Click a green square to see the Latin text. Click a red square to see a textual note. Click on a blue square to see a commentary note.
RITAINE or BRITANNIE, which also is ALBION, named in Greek ΒΡΕΤΑΝΙΑ, ΒΡΕΤΑΝΙΚΗ, ΠΡΕΤΑΝΙΣ, ΑΛΒΙΩΝ, ΑΛΟΥΙΩΝ, the most famous Iland, without comparison, of the whole world; severed from the continent of Europe by the interflowing of the Ocean, lieth against Germanie and France trianglewise, by reason of three Promontories shooting out into divers parts: to wit, Belerium, i. e. the Cape of S. Burien in Cornwall, Westward; Cantium,i. e. the Fore-land of Kent, into the East; and Tarvisium or Orcas, i. e. the point of Catnesse in Scotland, Northward. On the West side, whereas Ireland is seated, Vergivius, i. e. the Western Ocean, breaketh in; from the North, it hath the most vast and wide Hyperborean sea beating upon it; on the East, where it coasteth upon Germanie, enforced sore it is with the Germane sea; and Southward, as it lieth opposite to France, with the British. Disjoined from those neighbour-countries all about by a convenient distance every way, fitted with commodious and open havens for traffique with the universall world, and to the generall good, as it were, of mankind, thrusting it selfe forward with great desire from all parts into the sea. For between the said Fore-land of Kent and Calais in France it so advanceth it selfe, and the sea is so streited, that some thinke the land there was pierced thorow, and received the seas into it, which before-time had been excluded. For the maintenance of which conceit, they allege both Vergil in that verse of his,
And Britans people quite disjoin’ d from all the world besides.
Because Britaine, saith Servius Honoratus, was in times past joyned to the maine. And also Claudian, who in imitation of him wrote thus:
Britaine, a land which severed is from this our [Romane] world.
Certes, that the outward face and fashion of this globe of Earth hath been with the inundation of Noahs flood, as also by other causes, altered; that some mountaines thereby increased in heigth, many places, higher than other, settled low and became even plaines and valleys; that waterie washes were dried up, and drie grounds turned to be standing waters; yea, and that certein Ilands have been violently broken off from the firme land, carieth some likelihood of truth. But whether the same be true indeed, or whether there were any Ilands at all before the Deluge, it is not my purpose here to argue; neither take I pleasure, without good advisement, of Gods works to give my doome [judgment]. That the providence of God hath ordeined divers things to one and the same end, who knoweth not? And verily, that parcels of the earth dispersed here and there within the sea serve no lesse to adorne the world, than lakes spred upon the earth and hilles raised aloft, aswell Divines as Philosophers have alwaies held.
2. Livius and Fabius Rusticus have likened the forme heereof unto a long dish or two edged ax, and so it is shapen indeed toward the South, as saith Tacitus, whereupon the fame went of the whole. But Northward that huge and enorme tract of ground running beyond unto the furthermost point, groweth narrow and sharpe like a wedge. So large, and of such exceeding greatnesse in circuit, they in olde time tooke it to be that Caesar, he who first of all the Romans discovered it, wrote, How he had found out another world; supposing the same so greae, as that it seemed to conteine within it the Ocean, and not to be compassed about there with; and Julius Solinus Polyhistor hath left it in writing that for the largenesse thereof it deserveth well neere the name of a second world. Howbeit, this age of ours hath now at length by many and sundry voyages found out in some sort the true dimension and just compasse of the whole Isle. For from the point Tarvisium unto the cape Belerium, the reaches and crooked turnings of the sea-banks along the West considered, there are reckoned much about DCCCXII miles: from thence, keeping the sea side, as it bendeth Southward untill you come to the Fore-land of Kent, CCCXX miles: whence coasting by the Germane sea, with crooked creeks and inlets for DCCIIII miles, it reacheth to the foresaid point Tarvisium: so that by this reckoning the whole Iland taketh in compasse MDCCCXXXVI miles. Which measure as it commeth farre short of Plinies, so it is also somewhat lesse than Caesars. As for Schitinius Chius, I have no reason once to name him, who having in Apollonius among other wonders tolde us strange tales of fruits growing in Britaine without kernels, and of grapes without stone and seed, hath bounded it within the precinct of CCCC stadia and no more. Much better yet hath Dionysius Afer in his Description of the world reported of the British Islands, that is to say Britaine and Ireland, in this wise,
Now, for their greatnesse verily, exceeding large they are,
And seekek through Ilands all, none may with British Isles compare.
And together with him, Aristides and other Greeke writers accord, who by way of excellencie have truly called Britaine for the greatnesse thereof μεγαλὴν νῆσον, that is, The Great Iland.
3. Now, they that have more curiously compared the spaces of heaven above, together with the tracts of earth beneath, place Britaine under the 8. Climate, and include it within the 18. and 26. Parallel. They thinke also the longest day there to be 18 Aequinocticall houres and an halfe. But the Cape of Cornwall, respecting the convexitie of the earth, they describe to be situate 16 degrees and 50 scruples from the furthest point West: the longitude likewise of the Fore-land of Kent to be 21 degrees; as for the latitude, in the southcoast they measure it by 50 degrees, and that of Catnesse Northward, by 59 and 40 scruples over. So that, according to this site, Britaine is seated, aswell for aire as soile, in a right fruitfull and most milde place, the aire so kinde and temperate that not only the Summers be not excessive hote, by reason of continuall gentle windes that abate their heat (which as they refresh the fruits of the earth, so they yeeld a most holsome and pleasing contentment both to man and beast), but the Winters also are passing milde. For, the raine falling often with still showers (to say nothing of the aire it selfe somewhat thicke and grosse) dissolveth the rigour of the cold so; and withall the sea which compasseth it with moderate warmth doth comfort the land in such wise as that the cold with us is much more remisse than in some parts of France and Italie. Where upon it is that MInutius Foelix, proving that God by His providence hath a speciall regard of the severall parts of the world as well as of the whole, saith That Britaine, though it want otherwhiles the aspect of the Sunne, yet refreshed it is with the warmth of the sea flowing round about it. Neither need you to marvell at his speech concerning the warmth of the sea. The seas, quoth Cicero, stirred to and fro with the winds, do so wax warme that a man may easily perceive within that world of waters there is inclosed a certein heat. To the temperateness also of this Iland Cescenius Geticulus, a very ancient Poet, seemeth to have respect, when he versified thus of Britaine,
The Ram unkindly smites not there, in Spring, the aire with horn,
Nor Twins the horned Bull of Crete untimely go beform,
Where Driver, hight Arctophylax, doth his drie waine up-turn.
Caesar likewise writeth thus, The places in Britaine be more temperate (by reason that the weather is not so colde) than in France. Sembably [Similarly] Cornelius Tacitus, No extremetie there is of colde; and he addeth moreover, and saith, The soile, setting aside the Olive, the Vine, and the rest, which are proper to warmer countries, taketh all kinde of graine, and beareth it in abundance: it ripeneth slowly, but commeth up quickly: the cause of both is one and the same, to wit, the over-much moisture of ground and aire. For the aire, Strabo writeth, is subject rather to showres of rain than to snow. Howbeit, the ground enriched so with all sorts of corne, that Orpheus hath reported it to be the very seat of Ladie Ceres; for that which we read in his Poeme thus,
Lo, heere the stately halls
Of Ceres Queen,
is meant of this our Iland; yea, and it hath been the very barne, garner, and storehouse for victuals of the West empire; from whence the Romans were wont yeerely to transport into Germanie, with a fleet of 800 vessels bigger than barges, great store of . for the maintenance of their armies which there defended the Frontiers. But lest I should seeme to exceed over-much in the praise of my native countrie, heare in stead of me that ancient Oratour, who with open mouth resoundeth out the commendations thereof, in this maner: O happie Britaine, and more fortunate than all other lands beside, which first sawest Constantine Emperour! For good cause hath nature endowed thee with all the blessed gifts of aire and soile; wherein there is neither excessive colde of Winter, nor extreme heat of Sommer, wherein there is so great plentie of grain, that it serveth sufficiently both for bread and drinke: wherein the forrests are without savage beasts, and the ground void of noisome serpents. Contrariwise, an infinite multitude there is of tame cattell with udders strutting full of milke, and loaden with fleeces: and verily (that which for the use of our life we much esteeme) the dayes there are very long, and the nights never without some light; whiles those utmost plaines by the sea side cast and raise no shadowes on high, and the aspect both of skie and starres passeth beyond the bound of the night, yea the very Sunne it self, which unto us seemeth for to set, appeareth there only to passe along and go aside.
4. Harken also, if it please you, to another Oratour speaking unto Constantius the father of Constantine the Great in this wise: And, I assure you, no small dammage was it to the Common-weale, as to lose the bare name only of Britaine, so to forgoe a land so plentifull in corne, so rich in pasturage, so full of mines and veines of mettall, so gainfull in tributes and revenewes, so accommodated with many havens, and, for circuit, so large and spacious.
5. Moreover, the singular love and motherly affection of Nature to this Iland, a Poet of good antiquite hath by way of a speech made unto Britaine lively expressed thus, in this Epigram, which some have judged not unworthy to be divulged:
For aire, so milde and temperate right pleasing is thy seat;
Where reigneth neither chilling colde, nor yet excessive heat.
What time Dame Nature brought things forth, and of her only grace
Bestow’ d her favours manifolde and gifts on every place;
Like mother kinde, the better part aside for thee she laid;
"Oh happie Iland, maist thou be and full of peace," she said:
What ever vaine excesse affects, what may mans need content,
Shall come from thee, or els to thee from other lands be sent."
6. This plentifull abundance, these goodly pleasures of Britain, have perswaded some that those Fortunate Ilands, wherein all things, as Poets write, doe still flourish as in a perpetuall Spring tide, were sometime heere with us. For this doth one Isacius Tzetzes, a Greeke Author of no small credit, affirme, and our ancestours seeme to have beleeved the same as a certaine truth. For what time as Pope Clement the Sixth, as we read in Robert of Avesburie, had elected Lewis of Spaine to be Prince of those Fortunate Ilands, and for to aid and assist him mustered souldiers in France and Italie, our countreymen were verily perswaded that he was chosen Prince of Britaine, and that all the said preparation was for Britain, as one, saith he, of the Fortunate Ilands. Yea and even those most prudent personages themselves, our Ligier [Legate] Embassadours there with the Pope, were so deeply setled in this opinion, that forthwith they withdrew themselves from Rome and hastened with all speed into England, there to certifie their countreymen and friends of the matter. Neither will any man now judge otherwise, who thorowly knoweth the blessed estate and happie wealth of Britaine. For Nature tooke a pleasure in the framing thereof, and seemeth to have made it a second world, sequestred from the other, to delight mankinde withall, yea and curiously depainted it of purpose as it were a certaine portraict, to represent a singular beautie, and for the ornament of the universall world, with so gallant and glittering varietie, with so pleasant a shew are the beholders eyes delighted, which way so ever they glance. To say nothing of the Inhabitants, whose bodies are of an excellent good constitution, their demeanour right courteous, their natures as gentle, and their courage most hardie and valiant, whose manhood by exploits atchieved both at home and abroad, is famously renowmed thorow the whole world.
7. But who were the most ancient and the very first Inhabitants of this Ile, as also from whence this word Britaine had the originall derivation, sundry opinions one after another have risen; and many we have seene, who being uncerteine in the point, have seemed to put downe the certaine resolution thereof. Neither can we hope to atteine unto any certeintie heerein, more than all all other nations, which (setting those aside that have their originall avouched unto them out of holy Scripture) as well as wee, touching their point, abide in great darkenesse, errour and ignorance. And how, to speake truly, can it otherwise be, considering that the trueth, after so many revolutions of ages and times, could not chuse but be deeply hidden? For the first inhabitours of countreys had other cares and thoughts to busie and trouble their heads, than to deliver their beginnings unto posteritie. And say that they had been most willing so to do, yet possibly could they not, seeing their life was so uncivill, so rude, so full of warres, and therefore void of all literature; which keeping companie with a civill life, by peace and repose, is only able to preserve the memorie of things, and to make over the same to the succeeding ages. Moreover the Druidae, who being in olde time the Priests of the Britans and Gaules, were supposed to have knowen all that was past; and the Bardi, that used to resound in song all valorous and noble acts, thought it not lawfull to write and booke any thing. But admit they had recorded ought; in so long continuance of time, in so many and so great turnings and overturnings of States, doubtlesse the same had been utterly lost, seeing that the very stones, pyramides, obelisks, and other memorable monuments, thought to be more durable than brasse, have yeelded long agoe to the iniquitie of time. Howbeit, in the ages soone after following, there wanted not such as desired gladly to supplie these defects; and when they could not declare the trueth indeed, yet at least way for delectation, they laboured to bring foorth narrations, devised of purpose, with a certeine pleasant varietie to give contentment, and delivered their severall opinions, ech one after his owne conceit and capacitie, touching the originall of Nations and their names. Unto which, as there were many, who, neglecting further search into the trueth, quickly yeelded connivence, so the most sort delighted with the sweetness of the Deviser, as readily gave credence.
8. But, to let passe all the rest, one Geffrey Ap Arthur, of Monmouth among us (whom I would not pronounce in his behalfe liable to this suspicion) in the reigne of King Henrie the Second, published an Historie of Britaine, and that out of the British tongue, as he saith himselfe, wherein he writeth that Brutus a Trojane borne, the sonne of Sylvius, nephew of Ascanius, and in a third degree nephew to that great Aeneas descended from supreme Jupiter (for the goddesse Venus bare him), whose birth cost his mother her life, and who by chance slew his owne father in hunting (a thing that the wise Magi had foretold), fled his countrie and went into Greece, where he delivered out of thraldome the progenie of Helenus K. Priams sonne, vanquished king Pandrasus, wedded his daughter, and accompanied with a remnant of Trojans, fell upon the Iland Leogetia: where by the Oracle of Diana he was advised to goe unto this Western Isle. From thence thorow the Streights of Gebraltar, where he escaped the Mer-maydes, and afterward thorow the Tuskane sea, he came as farre as to Aquitaine, in a pight [pitched] battell defeated Golfarius the Pict, king of Aquitaine, together with twelve Princes of Gaule; and after he had built the citie Tours (as witnesseth Homer) and made spoile of Gaule, passed over sea into this land inhabited of Giants, whom when he had conquered, together with Gogmagog the hugest of them all, according to his owne name he called it Britaine, in the yeere of the world 2855, before the first Olympiad 334 yeeres, and before the nativitie of Christ 1108. Thus farre Geffrey. Yet others there be, that fetch the name of Britaine from some other causes. Sir Thomas Eliot, by degree a worshipfull knight, and a man of singular learning, draweth it from the Greeke fountaine, to wit Πρυτανεῖα, a terme that the Athenians gave to their publike Finances or Revenues. Humfrey Lhud, reputed by our countrymen for knowledge of Antiquitie, to carie, after a sort, with him all the credit and authoritie, referreth it confidently to the British word Prid-Cain, that is to say, a pure white Forme. Pomponius Laetus reporteth that the Britons out of Armorica in France gave it that name. Goropius Becanus saith that the Danes sought heere to plant themselves, and so named it Bridania, that is, Free . Others derive it from Prutenia, a region in Germanie. Bodine suppose that it tooke the name of bretta the Spanish word, which signifieth Earth; and Forcatulus, of brithin, which, as we reade in Athenaeus, the Greekes used for drinke. Others bring it from the Brutis in Italy, whom the Graecians called Βρέττιοι. As for those smatterers in Grammar who keepe a babbling and prating that Britain should carie that name of Brutish manners, let them be packing.
9. These are all the opinions (to my knowledge) that have beene received touching the name of Britaine. But heerein, as we cannot but smile at the fictions of strangers, so the devices coined by our owne contrymen passe not currant with generall allowance. And verily, in these and such like cases, an easier matter it is to impeach the false, than to teach and mainteine a truth. For besides this, that it were an absurditie to seeke the reason of this name in a forren language, the general consent of all Historiographers of better note doth confute Laetus; who with one accord deliver unto us that those Armorican Britons departed hence, and so from us caried the name with them. Againe, Britaine flourished under this name many hundred yeers before the names of Dania and Prutenia came up. But what hath the word Britannia to do with the Spaniards bretta? Which I doubt whether it be Spanish or no, and why should this Iland be so termed, rather than any other Land? That the drinke called brithin was ever in use among our countrimen can hardly be prooved: and to give name to our nation of the Greekes drinke were ridiculous. As for those Brutii in Italy, whom, as Strabo witnesseth, the Lucans called Βρέττιοι, as one would say, traiterous fugitives, it can never be prooved that they like runnagates rann hither into Britaine. But to come now to our own countrimens conjectures, Eliots Πρυτανεῖα seemeth not probable, seeing that word was proper; to the Athenians, and considering the Greeks called this Isle Βρετανία, not Πρυτανεῖα. Llhuyds Prid-Cain for Britain seemeth not onely too farre fetched, but also over-hardly streined, to say nothing how that word Cain came from the Latines Candidum, and so crept into the provinciall language of the Britaines.
10. But as touching those reports of Brutus, were they true, certeine, and undoubted, there is no cause why any man should bestow farther study and labor in searching out the beginning of the Britans. The thing is dispatched to our hand, and the searchers of Antiquitie are eased of their troublesome and painfull travell. For mine owne part, it is not my intent, I assure you, to discredit and confute that storie which goes of him, for the upholding whereof (I call Truth to record) I have from time to time streined to the heigth all that little wit of mine. For that were to strive with the streame and currant of Time, and to struggle against an opinion commonly and long since received. How then may I, a man of so mean parts and small reckoning, be so bold as to sit in examination of a matter so important, and thereof definitively to determine? Well, I referre the matter full and whole to the Senate of Antiquarians for to be decided. Let every man, for me, judge as it pleaseth him; and of what opinion soever the Reader shall be of, verily I will not make it a point much materiall.
11. And yet I see (that I may tell you so much aforehand, being as I am a plaine honest and diligent searcher after the truth) how men most judicious and passing well learned goe about divers waies to extenuate [diminish] the credit of this narration; and so often as I stand in defense thereof, to come upon me fiercely with these and such like arguments. First, grounding their reason upon the time, they protest and say that all is but fabulous (with reservation only of the Sacred Historie) whatsoever is reported to have beene done before the first Olympias, to wit, the yeere 770. before the birth of Christ: like as these reports of Brutus, which are before the said time 300 yeeres or more. And this they averre by the authoritie of Varro, the most learned writer of all the Romans, who as he named the first age immediately after mans creation unto the Deluge ἀδηλόν, that is, uncertaine by reason of the ignorance thereof, so he termed the second, even from the said Deluge unto the first Olympias μυθικόν, that is to say, Fabulous, because in that time there is related nothing else (for the most part) but tales, even among the Greekes and Latins, learned nations; much more then among the Barbarous and unlettered, such as in those daies they were in all this tract, every one. Then they alleage that for the confirmation of this matter in question the authoritie of sufficient writers (which to the knowledge of things past maketh most, and is all in all) is altogether defective. Now, those they call sufficient writers, whose antiquitie and learning the greater it is, so is their credit the better accepted, who all of them, like as the ancient Britans themselves (by their saying) knew not so much as the name of Brutus. Caesar, say they, sixteene hundred yeeres since, as he testifieth himselfe, By all the enquirie that he could make found no more but this, that the inland part of Britaine was inhabited by those who, they said, were borne in the very Iland; and the maritime coasts by such as from out of Belgium passed over thither. Tacitus also, a thousand and foure hundred yeeres agoe, who searched diligently into these particulars, wrote thus, What maner of men the first inhabitants of Britaine were, borne in the land or brought in, as among barbarous people, it is not certainly knowen. Gildas, being himselfe a wise and learned Britaine, who lived a thousand yeeres since, hath not one word of this Brutus, and doubteth whether the old Britans had any records or writings, whereby they might convey unto posteritie their owne beginning and Historie, professing that he wrote by the relation which he had from beyond-sea, and not by any direction out of the writings of his owne country, or any records left by writers: which if there were ever any at all, either the enemies had burnt them, or else they were caried away farre off in some fleet of exiled persons, and so not extant. Ninus also, a disciple of Eluodugus, taking in hand to write a Chronicle, eight hundred yeeres ago, complaineth that the great Masters and Doctors of Britaine had no skill, and left no memoriall in writing: confessing that himselfe gathered whatsoever he wrote out of the Annals and Chronicles of the holy Fathers. To this they adjoyne Beda, William of Malmesburie, and as many as wrote eleven hundred and threescore yeeres since, who seeme not once to have heard of Brutus his name, so silent are they of him in all their owne writings.
12. Heereupon they have noted that the name of that Brutus was never heard of in the world before that in a barbarous age, and amid the thickest clouds of ignorance, one Hunibald, a bald writer, fabled and feined that Francio, a Trojane, King Priams sonne, was the founder of the French nation. Hence they collect that when our country-men heard once how the French-men their neighbours drew their line from the Trojans, they thought it a foule dishonour that those should out-goe them in nobilitie of Stocke, whom they matched every way in manhood and proesse. Therefore that Geffrey Ap Arthur of Monmouth, foure hundred yeeres agoe, was the first, as they thinke, that to gratifie our Britans produced unto them the Brutus, descended from the gods, by birth also a Trojane, to be the author of the British nation. And before that time verily not one man, as they say, made any mention at all of the said Brutus.
13. They add this much moreover, that about the same time the Scotish writers falsly devised Scota the Aegyptian Pharaoes daughter to be the Foundresse of their nation. Then also it was that some, misspending their wit and time, yea and offring violent abuse unto the truth, forged out of their owne braines for the Irish, their Hiberus; for the Danes, their Danus; for the Brabanders, their Braho; for the Gothes, their Gothus; and for the Saxons, their Saxo, as it were the Stock-fathers of the said nations. But seeing that in this our age, which hath escaped out of those darke mists of fatall ignorance, the French have renounced their Francio as a counterfet Progenitor (whereas the Frenchmen, quoth Turnebus a right learned man, stand highly upon their descent from the Trojans, they doe it in emulation of the Romans, whom they seeing to beare themselves proud of that Pedegree and noble stocke, would needs take unto themselves also the like reputation). And that for the Scots, such as be of the wiser sort have cast off their Scota, and truth it selfe hath chased away Hiberus, Danus, Brabo, and the rest of these counterfet Demi-gods and Worthies of the same stampe. Why the Britans should so much sticke unto their Brutus as the name-giver of their Iland, and to the Trojane originall, they greatly wonder: as who would say, before the destruction of Troie (which hapned in the thousand yeere or thereabout after Noahs floud), there had been no Britans heere, and as if there had not lived many valorous men before Agamemnon?
14. Furthermore, they avouch that very many out of the grave Senate of great Clerks, by name Boccace, Vives, Hadrianus Junius, Polydore, Buchanan, Vignier, Genebrard, Molinaeus, Bodine, and other men of deepe judgement agree jointly in one verdict, and denie that ever there was any such in the world as this Brutus; also, that learned men of oure owne countrey, as many, acknowledge him not, but reject him as a meere counterfet. Among whom they produce, first, John of Wheathamsted, Abbat of S. Albanes, a most judicious man, who in his Granarie wrote of this point long since in this maner: According to other histories, which in the judgement of some are of more credit, the whole Discourse of this Brutus is rather Poeticall than historicall, and, for divers reasons, built upon opinion more than truth indeed. First, because there is no where mention made in the Romane stories, either of killing the father, or of the said birth, or yet of putting away the sonne. Secondly, for that, after sundry authors, Ascanius begat no such sonne who had for his proper name Sylvus; for, according unto them, he begat but one only sonne, and that was Julius, from the house of the Julii afterwards tooke their beginning &c. And thirdly, Silvius Posthumus, whom perhaps Geffrey meaneth, was the sonne of Aeneas by his wife Lavinia; and he, begetting his sonne Aeneas in the eight and thirtieth yeere of his reigne, ended the course of his life by naturall death. The Kingdome, therefore, now called England was not heeretofore, as many will have it, named Britaine of Brutus the sonne of Sylvius. Wherefore, it is in their opinion a vaine piece of worke, and ridiculous enough, to challenge [claim] noble blood, and yet to want a probable ground of the challenge. For it is manhood only that ennobleth a nation; the minde it is also, with perfect understanding, and nothing els, that gaineth gentilitie to a man. And therefore Seneca writeth out, in his Epistles out of Plato, that there is no king but hee came from slaves, and no slave but he descended of kings. Wherefore, to conclude, let this suffice the Britans for the beginning of their Nobilitie, that they be courageous and valiant in fight, that they subdue their enemies on every side, and that they utterly refuse the yoke of servitude. In a second rancke they place William of Newborough, a writer of much greater authoritie, who too too sharply charged Geffrey the Compiler of the British history for his untruth, so soone as ever it came forth, in these words: A certeine writer, quoth he, in these our dayes hath risen up, who deviseth foolish fictions and tales of the Britans, and in a vaine humor of his own extolleth them farre above the valorous Macedonians and Romans both; he hath to name Geffrey, and is surnamed Arthurius, for that the tales of Arthur taken out of the Britans olde fables, and augmented by inventions of his owne, with a new colour of Latine speech layd over them, he hath invested into the goodly title of an Historie. Who also hath adventured farther, and divulged under the name of autentike prophesies, grounded upon undoubted truth, the deceitfull conjectures and foredeemings [predictions] of our Merline, whereunto hee added verily a great deale of his owne, whiles hee did the same into Latine. And a little after: Moreover, in his booke which he entituleth The Britans Historie how malapertly and shamelessly he doth in maner nothing but lie, there is no man that readeth the said booke can doubt, unlesse he have no knowledge at all of ancient histories. For he that hath not learned the truth of things indeed, admitteth without discretion and judgement the vanitie of fables. I forbeare to speake what great matter that fellow hath forged of the Britans acts, before the Empire and comming in of Julius Caesar, or els being by others invented, hath put them downe as authentike. Insomuch as Giraldus Cambrensis, who both lived and wrote at the same time, made no doubt to term it The fabulous story of Geffrey. Others there be, who in this narration of Brutus laugh at the foolish Topographie set downe by this Geffrey; as also how falsly hee hath produced Homer as a witnesse: yea, and they would perswade us that it is wholly patched up of untuneable discords and jarring absurdities. They note besides that his writings, together with his Merlines prophesies, are (among other books prohibited) forbidden by the church of Rome to be published. Some againe do observe thus much, how these that most of all admire Brutus, are very doubtfull and waver to and fro about their Brutus. He, say they, that taketh upon him the name and person of Gildas, and annexeth certaine briefe glosses to Ninius, deviseth first, that this Brutus was a Consul of Rome; then, that he was the sonne of Sylvius, and lastly, of one Hessicio. And there wanteth not (as I have heard say) a certaine Count-Palatine, who would needs have our Brutus to be called Brotus, because, forsooth, in his birth hee was the cause of his mothers death, as if βροτὸς sounded so much in Greeke. In the judgement of others, they should have left the originall of Britans as probable, if they had fathered their progenie either upon Brito the Centaure, whom Higinus mentioneth or that Bretanus, of whose daughter Celtice Parthenius Nicaeus, a verie ancient author, writeth that Hercules begat Celtus, the father of the Celtae, and from whom Hesychius deriveth the word Britaine.
15. As for these observations and judgements of other men, which I have recited, I beseech you, let no man commense action against me, a plaine meaning man and an ingenuous student of the truth, as though I impeached that narration of Brutus; forasmuch as it hath been alwaies (I hope) lawfull for every man in such like matters both to thinke what he will, and also to relate what others have thought. For mine owne part, let Brutus be taken for the father and founder of the British nation; I will not be of a contrarie minde. Let the Britans resolve still of their originall, they have proceeded from the Trojans (into which stocke, as I will heereafter proove, they may truely ingraffe [engraft] themselves), I will not gain-stand it. I wot full well that Nations in old times for their originall had recourse unto Hercules, and in later ages to the Trojans. Let Antiquitie heerein be pardoned, if by entermingling falsities and truthes, humane matters and divine together, it make the first beginnings of nations and cities more noble, sacred, and of greater majestie: seeing that, as Plinie writeth, Even falsely to claime and challenge descents from famous personages implieth in some sort a love of virtue. As for my selfe, I willingly acknowledge with Varro, the best learned of all Romans, such originals as these, fetched from the gods, to be profitable; that valorous men may beleeve, although untruely, that they are descended from the gods, and thereby the minde of man assuredly perswaded of some divine race, may presume to enterprise great matters more boldly, act the same more resolutely, and upon the very securitie thereof, performe all more happily. by which words neverthelesse S. Augustine gathereth that the said most learned Varro confesseth (although not stoutly nor confidently, yet covertly) that these opinions are altogether truthlesse.
