How the Saxons came
- King Vortigern decided upon a
risky strategy to keep Britain safe.
- In Northern Britain, he
hired Saxon mercenaries (from Northern Germany) to fight the
Picts (from Scotland). He may also have employed other Picts
(from Scotland), led by a man named Cunedda, to fight the
Irish in Wales.
- This was an old
Roman trick which had worked well in the past.
- Vortigern paid these
foreigners with land and the Saxon leaders, Hengest and Horsa,
settled with their people in Cantium (now called Kent). This was very unpopular
with the Romano-British. Vortigern's two sons, Vortimer and
Catigern, even fought a war with him because of it.
- Many people in Britain
then joined a group who didn't want Vortigern as their King. A
monk named Gildas wrote that they chose a man named Ambrosius as their leader.
- A civil war broke out in
Britain. Ambrosius's followers defeated Vortigern's army.
Vortigern hid in one of his castles but it was set on fire and
he burnt to death!
Click to find
out: How the Saxons managed to stay in Britain.