Britannia, by William Camden

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BELGÆ.

Small N NEXT the Durotriges, to the North and East, were the Belgæ; who, from the name and other good authorities, seem to have come into Britain from among the Belgæ, a People of Gaule. For the Belgæ (as Cæsar learn’d of the Rhemi) were descended from the Germans, and passing over the Rhine, were induc’d by the fruitfulness of the Place to settle there, after they had expell’d the Gauls. From whence (as the same Author has it) they pass’d over into Britain, to plunder and conquer; and were all call’d by the names of the Cities where they had been born, and from whence they came over thither; and making war upon the Inhabitants, they settl’d there, and began to cultivate the Land. It does not precisely appear, at what time they came over; unless possibly Divitiacus, King of the Suessiones, who flourish’d before Cæsar, might transplant the Belgæ hither. For he had the government of a great part of Britain as well as of Gaule. Neither is it clear, from whence the name of Belgæ should come. Hubert Thomas † † Leodius.of Leige, a very learned man, was of opinion, that Belgæ is a German word, because the Germans call the Gauls and Italians Wallen, and some of them term them Welgen. John Goropius a Belgian, will have it to come from the Belgick word Belke, signifying Anger, as if they were more prone to anger than others. But since the name of Belgæ does not seem to be properly deriv’d from the language us’d at this day by the Low-Dutch, which is almost the same with our English-Saxon (for it was carried thither by those Saxons, which Charles the Great transplanted into Brabant and Flanders; ) I am inclin’d to favour the opinion of those, who fetch it from the old Gaulish tongue (which our Welsh in a great measure keep entire,) and who will have the Belgæ so nam’d from Pel, i. e. remote. For they were the remotest People in Gaule; and at the greatest distance from the Roman Province, as well in situation, as in breeding and humanity. And the Poet tells us, that the Morini, a people of Gallia Belgica, were the most remote, when be calls them, Extremi hominum, the remotest part of mankind. But now let us come to our Belgæ, whose territories were very large, viz. Somersetshire, Wiltshire, and the inner part of Hamshire.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06