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From The Chronicle of England, by John Capgrave [fifteenth century], edited by the Rev. Frances Charles Hingeston, B. A., The Rolls Series, London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts; 1858; pp. 357-356, 375-413 [partial].

The modernized text is first, done for the online edition by Susan Rhoads, and is copyrighted. Below this is the original text by Capgrave, with Hingeston’s footnotes. A pertinent glossary, for some of the less obvious meanings of the East Anglian words used by Capgrave, is at the end of this page. It is taken from the more complete Glossary by Hingeston at the end of the book.







. . . . for the stones were sawn in various forms, and couched in the wall with cement, as men may yet see in various churches in Rome.

But this work of this place, and many more, is destroyed, either by conquest of the city, or else by change into the better use.

Within this tomb was a temple, which they say of its richness was worth the third part of the world, of gold, silver, pearl, and precious stones; on which Virgil made a marvelous device, that of every region of the world stood an image, all of wood and in its hand a little bell. As often as any of these regions planned to rebel against the great majesty of Rome, anon this image that was assigned to that region should knell its bell. Then there was in the middle of the house, above all of them, a knight made of brass and a horse of the same metal, which, ever and anon as this bell was rung, turned himself with a spear to that coast of the earth where these people dwelt that purposed thus to rebel. Thus espied by the priests, which by certain companies were assigned to watch and wait on this machine, soon all the knighthood of Rome, with their (358) legions, made themselves ready to ride and redress this rebellion; the image turned his back to the great god Jupiter, that stood in the middle.

They inquired of Virgil, how long this work would endure, and he answered, — “Till a maid bare a child.” Wherefore they concluded that it should stand forever. In the Nativity of Christ, they say, all this broke, and many other things in the city, to show that the Lord of all lords should come.

Men may marvel that Virgil should have such knowledge of the mysteries of our faith. And I answer thereto that the Holy Host put His gifts not only in good men of true belief, but also in others, as it is said that Cayphas prophesied of Christ’s death.

The Evangelist said also of him this: — “These words say he not of himself, but because he was bishop for that year, therefore he prophesied.”

Nevertheless, in Virgil’s books are found open testimonies of gifts, such as that contained in a Latin book, that a woman called Proba gathered out of Virgil’s verse. The third Verse following she compiled out of the first Book of the Æneid, and the seventh Book: —

Virginis hos habitumque gerens, mirabile dictu.
Nec generis nostri nec sanguinis edunt.
Seraque terrifici cecinerunt omina vates.”


These verses mean this in our tongue, I suppose: —

A woman bearing a virginal mouth and a virginal habit, mervel be to say.
Neither of our kindred, nor of our blood, hath a bore a childe.
The late coming of this dreadful Lord sang the former prophet.”

This same Capitol had many temples and houses hanging upon it, as it is seen. For on the heights above was a temple consecrated to Jupiter and Juno; a little beneath, another temple, called Vestal, in which maidens dwelt in cleanness, in chastity, as I declared before. In another temple, that was sometimes named of the lady Rese, was a solemn chair, in which the principal bishop of all their temples, on the day of his entry, should be enthroned, in which chair they seated Julius Caesar when he was first received, and that was the sixth day of March. All this, as it seems, was on the east side of the Capitol. And on the west side, to the merchants’ side, was a temple dedicated to Minerva; and fast by a tomb in which they killed the noble man above-mentioned, who was called Julius Caesar.

All the places are now changed or destroyed by various men of other lands that have oftentimes won Rome.

And since the Romans say that they never did well, never stood in prosperity since Christendom came; therefore I will show them that other nations conquered them long before Christ was incarnate. The Chronicles of Great Britain lie now next to my hand, which is called England; therefore out of those I will take my testimony.


Belinus and Brennus were two kings of this land,.a reigning together in that same time that Hester was wedded to Assur. These two brothers won a great part of Rome, but the principle was Brennus, who made the cities in Lombardy, both Milan and Pavia. And afterward these two brothers held a great battle with the Romans at a river on this side of Rome called Albula, where the Romans fled, and they followed, and took all this city save this Capitol, which would have been taken had not ganders, with cries, awakened the keepers.

Of this story not only our Chronicles bear witness, but the Chronicles of Italy, that Godfrey of Viterbo, in his book which he called Pantheon; and so as Pompeius in his book also used, bishop of Goay in his book of Chronicles; also Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, in his book called The Epistles, said to Rome that they were bound more to do worship to her geese than to her gods, for the ganders were awake and warned them when her gods slept. And in truth, when this Brennus had received a great sum of gold and was gone, the fond people, befouled in error, made a gander of white marble, and did worship to it as to God. The head of it is broken, but the body lies yet whole at a church door, which they call Saint Nicholas in Carcere.

