Slike strani
[ocr errors]

female, on account of which the inhabitants suffered his vengeance. The edifices alluded to are the following:

Tilbruge, alias Thelbridge, R. Devon.
Ashprington, R. with the chapelry of Painsford, Devon.
St. David's, a chapel to Heavitree, in the city of Exeter.
Dewstowe, alias Davidstow, V. Cornwall.

Some of these were possibly founded by the saint; but they may, at least, be thought to confirm the tradition of his presence, which is further strengthened by the existence, in the same quarter, of the following, dedicated to St. Non, his mother.

Bradstone, R. Devon.
Plenynt, alias Pelynt, alias Plint, V. Cornwall.
Alternon, V. Cornwall,

There are three religious edifices dedicated to St. David in the rest of England,* so few and far between, that no historical inference can be deduced from them, except that they were consecrated to his memory long after the conversion of the Saxons. The county of Devon remained in the possession of the Britons so late as the


900. Geoffrey of Monmouth states that Dewi, archbishop of Caerleon, died in the monastery which he had founded at Menevia, where he was honourably buried by order of Maelgwn Gwynedd. This event is recorded by Geoffrey as if it happened soon after the death of Arthur, who died A. D. 542. According to the computations of Archbishop Usher, St. David died A. D. 544, aged eighty two, which is certainly more probable than the legendary accounts of Giraldus and others, who assert that the saint lived to the patriarchal age of a hundred and forty seven years, sixty five of which he presided over his diocese. But it must be allowed that the dates

* Barton David, V. Somersetshire ; Moreton in the Marsh, a chapel to Bourton on the Hill, Gloucestershire; and Armin, a chapel to Snaith, Yorkshire.

quoted by Usher are very uncertain, and depend upon the authority of writers who lived many centuries after the events which they record. The order of generations, and the names of contemporaries, render it necessary to place the birth of David about twenty years later than it is fixed by Usher; and his life may be protracted to any period short of A. D. 566, to which year the death of Maelgwn Gwynedd is assigned in the Annales Menevenses. *

He was canonized by Pope Calistus about A. D. 1120, and his commemoration was held on the first of March, the anniversary, according to Giraldus, of the day on which he died. It has been lately observed, that the reputation which he has acquired of being the patron saint of Wales, is of modern introduction ; and the observation is certainly true in the sense of the words " tutelar saint,” as understood by those who compiled the romances of the “Seven Champions of Christendom.” It may also be said that the story of the leek, and its adoption as a national emblem, is not noticed by his early biographers. But these remarks should not be made with a view to disparage his memory. He has long maintained the highest station among the saints of his country; and whether the number of churches attributed to him, or his exertions in the overthrow of Pelagianism, be considered, he professes the fairest claim to such a distinction. Since the twelfth century his pre-eminence has been undisputed; and the poem of Gwynfardd, written in that age, lauds him in terms as if he were second only to the Almighty. So famous was his shrine at Menevia, that it attracted votaries, not only from all parts

Lives of St. David bave been written-by Ricemarchus about A. D. 1090, a copy of which is preserved in the British Museum, Cotton MSS. Vespasian A. XIV; by Giraldus Cambrensis about A. D. 1200, published in Wharton's Anglia Sacra; by John of Teignmouth, a contemporary of Giraldus, inserted in Capgrave's collection ; and by Leland, in the reign of Henry VIII, which is published in his “Collectanea.” There is also an ancient Welsh Life in the British Museum, Cotton MSS. Titus D. XXII.

of Wales, but also from foreign countries; and even three of the kings of England* are recorded to have undertaken the journey, which when twice repeated was deemed equal to one pilgrimage to Rome.

To take a short notice of temporal affairs ; the Gwyddyl Ffichti, who were conquered by Clydwyn, the son of Brychan, are in this generation found to be independent. According to an authority,I cited in Jones's History of the county of Brecon, Dyfnwal, a Pictish or Caledonian prince, had exterminated the race of Clydwyn and assumed the soveignty. In consequence of which, Caradog Fraichfras, the son of a granddaughter of Brychan, appears to have marched westward from the Severn, and to have recovered the principal part of Brecknockshire, which he transmitted to his descendants. The Irish were also in possession of Carmarthenshire, and the names of Liethali, and Ceing or Ceianus, two of their chief. tains in that county, have been recorded ; but about the same time, Urien Rheged, whose father, Cynfarch Oer, had been obliged to leave his territories in North Britain and seek a refuge in Wales, undertook to clear the country of these foreign settlers. He was successful; and accordingly was allowed to take possession of the district lying between the rivers Towy and Neath, which his descendants continued to inherit after him. These events took place in the early

* William the Conqueror, Henry II, and Edward I; the latter of whom was accompanied by his queen, Eleanor, Nov. 26, 1284. + This opinion was expressed by the monks in the verse,

“Roma semel quantum, dat bis Menevia tantum." and more especially in the following couplet;

“Meneviam si bis, et Romam si semel, ibis,

Merces æqua tibi redditur hic et ibi."
Harleian MSS. No. 6832.
Gunn's Nennius; Canada's Britannia.
|| Of the line of Coel God

part of this century, and they seem to have afforded to St. David the opportunity of establishing a number of churches in the country thus recovered,* in which none are found of older date, except those which were dedicated to the children of Brychan. Urien, after performing these services in Wales, appears to have proceeded to North Britain, where he regained his father's dominions; and with the assistance of his sons, supported a long and well contested struggle with Ida, the king of the Angles. His exertions against the invaders in this quarter, which entitle him to be considered one of the most illustrious Britons of his age, would have succeeded in their expulsion, had he not been embarassed with the dissensions of his countrymen; and he was at last treacherously slain while besieging Deoric, the son of Ida, in the island of Lindisfarne.t It has been said that he was a saint of the congregation of Cattwg, but the assertion is inconsistent with his character as a warrior, which he maintained to the close of his life. He was the patron of the bards, Llywarch Hên, and Taliesin ; and his heroic deeds have been celebrated in some of the best effusions of the Welsh muse. I

The name “North Britain” is here used indefinitely for any part of the country reaching from the Humber to the Clyde, as the writer is unable to determine the location of its princes. This tract was occupied by the Cymry, or Britons of the same race as those who now inhabit the Principality of Wales, and whose name may be traced in the modern appellation of

* That it was not originally under his jurisdiction is strongly implied in an abrupt passage in his Life hy Ricemarchus, which says that Boducat and Maitrun, two saints of the province of Kidwelly, submitted themselves to him.“Duo quoque Sancti, Boducat et Maitrun, in provinciâ Cet. gueli, dederunt sibi manus.” + Nennius, and Poems of Taliesin and Llywarch Hên.

Urien Rheged is the Sir Urience of the romances of Arthur, and Caradog Fraichfras is Sir Carados bris bras

[ocr errors]

the county of Cumberland.* Their history, though involved in obscurity, is capable of investigation; and it is to be hoped that the Welsh traditions, which throw light upon the subject, will not long be left unexamined. Meanwhile the following extracts from the pagest of a living historian, having reference to this people at a later period, may be read with interest.

“ The Britons of Cumbria occupy a tolerably large space on the map, but a very small one in history; their annals have entirely perished; and nothing authentic remains concerning them except a very few passages, wholly consisting of incidental notices relating to their subjection and their misfortunes.—From the Ribble in Lancashire, or thereabouts, up to the Clyde, there existed a dense population, composed of Britons, who preserved their national language and customs, agreeing in all respects with the Welsh of the present day. So that even in the tenth century, the ancient Britons still inhabited the greater part of the western coast of the island, however much they had been compelled to yield to the political supremacy of the Saxon invaders.

* The · Regnum Cumbrense' comprehended many districts, probably governed by petty princes or Reguli, in subordination to a chief Monarch or Pendragon. Reged appears to have been some where in the vicinity of Annandale. Strath-Clydef is, of course, the district or vale of Clydes-dale. In this district, or state, was situated Alcluyd, or Dunbritton, now Dumbarton, where the


The portion of Britain to the south of the Humber and east of the Se. vern, was inhabited by another race of Britons called “Lloegrwys.” The name by which the Welsh have invariably called themselves in their own language is “Cymry.”

+ Sir Francis Palgrave's History of the Anglo Saxons; a work which displays great research, and is illustrated with maps of the territories of the Britons and Anglo-Saxons at different eras.

The word strath is still universally used over all Scotland, highland and lowland, for valley. (Palgrave.) The corresponding word in Wales is ystrad.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »