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Geoffrey of Monmouth :

The History of the Kings of Britain.

Traduction anglaise par Lewis THORPE.

            Five years passed. Maximianus developed an obsession with power, because of the enormus amount of gold and silver that flowed in to him daily. He prepared a fleet and conscripted every armed soldier in Britain. The kingship of Britain was not enough for him; he wanted to subjugate the Gauls too. He crossed the Channel and went first to the kingdom of the Armorici, which is now called Brittany. He began to attack the Frankish race wich lived there. The Franks came to meet him, under their leader Himbaldus. They fought against him, but, finding themselves in sore straits, they turned in flight. Duke Himbaldus himself had fallen, with fifteen thousand armed men who had gathered from the entire kingdom. Maximianus was delighted at the fact that he had slaughtered so many men, for he knew that after such immense casualties the country could easily be taken. He summoned Conanus to him, some way from his troops, and said to him with a quiet smile : "Well, we have seized one of the fairest kingdoms of Gaul. Wa have every reason to hope that we shall capture the rest. We must occupy their towns and strongpoints as quickly we can, before the news of their danger penetrates into the Gallic hinterland and calls to arms the entire nation. If only we can hold this kingdom, then I have no doubt that we can subjugate the whole of Gaul. You must not let it depress you that you have permitted the kingship of the island of Britain to pass into my hands, when you had hopes of possessing it yourself. Whatever you have lost in Britain I will make good to you in this country. I will raise you to the kingship of this realm. This will be a second Britain, and once we have killed off the natives we will people it with our own race. The land produces heavy crops of corn and the rivers are full of fish. The forests are attractive and the pastures most pleasant. Indeed, in my opinion, no country is more agreeable". Conanus bowed his head and thanked Maximianus, promising that, as long as he lived, he would be faithful in doing homage.

            Without more ado they drew up their lines of battle and marched to Rennes, taking it the same day. The savagery of the Britons was already well known, as was the number of men they had killed. The townsfolk fled at full speed, leaving behind their wiwes and children. Everyone else in the cities and castles followed their exemple, so that the Britons marched in without meeting resistance. Wherever they came they massacred the men, sparing only the women. Finally, when they had wiped out every single male in the whole land, they garrisoned the cities and castles with British soldiers and fortified the high hills. Tje inhumanity of Maximianus became common knowledge throughout the other territories of the Gauls. Great terror took hold of the leaders and princes, for they seemed to have no hope, except in offering up prayers. From every country-district they fled to the cities and castles, and indeed to any places which seemed to offer them safety.

            When he realized what a source of terror he was, Maximianus became even bolder. He hurried to increase the size of his army by offering lavish bribes. He enlisted the help of all who wished to steal the possessions of others, doing all that he could to buy them over with gold and silver and any other gifts that he could think of.

            As a result Maximianus assembled what he considered to be a force large enough to enable him to conquer the whole of Gaul. At the same time he put off acting in his own peculiar savage way until the kingdom which he had captured should settle down and he should be able to re-stock it with people from Britain. With this end in view he issued an edict that a hundred thousand ordinary men and women should be collected together in the island of Britain and should come out to him; and with them thirty thousand soldiers, who might protect from any anemy-attack those who were to remain in the country. As soon as he had achieved all this, he distributed these people among all the tribes of the Armoricans kingdom. In this way he created a second Britain, which he gave to Conanus Meriadocus. He himself went off to the remoter parts of Gauls, with the rest of his soldiers. He conquered that country and the whole of Germany, too, after a number of desperate battles, gaining the victory in every fight. He set up the capital of his empire at Trèves. Then he vented his fury upon the two Emperors Gracianus and Valentinianus, killing the one and driving the second out of Rome.

            Meanwhile the Gauls and the Aquitanians were causing great trouble to Conanus and his Armorican Britons. They harassed the newcomers by attacking them time and time again. Conanus resisted these attacks, returning bloodshed for bloodshed and defending with great manliness the country committed to his charge.

            One he had gained the victory, he decided to find wives for his troops, so that heirs might be born from them who dhould hold the land for ever. To prevent any mixture of blood with the Gauls, he ordered women to come fron the island of Britain and to be married to his men. With this end in view, he sent messages to Britain, to Dionotus, Duke of Cornwall, who had succeeded his brother Caradocus in the kingship of Britain, telling him to take personal charge of the business. Dionotus was a King of great nobility and power : it was to him that Maximianus had entrusted the rule of the island while he himself was occupied with the affairs described above. He had a daughter of extraordinary beauty, whom Conanus had always wanted for his own.


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