Britannia's very foundation is built on stories. Over time some of these stories have been forgotten, which I think is a crying shame. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that my particular interest is in Arthurian legend, but I wanted to cast my net a little bit wider and have a look at a very intriguing battle that is aptly named...
'The Hallelujah Victory.'
What was happening in Britain at the end of Roman Occupation?
Britain was, with a few exceptions, under Roman rule from 43ADc. to 410. However, by the end of the 4th Century, The Roman Empire had run into some problems. I am not going to go into what problems they were today, as this would take up several posts, but what I will say is they found themselves in a position where they did not have enough troops to defend Britain from the ever increasing barbarian attacks.
To cut a very long story short, the Roman's abandoned their posts and withdrew from the island. Briton was alone. She now had to look to herself to defend her borders.
What Briton needed was a saviour. A hero. They found one in Germanus of Auxerre.
Who was Germanus of Auxerre and why did he travel to Britain?
|Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre|
Around 429 a Gaulish Assembly of Bishops met, and they discussed a very concerning matter. They had heard a troubling rumour that Pelagianism was rife in the British clergy and that would never do. They sent Germanus of Auxerre, Bishop of Auxerre, and Lupus, Bishop of Troyes, to pay a visit to these rebellious islanders. When they reached Britain, Germanus and Lupus confronted the British clergy in an open meeting. They were disgusted by what they saw, but with a careful rhetorical argument, Germanus saved the day and steered Britain away from Pelagianism and back onto the correct and righteous path.
But that wasn't all that Germanus did.
Britain had been an occupied country for a long time. They had spent many years under the protection of the Roman Army. But there was no Roman Army in Britain anymore. The Picts and the Scots were not ones to miss an opportunity. They crossed over the Wall, that the Romans' had once so diligently guarded, and invaded. They killed, pillaged and burnt. The Britons were beside themselves. How were they going to defeat such a military might? Rome certainly wasn't going to come to their aid. In desperation, they asked Germanus for help.
Germanus to the rescue.
|Stained glass window at Gloucester Cathedral depicting St Patrick being taught by St Germanus|
Germanus, ever confident, told the people of Briton to do exactly as he told them, and all would be well. Germanus meant what he said. He not only had God on his side, but he was also a highly educated man. He had studied eloquence and civil law in Rome. Before he entered the Church, he had held very high offices in government. He knew what he was talking about.
Germanus picked his battleground carefully. He said the only way they could beat the barbarians was by having the higher ground. He found the perfect location — it was a remote, mountainous site near a river. He told his small army to climb the mountains and spread out over the three sides of the valley. This they did.
The Picts and Scots confidently rode into the valley. They thought this would be an easy win. Were they in for a surprise!
An arrow shot across the sky. This was the signal Germanus' men had been waiting for. Germanus yelled...
"Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!"
His army took up the cry. The sound of their voices echoed off the mountain walls. The Picts and Scots were deafened by a noise of what sounded like thousands of men.
"Hallelujah!" the army of Germanus yelled.
"Hallelujah!" they yelled again.
Fearing that they were about to be slaughtered by the largest army that had ever been assembled, the Picts and Scots dropped their weapons, turned around and fled.
The Britons were victorious. Germanus sent the Barbarians home without one drop of blood being shed. Quite an achievement in anyone’s book!
So there were have it, The Hallelujah Victory.
|Saint Germain l'Auxerrois statue|
The site of the bloodless battle is in a place now named Maes Garmon in Flintshire, North Wales. The name simply means "The Field of Germanus."
*All images are in the Public Domain.*
If you fancy finding out what happened after the death of King Arthur then why not check out my historical fantasy series — The Du Lac Chronicles...
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