FROM THE ARRIVAL OF THE SAXONS TO THE RETREAT OF THE BRITONS INTO WALES COMPRISING
THE PERIOD OF ABOUT A HUNDRED AND THIRTY YEARS
THE Saxons returned a favourable answer to the Britons, assuring them that they would stand by them in their pressing necessities. They also-agreed to grant them an aid of nine thousand men, on certain terms, the principal whereof was, that the Saxons should be put in possession of the Isle of Thanet, adjacent to Kent, where they were to land, and their troops be paid and maintained by the Britons.—Hengist and Horsa, both sons of Witigisil, were appointed to command the troops designed for the aid of the Britons.
Hengist was about thirty years old. He first bore arms under his father Witigisil; after which, for his improvement in the art of war, he served in the Roman armies, where the emperors generally kept some Saxon troops in their pay. This young warrior was endowed with all the necessary qualifications for accomplishing the undertaking committed to his management. His valour and experience, the solidity of his judgment, his address, his easy and engaging behaviour, warranted, in some measure, his success. All these excellent qualities determined the Saxon general to procure for his son so fair an occasion to display his talents. Of his brother, Horsa, nothing particular is said.
The Saxons, notwithstanding their promise, did not think proper to send over at once so considerable a body of forces as nine thousand men, into a country but imperfectly known to them. Wherefore, pretending that the rest were not ready, by reason of their great distance from the place of embarkation, they caused only 1600 to be put on board three vessels. Historians have not expressly marked the place of this first embarkation; but it probably was Zealand, as that country was then in possession of the Saxons, and as it would have been difficult to chose a more convenient place, or one nearer the isle of Thanet, where they might land. Hengist and Horsa accordingly arrived at Ebbesfleet in the isle of Thanet, about the year 449, or 450; and, when they had refreshed themselves, Vortigern led them against the Picts and Scots that were advanced as far as Stamford in Lincolnshire. In the first battle the islanders, according to their custom, began with throwing their darts.