The Holinshed Project

Holinshed Project Home

The Texts

Previous | Next

EEBO page image 7

AN HISTORICALL DE|ſcription of the Iſlande of Britayne, with a briefe re|hearſall of the nature and qualities of the people of Englande, and of all ſuch com|modities as are to be founde in the ſame.

Compare 1587 edition: 1

 In the first Booke of the Deſcription of Britayne, theſe Chapters are contayned that enſue.

  • 1. Of the ſcituation and quantitie of the Iſle of Britayne.
  • 2. Of the auncient names of this Iſlande.
  • 3. What ſundry nations haue dwelled in this countrey.
  • 4. Whether it be likely that euer there were any Gyants inhabiting in this Iſlande.
  • 5. Of the generall language vſed ſometime in Brytaine.
  • 6. Into howe many kingdomes at once this Iſle hath bene deuided.
  • 7. Of the auncient religion vſed in Brytaine, from the firſt comming of Samothes, before the conuerſion of the ſame vnto the faith of Chriſt.
  • 8. Of the number and names of ſuch Salt Iſlandes as lye diſperſed rounde about vpon the coaſt of Brytaine.
  • 9. Of the ryſing and falles of ſuch ryuers and ſtreames as deſcende into the ſea, without alteration of their names, & firſt of thoſe that lye betweene the Thames and the Sauerne.
  • 10. Of the Sauerne ſtreame, and ſuch falles of ryuers as go into the Sea betweene it and the Humber.
  • 11. Of ſuch riuers as fall into the ſea, betwene Humber & the Thames.
  • 12. Of the fower high waies ſometime made in Brytaine by the Prin|ces of this lande.
  • 13. Of the ayre and ſoyle of the country.
  • 14. Of the generall conſtitution of the bodies of the Brytons.
  • 15. How Brytaine grew at the firſt to be deuided into three porcions.
  • 16. That notwithſtanding the former particion made by Brute, vnto his children, the ſouereinety of the whole Iſlande, remained ſtyll to the Prince of Lhoegres and his poſteritie after him.
  • 17. Of the Wall ſometime builded for a particion betweene Englande and the Pictes.

1.1. To the Right Honorable, and his ſingular good Lord and maiſter, S. William Brooke Knight, Lord warden of the cinque Portes, and Baron of Cobham, all increaſe of the feare and knowledge of God, firme obedience towarde his Prince, infallible loue to the common wealth, and commen|dable renowne here in this wo [...]lde, and in the worlde to come, lyfe euerlaſting.

EEBO page image 8 EEBO page image 8

To the Right Honorable, and his ſingular good Lord and maiſter, S. William Brooke Knight, Lord warden of the cinque Portes, and Baron of Cobham, all increaſe of the feare and knowledge of God, firme obedience towarde his Prince, infallible loue to the common wealth, and commen|dable renowne here in this wo [...]lde, and in the worlde to come, lyfe euerlaſting.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 _HAVING had iust occaſion, Right Honourable, to remayne in Lon|don, during the tyme of Midſomer terme laſt paſſed, and being earneſt|lye required of diuers my friends, to ſet downe ſome briefe diſcourſe of parcell of thoſe thinges, which I had obſerued in the reading of ſuch ma|nifold antiquities as I had peruſed toward the furniture of a Chronolo|gie, which I had then in hande, I was at the firſt very loth to yeelde to their deſires: firſt, for that I thought my ſelfe vnable for want of witte and iudgement, ſo ſodainly and with ſuch ſpeede to take ſuch a charge vppon me: ſecondly, by|cauſe the dealing therin might prooue an impechement vnto mine owne Treatize: and final|lye for that I had giuen ouer all ſtudy of hystories, as iudging the tyme ſpent about the ſame, to be an hinderaunce vnto my more neceſſarie dealings in that vocation & function whereun|to I am called in the myniſtery. But when they were ſo importunate with me, that no reaſona|ble excuſe coulde ſerue to put by this trauaile, I condeſcended at the length vnto their yrke|ſome ſute, promiſing that I woulde ſpende ſuch voyde time as I had to ſpare, whyleſt I shoulde be inforced to tarie in the citie, vpon ſome thing or other that shoulde ſtande in lieu of a de|ſcription of my Country. For their partes alſo they aſſured me of ſuch helpes as they coulde pur|chaſe, and thus with hope of good although no gaie ſucceſſe, I went in hande withall, then al|most as one leaning altogither vnto memorie, ſith my bookes and I were parted by fourtie myles in ſonder. In this order alſo I ſpent a part of Michaelmas and Hillarie termes inſuing, being inforced thereto I ſay by other buſineſſes which compelled me to keepe in the citie, and abſent my ſelfe from my charge, though in the meane ſeaſon I had ſome repaire vnto my libra|rie, but not ſo great as the dignitie of the matter required, & yet farre greater then the Prin|ters haſte woulde ſuffer. One helpe, and none of the ſmalleſt that I obtayned herein was by ſuch commentaries as Leland had collected ſometime of the ſtate of Britaine, bookes vtterly man|gled, defaced with wet, and weather, and finally imperfite through want of ſundrie volumes ſecondly, I gate ſome knowledge of things by letters and pamphlettes, from ſundrie places and shires of Englande, but ſo diſcordaunt nowe and then amongeſt themſelues, eſpecially in the names and courſes of riuers and ſcituation of townes, that I had oft greater trouble to recon|cile them, then to penne the whole diſcourſe of ſuch pointes as they contayned the thirde ayde did grow by conference with diuers, eyther at the table or ſecretly alone, wherein I marked in what things the talkers did agree, and wherein they impugned eche other, chooſing in the end the former, and reiecting the later, as one deſirous to ſet forth the truth abſolutely, or ſuch things in deede as were moſt likely to be true. The laſt comfort aroſe by mine owne reading of ſuch writers as haue heretofore made mention of the condition of our country, in ſpeaking whereof, yf I shoulde make account of the ſucceſſe, and extraordinary comming by ſundrie treatizes not ſuppoſed to be extaunt, I shoulde but ſeeme to pronounce more then may well be ſayde with modeſtie, and ſay farder of myſelfe then this Treatize can beare witneſſe of. How|beit, I referre not this ſucceſſe wholly vnto my purpoſe in this Deſcription, but rather giue no|tice thereof to come to paſſe in the penning of my Chronologie, whoſe cromes as it were fell out very well in the framing of this Pamphlete. In the proceſſe therefore of this Booke, if your Ho|nour regarde the ſubstaunce of that which is here declared, I muſt needes confeſſe that it is none of mine: but if your Lordshippe haue conſideration of the barbarous compoſition shewed EEBO page image 9 herein, that I may boldely clayme and chalenge for myne owne, ſith there is no man of any ſo ſlender skill, that will defraude me of that reproche, which is due vnto me, for the meere negli|gence, diſorder, and euill diſpoſition