British History,Monarchs of Great Britain,King Arthur

Interesting Events in Early British History

Saxon Mercenaries Authorized by Vortigern - AD 446

To aid the Britons in their defense against the increasingly brutal raids from the northern tribes (perhaps also to deflect attention from the fact that he was too weak to do so, himself), Vortigern authorizes the use of Saxon mercenaries, in exchange for which services the Saxons would receive land to be used for settlement. This was consistent with the standard Roman practice of employing one barbarian tribe to defend against another. Vortigern may also have been seduced by the words of Hengest, the Saxon chief, as recorded in the "Kentish Chronicle":
"Hengest said to Vortigern...'Take my advice, and you will never fear conquest by any man or any people, for my people are strong. I will invite my son and his cousin to fight against the Irish, for they are fine warriors.'"
The first Saxons landings took place on the Isle of Thanet in Kent. From there, they were given permission by Vortigern to move northward, to keep the marauding Picts under control. In the early stages, the Saxon mercenaries settled in the coastal areas in Kent, East Anglia, Lindsey and Northumbria. The anti-Pict/Irish strategy that Vortigern chose to employ proved to be successful, since these tribes were never a problem, again. But, the sweet taste of Hengest's words would become turn to Vortigern, very soon, when the Saxon revolt began.

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