Thursday, May 23, 2013

Heavenly Intercession for St Kentigern


ST KENTIGERN, from the BOOK OF GLASGOW CATHEDRAL, 1898

Appendix to the Preface of the " Register of the Bishopric of
Glasgow/' edited by him for the Maitland Club in 1843. The other
and longer Life was written, probably about twenty-five years
later, by Jocelyn, a monk of Furness, and exists in two
manuscripts, one in the British Museum, 2 the other in the
library of Archbishop Walsh in Dublin. It was included by
Pinkerton in his " Vitae Antiquae Sanctorum Scotise," a
collection translated, as already mentioned, by the
Rev. W. Metcalf, D.D., for the Scottish Text Society.
Both Lives have been re-edited,  with a translation, in the
volume by the late A. P. Forbes, Bishop of Brechin.

The older Life of the saint is the fuller, so far as it goes,
and supplies details of Kentigern's origin which are altogether
lacking from the later and more pious work. The narrative begins
without preface.

Leudouus, a certain half-pagan king, whose province was
named after him Leudonia, (Loth/Lothian) had a daughter under a
step-mother.
This daughter, Thaney by name, was a Christian, and given to
brooding on religious things. Her mind especially was filled with
thoughts of the Virgin Mary and her glory as the maiden mother of
Jesus. So much was she occupied with these thoughts that her heart
had no room for mere earthly loves such as engage the attention of girls of her age. Nevertheless she had a lover, Ewen. son of Erwegende, of a most noble stock of the 
Britons. In the gestes of the histories, says the chronicler, he is called Ewen, son of King Ulien.' Personally he appears to have been highly attractive, and as the son of the king of Reged  he was a desirable match. The father of the princess, therefore, encouraged his suit. Thaney herself, however, had her mind set entirely upon heavenly things, and would listen to no talk of an earthly love. As she persisted in refusing the advances of Ewen,

( " Historians of Scotland," vol. v.)
Owen, son of Urien, as the name properly runs, was a celebrated
personage of those times. One of the Knights of the Round Table,
King of Reged, cousin to Sir Gawain, and nephew to King Arthur
himself, he appears to have succeeded Arthur as the champion of
the Cymric tribes against the encroaching Angles. He slew Ida,
the first king of the Angles of Bernicia, but was himself slain
by an assassin. His deeds are sung by the British bards Taliesin
and Llywarch Hen, as well as in the Welsh historical Triads. A
fragment of a romance, having Owen for its hero, appears to
survive in the ballad of "Kemp Owyne."
See Scott's "Border Minstrelsy;" "Merlin, or the Early History of
King Arthur " (Early English Text Society) ; Skene's " Four
Ancient Books of Wales ; " and Robertson's " Scotland under her
Early Kings," i. 4.

her father Leudonus at last wrathfully repudiated her as his
daughter, and gave her to the keeping of a certain swineherd.
Even in this shameful position she continued to resist her
lover's wooing, so that at length he was driven utterly to
despair.
Finding his hopes thus desperate, the young prince at last lay
in wait for the girl, and took by force what he could not gain
by affection.

When, after a time, the condition of Tlianey became publicly
known, Leudonus ordered her to undergo the punishment customary
among the pagan Britons for her offence. She was accordingly, in
the presence of thousands of spectators, carried to the top of a
high hill named Kepduf, near her father's capital,
and there cast over a precipice. In her extremity, we are told,
she prayed to the Virgin Mary, once in like condition to her own,
 and, as an answer to her prayer, she reached the foot of the
precipice unhurt. By the pagan people about her this escape was
ascribed to magic art, and the king, persuaded of the truth of
their reasoning, ordered her to be destroyed in another way.
She was carried, therefore, to the shore, about three miles from
Kepduf, and there, at the mouth of a river called the Aberlessic,
was placed in a coracle, carried out into deep water beyond the
Isle of May, and cast adrift.

Shortly afterwards her father, pursuing the swineherd with intent
to slay him, was turned upon by the poor man, pierced through with a
javelin, and slain.

Meanwhile the little boat of skins, driven by wind and tide,
made its way for some thirty miles up the firth, and when morning
dawned was safely drifted ashore on the sand at Collenros. Here,
in the dim light, wet, cold, and despairing, the princess lay on
the beach, aware that her time had almost come, and seeing no help
 at hand. Close by her, however, unnoticed, was a little heap of
ashes left by some shepherds on the day before, and just then a
puff of wind blew them into flame.
Beside the fire thus made, in the grey morning light, and amid
these wild and lonely shores, she gave birth to a son. A little
later, the herdsmen returning, found her with her child, and
carried the tidings to Servanus, who at that morning hour was
teaching the Christian law to his clerks at his cell in the
neighbourhood. The holy man, having been already warned by a
vision in the night, was expecting some such message. When he
heard it, therefore, he rose up, exclaiming : " Thanks be to
God, for he shall be my dear one ! "

At this point the fragment of the older Life abruptly
ends. Curiously, however, the narrative is taken up just here by
the later and less circumstantial account. To a large extent the
Life by Jocelyn has apparently been written to counteract the
effect of the earlier work, and so far as it deals with
Kentigern's birth, it tries to gloss over and spiritualise
the circumstances.

It begins by narrating only very briefly that a certain
princess, being found with child, was by her father's command
carried to the top of a very high hill called Dunpelder, and cast
over the edge. Saved from death in this way by the intervention
of heaven, she was committed to an open boat, which during the
night drifted her to Culenros. Here occurs the incident of the
shepherds' fire, followed by the birth of the child. When the
shepherds brought mother and child to Servanus,
the account goes on, he "exclaimed in the language of the
country ' Mochohe ! mochohe ! ' which in Latin means ' Care mi !
cure mi !

