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been sunk into a fatal lethargy. Hengist, however, notwithstanding their opposition, still maintained his ground in Britain ; and in order to divide the forces and attention of the natives, he called over a new tribe of Saxons, under the command of his brother Octa, and of Ebissa, the son of Octa; and he settled them in Northumberland. He himself remained in the southern parts of the island, and laid the foundation of the kingdom of Kent, comprehending the county of that name, Middlesex, Essex, and part of Surrey. He fixed his royal seat at Canterbury, where he governed about forty years, and he died in or near the year 488, leaving his new-acquired dominions to his posterity.
The success of Hengist excited the avidity of the other northern Germans; and at different times, and under different leaders, they flocked over in multitudes to the invasion of this island. These conquerors were chiefly composed of three tribes, the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes,* who all passed under the common appellation, sometimes of Saxons, sometimes of Angles ; and speaking the same language, and being governed by the same institutions, they were naturally led, from these causes, as well as from their common interest, to unite themselves against the ancient inhabitants. The resistance, however, though unequal, was still maintained by the Britons ; but became every day more feeble ; and their calamities admitted of few intervals, till they were driven into Cornwall and Wales, and received protection from the remote situation or inaccessible mountains of those countries.
The first Saxon state, after that of Kent, which was established in Britain, was the kingdom of South Saxony. In the year 477,6 Ælla, a Saxon chief, brought over an army from Germany; and, landing on the southern coast, proceeded to take possession of the neighboring territory. The Britons, now armed, did not tamely abandon their possessions ; nor were they expelled till defeated in many battles by their warlike invaders. The most memorable action, mentioned by historians, is that of Mearcredes Burn ; # where, though the
* Bede, lib. i. cap. 15. Ethelwerd, p. 833, edit. Camdeni. Chron. Sax. p. 12. Alured. Beverl. p. 78. The inhabitants of Kent and the Isle of Wight were Jutes. Essex, Middlesex, Surrey, Sussex, and all the southern counties to Cornwall, were peopled by Saxons: Mercia and other parts of the kingdom were inhabited by Angles. + Chron. Sax. p. 14. Alured Beverl. p. 81. Chron. Sas. A. D. 485. Flor. Wigron.
Saxons seem to have obtained the victory, they suffered so considerable a loss, as somewhat retarded the progress of their conquests. But Ælla, reënforced by fresh numbers of his countrymen, again took the field against the Britons ; and laid siege to Andred Ceaster, which was defended by the garrison and inhabitants with desperate valor.* The Saxons, enraged by this resistance, and by the fatigues and dangers which they had sustained, redoubled their efforts against the place ; and, when masters of it, put all their enemies to the sword: without distinction. This decisive advantage secured the conquests of Ælla, who assumed the name of king, and extended his dominion over Sussex and a great part of Surrey. He was stopped in his progress to the east by the kingdom of Kent; in that to the west by another tribe of Saxons, who had taken possession of that territory.
These Saxons, from the situation of the country in which they settled, were called the West Saxons, and landed in the year 495, under the command of Cerdic, and of his son Kenric.t The Britons were, by past experience, so much on their guard, and so well prepared to receive the enemy, that they pave battle to Cerdic the very day of his landing; and, though vanquished, still defended, for some time, their liberties against the invaders. None of the other tribes of Saxons met with such vigorous resistance, or exerted such valor and perseverance in pushing their conquests. Cerdic was even obliged to call for the assistance of his countrymen from the kingdoms of Kent and Sussex, as well as from Germany, and he was thence joined by a fresh army under the command of Porte, and of his sons Bleda and Megla. Strengthened by these succors, he fought, in the year 508, a desperate battle with the Britons, commanded by Nazan Leod, who was victorious in the beginning of the action, and routed the wing in which Cerdic himself commanded. But Kenric, who had prevailed in the other wing, brought timely assistance to his father, and restored the battle, which ended in a complete victory gained by the Saxons.g Nazan Leod perished, with five thousand of his army; but left the Britons more weakened than discouraged by his death. The war still continued, though the success was commonly on the side of the Saxons, whose short swords and
* H. Hunting. lib. ii.
Chron. Sax. p. 17.
close manner of fighting gave them great advantage over the missile weapons of the Britons. Cerdic was not wanting to his good fortune; and in order to extend his conquests, he laid siege to Mount Badon or Banesdowne, near Bath, whither the most obstinate of the discomfited Britons had retired. The southern Britons, in this extremity, applied for assistance to Arthur, prince of the Silures, whose heroic valor now sustained the declining fate of his country. *
This is that Arthur so much celebrated in the songs of Thaliessin, and the other British bards, and whose military achievements have been blended with so many fables, as even to give occasion for entertaining a doubt of his real existence. But poets, though they disfigure the most certain history by their fictions, and use strange liberties with truth where they are the sole historians, as among the Britons, have commonly some foundation for their wildest exaggerations. Certain it is, that the siege of Badon was raised by the Britons in the year 520; and the Saxons were there discomfited in a great battle.* This misfortune stopped the progress of Cerdic; but was not sufficient to wrest from him the conquests which he had already made. He and his son Kenric, who succeeded him, established the kingdom of the West Saxons, or of Wessex, over the counties of Hants, Dorset, Wilts, Berks, and the Isle of Wight, and left their new-acquired dominions to their posterity. Cerdic died in 534, Kenric in 560.
