Excerpt from Layamon's Brut

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Excerpt from Layamon's Brut

by: Layamon (Author), W. R. J. Barron (Editor, Translator), S. C. Weinberg (Editor, Translator)
from: Layamon's Arthur (Pp. 547 - 553)  1989

Arthur saw Colgrim climbing the hillside, fleeing to the hill which stands above Bath, and Baldolf following him with seven thousand soldiers; they planned to resist stoutly on the hill, defend themselves with weapons and do Arthur injury. This Arthur, noblest of kings, saw where Colgrim turned at bay and made a stand; and so the king called very loudly:

"Advance towards the hills, my bold warriors! For yesterday Colgrim was the bravest of men; now he is like the goat guarding the hilltop; high on the hillside it defends itself with its horns when the savage wolf comes slinking towards it. Though the wolf were alone, away from the pack, and there were five hundred goats in a single enclosure, the wolf will set upon them and savage them all. So now, this very day, will I destroy Colgrim utterly. I am the wolf and he is the goat - the man shall die!

Then Arthur, noblest of kings, continued:
"Yesterday Baldolf was the boldest of warriors; now he stands on the hill and looks upon the Avon, sees how steel fish lie in the river trammeled with swords, their swimming impaired; their scales gleam as if they were gilded shields; their fins drift in the water like spears floating there. This is a marvelous thing come to pass in this land, such beasts on the hill, such fish in the water!

Yesterday the emperor was the boldest of all rulers; now he has become a hunter pursued by horns; he flees over the broad plain, his hounds barking. He has abandoned his hunting close by Bath; he is fleeing from his quarry and we shall put an end to his hunting, bring to naught his bold boasting; and so we shall regain our rightful possessions.

As the king spoke these words, he raised his shield on high before his breast, grasped his long spear and spurred on his horse. Swiftly almost as the flight of a bird, five and twenty thousand brave men, armed and enraged, following the king, advanced upon the hill in great strength, and fell upon Colgrim with most bitter blows And Colgrim engaged them there and felled the Britons to the ground, fully five hundred in the first onslaught. Arthur, noblest of kings, saw that, and grew furiously angry; and Arthur, the great leader, called out thus:
"Where are you, my Britons, my bold warriors? Here, before us, stand our enemies, most worthy opponents; let us strike them down, my good warriors."

Arthur grasped his sword firmly and struck a Saxon warrior so that the sword, an excellent one, lodged in the teeth. And he struck another who was that warrior's brother, so that his helmet and his head fell to the ground. Instantly he delivered a third blow and cut a warrior in half. Then the Britons were greatly heartened, and inflicted very fierce strokes upon the Saxons with their long spears and their stout swords. Saxons fell there, met their doom, sank in their hundreds to the ground; thousands upon thousands without cease fell to earth there. Then Colgrim saw how Arthur was advancing upon him; and, because of the carnage, Colgrim could not flee in any direction. Baldolf fought at his brother's side there.

Then Arthur called out in a loud voice:
"I am coming now, Colgrim; we two shall contest the kingdom. We shall now divide this land between us in a way which will please you least!"
As the king spoke these words, he raised aloft his broad sword and brought it fiercely down, striking Colgrim's helmet so that he split it and the coif of mail beneath in half and the sword lodged in the chest. And he swung at Baldolf with his right hand and struck off his head along with the helmet.

Then the noble King Arthur laughed, and began to speak thus with mocking words:
"Now lie there Colgrim, you who had climbed so high, and your brother Baldolf shall lie by your side. I now entrust this whole kingdom to you in person, hills and dales, and all my worthy subjects. You climbed very high upon this hill as if you would climb up to heaven - now you shall sink down to hell! There you may meet many of your kinsmen. And greet Hengest there, who was best of warriors, Ebissa, and Ossa, Octa, and others of your kin, and bid them remain there for evermore. And we shall live in this land well content, shall pray for your souls that no good ever come to them; and your bones shall lie here beside Bath."

King Arthur called to the valiant Cador - he was the earl of Cornwall, a very brave knight:
"Listen to me, Cador, you who are my own kinsman. Childric has now fled and taken himself off, hoping to sail home in safety. But take five thousand men from my army and travel swiftly by night and day so that you reach the sea before Childric does; and all that you can seize, take it with pleasure. And if you can kill the evil emperor there, I will give you all Dorset as reward."
Additional Information:
Layamon's Brut was originally written in the early 13th century.
See The Battle of Mount Badon page.