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valuable that it is capable of chronological arrangement. If the period, when any one mentioned in the list is said to have flourished, be known, the usual computation of thirty three years to a generation, or a century to three generations, will assign within reasonable limits the era of his kindred both ascending and descending.* And if any one of another line be found contemporary with either of these, the same computation will avail with sufficient accuracy to determine the order of succession. The circumstances of their history may next be collected together, and embodied forth from other sources of information. The principal of these are the Triads, a species of record not to be relied upon implicitly, but deserving of consideration as they give a fair representation of such traditions, relating to the history of the Welsh nation, as existed prior to the inventions of the monks. Some collateral testimony may also be derived from the poetry of the Welsh Bards, though, as already observed, there are few allusions to Saints in poems which are of early date. The Romish legends will be used but sparingly, and only when their statements are within the verge of probability.
In forming an artificial chronology, computation by generations is much more satisfactory than by a succession of kings, whose reigns for various reasons are of uncertain duration. Sir Isaac Newton objects to the chropology of the kings of Rome, and other ancient nations, upon the plea that the reigns, av gin at about thirty five years each, are long; and the following is the result of his observations after a careful examination of different authorities.
“Generations from father to son may be reckoned one with another at about thirty three or thirty four years a piece, or about three generations to a hundred years; but if the reckoning proceed by the eldest sons, they are shorter, so that three of them may be reckoned at about seventy five or eighty years; and the reigns of kings are still shorter, because kings are succeeded not only by their eldest sons, but sometimes by their brethren, and sometimes they are slain or deposed; and succeeded by others of an equal or greater age, especially in elective or turbulent kingdoms.” (Remarks prefixed to Hooke's History of Rome.)
Where the materials of history are scanty, the deficiency may, in part, be supplied by existing monuments, provided they are sufficiently numerous to allow of inferences being drawn upon fair principles of induction; and in support of the genealogies it may be stated, that the order of succession deduced from them is, to a certain extent, observable in the arrangement of churches. As the chapels called after Welsh Saints have been dedicated to them for local reasons, so it is found that they are named after relatives, or contemporaries, possibly companions, of the founder of the mother church ; and where this is not the case, they are dedicated to persons of a later generation, who perhaps enlarged the foundation, or were distinguished ministers at the place. The occasional recurrence of the same names together is also a circumstance which could not have happened, unless some connexion, of the nature alluded to, originally subsisted between them. On the other hand, chapels are but seldom dedicated to persons of a generation earlier than the founder, for the first Saint who resided in the district was the most likely to establish its place of worship; persons, however, of the generation immediately preceding may be deemed contemporary, for a great part of their lives may have been concurrent. The few chapels, named after native Saints, which are subject to churches dedicated to the Apostles, are of a date comparatively modern; and, with others founded at a similar period, may be known by the technical appellatives of “Capel” and “Bettws," in contradistinction to “ Llan,” which in an earlier age was applied to churches and chapels indiscriminately
The Welsh Saints from the Introduction of Christianity to the end of the
To proceed chronologically with the notices of such Saints as are tɔ be found in the Welsh accounts, the commencement should be made with the introduction of the Gospel into Britain.
The credit of this glorious work has been claimed for the Apostles-St. Peter, St. Paul, St. James, and Simon Zelotes, as well as for Joseph of Arimathea; but without entering further into the subject, it will be sufficient to observe that the Welsh records and traditions are silent as to their pretensions, and their claims must rest upon the support they receive from testimonies in other languages. According to the Triads,* and more especially the Silurian copies of Achau y Saint, the blessed instrument was “ Bran ab Llyr,” the father of Caradog or Caractacus. It is said that he and his son were betrayed to the Romans through the treachery of Aregwedd Foeddog, generally understood to be Cartismandua. He was detained at Rome as a hostage for his son seven years, and by this means obtained an opportunity of embracing the Christian faith. Upon his return, he brought with him three, or according to others, four teachers of the names of Ilid, Cyndaf, Arwystli Hen, and Mawan; and through their instrumentality the Gospel was first preached in this country. Such is the collective statement of the Welsh authorities, and it is so far plausible, that Stillingfleet, without being aware of this testi
* Triads 18 and 35, Third Series, Myv. Archaiol. Vol. II.
mony, conjectured that a similar circumstance was likely to have taken place.* If the account were correct, the return of Bran must have happened in A. D. 58, allowing seven years to elapse from the capture of Caractacus, which occurred in A. D. 5).It is, however, beset with difficulties which it is to be feared are insurmountable. In the first place, Tacitus, who mentions the capture or surrender of the several members of the family of Caractacus, and describes the appearance of the same persons seriatim before the Emperor Claudius, & says nothing of Bran. When the historian particularizes twice the wife, daughter, and brothers of the captive chieftain, the omission of so important a personage as his father affords a strong presumption that he was not at Rome, and had not been taken prisoner. If an attempt were made to account for the omission, it would be met by another difficulty. Dion Cassius states that the father of Caractacusg was Cunobelinus, who died before the war with the Romans had commenced, and was succeeded in his kingdom by two sons, of whom Caractacus was one, the name of the other being Togodumnus. The latter testimony precludes the possibility of Bran being Cunobelinus under another name ; and would imply that Caractacus was not originally a chieftain of Siluria, but of the Trinobantes in the neighbourhood of London, where he is said to have fought a battle with the Romans in the first year of their invasion. In the ninth year following|| he was taken
Origines Britannicæ. + Tacitus's Annals, XII. 17.
Ibid. Annals, XII. 35 and 36. § Dio, or Dion Cassius composed his History of Rome in Greek; and, according to the usual practice, altered the name of Caractacus to Kataratakos, to accommodate it to the sound of the language in which he wrote. (Lib LX.)
11 “ Nono post anno, quam bellum in Britannia cæptum." (Taciti Annales, Lib. XII. cap. 36.)
prisoner, having opposed the Roman arms the whole of the interval, in the latter part of which the war had reached the Silures.
In a conflict with classical historians the Welsh traditions must give way, and if the foregoing prove a correct interpretation of the meaning of Tacitus and Dion Cassius, the claims of Bran ab Llyr to be considered the founder of Christianity in Britain must be surrendered. That traditions which relate to so early a period as the first and second century should prove inaccurate might be expected; but as they may have originated in an obscure notion of facts, they are deserving of respect, and should not be relinquished without a careful examination. That the story of Bran is not a modern forgery is clear, as the inventor would have taken care to avoid the difficulties presented by classical writers, which, if he were unacquainted with the original languages, he could have learnt from various histories of England. The Triads which support it, are professed to be taken originally from the Book of Caradog of Llancarfan,* who died in A. D. 1156; so that the opinion may have been current in Wales before the publication of the romance of Geoffrey of Monmouth. When these and other Triads were first written does not appear; but as they relate principally to circumstances which took place in the sixth century, most of them must have been formed after that time. They, however, belong to different dates, being a method of arranging ancient traditions together, as they occurred to the mind of the inventor ; and as they are insulated compositions, the incorrectness of some of them does not necessarily affect the authenticity of the rest. If Bran were the first British Christian, it might be expected that the Bards of the sixth century would celebrate him in that character. The only poem of that era in which his name occurs, is attributed to Taliesin, in which he is alluded to as the hero of a mytho
* Myv. Archaiology, Vol. II. p. 75.