James Cosmo as Hengist on Merlin (BBC)

Hengist (also appearing as Hengest, Hanguis, Augis, and under other forms in various texts) is the legendary “Saxon” leader who was initially responsible for the beginnings of the conquest of Britain by the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes in both English and British tradition. Hengist and his brother Horsa may be entirely fictional, based on folklore traditions about the Divine Twins.

The Name HengistEdit

The names of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes normally each contained two elements, often each a common word in the spoken tongue. Some of these name elements are only found in the first position, some only in the last position, and some in either position. But the names Hengist and Horsa do not fit this pattern, being words not found in normal names in either position.

Hengist means ‘stallion’ and horsa means ‘horse’. The form hengest is a latter form of the word hengist. Other forms of the name are just corruptions in origin.

These might be surnames (nicknames) applied for unknown reason or might indicate these are in origin figures of folklore.


Early SourcesEdit

Bede in his Ecclesiastical History says in Book 1, Chapter XV:

From the Jutes are descended the men of Kent, the Victuarii (that is, the people who occupy the Isle of Wight), and that people which is still called the Jutish nation and is situated opposite the Isle of Wight, in the kingdom of the West Saxons.

Later Bede says of Hengist and his brother Horsa:

They were the sons of Victgils, whose father was Vitta, whose father was Vecta, whose father was Woden, from whose stock the royal lines of many kingdoms derive their origins.

These three ancestors are listed in the exact forms or very closely to the forms in Bede in many later documents. They may appear to be derived from the name of the Isle of Wight which Bede also has settled by Jutes, just as Bede has the royal family of Kent descended from Hengist.

Under the year 560, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle traces the early Kings of Deira up to Sigegeat son of Swebdæg, Swebdæg son of Sigegar, Sigegar son of Wægdæg, Wægdæg son of Woden. In Snorri Sturluson’s medieval Icelandic Prose Edda, Óðinn (Woden) is made out to be a mortal, not really a god, but a king from Turkey descended from the royal house of Troy, who migrated with his people to the northwest and who settled for a time in the north of Germany. There he had three sons:

One was called Vegdeg; he was a powerful king and ruled over East Germany; his son was Vitrgils; his son was Vitta, father of Heingest, and Sigar, father of Svebdag, whom we call Svipdag.

If one switches Vitta with Vitrigils, to agree with the Anglo-Saxon listing, and moves Sigar to make Sigegar/Sigar son of Wægdæg as in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, one achieves a reconstructed source genealogy:

             Vitta          Sigegar/Sigar 
               │                  │
       Victgils/Vitrgils   Svebdæg/Svebdag
       ┌───────┴───────┐          │
Hengist/Heingist     Horsa     Sigegeat

See Grimm, Jacob (1888, p. 1730).

Late Frisian AccountsEdit

In 1598, the Frisian Andreas Cornelius, an organist at Harlingen, published in the Belgic tongue his Chronyk van Friesland, purportedly based on a chronicle by a writer named Ocko Scharlensis in about 970, this chronicle having been found by Cornelius (actually forged by him). Cornelius also used various scraps of history from earlier times and presumably some genuine oral traditions.

According to Cornelius, three brothers named Saxo, Bruno, and Friso landed on the west coast of the North Sea and each founded a colony. Saxo dwelt in the lands around the Elbe, Bruno built the tower of Brunswick on the Weser, and Friso and his followers settled in what was later Frisian territory. Friso was father of Adel, his heir, and of another son Vitho/Iutho from whom the Jutes sprang. From Friso, descended one after the other, Adel, Ubbo, Asingo, Ascon, Diocarus, Segon, Tibbaldus, Segon, and Taro. At that point the rulers begin to call themselves dukes and there are seven dukes descended from Taro in direct line: Asconius, Adelboldus, Titus Bojaculus, Ubbo, Haron Ubbo, Odilbaldus, and Udolphus Haron.

