Page images
PDF
EPUB

Scots. At length the Picts were entirely subdued, (some writers say extirpated, but this is doubtless an exaggeration,) and early in the ninth century the Scots, become supreme, gave their name, and something like its present limits, to the ancient Scottish monarchy.

IRELAND.

This country, which was not attacked by the Romansk, also escaped the ravages of the Saxons at their first coming, and long afforded a refuge to the distressed Britons. Christianity was generally received there early in the fifth century, churches and monasteries 1 abounded, and, without crediting all that national writers of comparatively recent date have affirmed, we may well believe that, until the arrival of the Ostmen, the island enjoyed a much greater share of peace and civilization than fell to the lot of the states of the Heptarchy.

A.D. 477. Ella and his three sons land on the south coast and commence the foundation of the South Saxon kingdom (Sussex).

A.D. 488. Esc, son of Hengist, succeeds him as king of Kent.

A.D. 491. Ella storms and destroys Andreds-cester (the Roman Anderida, probably near Pevensey), and assumes the title of king.

A.D. 492. Ella is chosen Bretwalda.

* See

p.

26. 1 The Irish monks are styled Culdees. Little is known of them (their Rule having perished), beyond the statement of Beda, who praises their pious and ascetic life.

THE BRETWALDAS.

Beda enumerates seven early Saxon chiefs, who, he states, in succession ruled all Britain south of the Humber; “Ella, king of the South Saxons,” says the Saxon Chronicle, “was the first who had thus much dominion,” and it mentions that their title was that of “Bretwalda.” Various theories have been suggested as to the origin of the term, and the power implied by it, but the most probable idea is, that the first Bretwaldam was a chief of warlike renown in his own country, who was chosen as the leader of the rest when it was found that the Britons made a more stubborn defence than had been expected, and that it is in this sense, for military purposes, that the others are said to have been under his sovereignty; he was their war-king against the common enemy. This idea is supported by the statement of Nennius, that the Saxons when pressed by the Britons drew kings from Germany to rule over them in Britain, and by the fact that the title is not ascribed to any of the Mercian kings, though unquestionably the most potent princes of the Heptarchy; the occasion for such combined action against the ancient owners of the soil did not exist in their time.

Beda's list comprises Ella of Sussex, Ceawlin of Wessex, Ethelbert of Kent, Redwald of East Anglia, and Edwin, Oswald, and Oswy, of Northumbria.

* The term is often understood to mean "wielder of the strength of Britain,” but seems rather to imply “the widely-ruling chiet."

The appellation Bretwalda was also given to Egbert, as a glorious ancient title, but does not appear to have been bestowed on any of his successors.

A.D. 495. Cerdic and his son Cynric establish themselves in the west.

A.D. 501. Portand his sons Bieda and Mægla land on the south coast.

A.D. 514. Stuf and Wihtgar, the nephews of Cerdic, land in Britain.

A.D. 516. The see of Bangor said to be foundedo.

A.D. 519. Cerdic and Cynric establish the West Saxon kingdom (Wessex).

To this period belongs whatever may be real of the achievements ascribed to the famous Arthur. Caradoc of Llancarvan mentions him as a petty prince in Somersetshire; Nennius attributes to him triumphs over the Saxons in every quarter of the island; but it is only in Geoffrey of Monmouth P that we read of his conquests abroad, which are so extravagant as to have caused some doubt as to his actual existence. It seems, however, certain that he gained a victory over the Saxons at Caer

* His memory is preserved in the name of the great naval arsenal, Portsmouth, (Port's mouth, or haven).

. Dubritius, styled the first archbishop of Wales, is supposed to have lived about this time, and to have held the see of Llandaff, as well as that of Caerleon (now St. David's). He resigned both, and retired to Bardsey island, where he died He was commemorated in the old English Calendar on November 14.

p One of the latest investigators of English history: Dr. Lappenberg, treats Geoffrey with more consideration than he usually meets with. “ We will venture,” he says, “to express a hope of one day seeing what is historical in Geoffrey of Monmouth separated from that which is fabulous ; the latter honoured as a pleasing relic of the times of old, and the rest exalted into useful matter for the national history.'

a

Badon (Bath) in 520, and that he met his death in the field at Camelon in 542.

A.D. 526. Erkenwin founds the East Saxon kingdom (Essex.) Uffa lands on the east coasta.

A.D. 530. The isle of Wight conquered by the West Saxons, and granted to Stuf and Wihtgar.

A.D. 534. Cerdic dies, and is succeeded by Cynric.
A.D. 544. Death of Wihtgar.
A.D. 547. Ida founds the kingdom of NORTHUMBRIA

A.D. 550 (circa). Kentigern, a Scot, founds a bishop's see at St. Asaph.

A.D. 560. Ceawlin (Bretwalda) succeeds in Wessex. Ella succeeds in the southern part of Northumbria'. Ethelbert (Bretwalda) succeeds in Kent 8.

A.D. 565. Columba, a priest from Ireland, converts the Northern Picts, and builds a monastery in Hii (Iona).

A.D. 568. The West Saxons make war on Ethelbert, and drive him into Kent.

A.D. 575 (circa). Ethelbert marries Bertha, a Christian princess; Luidhard, a Gallic bishop, accompanies her.

A.D. 577. Gloucester, Cirencester, and Bath captured by the West Saxons.

9 The conquests of this chief laid the foundation of the kingdom of East Anglia, but the title of king was not assumed till 571, by another leader of the same name.

- The conquests of Ida extended from the Humber to the Frith of Forth, but on his death they were divided into the two states of Deira and Bernicia. Ella, the son of Yffa, a Saxon prince, seized on the former, and only the latter, which lay between the Tweed and the Frith of Forth, remained to Adda, the son of Ida. His nephew Ethel. frith, however, recovered Deira in 593.

• Ethelbert's kingdom was larger than the modern county of the same name, but it was limited by the West Saxons.

A.D. 584. Cutha, the brother of Ceawlin, killed in battle at Frethern (near Stroud, in Gloucestershire): “and Ceawlin took many towns, and spoils innumerable; and wrathful he thence returned to his own.” Crida founds the kingdom of MERCIA.

A.D. 588. Death of Ella of Northumbria; he is succeeded by Ethelfrith of Berniciat.

A.D. 591. Ceawlin defeated at Woddesbeorg (perhaps Woodborough, in Wiltshire, but more probably Wembury, in Devonshire), by his brother Ceol, and driven from his kingdom.

A.D. 593. Ceawlin and Cwichelm, and Crida of Mercia, killed.

Ethelfrith of Bernicia succeeds to the whole of Northumbria.

A.D. 597. Augustine, despatched by Pope Gregory the Great to attempt the conversion of the Saxons, arrives with a few companions in Kent,

Ceolwulf succeeds in Wessex. He fought and contended incessantly against either the Angles, or the Welsh, or the Picts, or the Scots.”

A.D. 599. Redwald (Bretwalda) succeeds in East Anglia.

A.D. 600 (circa). Ethelbert of Kent issues the earliest collection of laws now remaining to usu.

A.D. 602. Augustine fixes his archiepiscopal seat at Canterbury.

A.D. 603. The Scots invade Northumbria, but are defeated at Degsastan (probably Dalston, near Carlisle).

· Ella left an infant son, Edwin, who, after many years of exile, became the first Christian king of Northumbria.

u See p. 154.

a

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »