had taken on a harsher and fiercer disposition, and the older he grew, the greater his propensity for wrongdoing. He had become a stranger to honorable deeds and a devotee to insatiable avarice, doing everything wrathfully and retained the friends his good faith and liberality had won him by threats more than by persuasion, by fear more than by kindness. Nor was he involved in these misdeeds alone: he led a thoroughly unworthy life, surrounded by delights and every manner of pleasure-seeking which you could say tended to render his mind effeminate. Day by day he led a life more daintified, in the company of gluttons, dancers, and stage-actors; neglectful of public government, he became quite filthy and woman-like. He surrounded himself with panderers and the basest kind of performers, and shamelessly sang songs to the accompaniment of a flute. This kind of wantonness was scarcely welcome to the Scottish nobles and greatly disapproved by one and all and, like their king’s way of life, was scorned by everybody. They were indignant to have to obey a monstrosity of a man, who preferred to conduct himself like a performer on the stage rather than a moderate and prudent ruler. They were also troubled at being obliged to suffer the youngsters of their nobility, who abounded with this wantonness, to harass the common folk with their serious and intolerable daily insults, having no regard for right and justice. For their king himself was involved in every manner of mischiefmaking, and led such a soft way of life that he paid no attention to governing his commonwealth, nor in his sloth did he discriminate between the advantageous and the disadvantageous. As these evils daily increased and afflicted them more, they began to enter into seditions and conspiracies at the slightest provocation.
3. There was a certain man of the nobility in Argathelia named Natholoc, who enjoyed no small authority among his people. He had two daughters of outstanding beauty, and after King Athirco had foully debauched them, he handed them over to his bodyguard to be besmirched by every manner of nastiness. When Natholoc became aware of this outrage, he brooded on how he might best avenge this insult. His daughters came to him, very tearfully complaining that their chastity had not only been defiled by the king, but also that they had been forcibly prostituted by the most low-down of buffoons. For a while their father maintained a gloomy silence, and consoled his grieving daughters by shifting the blame onto the author of the outrage, bearing the insult more calmly and temperately because he was aware that their minds were free of blame even if their bodies had been violated. But when the next day dawned he sent messengers to his friends (they belonged to the peoples of Argathelia and Novantia in particular) saying that they should come to him quickly: there was need for haste, for something atrocious had been done to his family. When they soon arrived, Natholoc himself complained about King Athirco’s outrage: his daughters had been raped, whipped, and by the king’s doing unwillingly prostituted to gluttons, stage-actors, and the worst dregs of mankind. They then clasped hands and swore they would avenge the outrage to the best of their ability. They would attack its author, and henceforth would not endure Athirco’s government. “Let Athirco discover,” they cried out, “the catastrophe his foul lust will bring down on himself and his friends.
4. So gloominess turned into wrath. His friends went to the elders of neighboring districts, telling them of the indignity of this thing and of the king’s other felonies, and incited them to enter into an association. With great ferocity, they immediately took up arms against the tyrant who had dared commit so many misdeeds. On the twentieth day the nobles of virtually all districts subject to Scottish government were at hand in arms, prepared to undergo all dangers. Having celebrated Mass, they decided to march on Evonium, where they learned King Athirco was staying. When they first came together, this armed band filled the common folk with astonishment and fear. But as soon as they found out the reason, a great uprising ensued. Men came a-running to Natholoc, the leader of the association, from all places and districts, bent on killing Athirco. In this large congregation there was not a man who did not adjudge the king worthy not only of removal from office, but also of death by the most exquisite forms of torture. When the news of what had been done was brought to King Athirco, who was wallowing in his delights and indulging his gluttony not far from Evonium, he was red-hot with rage. Taking what forces he could scrape together, he marched against his enemies, thinking that they would be terrorized at the sight of himself and avoid a fight.
5. But when he learned from his spies that they had no fear and that he himself was being rejected by his soldiers as a man covered with infamy, soft, and unworthy of commanding men, and since he had no place for escape, lest he be taken captive and subjected to every manner of mistreatment, he threw away his crown and insignia of royalty, and, in the company of a few bodyguards, made the escape they urged. He covered his face lest he be recognized by his enemies, and his intention was to cross over to the Hebrides to avoid the association. When the multitude that had been ready to fight on behalf of their king learned that he had timidly decamped, leaving his soldiers in extreme danger, they thought it would be folly to risk their own necks on behalf of a criminal and panic-stricken runaway, and so they immediately deserted to Natholoc. He therefore made no delay in sending men to chase after Athirco. At that time, the king was being borne on a ship to the island of Islay. But he was held in check by the wind and the current and, just as if the wind and tide had elected to drive him back, he unwillingly returned to the mainland to meet his punishment. When he perceived that his pursuers were at hand, he killed himself lest he survive and suffer mistreatment, after having governed the Scots for twelve years. His reign occurred in the time of the Roman emperor Gordian III, or, as others write, in that of the emperor Valerian. Although this Valerian was distinguished for his learning and martial virtue, he nonetheless came to an unhappy end. For he was taken prisoner by the Persian King Sapor after having lost his army, and grew old in shameful servitude, treated with such mockery that when Sapor mounted his horse, he would use his back as a stepping-stool.
6. Such was the downfall of King Athirco, beyond all doubt worthy of such a prince who had befouled his life with nastiness. When his brother Doorus learned of this, thinking that he should not entrust his life to those by whose hatred his brother had recently life, he cast aside his own costume and dressed himself in that of a beggar, and fled to Pithland with Athirco’s three sons, Findoch, Carantius, and Donald, preserving himself and these beardless boys for better times. For he was afraid that (as indeed did happen) he and the royal children would be sought by Natholoc’s wiles, with an eye to punishment. For after Athirco’s death Natholoc secretly sent the most trusty of his friends, the ones party to all his privy matters, to Pithland in search of Doorus, with instructions that they should immediately put the man to death with found, together with the boys. Those entrusted with the task went there and killed someone else who was not unlike Doorus in dress, facial features, and age. This was something that overjoyed Natholoc. He then summoned the elders of the people to a parliament, with armed soldiers surrounding those unarmed elders, and as said to have spoken as follows:
7. “I am delighted, my fellow clansmen, by the recent death of Athirco, and how, out of guilt for his unspeakable crimes, he killed himself, rashly but nevertheless justly, and was unable to do any hateful wrong to you. I do not imagine there is any man among you is unaware of the reason and intention of our revolt against Athirco. You and I came to the same decision: it was right and necessary to take vengeance for the wrongs we had already suffered, rather than listen to his new threats every day. Indeed, as you realize, the infamy of his almost countless crimes added to the wretchedness of the dead Athirco. And you are victors, having safely and without bloodshed gained glory for your great, unusual fortitude. You all know as well as I do the evils he worked against yourselves, against myself, and against our commonwealth, nor do you require further evidence to be confirmed in this belief. In the judgment of you all, he deserved the most exquisite punishments for such great felonies, committed both against our commonwealth and against every private citizen. He deserved the death he inflicted on himself, serving as his own executioner: and indeed, he took more shameful revenge on himself than we had decided to inflict on him. For in this nation of ours it is a just and traditional thing to gain vengeance, inasmuch as our ancestors did not endure King Durstus’ perfidy; King Evenus, that worst son of the best of fathers, paid the forfeits worthy of his crimes, and no man took it amiss. Neither did King Lugthacus’ monstrous outrages long go unpunished. I pass over many other kings and great men whose insults against their countrymen could not be tolerated by our anger. And so you ought to give thanks to God Almighty, Who by His wonderful kindness has freed you, your children and wives, from a dire slaughters, thinking with close care how best you might more readily evade the clutches of raging tyrants in the future. I earnestly exhort you to beware against the men of Athirco’s family, to whom his crimes were always more pleasing than your virtue. Heaven forbid that you either ordain or allow that such men should rule! Entrusting, I mean, your lives and fortunes to men who cannot help but loathe you. Otherwise you and I shall be obliged to depart from here in search of new homes, or (far worse) we must submit to the shameful death of our enemies’ choosing, with our goods confiscated.”
8. By speaking to this effect, Natholoc gained many men’s favor and trust. But among the elders there were no small number to whom the man’s sly nature was scarce unknown, and they took it amiss that the royal family was about to be cheated out of the kingdom. So they quietly told others that Athirco’s children, although they may be sons of a very depraved father, had done no wrong. As had been the custom since the beginning of the realm, the throne should be bestowed on them when they came of age, or on some kinsman of theirs who was best suited to govern the public. Natholoc was a sly fox of a man, a trickster and a cheat, only fit to employ his artfulness and cleverness on projects he imagined would turn to his use or profit. Others, mostly bribed by Natholoc, pronounced Athirco’s sons and all his kinsmen to be public enemies and with their happy acclamations, displaying nothing but eagerness and zeal, bade him rule. Compelled by necessity more than their sense of right, the fathers joined in with feigned pleasure, and fear of the band of armed soldiers standing around easily intimidated the hapless people into doing the same. Those who were present quickly took the customary oath in his name, sacred rites were performed, and then he was escorted to Evonium, where the palace then was, with the nobles leading the way and the commoners following. Having been hailed as king, in order to secure his reign, Natholoc summoned those of whom he harbored some suspicion and won them over by gifts, urging them not to defect from him, and at the same time telling them of the danger that hung over their heads should any member of Athirco’s family come to the throne in the future. After spending several days occupying himself with royal activities and banquets, such as they were in those times, he gave each man leave to go home. Then, to play the acceptable sovereign in everybody’s eyes, he showed himself as being gentle. He refused an audience to no man who approached him, and settled whatever seditions arose with great care, lest they combine and create a great conflagration, to the endangerment of the public. He was harmful no no man, placid towards all, humane, and squandered on the nobility much money amassed by the effort of previous kings over many years, saying that those who excelled in birth, wealth, or the honor and the celebrity of their names should have precedence over commoners: with good right, the base-born should realize who they were, where they came from, whom they served, and to what purpose they paid taxes.
9. And so he ruled Scotland for several years, with very few men opposing his desire. Then, following her rules, shifting Fortune finally cause the king’s original good success to take a turn for the worse. It chanced that learned from from a foreign woman (she was of Pictish blood) who was accustomed to serve as a secret messenger to keep some Scottish nobles apprised of the condition of Athirco’s sons, that King Athirco’s brother Doorus was safe and sound in Pithland, although he had thought the man to be dead. Doorus was unknown nearly to everyone, and the boys were now grown and ready to govern. She had been bidden to inform the boys’ supporters of this in a letter she carried. But when Natholoc had intercepted and read the letter, he drowned the woman in a stream and kept the matter shrouded in deep secrecy. And then, after no great passage of time, he summoned some of the nobles of the realm whom the letter had rendered suspect, as if he intended to consult with them about some grave matter, and arrested and imprisoned them. Nor did his wrath abate until each and every one was strangled in the prison. Soon news of the nobles’ murder spread abroad in all quarters, and everything was filled with grieving. The friends of the victims ran about in a rage, unsure what should be done amidst such a great calamity. At length the commotion was settled for a while, and they armed themselves for the purpose of avenging this public wrong.
10. And so, after those defenders of Arthico’s family had been removed, although Natholoc imagined he had secured the rule for himself and his posterity, the many men who had leagued themselves against him made it very insecure. And furthermore, when he learned that the league had assembled forces from Galdia and Argathelia, peoples he was well aware to be greatly ill-disposed towards himself, at the urging of his friends and accompanied by a great number of bodygaurds and mercenaries recruited in Moray, he retired, intending to recruit an army from Lugia, Moray, and adjoining districts. But when he realized this project was not going according to plan, since many men were secretly opposed to his government, he attempted to use the help of diviners, soothsayers, and witches either to terrify and impede his enemies by their illusions, so they would not take action against him, and to learn more about the future outcome of the war and if any courtiers were conspiring against him. To accomplish this more quickly, he sent to the island of Iona a man of great authority among the men of Moray and Lugia, one he believed to be his most loyal friend and a party to his secrets, since he had learned that there lived there an old crone adept in the art of necromancy. When the fellow had come there, he consulted the shades of the dead summoned up by her concerning the outcome of the impending war, by what art or deceit the enemies could be intimidated into refraining from a clash with King Natholoc, and who among them was most interested in taking the king’s life. Returning to the man from Moray, she reported the things she had learned from the evil demons who had manifisted themselves in the guise of ghosts. She said that Natholoc’s reign was destined to suffer an unhappy end, and that he should fear the hand of a friend more than that of a foe: there was no way in which he could avoid being killed by the hand of a friend, even by one in whom he placed his trust. When he asked whose hand it was destined it to be, the hag said “yours,” either because this is what the ghosts had actually said, or because she had some other reason for expecting this.
11. Then the fellow cursed the witch, saying, “Go hang with those tricks of yours, all your forecasts are either designed to flatter or said out of hatred. For I’d rather die any death than use my hand for such a black crime.” Then he hastened back to his king, intending to tell him the story of the silly oracle of that hag, or rather the devil’s. But before coming to Moray, he changed his mind, quietly thinking the matter was best kept silent, lest the king take the witch’s words seriously and he create great danger for himself. And so for a while he was of two minds about what he should do in this matter, which was not so much doubtful as dangerous. In the end, he decided it was better to do something himself, than always to be hanging in doubt about punishment. Therefore, when he had returned, he was granted admission to the king’s private apartment, the others were dismissed, and he slyly invented things he claimed he had heard from the conjured-up shades, particularly those which seemed to please the king. At that time, the king was suffering from the flux, and his immoderate bile obliged him to retire to his privy to relieve himself. The man from Moray followed, putting on a show of subservience, and when he saw that the king was alone, all others far removed, he drew a dagger he had concealed in his sleeve and stabbed the king, who was suspecting less than such treason, in the breast. With the dagger still sticking in the wound, he shoved the dead king down into the cess pit below. Then he dashed out the postern gate, sprang on a horse he had been keeping at the ready, and, accompanied by a single servant, saved himself by flight, and was the first to announce the king’s death to the association-men. The year of Natholoc’s murder was the eleventh of his reign, about the year of Christ 242, during the time when Galienus was governing Rome with greater negligence than any emperor before him. For during his principate thirty tyrants afflicted the republic with a host of woes.
12. After the demise of King Natholoc, a parliament of elders was convened, in which it was deliberated how the government was best to be administered, and for a while various opinions were expressed. Finally, they all voted that the three sons of Athirco, whom I have said to have retired to Pithland to avoid the wrath of Natholoc, be fetched back to the nation as quickly as possible, that the throne be offered to Findoch, the eldest, and that this was a business that brooked no delay. By decree of the elders, the Moray-man who had removed the tyrant Natholoc was sent to Pithland, and, in accordance with his instructions, he escorted the royal young men back to Argathelia with great estate. There Findoch sat on the stone chair, in accordance with the existing custom, and was to universal applause declared king by the nobles, in accordance with the people’s vote. This Findoch was of full maturity, endowed (as was said) with great virtue, and he was the most handsome of all men of his generation. And so, since in his single person were combined physical comeliness, the flower of youth, and reputed virtue, there was no man who did not adjudge he was destined to surpass the best of kings. Nor were they mistaken. For all his acts confirmed this opinion of his probity: he was most moderate in meetings, and devoted himself to honorable pursuits and noble forms or exercise. He did nothing with harshness or ferocity, and he desired both to seem and to be a lover of tranquil peace, justice, honor, and sober moderation. He gained his friends by benevolence rather than fear or threats, and he precisely abided by his treaties with the Picts, Britons, and Romans.
