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During this vacuity of Welsh tradition, which later legends have endeavoured to occupy with fable, it is gratifying to learn, from testimonies of another kind, that Christianity must have made considerable progress. Of this the most irrefragable proofs remain in the fact on record, that there were British Bishops present at the Councils--of Arles in Gaul A. D. 314, of Sardica in Illyria A. D. 347, and of Ariminum in Italy A. D. 359. The Council of Arles was convened by Constantine for the sake of suppressing the heresy of the Donatists; and it is satisfactory to know that at that time, seventeen years before the general edict in favour of Christianity, there were at least three Bishops in Britain. The names of those who attended upon that occasion, as given by Usher, and Spelman, were:
“Eborius Episcopus, de civitate Eboracensi, provincia Britanniâ.
Restitutus Episcopus, de civitate Londinensi, provincia suprascriptâ.
Adelfius Episcopus, de civitate Coloniâ Londinensium :exinde Sacerdos Presbyter, Arminius Diaconus."
None of these Bishops are mentioned in any catalogue of Welsh Saints, unless it be admitted that Adelfius is identical with Cadfrawd, for the names are almost a translation of each other.* The British rendering of Eborius and Restitutus would be Efrog and Rhystyd, both which names were in use in Wales a few generations later. Colonia Londinensium is evidently an error, as there was no place place known by that name in Britain, and the Bishop of London is already mentioned. Stillingfleet proposes, therefore, to read “Legionensium” for Caerleon upon Usk; Urbs Legionis being the name by which that town was known to Latin writers in the
* Adelfius appears to be formed from the Greek word 'AdeApos, a brother; and the Welsh Scholar will recognise Brawd in the composition of Cadfrawd.
middle ages. The same place was also in the Roman division of the country* the capital of the province of Britannia Secunda, as London was of Britannia Prima, and York of Maxima Cæsariensis. Welsh tradition has always reported it to have been a Bishop's see from the earliest times; and the importance of these three places enabled their Diocesans in a subsequent age to assume the title of Archbishop. No further information can be gleaned respecting Sacerdos and Arminius, but they attended probably as representatives of the different orders of priesthood.
The list of the Bishops, who subscribed the articles of the Council of Sardica, is not preserved; but it is asserted by Athanasius that Bishops from Britain were present, and that they joined in the condemnation of Arius and vindication of himself. In a few years afterwards, Hilary, Bishop of Poictiers, in an epistle from Phrygia, congratulates the Britons, amongst others, on their freedom from heresy.t
The Council of Ariminum was convened by Constantius, the son of Constantine, to decide, like the preceding, upon the Arian heresy, to which the Emperor himself was favourable. Sulpitius Severus relates that more than four hundred Bishops of the Western Church were assembled together upon the occasion, and adds—“unto all of whom the Emperor had ordered provisions and apartments to be given. But that was deemed unbecoming by the Aquitans, Gauls, and Britons; and refusing the imperial offer, they preferred to live at their own expense. Three only from Britain, on account of poverty, made use of the public gift, after they had rejected the contribution offered by the others; considering it more pro
'It plainly appears that the Church was divided into Dioceses and Provinces much after the same manner as the Empire, having a Metropolitan or Primate in every Province.”—(Bingham's Antiquities, Book IX. Chap. I.)—Under each of these provincial Bishops were several Chorepiscopi or Suffragans.
+ Usher de Brit. Eccl. Primordiis, Cap. VIII,
per to burden the exchequer than individuals. *"- This passage has been, by a mistake, adduced to show the poverty of the Bishops of Britain in general, when it states, that such was their sense of propriety that they had rather defray their own costs and charges than subsist upon the Emperor's bounty. The three, who did partake of it, are mentioned only as an exception, as if the independent Bishops were the more numerous party. Out of four hundred, which number included only those of the Western Church, a proportion of ten or upwards may well be allowed for Britain, whose distance from Italy must have added greatly to the expense of their journey. The prelates assembled at this Council were forced to submit to the doctrines of Arius through the undue influence of the Emperor ; but in the year 353, Athanasius describes the churches of Britain, and other churches in the west, as adhering to the faith of the council of Nice.t
Besides Cadfrawd, already mentioned, the period just passed over includes Gwerydd and Iestyn, brothers, and Cadgyfarch and Gwrmael, sons, of Cadfrawd; all of whom are said to have been Saints, but their feast-days are unknown, and no churches have been dedicated to them.
Coel Godebog was a chieftain who flourished in the former part of this century. Ile married Ystrafael or Stradwen, the sister of Cadfrawd, by whom he had a son, Ceneu, whose name appears in the catalogues of Saints, and a daughter, Gwawl, who married Edeyrn, the father of Cunedda Wledig. According to the fabulous chroniclers he had only one child, a
* The original words are these,"Quibus omnibus annonas et cellaria dare Imperator præceperat. Sed id Aquitanis, Gallis, ac Britannis indecens visum; repudiatis fiscalibus, propriis sumptibus vivere maluerunt. Tres tantùm ex Britannia, inopiâ proprii, publico usi sunt, cum oblatam a cæteris collationem respuissent; sanctius putantes fiscum gravare, quam singulos,”-Sulpitii Severi Sacræ Historiæ, Lib. II. Cap. LV.
+ Usher, de Brit. Eccl. Primordiis, Cap. VIII.
Gwrwst Ledlwm, as below
Cynfelyn Talhaiarn Elifer Gosgorddfawr Badog Morfryn
Benasgell, dr. Wyllt
1 Deiniolen Euinaid, dr. Cyrion
* who was afterwards the mother of Constantine the Great. But setting fable aside, no transactions of his life have been recorded, and to the Welsh genealogists he is known only as the founder of a large family of descendants. He was probably regarded as the head of a tribe in the system of clanship, which, as it is found flourishing in full vigour upon the departure of the Romans, must have been maintained in some degree under their supremacy.
Ceneu, the son of Coel,t probably spent his life in the service of religion, for which reason he has been called a Saint ; but no churches have been consecrated to his memory; Llangeneu in Brecknockshire being assigned to Ceneu, a daughter or grand-daughter of Brychan.
With Cynan Meiriadog and Macsen Wledig, who flourished about A. D. 380, the history of Britain according to the Triads may be said to recommence. Macsen Wledig, or Maximus, is reported to have married Elen Luyddog, the sister of Cynan, who was the chieftain of Meiriadog in North Wales; and in this story may be recognised the prototype of the fable that Helen, the daughter of Coel, was married to Constantius. It is further said, that Cynan led over an army of 60,000 men into Gaul to support the claims of Maximus, and that this army afterwards settled in Armorica. Though some modern French writers find reasons for discrediting the whole of the story, it should not, upon that account, be dismissed without examination ; but as its truth or falsehood forms no part of the present enquiry, it is only necessary
in this place to establish the date of the expedition, A. D. 383, so far as it may affect subsequent events.
*“Nyt oed o plant oy that namyn hy ehunan.”—Brut Gr. ab Arthur, Myv. Archaiology, Vol. II. p. 207.
+ He is not to be confounded with another Ceneu ab Coel, a warrior who flourished in the time of Arthur.
Turner's Anglo Saxons, Appendix to Book VI. Chap. II.