Were Hengest and Horsa Real?

Jan 2014
2,124
Westmorland
by the end of the 6th century, infighting amongst the British permitted the Saxons to come to power once again

Rhun (r. 547-586 AD) fought & fell in battle against Alt Clud & Gododdin
Only according to much later Welsh literary material. These were concerned with aggrandising the ninth-century and later kings of the various Welsh polities, especially Gwynedd. By the time Rhun's supposed exploits were making headline news in Wales, the second dynasty of Gwynedd had installed itself and was set on giving itself a suitably illustrious pedigree which included the heroes of what was known as the Hen Ogledd (Old North). To plagiarise Jeremy Paxman's comment about British politicians, when dealing with early Welsh material always ask yourself "why is this lying bard lying to me?".

Insofar as any genuine historical material can be extracted from Y Gododdin, it appears to have been a battle between British powers, both with their Anglo-Saxon allies. The notion of it being an Anglo-British battle derives from an entirely unnecessary emendation (which dates back to the days when historians simply could not entertain the notion that the Saxons and Britons were anything other than implacable enemies) to one line of the original text of which makes it quite clear that Bernicia and Gododdin were on the same side. For our Anglo-Saxonists, it is also quite possible that the king of Gododdin had the English name Wulfstan.
 
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Jun 2017
34
Thailand
Gildas, The Ruin of Britain &c. (1899). pp. 4-252. The Ruin of Britain.

Ussher (vol. v, p. 544) holds that Beda has misunderstood Gildas's words, and gives himself the following paraphrase of the passage: "perinde ac si dixisset, a clade Badonica quadragesimum quartum tunc (tempore quo scripta ab eo ista sunt) numerari cepisse annum; unico quippe anni illius mense adhuc elapso; idque ex sua ipsius aetate se novisse." " As if he had said that from the loss inflicted at Badon, the forty-fourth year-had then (at the time he wrote) begun to be counted; one month in fact of that year was gone, and this he knew from his own age."

Mommsen feels that the passage can hardly give a good meaning, and, though reluctantly, proposes-an emendation of it. The difficulty, he feels, lies in the strange ut novi, but if the sentence be read: quique quadragesimus quartus [est ab eo qui] orditur annus mense iam uno emenso, qui et meae nativitatis est, then the meaning is perfectly clear. (Man. Germ. Hist., iii, p. 8.) When we think of the many involved scraggy sentences which Gildas writes elsewhere, we do not wonder at the ut novi, which the recollection of his own age forced to an undue prominence before his mind: by inserting it in brackets the sentence is tolerably easier, and can only give the meaning deduced by Ussher, and favoured by Mommsen.

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Gildas uses apocalyptic references. 30 million people died in the plague of Justinian from 541-42 AD... And the plague swept northwards towards Britain...

Maelgwn Gwynedd was alive when Gildas wrote his apocalyptic rebuke... But he fell to the plague after it finally reached Britain in 547 AD

if Gildas wrote about 544 AD, after the Mediterranean was in shambles, but while Britain still "had time to repent" (so to speak)...

then the apocalyptic context of the 536 AD super eruption next door in Iceland, with almost 2 years of volcanic winter, followed fast by famines, plagues, 30 million dead across the Roman world...

could have caused Gildas to see "the writing on the wall" and inspired his Biblically harsh rebukes of Britain's "back-sliding Israelite kings", in hopes of promoting national piety to avert "God's wrath" and national disaster in the form of a Saxon "Babylonian conquest & exile" which soon did occur (Saxon victory & 500 years in Brittany)
 
Jun 2017
34
Thailand
Only according to much later Welsh literary material. These were concerned with aggrandising the ninth-century and later kings of the various Welsh polities, especially Gwynedd. By the time Rhun's supposed exploits were making headline news in Wales, the second dynasty of Gwynedd had installed itself and was set on giving itself a suitably illustrious pedigree which included the heroes of what was known as the Hen Ogledd (Old North). To plagiarise Jeremy Paxman's comment about British politicians, when dealing with early Welsh material always ask yourself "why is this lying bard lying to me?".

Insofar as any genuine historical material can be extracted from Y Gododdin, it appears to have been a battle between British powers, both with their Anglo-Saxon allies. The notion of it being an Anglo-British battle derives from an entirely unnecessary emendation (which dates back to the days when historians simply could not entertain the notion that the Saxons and Britons were anything other than implacable enemies) to one line of the original text of which makes it quite clear that Bernicia and Gododdin were on the same side. For our Anglo-Saxonists, it is also quite possible that the king of Gododdin had the English name Wulfstan.
British were fighting British (each augmented by Saxon mercenaries) ?

not presenting an Arthurian-esque united front?

And that opened the door for Saxons to take over?
 
Jan 2014
2,124
Westmorland
British were fighting British (each augmented by Saxon mercenaries) ?

not presenting an Arthurian-esque united front?

And that opened the door for Saxons to take over?
Everyone fought everyone. The desire to see early medieval Britain in terms of monolithic ethnic conflict is tempting for 'moderns' with their strong notions of nationality and the primacy of the nation state, but the medieval mind worked very differently. It isn't hard to find folk keen to keep the old certainties alive, but it is necessary to ask questions of our ethnicist and nationalist assumptions. That is what is now happening in academic debate. Check out James Gerrard's book on the collapse of Roman Britain (I mentioned it a few pages ago) for a great and very up to date reappraisal of the end of Roman Britain.
 
Aug 2011
4,674
I don't think you are suggesting that rig in Brittonic comes from Gaulish ric?
No I'm not. Ric is not gaulish, -rīx, -rīg - are gaulish names recorded by Caesar and rí, ríg - is old irish. That's what we have recorded, a clear deliniation between celtic and germanic. and

In the pre roman period we have, Antedrig: Late first century BC to early first century AD, a coin of the Dubunni tribe, Cingetorix: c. 54 BC, one of the four kings of Kent mentioned by Caesar in Gallic wars and Lugotorix: c. 54 BC a captured Briton mentioned by Caesar in Gallic Wars. We don't know if the britons used the term or if it roman use of a gaulish term.

The idea of coins, their use and their striking during the pre roman period in Britain is a gallic influence, probably due to trade. Continental celtic coins go back to the 5th century BC, using greek names. The use of a personal name is often the only text we have and we don't know if the britons used that form of name or whether they acquired it from the gaulish coins but as gaulish coins primarily use latin rather than greek names, it is possible that Antedrig is a latinised name mediated via gallic influence.
 
Nov 2008
1,091
England
Everyone fought everyone. The desire to see early medieval Britain in terms of monolithic ethnic conflict is tempting for 'moderns' with their strong notions of nationality and the primacy of the nation state, but the medieval mind worked very differently. It isn't hard to find folk keen to keep the old certainties alive, but it is necessary to ask questions of our ethnicist and nationalist assumptions. That is what is now happening in academic debate. Check out James Gerrard's book on the collapse of Roman Britain (I mentioned it a few pages ago) for a great and very up to date reappraisal of the end of Roman Britain.
History is awash with examples of antipathy between peoples based on race or cultural differences, and to deny it is preposterous. The Anglo-Saxons, for example, called the British Wealas a term with disparaging connotations, and there are numerous examples of this from the Laws of Ine to the way Britons were described in the Anglo-Saxon riddles. This scornfulness would have been nuanced on occasion based on the need from time to time for pragmatism. Certainly alliances would have been formed, and perhaps the occasional marriage between royal families to suit the need of the moment. But the disdain was there, and it was mutual, and it caused conflict on various occasions. This is what happened history and has nothing to do with assumptions based on our own nationality today. I will, however, say that some academics are affected by their own "political correct" beliefs, and I gave a good example earlier in this thread. That example was the scholar (and I hesitate to dignify that person as a scholar) who called those who believed castles were about war as sexist, misogynist dinosaurs.
 
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Sep 2015
277
ireland
Only according to much later Welsh literary material. These were concerned with aggrandising the ninth-century and later kings of the various Welsh polities, especially Gwynedd. By the time Rhun's supposed exploits were making headline news in Wales, the second dynasty of Gwynedd had installed itself and was set on giving itself a suitably illustrious pedigree which included the heroes of what was known as the Hen Ogledd (Old North). To plagiarise Jeremy Paxman's comment about British politicians, when dealing with early Welsh material always ask yourself "why is this lying bard lying to me?".
If the later Welsh royal families really wanted to big up their origins, they had some illustrious names that they could have chosen as ancestors.....Arthur, Ambrosius Aurelianus and Urien....but they didn`t.
 
Sep 2015
277
ireland
Gildas, The Ruin of Britain &c. (1899). pp. 4-252. The Ruin of Britain.

Ussher (vol. v, p. 544) holds that Beda has misunderstood Gildas's words, and gives himself the following paraphrase of the passage: "perinde ac si dixisset, a clade Badonica quadragesimum quartum tunc (tempore quo scripta ab eo ista sunt) numerari cepisse annum; unico quippe anni illius mense adhuc elapso; idque ex sua ipsius aetate se novisse." " As if he had said that from the loss inflicted at Badon, the forty-fourth year-had then (at the time he wrote) begun to be counted; one month in fact of that year was gone, and this he knew from his own age."

Mommsen feels that the passage can hardly give a good meaning, and, though reluctantly, proposes-an emendation of it. The difficulty, he feels, lies in the strange ut novi, but if the sentence be read: quique quadragesimus quartus [est ab eo qui] orditur annus mense iam uno emenso, qui et meae nativitatis est, then the meaning is perfectly clear. (Man. Germ. Hist., iii, p. 8.) When we think of the many involved scraggy sentences which Gildas writes elsewhere, we do not wonder at the ut novi, which the recollection of his own age forced to an undue prominence before his mind: by inserting it in brackets the sentence is tolerably easier, and can only give the meaning deduced by Ussher, and favoured by Mommsen.

---

Gildas uses apocalyptic references. 30 million people died in the plague of Justinian from 541-42 AD... And the plague swept northwards towards Britain...

Maelgwn Gwynedd was alive when Gildas wrote his apocalyptic rebuke... But he fell to the plague after it finally reached Britain in 547 AD

if Gildas wrote about 544 AD, after the Mediterranean was in shambles, but while Britain still "had time to repent" (so to speak)...

then the apocalyptic context of the 536 AD super eruption next door in Iceland, with almost 2 years of volcanic winter, followed fast by famines, plagues, 30 million dead across the Roman world...

could have caused Gildas to see "the writing on the wall" and inspired his Biblically harsh rebukes of Britain's "back-sliding Israelite kings", in hopes of promoting national piety to avert "God's wrath" and national disaster in the form of a Saxon "Babylonian conquest & exile" which soon did occur (Saxon victory & 500 years in Brittany)
I`d be with Bede on the 44 years. He knew his Latin and probably had access to a copy of DEB that was closer to the original text than anything that survives today. Look at it this way...would you or I misinterpret a passage from a first edition of Pride And Prejudice which was written two centuries ago? It`s possible but highly unlikely. Why should we expect Bede to have made such a misinterpretation, a suggestion which is furthermore based on a reading of a much later edition of DEB?

I think 544 is too late for DEB. There`s no reference there to the climate event of 536 which was apocalyptic in it`s own right. There appears to have been several years of crop failures. The dendrochronologist Mike Baillie suggested that the effects were felt well into the 440`s. Gildas mentioned a famine but that appears to have been some time in the past and followed by a period of abundance. For this famine to have been a reference to 536 we would need to push the writing of DEB to well beyond 550 and I just don`t see it.
 
Sep 2015
277
ireland
History is awash with examples of antipathy between peoples based on race or cultural differences, and to deny it is preposterous. The Anglo-Saxons, for example, called the British Wealas a term with disparaging connotations, and there are numerous examples of this from the Laws of Ine to the way Britons were described in the Anglo-Saxon riddles. This scornfulness would have been nuanced on occasion based on the need from time to time for pragmatism. Certainly alliances would have been formed, and perhaps the occasional marriage between royal families to suit the need of the moment. But the disdain was there, and it was mutual, and it caused conflict on various occasions. This is what happened history and has nothing to do with assumptions based on our own nationality today. I will, however, say that some academics are affected by their own "political correct" beliefs, and I gave a good example earlier in this thread. That example was the scholar (and I hesitate to dignify that person as a scholar) who called those who believed castles were about war as sexist, misogynist dinosaurs.
Is there any evidence of the use of the term Wealas outside of the Anglo Saxon Chronicle? I ask because nothing immediately comes to mind. In the ASC it is used a number of times in particular in reference to battles between 464 and 495. It`s possible that Cunorix (who has been dated to around 475) for example, might have been considered a foreigner. He probably spoke Latin and Gaelic, but can we assume he was tri-lingual and spoke Brythonic? I`m not so sure. I`d say the same can be said of Ebicatus, whose name appears on the Silchester ogham stone.
 
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Aug 2011
4,674
Is there any evidence of the use of the term Wealas outside of the Anglo Saxon Chronicle?
It's widely used both in England and on the continent eg the Laws of Ine and Alfred:

Wealh gafolgelda .cxx. scillinga his sunu .c., ðeowne .lx., somhwelcne fiftegum; Weales hyd twelfum.
A Welsh rent-payer * [has a wergild of] 120 shillings, his son, 100; a slave [is to be paid for with] 60, some with 50; a Welshman's hide with 12 [shillings].

Gif Wilisc mon hæbbe hide londes, his wer bið .cxx. scillinga; gif he þonne healfes hæbbe, .lxxx. scillinga; gif he nænig hæbbe, .lx. scillinga.
If a Welshman has a hide of land, his wergild is 120 shillings; if, however, he has a half hide, 80 shillings; if he has none, 60 shillings.

It is actually a linguistic identifier and really refers to someone who speaks the language of the Volcae, a celtic speaking tribe germanic speakers came into contact at an early date. It's always used when the celtic speaker, or later, romance speaker, is a neighbouring tribe. Anglo Saxons didn't call the irish walhs for example. The Canton of Valais, Wallis in modern german, in Switzerland is named such because it was populated by celtic speakers and the entire french speaking part of Switzerland, the Suisse Romande, is still known as Das Welschland. Same in Wallonia in Belgium. Even walnut means welshnut.

It becomes a term of derogation later when, celtic speakers living within anglo saxon kingdoms, have a lower status. Their wergild values are always lower than their anglo saxon counterparts. As trade increases, it becomes associated with things from foreign parts, eg valskvin - welsh wine.

Volcae is a plural of Volc and a V was pronounced like a W. At the time germanic speakers met the Volcae, the C was voiced like an H and Volc was voiced Walh.
 
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