13. But (as often happens among our countrymen), this extended peace with foreign nations engendered domestic sedition. For Donald, a man of Hebridian blood, led his forces against Lugia and Moray. And, having worked much damage, he carried off a great amount of plunder to the Hebrides, not without slaughter of the locals. His pretext was that the the men of Moray and Lugia had supported the men of Argathelia and the other peoples who had conspired against King Natholoc: he both wished to and was obliged to come forth as the avenger of Natholoc’s unpunished murder, such a foul deed. When King Findoch learned of this from those had survived the deadly massacre, he assembled an army and did not delay in crossing over to the island of Islay. There he came to blows with Donald and inflicted a great slaughter on the islanders. Hunting down those who had fled the battlefield, he did not put a stop to the killing until he had destroyed all those who had dared fight against him, either drowning them in the sea or putting them to the sword. After Donald realized that he was bested and that his followers were seeking safety in flight because their cause was lost, boarded a ship he had been keeping ready on the shore against any eventuality. A great throng of men followed him, and boarded her since there was no way in which they could fend off their enemy by land. The ship capsized under the great weight, and he drowned, together with many others.
14. Having gained this victory, King Findoch and his army returned to Albion. But the islanders, even though so many of them had been lost, did not remain quiet for long. Rather, they fetched some robbers from Ireland, appointed Donald (the son of the earlier Donald) their leader, and infested the men of Argathelia, Novantia, and nearby peoples with their plundering and killing. Tthis provoked Findoch to take up arms against them once more. And so, having gathered his forces, the king went back to the Hebrides on many ships and hanged the robbers wherever he found them. After the castles, forts, and strongholds which his father had occupied were destroyed, and their garrisons had been put to death, in order to avoid pursuit Donald and his confederates crossed over to Ireland, where he tarried until he had learned that the king had left the Hebrides for Albion. Then he returned to the Hebrides once more, bent on plundering everything as he wished. But, perceiving that his strength had been diminished, with his friends dispersed, his cattle driven off, and his crops fired, he decided henceforth to accomplish by deceit the things he had not been able to achieve by open force. Pretending to have rejected war and to be very eager for peace and quiet, his spirit humbled, by means of a herald he humbly petitioned King Findoch to take him back into his good graces. Peace was granted him on the condition that he come to Evonium unarmed, in the company of the ringleaders of the rebellion, there to do whatever the king commanded. Donald rejected this condition, preferring to entrust himself to fortune rather than the royal will. Turning his mind to treachery, he sent to Evonium two men of sly nature, who pretended to be noble runaways. At first they were neither trusted nor given an audience with the king, until they won over the king’s brother Carantius, who took excessive pleasure in flattery. And so, brought before the king, they told many lies about Donald’s rebellion, his plans and his supporters, and, as they pretended, the furtive correspondence sent to Donald by Scottish nobles, they finally gained the king’s confidence.
15. Soon, by Carantius’ doing, they became so valuable in Findoch’s eyes that they were considered to be, and actually were, privy to his secrets, and, together with Carantius, placed in charge of his affairs, both public and private. Thus they became Carantius’ supporters and familiars. He was plotting against his brother’s life out of a desire to gain the throne, as they could tell by many signs, and they disclosed their plan to him. Carantius commanded them to hold their tongues, lest they create even the slightest suspicion and bring down the worst of all evils on their heads. Suborning them by favors and promises, he urged them to kill the king at the earliest opportunity. Spurred on both by Carantius’ promises and Donald’s command, they craved revenge for the slaughter visited on the Hebridians, and so they gladly promised to do this all. A few days later, Findoch chanced to have left Evonium to hunt in a nearby place, because some shepherds had told him wolves were there. He was in the company of only a few men, and was unaware that the men suborned to murder him were among them. He seated himself on a small hill from which he could have a better view of the hunters and hounds. The conspirators were in attendance, as was their habit, carrying spears which (as they said) were to be used on the hunt if the opportunity arose, waiting minute by minute until they could accomplish their intended deed. When the royal. bodyguards moved off a little, attracted by the hubbub of the hunters and dogs and eager to witness the spectacle, so that the king was all but unprotected, in accordance with the plan one of the conspirators began to tell him some tale about the Hebridians’ hatred towards himself. While the king interestedly gave the man his full attention, the other ran his chest through with great ferocity, left the weapon in the wound, and both attempted to make their escape from danger by flight.
16. Members of Findoch’s retinue discovered him on the verge of death, some of whom overtook the fugitives and caught them. There followed a great commotion: all of the bodyguards who had come on the hunt came a-running, and they tearfully begged the elders who were present not to let the king’s death go unpunished or allow him to be a laughingstock to his enemies: let those men pay the penalty who had dared procure this worst of crimes by other men’s hands. Soon the perpetrators of this unspeakable murder were captured and put to the questions. They revealed it was the scheme of Donald of the Hebrides and Carantius (who had deliberately removed himself far away), and were executed. Not long thereafter, Carantius was sought for punishment. But he, learning of his brother’s murder and the execution of the conspirators, went into voluntary exile lest he be convicted of treason and provide a foul spectacle for the people, and this is the reason he was greatly hated. He lingered in Britain for a little while, then went off to Italy in the company of Roman soldiers, where he served under the emperors Aurelius Probus, Carus, and Diocletian, and won a great name for his military prowess. The year in which King Findoch died by murder was the tenth of his reign, when Florianus was emperor of the Romans. With great universal grieving his body was carried off and given a Christian burial in a field not far from Evonium, where, Christian rites having been duly performed, the people gathered and bid Athirco’s son Donald III rule, by the authority of the fathers and nobility.
17. Deeply hating the treachery of Donald of the Islands, he straightway armed himself to avenge his brother’s death. While he was holding a levy throughout his districts, it was announced that Donald of the Islands had arrived in Lugia with many robbers, and was exercising great tyranny there, claiming to be a king. He subjected to unheard-of tortures those who opposed his government, handing over their lands, together with their crops and cattle, to his followers as plunder. Reports about their troublemaking coming from Moray and Lugia convinced the king all the more. At this news, King Donald set forth from Evonium with those soldiers who had joined him, proclaiming by edict that others able to bear arms should follow their king, and he hastened to Moray. Having encamped there, he elected to await the rest of his host. But after the Islander had heard that the king had entered Moray with a small handful of soldiers and had made his camp there, and would come against him with an army as soon as he could, he decided to entrust his all to the outcome of a single battle, and so moved against the king. Since he marched by night, he arrived before his approach had been reported to the royal forces. At the king’s sight, the islanders obeyed their leader and made a vigorous assault, rushing forward with such sudden quickness that the royal forces had no time to discharge their arrows. A savage battle ensued, with both sides using the sword. Overwhelmed by their enemies’ numbers, the kings soldiers were obliged to form a wedge, and attempted to rejoin battle. But when they had fought some, being weaker than their enemies and having no hope that help would come to them in their time of peril, some took to their heels, others stubbornly fought to the death, and yet others surrendered. Up to three thousand men belonging to the royal force were lost in that unhappy battle, and about two thousand captured. Among these were thirty men of distinguished nobility, together with the severely wounded Donald, who died three days later, more of chagrin than his wound, in the same year that he entered royal office.
18. From the death of King Ethodius (of whom I have already spoken) down to this time there lived men distinguished for their intellect and erudition, Quintus Tertullianus, who wrote many things against the pagans, and against idolatry and the worship of domestic and national gods, adored by foolish paganism; Bishop Polycrates of Ephesus, the eighth to hold this office after St. John the Evangelist, a deeply-read man, in whose time there arose among the bishops of the east a great dissent about the celebration of Easter, which long remained hotly contested and debated among the Fathers; and Cyprian, who was transformed from a very accomplished pagan orator into a theologian by the urging and exhortation of the presbyter Cyprian, and was ordained, first, a priest, and then a bishop, and did nothing that was not worthy of a Christian prelate. He wrote many things that provided great illumination for Christ’s Church in later centuries. At this time Christian affairs were cast in great confusion by the very savage persecution started by Decius, and was made worse by the cruelty exercised by the emperors Valerianus and Aurelianus. For, during their principates, men and women devoted to Christian piety were sorely vexed: Sixtus, Cyprian, Laurence, Hippolytus, the virgin Barbara, Cecila, Agatha, and countless others who professed the Christian religion were consigned to their deaths and received the crown of martyrdom. And at that time our ancestors began to embrace Christian doctrine with greater precision, by the guidance and exhortation of certain monks, who, because they assiduously devoted their time to preaching and were frequently at their prayers, were called “The Honorers of God” by the natives. This name became so deeply engrained in popular tradition that, nearly down to our own times, all priests have commonly been called Culdees, i. e., “Honorers of God.” They also chose by common vote a pontiff who had authority over sacred matters. For many years thereafter, as is recorded by our annals, this man was called the Bishop of Scotland.
19. But I must return to Donald, whose reign had been as unhappy as it was short. Nor did Donald of the Isles, who usurped the royal title by naked force after the death of King Donald, experience a much better fortune. He kept the noble captives in his possession enchained, held in public custody, and daily threatened them with death of their kinsmen attempted anything bad against himself or his reign. So it came about that the elders of Scotland were under the necessity of obeying him and doing obeisance with feigned good-will, even though they secretly plotted against his life and government. And the Islander, aware of what was afoot and trusting no man very greatly, was terrible to all at the same time he feared everybody, and did a worse job of administering the republic he had badly acquired. At length, his fear grew so great that he would never go abroad in public if not surrounded by many armed men with swords in hand, and he forbade by a threatening edict that nobody but his bodyguards should carry a weapon. Whoever was rumored to be fomenting rebellion, or even under the lightest suspicion of so doing, were put to death without trials, and he would confiscate their fortunes and a little while later parcel them out among his supporters. This is the way in which that murderous beast sought to retain the kingship in the same bloody hand which had acquired it, with a great part of the nobility destroyed.
20. He raised up a number of men of obscure origin from their mean fortunes to riches. He delighted in the internal sedition which, with wonderful cleverness, he provoked between the leading men of the realm, thinking that he could secure his rule by civil war, but would be weakened by civic concord. They say that he would laugh when he heard of some quarrel between the nobler sort, and would laugh all the harder in proportion to the number killed. They also say that he raged against those who would do him ill, and against the fortunes they had gained, and often said to his courtiers that he never saw a prettier sight than men savaging each other and exchanging wounds. The murder of elders and of those who were the best and most opulent was not to be disliked by kings, because that kind of men were always hostile to rulers. After he had shown himself overly harsh against one and all, and had dragged out his reign for about twelve years, to the harm of one and all, a tyrant hated by everybody, he was hurrying to Iverlochy with the intention of crossing over to the Hebrides, when he was killed by the conspiracy of a few men.
21. The man who devised and led this association was Crathlinthus, the son of Findoch, about whom I have written much above, who gained rule over the Scots not long thereafter. At the suggestion of his adoptive father, he kept his parentage concealed and was wont to spend his time among the king’s servants. By his lengthy presence, he became better known and familiar to the king, and, being one of his intimates, could enter the royal presence whenever he wished. In the end he gained such trust with the tyrant that he was set in charge of his bodyguards and of protecting the king’s person. This thing gave the young man the ability to conspire against the king, since by many gifts he had won no few courtiers and bodyguards over to his side. So one night when he stood by the king accompanied exclusively by men privy to the conspiracy, pretending to be engaged in conversation, he took the long-awaited opportunity to stab the king, who was sitting next to him. Then he came out of the royal apartment together with his fellow conspirators, as if leaving the king now he had fallen asleep, and went to those nobles living in the vicinity whom he knew for a fact to hate the king, telling them that the king had secretly been killed by his own hand: the time was at hand when, if they were men, the nobles of Scotland could easily avenge the wrongs formerly done to them, now that the tyranny of Donald of the Islands was overthrown and their liberty restored. Reminded of the disgrace they had suffered under the Islander’s tyranny, the armed themselves. In the uncertain light of dawn, they launched an attack on the tyrant’s bodyguards and soldiers, who were expecting nothing less than a popular uprising. Some of these were unarmed, some snatched up weapons, but they were all killed in a moment. About two hundred supporters of the tyrant were killed in that upheaval, and the rest melted into the crowd to rescue themselves from their danger, and went off to Athol. But when the murder of the king became public knowledge these too were overwhelmed and killed to the last man by those who had fled there from neighboring districts to avoid the tyrant’s savagery.
22. And so the tyrant was removed by the effort of Crathlinthus, a most enterprising young man to whom the throne rightfully belonged, and power over Scotland was restored to his family. For, when his adoptive father had sworn a great oath and had produced evidence that he was the son of King Findoch, who had been secretly reared by himself, by authority of the nobles, the people had immediately hailed Crathlinthus as their king with happy acclamations. And he, glad for his present success, thanked the nobles and commons, and in a lengthy speech described the life of Donald of the Islands, reviewing the methods by which he ruled his ill-gotten realm, how he managed this by deceit, plunder, the murder of noblemen, and yet worse crimes, if such existed. He reminded his hearers how he had restored the throne to the royal family, from which it had impiously been wrested; how he had removed the tyrant, not without risk to his life, with the support of only a few men who were parties to the deed, and accomplished something which no other men had dared attempt, killing that leader by himself although surrounded by the man’s forces. He urged everybody present at this speech to remove the tyrant’s children (if any yet lived) and kinsmen root and branch, lest they continue to feed that conflagration set afire by the negligence of King Donald. For he had heedlessly joined battle with the Islander without waiting for his forces, with the result that for twelve years the Scottish lands had been ablaze, to the public’s ruination, while the Scottish nobility had not been able to restrain him from plundering and ruining noble families, together with the royal household. Let them make up their minds to join him in repairing the government, damaged by the tyrant’s impiety. If only they showed themselves to be men in matters requisite for the public welfare, that they would satisfy themselves by the successes of their affairs.
23. Each and every one of them was moved by the king’s exhortation, and also by his extreme physical comeliness, to swear their loyalty to his name, and great popular applause ensued. Not much later the children and kinsmen of the tyrant Donald were sought everywhere and put to death without distinction for age or sex. Crathlinthus himself appointed the most earnest of his nobility as judges to administer the law throughout the districts of his realm, and, now that affairs were pacified, exercised himself at the hunt in the company of young noblemen he had befriended, as was the current custom for the great men of the realm. And while he was hunting stags in the Grampian Hills, a place most suitable for hunting because of its supply of forests and streams, ambassadors from King Thelargus of the Picts came to him, saying that their king and the entire Pictish nation had been pleased to hear that the tyrannical Islander was dead, that the murder of his father Donald’s had been punished so vigorously, and revenge taken for the insult inflicted on the royal family. They were likewise happy to hear that the supreme dignity had been restored to the son of the first Donald, with whom they had enjoyed an old and most welcome friendship. They were now aware that the ancient friendship between their kings and peoples should be maintained with its traditional affection, duty, and piety, and so they urged the young king to persist in his ancestors’ enthusiasm, since this seemed to be a matter of no little import for the peace and quiet of both their nations.
24. At these words, Crathlinthus gave the ambassadors a warm welcome and replied that he rightfully accounted King Thelargus and the nation of the Picts among his old friends, since he had had experience with their good disposition towards himself and his ancestors, and so he would greatly strive to keep inviolate their ancient peace, cemented by so many treaties, kinships, and joint campaigns against common enemies on behalf of their nations and liberty, and would do so until the end of his life. The ambassadors were sent back to King Thelargus with gifts consisting of horses, ponies, and various kinds of hunting dogs, given as tokens of mutual good-will (as was then the custom), and retired into Pithland. After some days has past, some young Picts came to King Crathlinthus in the Grampian Hills, to join him at the hunt. The Picts hunted in accordance with their national way: hounds drove stags and does into nets stretched out for the purpose in meadows hard by woods. If any game escaped, they would give pursuit, covering themselves with tree-branches so that they would be unseen by their quarry, and when the beasts were exhausted and had gone to ground, they would attack them with arrows and slingshots. The Scots disliked this manner of hunting, because it was contrary to their own tradition, so they removed the nets, bows and arrows, and insisted that the Picts hunt in the Scottish manner. And so that the Picts might appreciate that their dogs were far inferior to Scottish ones in beauty, speed, capacity to work, and boldness, and desired that the Picts have a supply of these from which similar could be bred, they were given some of both sexes by the Scottish nobles. At the end of the hunt, when the king had gone away to Athol, the Picts stole yet more from their keepers, including a snow-white hunting hound possessed of extreme endurance, elegant form, and an obedience unusual in dogs, who was Crathlinthus’ darling. The royal Master of Hounds took this greatly amiss and gave chase. When he overtook them and failed to regain the dog, he tried to take it by force from the men then present. Run through by the Picts’ javelins, he died. The man’s murder and the cries of his servants, fetched back some men who had attended on the hunt by royal command and were then going home. Moved by the indignity of the thing, they were determined to punish the wrong, and for their part the Picts banded together and attempted to ward off their violence. Men died on both sides, and the killing was all the more foul because they fought barehanded, and none of those engaged in the fight was unaware of its cause. In that sudden, unhappy conflict sixty Scotsmen of noble birth, together with a large number of rustics, and more than a hundred Picts.
25. A little later, word of this savage fight and the great loss of life on both sides provoked the kinsmen of the slain to a much more savage one. For the Scotsmen, outraged by the insult, did not wait on the king’s command, but rather assembled a multitude of men and dashed into Pictish territory. Nor were the angry Picts any more behindhand to take up arms against the Scots. They had a second clash, disorderly and with no leadership, no order, no battle-standards. Both sides fought almost to the point of mutual extermination, as either nation so greatly craved to take revenge on the other. In the end the victory fell to the Picts. They had lost about two thousand. The Scots lost more than three, and the rest of their numbers ran away. Thanks to these losses, the ill will and hatred between these two nations increased, although from the time of King Reutha, who reigned seventh after Fergus, down to that very day they had coexisted as friends and allies, with no or at most very slight grounds for warring against each other. So it appeared that neither side would rest without achieving the extermination of the other, there were so many bloody raids by day and night, so much killing and impiety that no household within reach of the other was safe while their hard-handed savagery and and indiscriminate mutual slaughter was raging, so that no age or sex could be secure. Then Thelargus, King of the Picts, worn down by his years and all but done in by old age, understanding how much either nation was harming the other in this spontaneous commotion, which had arisen because of the hot-headedness of rascals, was overwhelmed by tears and grieving. He was scarcely less concerned for those Scotsmen destroyed in the dire slaughter than for his own nation. So he sent ambassadors to King Crathlinthus, to say in a spirit of good-will that he was sorely distressed by the damage done both people in the recent battles, and that he had not had a hand in such a criminal business. Nothing had been done by public authority: these all had been private evils, so he was not to be held personally accountable, since where there is no intention there is no blame. These people, which had been dear friends for so long, had suffered more than enough losses, and should be restrained from any further wrongdoing. Consideration should be had for the public welfare, for it was known for a certainty that, should the Scots and the Picts continue in this impious manner, the Romans would have no hesitation in destroying both their realms. He for his part would strive might and main to ensure that reparations would be made for the wrong that had been done to the undeserving Scots as soon as possible. He begged for peace and greatly desired it. He preferred to see both nations return to concord for the sake of preserving the security of both nations, after due penalties had been paid for the former outrage, thus erasing it, rather than to have this war impiously prolonged and many excellent men killed on both sides, to the great disgrace of both kings, and at the risk of exposing their kingdoms to internal sedition.
26. When the ambassadors went on their mission, at first they had difficulty in obtaining an audience with Crathlinthus, since the young Scottish king was so irate about the killing of his noblemen. But when he had heard their requests, by advice of those elders who served as his privy counselors, he replied that that nothing more mischievous could befall himself and the Scottish nation than a sudden popular commotion, for a little earlier their peoples had been bound by such great kinship, but now were turning their arms against each other, thanks to the importunity of certain unclean fellows. By rights, no man could or should deny that peace served his interests more than war, but the recent outrage had so pierced the hearts of his subjects that, albeit it would in the end be necessary to enter into a peace, the common opinion of all his subjects was averse to this, and they were saying many hard things against their enemy. Therefore, if he could not grant peace, since new treaties were unpopular with many of his subjects, he was willing to grant a three months’ truce, during which the nobles of both nations would be free to pass back and forth with impunity, in order to hold discussions about what was best to be done about such a great mater. When the ambassadors returned home and announced this, in accordance with the opinion of his nation’s elders the Pictish king gratefully accepted these terms, greatly striving to put an end to this present quarrel between peoples originally bound together by such great kinship, so that greater woes might be avoided. But by no effort, by no edict, by no threat, or even occasional punishments, could he prevent frequent incursions by both sides, mutual killing, plunderings and thefts, such was the hatred which either side harbored towards the other.
27. While Scottish and Pictish affairs were caught up in this situation, to the great detriment of both peoples, great troubles beset Quintus Bassianus, the Roman legate in Britain. For Carantius (Eutropius calls this man Caurassius), whom a little earlier I have said to have to have entered voluntary exile out of fear of being punished for patricide, won Britain away from the Romans, having defeated their garrisons with great killing. Because it was thought that he had been born of obscure parents at Rome — for he kept his breeding concealed — he won outstanding fame serving as an ordinary soldier in Illyricum, Gaul, and Italy, until he was so highly regarded by Caesar and the senate that they assigned him a province. And so, as Eutropius writes, he was commanded by Diocletian to protect the coastline around Belgium and Armorica from being troubled by the Saxons and Franks who infested those waters. When he had gained command of a great fleet manned by many sailors, he purposefully elected not to confront his enemies until he was sure they were laden down with plunder, so that he might appropriate it from the pirates and take it into his own possession. Since he neither restored it to the provincials nor sent it to his emperors, he became quite wealthy, and when he knew for sure that Maximianus, the current governor of Gaul, was thinking deadly thoughts about him and had issued orders to certain men for his murder, he, conscious of his wrongdoing, took his fleet, sailors, and ill-gotten gains and crossed the Irish sea to Westmorland, which was then a district of the Roman providence not far removed from the lands of the Scots and Picts, in whom he placed no little hope of gaining aid against the Romans. There he landed his forces and received the surrender of the providence without any great trouble, since its inhabitants voluntarily yielded to him.
28. He then sent ambassadors to Crathlinthus King of Scots, his great-nephew by his brother Findoch, to inform him that he was Carantius, who had fled into exile when accused of patricide. After spending some time as a helpless, homeless vagrant, he had been recruited as a soldier for the Persian war being waged by the emperor Carus. In a short time, by the work of his tongue and hand, he had made himself so conspicuous in Caesar’s eyes that he was promoted centurion. Next, having been created a praetor, he had given such an exhibition of martial prowess that, even by the vote of all his fellow-soldiers, he had been made an admiral for the pacification of the Gallic sear and protection of the provincial ships that sailed thereon. And he had been sent by the emperor to combat Saxon and Frankish pirates, and had enhanced both his reputation and his wealth. But when he had been denounced to Caesar by envious detractors, he had sailed over the Irish Sea to avoid Maximian’s deceits, which had been revealed to him by his soldiers. Now, with his great fleet, his wealth and his soldiers, he had arrived at Westmorland, and had received the fealty of that district, since its inhabitants were weary of Roman rule and had murdered the garrisons and voluntarily surrendered themselves. Now he was confident that, if only the Scots and the Picts came to his aid, he could expel the Romans, against whom he had so unwillingly rebelled, from Albion. For he was informed that the strength of the Roman forces in Britain were diminishing daily, that Diocletian was nearly overwhelmed by the rebellions stirred up by Achilleus in Egypt, the Quingentiani infesting Africa, and Narses, waging war in the east, and so could not come to their aid. It would be extremely honorable for the Scots and Picts for the Romans to be thrown out of Britain by their doing. And, once the Romans had been driven out it would be more useful and far more honorable to see a man of their own blood lording it over Britain. These things they could readily achieve, if only they would set aside the hateful feuds from which they suffered, and return to concord, as was his greatest hope. For this he would strive with all his might, and he would appear at any place they should appoint, ready to treat about peace, as long as they came to an agreement, so that, their power greatly enhanced, they would have more strength to bring the war to the desired conclusion.
29. As for the murder of Findoch, he was the most innocent of all men, and had wrongly been accused of that unspeakable crime. When he had gone into voluntary exile, this was done to avoid invidious abuse, not a just punishment. As the death of that poor man very obviously showed, this was the unspeakable crime of Donald of the Isles and nobody else, and he wanted to prove his innocence in the sight of the nobles and commons. When he heard the name of Carantius, and learned how distinguished his military service had been, what a wealthy man he was, how great a fleet he commanded, and how many sailors it contained, ready to encounter any peril, King Crathlinthus stood stock-still in amazement. Finally, thinking that such a great opportunity was not to be scorned, he replied to the ambassadors that he was forgetful of all old wrongdoing (if any such had been committed against his father), and that he congratulated his uncle on his present good fortune. Carantius would be most welcome, he greatly liked what he had to offer. He and his subjects would do as Carantius asked, as long as the Picts agreed to set aside their quarrels and enter into a new league. If they refused, he would undertake to recruit a force of his people, to be sent to aid his uncle, but he himself would be obliged to remain at home, lest by marching against the Romans with his forces, he leave his subjects’ wives, children, and fortunes as plunder for neighboring enemies. Carantius’ ambassadors received a very similar answer from the king of the Picts, to whom they went a little later, as they had been commanded. When Carantius learned from his ambassadors’ report that they had received a kindly reception from Crathlinthus, he was delighted and soon left Westmorland, having placed a garrison in its strongholds and left his forces encamped under the command of many well-tried officers. He met with Crathlinthus alongside the river Esk, not far from Hadrian’s Wall. When he came into the king’s presence he fell to the ground and produced many arguments designed to show he was wholly innocent of the accusation that he had been responsible for Findoch’s death, and he expended many words, with intermingled tears, in beseeching Crathlinthus henceforth to forbid such disgraceful libels to be leveled against himself, and to set aside whatever suspicion he had been harbored. This would not enhance his own personal glory, because as an exile far from his homeland amidst foreign people, he had already achieved glory by his brave conduct, and had returned to his nation enhanced by so much wealth and prosperity, but rather would redound to the royal splendor.
30. With a friendly countenance Crathlinthus embraced Carantius and consoled him with amicable words, bidding him be well disposed towards himself, just as doubtless he would discover that he himself was toward him. He would not fail him in any part of this enterprise. If only the gods would be favorable, it would soon to come to pass that, by his own effort and with the help of his friends and kinsmen, he would to Carantius no small amount of good, so that henceforth he would hold nothing dearer than himself. Together with a choice band of soldiers, he would join him in going against his enemies, if this Pictish war did not impede him at home. He should expect these things and greater from him, because of their assured kinship. Carantius, encouraged by having experienced the king’s mercy, openly revealed what he had conceived in his mind and previously communicated by means of his ambassadors: his plan for expelling the Romans from Britain, subjecting the Britons, gaining the throne and transferring it to the Scottish royal family. He had sufficient strength to deal with the Romans and Britons, but only with the support of the Scots and Picts. He therefore desired, if the king would permit it, to deal with the king of the Picts concerning peace, so that, in accordance with the ancient custom of both peoples, the Scots and Picts could join their forces to those he himself had in his camp, and they could more easily conquer their enemies. The king liked what Carantius had to say.
31. Not long thereafter, by the good offices of this same Carantius, with great good-will the two kings met together with a few companions, including elders of both nations, to deal about peace. Carantius stood between the kings and adduced many arguments against this impious war between friends and allied peoples, very artfully attempting to bring them to concord. He kept speaking of their very ancient kinships, which had often been renewed between rulers and nobles of both nationsm to the great advantage of both. Their old treaties had never been violated without great damage being inflicted on their kings and peoples, and this had occurred at the instigation of their enemies. They should be mindful of how frequently they had campaigned together against the Britons and the Romans for the sake of preserving their liberty, to the point that either nation always regarded an injury committed against the other to be a common one, such was their mutual affection until now, so many were their bonds of kinship, so great their consensus for managing affairs at home and in the field. None of these were considerations that invited men’s minds to quarrelling, but rather they all were reasons for achieving concord and peace, something for which not only he himself, who had consecrated his life and fortune to his nation’s welfare, but each and every Scot and Pict who had a care for their common safety, ought to hope wholeheartedly. Nor should they continue in this war, which was started because of the killing of a few men in a sudden brawl, with no consideration had for the public safety, inasmuch as this both threatened and paved the way for the destruction, not just of any single family or district, but of both their kingdoms. And so they must either restore the peace or soon suffer a common downfall. The one should be abhorred, not just by men, but also by all living things possessed of a mild and gentle nature. But humanity, good-will, good faith, and all laws both human and divine strongly recommended the other. And so they must make reparations for the injuries they had inflicted by a friendly pact. Peace must be cultivated by their kings, nobles, and peoples, unless they had decided entirely to ruin their public and private glory and security.
32. The kings were persuaded by the arguments of Carantius and the other prudent men present at the conference for the sake of peace and public safety, and decided to select four men from each people to supervise reparations, and improve their old peace and its traditional conditions by a new pact, so they might henceforth abide by these arrangements. When these things had been transacted, eight men of great prudence and authority were chosen from both peoples and soon, by the guidance and advice of Carantius, accomplished everything in accordance with their kings’ decrees and wishes. Meanwhile the Roman legate in Britain Quintus Bassianus, was informed in a letter of Carantius’ conspiracy and treachery, of the defection of Westmorland, and of the slaughter of the Roman garrison here. At first he was not particularly disturbed, and commanded war to be waged against Carantius, swearing an oath he would strive might and main to punish him. After a few days had passed, he led his army into Westmorland, and learned from his scouts that his enemy had come to Eboracum in three columns, consisting of Scots, Picts, and Carantius’ ordinary soldiers. They had received the city’s surrender and refrained from inflicting any harm on its citizens, which made them very popular with the surrounding rustics. Hearing this, although he had his doubts about the fortunes of Rome, beset by so many rebellions, and although he was not unaware of the hatred nourished against himself and his forces because of the tyranny they had exercised, he nonetheless could not abide that conspirator (as he called him), that traitorous, perjured liar who passed himself as being of royal blood all the easier to inspire the Scots and Picts, when were they burning with deadly hatred against each other, to reconcile themselves and wage an impious war, scoring their ancient treaties with the Roman government. Being very hot to inflict punishment on him and his fellow-conspirators, he ordered his army to march against them with all its vigor.
33. On the following night, he encamped in a narrow place, having marshland on all sides to serve as his ramparts. When Carantius, who was scarcely ten miles away, learned this from his scouts, he broke camp and, hiring certain robbers familiar with the area to serve as his guides, he moved against Bassianus. And at dawn he entered the narrow passageway between the marshlands and, drawn up in good order, attacked Bassianus while on the march. He, realizing he was gravely endangered, employed a few words to encourage his men for the struggle: they should bear in mind that they were about to fight for justice, against runaways who had impiously conspired against their rulers. Their leader was a parricide who had falsified his pedigree and nationality, a scurvy pretender and a lying robber, faithless and low-down, a man who even the gods could not help hating for his impiety. They should keep before their eyes Roman martial virtue, once so well-attested for men and gods. The prize of victory would be abundant, undying praise and a reputation for immortal glory that would be handed down to posterity. Nor were the enemy captains more behindhand in urging their men to comport themselves bravely in the battle. Over and over, they said that Bassianus’ forces were obliged to fight against themselves while stationed on unsuitable ground, that the majority of them were Britons who hated the Romans no less than did Carantius, and who would therefore desert when they saw their commander was endangered. Victory was within their reach, if they attacked the enemy with their usual virtue and energy. Then the signal to join battle was given, and when the enemy began to come to grips with the Romans, the Britons who had followed Bassianus there turned their backs on the fighting men. Defecting from their loyalty to the Romans, they slowly retired to nearby hills, walking at a slow pace in good military order, scarcely resembling runaways. The soldiers standing next to them, seeing that their flanks were exposed, had their minds focused on safety more than glory, and dispiritedly slunk off in flight themselves. Then the victors pursued the runaways, who had become stranded in the marshes, and killed them off with great cruelty, not even sparing those who abjectly pleaded for their lives.
34. Witnessing such atrocious scenes, Carantius sounded the retreat, and at this signal his soldiers broke off their chase and returned to their leader. In that confused battle died the legate Quintus Bassianus, Hircius, Caesar’s procurator in Britain, and, together with them, besides a considerable number of Roman soldiers, a great number of ordinary troops. And the Britons who, as I have just said, had mutinied from Bassianus and abandoned the battle, surrendered to Carantius and came under his command. Carantius kept hostage all the surrendered nobles between the ages of twenty and sixty, and sent the rest home. In accordance with military custom, the plunder was shared out between the Scots, the Picts, and the rest of Carantius’ soldiers. He and his forces went to London, where he took control over the city and its citadel, which was very strong. He assumed the purple and ascended the throne of Britain, having taken supreme power away from the Romans, in the four hundred and thirty-sixth year after the dictator Caesar had made it a Roman tributary. About two thousand of the Scottish and Pictish multitude that had accompanied him remained, while the rest, laden down with great booty, were sent back to their own homes, together with ambassadors sent to congratulate the Scottish and Pictish kings about this successful conclusion of affairs. And he gave them as dwelling-places Westmorland and all that part of Cumbria which likes between the territory of Eboracum and the Wall of Hadrian, having expelled the Romans. In so doing, the provoked no small amount of hatred against himself among the Romans as well as the Britons. Henceforth Carantius was attacked by the Romans in frequent bloody battles, but he prevailed in each of these and with wonderful prudence secured the kingdom of Britain for himself. In the end, however, he was undone by the wiles of the Roman legate Alectus. For this man, endowed with a shrewd wit and great treachery, came over to Britain and feigned a desire for peace, as if he had assumed the responsibility of championing Carantius’ cause. And so Carantius, deceived by hope for this man’s friendship, was put to death.
35. After Carantius had thus been killed, Alectus was unable to return Britain to the Romans, since all his soldiers were opposed to Roman rule. To render himself more popular with them, he displayed a disdain of Roman majesty and, transformed into a tyrant, claimed the British throne for himself. Nor did he survive any longer than had Carantius. For in the third year after he had killed Carantius, under the leadership of Asclepiodotus (according to Eutropius, he was a praetorian prefect), he was despoiled, not only of his present rule, but of his life as well. Carantius had possessed power over Britain for seven years, striving with much effort to keep unsullied the peace entered into by the Scots and Picts, but Alectus had only ruled for three. At that time, King Crathlinthus exerted wonderful diligence and art in gaining much for the Scottish commonwealth, at the same time keeping the peace with the Picts, and acquiring a great and venerable name with posterity. During his reign Diocletian Caesar, having divided the empire with Constantius, Maximianus and Galerius, and having fought many wars with varying success, at a time when nearly all the world was pacified, was the first Roman emperor who desired to be worshipped as a king, although up to then his predecessors had been wont merely to be saluted as first citizens. And so he caused pearls and various sorts of gem to be added to his garments and slippers, for the sake of ornamentation (or rather, as a sign of his insolence.). For previously the insignia of office consisted merely of a purple robe of state and mantle, and everything else emperors wore was the same as for private citizens. And he persecuted the name of Christ our Savior with no less impiety than the insolence with which he adopted those insignia. For his savagery afflicted Christians so brutally that (as Eusebius reports) within the space of a few days up to seventy thousand thousand were put to death in various ways in the east, and even more in the west. And besides the fact that a great number of the pious was with equal brutality condemned to labor in mines and quarries, sacred manuscripts containing divine histories, the Gospel of Christ, the epistles of the Apostles, and the Book of Acts, together with other monuments of sacred things were by imperial order burned wherever they were found, so that the Savior’s name would be abolished. This madness spread not only from the east to the west, but even to the other world of Britain, so that Christian piety was stricken by blows of that brutal and inhumane emperor’s invention, and was all but extinguished by the fury of his torturers and the the length of his persecution, as for fear of persecutions pious and religious men beat a retreat to deserted places and the haunts of wild beasts where, out of harm’s way, they led a truly monastic and most holy life.
36. And this same Diocletian Caesar, having celebrated a distinguished triumph at Rome over many peoples of the world, the Gauls, Alemanni, Egyptians, Persians, Sarmatians, and having ruled the Roman empire for twenty years with great genius, putting it on a sound footing, was vexed by various and hitherto unknown diseases, and resigned his office and retired to private life. Being a man who had so haughtily lorded it over the just and pious, lest he be exposed to harm inflicted by others more than by himself, he went out of his mind and was hounded by the avenging furies of the crime. Lest this savage persecutor of innocent, pious men, leave any wrongdoing in himself unpunished, he committed suicide at Spalatro, where he had grown old. A little thereafter, by decree of the senate he was pronounced to be a god, the only private citizen to receive this honor, which, as Eutropius remarks, was impious. This a great proof that no man should place his hope and expectation for eternal salvation in mortals’ applause and flattery. About the time these things occurred, Coel, a descendant of an old royal family in Britain, a very noble man who was distinguished for his prudence and authority in the eyes of all men of Albion, who, together with all Britain, loathed the tyranny of the Roman legate Asclepiodotus, raised a rebellion, recruited a huge army, and led it against the Romans. He quickly came to blows with the legate, who, learning of Coel’s intention, had already assembled great forces, and emerged the victor. He killed Asclepiodotus together with members of the Roman garrison and certain noble Britons who had taken the Roman side. When the battle was finished and the other Britons had sworn their loyal to to him, with its happy acclamation and by authority of its elders, the entire people bade Coel ascend the throne, so that supreme power would return to the royal family from which it had impiously been stolen.
37. Having thanked the nobles of the realm and its people for bestowing the kingship on himself, in order to confirm his rule he issued an atrocious edict ordaining that the Romans and whatever men of British blood had taken their side should be hunted down and subjected to various kinds of execution. In response to the news of this edict, Constantius Caesar crossed over from Gaul to Britain, by way of Icium, with a numerous army, more quickly than anyone imagined possible. King Coel of the Britons was there meet him with forces ready to defend their liberty and nation, but he was easily overcome in battle and his army scattered, and, having no hope of renewing his struggle, he sought his safety in flight. On the day following that conflict, Constantius learned from captive Britons who this King Coel was, what was his parentage, and by whose urging he had taken up arms against the Romans. Moved by the man’s misfortune because he was of noble birth, he turned his mind to making peace with him. Not long thereafter, Constantius addressed friendly words to King Coel by means of a herald, giving his promise that he would henceforth do no evil to him, as long as he consented to abandon his stiff-necked policy and surrender himself to the Romans, as had his ancestors. It chanced that Coel had been suffering from ill health, night chills, and unusual protracted insomnia, at the time he was commanding the forces he had recruited against the Romans. When Constantius came to him, for no other reason than to offer his consolation, they reached a public agreement that he would allow Coel to remain in office, and, in order that a private pact might be added to their public one, he married the virgin Helen, Coel’s single child. This kinship offered the Romans and the Britons hope of ending their constant warfare. A little later Constantius Caesar made an inspection tour of the Roman forts and strongholds in Britain, which had been damaged either by civil war or old age, and after he had repaired them he strongly reinforced them with garrisons. Entering into towns and villages, he commanded their inhabitants, newly received back into their subjection to Rome, to be obedient to King Coel in his lifetime, for he was a man most friendly of all to Caesar and the senate and people of Rome. Soon a boy-child was born of the new wedding, and his parents named him Constantine. When he had grown to manhood and was endowed with notable military ability and learning and had gained power over the Roman empire, he was moved by the sanctity and pious urgings of Pope Sylvester and became attracted to Christian piety. He was the first of all emperors to bestow peace and quiet on Christ’s Church, enhancing it with many churches and many valuable donatives. Henceforth Christian affairs were more settled throughout the world.
38. But I must go back to what Constantius did in Britain a little before these things transpired. When the province had been pacified (as I have described) and Diocletian had died, he crossed over to Gaul, where he was promoted from a Caesar to an Augustus. After having governed the west for some years with great modesty, having done many excellent things, and had pacified Gaul and Spain, he crossed back over to Britain where, at the urging of its elders, he assembled a great multitude and industriously prepared an expedition against the Scots and Picts, with the intention of recovering Westmorland, from which the Britons and Romans had been ejected by King Carantius of the Britons, when he subjugated it, and expelling those peoples. Soon, when he had arrived at Eboracum with his army and learned that the Scots and Picts had joined forces and moved into Westmorland to defend it against the Romans, he thought the expedition should be delayed for some days, so that the enemy, whom he was aware could not long remain gathered in the field, would be worn down by the passage of time. So he commanded that the Roman soldiers and auxiliaries should go into camp and sent the Britons home, but with instructions that, when his herald gave the order, they should be present as soon as ever they could, ready to march to battle with their commander. He himself remained at Eboracum, awaiting his opportunity. After by his secret messengers he had given many promptings, promises and gifts in a protracted vain attempt to convince the Pictish king and his elders to turn their backs on their old enemies, the Scots, and side with the Romans, he fell victim to a grave fever and died on the seventh day after he had fallen ill. The ashes of his cremated body, as was the custom then, were enclosed in a golden container together with fragrant spices, so that it might be deposited in the sacred tomb of the Caesars, and was carried with sad pomp through Britain, Gaul, and Italy, and brought to Rome.
39. Constantius was a man of remarkable civility, and, because of his wonderful affability, welcome and liked to those he governed. But his reputation, otherwise excellent, was besmirched to posterity because he imitated Diocletian and opposed the Christian religion in Britain, with the result that a great number of the pious fled to the Scots and Picts to escape the savagery of their persecutors. King Crathlinthus gave these refugees a kindly reception, and allowed them to settle on the island of Mona, where he had caused a church to be built in the name of our Savior, having torn down its pagan temples and eradicated the Druids and their rites, which, as Vairement records, had persisted down to this time. Amphibalus, a Briton notable for his piety, was the first bishop created there, and he did much that was glorious and worthy of a Christian man by preaching Christ’s teaching throughout the lands of the Scots and Picts, and speaking and writing much against paganism. Worn down by living to a ripe old age, he obtained a happy end. And King Crathlinthus adorned the bishop’s cathedral with many very generous gifts: chalices, patens, candelabra, and other furniture employed in services of worship, made out of silver, gold, as well as an altar rail made of copper and brass. This was the first of all our Christian churches, as our writers have recorded, to be dedicated as a bishop’s see. It is now called the cathedral of Sodor, and the meaning of that name (as is true of the names of many other things and places) is lost in the mists of time.
40. Having gained a notable name with posterity by his secular and religious works, Crathlinthus gave up the ghost in the twenty-fourth year of his realm. On his deathbed he handed over the throne to his cousin Cormach, the son of his uncle, with all men crying out their wishes that his reign might be happy and prosperous. There lived during King Crathlinthus’ lifetime, or a little before, men distinguished for their learning: Julius Capitolinus, Vopiscus of Syracuse, and, a little earlier, Trebellius Pollio, Aelius Lampridius, Aelius Spartianius, and the Greek Herodianus, all writers of Roman history, who, like many other learned men, depicted for posterity the great Roman empire, relying not just on the importance of the events they recorded, but also on their eloquence and every manner of erudition. Contemporaries among our own people were men who flourished with sacred learning: Bishop Amphibalus, old Modoch, Calanus, Ferranus, Ambianus, and Carnoch, all Honorers of God (called Culdees in our old language), who by their preaching and many pious exertions disseminated the teachings of Christ our Savior through all the districts of Scotland. There were many others like them, but these are the principal men whose names have come down to later times.
41. Fincormach began to rule in the year of human salvation 322, which was the year 655 after the foundation of the kingdom of Scotland, and the year of Creation 5490. This was also the first year of the principate of Constantine (called the Great for his virtue’s sake). From the day Fincormach was created king, many upheavals arose in Albion. First, Britain was disturbed by a peasant uprising, for they could not tolerate the tyranny of Gaius Herculeus, a kinsman of Maximianus Augustus, whom the emperor Constantine had appointed his legate for the Britons. They chose as their faction’s leader Octavius, a chieftain of the Tegeni born of a Roman mother and British father, and inflicted many woes on the Romans in Britain. When the legate Hercules attempted to suppress this rising with a ill-organized force, he was cut off by his enemy and, together with his Roman cavalry and a few infantrymen, was put to death most cruelly. Thinking he should take advantage of this victory, Octavius and his army attacked London, outstripping the report of Herculeus’ death. Bribing its garrison, he easily gained control of the citadel and visited a foul slaughter on the senior Romans in Britain, together with a number of nobles of British blood who supported the Roman government, who had gathered there to deliberate how best to manage the impending war. Then, allied particularly with the Cambrian nation (who deeply hated Roman rule), he urged that the Romans should be eradicated throughout the island. Capturing many towns and forts with their strongholds, he assumed the royal title in Britain. Traherus, a man of consular rank was sent by Constantine Augustus to suppress this great revolt. He was very brave in war, very steadfast in peace, and, after having fought many unsuccessful battles against him, Octavius was finally defeated, his forces scattered, and he retired to the Scots so as not to fall into his enemies’ power. Traherus, made more arrogant by his victory, sent a herald to Fincormach King of Scots, demanding that he should send the tyrant Octavius to himself, an evildoer and rebel against Roman majesty. Otherwise he would regard Fincormach himself as an enemy of Caesar and the Roman people.