Duke Udolphus Haron fathered a son named Engistus in 361 and a son named Horsus in 363 who are the Hengist and Horsa of British tales. Udolphus was succeeded by his daughter Odilbalda’s husband Richolt Offo, the first ruler of Frisia to bear the title king. Richolt Offo’s son and successor was named Oldibaldus. King Oldibaldus succeeded to this father in 422 and fathered a son named Richolt in 440, and in the following year, twin sons named Engistus and Horsus after their uncles, now both deceased. Their mother died three days after giving birth.

When Richolt became king, he reigned peaceably which did not satisfy some of the more warlike Frisians. These arranged that King Richolt’s brothers Engistus and Horsus should lead an expedition to Britain, which was then being ravaged by King Gormund. They would join Gormund and so avenge the earlier Hengist and Horsa who had been slain by Britons. But when this expedition landed in Britain, there was a great battle in which both Engistus and Horsus were slain. Their Frisian followers then joined forces with Gormund’s men.

Suffridus Petrus in his De scriptoribus Frisiae, published in 1593, attempts to reconcile Conelius’ account that Hengist and Horsa were sons of Duke Udolphus Haron with the insular tradition that they were sons of one Victgils by explaining that when Udolphus Haron was sent by his father Duke Odilbaldus to Angria to be trained in arms by Ygno Lasseon, Udolphus Haron married one Suana, the daughter of Vergistus, a “satrap” living near Hamburg. Vergistus is to be understood as Victgils. When Suana had born two sons, Vergistus named them Hengistus and Horsus in memory of his own two sons who had died before Suana’s marriage and adopted them in place of these sons. Bernardus Furmerius in his Annalium Phrisicorum Libri Tres instead says that Hengist himself married a daughter of Vergistus named Vergista, and both claim that Vergistus adopted Hengist and Horsa as his own sons, according to Fuffridus Petrus to replace sons his sons of the same names who were now deceased.

Hengist Before BritainEdit

For more details from sources see Life of Hengist (Charts)#First Series

The Fight at FinnsburgEdit

In the surviving remnants of Old English verse tales, the hero Hengist appears twice, in the story of the Fight at Finnsburg. This story itself appears both in a fragmentary poem usually called the Finnsburg Fragment or the Fight at Finnsburg and is summarized in the poem Beowulf in which the tale as recited in Hrothgar’s hall during the celebrations of Beowulf’s victory over Grendel.

Lines 1141–1143 of Beowulf read:

Swa he ne forwyrnde weorodrædende,
þonne him Hunlafing hildeleoman
billa selest on bearm dyde

In the first published translation of the complete poem, John Mitchell Kembell interpreted this to mean:

Thus he avoided not death when Hunlaf’s descendant plunged into his bosom the flame of war, the best of swords; ...

Since Hengist, in English and British tradition, does not die in this fashion, scholars quite naturally insisted this must be a different Hengist.

But then Chadwick (1907, pp. 44–50), in his “Origin of the English nation” pointed out reasons why it was more likely that the Finnsbrg Hengist would be the same as the Hengist known from other sources. In an eptome of the lost Skjǫldunga saga made by Arngrímur Jónsson in 1596, the Danish king Leifus, the fourth king of Denmark, is the father of six sons named “Herleifus, Hunleifus, Aleifus, Oddleifus, Geirleifus, Gunnleifus”. Guðlaf and Oslaf appears only a few lines later in Beowulf and are likely to be Gunnleifus and Oddleifus. So Hunlafing would be a person, not a sword, the son of Hunlaf (Hunleifus). A proper rendering of these lines would be:

Thus he did not refuse, the host-ruler, when Hunlaf’s descendant, laid in his lap Flame-of-war, the best of swords.

Hengist was not killed by the sword. Rather he accepted it from Hunlaf’s son as a token of leadership. There is no longer any reason to suspect that there are two different Hengists. Though that the Hengist of the Fight at Finnsburg is identical to the one who was the supposed Hengist who led his folk to Britain, cannot actually be proved.

The story tells of a battle, apparently in the Fiesland in the court of King Finn, with Jutes on both sides. The battle begins when Hnæf, a Danish lord, pays a visit to his brother-in-law Finn, along with his nephew Finn's son. Hengist is the leader of a band of Jutes among Hnæf’s retinue. Finn gives his own royal hall to Hnæf and Hengist and their people to dwell in. But some Juies among Finn’s retinue attack Hnæf and Hengist’s people before the dawn.