16. Forasmuch, then, as all writers are not of one and the same minde as touching the very name and the first inhabitants of Britaine, and I feare me greatly that no man is able to fetch out the truth, so deepely plunged within the winding revolutions of so many ages, let the Reader of his candor and humanitie pardon mee also among others, if, modestly and without the prejudice of any man, I likewise interpose my conjecture; not upon any minde I have contentiously to wrangle (be that farre from me), but in my desire to search out the truth, which hath wholly possessed mee and brought <mee> to this point, that in the question now in hand I had rather aske forgivenesse for my fault (if there be any) than commit no fault at all. Howbeit, to the end that the reason of this name may, if it be possible, more easily and with better successe appeare, I will endevour first (as I may) to finde out the most ancient Inhabitours of the Iland, albeit they lie so hidden in the utmost nooke and secretest closet of Antiquitie, as it were in a most thicke wood, where no pathwaies are to be seene, that very small hope there is nor none at all, to fetch those things backe againe with all my diligence, which oblivion hath so long remooved out of the sight of our ancestours.
17. But to seeke for this matter farther off, and to omit Caesar, with Diodorus and others, who would have the Britans to be borne of themselves in the very land and meere Aborigines, that is, Homelings and not forren brought in, who also imagined that men in the beginning sprang out of the earth, like unto mushromes and todstooles, we are taught out of the sacred Historie penned by Moses, that after the Deluge, Sem, Cham and Japhet, the three sonnes of Noe, having multiplied their issue in great number, departed asunder from the mountaines of Armenia, where the Arke had rested, into divers parts and quarters of the earth, and so propagated the nations thorowout the wide world. That some of their posteritie came to this Ile after the families were by little and little spred and dispersed abroad, both reason it selfe, and also the authority of Theophilus Antiochenus, doe jointly proove. When, saith he, in old time there were few men in Arabia and Chaldaea, after the division of tongues they encreased and multiplied more and more. Heereupon some departed toward the East, some gat them to the spacious and open mainland; others went forward into the North, seeking there to seat themselves, neither gave they over to possesse ground every where, until they came as farre as to Britaine, situate in the Northern Climates. And Moses himselfe expresly sheweth the same, writing that the Ilands of the Gentiles were by the posteritie of Japeth divided in their Regions. The Ilands of Gentiles the Divines call those which lie farthest off, and Wolfgangus Musculus a Theologer, not of the lowest ranke, thinketh that the nations and families which came from Japhet first inhabited the Isles of Europe, such as (saith he) be England, Sicilie, &c. Now, that Europe fell unto Japhet and his progenie, not Divines onely, but Josephus also and others have recorded. For Isidorus out of an Ancient writer citeth this, the nations descended of Japhet possesse from the Mountaine Taurus Northward the one halfe of Asia and all Europe so farre as to the British Ocean, leaving names to places and people both. Of which very many afterward become changed, the rest remaine as they were. And we have seene that blessing of Noe, God enlarge Japhet, and let him dwell in the Tents of Sem, and let Chanaan be his servant, fulfilled in the people of Europe. For Europe, which, as Plinie saith, bred up a people conquerour of all nations, hath triumphed more than once over those other parts of the world which fell unto Sem and Cham; and in this part hath the of-spring of Japeth spred itselfe farre and wide. For of his sonnes, Magog begat the Massagets, Iavan the Iones, Thubal the Spaniards, and Mesech the Moschovits. But Gomer his eldest sonne, in these farthest and remotest borders of Europe, gave both beginning and name to the Gomerians, which were after called Cimbrians and Cimerians. For the name of Cimbrians or Cimerians filled in some sort this part of the world, and not onely in Germanie, but also in Gaule spred exceeding much. They which now are the Gaules were, as Joseph and Zonaras write, called of Gomer, Gomari, Gomeraei and Gomeritae. From these Gomarians or Gomeraeans of Gaule, I have alwaies thought that our Britans drew their beginning, and from thence, for a proofe of the said beginning, brought their name: the very proper and peculiar name also of the Britans hath perswaded me thereunto. For even they call themselves ordinarily Kumero, Cymro and Kumeri, like as a British woman Kumeraes, and the tongue it selfe Kumeraeg. Neither acknowledge they any other names, although some there be, not of the greatest skill, who from hence have coined in the former age these words, Cambri and Cambria. Yea, and that grammarian whom Virgil in his Catalects so taunteth and tearmeth the Britain Thucydides, Quintilian saith was a Cimbrian. And whence, trow yee, should we thinke these names proceeded, but from that Gomer, and the Gomerians and Gaule next adjoining, which was the seat of the old Gomerians? That the Germanes came of Aschenaz, the Turks from Torgoma, sonnes of Gomer, the learned do verilie thinke, because the Jewes even at this day call these Torgomah, like as the former Aschenas. That the Thracians, Iones, Riphaens and Moschi, &c. are the posteritie of Thirax, Iavan, Riphat and Moscus, no man denieth, for that the names sound not unlike. Sembably [Similarly], that the Aethopians were the seed of Chus, and the Aegyptians of Misraim, because they carrie the same names in their owne languages, no man there is but granteth. Why should not we then confesse that our Britans or Cumerians are the very posteritie of Gomer, and of Gomer tooke their denomination? For the name accordeth passing well, and granted it is that they planted themselves in the utmost borders of Europe. which thing also the very name of Gomer, imposed first not upon some light occasion, but even by Divine providence and inspiration, doth signifie. For Gomer in the Hebrew tongue betokeneth utmost Bordering. Neither let any man by way of reproch object unto our Cumeri or Cimbri wht Sex. Pompeius hath written, that theeves in the French tongue are called Cimbri. For, albeit the Cimbri (among whom it is likely that our Cumeri were), living in that courageous and bold age of the world wherein martiall proesse flourished, wandring (as Possidonius writeth) from these marches of Europe, warred by way of robberie, as farre as to the lake Maeotis; yet for all that, the word Cimber no more signifieth a theefe than Aegyptius one that is superstitious, or Chaldaeus an astrologer, and Sybarita a delicate dainty-mouth. But because those nations were so given, therefore they that are such beare their names. And in this point agreeth right with me that singular ornament of learning Joseph Scaliger. Neither let any man marvell wherefore I call not Berosus heere to take my part, out of whom writers in these daies furnish themselves with so great meanes. Certes, to speake my minde at once, the edge of that Berosus his authoritie, who commonly goeth under that name, is in my account so blunt and dull that I, together with the best learned of our age, as namely Volterran, Vives, Antonius Augustinus, Melchior Canus, and especially Gaspar Varrerius, thinke it to be nothing else but a ridiculous figment of some craftie foister and jugling deceiver; which Varrerius in his Censure of Berosus, printed at Rome, is soon able to remoove out of the Readers mindes that errour of theirs so deeply setled concerning this writer.
18. This is mine opinion, or conjecture rather, of the Britans originall. For in things of so great Antiquitie a man may more easiliy proceed by guesse, than upon grounded reason pronounce sentence either way. And verily this their beginning from Gomer and out of Gaule, seemeth more substantiall, ancient and true, than that from Brutus and Troie. Nay, that this soundeth rather to a truth, and that our Britans are the very of-spring of the Gaulois, me thinks I am able to prove by the name, site, religion, maners and language: by all which the most ancient Gaules and Britaines have beene, as it were, in some mutuall societie linked together. And that I may this doe, let me, I pray you, with favourable good leave range abroad for a while at my pleasure.
19. As touching the name, because I have spoken thereof before, thus much onely will I repeate, that as the ancient Gaules are called Gomeraeans, Gomeritae, Gomeri, and by contraction Cimbri, so likewise our Britaines be named Cumeri and Kimbri. Now that the Gaules were called Gomeri, Josephus and Zonaras (as I said) do jointly proove. That the were named also Cimbri may be gathered out of Cicero and Appian. Those Barbarians whom Marius defeated, Cicero plainly termeth Gaules. C. Marius, quoth he, repressed the armies of the Gaules, entring in great numbers into Italy. But all Historiographers witnesse that they were Cimbrians; and the Habergeon of their King Beleus, digged up at Aquae Sextiae, where Marius put them to flight, hath shewed the same. For engraven it was with strange letters thus, BELEOS CIMEROS. Likewise, that they who under the conduct of Brennus spoiled Delphi in Greece were named Cimbri, Appian in his Illyricks doth testifie. The Celts or Gaules, quoth he, whom they call Cimbrians. And heere will I neither cite the testimonie of Lucane, who called the hackster [assassin], who was hired and sent to kill Marius, a Cimbrian, whom Livie and others affirme to have beene a Gaule; nor alleage Plutarch, who nameth the Cimbrians Gallo-scythians, ne yet Reinerius Reineccius an excellent Historian, who constantly averreth out of Plutarch in his Sertorius that the Gaules and Cimbrians used the same language. Neither will I urge and streine to my purpose that onely word of the Cimbrians which remaineth among authors, and is produced by Plinie out of Philemon, to wit, Morimarusa, i. e. the dead Sea, although it be meere British. For more with the Britans signifieth sea, and marw, dead.
20. Seeing therfore that these people agreed in the most ancient name, from whence passed the said name into this Ile, but even with the first inhabitants out of Gaule, lying so neere, and by a verie small streit of sea severed from it? For the world was not all together and at once inhabited; but grant we must that the countries neerer adjoining unto the mountaines of Armenia (where the Arke rested after the flood, and from whence mankinde was encreased) were peopled before others; and namely Asia the lesse and Greece before Italy, Italy before Gaule, and Gaule before Britaine. The consideration whereof is most delectable, in that the highest Creator hath joined regions, and withall dispersed the Ilands so, as there is no such great distance betweene any of them, but that even those which lie farthest off may from some one neere adjoining be seene and plainly, as it were, discerned by the eie. And for no other purpose was this done, but that the nations, when they should over-abound, might discover and descrie some places to passe unto and disburden themselves; so long, untill the universall world were to the glorie of the Creator replenished with inhabitants every where. We ought therefore to be perswaded that the ancient Gomerians of Gaule (now France), either chased away by the pursuit of others, or cast out for lessening of the multitude, or else inflamed with a desire to travell and see farre countries (a thing naturally inbred in men), crossed the sea and came over first into this Ile, which from the continent they were able to kenne. And it stands to verie good reason also, that every countrie received the first inhabitants from places neere bordering rather than from such as were most disjoind. For who would not thinke that Cyprus had the first inhabitors out of Asia next unto it, Crete and Sicily out of Greece neereby, and Corsica out of Italy, a neighbour country; and, not to goe farre, Zeland out of Germanie the neerest unto it, as also Island [Iceland] out of Norway, rather than from the remote tracts of Tartarie and Mauritania? In like maner, why should we not thinke that our Britaine was inhabited at first by the Gaules their neighbours, rather than either by the Trojans or Italians, the Albans and Brutians, so farre distant and remove? Neither doe writers fetch the originall and infancie (as it were) of the Britaines from any other place than their neighbour countrie Gaule, The inner parts of Britaine, saith Caesar, is inhabited of them, whom they themselves report out of their records to have been borne in the Iland; the Sea coast, of those, who upon purpose to make warre had passed thither out of Belgium in Gaule, who all in maner carie the names of those cities and States out of which they came thither, and after they had warred, there remained. For there were in Britaine, like as also in Gaule, people named Belgae, Attrebatii, Parisi, Cenomanni, &c. Sembably [Similarly] Tacitus, Generally, quoth he, if a man consider all circumstances, it is most likely that the Gaules being neighbours, peopled the land of Britaine next unto them. Yea and Beda, one that among all our writers favoureth the truth, At the first, saith he, this Iland had those Britaines onley to inhabite it (from whom also it tooke the name) who, by report, having sailed out of the tract of Armorica into Britaine, challenged unto themselves the South coasts thereof. Now, he calleth the tract of Armorica the sea coasts of Gaule opposite unto our Iland. this also seemeth to make for our purpose, that Caesar reporteth how Divitiacus the Gaule, even in his remembrance, held a good part both of Gaule and also of Britanie under his government; as also (that which is of greatest moment) Plinie among the maritime people just over against Britaine, neere unto the Country of Bullen [Bouloigne], reckoned the Britans; like as Dionysius Afer, a more ancient writer than he, in these verses, word for word thus:
And verily, that utmost point and angle of this part
Inhabite the Iberians, people of hautie hart:
Neere Gebraltar, at Hercules his pillars cald of old,
Turning upon the maine in length, what way the current cold
Of Northren Ocean with strong tides doth interflow and swell,
Where Britaines, and those faire white folke, the martiall
For these words where Britans seeme to have respect unto those other, Turning upon the main in length, and Eustathius, who did set foorth his Commentaries upon this author, understandeth it of the Britons in Gaule in these words, Τῶν δὲ Βρεττανῶν τούτων παρώνυμοι αἱ ἀντιπέραν Βρεττανίδες νῆσοι, that is, And of those Britons, the Isles of Britaine over against them tooke their denomination. Howbeit, Avienus and Stephen in his book of Cities are of a contrarie minde.
21. Moreover the same Religion was of both people observed. Among the Britans, saith Tacitus, there is to be seene in their ceremonies and superstitious perswasions an apparent conformitie with the Gaules. The Gaules, quoth Solinus, after a detestable maner of sacred rites, not to the honor but rather to the injurie of religion, offred mans flesh in their sacrifices. That the Britaines did the very same, Dio Cassius beside others reporteth in his Nero. Both Nations also had their Druidae, as Caesar and Tacitus, very sufficient writers, doe witnesse. Concerning which Druidae, let not the Reader thinke much to runne over this whole passage out of Caesar: The Druidae are present at all Divine service. The overseers they be of publike and private sacrifices, the interpretours also of their religious rites and ceremonies. To these a great number of yongue men doe flocke for to be taught, and those doe they highly esteeme and honor. For likely they decide and determine all controversies, as well publike as private. And in case any hainous fact be committed, if there be a murder or man-slaughter, if variance arise about inheritance, if strife about the bounds of lands, they in their discretion judge of the matter; they appoint rewards, they award penalties and punishments. If any private person or body politike stande not to their Decree, they put them by all sacrifices as excommunicate. And this among them is the most grievous punishment. They that be this interdicted are reckoned as godlesse and most wicked persons. All men decline from them, they avoid both meeting and talking with them for feare of taking harme by contagion from them. Neither have they the benefits of Law, though they request it, nor be capable of any office, though they sue for it. Moreover, of all these Druides there is one President, who hath the greatest authoritie among them. When he is dead, looke who excelleth the rest in woorth and dignitie, he succeedeth him. But if there be many of equall estimation, chosen there is one by the voices of the Druides. Sometimes also they fall together by the eares and take armes about this place of Presidencie. These Druides at one certaine time of the yeere hold a solemne Session within a consecrated places, in the marches of the Carnutes, a country held to be the middle of all France. Hither resort, as unto the terme, from all parts as many as have any controversies or suits in law; and to their judgements and decrees they yeeld obedience. Their learning and profession is thought to have been first found and devised in Britaine, and so from thence translated into France: and now also in these daies they that desire more exact knowledge thereof goe thither for the most part, to be instructed therein. The Druides are wont to be freed from warfare, neither with the rest pay they tribute. Immunitie they have and exemption, as from war-service, so from all other charges whatsoever. Thus, many there be who, being excited with so great rewards and of their owne accord meet together at Schoole for to learne, and are thither sent by their kinsfolke, friends and parents. There, by report, they learne by rote a great number of verses. And so they continue still scholars for certaine yeeres together, neither doe they thinke it lawfull to commit what they learne to writing, whereas otherwise in every thing almost, in publike also and private dealings, they use Greeke letters. This order they have taken, I suppose, for two reasons: because they would not have their doctrine divulged, nor their scholars, by trusting to their written bookes, to neglect their own memorie, a thing incident likely to most scholars, who presuming upon the helpe of writings, use lesse diligence in learning without booke, and as little in exercising their memorie. This one point principally they are desirous to perswade their scholars, that our soules are immortall, and after death passe out of one man into another; and by this meanes they suppose men, setting behinde them all feare of death, are most of all stirred up unto virtue. Furthermore, concerning the starres and their motion, touching the greatnesse of heaven and earth, of the Nature of things, of the power and might of the immortall Gods, much dispute they make, and as many precepts they give to youth. Whereupon Lucan in this wise speaketh unto them:
Yee Priests also hight Druidae, your sacrifices leaw’ d
And barb’ rous rites, which were forlet [neglected] in wars surceasse, reneaw’ d,
Yee onely know, or yee alone know not the gods above
And heavenly wights. Among high trees in groves remote ye love
To dwell, and teach that soules of men, their bodies parted fro,
Passe not to silent Erebus where Pluto reigns below,
Among the pale and gristly ghosts, but spirit stil the same
Ruls lims and joints in other world. And death (if that yee frame
Your precepts grounded sure on truth and knowledge) is no more,
Than middle point twixt future life and that which went before.
