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Historia anglorum

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The Historia anglorum by Henry of Huntington, first edition published c. 1129, is a major work of history covering very briefly the pre-English history of Britain, and then the history of English kings from the arrival of Hengist up to the 5th edition in 1154.

SourcesEdit

Henry's known sources for the “Arthurian” portion of his history include, Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, the Vatican Recension of the Historia Brittonum, and versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle similar to to C and E along with a lost version of the the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which he shared with John of Worcester.

Battle of Stamford BridgeEdit

Henry’s account of the Battle of Stamford Bridge comes from some unknown source. In Thomas Forester’s translation:

A battle was fought by the Saxons against the Scots and Picts who had penetrated as far as Stamford, in the south of Lincolnshire, 40 miles from the town of that name. But as the Northern fought with darts and spears, while the Saxons plied lustily their battle-axes and long swords, the Picts were unable to withstand the weight of their onset, and save themselves by flight. The Saxons gained the victory and its spoils; their countrymen receiving tidings of which, as well as of the fertility of the island and the cowardice of the Britons, a larger fleet was immediately sent over with a great body of armed men, which, when added to the first detachment, rendered the army invincible.

Henry’s Merged Account of Ambrosius and VortimerEdit

Henry, may have some information for any unknown source, or may only be merging creatively material from the Historia Britonnum and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Bede’s Ecclesiastical History in his account of Ambrosius and Vortimer. As translated by Thomas Forester:

When, however, the army of the Saxons having entirely routed the natives, returned to their own territory, the Britons, emerging for their hiding places, marched into Kent against Hengist and Horsa. To sons of Vortigern, Gortimer and Catiger acted as generals under him. Ambrosius himself led the first rank; Gortimer, the second; and Catiger the third, while Horsa and Hengist, while their troops were inferior in numbers, led them boldly against the enemy, dividing them into two bodies, of which each of the brother commanded one.

  [A. D. 455.] The battle was fought at Aeillestreu, in the seventh year after the arrival of the Saxons in Britain. At the first onset, Horsa charged the troops of Catiger with such fury, that they were scattered like dust before the wind, and the king’s son was dashed to the earth and slain. Meanwhile, his brother Gortimer, a most resolute soldier, throwing himself on the flank of Horsa’s band, routed it, and, their brave leader being slain, compelled the survivors to retreat on the division of Hengist, which was engaged unbroken with the van of the British army commanded by Ambrosius. The brunt of the battle now fell on Hengist, who, straitened by the skilful advance of Gortimer, though he made a long resistance and caused a great loss to the Britohs, at length, what he had never done before, fled. It is reported by some writers that Hengist subsequently fought three battles in the same year against the Britons, but could not make head against the proved valour of Gortimer and the superior number of his forces; so that once he was driven into the Isle of Thanet and once to his ships, and dispatched messengers to recall the Saxons who had returned to their own country.

The year following, when Leo was emperor, who reigned seventeen years, Gortimer, the flower of the youth of Britain, fell sick and died, and with him ended the victories and the hopes of his countrymen. Encouraged by his death, and strengthened by the recall of his auxiliaries, who had for a time left the island, Hengist, with his son Esc, prepared for war at Creganford; while the Britons mustered four powerful bodies of men, under four of the bravest chiefs. But when the game of war commenced they were disheartened by the unusual superiority of the Saxons in number. Besides the newly-arrived were chosen troops, who dreadfully gashed the bodies of the Britons with their battle-axes and long swords; nor was there any respite till they had cut down and slain all the four leaders, and the Britons fled in the greatest terror out of Thanet, as far as London. They never again appeared in arms in Kent, where Hengist and his son Esc thenceforth reigned, the kingdom of Kent dating from the eighth year after the arrival of the Angles.

More on HengistEdit

Henry here inserts the story of Germanus and the Allelujah victory and other deeds of Germanus. Then follows more on Hengist:

After a little time Hengist the king and Esc his son, supported by the auxilliaries from beyond the sea, collected an invincible army in the seventeenth year after their arrival in Britain. Against this was gathered the whole strength of Britain, in twelve columns, admirably arrayed. The armies met at Wippedesflede, where the battle was long and obstinate, until at length Hengist overthrew the twelve chiefs, taking their standards, and putting their followers to flight He, too, lost many of has troops and principal leaders one especially, called Wipped, from whom the place where the battle was fought took its name.

Death of HengistEdit

Then after telling of the coming of Ælla and his sons, Cymen, Pleting [sic], and Cissa, Henry returns to Hengist:

  [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.

Arthur and his Twelve BattlesEdit

Henry reproduces the account of the twelve battles from the Historia Britonum. He places them in his account after the events of the year 527, but begins them with the vague phrase “In those times”, probably indicating his uncertainty.

ReferencesEdit

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