Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The Irish version of the Historia Britonum of Nennius (Author: unknown)

Historia 16

Now, the Saxons remained in the Isle of Teineth Thanet, and Gortigern was feeding and clothing the Saxons, that they might fight for him against Pictland. But when the Saxons had multiplied, the Britons not only refused to feed or clothe them, but the Britons warned them all to go away.

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But Hengist, who was an experienced, wise, cunning, and subtle man, made answer to them (for he saw that the Britons were feeble without soldiers, without arms), and he said to the King Gortigern in private: ‘Let us make good counsel; let us send into Germany for soldiers, that we may be numerous against our enemies.’ Gortigern answered, ‘Let ambassadors go for soldiers;’ and they went; and there came eighteen ships with chosen soldiers out of Germany. In this fleet came his daughter to Hengist: she was the fairest of the women of all Lochland.


After this Hengist prepared a great banquet for Gortigern and his army in the royal house, which is called Centic Elinit; and none of the Britons knew the Saxon language except one man only. The daughter of Hengist proceeded to distribute the feast, viz., wines and ales, in vessels of gold and silver, until the soldiers were inebriated and cheerful; and a demon entered Gortigern, from love of the daughter of Hengist, and he sent the linguist to Hengist to ask her for the king; and he said, that ‘whatever he would ask for her dowry should be given to him.’ Hengist, by the advice of the Saxons, said, ‘Let there be given to us the land which is named Congarlona in the Saxon language, and Ceint in the British language.’


Gortigern cheerfully gave them the dominions of Gurangona, and he lay with the daughter and loved her much.

And Hengist said to Gortigern: ‘I will be thy father and thy counsellor, and if thou takest my advice the other tribes will not be able in any way to molest thee; and I will send to Lochland for my son, and for the son of his mother's sister, and they will fight against the enemy who have reached as far as the wall Gual.’ Gortigern said, ‘Let them be invited;’ and they were invited; and there arrived Ochta, son of Engist, and Ebisa, with forty ships; and they plundered the Orkney islands on coming from the north, and they took many lands as far as the Friseg sea, that is the sea which is to the north of the Gaedhal. And ambassadors were further sent by Hengist for more ships, and a new force used to arrive every year, so that they increased, and filled the land from the island of Teneth to Cantarborgh.

The devil deeming it but little the evil that Gortigern had done, induced him to cohabit with his own daughter, so that she bore him a son. When German heard of this, he went, accompanied by a clergyman


of his nation, i. e. British, to criminate and check Gortigern; and he assembled all the laity and clergy of Britain for this purpose, and also for the purpose of consulting about about the Saxons. But Gortigern told his daughter, ‘When they are all assembled together, give thou thy child into the breast of German, and say that he is his father.’ And the daughter did so. German received the child, and said unto him, ‘I will be thy father,’ said he; and German asked for a razor, scissors, and a comb, and gave them into the hands of the infant; and this was done; and German said: ‘My son, give these into the hand of thy carnal father’; and the infant advanced, and gave the comb, the scissors, and the razor, into the hand of Gortigern, and said, ‘O my master,’ said he, ‘do thou tonsure me, for thou art my carnal father. German is my father in the faith.’ Gortigern blushed at this, and became much enraged, and fled from the assembly; and he was cursed by all the British people, and excommunicated by German also.