After certain days Servanus baptized both mother and child, the
mother being named in this account Taneu, and the child Kyentyern.
 The name of the mother is spelt variously, Taneu, Thaney,
Tlienewe, etc., and is perpetuated in the name of one of the
city churches of Glasgow, St Enoch's being merely a corruption of
St Theneu's.- Kentigern, Own Tyern, is Cymric for
" head-lord," and Mungo is a combination of the Cymric Mwyn,
"gentle," and G'ti or Cu, "dear." The same final epithet is seen
in the original spelling of Glasgu.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

King Arthur in Scotland


King Arthur in Scotland

It is at this point that Nennius begins his " History of the Britons."
"In ca prin*," he states, " habitabant yuatuor gentes,
ticoti, Pic.tl, (itqne Saxones, et Britones."

To enable them to cope with their enemies, the British tribes appear to have
adopted from their late Roman rulers the plan of appointing a regulus, guledig,
or general leader ; and it is as guledig of the Britons between the Roman walls at this period that the historic Arthur comes into view.

The Arthur of Nennius was without doubt the historic original of the Arthur of
romance. For the poetic glamour which has been thrown around his name and deeds,
the world is indebted to the imagination of that greatest of all the Cymric
romancers, Geoffrey of Monmouth, in the ninth century. The events recorded of
Arthur are not mentioned in the Saxon  Chronicle and other Saxon authorities,
for a good reason. These authorities deal with the struggle between Britons and
Saxons  south of the Humber ; Arthur's battles, as recorded in the "Historia
Britonum," took place in the region north of that.
"The events recorded of him," says Skene, "are not only consistent with the
history of the period, but connected with  localities which can be identified,
and with most of which his name is still associated. 1 Nennius mentions twelve
great battles fought by Arthur, the localities of which are circumstantially
identified by Skene. The first was fought at the mouth of the
Glein or Glen, which the historiographer takes to be the river Glen in Ayrshire.
The second, third, fourth, and fifth were fought on the Douglas, in regione
Linnuis, or Lennox, which is taken to be one of the two streams of the name
flowing into the west side of Loch Lomond. The sixth took place super flumen
quod vocatur Balsas, probably, according to the interpreter, about
Dunipace, near the Can-on. The seventh occurred in silva Caledonis, id e*t Cat
Coit Celidon (Battle in Wood of Caledon),
somewhere about the upper region of the Tweed. The eighth, in castello Guinnion,
was fought in Wedale, the valley of the Gala.
The ninth, in urbe Leogis,' i.e., the city on the Leven, points obviously to
Dumbarton, which, in a parliamentary record of David II., in 1367, is named
Castrum Arthuri. The tenth, in litore fluminis quod vocatur Treuruit, Skene
allocates to the Links of Forth near Stirling, and quotes in support a sentence
from the itinerary of William of Worcester : Ilex Artkurus custodiebat
le round table in castro de Styrling, aliter Snowdon West Castle.
Mynyd Agned, the locality of the eleventh great battle, is clearly identified as
Edinburgh, opposite which Arthur's Seat still bears the guledig's name.
And the twelfth, the great historic victory of Badon Hill, is very obviously
located on the Avon, near Linlithgow, where strong fortifications are still
to be seen.

The Bruts, there is reason to believe, follow real history in stating that
Arthur exercised his power as guledig in giving the districts he had conquered
to three of his chief supporters.
To Urien, it is stated, he gave the district of Reged or Mureif, now the Lennox ;
to Llew or Lothus he gave Lodoneis, or Lothian ;
and to Arawn lie gave Yscotlont or Prydyn, the district of Stirling.

Hitherto, in all his battles, Arthur had been victorious, and after his
settlement of the country there appears to have been
peace for two decades. According to the continuator of Nennius, however,
twenty-one years after the battle of Badon Hill,
Medraut, the son of Loth, headed an insurrection, and, supported by the hostile
Picts, met the guledig in battle at Camlan, now Caraelon, near Falkirk. There
Arthur fell.

There is reason to believe that this last great battle was really between the
Christian faction in the country, headed by Arthur, and the pagan faction,
headed by Medraut. (Mordred) Loth is mentioned in the older Life of Kentigern
as a half-pagan king who persecuted his daughter on account of her Christian
predilections. We know, moreover, that such a religious difference actually split up the Cymric tribes about that period, and that it was only settled by the victory of the Christian faction under Rhydderch Hael at Arthuret, near Carlisle, thirty-six years later. These facts appear to support the traditional character of Arthur, embodied most recently in the poetry of Tennyson, as a Christian king who fell supporting his faith in battle against the heathen.

Till the end of last century, when a Goth carried away the stones to build a
farm-steading, the scene of Arthur's last battle  was commemorated in the
neighbourhood of Camelon [Nennius, 977AD] by a curious monument. This was of hewn stone, bee-hive shape, and of unknown antiquity and purpose, but was named
locally Arthur's  Oon, or Oven. Possibly it was the tomb of the great Cymric
guledig.

As the battle of Badon Hill is proved from a statement by Gildas to have occurred in the year 516, the battle of Camlan and death of Arthur took place some time in 537.

Our knowledge of these persons and circumstances throws light upon the condition
of the country at the time when the little Christian colony by the Molendinar
first began to make appearance in history. Besides this, however, both persons
and circumstances are intimately connected with the actual founder of the church
of Glasgow ; for Loth, the king set over Lothian  by Arthur, and Medraut, leader
of the insurrection against which Arthur fell, were respectively the maternal
grandfather and uncle of St Kentigern.