of matter, comprehended in the ſame. Certes I proteſt be|fore God and your Honour, that I neuer made any choiſe of ſtile, or picked wordes, neither re|garded to handle this Treatize in ſuch preciſe order and methode as many other woulde: thin|king it ſufficient, truely & plainly to ſet forth ſuch things as I minded to intreate of, rather then with vaine affectation of eloquence to paint out a rotten ſepulchre, neither cõmendable in a writer nor profitable to the reader. How other affayres troubled me in the writing hereof many know, & peraduenture the ſlackeneſſe shewed herein can better teſtifie: but howſoeuer it be done, & whatſoeuer I haue done, I haue had an eſpeciall eye vnto the truth of things, & for the reaſt, I hope that this foule frizeled Treatize of mine, will prooue a ſpurre to others, better learned in more skilfull maner to handle the ſelfe ſame argument. As for faultes eſcaped here|in as there are diuers, I muſt needes confeſſe, both in the penning and printing, ſo I haue to craue pardon of your Honour, & of all the learned readers. For ſuch was my shortneſſe of time allowed in the writing, & ſo great the ſpeede made in the Printing, that I could ſeldome with any deliberation peruſe, or almoſt with any iudgement deliberate exactly vpon ſuch notes as were to be inſerted. Sometimes in deede their leyſure gaue me libertie, but that I applyed in following my vocation, many times their expedition abridged my peruſall, and by this later it came to paſſe, that moſt of this booke was no ſooner penned then printed, neither well concey|ued before it came to writing. But it is now to late to excuſe the maner of doing. It is poſsible that your Honour will miſtyke hereof, for that I haue not by myne owne trauaile and eyeſight viewed ſuch thinges, as I doe here intreate of. In deede I muſt needes confeſſe that except it were from the parish where I dwell, vnto your Honour in Kent, or out of London where I was borne, vnto Oxforde and Cambridge where I haue beene brought vp, I neuer trauailed 40 miles in all my lyfe, neuertheleſſe in my report of theſe thinges, I vſe their authorities, who haue performed in their perſons whatſoeuer is wanting in mine. It may be in like ſort that your Honour will take offence at my rashe and rechleſſe behauiour vſed in the compoſition of this volume, and much more that being ſcambled vp after this maner, I dare preſume to make ten|doure of the protection thereof vnto your Lordships handes. But when I conſider the ſingular affectiõ that your Ho. doth beare to thoſe that in any wiſe will trauaile to ſet forth ſuch things as lye hidden of their countries, without regarde of fine & eloquent handling, & therinto do weigh on mine owne behalfe my bounden duetie and gratefull minde to ſuch a one as hath ſo many and ſundrie wayes profited and preferred me, that otherwiſe can make no recompence, I can not but cut of all ſuch occaſion of doubt, and therevpon exhibite it ſuch as it is, and ſo pen|ned as it is vnto your Lordships tuition, vnto whome if it may ſeeme in any wyſe acceptable, I haue my whole deſire. And as I am the firſt that (notwithſtanding the great repugnauncie to be ſeene among our writers) hath taken vpon him ſo particularly to deſcribe this Iſle of Bri|taine, ſo I hope the learned and godly will beare withall and reforme with charity where I do treade amiſſe. As for the curious, & ſuch as can rather euill fauouredly eſpy then skilfully cor|rect an errour, & ſooner carpe at another mans doings then publish any thing of their owne, keping themſelues cloſe with an obſcure admiration of learning & knowledge among the cõ|mon ſort) I force not what they ſay hereof, for whether it doe pleaſe or diſpeaſe them, all is one to me, ſith I referre my whole trauaile in the gratification of your Honour, & ſuch as are of experience to conſider of my trauaile, and the large ſcope of things purpoſed in this Treatize, of whome my ſeruice in this behalfe may be taken in good part, that I will repute for my full re|compence, & large guerdon of my labours. The Almighty God preſerue your Lordship in cõ|tinuall health, wealth, and proſperitie, with my good Lady your wyfe, your Honours children, whome God hath indued with a ſingular towardneſſe vnto all vertue & learning, and the reſt of reformed familie vnto whome I wish farder increaſe of his holy ſpirit, vnderſtanding of his worde, augmentation of honour, & finally an earneſt zeale to follow his commaundements.

Your Lordſhips humble ſeruant, and houſhold Chaplein. W. H.

1.2. The deſcription of Britaine.¶Of the ſcituation and quantitie of the Iſle of Britayne. Cap. 1.

EEBO page image 1

The deſcription of Britaine.

¶Of the ſcituation and quantitie of the Iſle of Britayne. Cap. 1.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 How Bri|taine lyeth from the [...]ayne. _BRITANIA, or Britaine as we nowe terme it in our En|gliſhe tongue, is an Iſle lying in the Ocean ſea, directly a|gainſt that part of Fraunce, which conteyneth Picardie, Normandie, and therto the greateſt part of little Britaine, cal|led in time paſt Armorica of the ſcituation thereof vpon the ſea coaſt, and before ſuch time as a companie of Britons (eyther led o|uer by ſome of the Romayne Emperours, or flying thither from the tyrannie of ſuch as op|preſſed them here in this Iſlande) did ſettle themſelues there, & called it Britaine, after the name of their owne country, from whence they aduentured thither. It hath Irelande vp|on the Weſt ſide, on the North the mayne ſea, euen vnto Thule and the Hyperboreans, and on the Eaſt ſide alſo the Germaine Ocean, by which we paſſe daily thorowe by the trade of merchandiſe, not only into ye low countries of Belgie, but alſo into Germanie, Frizelande, Denmarke, and Norway, carying from hence thither, and bringing from thence hither, all ſuch neceſſarie commodities as the ſeuerall Countries doe yéelde: thorow which meanes, and beſides common amitie cõſerued, traffike is maintayned, and the neceſſitie of eche party abundantly relieued.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 The lon|gitude and latitude of this Iſle.It contayneth in longitude taken by the middeſt of the Region 19. degrées exactly: and in latitude 53. degrées, and 30. min. after the o|pinions of thoſe that haue diligently obſerued the ſame in our dayes, and the faithfull report of ſuch writers as haue left notice therof vnto vs, in their learned treatiſes to be perpetually remembred. Howbeit wheras ſome in ſetting downe of theſe two lines, haue ſéemed to vary about the placing of the ſame, eche of them di|uerſly remembring the names of ſundrie Ci|ties and townes, wheerby they affirme thẽ to haue their ſeueral courſes: for my part I haue thought good to procéede ſomewhat after ano|ther ſort, that is, by deuiding the lateſt and beſt Cardes eche way into two equall partes, (ſo neare as I can poſſibly bring the ſame to paſſe) whereby for the middle of latitude, I product Caerloil and Newcaſtell vpon Tyne (whoſe lõgeſt day conſiſteth of 16. houres,Longeſt day. 48. minuts) & for the longitude, Newbery, War|wicke, Sheffeld, Skiptõ, &c. which dealing in mine opinion, is moſt eaſie & indifferent, and lykelieſt meane to come by the certayne ſtan|ding and ſcituation of our Iſlande.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 Inlyke maner it hath in breadth from the Piere or poynt of Douer,The com|paſſe of Britaine. vnto the fartheſt part of Cornewall weſtwardes 320. myles: from thence agayne vnto the poynt of Cath|neſſe by the Iriſhe ſea, 800. Whereby Poli|dore and other doe gather that the circuite of the whole Iſlande of Britaine is 1720. myles, which is full 280. leſſe than Caeſar doth ſette downe, except there be ſome difference be|twéene the Romaine and Britiſhe myles, whereof heafter I maye make ſome farther conference.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 The forme and facion of this Iſle is lyke vnto a Triangle, Baſtarde ſworde, Wedge,The forme or Parteſant, being broadeſt in the South part, and gathering ſtill narrower and nar|rower, till it come to the fartheſt poynt of Cathneſſe Northwarde where it is narroweſt of all, and there endeth in maner of a Promon|torie, which is not aboue 30. myles ouer, as dayly experience doth confirme.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 The ſhorteſt & moſt vſuall [...]ut that we haue out of our Iſland to the maine,The di|ſtance frõ the mayne. is from Douer (the fartheſt part of Kent eaſtward) vnto Ca|lice in Picardie, where the breath of the ſea is not aboue 30. myles. Which courſe as it is now frequented and vſed for the moſt cõmon & ſafe paſſage of ſuch as come into our coũtrie out of Fraunce and diuers other Realmes, ſo it hath not bene vnknowne of olde time vnto the Romaynes, who for the moſt part vſed theſe two hauens for their paſſage and repaſ|ſage to and fro, although we finde that nowe and then, diuers of them came alſo from Bul|len and landed at Sandwiche, or ſome other places of the coaſt, as to anoyde the force of the wynde and weather, that often moleſted them in theſe narrowe ſeas, beſt liked for their ſafegardes. Betwéene the part of Hollande alſo, which lyeth nere the mouth of the Rhene, and this our Iſlande, are 900. furlonges, as Soſimus ſayeth, beſide diuers other writers,Lib. 4. which being conuerted into Engliſhe myles, doe yéelde one hundred and twelue, and foure odde furlongs, whereby the iuſt diſtaunce of Britayne from that part of the mayne alſo, doth certainly appeare to be much leſſe than the common Mappes of our Countrie haue hitherto ſet downe.

Previous | Next