Certes those Northren people are right happie; whom we see
Perswaded of such vaine conceits, wherein they nuzzeled be.
No feare of death, which men most dread, can once their stomacks dant,
This maketh them so resolute, so bold and valiant:
Upon the pike and sword they runne, they passe not to be slaine;
T’ is cowardise to spare that life which will returne againe.
22. By what name soever these were knowen to their Celts or Britans, it may seeme that this name of Druides came from a Greeke primitive head, to wit δρῦς, that is, an Oke, for that they held nothing more sacred than the Misselto of the Oke; whereupon Ovid writeth thus,
To Missleto go Druidae, go Druidae, they did sing,
as who commonly dwelt within Oke-groves, and celebrated no sacrifice and divine service without the branches and leaves thereof. But this will Plinie more amplie declare in these words of his: The Druidae (for so they call their Diviners, Wisemen and estate of Clergie) esteeme nothing in the world more sacred than Misselto, and the tree whereupon it groweth, so it be an Oke. Now this you must take by the way. These Priests or Clergie men chuse of purpose such groves for their divine service, as stood onely upon Okes. Nay they solemnize no sacrifice, nor celebrate any sacred ceremonies without branches and leaves thereof, so as they may seeme well enough to be thereupon named Dryidae in Greeke. And in very deed, whatsoever they finde growing to that tree, beside the owne fruit, they esteeme it as a gift sent from heaven, and a sure signe that the God himselfe whom they serve hath chosen that peculiar tree. And no marvell. For Misselto is passing geason [rare] and hard to be found upon the Oke. But when they meet with it, they gather it very devoutly, and with many ceremonies. First, they principally observe that the Moone be just six daies old: for upon that day begin they their moneths and new yeeres, yea and their severall ages, which have their revolutions every thirtie yeeres, because she is thought then to be of great power and force sufficient, and it is not yet come to her halfe light or end of her first quarter. It they call it in their Language All-heale (for they have an opinion that it healeth all maladies whatsoever). Now when they are about to gather it, after they have duly prepared their sacrifices and festivall cheere under the said tree, they bring thither two yongue bullocks milke-white, whose hornes are then and not before bound up. This done, the Priest, arraied in a surplise or white vesture, climbeth the tree, and with a golden bill cutteth off the Misselto, and they beneath receive the same in a white souldiours cassock. Then fall they to kill the beasts aforesaid for sacrifice, mumbling many oraisons and praying that it would please God to blesse this gift of his, to their good unto whom he had vouchsafed to give it. Now this conceit they have of Misselto thus gathered, that what living creature soever, otherwise barren, drinketh thereof, it will presently thereupon become fruitfull; also that it is a soveraigne counterpoison and remedie against all venim. So superstitious are people oftentime in such frivolous and foolish toies as these.
23. Heereto accordeth well that Diodorus Siculus in the same sense hath termed these Priests of the Gaules Σαρωνίδας, which word (as all they know who have skill in the Greeke tongue) betokeneth Okes. And Maximus Tyrius writeth thus of the Celts, i. e. the Gauls, that they worship Jupiter, whose symbole or signe is the highest Oke. Furthermore it may seeme to proceed from these Druides that our Saxons (as we read in Alfricus) called a Diviner or wise man in their language Dry. Of these if you be willing to learne more, I referre you to Mela, Lactantius, Eusebius De Praeparatione Evangelica and the Comedie Aulularia of Pseudo-Plautus.
24. The Frenchmen or Gaules had likewise among their religious persons the Bardi, who to the tune of the Harpe sung Ditties in verse, conteining the famous exploits of brave and noble men. From whence it is that the same Lucane before cited speaketh thus unto them,
And yee the Poets Bardi call’ d, who knights redoubted prise
Praise-woorthie most, that died in field, and them doe eternise,
Pour’ d foorth now many a verse in song, and that in carelesse wise.
And even those also do our Britans still at this day terme by the very same name. For them they call Bard, who besides the exercise of that function, doe especially addict themselves to the skill of Heraldry and the drawing of Pedigrees. But whether the Britanes in like manner as the Gaules beleeved that they were descended from Pluto, we have no record to lead us. Whereas the Gaules did for that cause determine and end all their spaces of times by reckoning nights and not daies, so as the day might in order follow the night, the very same have our Britans observed. For that which the Latines call Septimana, and two Septimanae, they terme with-nos, that is, eight nights, and pimthec-nos, that is, fifteen nights.
25. Likewise both peoples seeme to have framed unto themselves one and the same form of Commonweale and government. For ruled they were not by one mans scepter; but right as Gaul, so Britaine also had many kings. And even as the Gauls in cases of greater waight and danger called an assembly of the whole nation and elected one chiefe governor, so did the Britans also, as it may be gathered out of these words of Caesar, The soveraignty of command, and of managing the war, was by a common Counsel granted to Cassivelaunus.
Neither were these two Nations unlike in maners, customes and ordinances. For to let this passe, that both of them were most warlike and exceedingly given to slaughter, certaine it is that in joining of battels, and adventuring of dangers, they were one as forward as the other, as may appeare by Strabo, Tacitus, Dio, Herodian and others. For maners and conditions, saith Strabo, the Britans are in part like to the Gauls; and anon he addeth, in fight for the most part they be fierce and cruell like unto certaine Gauls. And Tacitus according with him, the Britans, saith he, that were not vanquished by the Romans remaine such as the ancient Gauls were. And in another place, Next neighbors to the Gauls and like unto them be the Britans.
That the Britans fought armed after the Gaulish fashion, Mela doth report. The Britans in their wars use a number of Chariots, as Strabo writeth, like as some of the Gauls.
The maner was of the one people and the other, in time of warre, to range their battels [military units] apart by several nations, that the distinct valour of them both might more evidently appeare. That the Gauls practised this, Caesar witnesseth in these words: The Gauls being divided by their sundry cities and states kept the fourds and passages. Which also Tacitus affirmeth of the Britans in the battell of Caratacus, The nations stood by troupes and companies before the fortifications.
26. The Gauls Strabo reporteth to have been of an ingenuous nature and single hearted: which Tacitus seemeth to note and observe in the Britans, writing that they are ready and willing to endure levies of men and mony, and all other burdens imposed by the Empire, if wrongfull insolences herein be forborne.
Caesar reporteth that the Gauls, upon an unconstant and variable mind that they caried, loved evermore change and alteration in the government. The Britans likewise, saith Tacitus, were variable, given to factions and siding. By meanes of this inconstancie of the Gauls, which Caesar more mildly calleth an Infirmitie, so great credulity crept into their minds that the credulity of the Gauls grew to be a proverbe, and one Poet hath written thus thereof:
And full of this conceit will I
Make use of Gauls credulitie.
Neither have our Britans as yet therein degenerated from them, who most readily give eare even to Milesian fables, and either through superstitious hope or like feare do presently beleeve most foolish prophesies.
We read in Strabo that the Gauls grieved exceedingly and tooke to heart the abuse which they saw done unto their kinred. That there is the same Sympathie and fellow feeling in our Britans above all other nations, it is better knowen than can be uttered, and rife in every mans mouth.
The Gauls, as Caesar recordeth, according as every one excelled others in noble birth and wealthy estate, so kept they about them a greater traine of servants and dependants, whom they called ambacti, which was the only grace, countenance, and port they caried. Neither know our British Noblemen or gentry of Wales at this day any other shew of reputation. From whom, as it is thought, the English have learned to lead after them so great a retinue of followers and serving men, in which thing they have not long since outgone all other in Europe.
27. That the British buildings were in every respect sutable with those in Gaul, and compassed round about with woods, Caesar and Strabo do shew unto us.
The Gauls, as witnesseth Strabo, ware chaines of gold about their necks, and Bunduica the British Lady, saith Xiphilinus, had likewise a golden chaine, and was clad in a garment of sundry colours. And where at this day is that ornament more in use than in this Isle and among our Britans?
That Britans and Gauls both adorned their middle finger with a ring Pliny doth report.
The same Strabo maketh mention of the Gauls, that they nourished the bush of their heads; and Caesar testifieth that the Britans went with long haire.
It appeareth in many authors that the Gauls used certain garments which in their mother tongue they termed brachae; that these were also common to our Britans, this verse of Martial doth proove:
Than brachae old of Briton poore.
I passe over that which Silius Italicus writeth of the Gauls:
The Gauls though fierce at first, soone yeeld and hold not out, by kind;
A nation given to vanity of words and change of mind,
Because these qualities are common to most nations. I might adde hereto other particulars, wherein these people have jumped just together, but I feare me lest malitious evilwillers would wrest them to the detraction and slander of the said nations. Besides, that saying pleaseth me exceeding well, all in a meane and within a measure, and the argument perhaps which is drawn from common maners may seeme not of the greatest validity.
28. Now we are come to the language, in which lieth the maine strength of this disputation and the surest proofe of peoples originall. For no man, I hope, will deny that they which joine in community of language concurred also in one and the same originall. And if all the histories that ever were had miscarried and perished, if no writer had recorded that we Englishmen are descended from Germanes, the true and naturall Scots from the Irish, the Britons of Armorica in France from our Britans; the society of their tongues would easily confirme the same: yea and much more easily than the authority of most sufficient Historiographers. If therefore I shall proove that the ancient Gauls and our Britans used one and the selfe same language, then the very truth will of force drive us to confesse that they had also the same beginning. Neither passe I what Caesar hath written, that the Gaules were of divers languages, since that Strabo saith they differed only in dialect. They did not all, quoth he, every where use the same tongue, but some that, little though it were, it varied. But that the language of the old Gauls was all one with the British (unlesse haply in variety of dialect) Caesar himselfe doth shew, writing that the maner was of the French or Gauls who desired further knowledge in the discipline and learning of the Druides, to goe over into Britaine unto our Druidae. Now seeing that they had no use of books, it stands to good reason that in teaching they spake the same tongue that the Gauls did. Which Cornelius Tacitus more plainly affirmeth: the British speech, saith he, and the French or Gaulish differ not much. Whence it is that Beatus Rhenanus, Gesner, Hottoman, Peter Daniel, Picardus and all others that have subscribed and done honor to venerable antiquity are all become of this opinion, except some fewe who will have the Gaules to have spoken the Germane language. But lest any man herein should cast dust in our eyes, let us out of authors gather and conferre as many words as we can of the old Gaules, as it were ship-planks caught up from a shipwracke (seeing that the said tongue is now even drowned under the waves of oblivion). For very many words we shall see not hardly nor violently steined, but passing easily, and in a maner without any wrestling, to agree with our British, both in sound and sense.
29. Ausonius in this verse of his, writing of a fountaine at Burdeaux,
Thou Fountaine added to the Gods in Gaulish Divonia hight,
witnesseth that Divonia in the French language signifieth Gods fountaine. Now doe our Britans call God Dyw and a fountaine Vonan, of which is compounded Divonan, and by the Latine analogie, and for the verse sake, Divonia.
That Jupiter, whom the Greekes of thunder call Βρονταῖος, and the Latines Tonans, that is, Thunderer, was worshipped of the Gaules under the name of Taranis, there be writers not a few that have reported. But taran with the Britans betokeneth thunder. ln which signification the Germanes seem to have named Jupiter Thonder. For Jupiters day or Thursday they call Thonderdach, which is as much as the Thunderer’ s day.
The Gaules had another God, by Lucane named Hesus, and by Lactantius Heus, whom also the Author of Queroli termed Anubis latrans, that is, Barking Anubis, for that painted he was in the forme of a Dog, and huad with our Welch Britans betokeneth a Dog.
Most certaine it is that the Gaules worshipped Mercurie under the name of Teutates, as the Inventor of Arts, and guide of their journeys. And Diw Taith in the British or Welch tongue is as much as the God of Travelling. And that Plato in his Phaedrus and Philebus calleth Mercurie Theut, I am not ignorant. Howbeit I know there be some who will have Teutates to be the same that the Germanes called Tuisco in Tacitus, and is all one with Mars; as also that we the of-spring of Germanes name thereupon Mars day Tuisday. Concerning these three Gods of the Gaules, take with you, if you please, these three verses of Lucane,
And they that use with cursed bloud their Idol-gods to please,
Teutates fell, and Hesus grim, whom nought else may appease
But sacrifice of humane flesh; and Taranis likewise,
Worship’ d as curst Diana is, just after Scythicke guise.
That the foule Spirits named Incubi were of the Gaules termed Dusii because they practise that filthy uncleannes of theirs continually, Saint Augustine and Isidorus both do testifie. But that which is continuall and daily, the Britans still doe expresse by the word duth.
30. Pomponius Mela writeth that the religious women attending upon a certaine God whom the Gaules worshipped, counted holy votaries of perpetuall virginitie, were called by the Gaules senae, or lenae rather I would read if I durst. For such consecrated Virgins, whom now folke name nuns, the Britans, as it is in an old Glossarie, termed leanes, whence a most ancient Nunnery, Lean-minster, now called Lemster, drew the name.
The Gaules, saith Polybius, in their owne tongue called their mercenarie souldiers gaessatae, and at this daie the Welsh-Britans doe call their hired servants guessin.
Valiant men were, as Servius saith, named of the Gaules gessi, and gaussdewr among the Britans importeth the same that in Latin vir fortis et strenuus, that is, a valorous and hardy man.
Hitherto may be referred gessum, which was a weapon proper to the Gaules, as pilum to the Romanes, and framea to the Germanes. But of this, anon.
As phalanx was properly the Macedonians legion, so was caterva peculiar to the Gauls, as we may see in Vegetius. Neither is this word growen out of use with the Britans, who use to call a troupe caturfa, and war kad, and the strength of war which lieth in a Legion kaderne, yea, and caterna, as is found in some Copies of Vegetius.
To this kad may well be reduced cateia, which was a kind of warlike weapon among the Gauls, as Isidorus reporteth.
Gessa, a Gaulish weapon, Servius doth interpret to be a mans speare, whereunto the British cethilou seemeth to come neere, which Ninnius expoundeth to be as much as Stakes burnt and the end, and a warlike seede or generation.
The Gauls whom Brennus marched with into Greece named in their own language that order of horse-fight which consisteth of three horses in a ranke, as saith Pausanias, trimarcia. For a horse they call marca, which in that very signification is meer and pure British. For tri signifieth three, and march an horse.
Pausanias in the same booke recordeth that the Gauls termed their own country-shields thireos, which even to this day the Britans name tarian.
31. Caesar hath in his Journels or Day-books written, as Servius saith, that he in Gaul being caught up of the enemy, and armed as he was carried upon his horse backe, one of his enemies that knew him chanced to meet him, and insulting over him said, cedos Caesar, which in the Gauls tongue is as much as let goe Caesar; now, among the Britans geduch betokeneth as much.
Rheda, a Gaulish word, is of the same signification, saith Quintilian, that caruta, that is, a chariot or waggon among the Latins. This word the British tongue doth not now acknowledge; howbeit, that it hath been in use among the Britans, rhediad for a course, rheder to run, and rhedesca a race, do plainly shew: which words that they spring from the same stocke no man need to make doubt. And what absurdity were it from hence to derive Ephoredia, a City of the Salassians, which Pliny writeth tooke that name of Horse-breakers?
Another kind of wagon a chariot there was, used of both these people, which by one name they called covinus, and the driver covinarius. And albeit this word together with that kind of wagon it selfe bee quite growen out of use, yet the primitive thereof, as I may so say, remaineth still among the Britans, in whose language the word cowain signifieth to cary or ride in a wagon.
Essedum likewise was a Gaulish wagon, or chariot rather, meet for the wars: which together with Caesar, Propertius attributes to the Britans in this verse,
Stay there your British chariots with yokes so fair engrav’ n.
Circius is a wind by name passing well knowen, unto which Augustus Caesar both vowed and also built a temple in Gallia. That the word is Gaulish, Phavorinus a Gallois borne declareth in A. Gellius. Our Gauls, saith he, call the wind blowing out of their land, and which they find to be most fell and boisterous, by the name of Circius, of the whirling and whisling, I suppose, that it makes. Of all winds this is known to be most blustering and violent: now cyrch with the Britans betokeneth force and violence, as may be seen in their Letany.
The Pennine Alpes, which Caesar calleth the highest Alpes, had this name imposed upon them, as Livie writeth, not of Annibal Poenus, that is, the Carthaginian, but of that Hill which with the highest top among the Alpes the Mountainers of Gaule consecrated and named Penninus. But pen with the Britans even in these daies signifieth the tops of hills; whence the highest mountains that we have, to wit, Pen-monmaur, Pendle, Pen, Pencoh-cloud, and Pennigent gat their names. Neither have the high mountaines Appenini in Italy their names from ought els.
The cities and States of Gaule coasting upon the Ocean were called, as Caesar writeth, after the custome of the Gauls.
32. Aremoricae: with whom the Britans accord in the same name for the same thing. For with them ar-more is as much as by the sea or upon the sea. And in the very same sense Strabo nameth them in Greek Ἀπωκεανίδες.
In the raigne of Diocletian the Emperor, the rurall people of Gaule made a commotion. And to the crue of that faction of theirs they gave the name Baucadae. And among the Britans, Swineheards and country gnoffs [yokels] be called beichiad.
The inborne theeves of the land the Gauls, saith Sidonius, named vargae. And I have found in the Glossarie of the Cathedrall Church of Lhandaff that theeves in the British tongue were in old times known by the name of veriad.
The Allobrogae, saith that ancient and excellent Scholiast upon Juvenal, were so named, because brogae in French signifieth a land or Territorie, and alla, another, as one would say, translated out of another place. But bro in British is a region or country, and allan, without or externall, so that the Etymologie in both tongues holdeth very well.
There is an herbe like to Plantain called in Gaule glastum, saith Plinie, wherewith the Britans died and coloured themselves, as writers testifie. This is the herbe which we terme woad, and it giveth a blew colour; which colour at this day the Britans terme glasse. This was the Greek isatis, by the testimony of Plinie, and the Diars, vitrum, by the authority of Oribasius. Whereby, Pomponius Mela may easily be corrected, if instead of ultro you put vitro where he saith thus, Britanni incertum ob decorum, an ob quid aliud, ultro corpora infecti, that is, whether the Britans died their bodies with woad for a beautifull shew, or in some other respect, it is uncertaine.
The Gallathians, who spake the same language, as S. Hierome witnesseth, that the ancient Gauls did, had a little shrub called coccus, of which that deep red skarlet colour was made, and this very colour the Britans usually name coch.
That brachae were garments common to French and Britans we have shewed before. Diodorus Siculus calleth such unshorne, or undressed and of sundry colours. And even now adaies the Britans terme foule and ragged clothes brati.
If laina were an old Gaulish word, as Strabo seemeth to tell us when he writeth thus, The Gauls weave them cassocks of thickned wooll which they call lainas, the Britans are not gone far from them, who in their tongue name wooll glawn.
33. Bardus in the Gauls tongue signifieth a songster; Festus Pompeius is mine author, and this is a meer British word.
Bardo cucullus, as we are taught out of Martial and others, was the cloake that the Gaulish bardi woore. And like as bard, so the other part also of the foresaid word remaineth whole among the Britans, who call such a cloke cucull.
Gaul, saith Plinie, yeelded a kinde of Corne of their owne, which they called brance and we sandalum, a grain of the finest and neatest sort. Among the Britans likewise, meale of the whitest graine is named guineth urane.
The herbe which the Greekes of five leaves doe call pentaphyllon was named of the Gaules pempedula, as sheweth Apuleius, Now, pymp in British is five, and deilen a leafe.
As the Gauls by pymp meant the number of five, so by petor, foure, as we learne out of Festus, who sheweth that petoritum was a chariot or wagon of the Gaules, so called of foure wheeles, and this word pedwar in the British tongue signifieth foure.
Among wooden instruments, canterium, in English a leaver, was among the Gaules called guvia, as Isidorus writeth, and now the same in the British language is named Gwf.
Betulla, which we call byrch, Plinie nameth a Gaulish tree. He would if he lived now call it the British tree. For it groweth most plentifully in Britaine, and the British tongue is named bedw.
Wine delayed [diluted] with water, as we read in Athenaeus, the Gaules called dercoma, and among the Britans dwr betokeneth water.
And even so (not to prosecute all that may be said), in Dioscorides the herbe ferne called in Latin filix, and of the old Gauls ratis, is in the British tongue termed redin. The elder tree, in Latine sambucus, in the old Gaulish scouies, is in British iscaw. The herbe in Italy seratula, in old Gaulish vetonica, the Britans and wee doe call betany. That which in Plinie the Latines name terrae adips, that is, the fat of the ground, the Gaules marga, is of the Britans called marle. The white or bright marle named of the Latines candida marga, of the Gaules gliscomarga, might of the Britans be termed gluysmarl. For gluys with them is as much as bright or shining. A three-footed stoole, which the Latines name sellula tripes, the Gaules, as we read in Sulpitius Severus, tripetia, is among the Britans termed tribet. That which the Latines meane by centum pedes, that is, a hundred foot, the Gaules in Columella understand by candetum, and the Britans by cantroed. A Birds bill, in Latine avis rostrum, the Gaules, as we read in Suetonius, called becco, and the Britans name pic.
34. Neither should I be as fancy-full as Goropius, if I reduced Suetonius his Galba, which signifieth exceeding fat, to the British word galvus that betokeneth passing big; or bulga in Valerius Flaccus for a leather budget, unto the British butsiet; or the soldurii in Caesar, put for men Devoted, unto the Britans sowdiws; or Plinie his planarat, for a plough, unto arat, which in the British tongue signifieth a plough; or Isidorus his taxea for lard, unto the British tew; or Diodorus Siculus his drinke called zithum unto their sider; or cervisia unto keirch, that is, otes, whereof the Britans in many places make that drinke (or rather to cwrwf) which we in English terme Ale.
That all of these were the ancient words of the ancient Gaules appeareth evidently out of those Authors; and you see how fitly they for the most part agree and accord as it were in consent with our British words, in sound and sense both.
Hereunto thus much moreover may be added, that, seeing the ancient names of places end with both people in the same termination, to wit, in dunu, priva, ritum, durum, magus, &c., it may be gathered that these were not divers nations. And even from hence verily a sound reason may be drawn that we Englishmen are sprung from the Germanes, for that the later and moderne names of our townes end in burrow, bery, ham, steed, ford, thorp, and wich, which carry a just and equall correspondence unto the terminations of the Dutch townes, burg, berg, heim, stadt, furdt, dorp, and wic.
Againe, the reason of certaine old Gaulish words may be so fitly given out of our British tongue, the property and nature of the thing agreeing also thereunto, that of necessity we much confesse either they were names imposed by the Britans, or els the Britans spake French. But let it suffice to allege one or two for all.
35. The third part of Gaul, saith Caesar, they inhabite who in their owne language be named Celtae, in ours Galli, but of the Greeks Callathae. But whence they were called Celtae and Callathae the best learned of all the French could never as yet tell. But let them consider and see whether it come not of the British word gualt, which even yet among the Britans betokeneth the haire or bush of the head, as also gualtoc, that signifieth comata, that, is with long haire: whereof it may seeme that Celtica, Callathae, and Galli are termes mollified by variety of pronuntiation. Now that the Celtae were called comati of their long haire which studiously they cherished, all learned men doe jointly grant; and as for the letters C and K, Q and G, how should one (considering their force and native sound) put a difference between them?
That the famous and noble river Garunne in France carieth a swelling streame, and as if the waves were angry and chafed, wherupon the Poets name it with these attributes, validus, aequoreus, and rapidus Garumna, that is, the strong, sealike, and swift Garumna, it is so well known as nothing more. And all that doth garrw in the British tongue import.
The river Arar passeth marvellous gently, so as by the eye uneth [hardly] it can be discerned which way the streame goeth, whereupon the Poets give these Epithets unto it, Araris tardior and lentus Arar, that is, slow and still Arar. But ara with the Britans betokeneth still and slow.
Rhodanus , into which Arar doth fall, runneth downe amaine with an exceeding swift and violent current: and therefore it is termed incitus, celer, and praeceps, that is, swift, quicke, running headlong. Which name, Rhodanus disagreeth not much from the British rhedec, that signifieth a speediness in running.
That the hills Gebennae runne out farre into Gaule, in maner of a long continued ridge, Strabo and others doe make mention. And that keven among our Britans soundeth as much as the backe or ridge of an hill appeareth by the British Dictionarie: and I my selfe have seene a long chain of hils in Yorkshire, which the Inhabitants there doe call The Keven.
Considering that stones were in old time erected in Gaule by the high waies side, at the distance just of every thousand and five hundred paces, seeing also that the Gaulike leuca or League conteineth, as Jornandes writeth, just so many paces, and leach in the British tongue betokeneth a Stone, I would have the learned Frenchmen say whether the said leuca tooke not that name thereof. About the Sea side of that part of France which was called Narbonensis, where (as the fabulous report goeth) Hercules and Albion fought together, there lie so many stones every where all abroad, that a man would verily thinke it had rained stones there: whereupon writers name it the Stonie Stond and Stonie Field. The French in these daies call it Le Craux, and yet they know not the reason of this name. But Stones in the British tongue be termed craig.
36. That they heretofore inhabited the maritime tract of Gaule, which is next unto us, were in their owne language called Morini, and seeing that the Sea is named mor in British, it seemeth that thereupon they were so termed. For the Britans call such as dwell upon the Sea cost morinwyr, like as Aremorica betokened long since in Gaullish, and now in British, By the Sea side.
Thus Arelate [Arles] a most famous citie of Gaule, seated in a moyst and waterie soile, may seeme to have taken that name of the verie site thereof. For ar in British signifieth upon, and laith, moisture.
Uxellodunum, saith Caesar, was a towne having on everie side a steepe accesse unto it, and situate upon an high Hill. But uchell among the Britans is as much as steep or loftie, and dunum with the ancient Gaules betokeneth a high place or hill, as Plutarch hath taught us out of Clitophon, in his Booke of Rivers. And the same was also in use among the old Britans.
The Promontorie Citharistes Plinie placeth in Gaule neere unto Marsiles, where now is seene the towne Tolon: but if you aske our Welsh Britans what is cythara in their language, they will tell you by and by telen.
37. Againe, that no doubt may herein bee left behinde, seeing it is evident that the late French tongue is come from the Latine and Germane, yet so as therein neverthelesse there remaine verie many words still of the old language, I have heard of those that be skilfull in both tongues, that verie many of those French words, which cannot be reduced either to the Latine or German Originall (and therefore may be thought of the old Gallique) doe come as neere unto the British as possible. As for example, the Frenchmen of this day use guerir, and the Britans guerif for to heale. The French say guaine, the Britans gwain, for a sheath. The French derechef, the Britans derchefu, for againe. The French camur, the Britans cam, for crooked. The French bateau, the Britans bad for a boat. The French gourmand, the Britans pastwn for a staffe or cudgill. French accabler, the Britans cablu for to oppresse. The French havre, the Britans aber, for an haven. And comb is still used of both the nations for a valley. There are of this sort very many more, which haply the Reader may distaste, although they serve especialy for this purpose now in hand.
38. But whereas Tacitus writeth that the people of the Aestii used the fashions and habit of the Suevans, but in language come neerer to the Britans, that maketh nothing against my Assertion. For the Languages most remote in some points agree. And of late Augerius Busbequius, Ambassadour from the Emperour to the great Turke, hath observed many Dutch and English words in the Biland Taurica Chersonessus.
39. Hereupon it may be concluded that the ancient Gauls, inhabitants of the country now named France, and Britans of this Isle spake one and the same language, and by necessary consequence the originall of the Britans is to bee reduced unto the Gauls. For we must confesse, as I said before, that France or Gaul was peopled before Britain, as lying neerer unto Armenia; and as it was plentifull in corne, so, by the testimony of Strabo more fruitfull of men. Seeing also, that the Gauls sent out and planted their colonies all abroad in Italy, Spaine, Germanie, Thracia and Asia, much more then by all reason and congruity in Britaine so neere, and no lesse plenteous than the rest. Neither can it chuse but make for the Britans reputation even in the highest degree, to have derived their beginning from those ancient Gauls, who in martiall proesse have surpassed all others; with whom the Romans for many yeeres maintained war, not about superiority in glory, but for the very main-chance of life and living, and who (to use the Poets words rather than mine owne),
Invasions made all Europe through; and like some storme uncouth
Of suddain hale, brought in by force of wind from North or South,
A foule stir kept, with hideous noise, what way they ever went.
The Romanes and their stately Towre, which rais’ d with steep ascent
On Tarpie cliffe doth mount aloft, full well this yet do know,
Panonians, Aemathians eke, with Delphick rocke also.
And a little later,
They entred then the Asian bounds, nere Pontus shore they go,
And grew there to a nation new, extending close unto
Pamphylian hils, where opposite the Garamants are seen,
Seated the Cappadocians and Bythyne realme between.
40. Neither must we here passe over in silence those reasons which others have alleged to proove the Britans first rising from the Gauls. George Buc, a man both well descended and well learned, observeth out of Mekercus that the Germans call a French man Wallon. And when the Saxons of Germany came hither, and heard the Britans speake Gaulike, they termed them Walli, that is, Galli, that is to say, Gaules. Buchananus saith moreover that walch doth not simply among the Germanes signifie a stranger, but rather in a better sence, a Gaul. and withall, he noted thus much, that the French at this day doe name that country Galles which we call Wales; also that the ancient Scots divided all the British nation into Gaol and Galle, that is to say, after his Interpretation, into the Gallaeci and the Galli.
41. But if our Britans will needs be descended from the Trojanes, they shall not verily have me to gainsay them; and yet shall they in mine opinion ascribe their originall to the Trojanes best of all by the old Gauls. For some say, as we read in Ammianus, that some few who after the destruction of Troy fled, possessed themselves of Gaule, at that time void and unpeopled. But when we thus consider these languages, we cannot but highly admire and set foorth the divine goodnesse of the most high Creatour toward our Britans, the posterity of that ancient Gomer: who although the Romanes, Saxons and Normans have subdued them, and triumphed over them, yet hitherto have they preserved their old name and the originall language safe and sound: notwithstanding the Normans sought to abolish the same even by their lawes enacted for that purpose. Insomuch as an old Britan, one of their nobility, being demanded of Henrie the Second, King of England, what he thought of the Britans power and the Kings warlike preparation made against them, answered not impertinently after this manner, This nation, quoth he, O King, may now by the assaults of your selfe and others be molested, and for the most part destroied or weakned, like as heretofore and oftentimes it hath been. But, be the displeasure of man what it will, unlesse the wrath of God concur withall, it will never be utterly wasted and consumed. Neither shall any other nation or language else (as I suppose) answer in the straight day of judgement before that supreme Judge (for this angle of the world) what every may happen furthermore, than the British Britaine.
THE NAME OF BRITAINE
UT, you will say, if Cumero be the primitive name of the Inhabitants, whence comes Albion, whence comes Britaine? Which name hath so growne in ure [mist] that it hath caused the other to be quite forgotten. But heare, I pray you, that whereof I am most assured, because it is most true. As the selfe same things may be considered by divers circumstances, so they may bee called also by sundry appellations, as Plato teaches in his Cratylus. If you run over all particulars severally both new and old, you shall find that every nation was of others called by divers names from those that they themselves used. Thus they that in their native tongue had Israelites to their name, according to the Greeks were called Hebrews and Jewes, and by the Aegyptians Huesi, as witnesseth Manetho, because they had Heardsmen for their governours. So the Greeks named them Syrians who, as Josephus writeth, called themselves Aramaeans. they that named themselves Chusians were by the Grecians of their blacke faces called Aethiopians. Those which after their own speech were named Celtae the Greeks termed Galatae, of their milke-white colour, as some would have it, or of their long bush of haire, as I said erewhile. so they that nominated themselves after their owne language Teutsch, Numidians and Hellenes, by the Romans were named Germans, Mauri and Grecians. Even so in these daies (not to speake of many others), they which in their owne Idiome are called Muselmans, Magier, Czecchi and Besermans, are by all nations in Europe named Turkes, Hungarians, Bohemians and Tartarians. And even we our selves in England, called in our own naturall speeche Englishmen, are named by the Britans, Irishmen, and the highland Scots Sasson, that is to say, Saxons. By the same reason we are to deem that our ancestours, which termed themselves Cumero, were upon some other cause, either by themselves or others, named Britans. From whence the Greekes framed their Βρετανία, and delivered the same as it were from hand to hand unto the Romans. This ground being laid, let us enquire now into the names of our Iland.
2. As for the name Albion, I passe not much, considering that the Greeks gave it to this Isle for difference sake, seeing that all the Ilands bordering round about it were called Britanish and Britanies. The Iland Britain, saith Plinie, renowmed in the Greek records and ours both, both betwixt North and West over against Germany, France and Spaine, but with a great distance between them, they being the greatest parts by far of all Europe. Albion it had to name when all the Iles adjacent were called Britannies. Whereupon Catullus, writing against Caesar, said thus:
Him Gaule doth feare, him Britannes dread.
Who also in the same traine of verses calleth it the utmost Isle of the west. And it may seem that this name Albion, sprung from the vanity, the fabulous inventions, and that unconstant levity of the Greeks in coining of names, which they themselves termed ἄστατον εὑρεσιλογίαν. For seeing they have in fabulous wise named Italy Hesperia of Hesperus the son of Atlas, France Gallatia of a sonne of Polyphemus. I cannot otherwise believe but that in the same veine also of fabling they called this Iland Albion of Albion Neptunes sonne, which thing Perottus and Lilius Giraldus have put downe in writing. Unlesse a man would derive it rather of ἀλφόν, which, as Festus witnesseth, in Greek signifieth White, whereupon the Alpes also have their appellation. For environed as it is with white rocks, which Cicero termeth mirificas moles, that is, wonderous piles, and hereof it is that upon the coined peeces bearing the stamp of Antoninus Pius and Severus, Britaine is pourtraied sitting upon rocks in womans habit. And the British Poets themselves name it Inis Wen, that is, The White Ile. To say nothing of Orpheus in his Argonauticks (if so be they are his), who called the Iland next unto Hibernia or Iernis, that is, Ireland, which must needs be this of ours, Λιγκαῖον χέρσον, that is, the white land, and which a few verses before, he may seeme to have named νῆσον πευκήεσσαν, for λουκήσσαν. Fracastorus also writing how that persistent day-fever in Britaine, which commonly we call the British or English swet, hapned by occasion of the soile, as if the same had stood much upon plaster, supposeth that this Iland gat the name Albion of the said plasterish soile. As for that pretty tale, how Albion was so called of Albina, one of those thirty daughters of Dioclesian the King of Syria, which at their very wedding solemnity slew their husbands, and, being brought hither by ship without rower, tooke possession of this Iland first, and, conceived by spirits, brought foorth a breed of giants, who can abide to heare it without indignation, as the most loud lie of some leaud lossell [lewd rascal]? Neither is there any cause wherefore I should so curiously search why Britain in that ancient Parodia against Ventidius Bassus is named Insula Caeruli, considering that it is compassed round about with the Ocean, which the Poets call caerulus and caerulum. Whereupon Claudian of Britaine writeth thus:
Whose feet the Azur Sea
I passe over to speak of Aristides, who named it The great, and the furthest Island. That it was called also Romania, Gildas after a sort doth intimate, who writeth that subdued it was of the Romanes, so as that the name of Romane servitude stucke to the soyle thereof; and by and by after, so as it might not bee counted Britannia, but Romania; and one or two pages after, speaking of the same, The Island, quoth he, keeping indeed the Romane name, but neither their custome nor law. And Prosper Aquitanus in expresse words called it the Romane Island. Hereto may be referred also thus much, that when the Statues of Tacitus and Florianus the Emperors were by lightning overthrowne, the Soothsayers answered out of their learning, that an Emperour should arise out of their family, who among other things was to set presidents over Taprobane, and to send a Proconsull to the Romane Island, which the learned understand of our Britaine, that was a Province Praesidiall, and never Proconsular, as afterwards wee will declare. But that sometime it was named Samothea of Samothes the sixth Sonne of Japhet, beleeve it who that will, for me. Out of whose shop and forge this comes, I wote full well: even from Annius Viturbiensis forsooth, under a goodly title, as the manner is of craftie retailers, hath in the name of Beorsus published and thrust upon credulous persons his owne fictions and vaine inventions.
3. But touching the name and originall of Britaine, the truth by reason of the divers and sundry wits of men is verie doubtfull and wavering. In which point, that I may lawfully interpose mine owne conjecture, I will by way of Preface beseech our Britans to speake and thinke favorably of me, that while they are desirous to learne, they would be willing to pardon, and not debarre me of that course which Eliot, Leland, Lhuid and the rest have taken. For if it was lawfull for Humfrey Lhuid a most learned Britan, without any prejudice at all to Brutus (nay if he were commended rather for it), to derive the name of Britaine otherwise than from Brutus, let it not bee imputed as a haynous offence unto me, who am unwilling to impugne the Storie of Brutus, to deduce it from somewhat else, if I can. And that out of the very British tongue, and from nothing else, which as it is least mingled with other languages, and withall most ancient, so in this search it seemeth greatly to helpe and further us. for ancient tongues are reputed passing necessarie for the searching out of Originals: and Plato teacheth us that the first names being through the long continuance of time growen out of use, are preserved in barbarous tongues, as being more ancient than others. And although those things, so farre remote from all memorie, are over-cast with such mists and darkenesse, that the truth seems rather to be wished than hoped for, yet for all that, will I doe my best to trace out the truth, and declare as briefly as I can what my judgement is: not minding to put downe ought prejudiciall to any man, but most willing, if any one shall bring more probable matter, to welcome and embrace the same. For I affect and love the truth not in my selfe more than in another, and in whom soever I shall see it, I will most willingly and gladly entertaine it.
4. First, by the Readers good leave, I will take this for granted and prooved, that ancient Nations in the beginning had names of their owne: and that afterwards, from these, the Greeks and Latines, by wresting them to the analogie or proportion of their speech, imposed names upon regions and countreys: to speake more plainly, that people were knowne by their names, before regions and places, and that the said regions had their denominations of the people. Who can deny that the names of the Jewes, Medes, Persians, Scythians, Almans, French or Gauls, Betulians, Saxons, Englishmen, Scots, &c. were before Jewry, Media, Persia, Scythia, Alamaine, France or Gaule, Betulia, Saxonie, England, Scotland, &c? And who sees not that these words sprang out of the other? Of the Samnites, Insubres and Belgae, wee read that Livie and Caesar first named the countreys themselves Samnitium, Insubrium and Belgium. Of the Franci in the time of Constantius Maximus, as is to be seene in his coynes, the place where they were seated took the name of Francia first; and from the Burgundi Sidonius Apollinaris first framed Burgundie. In the same sort we must of necessitie think that this our Island Britaine tooke denomination from the Inhabitants, or from the Gaules their neighbours. That these first Inhabitants were called Brit or Brith, some things induce me to thinke. First and formost, that verse which goeth about under the name of Sibylla:
Twixt Brits and Gaules their neighbours rich, in gold that much abound,
The roaring Ocean Sea with bloud full filled shall resound.
5. Moreover, the authoritie of Martial, Juvenal and Ausonius. Procopius also, who nameth this Isle Britta. In like maner the old Inscriptions set up by the Britans themselves, wherein are read BRITO, BRITONES, BRITTUS, COH. BRITON, ORDINIS BRITTON: and at Rome in the Church of Saint Mary the Round NATIONE BRITTO: as also in this which is seene at Amerbachium in Germanie, which I will put downe her underneath because it maketh mention of Triputium, a place in Britaine, not knowen:
7. LEG. XXII
PO PO FO.
The Saxons also themselves called the Britans in their language Brits, and Witichindas the Saxon every where nameth the British Britae, so that the word BRIT is doubteless the primitive from which Brito is derived, and from whence the first glimpse of light leading to the word Britaine seemeth to appeare.
6. Considering now that Nations devised their names of that, wherein they either excelled others or were knowen from others, whether in regard of their first founders honours, as the Iones of Iavan, the Israelites of Israel, the Chananites of Chanaan the sonne of Cham, or whether in respect of their nature, conditions, and inclinations, as the Iberi after the Hebrew Etymologie, because they were miners; the Heneti, for that they were straglers; the Nomades, because they gave themselves to the breeding and feeding of Cattell; the Alemans or Germanes, for that they were esteemed valiant men; the French or Frankners, for being free; the Pannonians, for wearing coats with cloth-sleeves, as Dio conceiteth it; the Aethiopians of their black hue; and the Albanes because they were borne with white haire: whereupon (marke, I pray you), as Solinus saith, The colour of the haire upon the head gave name unto a people; seeing also that our countrey men, who were (by a name common to them and their neighbours) called Cimbri and Cumeri, had no marke whereby they might be distinguished and knowen from the borderers better than by that maner of theirs to paint their bodies, for the most sufficient Authors that be, as Caesar, Mela, Plinie, and the rest doe shewe that the Britans coloured themselves with woade, called in Latine glastum (and glass at this day with them signifieth blew)., what if I should conjecture that they were called Britans of their depainted bodies? For whatsoever is thus painted and coloured, in their ancient countrey speech they call brith. Neither is there cause why any man should thinke this Etymologie of Britans to be harsh and absurd, seeing the very words sound alike, and the name also as an expresse image representeth the thing, which in Etymologies are chiefly require. For Brith and Brit doe passing well accord: and that word brith among the Britans implieth that which the Britans were indeed, to wit, painted, depainted, died, and coloured, as the Latine Poets describe them, and Ἀιολόνωτος, that is, having their backs pied, or medly coloured, as Oppianus termeth them.
7. Neither will it be impertinent (as small a matter as it is) to note here, that as I have observed, in the names of well neere all the most ancient Britans, there appeareth some signification of a colour, which no doubt arose from this kinde of painting. The red colour is of the Britans called coch and goch, which in my judgement lieth couched in these names, Cogidunus, Argentocoxus, and Segonax. The same Britans call the blacke colour du, which after a sort sheweth it selfe in Mandubratius, Cartimandua, Togodumnus, Bunduica, Cogidunus. The white colour is with them named gwin, the very prints, as it were, and expresse tokens of which word me thinks I see in Venutius and Immanuentius. Gwellw among them signifieth that which color aqueus among the Latines doth, that is to say, a wan or waterish colour; and this appeareth evidently in the names of Vellocatus, Carvillius, and Suella. Glass in the British tongue is as much as blew, which is seene in the name of King Cuninglasus. For Gildas interpreteth it to be all one with fulvus, or, as some copies have, furvus lanio, that is, a lion tawnie, or coale blacke Butcher. Aure, which betokeneth a faire yellow or golden colour, bewraieth it self in Cungetorius and Aruiragus. A lively and gallant colour is with them called teg, which maketh some little shew in Prasutagus and Carattacus. But if we be perswaded that the Britans borrowed the names of mingled colours, together with the very simple colours themselves, of the Romanes, for certaine it is that they tooke from the Romanes werith for viridis, that is, Greene: melin for melinus, that, is a quince yellow colour, called of the Latins minium , in the name of Alciminius, King Cinobelinus his sonne, no man I hope will stand against mee. Moreover Rufina, that most learned British Ladie, tooke that name of the colour rufus, that is, sad red, like as Albane the first martyr in Britaine of albus, that is, white. And if any one that is skilfull in the old British tongue would examine the rest of British names, which in the ancient Writers are not past foure or five more in all, wee may well suppose that he shall find in those names, as few as they be, some signification of a colour. Neither must we omit this observation, that the commonest names at this day among the Britans, Gwin, Du, Goch, Lhuid, were imposed upon them from the white, blacke, red, russet, or tawny colour. So that now it may be thought no such wonder that the whole nation it selfe drew the denomination from painting: considering verily, that they in generall painted themselves: and the verie Inhabitants, both in times past, and also in these our dayes, imposed upon themselves their names of Colours. But now to the matter, if haply all this hath beene beside the matter.
8. This also is certeine, that in stories a Britan is called in the British tongue Brithon. I care not for the note of aspiration, seeing that the Britans (who, as Chrysostome saith, had a hissing or lisping pronunciation) delight in aspirations, which the Latines have carefully avoided. Now as Brito came of Brith so did Britannia also in my opinion. Britannia, saith Isidore, tooke that name from a word of the owne nation. For what time as the most ancient Greeks (and these were they that first gave the Iland that name), sailing still along the shore, as Eratosthenes saith, either as rovers or as merchants, travelled unto nations most remote and disjoyned far asunder, and learned either from the inhabitants, or els of the Gauls, who spake the same tongue, that this nation was called Brith and Brithon, then they unto the word Brith added tania: which, as we find in the Greek Glossaries, betokeneth in Greek a region: and thereof they made a compound name Βριτανία, that is, the Britons-land, for which they have written false, Βρετανία. But Lucretius and Caesar, the first Latines that made mention thereof, more truly Britannia. That this is so, I doe the more firmely beleeve, because that besides our Britaine, a man shall not find over the face of the whole earth, above three countries of any account and largenesse, which end in the termination tania, and those verily lying in this west part of the world, namely Mauritania, Lusitania, and Aquitania. Which names I doubt not but the Greeks made and delivered to the Latines, as who first discovered and surveied these lands. For of Mauri they framed Mauritania, as one would say, the country of the Mauri, which the home-bred people of that land, as Strabo witnesseth, called Numidia; of Lusus, the son of Liber or Bacchus, Lusitania, as it were the land of Lusus; and Aquitania, perhaps ab aquis, that is, of waters, as Ivo Carnotensis is of opinion, being a region seated upon waters: in which sense, as Plinie writeth, it was before time named Armorica, that is, coasting upon the sea. As for Turditania and Bastitania, names of smaller countries, they may hereto also be reduced, which likewise were in this westerne tract, to wit, in Spaine, and may seem to signifie as much as the regions of the Turdi and the Basti. Neither is it a strange and new thing, that a denomination should be compounded of a forren and a Greek word put together. Names are compounded, saith Quintilian, either of our own, that is, Latin, and of a strange word put together, as biclinium, that is, a a roome with two beds or two tables; and contrariwise, as epitogium, that is, a garment worne upon a gowne; Anticato, that is, a booke written against Cato: or of two forren words joined in one, as epirrhedium, a kind of wagon. And this maner of composition is most usuall in the names of countries. Came not Ireland by composition of the Irish word Erin and the English word land? Did not Angleterre, that is, England, grow together of an English and of a French word? And did not Francland (for so our Saxons named Francia or France) proceed from a French and Saxon word? Came not Poleland likewise from a Polonian word, which among them betokeneth a plaine, and a Germane? Lastly, was not Danmarch compounded of a Danish word and the Duch march, which signifieth a bound or limit? But in so plaine and evident a matter I will not use any more words. Neither have we cause to wonder at this Greek addition tania, seeing that S. Hierome in his Questions upon Genesis proveth out of the most ancient authors, that the Greeks inhabited along the sea coasts and Isles of Europe throwout, as far as to this our Iland. Let us read, saith he, Varroes bookes of Antiquities, and those of Sisinius Capito, as also the Greek writer Phlegon, with the rest of the great learned men, and we shall see all the Ilands well neere and all the sea coasts of the world, yea and the land neere unto the sea, to have been taken up with Greeke inhabitants, who, as I said before, from the mountaines Amanus and Taurus even to the British Ocean, possessed all the parts along the sea side.
9. And verily, that the Greeks arrived in this our region, viewed and considered well the site and nature thereof, there will be no doubt and question made, if we observe what Athenaeus hath written concerning Phileas Taurominites (of whom more anon), who as Britaine in the CLX yeere before Caesars comming: if we call to remembrance the Altar with an inscription, Unto Ulysses, in Greek letters; and lastly, if we marke what Pytheas before the time of the Romanes time hath delivered in writing as touching the distance of Thule from Britaine. For who had ever discovered unto the Greeks Britaine, Thule, the Belgick countries, and their sea coasts especially, if the Greeks ships had not entred the British and German Ocean, yea and related the description thereof unto their Geographers. Had Pytheas, thinke you, come to the knowledge of six daies sailing beyond Britain, unlesse some of the Greeks had shewed the same? Who ever told them of Scandia, Bergos and Nerigon, out of which many men may saile into Thule? And these names seem to have better knowen unto the most ancient Greeks, than either to Plinie or to any Romane. Whereupon Mela testifieth, that Thule was much mentioned and renowmed in Greeke letters, and Plinie likewise writeth thus: Britain an Iland famous in the monuments and records both of the Greeks and of us. By this meanes, therefore, so many Greek words have crept into the British, French, and withall into the Belgicke or low-Dutch language. And if Lazarus Baysuis and Budaeus do make their vant and glory in this, that their Frenchmen have been of old φιλέλληνες, that is, Lovers and Studious of the Greeks, grounding their reason upon few (French) words of that Idiome which reteine some marks and tokens of the Greek tongue: if Hadrian Junius joyeth no lesse because in the Belgicke words there lie covertly Greek Etymologies, then may the Britans make their boast, in whose language man words there be derived from the Greeks. Howbeit, Sir Thomas Smith Knight, sometime Secretary to Queen Elizabeth, a man most learned every way, thinketh this hapned hereupon, for that when all Europe besides was much troubled and shaken with wars, very many of the Greeks flocked hither for refuge, as it were into a sanctuary.
10. Thus have you, as touching the Originall and name of Britaine, mine error or conjecture, whether you will, which if it swerve from the truth, I wish it were by the truth it selfe reformed. In this intricate and obscure study of antiquity, it is thought praiseworthy somewhat to erre; and remember we should withall, that such things as at the first sight being slightly thought upon are deemed false, after a better review and further consideration often times seem true. Now if any man should summon me to appeare before the Tribunall of verity, I have no other answer at all to make. And as for our countriman the Britans, such as be of the learneder sort, I doe most earnestly beseech and desire them to employ all their labour, industry, wit and understanding in the searching out hereof, so long, untll at last the truth with her owne cleare bright beames may scatter and dissolve all mists of conjectures whatsoever.
THE MANERS AND CUSTOMES OF THE BRITANS
S concerning the Britans, what Acts at the first they exploited, what forme of common-wealth they used, after what orders and lawes they lived, M. Daniel Rogers, a very good man, excellently well learned, and my especiall friend, promised by his writings to informe us; but for that he, beeing cut off by untimelie death, hath performed nothing, take here these few notes as touching their ancient maners and customes collected word for word out of ancient authors.
2. Caesar. The Britans use for their mony brazen peeces, or rings of iron duly weighed and tried to a certaine just poise. To taste of hare, hen, and goose, they thinke it unlawfull; howbeit, these they keep for their delight and pleasure. of them all, those are most civil and curteous by far, that dwell in Kent, which is a country altogether lying upon the sea coast; neither doe these inhabitants differ much in custome from the Gaules. the Inlanders for the most part sow no corne, but live of milke and flesh, and clad themselves in skins. But the Britans all in generall depaint themselves with woad, that maketh a blew colour; and thereby they are the more terrible to their enemies in fight. The haire of their heads they weare long, and shave all parts of the body, saving the head and upper lip. Ten or twelve of them together use their wives in common, and especially brethren partake with brethren, and parents with their children: but looke what children they beare, theirs they are reputed who first maried them virgins. In battell for the most part they were wont to employ their charioteers. First these ride about into all parts of the battell, and fling darts: and with the very fearfull sight of horse, and with the ratling noise of the wheeles, they do most part breake the ranks and put them in disarray, and when they have once wound themselves within the troupes of the horsemen, they alight from their chariots, and fight on foot. The chariot-guiders in the meane time depart a little out of the medley, and bestow themselves so that, if the other be overcharged with the multitude of enemies, they may readily and without let retire in safety. Thus in their battels, they performe the nimble motion of horsemen, and steadinesse of footmen: by daily practise and experience so readie in their service, that they were wont to stay in the declivity of a steepe hill their horses being in their full carriere, quickly turne short and moderate their pace, run along the spire-pole and beame of the chariot, rest upon the yoke and harnesse of their steeds, and from thence leape againe into the chariots most speedily at their pleasure. These chariotiers would retire also many times of purpose, and when they had trained and drawen our men a little way off from their legions, dismount from their chariots and incounter them on foot, having thereby the vantage of them in fight. Furthermore, they never fought thicke and close together, but thin and with great distances between, having set stations or wards of purpose, so as one might succour another, receiving the wearied, and putting foorth new and fresh supplies.
3. Strabo. The Britans be taller of stature than the Gauls: their haire not so yellow, nor their bodies so well knit and firme. For proofe of their talnesse, I saw my selfe at Rome very youths and springals [lads], higher by halfe a foot than the tallest men. Mary, they had but bad feet to support them. As for all other lineaments of the body, they shewed good making and proportionable feature. For disposition of nature they partly resemble the Gauls: partly they be more plaine, more rude and barbarous; insomuch that some of them for want of skill, can make no cheeses, albeit they have plenty of milke; others againe, are altogether ignorant in gardening and planting of orchyards, yea and in other points of husbandry. Many Lords and Potentates they have among them. In their wars they use a number of chariots, like as some of the Gauls. Woods stand them in stead of Cities and townes: for when they have by felling of trees, mounded and fensed therewith a spacious round plot of ground, there they build for themselves halles and cottages, and for their cattell set up stals and folds: but those verily for the present use, and not to serve long. Caesar likewise. A towne, the British call some thicke wood which they have enclosed and fortified with a ditch and rampier [rampart], made for a place of refuge and retrait, to avoid the incursions of the borderers.
4. Diodorus Siculus. The Britans live after the maner of the old world. They use chariots in fight, as the report goes of the ancient Greeks at the Trojane war. Their houses are for the most part of reed or wood. Their corne they inne and house with eare and all: threshing out thereof from hand to mouth as their need requires. Faire conditioned people they are, plaine and of upright dealing, far from the subtlety and craft of our men. Their food whereupon they live is simple, and nothing dainty nor like the full fare of rich men. Their Iland is replenished with people.
5. Pomponius Mela. Britain bringeth forth nations and Kings of Nations; but they be all uncivill, and the farther they are from the continent, the lesse acquainted they be with other kind of riches: onely in cattell and lands they be wealthy. Their bodies are died with woad, wither it be for to make a gallant shew, or for what els, it is uncertain. They pick quarels of war at their pleasure to satisfie their owne willes, and so oftentimes molest one another: but principally upon an ambitious desire of rule and soveraignty, and an encroching minde they have to enlarge their owne possessions. Their fight is not only with horse or footmen, but also with wagons and chariots harnessed, armed after the Gaulike maner, such as they call covinos; and in those they use axeltrees armed at both ends with hookes and sithes.
6. Cornelius Tacitus. The Britans neerest unto Gallia resemble likewise the Gaules: either because they retaine still somewhat of the race from which they descended, or that in countries butting one against another the same aspects of the heavens doe yeeld the same complexions of bodies. But generally, if a man consider all, it is most likely, the Gaules which lay neerest peopled the land unto them. In their ceremonies and superstitious perswasions, there is to be seen an apparent conformity. The language differeth not much. Like boldnesse to challenge and set into dangers: when dangers are come, like feare in refusing, saving that the Britans make shew of more courage, as being not mollified yet by long peace. For the Gaules also were once, as we read, redoubted in war, till such time as giving themselves over to ease and idlenesse, cowardise crept in, and shipwracke was made both of manhood and liberty together. And so is it also befallen to those of the Britans which were subdued of old. The rest remaine such as the Gaules were before. Their strength in the field consisteth of footmen. Yet some countries there make war in wagons also. The greatest personage guideth the wagon, his waiters and followers fight out of the same. Heretofore they were governed by Kings, now they are drawen by petty Princes into Partialities and Factions: and this is the greatest helpe we Romans have against those puissant Nations, that they have no comon counsell. Seldome it chanceth that two or three States meet together and concur to repulse the common danger. So, whilst one by one fighteth, all are subdued. In another place. An usuall maner it was with the Britans to seeke for the direction of the Gods, by looking into the inwards of beasts: and to make warre under the conduct of women; neither mattereth it whether [which] sex beare rule over them. Whereupon learned men thinke Aristotle spake of the Britans, where he writeth, That certaine warlike nations beyond the Celtes, were subject to the government of women.