While the Saxons made this progress in the south, their countrymen were not less active in other quarters. In the year 527, a great tribe of adventurers, under several leaders, landed on the east coast of Britain; and after fighting many battles, of which history has preserved no particular account, they established three new kingdoms in this island. Uffa assumed the title of king of the East Angles in 575; Crida, that of Mercia in 585;f and Erkenwin, that of East Saxony, or Essex, nearly about the same time; but the year is uncertain. This latter kingdom was dismembered from that of Kent, and compréhended Essex, Middlesex, and part of Hertfordshire ; that of the East Angles, the counties of Cambridge, Suffolk, and Norfolk : Mercia was extended over all the middle counties from the banks of the Severn to the frontiers of these two kingdoms.
* H. Hunting, lib. ii. + Gildas, Chron. Sax. H. Hunting. lib. ü. & M. West. H. Hunting. lib. ii.
The Saxons, soon after the landing of Hengist, had been planted in Northumberland ; but as they met with an obstinate resistance, and made but small progress in subduing the inhabitants, their affairs were in so unsettled a condition, that none of their princes for a long time assumed the appellation of king. At last, in 547,* Ida, a Saxon prince of great valor, who claimed a descent, as did all the other princes of that nation, from Woden, brought over a reënforcement from Germany, and enabled the Northumbrians to carry on their conquests over the Britons. He entirely subdued the county now called Northumberland, the bishopric of Durham, as well as some of the south-east counties of Scotland ; and he assumed the crown under the title of king of Bernicia. Nearly about the same time, Ælla, another Saxon prince, having conquered Lancashire and the greater part of Yorkshire, received the appellation of king of Deiri. These two kingdoms were united in the person of Ethelfrid, grandson of Ida, who married Acca, the daughter of Ælla; and expelling her brother Edwin, established one of the most powerful of the Saxon kingdoms, by the title of Northumberland. How far his dominions extended into the country now called Scotland is uncertain; but it cannot be doubted, that all the lowlands, especially the east coast of that country, were peopled in a great measure from Germany ; though the expeditions, made by the several Saxon adventurers, have escaped the records of history. The language spoken in those countries, which is purely Saxon, is a stronger proof of this event than can be opposed by the imperfect, or rather fabulous annals, which are obtruded on us by the Scottish historians.
Thus was established, after a violent contest of near a hundred and fifty years, the Heptarchy, or seven Saxon king. doms, in Britain ; and the whole southern part of the island, except Wales and Cornwall, had totally changed its inhabitants, language, customs, and political institutions: The Britons, under the Roman dominion, had made such advances towards arts and civil manners, that they had built twentyeight considerable cities within their province, besides a great number of villages and country seats ;S but the fierce con
querors, by whom they were now subdued, threw every thing back into ancient barbarity; and those few natives, who were not either massacred or expelled their habitations, were reduced to the most abject slavery. None of the other northern conquerors, the Franks, Goths, Vandals, or Burgundians, though they overran the southern provinces of the empire like a mighty torrent, made such devastations in the conquered territories, or were inflamed into so violent an animosity against the ancient inhabitants. As the Saxons came over at intervals in separate bodies, the Britons, however at first unwarlike, were tempted to make resistance; and hostilities, being thereby prolonged, proved more destructive to both parties, especially to the vanquished. The first invaders from Germany, instead of excluding other adventurers, who must share with them the spoils of the ancient inhabitants, were obliged to solicit fresh supplies from their own country; and a total extermination of the Britons became the sole expedient for providing a settlement and subsistence to the new planters. Hence there have been found in history few conquests more ruinous than that of the Saxons, and few revolutions more violent than that which they introduced.
So long as the contest was maintained with the natives, the several Saxon princes preserved a union of counsels and interests; but after the Britons were shut up in the barren countries of Cornwall and Wales, and gave no further disturbance to the conquerors, the band of alliance was in a great measure dissolved among the princes of the Heptarchy. Though one prince seems still to have been allowed, or to have assumed, an ascendant over the whole, his authority, if it ought ever to be deemed regular or legal, was extremely limited; and each state acted as if it had been independent, and wholly separate from the rest. Wars, therefore, and revolutions and dissensions, were unavoidable among a turbulent and military people; and these events, however intricate or confused, ought now to become the objects of our attention. But, added to the difficulty of carrying on at once the history of seven independent kingdoms, there is great discouragement to a writer, arising from the uncertainty, at least barrenness, of the accounts transmitted to us. The monks, who were the only annalists during those ages, lived remote from public affairs, considered the civil transactions as entirely subordinate to the ecclesiastical, and, besides partaking of the ignorance and barbarity which were then universal, were strongly