Celtic] monk, lived in the 6th century. In the s - in the most aggressive language - he set out to denounce the wickedness of his times. He ended up being the only substantial source which survives from the time of the Anglo-Saxon conquest of Britain, and the best source before the much more impressive work of the Venerable Bede [who completed his Ecclesiastical History of the English People almost years late in ]. At any event, the Anglo-Saxons began arriving in the s, perhaps imported as soldiers as Gildas suggests. Chapter Then all the councillors, together with that proud tyrant Gurthrigern [Vortigern], the British king, were so blinded, that, as a protection to their country, they sealed its doom by inviting in among them like wolves into the sheep-fold , the fierce and impious Saxons, a race hateful both to God and men, to repel the invasions of the northern nations.
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Celtic] monk, lived in the 6th century. In the s - in the most aggressive language - he set out to denounce the wickedness of his times. He ended up being the only substantial source which survives from the time of the Anglo-Saxon conquest of Britain, and the best source before the much more impressive work of the Venerable Bede [who completed his Ecclesiastical History of the English People almost years late in ].
At any event, the Anglo-Saxons began arriving in the s, perhaps imported as soldiers as Gildas suggests. Chapter Then all the councillors, together with that proud tyrant Gurthrigern [Vortigern], the British king, were so blinded, that, as a protection to their country, they sealed its doom by inviting in among them like wolves into the sheep-fold , the fierce and impious Saxons, a race hateful both to God and men, to repel the invasions of the northern nations.
Nothing was ever so pernicious to our country, nothing was ever so unlucky. What palpable darkness must have enveloped their minds--darkness desperate and cruel! Those very people whom, when absent, they dreaded more than death itself, were invited to reside, as one may say, under the selfsame roof.
Foolish are the princes, as it is said, of Thafneos, giving counsel to unwise Pharaoh. A multitude of whelps came forth from the lair of this barbaric lioness, in three cyuls, as they call them, that is, in three ships of war, with their sails wafted by the wind and with omens and prophecies favourable, for it was foretold by a certain soothsayer among them, that they should occupy the country to which they were sailing three hundred years, and half of that time, a hundred and fifty years, should plunder and despoil the same.
They first landed on the eastern side of the island, by the invitation of the unlucky king, and there fixed their sharp talons, apparently to fight in favour of the island, but alas! Their mother-land, finding her first brood thus successful, sends forth a larger company of her wolfish offspring, which sailing over, join themselves to their bastard-born comrades.
From that time the germ of iniquity and the root of contention planted their poison amongst us, as we deserved, and shot forth into leaves and branches. The barbarians being thus introduced as soldiers into the island, to encounter, as they falsely said, any dangers in defence of their hospitable entertainers, obtain an allowance of provisions, which, for some time being plentifully bestowed, stopped their doggish mouths.
Yet they complain that their monthly supplies are not furnished in sufficient abundance, and they industriously aggravate each occasion of quarrel, saying that unless more liberality is shown them, they will break the treaty and plunder the whole island. In a short time, they follow up their threats with deeds.
For the fire of vengeance, justly kindled by former crimes, spread from sea to sea, fed by the hands of our foes in the east, and did not cease, until, destroying the neighbouring towns and lands, it reached the other side of the island, and dipped its red and savage tongue in the western ocean. In these assaults, therefore, not unlike that of the Assyrian upon Judea, was fulfilled in our case what the prophet describes in words of lamentation: "They have burned with fire the sanctuary; they have polluted on earth the tabernacle of thy name.
So that all the columns were levelled with the ground by the frequent strokes of the battering-ram, all the husbandmen routed, together with their bishops, priests, and people, whilst the sword gleamed, and the flames crackled around them on every side.
Lamentable to behold, in the midst of the streets lay the tops of lofty towers, tumbled to the ground, stones of high walls, holy altars, fragments of human bodies, covered with livid clots of coagulated blood, looking as if they had been squeezed together in a press; and with no chance of being buried, save in the ruins of the houses, or in the ravening bellies of wild beasts and birds; with reverence be it spoken for their blessed souls, if, indeed, there were many found who were carried, at that time, into the high heaven by the holy angels.
So entirely had the vintage, once so fine, degenerated and become bitter, that, in the words of the prophet, there was hardly a grape or ear of corn to be seen where the husbandman had turned his back. Some, therefore, of the miserable remnant, being taken in the mountains, were murdered in great numbers; others, constrained by famine, came and yielded themselves to be slaves for ever to their foes, running the risk of being instantly slain, which truly was the greatest favour that could be offered them: some others passed beyond the seas with loud lamentations instead of the voice of exhortation.
But in the meanwhile, an opportunity happening, when these most cruel robbers were returned home, the poor remnants of our nation to whom flocked from divers places round about our miserable countrymen as fast as bees to their hives, for fear of an ensuing storm , being strengthened by God, calling upon him with all their hearts, as the poet says,-- "With their unnumbered vows they burden heaven," that they might not be brought to utter destruction, took arms under the conduct of Ambrosius Aurelianus, a modest man, who of all the Roman nation was then alone in the confusion of this troubled period by chance left alive.
His parents, who for their merit were adorned with the purple, had been slain in these same broils, and now his progeny in these our days, although shamefully degenerated from the worthiness of their ancestors, provoke to battle their cruel conquerors, and by the goodness of our Lord obtain the victory.
After this, sometimes our countrymen, sometimes the enemy, won the field, to the end that our Lord might in this land try after his accustomed manner these his Israelites, whether they loved him or not, until the year of the siege of Mount Badon [Note: Giles translates "Badonici montis" as "of Bath-hill"], when took place also the last almost, though not the least slaughter of our cruel foes, which was as I am sure forty-four years and one month after the landing of the Saxons, and also the time of my own nativity.
And yet neither to this day are the cities of our country inhabited as before, but being forsaken and overthrown, still lie desolate; our foreign wars having ceased, but our civil troubles still remaining. For as well the remembrance of such a terrible desolation of the island, as also of the unexpected recovery of the same, remained in the minds of those who were eyewitnesses of the wonderful events of both, and in regard thereof, kings, public magistrates, and private persons, with priests and clergymen, did all and every one of them live orderly according to their several vocations.
For why shall their countrymen conceal what foreign nations round about now not only know, but also continually are casting in their teeth? London: Henry G. Bohn, This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history. Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use.
If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use. Paul Halsall April halsall murray. Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.
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I saw moreover in my own time, as that prophet also had complained, that the city had sat down lone and widowed, which before was full of people; that the queen of nations and the princess of provinces i. I knew the mercy of the Lord, but I also feared his judgment: I praised his grace, but I feared the rendering to every man according to his works: perceiving the sheep of the same fold to be different, I deservedly commended Peter for his entire confession of Christ, but called Judas most wretched, for his love of covetousness: I thought Stephen most glorious on account of the palm of martyrdom, but Nicholas wretched for his mark of unclean heresy: I read assuredly, "They had all things common:" but likewise also, as it is written, "Why have ye conspired to tempt the Spirit of God? Hold thy peace: to do otherwise, is to tell the foot to see, and the hand to speak. Britain has rulers, and she has watchmen: why dost thou incline thyself thus uselessly to prate? My senses, therefore, as if feeling a portion of my debt and obligation, preoccupied themselves with such objections, and with others yet more strong. They struggled, as I said, no short time, in fearful strait, whilst I read, "There is a time for speaking, and a time for keeping silence. THE HISTORY 3[ edit ] The island of Britain, situated on almost the utmost border of the earth, towards the south and west, and poised in the divine balance, as it is said, which supports the whole world, stretches out from the south-west towards the north pole, and is eight hundred miles long and two hundred broad,  except where the headlands of sundry promontories stretch farther into the sea.
The Ruin of Britain
Hagiography[ edit ] Differing versions of the Life of Saint Gildas exist, but both agree that he was born in what is now Scotland on the banks of the River Clyde , and that he was the son of a royal family. These works were written in the eleventh and twelfth centuries and are regarded by scholars as unhistorical. He is now thought to have his origins farther south. Illtud , where he chose to forsake his royal heritage and embrace monasticism. He became a renowned teacher, converting many to Christianity and founding numerous churches and monasteries throughout Britain and Ireland. He is thought to have made a pilgrimage to Rome before emigrating to Brittany, where he took on the life of a hermit.
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Motives for writing stated. WHATEVER my attempt shall be in this epistle, made more in tears than in denunciation, in poor style, I allow, but with good intent, let no man regard me as if about to speak under the influence of contempt for men in general, or with an idea of superiority to all, because I weep the general decay of good, and the heaping up of evils, with tearful complaint. It is not so much my purpose to narrate the dangers of savage warfare incurred by brave soldiers, as to tell of the dangers caused by indolent men. I have kept silence, I confess, with infinite sorrow of heart, as the Lord, the searcher of the reins, is my witness, for the past ten years or even longer; I was prevented by a sense of inexperience, a feeling I have even now, as well as of mean merit from writing a small admonitory work of any kind. I saw that in our time even, as he wept: The widowed city sat solitary, heretofore filled with people, ruler of the Gentiles, princess of provinces, and had become tributary. By this is meant the Church. The sons of Zion, that is, of the holy mother the Church, famous and clothed with best gold have embraced ordure.