Emperor Anthemius, and after ascending the Loire in their vessels, were attacked by Euric at Bourg-en-Deols, near Chateauroux, and utterly defeated.1

Sidonius Apollinaris also represents the Britons as settled about the mouths of the Loire.2

Now if British settlers were able to send a large army against the Visigoths in or about 470, we may well allow them some fifty years to have been settled in a portion of lower Brittany. Others arrived later in greater numbers, flying from the swords of the Saxons, but the colonisation of Armorica by the Britons had begun earlier.

We know nothing of the causes which drove Emyr Llydaw out of Armorica ; he fled to Wales, where his sons married daughters of Meurig, king of Morganwg, or Glamorgan. We may place the period when Emyr fled with his family in the latter part of the fifth century.

Samson, bishop of Dol, died 567-70, and was probably born about 490-500. He was son to Amwn the Black, and is represented as the child of his old age.

Amwn married Anna, daughter of Meurig, and he is said to have enjoyed the friendship of S. Dyfrig as well as of S. Illtyd. Amwn was not disposed at first to suffer his son Samson to become a religious, but the inclination of the lad was so decided in this direction that he had to yield, and being away from his own possessions, the ecclesiastical life was that which offered most promise to a young man.

Samson became a member of the congregation of S. Illtyd at Llantwit Major, and of S. Dyfrig at Ynys Byr. Whilst there he heard that his father was seriously ill, and desired his son to visit him. Samson, through a perverted idea that he had broken with all family ties, at first resolved to disregard the summons, but was reprimanded by Pirus, or Piro, the abbot, and reluctantly consented to go.

On his arrival he found the sick man with his relatives crowded round his bed ;3 Samson turned them all out, with the exception of his mother Anna, and the deacon he had brought with him. He then urged his father to make confession of his misdeeds. Whereupon Amwn, in the presence of these three,4 revealed a mortal sin he had committed, and which he had kept secret from his wife and from others.

Then yielding to the solicitations of Anna, he vowed to dedicate the rest of his days to God, and to have his head shaved. Anna, with the impetuosity of a woman, and without consideration of consequences, said: " Do not let us be alone, let us dedicate at the same time all our children and our estate to God."

1 Jornandes, De rebus Geticis, c. 45. s Epist., i, 7.

3 "Invenerunt Ammonem, Sancti Samsonis patrem, a suis vicinis circumdatum in lecto aegrotantem." Vita iTM, in Acta SS. Boll., Jul., t. vi, p. 580.

* "Praesentibus illis tribus supradictis quod in se celaverat publicavit in medium." Ibid.

Thereupon she presented to Samson his five brothers and a young sister. Samson accepted them all except the girl. "She," said he, "will hanker after worldly pleasures, and I reject her. However, as she is a human being, rear her up.'1

At the same time Samson's uncle and aunt, Umbrafel and Dervella, embraced the religious life, together with their three sons. He then took his uncle and father with him to Ynys Byr, that he might supervise their religious training.

When some Irish monks came to the monastery on their way back from Rome, Samson was induced to go with them to Ireland, but he did not remain there long. He, however, founded a monastery there. When he returned to Wales he found that his father and uncle had made some progress, but Umbrafel was the most hopeful of the two. He accordingly sent him to Ireland to be abbot over his monastery, but took his father with him into retreat in a wild district near the Severn. On leaving this retreat with the ultimate intention of settling in Armorica, Samson crossed the sea, probably to Padstow Harbour, and proceeding south-east formed an important settlement at Southill. He had his father still with him.

When he considered the political conditions in Armorica ripe for organising a revolt against the regent Conmore, in 547 or thereabouts, Samson crossed over. Amwn must at this time have been still with him, for we are told that Samson left him in charge of his monastery,2 which we locate at Southill.

We hear nothing further of Amwn, save that he was buried at Llantwit Major, where he was, for a while, a member of S. Illtyd's "choir." 3

Probably he had found the government of a monastery beyond his powers, at an advanced age ; and he left Southill to sink into a simple monk again ; he is, however, said to have had a " choir " of his own as well, a cell of S. Illtyd's, but this may refer to the establishment at Southill.4

1 "Ista pusilla quam vos videtis et habetis ad mundanas voluptates data est; tamen nutrite eam, quia homo est." Vita i1"*, in A eta SS. Boll., Jul., t. vi, p. 580.

* "Monasterii illius perfecte constructi suo patri praesulatum praecipit," etc. Ibid., p. 585.

3 Iolo MSS., pp. 107, 132,141. He is spoken of as having been "King of Grawec," probably Broweroc, the British settlement about Vannes.

4 Iolo MSS., p. 151.

In Brittany, near Vannes, precisely in the district of Broweroc whence Amwn possibly came, at Plescop (Plou-escop), a certain Amon, receives a cult. The story there told is that Amon arrived at Plescop from foreign parts and solicited shelter and food. As he was refused even milk, he cursed the place, that thenceforth the cows should yield none. Next morning he was found dead in some bushes. A chapel was erected over his grave, and his relics were translated in 1456.1

According to Garaby,2 his day is April 30, but at Plescop, the Pardon de S. Amon is on the last Sunday in October. In the chapel, which is only just outside the village, is a statue of the Saint, of the eighteenth century, and he is represented as a warrior. An oak carved bust of him is also preserved there, that contains the upper portion of his skull, which is dolichocephalous, and perfectly black. This was formerly carried in procession on the day of the Pardon, on a bier, but at the Revolution the papers authenticating the relic were lost or destroyed; consequently it is no more carried nor exposed to the veneration of the people, although there can be no moral doubt as to it being the genuine relic translated in 1456. The bust is much in character like the statue, and both were probably carved by the same man.

As no authentic life or legend of S. Amon exists, the period at which he lived and died is open to conjecture. Garaby supposes he was a returned Crusader. But this was the merest guess. The peasants of Plescop know nothing relative to the period when Amon came among them. Ogee says: " In 1456, the inhabitants of this parish found the body of Saint Humon, a Breton knight, hidden among the bushes. It was elevated with great solemnity and a chapel was built on the spot in his honour." 3 But there is nothing known of such a knight, and Ogee seems to have mistaken the translation of the body and the erection of the chapel for the date of the death of Amon. It is just possible that Amwn Ddu may have left his charge of Samson's monastery in Cornwall to return to his native land. And this conjecture receives some confirmation from the fact that he has received no cult in Cornwall. He came apparently from Broweroc, the neighbourhood of Vannes, and it is probable, if he returned to Brittany, that he would seek that part whence he had been driven when young. If so, then it is conceivable also that the people, having known him only as a warrior, and not as a monk, when he died among them, represented him as a man of war.

1 Le Mene, Hist, des Paroisscs de Vannes, 1894, tom, ii, p. 101.

* Vies des Bicnhetireux ct des Saints de Bretagne, S. Brieuc, 1839, p. 106.

1 Ogee, Diet, historique ct gtographique de Bretagne, ed. Rennes, 1843, ".'P- 292

[graphic][merged small][ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »