443a Page 443.
MAXIMUS, the Maxen of the present Tale, was invested by his army with the Imperial purple in the year 383. He was of low birth, and Spanish origin. He served much in Britain, in which Island he commanded at the time of his elevation, and whence he proceeded with his army into Gaul, to support his claim against the lawful emperor Gratian.
It is said that he rendered part of Britain desolate by transporting the inhabitants into Gaul, where they are supposed to have formed the Breton immigration. He was put to death in the neighbourhood of Aquileia, after having been defeated by Theodosius and Valentinian the Younger, in 388.--Gibbon, chap. xxvii.
Maximus is the subject of many Welsh legends. Part of his history will be recognized as forming the basis of the exaggerated fictions of the text.
As regards the other personages who figure in the present Tale, we find that the two most conspicuous, Kynan (or Kynan Meriadawc, as he is usually called), and his sister Helen Luyddawg, or Helen of mighty hosts, were the children of Eudav. A Triad is preserved, which goes at some length into the account of the expedition they undertook for the purpose of supporting the claim of Maximus to the Imperial throne. They raised an army of sixty thousand men in Britain, and proceeded with it across the sea to Armorica, A.D. 383. The desolation caused by this abstraction of its inhabitants from the Island is said to have been the remote cause of the Saxon invasion.--Tr. 14.
The history of Kynan is also preserved in a Legendary Life.
The Brut Gruffydd ab Arthur gives a different account of the personages and events alluded to in this Mabinogi, but does not advert to the dream, though it mentions St. Ursula and the eleven thousand virgins, who were sent from Britain as wives for the emigrated hosts of Kynan Meriadawc, in Armorica. According to Gruffydd, Helen Luyddawg was the only child of King Coel (the founder of Colchester), and was bestowed in marriage, with the dominions she inherited, upon the Roman Constans. Their son, the celebrated Constantine, was called from his kingdom of Britain to the Imperial throne, in place of Maximus the Cruel; after his departure, Eudav earl of Cornwall, rose up and wrested the government of the Island from the hands of those princes to whom Constantine had consigned it, and, in spite of the Roman forces sent against him under Trahayarn, Helen's uncle, established himself on the throne.
Eudav's reign extended to the time of the emperors Gratian and Valentinian. His heir was an only daughter, whose name does not appear, but whom, by advice of his nobles, he married to the Roman senator, Maxen Wledig, who boasted British descent, being the son of Helen's uncle Llewelyn. Maxen's marriage, and his succession to the sovereign power, were long and strenuously opposed by Eudav's nephew, Kynan Meriadawc, who himself aspired to the crown.
But peace having at length been concluded between them, Kynan accompanied Maxen in an expedition which he undertook on the continent, and was rewarded for his assistance with the kingdom of Llydaw, or Armorica, in which Maxen left him to establish himself, whilst he proceeded to contend for the nobler prize. But having killed Valentinian, and driven Gratian from the empire,
[paragraph continues] Maxen himself was soon after slain at Rome; whereupon the vast hosts that had accompanied him from Britain dispersed, the chief part of them seeking refuge in Armorica with Kynan Meriadawc.--Myv. Arch. II. p. 205-225.
The same story is related by Nennius, who calls the emperor Maximianus.
"The seventh emperor was Maximianus. He withdrew from Britain with all its military force, slew Gratianus the king of the Romans, and obtained the sovereignty of all Europe. Unwilling to send back his warlike companions to their wives, families, and possessions in Britain, he conferred upon them numerous districts from the lake on the summit of Mons Iovis, to the city called Cant Guic, and to the western Tumulus, that is Cruc Occident. These are the Armoric Britons, and they remain there to the present day. In consequence of their absence, Britain being overcome by foreign nations, the lawful heirs were cast out, till God interposed with his assistance."
The lake here mentioned is thought to be that near the hospice of the great St. Bernard, and Cant Gwic is probably Cantavic, in Picardy. It is more difficult to identify Cruc Occident, the western Tumulus, but the author of the Hanes Cymru supposes it to be Mont St. Michel, near Quiberon, in Brittany.
Some copies of Nennius contain an account of the lingual disablement of the women, similar to that in the text; and add, that from this cause they were called Letewiccion [Lledfydion], that is Semitacentes. This is evidently an attempt to account for the name of Letavia [Llydaw], as applied to Armorica.
Gildas, in his work "De Excidio Britanniæ," also mentions the revolt of Maximus, and its disastrous consequences:--
"Afterwards Britain, being robbed of all its armed soldiery, and military forces, was abandoned to cruel rulers, being deprived of an immense number of youths who accompanied the above-named tyrant [Maximus], and never returned home; and being totally ignorant of the art of war, groaned in stupefaction for many years, under the oppression of two foreign nations," &c. &c.
This author, however, has not any allusion to the Armorican settlement.
The roads attributed in the text to Helen Luyddawc, are evidently the Roman Roads, which intersected our Island. Their remains in several places in the Principality, bear, to this day, the name of Sarn
[paragraph continues] Helen, which some, however, consider to be a corruption Of Sarn y Lleng, the Road of the Legion.
The Welsh text of this Mabinogi, Breuddwyd Maxen Wledig, was printed in 1806, in a Welsh collection entitled the Greal, p. 289, but no translation of it has hitherto appeared.