7. Dio Nicaeus, out of the Epitome of Xiphilinus, as touching the Britans in the North part of the Island. They till no ground. They live upon prey, venison and fruits. For of fish, although there is exceeding great plenty thereof, they will not taste. Their abode is in tents, naked and unshod. Wives they use in common, and the children borne of them they all doe foster among them. The Commonalitie for the most part doth governe: most willing they be to practise robbing. In warre, their service is out of Chariots: the horses they have be little and swift of pace: their footmen runne most speedily: whiles they stand, they bee strongest: the armour and weapons that they use are a shield and short speare, in the neather part whereof there hangeth a round bell of brasse like an apple, that when it is shaken, they might with the sound terrifie and masakre the enemies: they have daggers also. But principally, they can endure hunger, cold, and any labour whatsoever. For, sticking fast in the bogs up to the head many dayes together, they will live without food; and within the woods they feed upon the barks and roots of trees. A certaine kinde of meat they provide ready for all occasions, whereof if they take but the quantity of a Beane, they are not wont either to be hungry or thirstie.
8. Herodian. They knowe no use at all of garments, but about their belly onely and necke they weare yron; supposing that to be a goodly ornament, and a proofe of their wealth, like as all other Barbarians esteeme of gold. Or why? Their very bare bodies they marke with sundry pictures, representing all maner of living creatures; and therefore it is verily that they will not be clad, for hiding (forsooth) that painting of their bodies. Now they are a most warlike nation, and very greedy of slaughter, content to bee armed onely with a narrow shield and a speare, with a sword besides hanging downe by their naked bodies. Unskilfull altogether how to use either corslet or helmet, supposing the same to be an hindrance unto them, as they passe over the bogs and marish grounds: through the hot vapours arising, from whence the skie and aire is there most part foggie.
9. The rest of the particulars, which are very few, I will lightly gather, and crop here and there. Plinie writing of magicke: But what should I (quoth he) rehearse these things, in an art that hath passed over the Ocean also, so far, as beyond which, nothing is to be discovered but aire and water? And even at this day verily, it is in Britaine highly honoured, where the people are so wholly devoted unto it, and that with all complements of ceremonies, as a man would thinke the Persians learned all their Magicke from them. The same Plinie. There groweth an herbe in Gaule like unto Plantaine, named glastum, that is, woad, with the juice whereof the women of Britaine, as well maried wives as their young daughters, anoint and die their bodies all over; resembling by that tincture the colour of Aethiopians, in which maner they use at some solemne feasts and sacrifices to goe all naked. Again, there is not a daintier dish of meat known in Britain, than are the Chenerotes, fowles less than wilde geese. Also, The Britans wore rings on their middle finger. Likewise, The Britans manured their grounds with Marle in stead of dung. That they inamelled or branded themselves (as it were) with certaine marks which Tertullian termeth Britannorum stigmata, that is, the Britans mark, Solinus sheweth: The Countrey (saith he) is partly peopled with Barbarians, who by the meanes of artificiall incisions of sundry formes, have from their childhood divers shapes of beasts incorporate upon them: and thus having these their markes deeply imprinted within their bodies, looke how a man groweth more and more, so doe these pictured characters likewise waxe. Neither doe these savage Nations repute anything to signifie their patience, more than by such durable skars to cause their lims to drinke in much painting and colour. Dio. The Britans worshipped as their Goddesses, Andate, that is, Victorie, and Adraste. Caesar and Lucan. Ships they had, of which the Keeles, the footstocks also, or upright-standards were made of slight timber: the rest of the body framed of windings and oysier was covered over with leather. Solinus: How long so ever they held on their course under sayle, so long the Saylers forbare to eat. They used a drinke made of barley, and so doo we at this day, as Dioscorides writeth, who named curmi wrong for kwrw, for so the Britans call that, which we terme Ale. Many of them together had but one wife among them, as Eusebius recordeth in Evangelica Praeparatione 6. Plutarch reported that they lived one hundred and twentie yeeres, for that the cold and frozen countrey wherein they dwelt, kept in their naturall heat.
10. But what those ancient times of cruell Tyrants were, whereof Gildas writeth, I know not, unlesse he meaneth them that in this country tooke upon them the sway of government against the Romans, and were at that time called Tyrants: for soone after, he addeth thus much out of S. Hierome: Porphyrie raging in the East-parts as a mad dog against the Church, annexed thus much to his furious and vaine stile: Britaine (saith he), a province plentifull of tyrants. Neither will I speake of their ancient religion, which is not verily to be counted religion, but a most lamentable and confused Chaos of Superstitions. For when Satan had drowned the true doctrine in thicke mists of darkenesse, The ugly spectres of Britaine (saith that Gildas) were meere Diabolical, exceeding well neere in nomber those of Aegypt: whereof some wee doe see within or without desert wals, wtih deformed lineaments till, carrying sterne and grim lookes after their wonted maner.
11. But, whereas it is gathered that the Britans were together with Hercules at the rape of Hesione, and that, out of those verses which they take to be made by Cornelius Nepos, whiles he describeth the mariage of Telamon and Hesione:
Mid cups of gold, a medly sort thus lying all along,
Boll after Boll quaft lustily, and Britans them among.
That is altogether poeticall, and I can cleerely by good evidences, as it were, under hand and seale proove, that the author thereof was not, as the Germans would have it, Cornelius Nepos, but one Joseph of Excester, as who hath made mention of our King Henrie the Second, and Thomas, Archbishop of Canterburie.
12. Whether Ulysses entred thus farre, whose arrivall in Caledonia a certaine altar engraven with Greek letters, as Solinus saith, has testified, Brodaeus maketh doubt; and I would judge that erected it was rather in the honour of Ulysses, than by Ulysses himselfe, although they avouch Ulysses to bee the very same Elizza, that was Japhets sonne. For apparent it is out of our Histories, and alreadie I have said as much, that the most ancient Greeks undertoke long voiages by sea and land: no marvell then it ought to seeme, if there be also some names and monuments of theirs found in divers places. And often times they derived those names, not so much from their owne denominations, as from Worthies who were held in as much reverence, if not more, among them, as were either Confessors or Martyrs among Christians. Like as therefore the names of Saint John, Saint Dominicke, Saint Francis, and infinit other Saints departed, are imposd upon new-found places, so also that it hapned time out of minde with the Greeks, who will denie? But who among all the Worthies made either more wandring voiages, or of longer continuance at Sea, than did Ulysses? No marvell then, if Saylers made vowes very often unto him above all others; and unto those places where they arrived and landed, did consecrate according to their viewes, named from him. Thus Ulyssipo [Lisbon] upon the mouth of the river Tagus toke the name: and thus elsewhere other monuments of Ulysses, Laertes and their companions; which are not properly to be referred unto Ulysses as the founder, but we must think that by the Greeks who discovered strange and forraine coasts, they were dedicated in the honour of that Worthy, who of all others had travelled and seene most.
13. Wheras John Tzetzes in this Treatise entituled Varietie of Stories hath written, that our British Kings bestowed upon that renowned Cato the elder, who had perpetuall conflict with the maners of the Roman people, certaine presents for his vertues sake; let him make good and save his owne credite himselfe. Yet thus much all the world knoweth, how that Writer is full fraught with fables. Neither would I have you beleeve, that Alexander the Great come out of the East Indies to Gades, and so forward to Britaine, howsoever Cedrenus, malgree [maugre, in despite of] all other Historiographers, writeth thus, ἐκεῖθεν δὲ πρὸς ῎Αφασιν καὶ Γάδειρα καὶ τὰ Βρεττανήσια ἔθνη γενόμενος, χιλίας τε ὁλκάδας κατασκευασάμενος, that is, And from thence being come unto Phasis, Gades, and the British nations, and having furnished himselfe with a thousand hulkes &c. Of the same stampe is that also with Trithemius reporteth out of Hunnibald, that King Bassanus put away his wife, the King of the Orkneys daughter, in the 284 yeere before the birth of Christ, and thereupon he with the aid of the Britans King, made warre upon Bassanus. Nor let any man thinke that Hannibal ever warred in Britaine, because wee read thus in Polybius in the Eclogues of his eleventh Book, τοῦτο δ’ ἐστὶν ἐν ὀλίγῳ, συγκεκλειμένου τῆς Βρεττανίας εἰς πάνυ βραχεῖς τόπους ᾿Αννίβου, Thus much in briefe; now that Hannibal was enclosed within the streits of Britain. For the place is corrupt, and for Βρεττανίας, it should bee red Βρεττιανής, as it is in Dio, book 42. For in both places there is speech of the Brutii in Italie. And yet I may not deny, but that about this time the Greeks came to our Iland. For Athenaeus in describing out of Moschion, a most ancient author, that ship of Hiero, at the hugenesse and workmanship whereof all men wondred, reporteth, that the maine mast thereof was with much adoe found by a certaine swineheard in the mountaines of Britain, and by Phileas Taurominites the Mechanick conveied into Sicilie. But I feare, lest the Criticks judge that the true reading here also should be Βρεττιανής for Βρεττανίας, and likewise understand it of the Brutian mountaine in Italy.
14. But it seemeth, that the Britans were entermingled with the Cimbri and the Gaules in those expeditions which were made into Italy and Greece. For, besides the name common to them both, it is recorded in a most ancient British Booke entituled Triadum, wherein mention is made of three mighty hosts leavied from among the Britans, That a certain forrain captain leavied a marvellous puissant army from hence, which having wasted a great part of Europe, at the last sat him downe and abode hard by the Greekish sea (meaning perhaps Gallatia). That Brennus a King so famous in Greek and Latin writers both, was a Britan, there be that thinke they can easily proove. For mine owne part, thus much only I know, that his name is not yet grown out of use with the Britans, who in their language call a King brennin, whether in honorable memory of him I dare not determine. Certes, that Britomarus the militarie captaine among them, of whom Florus and Appian speake, was a Britan, the very name doth evince, which signifieth as much as a great Britan. Neither will I wrest to my purpose for to make the said Brennus a Britan borne, that place of Strabo wherein he writeth, that Brennus was by birth a Prausian. Ne yet dare I (whereas Ottho Frisingensis writeth that the Briones, a generation of the Cimbri, seated themselves at the head of the river Dravus), change Briones into Britones. And yet, what dare not our Criticks do now adaies?
15. But yet truly, to speake my mind once for all: As the Romanes for all they grow to that greatnesse above others, were not for a long time knowen, either to Herodotus or to the Greekes, the Gaules also and the Spaniards for many yeeres utterly unknown to the old Historiographers, so of this minde I have alwaies been, that late was ere the Greeks and Romanes heard of the Britans name. For that little booke Of the world, which commonly goeth abroad under the name of Aristotle, and maketh mention of the Britans, of Albion and Hierne, is not so ancient as the time wherein Aristotle lived, but of later daies by far, as the best learned men have judged. Polybius verily, the famous Historian, who accompanying that noble Scipio travelled over a great part of Europe CCCLXX yeeres or thereabout before Christs nativitie, is the ancientest author, as far as I remember, that mentioneth the Britan Iles, where he writeth, Of the utmost Ocean, the Britan Iles, the plenty of tynne, gold and silver in Spaine, old writers with different opinions, have reported much. But they seeme to have been little more than by name may bee gathered by this he writeth before in the same book. Whatsoever, saith he, between Tanais and Narbo bendeth Northward, to this day there is no man knoweth: and whoever they be, that either speake or write any thing thereof, they doe but dreame. And no lesse may they seem to do in these daies, who in a prodigall humour of credulity are perswaded, that Himilco beeing commanded by the State of Carthage to discover the Westerne sea coasts of Europe, entred into this Isle many yeeres before that time, seeing we have no records of the said navigation, but only a verse or two in Festus Avienus. But why it was so late ere Britain was known, the reason may seem to be, partly the site of the Iland so remote and disjoyned from the continent, and in part, for that those old Britans, then barbarous as all other people in these parts, and living close to themselves, had no great commerce and traffique with the other nations. And surely in this point Dio is of the same opinion. The ancientest, saith he, as well of Greeks as Romans knew not for certeine so much as that there was any Britain at all: and those of later times after them, made question whether it were the maine or an Iland: and much writing there was pro et contra of both opinions, by those who verily had no assured knowledge thereof (as who had neither seen the country nor learned of the native inhabitants of what nature it was), but relied only upon bare conjectures every one according to his time and diligence emploied that way. But the first Latin writer to my knowledge that made mention of Britain was Lucretius in these verses concerning the difference of aire:
For aire, what difference is there in Britain Isle think we,
And Aegypt land, where Artick pole to stoupe men plainly see?
Now that Lucretius lived but a little before Caesar, no man denieth it: at what time we are taught out of Caesar himselfe, that Divitiacus King of the Soissons, and the most mightie Prince of all Gaule governed Britaine. But this is to be understood of the maritime coasts. For Caesar himselfe witnesseth, that no part of Britain, save only the sea side and those countreys which lie against Gaule, was knowen unto the Gauls. Howbeit, Diodorus Siculus writeth that Britaine had experience of no forreiners rule: for neither Dionysius nor Hercules, nor any other Worthy or Demigod have we heard to have attempted war upon that people. Now Caesar, who for his noble Acts is called Divus, was the first that subdued the Britans, and forced them to pay a certaine tribute.
16. From his time and no further off, must the Writer of our Historie fetch his beginning of his worke, if he thorowly weigh with judgement what the learned Varro hath in times past written, and my selfe already heretofore signified: Namely, that there bee of times three differences: the first from the creation of Man unto the Flood or Deluge, which for the ignorance of those daies is called ἄδηλον, that is, Obscure and uncertaine; the second from the floud to the first Olympias (being 3189 yeres after the Creation, and 774 before Christ), which in regard of many fabulous narrations reported in that time, is named μυθικόν, that is, Fabulous; the third from the first Olympias unto our daies, and that is termed ἱστορικον, that is, Historical, because the Acts therin done, are contained in true Histories. And yet I am not ignorant, that albeit the learned nations (setting aside the Hebrews) have attained to the knowledge of nothing before this age, yet the British History of Geffrey, tooke beginning three hundred and thirty yeeres before the first Olympias, being a very rude and ignorant age in these parts, which he called Fabulous. And even from hence, for feare lest the ground-worke being ill laid, the rest of the building would go on no better, because both the present place seemeth to require it, and also from it the chiefe light may arise to the traine of the narration ensuing, let me summarily gathering matter here and there briefly deliver the acts of the Romans in Britaine, not out of feined fables, which were vanitie to recite, and meere folly to beleeve, but out of the incorrupt and ancient moniments: wherein I will not intercept matter of glorie and commendation from them, who shall take in hand to pursue this argument in more ample manner.
Go to Romans in Britaine