42. To this Fincormach replied, in accordance with the decision of his nation’s elders, that Octavius had come to him as a refugee, and that he had given the man a hospitable reception, not so as to harm the Roman people, but in accordance with the right of the ancient friendship which the nation of the Tegeni had always maintained with himself. It would sully his royal splendor to no small degree, if he should not only shamefully reject, but also deceitfully take captive and hand over to his enemy for execution, a man who had fled to him, given himself into his trust, begged for his protection, had been taken into his hospitality, and who had deserved no ill of himself. And if Traherus should impiously attempt to wage war against himself, because he refused to violate mankind’s law and hand over a guest-friend, he would accept this with a brave heart and deal with the Romans as he was being dealt with. But he urged that, before rashly declaring war, the Roman ought to think more carefully whether the Romans had gained more advantage and glory, or woes and disgrace, in the wars they had previously fought against his ancestors. Receiving that reply, Traherus did not hesitate in marching on Westmorland, and on the sixth day after his departure the army of King Fincormach made appearance, drawn up for battle in a lengthy line. At the time, as Vairement writes, Fincormach had about thirty thousand Scotsmen under his standards, together with twenty thousand Picts who, in accordance with their treaty, had left home to fight against the Romans, and Octavius had more than ten thousand adherents. And more Scotsmen, Picts, and Britons kept coming in, so that their ranks were increased daily. The Roman legate was unmoved by this assemblage of forces, since his soldiers were demanding the opportunity for a fight, and he ordered them to move against their enemies with vigor. Now, although everything was readied for combat on both sides, King Fincormach refused to join battle before sending a herald to the Roman commander, to ask why he had come into a foreign realm with his forces displaying hostile intentions, although he had suffered no ill, and had subjected his friends and allies to a mistreatment that should have been reserved for his enemies. Did he truly prefer to try the Roman army’s fortune by a rash invasion of foreign lands, rather than resting content with the parts of Albion already added to the Roman empire and abiding in secure peace? Did he want yet again to test the strength of Albion’s northernmost nations, who under the leadership of Galdus had once nobly driven the Romans out of the lands of the Scots and Picts? Sometimes the Romans had one victories, not without unspeakable suffering both for themselves and the local inhabitants, but had never gained power.
43. The legate Traherus, furious, made no reply to those things, and limited himself to the demand, relayed by a herald, that Fincormach, together with his nation and that of the Picts, should leave behind their fortunes for his Roman soldiers to plunder, and immediately quit the provinces they had illegally occupied. Let them rest content with paying as much annual tribute to Caesar’s procurator as they were commanded by decree of the senate, and hand over Octavius, that conspirator against Roman majesty, for execution. Otherwise they would quickly learn how rash it was for feeble barbarians, trusting in nothing else but their savagery, living at the end of the earth, or rather outside it entirely, whom nature in her wisdom had set there because of their great wildness, to scorn the commands of the lords of the earth. Fincormach rejected the legate’s demands and, his standards raised and his forces drawn up, he engaged his enemy. A very fierce battle ensued. For, in addition to countless wounds, the killing was about the same on both sides. Finally victory appeared to be in the Romans’ grasp, which would have been the case had not the Roman soldiers seen a multitude of rustics on a nearby hill driving their flocks and herds before them in order to rescue themselves and their fortunes from their enemies. The Romans mistook them for auxiliaries, fell into a panic, and their ensuing flight handed the victory to the weary Scots, Picts, and British followers of Octavius. On the victors’ side, as our annals relate, up to fifteen thousand were killed, and not all of these were Scots and Picts, but rather a great part belonged to the Britons. More than sixteen thousand of the vanquished died. The legate Traherus made his escape with a few companions during the confusion, and did not break off his flight until he came to Eboracum. Fincormach and Octavius gave chase, and when they decided to besiege the city, Traherus ran off to safer places, so they were admitted into the city with the happy cheers of its people. When the news of these events spread throughout Britain, it convinced the nation’s elders to come to terms with King Octavius and surrender to him once again. Therefore a large number of noble Britons same to Octavius at Eboracum and swore their loyalty to him, scorning the Romans. A little later, when he had been restored to his throne with their help, he sent King Fincormach and his soldiers back to Scotland, having laden down the Picts and Scots with many gifts in proportion to their individual rank, and far greater promises. For, by the vote of the British elders, he took a great oath that he would never seek to reclaim Westmorland and the other districts of Britain which Carantius had previously bestowed on King Crathlinthus.
44. Learning of this, Traherus fled to the Isle of Wight with this supporters, and decided to wait there to learn Constantine Augustus’ opinion about the Roman government of Britain. But he was driven from there too by Octavius’ arms, and beat a retreat to Gaul. After these things a parliament of British nobles was held at Eboracum, and after many views had been expressed, they all took an oath for this single thing: to use all their strength and wealth to protect their common liberty from Roman harm, and to protect it to the ends of their lives, and avenge all the outrages committed against it, henceforth allowing no man of foreign blood to hold power in Britain. And in the same parliament it was voted that the British kingdom should be extended to its erstwhile ancient borders beyond Hadrian’s Wall, and that settlers of foreign blood should be driven from those ancient British lands and new ones introduced. It is well agreed that this was done at Octavius’ urging, who strongly desired to gain control over all Britain. This made it clear to one and all that this war was declared on the Scots and Picts who inhabited Westmorland and neighboring districts granted them by Carantius not long ago by his instigation, in contradiction to the oath he had taken. For at the beginning of his reign, when he was scarcely secured in his position, he sent ten thousand men into Westmorland to kill off its inhabitants and plunder their fortunes, proclaiming that Britons should either occupy that territory or, by their frequent incursions, ravishments, and killings, render it depopulated. The Scots and Picts were scarcely unaware of Octavius’ plan, and when these men arrived at Westmorland, they banded together to greet them with a serious battle, and sent the scattered survivors home, cursing the perfidy of their commander.
45. At this same Traherus had received two legions and twenty thousand auxiliaries by command of Caesar, and crossed over from Gaul to Britain. Octavius was bested by him in a third battle and lost a goodly part of his forces. When, conscious of his treachery, he thought unsafe to entrust his safety to the Scots or Picts, he put in to the mouth of the Humber, destitute of nearly all his followers. There he found some light ships, which he hired and crossed over to Norway by way of Denmark, there to await a better fortune. When Octavius had been defeated and put to flight, Traherus, whose wealth and numbers had been increased (for many who had only obeyed Octavius out of fear of punishment had deserted to him before he had tried his fortune in battle), exercised full harshness on those noble Britons who had followed Octavius to the very end, and restored the subdued province to the Roman empire. Then, when things had been pacified, he was afire with avarice and insolent because of his success, and became the most outrageous of all the legates who had existed in Britain up to that time. Since he encountered no man willing to stand up to his very corrupt manners, he abandoned all shame, and, on trumped-up charges, exercised no single manner of cruelty on the fortunes of nobles and commoners alike. This was the reason why the kinsmen of Octavius, with the help of many who loathed Traherus’ cruel magistracy, suddenly attacked the legate, who was at the time preparing punishments of various kinds for whatever nobles of whom he had even the slightest suspicion, thinking that, if the tyrant were to be removed in any way at all, the Britons would be restored to their erstwhile liberty. When Traherus’ death was announced, the Britons raged against the Romans throughout the island, and not even any temple provided protection when they ran to it for refuge, such was the unanimous consensus that the Romans should be exterminated to the last man.
46. While these things were occurring in Britain, Octavius was informed of them all by his friends, and, with force consisting partly of his own men and partly of mercenaries, he set sail from Denmark (where at that time he had been living in exile at the court of their friendly king) and returned to Albion. There the elders of Briton came a-flocking to him from all directions, and for the third time he was restored to his lost kingdom. He appointed various men of British blood magistrates, both to administer the law and to ward off the Romans’ violence from his nation. Although human natures are rare which, having had a taste of adversity, do not wax insolent amidst prosperity, he soon was transformed from a treacherous and deplorable ruler into a most excellent and mild one. For he sent King Fincormach precious gifts and, by means of his ambassadors, urged him to forget previous injuries and continue in his friendship with the Britons, who had now cast off the yoke of servitude, having destroyed the Romans. As before, let him uncontestedly hold Westmorland, Cumbria, and the other parts of Britain bestowed on him by King Carantius. And he urged the king of the Picts the same by his ambassadors, giving him similar gifts out of his great generosity. By this it was brought about that, because of the many excellent virtues which were henceforth evident in him, and because of his enthusiasm for peace between nations and peoples, which made him appear to be a champion of justice for every man, he was accounted among the best of rulers. He was often attacked by Roman arms, and, after having fought with varying fortune, in the end he was wearied and broken by war. He obtained peace from the Romans with difficulty, having surrendered to them his forts and strongholds and, in order to enjoy leisure in his old age, he continued in his royal dignity by Caesar’s permission, paying his procurator the usual tribute.
47. With their affairs thus settled in Albion, the Scots, Picts, Britons and Romans continued in quiet peace down to the time of the Roman emperors Constans and Constantius. At that time, in the seventieth year of his life, Fincormach, noble for his many virtues and his pursuit of martial glory, died after having suffered a long illness and an exuberance of phlegm, having happily reigned for forth-seven years, in the year of human salvation 368. Throughout this time, the Christian religion had high hopes of increasing its future dignity, but this was cast in doubt by the impious falsehood of the presbyter Arrius, a son of the church at Alexandria, who was distinguished for his learning but a stranger to virtue and piety. For he denied that Christ was the Son of God, a coequal and coeval of His Father, and attempted to distinguish Him from the eternal substance of the Father. For a long time the fathers of Egypt and Palestine attempted to check this man’s madness, since the believers true piety feared lest this poison spread further abroad. But then some men rashly became Arrius’ adherents, so that they arranged that Constantine the Great would convene a council at Nicea. In this, after lengthy debate and mature deliberation the truth was discovered: by authority of more than three hundred bishops, Arrius’ crackpot error was condemned, and it was decreed that the Son be described as having the same substance as the Father. At the same council the Ebonites, who maintained that Christ had been engendered on his mother by sexual intercourse, and the Sabellians, who claimed that there was only one person in the Trinity, together with many others who were striving to contaminate true piety and sincere faith with their crazed doctrines were condemned of heresy. And a number of other wholesome decrees were issued at that council, which were of no small benefit for the enhancement of the Christian religion.
48. They say that Ireland, the original homeland of the Scots, received the worship of Christ at this time, a thing which, as our annalists write, had its origin in a modest beginning, but was fostered by miracles. A Christian woman (Scottish annals say she was a woman of Pictish blood) gained the confidence of the queen, preached Christ’s name to her in a wonderful way, and made Him an object of her reverence. The queen instructed the king, and the king instructed his whole people. At this time many people of both the east and the west gladly embraced the worship of the true religion, at a time when King Fincormach was still ruling the Scots. And when he had died in the manner I have described (is I may return to Scottish affairs), he left two surviving sons, Eugenius, a boy of eighteen years, and Ethodius, one year younger. But these were carefully kept in tutelage (as had been the custom from the very beginning), lest they attempt to gain the throne before coming of age. This is the reason why, by authority of the elders, a parliament was convened in Argathelia for the purpose of electing a king. When all the nobility had assembled, there was great contention among them about selecting between three nephews of King Crathlinthus by various of his brothers, Romach, Fethelmach, and Angusianus. For they were of nearly the same age, and possessed just about the same friends, kinsmen, and fortunes. But, in addition to his paternal lineage, Romach was also of Pictish blood, being born of one of their noblewomen, and for this reason was distinguished for his pedigree on both sides. For this reason, although he was younger than the others, being fathered by an elder brother of King Crathilinthus after the king had been born, he staked a claim on the throne. And in that parliament his claim found no few supporters. With the consent of Fethelmach, Angusianus asked for the kingship to be voted to himself, because he was older than Romach, and because his greater and lengthy experience made him more suitable to govern. The debate continued for no little time. Finally the business was tending towards sedition, when certain soldiers Romach had deceitfully suborned to murder his cousins failed in their attempt, being prevented by many men, the resulting commotion was calmed a little by the elders’ authority, and the parliament was dissolved without having accomplished its business, and the noblemen who had been in attendance went home.
49. And so, when the parliament had been concluded, Romach and Angusianus daily became more involved in quarrelling and dissent, and began to plot against each other, as each schemed, and made plans and preparations for the murder of the other. And, by letters and the intervention of friends, they attempted to draw the elders of the realm to their side, making great promises to each one notable for his magistracy, honor, and dignity. In the end, when in many sundry ways they had made great exertions to attach the nobility to their side, the majority favored Angusianus. For they all opined that he had refrained from deceit, and he had created a great impression of uprightness among his fellow citizens, showing himself to be friendly in his intercourse, devoted to honorable pursuits, and (and this seemed most important in their eyes) because he was older than Romach and had more experience with men’s manners and the variety of events. Romach, on the other hand, was showing himself to be a rascal by his sly character, and conducted himself in a rougher and more ferocious manner, doing all his business peevishly and relying on threats rather than persuasion; he was possessed of a distrustful nature, and he had acquired his friends by fear rather than good-will. And the elders of the realm decided it was pointless to continue in this attempt to reconcile the cousins for the benefit of the public advantage. Some were of the opinion that the kingdom ought to be divided between them. But this was publicly rejected on the the grounds that a divided kingdom would result in constant civil war. In the end, Romach grew impatient with delay, and in his greed for ruling Scotland he fetched forces from the Pictish kingdom, added to them what men of Scottish nationality he was able to recruit, and declared open war on Angusianus and Fethelmach. Angusianus (to whom Fethelmach had deferred in the management of this thing) thought that nothing ought to be undertaken rashly, and urged the king of the Picts that he should not support a civil war among the Scots, those old friends and allies of the Picts, but rather than he should effect a reconciliation. He should advise his kinsman Romach to adopt a policy of concord rather waging war against his friends out of an unreasonable desire for power, to the public detriment, inasmuch as Romach could easily gain whatever rightly belonged to him in the realm of Scotland without strife and with the good-will of all men.
50. The Pictish king was inclined to recall his forces from Scotland back to Pithland. But, at the urging of some of Romach’s kinsmen who feared lest, if he were to be found bereft of protection, he might be put to death by Angusianus without reproach, he changed his mind and, placing more weight on upholding the right of kinship than keeping his word, he gave an unfavorable response to Angusianus’ requests. This was the reason why the Scottish commoners and nobles who sided with Angusianus and Fethelmach henceforth harbored an implacable grudge against the Picts. Angusius learned from his secret spies that his head was being sought after, assembled an army made up of his friends and supporters, so as at least to avoid death. They fought against their rivals under Romach and were defeated, routed, and scattered, and so Angusianus crossed over to the Hebrides together with his cousin Fethelmach. There he stayed for some time, but when he learned from many signs that the islanders were ill-disposed towards himself and plotting against his life, he cursed their perfidy and crossed over to Ireland to keep himself save. After Angusianus had been conquered and driven out of his country, many nobles went over to Romach, and with their help and guidance he immediately ascended the throne of Scotland. But, as is the way with tyrants, he did a bad job of ruling that which he had badly gained. For he befriended whomever he discovered to have been opposed to the government of King Fincormach (about who I have spoken in a place not far removed from here) and made the most powerful of them the overseers of his government and his bodyguards.
51. Having accomplished these things, he concealed his guilt for his evil deeds, and also his hatred against Fincormach’s family, and elected to make a progress through the districts of Scotland. Everywhere he went, in violation of our ancient national customs, he pronounced hasty judgments against whomever he chose, in accordance with his personal whim and giving precious few a hearing, and confiscated their fortunes. Meanwhile Fincormach’s sons Ethodius and Eugenius, of whom I have already spoken, fled into Westmorland with the help of their friends, lest they die by the savagery of Romach the tyrant, and from there they made their way to the island of Mona. There followed very serious proscriptions, exiles, and the murders of noblemen and others believed to have supported Angusianus, with no respect for either sex or age. The elders of Scotland, not unaware of the king’s perfidy, were angered by such great savagery and tyranny, and dealt with each other by means of secret messengers about restoring the tottering public state of affairs. And to do this more effectively, they industriously set about recruiting an army, so much so that they were scarcely ten miles away before Romach heard of their uprising. The tyrant, striving to avoid the danger, fled towards Pithland, but he was caught and killed by his pursuing enemy, having finally received an end worthy of the beginning of his cruel career. His head, most shamefully carried about all the elders’ forces on a pole, was a welcome sight for one and all. In this commotion, in addition to the supporters of the criminal tyrant, there perished a number of men of Pictish blood, at whose urging he had ruthlessly raged against the Scottish nobility and their fortunes.
