Britannia, by William Camden



Small B BRITAIN, which has thus far bulg’d out into several large Promontories, coming gradually nearer, on one side to Germany, and on the other to Ireland; does now (as if it were afraid of the breaking-in of the Ocean) draw it self in on each side, and retire further from its neighbours, and is contracted into a much narrower breadth. For it is not above a hundred miles over, between the two coasts; which run northward almost in a streight line as far as Scotland. While the Government of the Britains lasted, almost all this tract was inhabited by the Brigantes. For Ptolemy tells us, that they were possessed of all, from the Eastern to the Western Sea. This was a People stout and numerous; and they are very much commended by the best Writers; who all name them Brigantes, except Stephanus in his Book of Cities, who calls them Brigæ.Brigæ. Brigae What he says of them there, we know not; the place where he speaks about them, being imperfect in the Copies which we have at this day.Brigantes, from whence so call’d. If I should imagin, that those Brigantes were so call’d from Briga, which among the old Spaniards signified a City; it is a conjecture that I could not acquiesce in, because it is evident from Strabo that this is a pure Spanish word. Or if I should think with Goropius, that these Brigantes were deriv’d from a Belgick word Free-hands (i.e. Liberi manibus;) what were it but to obtrude Dreams upon those who are waking? But whatever becomes of these Opinions; our Britains at this day, if they observe a fellow of a resolute, restless, intruding temper, will twit him by saying that * * Brigantem agit. he plays the Brigans: and the French at this time call the same sort of men Brigand, and Pirate-ships Brigantin; which are probably remains of the old Gaulish.Pasquierus, Les Recherches de France, l.6. c.40. But whether the word had that signification in the old Gaulish or British languages, and whether our Brigantes were of that temper, I dare not affirm. Yet, if my memory fail me not, Strabo calls the Brigantes (a People of the Alps) Grassatores, i.e. robbers and plunderers; and Julius Belga, a desperately bold youth (who look’d upon Power to be Authority, and Virtue to be no more than an empty name,) is in Tacitus sirnam’d Briganticus. And our Brigantes seem to have been a little guilty in that way; who were so very troublesome to their neighbours, that Antoninus Pius dispossess’d them of a great part of their territories for no other reason; as Pausanias tells us in these words, Greek text Greek text Greek text Greek text Greek text Greek text Greek text Greek text Greek text Greek text Greek text Greek text Greek text Greek text Greek text, Greek text Greek text i.e. Antoninus Pius depriv’d the Brigantes in Britain of much of their lands; because they began to make incursions into Genounia, a Region under the Jurisdiction of the Romans. I hope none will construe this as a reproach: for my part, I should be unlike my self, should I now go to cast a scandal even upon a private person, and much less upon a whole Nation. caesar Paeones Chaldaeans Nor was this indeed any reproach in that warlike age, when all Right was in the longest Sword. Robberies (says Cæsar) among the Germans are not in the least infamous, so they be committed without the bounds of their respective Cities: and this they tell you they practise, with a design to exercise their youth, and to keep them from sloth and laziness. Upon the like account also, the Pæones among the Greeks had that name from being† Percussores.Strikers or Beaters; as the Quadi among the Germans, and also the Chaldæans, had their’s from being ¦ ¦ Grassatores.Reinerus Reineccius.Robbers and Plunderers.

When Florianus del Campo, a Spaniard (out of vanity and ostentation,) carried the Brigantes out of Spain into Ireland,Some Copies call those in Ireland Birgantes. and from thence into Britain, without any manner of ground, but that he found the City Brigantia in Spain; I am afraid he very much mistook the mark. For if it may not be allow’d, that our Brigantes and those in Ireland had the same name upon the same account; I had rather conjecture, with my learned friend Mr. Thomas Savil, that part of our Brigantes, with others of the British nations, retir’d into Ireland, upon the coming over of the Romans: Some, for the sake of ease and quietness; others, to keep their eyes from being witnesses of the Roman insolence; and others again, because that liberty which Nature had given them, and their younger years had enjoy’d, they would not now quit in their old age. However, that the Emperour Claudius was the first of all the Romans who made an attempt upon our Brigantes, and subjected them to the Roman yoke, may be gathered from these Verses of Seneca:

In Ludo. caerulos Romulaeis Romanae —Ille Britannos,
Ultra noti littora Ponti, & cæruleos
Scuta Brigantes, dare Romulæis colla catenis
Jussit, & ipsum nova Romanæ jura securis
Tremere Oceanum.

’Twas he whose all-commanding yoke
The farthest Britains gladly took,
Him the
Brigantes in blue arms ador’d,
When the vast Ocean fear’d his power
Restrain’d with Laws unknown before,
And trembling
Neptune serv’d a Roman Lord.

Yet I have always thought, that they were not then conquer’d, but rather surrender’d themselves to the Romans: because what he has mention’d in a Poetical manner, is not confirm’d by Historians. For Tacitus tell us, that then Ostorius, having new conquests in his eye, was drawn back by same mutinies among the Brigantes; and that after he had put some few to the sword, he easily quieted the rest. At which time, the Brigantes were govern’d by Cartismandua,Cartismandua. a noble Lady, who deliver’d up King Caratacus to the Romans. This brought in wealth, and that, Luxury; so that, leaving her husband Venutius, she marry’d VellocatusSee The Romans in Britain. (his armour-bearer) and made him sharer with her in the government. This Villany was the overthrow of her House, and gave rise to a bloody war. The City stood up for the Husband; and the Queen’s lust and cruelty, for the Adulterer. Tacitus. She, by craft and artifice, got Venutius’s brother and nearest relations to be cut off. Venutius could no longer brook this infamy, but call’d-in succours; by whose assistance partly, and partly by the defection of the Brigantes, he reduc’d Cartismandua to the utmost extremity. The Garrisons, Wings, and Cohorts, with which the Romans furnish’d her, brought her off in several battels: yet so, that Venutius kept the Kingdom, and left nothing but the War to the Romans; who could not subdue the Brigantes before the time of Vespasian. For then Petilius Cerealis came against this People, with whom he fought several battels, not without much bloodshed, and either wasted or conquer’d a great part of the Brigantes. But whereas Tacitus tells us, that this Queen of the Brigantes deliver’d Caratacus prisoner to Claudius, and that he made a part of Claudius’s triumph; it is a manifest† A mistake in Chronology.Greek text in that excellent Author, as Lipsius (that great Master of ancient Learning) has long since observ’d. For neither was this Caratacus (Prince of the Silures) in that triumph of Claudius; nor yet Caratacus, son of Cunobelin (for so the Fasti call the same person, that Dio calls Catacratus,) over whom Aulus Plautius, if not the same year, at least the very next after, * * Ovans triumphavit.triumph’d by way of Ovation. AElius But these things I leave to the search of others; though something I have said of them before. In the time of Hadrian, when (as Ælius Spartianus has it) the Britains could no longer be kept under the Roman yoke; our Brigantes seem to have revolted among the rest, and to have rais’d some very notable commotion. Else, why should Juvenal (who was a Contemporary) say?

Dirue Maurorum attegias, & castra Brigantum.

Brigantick forts and Moorish booths pull down.

And afterwards, in the time of Antoninus Pius, they seem not to have been over-submissive; seeing that Emperour (as we observ’d) dispossess’d them of part of their territories, for invading the Province of Genunia or Guinethia, an Allie of the Romans.

If I thought I should escape the Censure of the Criticks (who, presuming upon their wit and acuteness, do now-a-days take a strange liberty,) methinks I could correct an error or two in Tacitus, relating to the Brigantes. One is in the 12th book of his Annals, where he writes that Venutius (the person we just now mention’d) belong’d to the City of the Jugantes, è civitate Jugantum; I would read it Brigantum, and Tacitus himself, in the third Book of his History, seems to confirm that Reading. foemina boadicea The other is in the Life of Agricola: Brigantes (says he) fœminâ Duce, exurere Coloniam, &c. i.e. the Brigantes, under the conduct of a woman, began to set fire to the Colony. Here, if we will follow the truth, we are to read Trinobantes: for he speaks of Queen Boodicia, who had nothing to do with the Brigantes; whereas, it was she that stir’d up the Trinobantes to rebellion, and burnt the Colony * * Maldon.Camalodunum.

This large Country of the Brigantes runs out narrower and narrower, and is cut in the middle (as Italy is with the Appennine) by a continu’d ridge of Mountains; and these separate the Counties into which it is at present divided. For under these Mountains, toward the East and the German Ocean, lie Yorkshire and the Bishoprick of Durham; and to the West, Lancashire, Westmorland, and Cumberland: all which Counties, in the infancy of the Saxon Government, were contain’d under the Kingdom of the Deiri. For the Saxons call’d these Countries in general, the Kingdom of Northumberland; dividing it into two parts: Deira (call’d in that age Saxon deir-land) which is nearer us, namely on this side the river Tine; and Bernicia, the farther, reaching from the Tine† Fretum Scoticum.
Usser Primord. p.212.
to the Frith of Edenburrow, ⌈(though it must be observ’d, that our Historians very much differ in their accounts concerning the precise Limits of these two Divisions.)⌉ Which parts, though for some time they had their different Kings, yet at last they came all under one Kingdom. And, to take notice of this by the way; where it is said in the ¦ ¦ Pag.272. Annal. Franc. of Charles the Great, Eardulphus Rex Nordanhumbrorum, i.e. De Irland, patria pulsus ad Carolum magnum venit, i.e. Eardulph, King of the Northumbrians, that is, of Irland, being driven out of his own Country, came to Charles the Great; instead of De Irland, we are to read Deirland, and so to understand it, that he went over to Charles the Great out of this Countrey, and not from Ireland.

West Riding of York Shire map, left West Riding of York Shire map, right

The West Riding of York Shire (Page 2 of 2)

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