“Friends, Verulamians, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Boicicus, not to praise him;
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones,
So let it be with Boicicus … The noble Morgan
Hath told you Boicicus was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Boicicus answered it …
Here, under leave of Morgan and the rest,
(For Morgan is an honourable man;
So are they all; all honourable men)
Come I to speak in Boicicus’ funeral …
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Morgan says he was ambitious;
And Morgan is an honourable man….
He hath brought many captives home to Verulamium,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Boicicus seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Boicicus hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Morgan says he was ambitious;
And Morgan is an honourable man.
You all did see that in the Forum
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Morgan says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Morgan spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason…. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Boicicus,
And I must pause till it come back to me.”
So spoke Gaius Ambrosius, the last of the Romans, as the body of Maximus Boicicus lay before the small church of Saint Alban on the green hill to the south of Verulamium. Those block, those stones, those worse than senseless citizenry that had damned him for a fool, or worse, those hard hearts, worse than senseless things who had listened to the poisoned words of Morgan ap Cesti who had returned first from the field of defeat, now could see the truth. A brave man lay dead before them, and hope slipped away as sand through one’s fingers.
It had been the news of a Saxon raiding party which had brought the Verulamium city guard to battle. Again the outlying farms were proving to be indefensible, and wise men would recall the Tribune’s demands to bring the peasantry within the city walls where they could be protected. Yet men fail to forsee their own demise, and so it had been with many of the land owners who retired to their city houses while their servants and slaves still tilled the fields outside.
Boicicus had arrived with his force as the Seax approached the small farm, it had been his intention to advance rapidly with his force and to form a shieldwall as they neared the enemy. Yet it was clear that enthusiasm overcame the Britons, for upon seeing their foe they leapt forward and came to blows in the most ragged of formations. Against the lesser warriors this would not have been so terrible, but they faced the Gedriht led by Cyddic, and their violence threw back the British with some losses. It was Gaius Ambrosius, the last of the Romans, who stepped forth and steadied the line before Boicicus himself drew up the shieldwall and spoke words to his men, restoring their faith in their God and their spears.
Yet on the British right the most vile of the Saxons, Aelfric, led his men round to strike into the British rear. Morgan ap Cesti was sent by Boicicus to lead his Jutes to face off this threat. Yet that very morning these German foederati his seen that the gizzard of a chicken assume the shape of an eagle in the fire, a portentous sign to a Jute, and their enthusiasm in battle was not as it should have been. At first they three back the Saxon attack, wounding Aelfric, but then their recollection of the signs were sufficient to make them hesitate, and Aelfric came on again, routing them from the battle. In such a fashion Morgan ap Cesti was to return to Verulamium with tidings of the defeat ahead of the main force.
Yet this diversion had allowed Cyddic sufficient time to rout the British Numeri, before he too fell upon the rear of the shieldwall. The Milites broke before the violent charge, Gaius Ambrosius and the Comanipulares being drive back toward their archers, leaving Maximus Boicicus to rally the Milites. This he did and seeing his only hope being to fight his way out, he led a charge against Aelfric, cutting him down and slaying his men. But time had been lost, and Cyddic’s heartguard joined the fray. His milites stood and died around him, then only Boicicus stood against a dozen. His sword was bright and fast, his shield carried the cross of our Lord, but against so many none can stand. The end came as it must.
Seeing his Tribune fall Gaius Ambrosius left the field with the companions, bringing order to the rout, and ensuring the survival of much of his Numeri. Yet all of the Milites had fallen with the Tribune. It would take more than a year for Verulamium to regain their strength in men, and such was Cyddic’s victory that news of his being hailed King by his people was already abroad. None could stand before the triumphant pagans. There was no choice.
Word was sent to the King Cynfelyn ap Arthwys of Calchwynedd, the Kingdom of the Chalk Hills, calling for his protection against the Seax. Would he come before King Cyddic attempted to claim his throne?
A real shock result last evening on Lard Island, and one that changed the dynamics of the campaign for good. Boicicus is dead, so Gaius Ambrosius, the last of the Romans, will now attempt to take a Warlord career path as he stands as the war leader of King Cynfelyn. King Cyddic has a crown but no throne, and he is well aware that Verulamium now represents one small region in a much larger Kingdom. A significant victory against the Calchwynedd forces could well see that land given up, and his own Kingdom founded. Rumours abound regarding Morgan ap Cesti, the man who fled the battle. Some say that he has been seen with the Saxons. Only time will tell.
Boicicus mortuus est.
Ogius, Ogius, Ogius.
“Graspez le saucisson mon cher Desade! The moment is ours, les Anglais are in full blow retreat and we have one of their toughest men prisoner already. You saw the English officers run, it was only the brave Sergeant who stood and fought. Their officers have not the stomach for the whole affair.” Capitaine Piece