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.
- An old story tells how
the Saxons were led by two princes named Hengest and Horsa. Vortigern
is said to have paid these
foreigners with land in Cantium (now called Kent).
They invited their families and friends to settle there.
- This was very unpopular
with most of the Romano-British. They
formed 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.
They fought against the Saxons.
- They also fought against
Vortigern. A civil war had started 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.