Book 2, Chapter 1, 449 AD to 597 AD – The Saxon Kingdoms – Continued
Ella landed in Sussex, at or near to Withering, in the Isle of Selsey, but he encountered fierce opposition from the natives of that part, whom he at length, though not without great difficulty, drove into the woods which stretched from the south of Kent into Sussex and Hampshire, and which at that time formed a continuous forest one hundred and twenty miles long and thirty broad. The progress made by the new invaders was very slow, and not until eight years had elapsed did they attempt to penetrate into the interior of the forest, with a view to capture a fortified town called Andredes Ceaster.
This place was bravely defended by the Britons, while others in the forest assailed the besiegers, and after varying fortunes the Saxons captured the place, and in revenge for its obstinate defence, massacred all the inhabitants. After this, in 490, Ella founded the kingdom of Sussex. Five years afterwards, another arrival of Saxons, under the leadership of Cerdic, is recorded, and after twenty-four years of resistance on the part of the Britons, and of reinforcements on that of the Saxons, the kingdom of Wessex was founded in 519.
Thus seventy years had elapsed since the first landing of the Saxons, and yet, so stoutly had the Britons fought, only Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire had been wrested from them. During these struggles in the south, and before the conclusion of the sixth century, separate bands of adventurers, under their respective chiefs, landed at different spots north of the Thames, and eventually founded the kingdoms of Essex, Bernicia, Deira, East Anglia, and Mercia. Essex included the country now known by that name, with Middle-sex, and part of Herts, Bernicia, the eastern side of the island from the Forth to the Tyne, Deira, the eastern side from the Humber to the Tees, East Anglia, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridge, a district then almost insular, caused by numerous meres, bays, and streams, Mercia comprised the midland counties from the Severn to the Humber.
These conquests were not made without prolonged and bloody struggles, and it is to this period that the tales concerning Arthur are assigned, but the tales told of him have been so embellished by bards and chroniclers that they savour of pure romance. Notwithstanding the attempted vindication of these traditions and legends by some respectable and enthusiastic writers, all that can be clearly ascertained concerning the hero is that he was a British chieftain, who fought many battles, who was murdered by his nephew, and who was buried at Glastonbury, where his remains where discovered in the reign of Henry II, and that Edward I, visited Glastonbury with his queen in 1276, and had the shrine opened to contemplate the remains, which by his order were then encased in ‘a rich shroud and reverently placed again in the tomb.
Chapter 1, The Saxons
Chapter 1, The Saxon Kingdoms
Successive Landings and Formation of States
Chapter 1, Introduction of Christianity
Categories: Book 2