British History,Monarchs of Great Britain,King Arthur

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Interesting Events in Early British History



St. Germanus' Visit to Britain - AD 429

Bishops Germanus of Auxerre and Lupus of Troyes, after a British appeal to the church in Gaul, were dispatched by Pope Celestine I to Britain to combat the preaching of the Pelagian heresy. We cannot be sure exactly what role Vortigern played in this scenario, but the situation must have been a delicate one for him.

On the one hand, he had to receive the high-level visitors with respect so as not to alienate the pro-Roman Catholic faction in his own country. Additionally, there were others on the continent who might, if offended, be inclined to support his enemies against him. On the other hand, he couldn't be seen to side with the Catholic bishops, since a large portion of his own population were pro-Celtic Pelagians. In any case, it was decided that a debate would be held to give both sides of the question an equal opportunity to win support. The leading Pelagian in Britain was a bishop named Agricola, and it was he who argued for that side in the public debate which was held in Verulamium (present-day St. Albans) in front of a huge crowd of spectators.

The day was carried by the debating skill and the rhetorical arts employed by the Gallic bishops. After the debate, Germanus' attention is turned, by circumstances, to secular matters, when an invasion threat came from the Irish to the west.

With the main weight of British and Saxon forces deployed against Pictish invasion from the north, few experienced commanders were available to deal with this new aggressor. Germanus was asked to bless the force which was to be sent out to fight the Irish. The bishop, who had been a military commander before he took religious orders, offered himself as the leader of the army. Germanus deployed his troops around the walls of a valley, now called Maes Garmon about 1 mile NW of the town of Mold in Flintshire, northeast Wales, and lay in ambush, waiting for the enemy. At Germanus' signal, the troops all shouted "Hallelujah" in unison, and the sound frightened the Irish into a panicked retreat. An account of the event (Constantius' "Life of St. Germanus") says:

"...and the great cry rebounded, shut in by the surrounding hills. The enemy column was terrified; the very frame of heaven and the rocks around seemed to threaten them...they fled in all directions"
This battle has come to be known as the "Hallelujah Victory".


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