Elf.Ed Notes

a  According to Thomas Wright, who translated the French metrical Chronicle of Pierre Langtoft, a 13th [?] century English historian, who summarized the earlier chronicle of England by Geoffrey of Monmouth for the legendary history of the Britons. He tells us that Belinus and Brennus were sons of King Dunwallo, and then goes on to tell this story, in Wright’s translation,The Chronicle of Pierre de Langtoft in French Verse, 2 volumes, The Rolls Series; London: Longman, Greens, Reader and Dyer, 1866; pp. 47-48:

     “These two brothers [Brennius and Belinus] have passed the sea together,
They have taken all France, such was their power,
They make Burgundians and Britons swear to the covenant
That they will reduce all regions to submit to them.
They have seized Rome, the chief governors
Gabius and Porsena have submitted to their will.
They have compelled them to give assurance of great tribute yearly,
By these two was Rome made tributary to Britain.
They take hostages from Rome, and resolve on returning
Quit with the victory in Italy,
They have Tuscany and Lombardy under their government.
The Romans are false, and seek to retain the tribute,
Not to pay a penny to Belinus and Brennius.
Greatly angered they return to besiege Rome,
Theirs is the victory, and they have taken great wealth;
These brothers have great joy, and resolve to return.
Brennius has Italy, of which he intends to be lord;
Belinus is gone to reside in Britain;
He has arrived in London, where he causes to be raised
A gate, which he caused them to be named Billingsgate.”


[Original Text]


. . . . for the stones were sawn in divers formes, and couched in the walle with cyment, as men may ȝit se in divers cherches in Rome.

Bot this werke of this place, and many mo, is distroyed, either be conqueste of the cite, or els be chaunge onto the better use.

Within this tome was a temple, whiche thai say as of richesse was worth the thirde parts of the worlde, of golde, silver, perle, and precious stonys; in whiche Virgille made a mervelous crafte, that of every region of the world stode an ymage, and alle of tre and in his hande a litille belle. As ofte as any of these regiones was in purpos to rebelle agayne the grete mageste of Rome, anone this ymage that was assigned to that region shulde knylle his belle. Thanne was there in the myddes of the house, alle above,a knyt made of bras and a hors of the same metalle, whiche, evenen anonone as thus belle was ronge, turned hym with a spere to that coste of the erde where thees puple dwelt that purposed thus to rebelle. Thus aspied of the prestes, whiche be certeyne companes were assigned to wetch and wayte on this ordinauns, anone all the knyghode of Rome, writh he 358 legions, made hem redi to ride and redresse thus rebellion; the image turned his back to the grete god Jubiter, that stode in the myddes.

They enquired of Virgile who longe this werke schulde endure, and he answered, — “Till a may[de] bare a childe.” Wherfore thai concluded that it should stand ever. In the Nativitie of Criste, thai say, alle this brake, and many other thinges in the cyte, to shew that the Lorde of alle lordes should come.

Men may have mervelle that Virgille shuld have sweche knowinge of the mysteries of our Feith. And I answere therto that the Holy Host putte His ȝiftes not only in gode men of trew beleve, bot eke in other, as it is saide of Cayphas prephicied of Cristes deth.

The Evangelist seith eke of him this: — “These wordes sey he not of hymselff, bot because he was bisshop for that ȝere, therfore he prephicied.”1

Neverthelasse, in Virgille bokes be fonde open testimonies of giftes, suche as it is conteyned in a laten boke, that a woman called Proba2 gadered out of Virgil’s vers. The III. Vers folowing compled she oute of the friste Boke Eneydos, and VII. Boke:3

Virginis hos habitumque gerens, mirabile dictu.
Nec generis nostri nec sanguinis edunt.
Seraque terrific cecinerunt omina vates.”


These verss mene thus in oure tonge a suppose: —

A woman beringe a virginalle mouth and a virginalle habite, mervel be to sey.
Neyther of oure kinrede, ne of oure blode, hath a bore a childe.
The late coming of this dredfulle Lorde songe the former prophete.”

This same Capitol had many templis and housis hanging upon him, as it is sene. For in the heyth was above temple contrite to Jupiter and Juno; a litille benethe, another tempil, cleped Vestalle, in whiche maydens dwelt in clennesse in chastite, as I declared before. In another temple, that was sumtyme named of the lady Rese, was a solempne chaier, in whiche the principalle bysshop of alle thir tempelis, the day of his entre, shulde be intronyzid, in which chayre thai sette Julius Cesar whan he was frist receved, and that was the VI. Day of March. Alle this, as it semyth, was on the este side of the Capitolle. And on the weste side, to the mercats side, was temple dedicate to Mynerve; and faste by a tome in whiche thai killed the noble man after rehersed, which hight Julius Cesar.