52. Romach had shamelessly harassed all his Scottish subjects until the third year of his reign. At that time, hearing that the tyrant had been removed, Angusianus returned to Albion, where, by authority of the nobles and the vote of the commons, by common consent he was declared King of Scots. While Scotland affairs were in this condition, the youth of Britain, grown proud during protracted peace, murdered the Roman legate and his garrisons, and once more restored supreme power in Britain to the aforementioned King Octavius, now an old man, and most towns, cities, castles, and fortifications yielded to him as if he were their rightful master. When scarcely a year had passed (as is recorded by the annals of the Scots and British) Maximus was sent to Albion as legate to suppress this uprising, and to reclaim and retain its loyalty, by Constantius Augustus, the son of Constantine the Great. For his brothers and other tyrants had died of various causes, and he alone remained to rule among the Romans. When he had disembarked his many thousands of armed men, he fought a successful battle against rebel Britons who had rashly marched against him. a little while after he had arrived. Emerging victorious, he had high hopes of recovering the entire province for Roman rule. And King Octavius of the Britons (who as ailing at time, being of a very advanced age) died the third day after learning of the adverse battle, more of chagrin than of disease, leaving behind a single son named Octavius.That man fled to the island of Mona lest he fall to the Romans as a prize, and there, to avoid the traps of the Roman commander, he lived in disguise for a number of years, keeping company with Eugenius and Ethodius. But the Britons did not keep the peace after the loss of a single battle: a little later they rashly took arms and, conquered, were terribly reduced in numbers by a massacre, with many thousands of them slain, even those beyond fighting age. With his victorious army Maximus scoured his provinces, so as to reduce everything to the Romans, and accepted the voluntary surrender of cities, strongholds and forts. But those who stubbornly refused his government, and also places of little account, he plundered and sacked.
53. While Maximus was devoted to these enterprises to protect Roman interests, turmoils in Scotland preoccupied King Angusianus. For King Nectanus of the Picts took up arms to avenge the death of his kinsman Romach, and wasted Scottish fields with numerous incursions, plundered many large and noble places, so that the Scots were obliged to repel the violence of those ravagers with a number of battles, fought with various results. Finally the Picts, reinforced by certain Scots who took Romach’s death hard, moved against their enemy, daily challenging them to battle. But King Angusius negotiated with them by his ambassadors, showing that he was a great devotee of peace and quiet, and asked the Pictish king and commanders to withdraw, so that that, their anger set aside, they might live contentedly within their own borders for the sake of preserving their respective public governments and their common welfare, as had their ancestors with their injuries settled and restitutions made. But when he was given to understand that he had sued for peace in vain, lest he be accused of sloth by his subjects and offer his enemies the opportunity to mock Scotsmen with their arrogance, he assembled his forces and marched against them in good order. After a few skirmishes and single combats they came to blows in a full battle, and the victory fell to Angusianus. In this fight the Picts were turned and put to flight. Every one of their noblemen was killed and King Nectanus slipped out of the unhappy fight and sought safety by flight, and did not stop until he had come to Camelodunum. A few days thereafter, very hot for avenging this setback, he convened a parliament of his nation’s elders, and after peevishly rehearsing the insults inflicted on his kinsman Romach by the Scots, upon his people, and upon himself, he harangued them about mounting a new expedition against the Scots, producing many arguments that the disgrace inflicted on himself and his nation demanded retribution.
54. Certain noblemen had greater devotion to their king than concern for the public welfare, and they vigorously approved of his plan to march against the Scots as soon as possible and to use great force in avenging the injury inflicted on them all. Others were of the opinion that they should delay a little while, so that, with the passage of time, they might more easily gain a better opportunity to gain revenge without exposing themselves or their fortunes to great risk. But in the meeting little importance was attached to their view, so that, after an abundance of military prizes had been bestowed on the leading soldiers by their common decree, King Nectanus held a levy throughout Pithland, Otholina, Vicomagia, Ordolucia, Deira, and the other districts subject to Pictish government. He enlisted every sturdy fellow, and assembled a large army within a small amount of time. He issued an edict to them that, with their customary martial virtue they should prepare for the march, and he himself, defended by a large warlike equipage, headed for Caledonia. When the Pictish king had made his preparations for war in this way, Angusianus, who was foresightful enough in managing his affairs, was to no small degree disturbed by the suspicion that, at Roman urging, the Britons might join themselves with the Picts to the detriment of the Scots. He therefore decided to gather as large an army as possible from all the districts of Scotland for the purpose of repelling the enemies, and to convince King Nectanus to enter into a peace by any means he could. Therefore, by means of a herald, he sent him a letter full of kindness, begging that he be mindful of the ancient friendship between the two peoples and put an end to such a pernicious war. Let Nectanus dictate what terms he saw fit, without running the risk of fighting a war, with no detriment to his own people, just as if he had gained the victory. It was necessary, or rather obligatory, to consider the integrity of both their kingdoms. For in Britain the Roman forces were striving to effect revolutionary change in Britain under the Roman legate Maximus. These forces were the mightiest and most warlike of them, and since Britain had been restored to the empire, partly by force and partly by good-will, they were greatly to be feared by the Scots and Picts, who were consuming themselves by internal seditions. Nectanus should consider whether their common welfare was his concern: if not, he should understand he was working for his own downfall.
55. The Pictish king scorned this wholesome advice and was interested in nothing less than in peace, so he ordered his forces to march against Angusianus. He for his part was vigorous and ready for battle quicker than his enemies imagined, being well aware that he and his nation were obliged either to slink away from their enemy, to their eternal shame, or risk the fortune of war. And so, when the enemy came in sight, with a few words he exhorted his men: if they were feeling any fear, something of which men on the verge of a fight should be entirely free, they should abandon it, and, by recalling their ancestors’ martial virtue, they should regain their high spirits. They should take care that, should it be necessary to die in defeat, they not die unavenged. Nor should it blunt their usual enthusiasm that they were about to fight a nation what was formerly a friend and ally. It was not his fault that their old friendship was not being observed, since he had not omitted anything which might effect a reconciliation. And so he trusted that God, the Author of peace, would stand on the side of the peace-lovers. Using these and similar words, Angusianus led his forces to battle. Nor did the Pictish king refrain from exhortation, with a very few words urging his men to fight fiercely. When he had said this, the archers on both sides began the fight. Then the hurlers of missiles joined in: some shot a great number of stones from their slings, others used their bows, and some cast lances at their enemy. Then the work started to be done with axes and swords. The Picts fought a sharp fight, the Scots resisted them with great stubbornness, and victory long hung in the balance. At length, when it became obvious to Angusianus that his side was failing, he threw away his royal insignia and entered the thick of the fight as an ordinary soldier, where he died after receiving many wounds. Many Scotsmen, imagining that the king had fled rather than died, since his nobles were in confusion, threw their arms away to save their lives and ran off. Others were more steadfast in keeping up the fight, and perished in a great massacre. In this way the Picts gained the day. But the victory was not a happy one for either side, for in that war both had lost their commanders, together with a host of noblemen. So they both went home damning the war, and speaking hard things against the lives and safety of those men who had impious inspired their kings and peoples, neighbors who had for so many years been linked by duty and kinship, always living side-by-side in concord, to take up arms against each other. Thus the power of both the Picts and the Scots was so shattered in this war that peace prevailed, at least for a little while.
56. Meanwhile, when his cousin King Angusianus had been killed in battle after an unhappy reign of two years, collected the remnants of the Scottish army and inherited the throne, with practically nobody objecting. But his reign had no more fortunate outcome than the previous ones of his two cousins. For during the second year of his reign he invaded the Pictish district of Horestia, foully ravaged it, and handled its inhabitants very roughly, making no distinction of their weaker members. Learning of this, the Picts snatched up arms like madmen and swiftly marched against the Scots to avenge this wrong. Nor did the Scotsmen attempt to avoid their onrush, but rather joined battle fiercely and began by routing the wings of the Picts’ army. They quickly surrounded the exposed van and plied their axes so as to defeat it without great difficulty. They routed it, and a dire slaughter was inflicted on the fugitives. King Nectanus of the Picts, the brother of the previous Nectanus, was shot by an arrow and died three days later of the wound’s agony. Elated by this fresh victory, the Scots lay waste to Horestia and hastened over the river Tay for the purpose of ravaging Otholinia. But the Picts, steadfastly protecting their land and its wealth, employed a sound counsel (albeit one adopted late in the day), and vexed their enemy by light skirmishes, preventing them from capturing any town, fort, or stronghold.
57. Then, so that their affairs would not suffer undue harm, and so that someone could protect the realm in all respects, they chose as their king Heirgustus, a canny man endowed with a sly nature. Since their strength had been weakened, he distrusted his ability to overcome the Scots who had invaded the Picts’ lands in an open fight. And so he bribed two men of Pictish blood to pretend to be Scotsmen and murder King Fethelmach. These men were skilled at throwing darts, a favorite sport of Fethelmach, and, becoming his companions, they daily awaited a chance to kill the king. Fethelmach happened to be at Caractonium, devoting great expense to preparing the things needful for making war against his enemies. And, when he had drawn out a conference about these affairs with his nation’s elders until late in the night, he dismissed them all and retired to his bedchamber. There he bade his harpist play something sweet to lull him to sleep (a custom of noble folk in those time). And when he was sleeping soundly, these hired murders were by prearrangement admitted to his chamber by the harpist, where they killed the slumbering sovereign, who deeply groaned when he received his wound. The soldiers stationed outside the bedroom door, learning of this from the noise, pursued the fleeing assassins to a nearby mountain. Their fear soon transformed into boldness, they cast down a great quantity of stones against their pursuers, so that many were hurt and obliged to descend into the deep valley below at breakneck speed. The murderers were nevertheless caught by the soldiers, who had struggled up the mountain, and when they were put to the question they confessed the whole scheme. Tied to horses driven in different directions, their limbs were pulled apart and they gave up the ghost. The harpist was likewise taken and compelled to suffer the same punishment for his crime.
58. The murder of King Fethelmach occurred during the fifth year of the Roman emperor Constantius following the death of his brother Constans, which was the third year of Fethelmach’s reign. In those times, in addition to many men endowed with a deep understanding of divine matters, there were those distinguished in various departments of learning: the orator Victorinus, the grammarian Donatus (St. Jerome’s professor), and Alcinous and Delphidius, both famous philosophers and orators. They had contemporaries who were devotees of true piety: Eusebius, a very keen opponent of the Jews and the pagans, Eriphilus, the first to publish a commentary on Solomon’s Song of Songs, Antony, an Egyptian monk who at about this time died in the desert (according to St. Jerome, he lived to be one hundred and twenty), whose memory is worshiped by posterity throughout the world. Among those of our nation were Damian the presbyter, the deacons Gelasius, Thebaculus, and Merinatus (the last of whom was Damian’s brother), and the monks Nerius, Eusebius, Merinus, Macchabaeus, and Sylveneus, and many others notable for their sanctity. Some of these came with Regulus Albatus, a very pious man, when, in accordance with divine instruction, he brought the relics of St. Andrew the apostle to Albion, and arrived at Otholinia, which was a Pictish region at the time. Regulus was a Greek monk who haled from Achaea, the father and teacher of many men devoted to true piety in the city of Patras, the principal of those who had been appointed guardians of the relics of St. Andrew by edict of the emperor Constantine, who himself was guided by his wonderful piety. And while he was keeping vigil at his desk, he was instructed by heaven that he must take the bone of the saint’s holy arm, together with three fingers and the same number of toes, decently enclose them in a reliquary, and travel to the island of Albion, located at the end of the earth, for it was destined that someday a people, inspired by their pious veneration of St. Andrew, would attain grace thanks to God’s benevolence and the saint’s support both on earth and in heaven.
59. At first Regulus stood stock-still, amazed by the strangeness of the thing. Soon, intent on obeying his divine commands, he took up the relics of the venerable apostle and reverently deposited then in the vase, and at night, in the company of a few men of especial piety who had been recipients of that heavenly admonition, he found a small boat provided (as is thought) for that purpose by divine help, and set sail at night from the harbor nearest Patras. After a long cruise across the Mediterranean, he arrived at Lusitania. But he did not stay there long: assembling the things which seemed necessary for a sea-voyage, he quit Lusitania, and, having variously wandered the Cantaberian, Gallic and Germ Seas, at length he fetched up as a shipwreck at the harbor of a certain village of Otholinia (which is now called St. Andrews, named after the apostle), having lost all his possessions other than those holy things in a storm, together with all his companions on the voyage. Report of this event spread abroad throughout the Pictish territories, and inspired many men with a desire to visit the apostle’s sacred relics, and so they came a-flocking from all directions, bearing precious gifts for Christ’s apostle. Their King Heirgustus also came out of a desire to see the things of which he had heard. Regulus and his associates greeted the arriving king with hymns and canticles, dressed in their religious habit, and with an escort of priests and monks. The king prostrated himself and kissed the holy relics with great veneration. When Mass had been said in the Christian way (and Heirgustus was a most punctual Christian), he freely bestowed his royal palace, ennobled by its ample structure (at least as ample as that age of the world allowed), to St. Andrew, where henceforth Regulus and his priests might live in close association with God Almighty. And not far from the palace he built a church dedicated to St. Andrew. It is said that this is the same one we see today, venerated by one and all, standing in the middle of a field and used as a burial-place for the canons, filled (as one can see) with old-fashioned monuments, but ones lacking inscriptions. An earlier age called this Kirkruil (which means the Church of St. Regulus, or more likely the church built at St. Regulus’ behest), but later ages call the Old Church of St. Andrews. And he outfitted that church with very lavish gifts: patens, cups, chalices, basins, and lavaboes of silver and gold, and other precious furniture for use in services, and he installed priests to say Mass in perpetuity.
60. A long series of kings, first Pictish, and then, after the Picts had been eradicated, Scottish, have piously followed the example set by Heirgustus in regarding St. Andrew as the national patron saint. And the church, and the cathedral and monastery (nowadays they call it the abbey) were lavishly endowed with estates, fields, revenues, edifices, and priestly benefices by Malcolm, great-grandson of St. Margaret the queen (who, because he refrained from venery for all his life, was nicknamed The Maiden) and Robert Bruce. The abbey there has been restored in our time by the effort and industry of a man greatly ennobled by both his pedigree and his virtue, the abbot John Hepburn (whom they call its prior), who restored the fabric to its pristine appearance when it was an tumbledown condition because of old age, and built many other structures from the foundations upward, together with a larger basilica (and there is none fairer for divine offices) decorated with interior ornamention acquired at great expense, and surrounded the abbey with a wall made of dressed stone and wonderfully adorned with many towers and ramparts. This wall also encloses an addition (commonly called St. Leonards) where novices and other boys of the same age learn their ABC’s from preceptors and are educated in religious obedience, and the sacred and humane branches of learning, so that the monastery itself is brilliantly distinguished, being excellently filled with sons to whom it itself has played the nursemaid. When founded, it was originally populated by those popularly called Honorers of God or Culdees, and latterly by men of the discipline of St. Augustine, whom the common people call regular canons, and among both kinds there have been men distinguished, not only for their learning but for their proven virtues and devotion to true piety. Even today they have no greater concern than that the rites be performed duly and in a religious way, and that the things pertinent to the divine rule of their Order are properly observed, and also that, when they are granted leisure from their divine duties, that letters be studied with extreme diligence. The result is that, if you consider their literary exercise, with the young studying under their elders who are, so to speak, veteran soldiers in the camp of learning, you would say that their pursuit of every branch of learning is distinguished.
61. If you were to consider their divine worship, as conducted either at night or during the day, you would say nothing else than that they all perform their offices of devotional piety towards God Almighty with a music that is nearly divine, so well do they perform each and every one of their offices. Should you turn your eyes to the capaciousness of their edifice, you would think that, in regard to that manner of glory, it is second to nothing in Italy, France, Germany, or Albion, so nobly does its royal magnificence and virtues shine forth. In the year before this work of mine (of whatever quality it may be) was written, not without a great loss to the Scots and the republic of letters, the fates took away John, the abbot of this aforesaid place, who was responsible for such noble things. He is praiseworthy, among other things, because, before leaving this human existence, he appointed his nephew Patrick, an earnest and learned man, as his successor, who happily brought to a conclusion the things he himself had so nobly started. The year in which the relics of St. Andrew were transported from the city of Patras in Achaea to Albion was the year after the virgin birth 369.
62. A little before these things I have said about St. Andrews transpired, when King Fethelmach had passed out of this human existence, by decree of the nobles his son Eugenius was summoned from the island of Mona, where he had been eluding the savagery of the tyrants Romach, Angusianus, and Fethelmach, together with his brother Ethodius, and, with the approval of one and all, was declared king. At the same time Maximus, who was acting as Roman legate in Britain, learning of the great grudges the Scots and the Picts were nursing against each other, was desirous of destroying both nations so as to extend the Roman empire, and retain the provincial Britons, free of attacks by their neighbors, in their loyalty. He devised a misrepresentation that would offer the opportunity of ruining, first, the Scots, and then the Picts. So he sent ambassadors to King Heirgustus of the Picts, to say to him that the legate had heard, not without indignation that the Scots, a wild nation from its very outset harmful to its neighbors, was waging very violent war against the Picts, a people who were friends of the Romans. He himself wanted nothing more than, by means of a new treaty, to reaffirm his old peace with the Picts, a people whom the Romans had always regarded favorably. It would be doubtless be the case that, thanks to the the addition of the Britons and the Romans, they would be strengthened for subduing, or, if they preferred, for wholly exterminating those ancient enemies. For this reason they should renew their old friendship and persist in it, especially because he knew for certain that the downfall of the very wild Scottish nation would be highly conducive, not just to the security of the Britons, the Picts, or the Roman empire, but to that of the entire world. King Heirgustus gave his great thanks, and replied that this embassy was very welcome to himself and the entire nation of the Picts. He felt great gratitude to Almighty God because, in His kindness He had such regard for Pictish affairs, so often vexed by their enemy and for this reason suffering amidst no little danger, that by the free accession of the masters of the world, he would henceforth be able to ward off and check Scottish harm. He and the nobles of his nation were most willing to enter into friendship with the Romans, and to renew their old peace with them on whatever conditions they chose, as long as they were honorable once, and to enter into a new pact. He only prayed that the legate would not be reluctant to give them aid against the very savage nation of the Scots and avenge the insults they had suffered in this impious war, when the need arose.
63. The Roman agreed to the Picts’ request, happy to have convinced King Heirgustus. For he thought that in this way he was fostering Roman interests in Albion. After a few days had passed, Maximus himself met in conference with King Heirgustus at an appointed place not far from Eboracum, where treated the Pictish king to a lengthy disquisition about the Romans’ good-will towards their allies and confederates, as displayed by their great expenditures and exhibitions of martial virtue, and about Scottish perfidy and plundering, as he recounted the injuries they had inflicted on the Picts and the Britons. He easily convinced the Pict that, with a new treaty created, the Scottish nation should henceforth be regarded as the common enemy of the Picts, Britons, and Romans. Such a treaty was created and peace established on agreed-upon terms, and both of them retired home. After these things had been done, the legate Maximus sent a herald to Eugenius King of Scots, commanding that he make reparations for damages done the Picts: he should restore the property taken from Pictish territory and hand over the men responsible for the damage to King Heirgustus for punishment, or else he and his nation would have Caesar and the Roman people itself for enemies. King Eugenius replied that since the time he entered into his reign he had in no respect harmed the Romans or those Britons who remained loyalty to them, so that nothing could be more unjust than for the Romans to take up arms against himself or his people. Nor had the Picts done anything to make themselves so meritorious to the Romans that at their urging Maximus should impiously wage war on a nation that had done him no wrong, for a trumped-up reason. As long as peace with the Picts was obtaining, he would be willing to make reparations for the harms committed on either side and, in accordance with his national law, fine future wrongdoers. But if the Romans, in company with the Picts, had nevertheless made up their minds to visit war on the undeserving Scots, he commended himself and the safety of his realm to God Almighty, that most just Avenger of impiety, and he vowed he would omit nothing which pertained to the liberty of himself and his subjects, since it was as plain as day to him that the Romans were harboring hostile plans against the Picts as well as the Scots.
64. When Maximus had heard Eugenius’ response, he assembled a numerous army composed of Romans, Britons, and Gallic auxiliaries, and, in conjunction with the forces of the Picts, a little later he befouled Westmorland with great killing and devastation, taking many of its castles and fortifications, and placing strong Roman garrisons in them. Then he took all his forces and marched into Ordovicia (present-day Annandale), ruining its crops and either killing or routing its inhabitants after despoiling them of their fortunes, and burned their villages. Leaving their fields stripped bare, he afterwards moved against Galdia, where he did not fail to exercise every form of tyranny and was a great terror to one and all. The Scots greatly dreaded their Roman, Pictish and Gallic enemy all the more, because they had never seen such a great army thus assembled. But, confronted by these ultimate dangers, Eugenius had recruited an army from all the districts of Scotland, and marched against the enemy with great spirit and ferocity. At the river Cree (a name it still retains) our men were immediately put to flight and routed at the first collision by the mighty of their enemies, being far fewer in number. There was great killing along the riverbank, and the river itself was filled with bodies. Pursuing the scattered fugitives, the Romans became engaged in an unexpected fight. For the men of Argathelia, who had not yet come to their king, were unaware of all that had transpired as they marched against the Romans. Seeing the runaways, they attacked the Romans wearing a fierce look and raising a great shout and commotion, and they did bloody work. So the recently-bested Scots returned to the fight, and obliged the victors to rescue themselves by taking to their heels. When nightfall at length deprived them of their ability to see, they abandoned the chase and the fighting. This was the outcome of the first day’s conflict. Even though more Scotsmen had fallen, the Romans, being ignorant of their enemies’ plans, did not know whether, with their reinforcements, they intended to engage in a battle by night, or wait for daytime, or make their escape. So that they would have protection ready against all eventualities, they expended great effort on fortifying their camp. During the night, King Eugenius summoned his nobles. Since he perceived that his men, afflicted by the recent slaughter, could not withstand such great enemy force, out of concern for the public safety he broke camp and picked up all his warlike equipment. Together with a handful of nobles and their courtiers, but sending the rest home together with the commoners and postponing the fight until a more opportune time, he hastened to Caricta, where he formed plans for dealing with every possible eventuality of war and anxiously awaited the outcome. On the dawn of the following day, although the legate Maximus had intended to pursue his enemy in full force, he was diverted from his intention by a letter sent him form Kent, informing him of quarrels between the provincials that had arisen in Britain. He left behind a strong garrison in in Galdia, together with a very well-provisioned portion of his forces, and he himself made a swift return to Kent within a few days.
65. These were nearly all the things accomplished by the legate Maximus during the first year of his expedition against the Scots. In the following year upheavals in Britain prevented the legate from participating in the expedition himself, and mutual incursions and ravishment preoccupied the Roman provincials and Scots. For after many vain attempts to free Galdia from Roman tyranny and restore it to their own rule, the Scots roamed the Pictish regions of Vicomagia and Otolinia, laying everything low with fire and the sword, pulling down castles, burning villages and crops, and denuding those districts of their people and property. Emboldened by their successes, they rashly imagined everything would turn out as well as these things had. Receiving report of these things, the legate Maximus feigned anger, although there was nothing he would have rather heard than Scottish damage done to Picts. In the following summer, having settled affairs in Britain, he went to Galdia with great forces, intending to move on Siluria and the other Scottish districts. Eugenius came there too: since his strength was increasing daily, he had decided to confront the enemy. In accordance with their ancient national custom, men and also women capable of bearing arms came to their king, having been levied for this national emergency. They say that in the end about fifty thousand men belonged to Eugenius’ army, fierce of disposition and now clamoring for a battle, loudly shouting that on that day they would either overcome their ancient deadly enemy or all die while fighting bravely.
66. Meanwhile the Romans were ravaging their way through Galdia, inflicting bloody slaughter on its rustics, old men, and those women who were prevented from fleeing by their sex or feeble strength. But, when he heard of Eugenius’ equipage for war, Maximus abandoned Galdia and marched on Siluria. Eugenius was not far from the bank of the river Munda, when he was suddenly informed by his scouts that the Romans were no more than five miles away, in much greater numbers than had been observed in the recent battle in Galdia. Some men were very frightened by this news, but others preferred any manner of death to servitude, since they hated nothing more than Roman tyranny, and this emboldened them all the more. King Eugenius maintained a calm expression to feign hope, as if he dreaded nothing less than Roman arms, and drew up his army for battle, dividing it into three parts. He appointed his brother Ethodius captain of one of its wings, and set Doalus, the chieftain of Argathelia, over the other, and he himself led the van. He stationed them all in such a way that at evening, when he imagined it would be necessary to fight, the sun would be in his enemies’ eyes, and the fight would be go harder for them, since they would be able to see little if anything. Then he is said to have stood on a hill and addressed his host with these words:
7. “Our ancestors, who with their great exertions founded this kingdom of Scotland and continued it down to this present day, after a long series of vicissitudes, have by their lives and deaths taught their posterity that they must take up arms and fight to the end to protect this soil, this fatherland and its liberty, the gift of our supreme God, against those who would work harm against it. They must stay hopeful and be obedient to the nobles of the realm and those most excellent within it, since it is by their protection that our army, our wealth, our kingdom, together with all its monuments are preserved intact. Down to this time, those who have preceded us in this nation, hitherto unconquered, have happily heeded the precepts of their forefathers. So, if they have often fought against the masters of the world with varying fortune, in the end they have proved victorious, their enemy vanquished. War impends, as you see, my most brave men, with these same enemies most unjustly waging it who did so against our ancestors. And so we must either imitate those ancestors by joining battle with great vigor, scorning every manner of death, or henceforth live in servitude at the whim of those enemies, having lost our kingdom and being deprived of our liberty. The cruelest of all enemies is at hand, bent on immediately despoiling us of our government, our liberty, and all our fortunes, if we do not take counsel for our safety by using our weapons and hands, with the help of our most just God. As you can see, this man, endowed with a cunning, sly character, has leagued himself with the Picts against us so as to induce either nation to destroy the other, and reduce all of Albion to Roman rule. The Picts are marching alongside their professed enemies, who are hot to despoil them of their kingdom and their liberty, to do battle against those who would defend their liberty and prevent their absorption into the empire, and against those who would greatly desire them to consult for their best interest, if only they would be heedful of their own safety. But some evil demon is preventing them: they have no idea how much evil and destruction they are inviting by fighting this impious war, nor in what peril their public liberty is standing, or, if they they do have some idea, they have not considered it closely.
68. “And furthermore (and this greatly touches on our situation) you must understand that our enemies, who have suffered no harm at our hands, have declared against a war that is impious and (as is reasonable to suppose) a war that is justly offensive in the sight of God Almighty, Who cannot help but be outraged at unjust men. And on the other hand, you must think that you are about to fight on behalf of your nation and your liberty, protecting them from harm, and that you are the grandsons of those who drove the Romans away from your homes, to your great glory. And we have come to the pass that we must either live in the greatest misery if we are conquered, or procure ourselves honor, glory, liberty, and enduring homes, in the name of our ancient ancestors’ zeal for their nation and liberty, then, in the name of the shades, the virtue and fidelity of those who have by so many and such great efforts protected this kingdom and these homes safe and sound from their enemies, I beg and beseech you not to allow yourselves, the progeny of men who once so abounded with virtue, to be deprived of your kingdom, your liberty, and the rest of your fortunes, and, according to the whim of your enemies, be dragged to your executions or kept alive as a source of mockery, helpless and despoiled of all your goods, and submit to shameful servitude, having been handed over alive into your enemies’ power. If it chances that Fortune runs against us and you must die, you must do so (and this is within your power) in such a way that you go to meet it manfully, in the manner of your ancestors, stoutly avenging your death upon your enemy, being mindful that it is more worthwhile to die in battle with honor, than basely to continue living. You must realize that you are descended, by a long line of generations, from ancestors endowed with incredible martial virtue, and are the heirs no less of your forefathers’ ancestral probity than of their ’ homes, being no random assortment of men, but born of a single race, devotees of the right and the just. You are the hereditary dependents of God Almighty, Whose faith you piously observe, and He is undoubtedly bound to award the triumph to His worshippers as the reward for their virtue, and to deny it to our enemies, who conduct their struggle by treachery and wiles. So gird yourselves for battle and victory with that innate virtue which is yours by right, be of steadfast mind, fearing nothing other than base flight. Be hopeful that you are going to inflict a sad, wretched slaughter on your enemies, the same that they intend to inflict on yourselves.”
69. When Eugenius had filled his host’s minds with high hopes for joining battle by these words, or words that were surely not much different, it was announced, to everybody’s consternation, that Maximus was at hand with his forces. For he had learned from his scouts of Eugenius’ device in drawing up his line of battle, and moved against his enemy more swiftly than was his original intention, so that he came into sight of the Scots sooner than anticipated, at about sunrise. At first, our men were terrorized by the number of the enemy and their great reputation for martial virtue. And yet, since their ultimate fate was at hand, they elected to try their strength against the enemy. And so, having scarcely taken the time to set their ranks in order, so that the would not be dazzled by the sunlight, they dashed against their enemy. This presented the legate Maximus with great difficulty in performing the duties of a good general. And so, pressed for time and by his enemies’ rash onrush, he set his battle-line in order at a run, briefly exhorting his men to be mindful of their old virtue and calmly received the attack; nor should they fear barbarians who had recently been overwhelmed and scattered. And, since his enemy had come within range of javelins and arrows, he excitedly gave the signal to join battle. Our men were so ready for a fight that those carrying axes started fighting against the Roman slingers when they had scarcely gotten off a shot, heeding their rage more than good martial order. There was a great noise of arms and onrushing feet, as with a great shout, as in accordance with Scottish tradition, they cried the name of King Galdus, who had overcome a Roman army nearly to the point of extermination, and encouraged each other to imitate his example. And so they came to blows with the legate’s forces.
70. At their first collision the fighting was so hot that it was almost impossible to tell which side was inflicting the greater damage. There followed various turns of events: the men of Cornana, Lugia, Martha, and the others stationed on the right wing, presided over by Ethodius, drove from their positions the greatly-wounded Picts stationed oppose them, so as to gain honor and glory for themselves and their captain, and drove them into the river Dune. When they tried to cross the river at a ford, the Scots killed a large number of them who had become stuck in the mud. They soon came back to plunder, making a proud and insolent show as if the victory had already been gained and everything were safe. Attacked in the rear by a Roman legion sent by Maximus to help the highly-endangered Picts, they were killed almost to the last man. On the right wing the men of Argathelia, the Lelgones, Silures, and those who had come to the fight from Galdia battled against some Britons, Gauls, and Germans, and after cruel work had been done by both sides, they stood to it manfully and sought an honorable death for the sake of their nation and liberty. And then, at Maximus’command, the enemy banded together and with great force attacked the exposed center, where Eugenius and many of his nobles, almost done in by exhaustion, were fighting. Our men resisted as long as their strength endured, lest they prefer disgraceful flight and a shameful life to virtue. Eugenius was warned by those who stood nearest him that he should resort to flight to preserve himself for a better fortune, but he refused. Some tried to remove him by force for the sake of the public safety, but he put up a stubborn resistance, and, casting aside his royal emblems, set took his place among men of the humblest rank and died, having received many wounds. Nearly all the Scottish nobles perished, because they imitated King Eugenius’ example in scorning death, doggedly setting themselves in opposition to the Roman empire. This was the way in which Eugenius lost both kingship and life, in the third year of his reign. Very few men escaped the dire slaughter, and virtually no women. While Eugenius’ army was being cruelly cut down by the enemy, the common folk who had been charged with protecting the army’s baggage from robber’s sallies, wore light armor, but in our national way were carrying axes. Seeing so many brave men being cut down before their eyes, they felt pity and, lest they themselves survive the tragedy, they were determined to die to the last man. Armed with their rage, they abandoned the baggage and joined battle with the victorious Romans. They inflicted a great slaughter, more by their stubbornness than any martial virtue. But they were thrown into disarray and driven back, and finally put to the sword. The baggage was rifled and shared out among the soldiers, in accordance with Roman custom.
71. While the Romans were doggedly hunting down some scattered enemy fugitives, they became engaged in a strange kind of fight. For those old men and women who had seemed unfit for battle because of their old age, feeling anxiety about their children’s fortune, followed those who had gone off to war, but always kept back a long distance. Seeing such a massacre of their loved ones, they forgot their age and sex, and boldly snatched up swords, of which a large number lay about the field. They formed a fighting line and boldly joined battle against the Romans. The women came on, shrieking horrible insults against their enemy. Then with a wild howl, like so many wild beasts, they struck at their enemy. But these old men and crones were overcome with ease, since they refused to flee and were killed while freely exposing themselves to wounds. After their victory, the Romans passed a disorderly and fearful night. Their soldiers were not commanded to keep within their camp, since they were undisturbed by any fear of the enemy, nor to preserve military discipline. The hills, the valleys, and all the flatland resounded in the night with a piteous clamor. The horrendous groans of the dying could be heard, and the voices of men cursing the Romans’ empire, damning the battle, and railing against their misfortune. But there was none of them who, even while dying did not speak out against the perfidy of the Picts and Romans, who were responsible for inflicting so great a massacre on a nation that had deserved no ill of them. When the day dawned, the legate Maximus shared out the spoils of the dead among his soldiers, as was the custom. And, so as not to appear to be departing from ancient Roman tradition of clemency, allowed those found alive on the battlefield to be given to his physicians for healing, and the bodies of the dead to be buried. He arranged an expensive funeral for Eugenius, in the style of those of Roman rulers, and delivered a funeral oration praising his singular virtue and patriotism. Eugenius’ brother Ethodius (who I mentioned a little earlier) was discovered in an almost lifeless condition, having suffered many wounds, and Maximus commanded that he be tended with scrupulous care. He passed through Siluria, Caledonia, and adjoining Scottish districts, receiving their surrender and receiving their inhabitants’ oaths of loyalty with clemency, allowing them to keep their fortunes and live in peace.
72. King Heirgistus and the Pictish elders took his reply very much amiss, for they were eager to eradicate the Scottish nation entirely. Hearing of this, the legate Maximus responded that it was the mark of Roman majesty to spare the conquered, and to fight against rebels, but to conquer them more by kindness than arms. Nothing would do more to sully Roman glory than harshly to inflict new punishment on a nation that had been defeated by force, reduced to obedience, and was begging for the protection of Caesar and the senate. Scottish evildoing against the Romans and their allies was sufficiently avenged, since their king had been killed, their forces scattered and their power destroyed, and he had received the surrender of all the districts he desired. Nor, unless they were to engage in a new uprising, was he willing to inflict any other kind of punishment on them than that that which our most just God had visited on them in recent battle, and he surely believed that He Himself pitied them for their misfortune. The Pictish elders and their king were more provoked by this response than assuaged from their anger. With a speech and many arguments they urged the legate, that if he were to consult for the welfare of the Picts, he would put the Scots to death throughout Albion, since the Scottish nation was uncouth and unmanageable, a professed enemy of faith and piety: it rejoiced in nothing more than making trouble for allies of the Roman people, and plundering and pillaging their neighbors. According to an ancient oracle, this nation had been born for the destruction of the Picts. In this way and no other would the Romans and their allies live quietly in Albion. When at first they were unable to obtain this, they took another tack with the legate, invented new lies, and corrupted him with bribes (which easily motivate men to do wrong). They finally obtained his decree that all men of Scottish blood in Albion who wished to do so might ransom their lives by going in to voluntary exile. The Scots would be prescribed, and their regions handed over to the loyalist Britons and Picts for colonization.
73. And so, on a day appointed by decree of the legate for their departure from Albion, a great number of Scots went into exile. Some of them went to the Hebrides, to Ireland, or the Orkneys, and others departed for Norway or Denmark. Some joined Roman soldiers in Gaul, and then passed on to Italy to serve as mercenaries under the emperors. At that time some noblewomen, who had lost their husbands in the recent battle, came dressed in mourning, and, tearfully and with humility, begged the legate that by his permission it might be allowed them to remain in Albion, their native land, to the end of their poor lives, in a servile condition, since they could fare no better. Here they could be buried alongside their husband, they pleaded, and they would do nothing else but spend their life in tearfully mourning their blighted lives, their husbands, children, and kinsmen who had died on behalf of liberty. At Maximus’ command the women’s pious complaints were referred to the Pictish elders by a herald, to determine what they thought should be done in such a piteous situation. They all opposed it, because those noblewomen had been proscribed along with everybody else. The result was that henceforth the legate detested the Picts’ manners, as being excessively cruel and inhumane. However, in accordance with the Picts’ opinion, whatever Scotsman was discovered in Albion after the day appointed for the exile was subject to dire punishments and died a cruel death, with no protection supplied by that person’s age or sex.
74. At that time, spies discovered Cartandis Queen of Scots, at the tomb of King Eugenius, together with two handmaidens and a single servant, almost dead with grief. She was arrested, but without any harm being inflicted, since she was British by birth, being a daughter of the ruler of the Cambrians. Mindful of human misfortunes, Maximus took pity on the afflicted woman and went to meet her. When she prostrated herself at his feet, he lifted her up and gently consoled her, telling her to be of good cheer, and vowing to treat her as if she were his sister. Then, having given her ornate and handsome garments, he bestowed on her Caractonium, an ancient Scottish royal city, and allowed her to take from the surrounding farmlands whatever revenue she required for her sustenance. Cartandis, scarcely unaware of how far she had fallen from high estate, submitted to the yoke of slavery amd bade the legate farewell. While she was preparing for her journey to a country estate not far from Caractonium, and was out of sight of the encamped Roman soldiers, she was taken by some Pictish robbers, her servant was killed, her handmaidens given a savage beating, and she was despoiled of her money, clothing, and all womanly ornaments. As soon as the indignity of the thing became known to the legate, he found the robbers and put them to death, and had Queen Cartandis fetched back with a large escort. He restored her finery to her, and kept her with himself for several days, setting a guard over her as a precaution lest anybody tamper with her chastity. On the following day, Pictish ambassadors appeared before the legate, lodging grave complaints that by his command their own soldiers had been executed, at the urging of a woman and an enemy. The Picts scarcely deserved such of the Romans, since they had fought almost to the point of destruction for the sake of extending their empire, against people who until almost that very day day had been their friends and allies. They therefore urged that Cartandis herself be banished to Britain, from whence she came, stripped of all her fortunes, in accordance with the decree. When they said this, the woman shrieked that she was wretched, having lost her husband and friends, but she would be far more so if, forbidden to serve her enemies as a slave, she should be forced to spend every waking day with her parents, to her great shame. Better to spend the rest of her live honoring the deaths of very brave man, than violate the ordinances of fate appearing in public in great estate, like her parents: henceforth she preferred a private and servile life, not riches and fineries. And when she poured forth many tears and stretched out her hands to the legate, begging that she either be put to death or be allowed to live in her own way, the Romans felt great pity, as many of them were deeply moved by this upright woman’s misfortunes. The Picts’ advice was publicly rejected, and it was permitted Cartandis to live wherever she wished as a free woman, with estates being granted her to support her in a manner that suited her dignity.
75. In those days all of Christ’s priests and monks who were of Scottish nationality went into exile. A large part of them fetched up in the Hebrides and founded a holy monastery on the island of Iona, famous down to this very day for its many men consecrated to true piety. It cannot be detemrined whether the men or the women are mightier in their piety, since they live a holy life in cloisters. Springing from humble origins, over many centuries this monastery has become more brilliant, subsequently having estates presented to it by the pious for the support of its inmates, and receiving royal grants. A little later it became the common burial-place of the kings of Scotland. And this proscription did not spare Ethodius, Eugenius’ brother, who, as I have related, was healed together with the other captives by the kindness of Maximus. For while he was in the hands of the physicians the Picts frequently sought to murder him by guile, but when he was restored to health together with the other wounded, Maximus banished him from Albion and extracted an oath that he would not live in the Hebrides, Ireland, the Orkneys, or any other place from which he could easily return to work mischief. The result was that he hired a boat and crossed over to Norway or Denmark, The year in which the Scots were evicted by Roman arms was the year of the incarnation 379, the year 712 of the kingdom of the Scots, and the second year of the principate of Julianus Augustus, who received the nickname The Apostate because, alone of all emperors after Constantine the Great, he turned his back on true piety. In the year before King Eugenius fought against Maximus, various prodigies seen in the extreme corner of Albion stuck many men with fear. Burning swords and axes were seen to move over long stretches of the nighttime sky. Then they combined into one giant torch, and finally vanished. The Dune ran with water mixed with blood, much fire danced along its banks, an incredible host of small birds dropped from the sky like rain, and when they fell to earth there were quickly devoured by a large number of stags that had collected there. And when some soothsayers and witches pronounced that these things portended the downfall of the kingdom of the Scots, they were mocked by the priests for saying vain things, and henceforth prevented from shamelessly babbling such stuff.
76. And so, when the war had been won by the Romans and all Scotsmen had either been banished from Albion or hunted down and executed, the Hebridians, who had heard that Eugenius brother Ethodius had escaped their clutches and crossed over to Denmark with no hope of returning to his kingdom, were eager to restore the realm. So they gathered their forces, appointed a fellow countryman named Gillo their captain, and crossed over to Argathelia for the sake of plundering. While they were there, carelessly roaming the fields to do their work, they were killed to the last man by some Picts who had been sent there as a protection for its new inhabitants. Their ships were captured and towed to bays and harbors where they would be sheltered from storms, to serve the purposes of the victors, should a war against the Scots arise. Then the Hebridians, who had suffered a double catastrophe, refrained from troublemaking, since they lacked the resources to repair their army. And the Scots who had fetched up in Ireland to avoid the victor’s wrath (for a great number of those banished from Albion by decree of Maximus had fled there), tearfully came before their king and the national elders, and in quavering tones complained that Eugenius King of Scots and his entire nation, second to none in boldness and readiness, had been attacked by the Romans, Britons, and Picts in an impious war; their bravest had been put to the sword and been reduced to the worst of evils; such savagery and cruelty had been exercised against the rest that neither those helpless because of their age or sex had been spared. They had rescued themselves from this dire tragedy by flight or in whatever other way they could save themselves, and gone to foreign lands as proscribed exiles, far from their homeland, and lacking all things needful for human use, destined to live the life of slaves so as to support themselves, since they could not do so in a better way. Their noble realm, ancient and mighty, preserved by so many noble captains and such great efforts although it was very often subjected to enemy attack, had until that very day been kept safe and sound from insatiable Roman greed. But now it, with its inhabitants either expelled or killed off, it had become a prize for Pictish and Roman perfidy. They therefore prayed that the Irish be mindful of the affection and feelings of kinship for their children which nature, that best mother, had instilled in parents, and supply help against these cruelest of all enemies, lest the the Scottish nation, which had once been transferred from Ireland to Albion, gained a kingdom, and strenuously held on to it for more than seven hundred years, be brought to an end, having been destroyed by Roman arms and being an object of hatred to all nations, since they had come to the Irish as if to their most safe and sacred anchorage and ultimate refuge, now that ultimate disasters were oppressing them.
77. The Irish elders took pity on the misfortune of a kindred nation and decreed that ten thousand men, together with the Scotsmen, should be sent to Albion to fight their enemies and recover their kingdom. A little later, together with the Scottish refugees in Ireland, these were borne to Siluria, where they worked great killing against the Picts and Britons who had occupied that district after the Scots had been banished. At news of this, there came into Siluria various bands recruited from Pictish districts, under the command of Heirdorstanus, the brother of King Heirgustus of the Picts. But these were scattered by the Scottish and Irish with little difficulty, and those who did not rescue themselves by flight were put to the sword. There were some who urged the victors that fortune’s laws should not be rashly tested, and that after their happy victory they should go back to Ireland with the plunder of men and cattle won in Siluria, keeping everything safe against better days: they should not await the Roman forces, for among those who had any awareness of human affairs, there were none who would not adjudge it foolhardy to come to blows with Roman forces, far superior to all other nations in their wealth and martial ability. Others were of the opinion that they should pursue their good fortune by taking their forces and marching on Galdia or Vicomagia, from which the Scots had been expelled, and occupying those regions by force, after killing off their inhabitants. There was no doubt that their happy success would match its beginnings: they had often heard how very plentiful forces had been defeated by small bands of fighting men as they were working their harm. Therefore they should raise their hopes for a happy outcome. They repeatedly said that either their ancestral kingdom should be regained, or they should all die in battle.
78. They collected their forces and adopted this plan as being superior to the other, and turned their attention to occupying the districts of Siluria, Galdia, and Vicomagia. But their attempt had no better success than that of the Hebridians before them, since in the midst of their campaign they were sorely defeated by the Romans and Picts, called to arms by report of their recent reversal. At the first report of this tragedy, everybody in Ireland was stricken with great sorrow. And when the had learned the tale of everything done in Albion from those who had survived battle by flight and come home, for some days the leading men of Hibernia, in the company of their king, sat from sunrise to sunset in a special place reserved for that purpose, consulting how and by what means the victorious Romans might be resisted, and the realm in Albion might be restored to their kindred people, the Scots. But when nobody had found a sure remedy for this, with each man greatly fearing for himself and his realm, they chose to sue for peace with the Romans, disregarding all wrongs suffered. Ambassadors were sent to the Roman leader Maximus to accomplish this. At first he harshly rebuked them because they had sent auxiliaries against the Romans and their allied confederates, especially since, down to that very day, Ireland was the world’s single realm untouched by Roman arms. Then he mercifully granted them peace in accordance with their request, but with the conditions added that henceforth they should admit no enemies of the Roman people into the kingdom of Ireland, nor supply aid to those who declared war against the Romans and their allied confederates, and henceforth no impious Irishman would cross over to Albion, even for the purpose of commerce. When the peace on these conditions had been cemented by a firm oath, the Irish remained quiet, undertaking no expedition against Albion.