In 410 A.D., Roman Britain
was under attack from Irish
raiders from the west
barbarians from the north
, and worst of all, Saxon
warriors from the east
. The council of nobles, the Supreme Collegium
, sent a letter to their emperor to ask for help. However, Emperor Honorius had no armies to spare, and instead he sent only a letter: “Look to your own defenses.” From that moment forward, no Briton considered his land to be a part of the Roman Empire.
The Supreme Collegium chose a man named Constantin
to rule the island. He reigned well in difficult times, and in 440 his eldest son Constans
succeeded him. Constans was still young and was counseled by his uncle Vortigern
. Shortly after Constans' suspicious murder, Vortigern had Constans' younger brothers Aurelius Ambrosius
exiled to Brittany
. Vortigern assumed the throne himself. He was tyrannical and not well loved.
Around this time, a massive Pictish and Irish invasion threatened the entire island, so Vortigern allied himself with the much-hated Saxons and married the daughter of the Saxon King Hengest
. Vortigern also settled Picts along the coasts to defend against the Irish. Soon, many eastern lords of Britain rebelled against their new king, but they were crushed and their lands given to his Saxon allies. Vortigern’s own son
led another rebellion, and, though temporarily successful, he was killed in battle.
During the infamous "Night of the Long Knives
", the Saxons betrayed Vortigern, slaying nearly all the British leadership. Vortigern himself became a mere subject of his former Saxon allies. The island had lost all hope - until 466, when Constantin's son Aurelius Ambrosius returned with an army from Brittany.
The people of Britain immediately rallied behind the banner of Aurelius Ambrosius. Vortigern fled and took refuge in northwestern Cambria
- a magical land where the young sage Merlin
prophesied the fate of Britain. With help from his brother Uther, Aurelius Ambrosius overcame the Saxons and then Vortigern himself, was named High King of Britain
, and was given the name "Pendragon" - "Warrior Chief".