Past and Present
History Of The Britons (Historia Brittonum) by Nennius
16. From the first arrival of the Saxons into Britain, to the fourth year of king Mermenus, are computed four hundred and twenty eight years; from the nativity of our Lord to the coming of St. Patrick among the Scots, four hundred and five years; from the death of St. Patrick to that of St. Bridget, forty years; and from the birth of Columeille to the death of St Bridget four years.
 V.R. Columba.
 Some MSS. add, the beginning of the calculation is 23 cycles of 19 years from the incarnation of our Lord to the arrival of St. Patrick in Ireland, and they make 438 years. And from the arrival of St. Patrick to the cycle of 19 years in which we live are 22 cycles, which make 421 years.
17. I have learned another account of this Brutus from the ancient books of our ancestors.* After the deluge, the three sons of Noah severally occupied three different parts of the earth: Shem extended his borders into Asia, Ham into Africa, and Japheth in Europe.
* This proves the tradition of Brutus to be older than Geoffrey or Tyssilio, unless these notices of Brutus have been interpolated in the original work of Nennius.
The first man that dwelt in Europe was Alanus, with his three sons, Hisicion, Armenon, and Neugio. Hisicion had four sons, Francus, Romanus, Alamanus, and Brutus. Armenon had five sons, Gothus, Valagothus, Cibidus, Burgundus, and Longobardus. Neugio had three sons, Vandalus, Saxo, and Boganus. From Hisicion arose four nations--the Franks, the Latins, the Germans, and Britons: from Armenon, the Gothi, Balagothi, Cibidi, Burgundi, and Longobardi: from Neugio, the Bogari, Vandali, Saxones, and Tarinegi. The whole of Europe was subdivided into these tribes.
Alanus is said to have been the son of Fethuir;* Fethuir, the son of Ogomuin, who was the son of Thoi; Thoi was the son of Boibus, Boibus of Semion, Semion of Mair, Mair of Ecthactus, Ecthactus of Aurthack, Aurthack of Ethec, Ethec of Ooth, Ooth of Aber, Aber of Ra, Ra of Esraa, Esraa of Hisrau, Hisrau of Bath, Bath of Jobath, Jobath of Joham, Joham of Japheth, Japheth of Noah, Noah of Lamech, Lamech of Mathusalem, Mathusalem of Enoch, Enoch of Jared, Jared of Malalehel, Malalehel of Cainan, Cainan of Enos, Enos of Seth, Seth of Adam, and Adam was formed by the living God. We have obtained this information respecting the original inhabitants of Britain from ancient tradition.
* This genealogy is different in almost all the MSS.
18. The Britons were thus called from Brutus: Brutus was the son of Hisicion, Hisicion was the son of Alanus, Alanus was the son of Rhea Silvia, Fhea Silvia was the daughter of Numa Pompilius, Numa was the son of Ascanius, Ascanius of Eneas, Eneas of Anchises, Anchises of Troius, Troius of Dardanus, Dardanus of Flisa, Flisa of Juuin, Juuin of Japheth; but Japheth had seven sons; from the first named Gomer, descended the Galli; from the second, Magog, the Scythi and Gothi; from the third, Madian, the Medi; from the fourth, Juuan, the Greeks; from the fifth, Tubal, arose the Hebrei, Hispani, and Itali; from the sixth, Mosoch, sprung the Cappadoces; and from the seventh, named Tiras, descended the Thraces: these are the sons of Japheth, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech.
19.* The Romans, having obtained the dominion of the world, sent legates or deputies to the Britons to demand of them hostages and tribute, which they received from all other countries and islands; but they, fierce, disdainful, and haughty, treated the legation with contempt.
* Some MSS. add, I will now return to the point from which I made this digression.
Then Julius Caesar, the first who had acquired absolute power at Rome, highly incensed against the Britons, sailed with sixty vessels to the mouth of the Thames, where they suffered shipwreck whilst he fought against Dolobellus, (the proconsul of the British king, who was called Belinus, and who was the son of Minocannus who governed all the islands of the Tyrrhene Sea), and thus Julius Caesar returned home without victory, having had his soldiers Slain, and his ships shattered.
20. But after three years he again appeared with a large army, and three hundred ships, at the mouth of the Thames, where he renewed hostilities. In this attempt many of his soldiers and horses were killed; for the same consul had placed iron pikes in the shallow part of the river, and this having been effected with so much skill and secrecy as to escape the notice of the Roman soldiers, did them considerable injury; thus Caesar was once more compelled to return without peace or victory. The Romans were, therefore, a third time sent against the Britons; and under the command of Julius, defeated them near a place called Trinovantum [London], forty-seven years before the birth of Christ, and five thousand two hundred and twelve years from the creation.
Julius was the first exercising supreme power over the Romans who invaded Britain: in honour of him the Romans decreed the fifth month to be called after his name. He was assassinated in the Curia, in the ides of March, and Octavius Augustus succeeded to the empire of the world. He was the only emperor who received tribute from the Britons, according to the following verse of Virgil: "Purpurea intexti tollunt aulaea Britanni."
21. The second after him, who came into Britain, was the emperor Claudius, who reigned forty-seven years after the birth of Christ. He carried with him war and devastation; and, though not without loss of men, he at length conquered Britain. He next sailed to the Orkneys, which he likewise conquered, and afterwards rendered tributary. No tribute was in his time received from the Britons; but it was paid to British emperors. He reigned thirteen years and eight months. His monument is to be seen at Moguntia (among the Lombards), where he died in his way to Rome.
22. After the birth of Christ, one hundred and sixty-seven years, king Lucius, with all the chiefs of the British people, received baptism, in consequence of a legation sent by the Roman emperors and pope Evaristus.*
* V.R. Eucharistus. A marginal note in the Arundel MS. adds, "He is wrong, because the first year of Evaristus was A.D. 79, whereas the first year of Eleutherius, whom he ought to have named, was A.D. 161." Usher says, that in one MS. of Nennius he found the name of Eleutherius.
By Dr Miles RussellThe chapters in this volume, each written by a leading scholar of the period, analyse in turn the different nationalities and kingdoms that existed in the British Isles from the end of the Roman empire to the coming of the Vikings, the process of conversion to Christianity, the development of art and of a written culture, and the interaction between this written culture and the societies of the day. Available from: