Maxen Wledig or Maximus was invested by his army with the Imperial purple in the year
383CE. He was of low birth and Spanish origin. He served much in Britain and was the Roman commander
at the time of his elevation, and
from there he proceeded with his army into Gaul to support his claim against the lawful emperor
A Triad is preserved, which goes at some length into the account of the expedition that
Kynan Meriadawc and his sister Helen Luyddawg (Helen of mighty hosts), the children of Eudav,
undertook for the purpose of supporting the claim of Maximus to the Imperial throne. They raised
an army of sixty thousand men in Britain, and proceeded with it across the sea to Armorica, 383 CE. The triads claim that the
removal of this large army rendered the land desolate. The remnants of
this host are claimed to have formed the Breton immigration and is said to have been the remote
cause of the Saxon invasion. Maximus
was put to death near Aquileia, after having been defeated by Theodosius and Valentinian the Younger, in 388.-Gibbon,
According to Lady Guest, "the Brut Gruffydd ab Arthur gives a
different account of the personages and events alluded to in the Mabinogion 'Dream of Maxen
Wledig', but does not advert to the dream, though it mentions St. Ursula and the eleven thousand
virgins, who were sent from Britain as wives for the emigrated hosts of Kynan Meriadawc, in Armorica.
According to Gruffydd, Helen Luyddawg was the only child of King Coel (the founder of Colchester), and
was bestowed in marriage, with the dominions she inherited, upon the Roman Constans. Their son, the
celebrated Constantine, was called from his kingdom of Britain to the Imperial throne, in place of Maximus
the Cruel; after his departure, Eudav earl of Cornwall, rose up and wrested the government of the Island
from the hands of those princes to whom Constantine had consigned it, and, in spite of the Roman forces
sent against him under Trahayarn, Helen's uncle, established himself on the throne.
"Eudav's reign extended to the time of the emperors Gratian and Valentinian.
His heir was an only daughter, whose name does not appear, but whom, by advice of his nobles, he
married to the Roman senator, Maxen Wledig, who boasted British descent, being the son of Helen's
uncle Llewelyn. Maxen's marriage, and his succession to the sovereign power, were long and
strenuously, opposed by Eudav's nephew, Kynan Meriadawc, who himself aspired to the crown.
"But peace having at length been concluded between them, Kynan accompanied
Maxen in an expedition which he undertook on the continent, and was rewarded for his assistance
with the kingdom of Llydaw, or Armorica, in which Maxen left him to establish himself, whilst he
proceeded to contend for the nobler prize. But having killed Valentinian, and driven Gratian from
the empire, Maxen himself was soon after slain at Rome; whereupon the vast hosts that had
accompanied him from Britain dispersed, the chief part of them seeking refuge in Armorica
with Kynan Meriadawc."
The same story is related by Nennius, who calls the emperor Maximianus.
"The seventh emperor was Maximianus. He withdrew from Britain
with all its military force, slew Gratianus the king of the Romans, and obtained
the sovereignty of all Europe. Unwilling to send back his warlike companions to
their wives, families, and possessions in Britain, he conferred upon them
numerous districts from the lake on the summit of Mons lovis, to the city called
Cant Guic, and to the western Tumulus, that is Cruc Occident. These are the
Armoric Britons, and they remain there to the present day. In consequence of
their absence, Britain being overcome by foreign nations, the lawful heirs were
cast out, till God interposed with his assistance."
The lake mentioned is thought to be the lake near the hospice of
the great St. Bernard, and Cant Gwic may be Cantavic in Picardy. It is more
difficult to identify Cruc Occident, the western Tumulus, but the author of the
Hanes Cymru supposed it to be Mont St. Michel, near Quiberon, in Brittany.
Gildas, in his work "De Excidio Britanniae," also mentions the revolt
of Maximus, and its disastrous consequences: -
"Afterwards Britain, being robbed of all its armed soldiery,
and military forces, was abandoned to cruel rulers, being deprived of an immense
number of youths who accompanied the above-named tyrant [Maximus], and never
returned home; and being totally ignorant of the art of war, groaned in
stupefaction for many years, under the oppression of two foreign nations."
The roads attributed in the stories to Helen Luyddawc are evidently the Roman
Roads, which intersected Britain. Their remains still bear the name of Sarn
Helen, which some, however, consider to be a corruption of Sarn y Lleng, the
Road of the Legion.
The Welsh text of the 'Breuddwyd Maxen Wledig' was printed in 1806,
in a Welsh collection entitled the Greal, p. 289, but no translation of the
'Dream' appeared until Lady Guest's translation of the Mabinogion.