Alle the places ar ny changed or distroyed be divers men of other londes that have wonne Rome often tyme.

And for the Romaynes seye that thay seide nevyr well, never stode in prosperite sith Cristendome came; therfore will I shew hem that other nationes conquered hem longe before Christe was incarnate. The Chronicles of Grete Bretayne lye now nexte hand, whiche is cleped Englond; therfore oute of tho wille I take my testimonye.4


Belinus and Brennis were to kinges of this londe, reigninge togeder in that same tyme that Hester was wedded to Assure. These to brethren wonne a grete party of Rome, but principalle was Brennis, whiche made the cytes in Lombardy, both Mylane and Pavye. And afterwarde these to bretherine held a grete batyle with the Romaynes at a flode of this side of Rome called Albula, where the Romaynes fled, and thay folowed, and toke all this cyte save this Capitole, whiche had be take had not gander, with crie, awaked the kepers.

Of this story not only oure Chronicles bere witnes, but the Chronicles of Itaile, that Godfray of Viterbe, in his boke whiche he clepith Pantheon;5 and so as Pompeius in his boke eke used, bisshop of Goay in his boke of Chronicles; also Seynt Ambrose,6 Bisshop of Melane, in his boke called Epistolarum, seith onto Rome that thai were more bounded to do worschip unto her ges than to here goddes, for the gander was waking and warned hem whan her goddis slepte. And in verrie sothe, whanne this Brennis had receved a grete summe of golde and was goe, the fonned peple, defouled in erroure, make a gander of white marbille, and dede to it worschip as to God. The hed of it is broke, bot the body lyeth ȝit hole at a chirche dorre, which thai clepe Sanctus Nicholaus in Carcere.


1  S. John, xi. 57.

2  Proba Valeria Flaconia. See “Excerptum e Maronis carminibus ad testimonium Veteris Novique Testamenti opusculum, cum Præfat. Julii Roseii Hortani.” 8vo. Cologne, 1601.

3  the friste Boke Eneydos, and VII. Boke.] This is not strictly the fact. The first of the three lines is partly from Æn. I., line 315.

“Virginis os habitumque gerens, et virginis arma.”

It will be seen that the end of the line does not correspond with that given in the text. Of the two other lines, the former is line 45 of Eclog. VIII., but imperfectly quoted. The original is as follows: —

“Nec generis nostri puerum, nec sanguinis, edunt.”

The latter is from Æneid V., line 524, and is quoted correctly.

4  See Geoff. Monm. Bk. iii. Ch. 8, 9. He does not, however, enter minutely into the details here given. Capgrave does not allude to the matter in his own Chronicle.

5  See Pistorii Scriptores Germanici, i. 199-201.

6  “Nam de Senonibus quid loquar, quos, Capitolii secreta penetrantes, Romanæ reliquiæ non tulissent, nisi eos pavido anser strepitu providisset. En quales templa Romana præsules habent! Ubi tunc erat Jupiter? An in ansere loquebatur?” See Divi Ambrosii Epist. Lib. v. Ep. xxxi.






(1)  A contraction of the verb “have,” still used in East Anglia. Forby.

“That Adam schuld a sent Seth.” 7. — “Schuld a leved.” 13;

       in which instance the later MS. C.C.C. has “shuld have.”

(2)  This letter is sometimes used instead of “O” before a word as a sign of the vocative case, as at 337: —

A Jhesu Christe, Crowne of maydenes alle. ”

(3)  Also in one case apparently for the personal pronoun I.

“These verss mene thus in oure tonge, a suppose.” 359.



(1)  By.

Be his malicious disciples.” 109.

(2)  Been.

“He that schuld a be baptized.” 88.


CLEPE.       To call; to invoke.

“Aftir thei had clepid the Holy Goost. ”


EKE.       Also. 1.


EVENEN ANONONE.       Ever and anon. 357.


FLOOD.       A river.



(1)  To tell; to promise.

“Notwithstanding that the Kyng hite him this.” 265.

(2)  Called; named. 5. Always so spelt in the Chronicle; (in the Fragment contained in Appendix IV., “hight.”)


INTRONYZE.     To enthrone.



(1)  Arrangement; contrivance.

“This was the ordenauns . . . of Ser Jon Mauntreveres and Thomas Gurnay, whech layd a grete dore upon him [Edward II.], whil thei ded this work.” 3199.

(2)  A piece of machinery. 357.



(1)  Those.

Thoo that schuld come to their secte.” 359.

(2)  Then. 77.

“And thoo turned it contrari.” 243.


THUS.       This. 357.


TRE.     Wood; timber.


WHO.       How. 14.


ȝere.    A year.

ȝet.    Yet.

ȝiftes.    Giftes.

NEXT: Chapter XII.

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