From: Iguanna Martin
Subject: The Origin of the Welsh
From the forward to the chapter Origins and Causes:
P.H. Emerson, best remembered for his photographs of rural lfe in East
Anglia, lived on the island of Anglesey during the winter of 1891-92 and
there collected the contents of his 'Welsh Fairy-Tales and Other Stories
(1894). With its memory of the Trojan Wars and suggestion that the
Celts were descendants of the Trojans, the tale of the 'Origin of the
Welsh' perpetuates the tradition recorded (and possibly initiated) by
the twelfth-century history Geoffrey of Monmouth who, in his higghly
influential 'History of the Kings of Britain', depicted Brutus,
great-grandson of the Trojan Aeneas, as founder of the British race:
"Brutus then called the island Britain from his own name, and his
companions he called Britons. His intention was that his memory should
be perpetuated by the derivation of the name."
Many years ago there lived several wild tribes round the King of
Persia's city, and the king's men were always annoying and harassing
them, exacting yearly a heavy tribute. Now these tribes, though brave
in warfare, could not hold their own before the Persian army when sent
out against them, so that they paid their yearly tribute grudgingly, but
took revenge, whenever they could, upon travellers to or from the city,
robbing and killing them.
At last one of the tribesmen, a clever old chieftain, thought of a
cunning plan whereby to defeat the persians, and free themselves from
the yearly tribute. And this was his scheme:
The wild wastes where these tribes lived were infested with large
birds called 'Rohs', which were very destructive to human beings -
devouring men, women, and children greedily whenever they could catch
them. Such a terror were they that the tribes had to protect their
village with high walls, and then they slept securely, for the Roh
hunted by night. This old chieftain determined to watch the birds, and
find out their nesting places; so he had a series of towers built, in
which the watchmen could sleep securely at night. These towers were
advanced in whatever direction the birds were seen to congregate by
night. The observers reported that the Roh could not fly but ran very
swiftly, being fleeter than any horse.
At length, by watching, their nesting-places were found in a sandy
plain, and it was discovered that those monstrous birds stole sheep and
cattle in great numbers.
The chieftain then gave orders for the watchmen to keep on guard until
the young birds were hatched, when they were commanded to secure fifty,
and bring them into the walled town. The order was carried out, and one
night they secured fifty young birds just out of the egg, and brought
them to the town.
The old chieftain then told off fifty skilful warriors, a man to each
bird, to his son being alloted the largest bird. These warriors were
ordered to feed the birds on flesh, and to train them for battle. The
birds grew up as tame as horses. Saddles and bridles were made for
them, and they were trained and exercised just like chargers.
When the next tribute day came round, the King of Persia sent his
emissaries to collect the tax, but the chieftains of the tribes insulted
and defied them, so that they returned to the king, who at once sent
forward his army.
The chieftain then marshalled his men, and forty-six of the Rohs were
drawn up in front of the army, the chief getting on the strongest bird.
The remaining four were placed on the right flank, and ordered at a
signal to advance and cut off the army, should they retreat.
The Rohs had small scales, like those of a fish, on their necks and
bodies, the scales being hidden under a soft hair, except on the upper
half of the neck. They had no feathers except on their wings. So the
were invulnerable except as to the eyes - for in those days the Persians
only had bows and arrows, and light javelins. When the Persian army
advanced, the Rohs advanced at lightning speed, and made fearful havoc,
the birds murdering and trampling the soldiers under foot, and beating
them down with their powerful wings. In less than two hours half the
Persian army was slain, and the rest had escaped. The tribes returned
to their walled towns, delighted with their victory.
When the news of his defeat reached the King of Persia he was wroth
beyond expression, and could not sleep for rage. So the next morning he
called for his magician.
'What are you going to do with the birds?' asked the king.
'Well, I've been thinking the matter over,' replied the magician.
'Cannot you destroy all of them?'
'No, your majesty, I cannot destroy them, for I have not the power;
but I can get rid of them in one way; for though I cannot put out life,
I have the power of turning one life into some other living creature.'
'Well, what will you turn them into?' asked the king.
'I'll consider tonight, your majesty,' replied the magician.
'Well, mind and be sure to do it.'
'Yes, I'll be sure to do it, your majesty.'
The next day, at ten, the magician appeared before the king, who asked:
'Have you considered well?'
'Yes, your majesty."
'Well, how are you going to act?'
'Your majesty, I've thought and thought during the night, and the best
thing we can do is to turn all the birds into fairies.'
'What are fairies?' asked the king.
'I've planned it all out, and I hope your majesty will agree.'
'Oh! I'll agree, as long as they never molest us more.'
'Well, your majesty, I'm going to turn them into fairies - small
living creatures to live in caves in the bowels of the earth, and they
shall only visit people living on the earth once a year. They shall be
harmless, and hurt nothing; they shall be fairies, and do nothing but
dance and sing, and I shall allow them to go about on earth for twenty
four hours once a year and play thei antics, but they shall do no
'How long are the birds to remain in that state?' asked the king.
'I'll give them two thousand years, your majesty; and at the end of
that time they are to go back into birds, as they were before. And
after the birds change from the fairy state back into birds, they shall
never breed more, but die a natural death.'
So the tribes lost their birds, and the King of Persia made such
fearful havoc amongst them that they decided to leave the country.
They travelled, supporting themselves by robbery, until they came to a
place where they built a city, and called it Troy, where they were
besieged for a long time.
At length the besiegers built a large caravan, with a large man's head
in front; the head was all gilded with gold. When the caravan was
finished they put a hundred and fifty of the best warriors
inside,provided with food, and one of them had a trumpet. Then they
pulled the caravan, which ran upon eight broad wheels, up to the gates
of the city, and left it there, their army being drawn up in a valley
near by. It was agreed that when the caravan got inside the gates the
bugler should blow three loud blasts to warn the army, who would
immediately advance into the city.
The men on the ramparts saw this curious caravan, and they began
wondering what it was, and for two or three days they left it alone.
At last an old chieftain said: 'It must be their food.'
On the third day they opened the gates, and attaching ropes, began to
haul it into the city; then the warriors leaped out, and the horn blew,
and the army hurried up, and the town was taken after great slaughter;
but a number escaped with their wives and children, and fled on to the
Crimea, whence they were driven by the Russians, so they marched away
along the sea to Spain and bearing up through France, they stopped.
Some wanted to go across the sea, and some stayed in the heart of France,
they were the Bretoons. The others came on over in boats, and landed in
England, and they were the first people settled in Great Britain: they
were the Welsh.