For five days Hnæf and Hingest hold off the attackers. Then, on the sixth day, the attackers burst into the hall and kill both Hnæf and one Friðiwulf before being beaten back.

Finn, having lost so many of his own folk, now barters an uneasy peace. Winter weather prevents Hengist and the Danes form sailing, and so Finn gives them the hall to dwell in for the winter. But as spring appoaches, one of the Danes name Hunlafing places a sword in Hengist’s lap, apparently to urge him to avenge Hnæf. Hengist agrees.

The Danes set forth, but apparently return and gain entrance to Finnsburg through Hengist who, with his Jutes, has remained behind. In the following battle Finn is killed and his people massacred.

Tolkien (1983) suggests the core of the story is that the Jutes have been mostly conquered by the Danes. Hengist’s Jutes have acquiesed to Danish rulership, but oher Jutes have fled to Finnsburg and now dwell there;, which is why there are Jutes on both sides of this quarrel. It is the anti-Danish Jutes who first attack the hall and later kill Hnæf.

Late Frisian Accounts of Young HengistEdit

According to the forgeries of Andreas Cornelius and later books based on them, Hengist and Horsa were the sons of Udolph Haron, the seventh and last Duke of Friesland. Hengist was born in 361 and Horsa, his brother was born in 363. In 374, Udolph Haron sent his two sons to the Roman emperor Valentinian to be educated, to be taught martial arts and to learn noble manners. In 380, upon Valentinan’s death, Hengist and Horsa returned to Friesland where they first met Carol Taxand, Duke of Brabant, whom they then served for three years, before, at last, returning to their father’s court in 384, when their father sent them to serve Lascon (in some later text, Yglo Laseon), his captain, in Angria and Westphalia.

Then, in 385, there were complaints that Friesland had become over-populated and it was necessary that the traditional remedy of choosing by lot people to find homes elsewhere was put into effect. The lot fell upon both Hingest and Horsa, who because of their birth and general excellence, where appointed leaders of the expedition. They set sail during the same year.

According to Suffriedus Petrus, a later writer, this expedition first settled at the mouth of the river Elder, and named this country Frisia Minor. The people of this country were few, and were mostly descendants of earlier Frisian and Jutish colonies, the earliest dating to the time of Ubbo son of Iuto son of Friso. Hengist and Horsa, from their base in Frisia Minor, then made many piratical expeditions, mostly in Britain and Armorica, but extending to Greece and to Asia.

Hengist Takes Service Under VortigernEdit

For more details from sources see Life of Hengist (Charts)#Second Series and the first row in the charts of Life of Hengist (Charts)#Third Series

Coming of HengistEdit

Gildas and Bede both vaguely say that the Saxons were invited into Britain by Vortigern. But the Historia Britonum implies that Hengist and Horsa came by chance in three ships and Geoffrey of Monmouth follows this, saying that they were exiles from Saxony chosen by lot because their homeland was over-populated. Gildas remarks:

... 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.

The date is said to be 449 by Bede and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, but said to be “447 years after the passion of Christ” according to the Historia Brittonum, which would make it fall in the year 480. But later it is said:

Vortigern reigned in Britain when Theodosius and Valentinian were consuls, and in the fourth year of his reign the Saxons came to Britain, in the consulship of Feliz and Taurus, in the four hundredth year from the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

According to the Historia Brittonum Vortigern bestowed on Hengist, at that time, the Isle of Thanet. Geoffrey of Monnouth does not explictly mention this. Tere the Historia Brittonum places the beginning of the first voyage to Britain of St. Germanus which Geoffrey mentions later.

Geoffrey goes on to tell of how the Saxons proved their worth when the Picts raided the northern part of Vortigern’s kingdom for they forced the Picts to retreat. Thereupon Vortigern gave to Hengist lands in the neighborhood of Lindsey.

On the contrary, Geoffrey in his Vita Merlini, at the end, presents a dialogue between Merlin and Taliesin in which Merlin recalls when the Saxons first came to Britain. As translated by John Jay Parry:

And I remember the crime when Constans was betrayed and the small brothers Uther and Ambrosius fled across the water. At once wars began in the kingdom which now lacked a leader, for Vortigern of Gwent, the consul, was leading his troops against all the nations so that he might have the leadership of them, and was inflicting a wretched death upon the harmless peasants. At length with sudden violence he seized the crown after putting to death many of the nobles and he subdued the whole kingdom to himself. But those who were allied to the brothers by blood relationship, offended at this, began to set fire to all the cities of the ill-fated prince and to perturb his kingdom with savage soldiery, and they would not permit him to possess it in peace. Disquieted therefore since he could not withstand the rebellious people, he prepared to invite to the war men from far away with whose aid he might be able to meet his enemies. Soon there came from divers parts of the world warlike bands whom he received with honour. The Saxon people, in fact, arriving in their curved keels had come to serve him with their helmeted soldiery. They were led by two courageous brothers, Horsus and Hengist, who afterwards with wicked treachery harmed the people and the cities.

Geoffrey then relates that Hengist, seeing that Vortigern still feared the Picts, and that he also feared rumors that Ambrosius in Armorica was reaching adulthood and preparing to attack Vortigern, asked permission to bring more of his people over the enter Vortigern’s service. This Vortigern granted.

The Historia Brittonum only mentions that the Saxons were provided with food and clothing in exchange for fighting the barbarians. But when their numbers increased, the Britons said they should depart because they could no longer support them according to their agreement. Then Hengist suggests that he be allowed to bring further folk from his homeland to better battle with the Picts, and Vortigern assents.


According to Geoffrey, Vortigern would not grant any large city or title to Hengist, because Hengist and his people were pagans. But Hengist persuaded Vortigern to grant him as much land within his British territories as could be encircled by a single thong, on which to build a fortress. Then Hengist chose some precipitous land which he surrounded by a thong cut from a single bull’s hide and began to build a fortress there which was later named Castrum Corrigae (‘Castle of the Thong’) in Latin, was known as Kaercarrei in Welsh, and as Thanceastre in the Saxon tongue. Wace claims that this fortress was known as Vancaster, and later as Lancaster. Lawman also equates it with Lancaster.

A similar tale is told of the foundation of Carthage. According to Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus (in his Philippic histories as rendered in a digest or epitome made by Junianus Justinus in the 3rd century) and according to Virgil’s Aeneid, when Elissa (Dido) founded the settlement that later became Carthage, she asked the natives of the land for as much territory as could be encompassed by an oxhide. Elissa cut the hide into thongs and used the joined thongs to encompass a nearby hill, which was therefore afterwards named byrsa (‘hide’ in Greek). Byrsa was later the ciadel of Carthage.

Vortigern and RenweinEdit

Sixteen (Historia Brittonum) or eighteen (Geoffrey) ships arrive from Hengist’s homeland, including Hengist's daughter, whom Geoffrey names Renwein, who is extraordinarily beautiful. Hengist invites Vortigern to a banquet with other Saxon lords and his interpreter Ceretic. Geoffrey places the banquet at Hengist’s new Thong Castle. The Historia Brittonum relates that Hengist plots to have Vortigern served with wine and ale so that he will soon became intoxicated and enamored by his daughter. According to Geoffrey, while Vortigern is taking part at the banquet, Renwein comes from an adjoining chamber carrying a golden goblet of wine, walks up the the king, curtsies, and says Lavred King, was hail! (‘Lord King, be healthy!’). Instructed by his interpreter, Vortigern responds “Drinc hail! (‘Drink healthy’), orders Renwein to drink, takes the goblet from her hand, kisses Renwein, and drinks in his turn.

Geoffrey tells us that the custom of wassail here first began in England and is still so practiced in his own day. The Historia Brittonum claims that Hengist had previously consulted with his Angle elders. Geoffrey place the consultation now. Tne end result is told similarly. They agree to give the daughter to Vortigern in exchange for the province of Kent. So it was done, Kent was given to Hengist without any discussion with Guoyrancgon who was currently its ruler.

Geoffrey here places the beginning of the first journey of St. Germanus to Britain.

Fortification of the Saxon RockEdit

The Prose Lancelot (LXXa [433]) tells that the Saxon Rock, located about 12 Scottish leagues from Arestuel in Scotland, was secretly fortified at the time when Vortigern married Hengist’s daughter.

Hengist Battles the BritonsEdit

For more details from sources see Life of Hengist (Charts)#Third Series and Life of Hengist (Charts)#Fourth Series.

In the Historia Brittonum and in Geoffrey, after the marriage of Vortigern to Hengist’s daughter Renwein, Hengist suggests that still more of his kindred should come to Britain led by Hengist’s sons Oisc and Ebissa. (According to the Welsh Bruts, Ebissa is Oisc’s uncle; and according to Wace, Ebissa is Hengist’s nephew; and according to Lawman, Ebissa is Oisc’s brother-in-law.) They are to be given northern lands to the south of the wall. Oisc and Ebiss arrive. Geoffrey says another man named Cherdic accompanied them, but Cherdic is not mentioned by the Historia Brittonum or by Wace or Lawman. The Historia Brittonum claims the new arrivals brought 40 ships with them in which they sailed round the country of the Picts, laid waste the Orkneys, and took possession of many regions, even to the Pictish confines. Geoffrey, Wace, and Lawman mention 300 ships, but only say that the new arrivals conquered Vortigern’s enemies and were victorious in every battle.

The Historia Brittonum here brings in the tale of Vortigern’s incestuous child, and brings in the story of the Fatherless Boy from that. Geoffrey however brings in increasing immigration of Saxons to the point that the Britons become terrified of this heathen people who were now mingling with the Britons and intermarrying with them. Seeing that Vortigern refused to respond to their concerns they deposed him.

Then comes war between Saxon and Briton, led on one side by Hengist and on the other by Vortimer son of Vortigern. For further details see the article Vortimer. Vortimer is said to have been made king by Geoffey and texts based on him, but the Historia Brittonum does not say so, only that Vortimer was the British battle leader. During this war Horsa, Hengist’s brother was slain and in the same battle fell Catigern, Vortimer’s brother. According to Geoffrey and those following him, they slew each other in single combat.

According to Geoffrey, Hengist is here entirely driven from Britain. It is at this point that according to general tradition in many medieval chronicles that Hengist founded the city of Leiden in the Netherlands.

Geoffrey then relates who Hengist, after Vortimer’s death, returned to Britain with a vast army of 300,000 armed men. Vortigern and his princes now became apprehensive. Renwein secretly sent a message to Hengist warning him.

Both the Historia Brittonum and Geoffrey tell how Hengist plotted treachery while agreeing to a parley. According to Geoffrey, Hingest feigned that he had brought so many men over because he wrongly believed that Vortimer was still alive. Now that he knew that Vortimer was dead, he offered a meeting at which Vortigern might decide on who should leave and who should stay. So the parley is arranged to take place on May 1 at the Cloister of Ambrius. But each of Hengist’s men is to have a large dagger concealed in his boot. The Historia Brittonum relates that Hengist orders that Vortigern be spared.

According to both the Historia Brittonum and Geoffrey, Hengist’s men and Vortigern’s men met at the parley. The Historia Brittonum mentions that they had become very intoxicated. The Historia Brittonum tells that each Briton is sitting next to a Saxon.

When the moment comes that Hengist feels to be right, he shouts out “Nimet oure saxes! (‘Take out our long-knives’)” Each Saxons slits the throat of the unsuspecting Briton next to him and 300 (Historia Brittonum) or “about 460 counts and earls” (Geoffrey) are slain.

Geoffrey tells how some escape. Eldol, Count of Gloucester seized a wooden stake and broke the limbs or head of any Saxon with reach, killing some 70 men, and so escaped and at last reached his city.

Vorigern is allowed to go free only if he will first give to the Saxons the regions afterwards known as Essex, Middlesex, and Sussex. Vortigern does this.

This is the point where Geoffrey’s tales matches the great Saxon onslaught described by Gildas in his De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae. It is presumably to be identified with the entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which reads:

473 [A]. Here Hengist and Æsc fought against the Welsh and took spoils innumerable; and the Welsh fled from the Angles like fire.

The Historia Brittonum here has Vortigern, having lost all credibility, fleeing from St. Germanus who prays down fire from heaven on the fortress where he seeks shelter. Or he wanders alone, hated by all, until at last he meets an ignominious end. Geoffrey and later accounts tell how Ambrosius besieges Vortigern in the castle of Generou, on the river Wye on Doward hill. Generou caches fire during the siege and is destroyed along with Vortigern.

Death of HengistEdit

For more details from sources see Life of Hengist (Charts)#Fifth Series.

According to Henry of Huntington’s Historia anglorumEdit

Henry of Huntington uses a different chronology than later texts, the battles against the Saxons which the Historia Brittonum ascribes to Vortimer being placed after Vortigern’s death and being ascribed to a force led by Ambrosius with Vortimer and Catigern as his generals. Catigern and Horsa are both killed, and eventually Vortimer dies of illness. Hengist continues to reign. Henry ascibes the defeat of the British at Wippedsfleot from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to Hengist and Oisc. Finally:

  [A. D. 488.] Hengist, King of Kent, died in the fortieth year after his invasion of Britain, and his son Esc reigned 34 years, in the time of the Emperor Zeno, whose reign lasted 17 years. Esc, inheriting his father’s valour, firmly defended his kingdom against the Britons, and augmented it hy territories conquered from them.

See Historia anglorum.

According to Geoffrey of Monmouth and Most Sources Based on HimEdit

Ambrosius, after the death of Vortigern, sets out with his forces against the Saxons. The Saxons, having heard of the excellencies of Ambrosius, retreat across the Humber, looking for aid from the Picts.

Hengist attacks Ambrosius on the field of Maisbeli. Eldol attempts to personally attack Hengist but is unsuccessful. Seeing that the Britons were winning, Hengist flees towards Caer Conan (Cunungeburg). But seeing that Amrosius’ forces were following him, and realizing that Caer Conan could not hold against Ambrosius in a siege, decides to fight against him now on the field.

Ambrosius’ cavalry forces the Saxons from their positions, and once moved, they are unable to reform their ranks. Eldol, Count of Gloucester, meets with Hengist and they fight personally against each other, neither showing himself the better. Then Eldol sees Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall approaching, gains new assurance and seize Hengist by the nasal of his helmet and drags him in amongst his own men, crying out that Hengist is beaten.

The Britons give no respite to the Saxons until they achieve victory. Hengist's son Oisc flees to York with the largest number of those fleeing, York being garrisoned by Hengist’s kinsman Eosa (Ebissa in Wace and Lawman).

The victorious Britons halt in Caer Conan for three days. Then the leaders take council as to what should be done with Hengist. Eldad, Bishop of Gloucester, Eldol’s brother, reccomends from Biblical precedent that Hengist be hacked in pieces, just as in the Bible the prophet Samuel hacked to pieces Agag, King of Amalek, when he was captured.

Eldol, taking his sword, leads Hengist outside the city, and beheads him. But Ambrosius, ever a moderate man, orders that Hengist be buried and a barrow of earth be built over his body as was pagan custom.

According to the Story of MerlinEdit

In this work, Ambrosius is named Pendragon.

King Pendragon fights many battles against the Saxons, eventually besieging Hengist in his castle for more than half a year. Some of his council tell of the deeds of Merlin the prophet and Pendragon decides to send messengers to try to find him to seek his advice on whether they will ever be able to capture Hengist.

In Northumberland, Merlin, disguised as a woodcutter, meets some of the messengers and tells them their assigned task. The supposed woodcutter says they will never take the castle until Hengist is dead. Also he relates that of the five who spoke privately to Pendragon about Merlin, three are now dead. But to find Merlin, Pendragon must come in person. Then the supposed woodcutter suddenly vanishes.

The messengers return to Pendragon and tell what has happened and that they think the woodcutter was really Merlin. Pendragon sets out to Northumberland with some of his knights, leaving his brother Uther behind in the camp.

Merlin knows, through his powers, that Hengist is planning to pass secretly though the British lines and kill Uther in his bed, before making a quick getaway. Merlin, disguised as a white-haired old man, meets with Uther and forewarns him. Uther believes the tale, stays awake at night, armed, and kills Hengist when he sees him arrive.

According to the Vulgate MerlinEdit

Although the Vulgate Merlin incorporates the Story of Merlin, it contains a notation referring to a variant version of Hengist's death. A small stronghold named The Rescue has been given this name because (as translated by Rupert T. Pickens):

Vortigern had been rescued there when Hengist the Saxon was run down and killed in the same place.

This seems to be a variant of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s tale, but one in which Hengist is slain during the battle, rather than being captured, and in which Vortigern is still alive and still very much Hengist’s ally. Also, in an earlier passage, King Rion remarks (p. 231)(as translated by Rupert T. Pickens):

“Are you telling me as a truth that you are King Arthur the son of Uther Pendragon, the one who killed Algis (Hengist) the Saxon before Saxon Rock?’'

This might fit either the Story of Merlin or Geoffrey of Monmouth’s version (if one interprets “one who killed” to mean “one who ordered killed”). But in Geoffrey's account Hengist’s beheading occurs before Caer Conan in Yorkshire and in the Story of Merlin Uther’s slaying of Hengist in his tent occurs near an unnamed castle of Hengist. But the Saxon Rock is otherwise located in Scotland, near Arestuel, while the city of Garlot, near which the Rescue is located in the account previously supplied, is placed between Salisbury Plain and the city of Clarence on the river Severn, nowhere near Scotland. Perhaps one may assume that this is a different Saxon Rock?

Descendants and Kin of HengistEdit

Hengist’s son and heir in Kent is said to be Oeric who was surnamed Oisc, and is discussed in his own article. Ebissa is also, in early texts, said to be another son of Hengist, although some later sources make him a nephew. Again, see his own article.

According to the late Frisian writers Bernardus Furmerius in his Analium Phrsicorum Libri Tres (1609) as summarized by Aurn (p. 52):

  ♂Octa          ♂Ebissa      ♂Edelred
     │                            │
♂Eormenric                    ♀Ostrida
     │                       ┌────┴────┐
♂Æthelbert    ♂Villegis = ♀Oronia   ♀Berta = ♂Sigebert
                        │                  │
                   ♂Willebrord         ♂Svidbert

St. Willibrord was a Northumbrian in origin who converted the Frisians to Christianity along with St. Svidbert. St. Willibrord became the first archbishop of Utreucht.

According to the Vulgate Merlin (p. 113/6) Aminaduc, leader of the Saxon invasion of Britain during Arthur’s early reign, was uncle to Hengist. So Aminaduc’s nephews who accompany him on this campaign should also be Hengist’s kin. The names of these nephews are King Brangoire, King Margaris, and King Hargodabrant.

Hargodobrant is said in turn to be brother to the Saxon damsel Camille (p. 126/19), although her name is not given at this point.

The Saxon King Margondre is also said to be Hengist’s kinsman (cousin) (p. 168/35) and Hengist’s first cousin (cousins germains) (p. 400/6). The five Saxon kings Baramal, Caroman, Lidras, Hardiant, Kinkinart, each mentioned once only, are also said to be Hengist’s kinsmen (p. 172/2).

Others might be included in a list of Hengist’s kin in the Vulgate Merlin, but names are often misspelled making it difficult to determine whether characters should be identified with one another.


Some Name VariationsEdit

LATIN: Hengistus; FRENCH: Henguist, Hanguist, Hanguis, Hangus(t), Angis, Augier, Augis, Engis(t), Hangués; ENGLISH: Hengest, Hengest, Hængest, Henges, Hengeste, Henges, Hengestes, Hengestes, Heng, Hænges, Hængestest, Hængestes, Engest, Engystis, Henguste, Angys, Augis, Amygys, Amygis, Anguysh, Angrius, Aungier, Angier, Angiers, Aungers, Aungys, Aungis, Algis; OLD NORSE: Heingist; WELSH: Hengist, Hainssiestr, Hamster.

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