The Battle of the Dragons
At the beginning of the 5th century the Roman Empire started to collapse and the legions were called back from Britain. The vacuum of power was taken up by a king called Vortigern, but he was pressed on all sides by the Picts and the Scotti who saw the loss of the legions as an opportunity to advance over the borders that the Romans had steadfastly guarded.
In desperation Vortigern hired Saxon mercenaries to supplement his own armies, but before long the Saxons began to seize British land for their own and resisted all attempts to send them back to their own lands.
Vortigern called together his advisors and between them they devised a plan to retreat westward into the mountains of Snowdonia and there to build a mighty fortress at Dinas Emrys from which to consolidate his power.
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The Red Book of Hergest, from which The Mabinogion are taken, is a collection of tales and poems written during the fourteenth century.
Some of the Mabinogion in it have been reconstructed in Norman and Crusading times, but they contain reminiscences of a more distant period, often but half understood by the later story-teller. Among these are “The Dream of Rhonabwy,” “The Lady of the Fountain,” and “Peredur the son of Evrawc”—the three which happen to come first in the Red Book. These are Christian, but with distant glimpses of Celtic heathenism. The adventures are all grouped around Arthur and his knights; and a kind of connection is given to the three tales by the presence of Owen and his mysterious ravens. Others, especially the four Mabinogion properly so called and the Tale of Lludd and Llevelys, are far older; they are older than Christianity, and older than Arthur.
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