In this posting, we are recalling one of the eleven stories of The Mabinogiion, first found in the written form in the fourteenth century although told in the oral tradition of the Welsh storyteller centuries earlier.
It mingles fantasy with chivalry in a world of mystery and magic.
Macsen Wledig( Wledig or Gwledig translates as ruler or prince) was Emperor of Rome falls asleep ,has a dream. In this dream he crosses high mountains, journeys down great rivers, sails over treacherous seas to a far away island.There in grand castle he sees and falls in love with the most beautiful of maidens. He wakes up is distraught with the loss of his love and neglecting all else he pursues the lovely maiden seen in his dream. He eventually finds her in the Island of Britain, her name is Elen, the daughter of a Welsh Chieftain and she becomes his bride. At her request he builds her castle homes nn the North and South of Wales, also to please her he bestows the kingdom of the Island of Britain on her father. Being away for so long, Macsen is disposed of as Emperor and the people of Rome elect a new Emperor. On hearing of this Macsen accompanied by his armies marches to and lays siege to Rome. After more than a year he was no nearer to winning than on the first day. At that time Elen’s brothers Cynan and Gadeon came to visit the Empress. Whilst watching the assault on the city they decided they could do better with their small band of kinsfolk, having no respect for truces or the like, when the two Emperors held a cease fire to eat. Cynan and Gadeon using ladders climbed the ramparts of the city, slayed the new Emperor with his men and reclaimed the city for Macsen. All Rome then paid homage to Macsen Wledig and Elen beseeched him to reward her brothers for their bravery, this hedid giving them armies and land. The two brothers on their way home conquered all before them.This included Brittany, where supposedly they killed all the men, but the women they lefy alive. But to prevent corruption of their language they cut out their tongues and the women’s prodigy became known as Britons.
The unabridged version of this tale in The Mabinogion is full of praise and superlatives for the castles and scenery of Wales and the definitive translation by Gwyn and Thomas Jones is very much worth a read