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English Gothicism, A restitution of decayed intelligence (1605), by Richard
Verstegan (originally Richard Rowlands, X. 1565“1620). This was the
Wrst major antiquarian monograph devoted explicitly to the task of estab-
lishing English identity on an exclusively Germanic basis. However, it
was not narrowly ethnocentric in focus. Verstegan™s assertion of the
German origins of the English was built on Mosaic foundations, and
touched on a number of salient issues in ethnic theology: euhemerism,
the origins of language and the pagan idolatry of the Germans. Verstegan
argued that there was before the events at Babel ˜but one language and
consequently but one nation in the whole world™. The German nation
had been one of the core peoples which emerged from the dispersal on the
plain of Sinaar, and had been led by Tuisco, who was descended from
Japhet via Gomer and Ashkenaz. In time the German peoples came to

“’ Philip Cluverius, An introduction into geography both ancient and modern (Oxford, 1657),
p. 127. ““ Saltern, Antient lawes, p. 16.
““ See e.g. R. Horsman, ˜Origins of racial Anglo-Saxonism in Great Britain before 1850™,
JHI 37 (1976), 387“410; B. Melman, ˜Claiming the nation™s past: the invention of the
Anglo-Saxon tradition™, Journal of Contemporary History 26 (1991), 575“95; J. Hunter,
˜The Gaelic connection: the Highlands, Ireland and nationalism, 1873“1922™, SHR 54
(1975), 178“204; D. A. White, ˜Changing views of the adventus Saxonum in nineteenth-
and twentieth-century English scholarship™, JHI 32 (1971), 585“94.
Ethnic theology and British identities 63

deify Tuisco, commemorating him in the name of Tuesday.“”
The theological aspect of the Gothicist tradition was maintained by
Verstegan™s successors. John Hare in his radical Saxonist tract St Ed-
ward™s ghost (1647) derived conWdence from the Noachic descent of the
English through Ashkenaz to launch a bitter attack on the corrupt Nor-
man inXuences which disWgured English life and institutions.”» Less
contentiously, Robert Sheringham (1602“78) traced the ethnic origins of
the Goths through the Noachic lineage from the immediate post-
Diluvian epoch ˜a confusione linguarum, et dispersione gentium, usque
ad adventum eorum in Britanniam™.”¦ StillingXeet incorporated Teutonic
theogony into his theories of the rise of idolatry.”  In the eighteenth
century most Gothicist discourse bypassed theological questions. Never-
theless, the application of euhemeristic analysis to the Teutonic pantheon
continued into the second half of the eighteenth century. By this stage
Tuisco™s importance had waned, and a consensus emerged among Gothi-
cists that Woden, who had led a migration from Scythia to northern
Europe, was the deiWed founding father of the ancient Gothic nation
(though, alternatively, some orientalists believed Woden to be the Boodh
of India, ˜some deiWed prince of the family of the Noachidae, a distin-
guished avatar of India™).”À
Noachic genealogies also proved useful in the construction of poly-
ethnic umbrella identities which spanned the various phases of ethnic
settlement and conquest in the history of England. Daniel Langhorne (d.
1681) was convinced of the Japhetan origins “ via Ashkenaz, son of
Gomer “ of the Germanic peoples.”à The association of Gomer with the
descent of the British peoples permitted a degree of aYliation between
the various Celtic and Germanic peoples of the British Isles. Both the
Cymri and the Germanic Cimbri were linked via spurious but widely
accepted etymologies as kindred peoples of the Gomerian stock: ˜The
Germans who were Cimbrians (or Gomerians) too, and therefore of kin
“” Verstegan, Restitution, pp. 2, 9“11.
”» John Hare, St Edward™s ghost: or, anti-Normanisme (1647), in Harleian miscellany VIII
(London, 1746), p. 91.
”¦ Robert Sheringham, De Anglorum gentis origine disceptatio (Cambridge, 1670).
”  E. Seaton, Literary relations of England and Scandinavia in the seventeenth century (Oxford,
1935), p. 251.
”À James Tyrrell, The general history of England (3 vols., London, 1697“1704), I, bk III,
pp. 121“2; William Nicolson, English historical library (3 vols., London, 1696“9), I,
pp. 131“2, 138; Jackson, Chronological antiquities, II, pp. 344“6; An English Saxon,
˜Letter™, Gazetteer, 5 May 1768; Wise, Enquiries concerning the Wrst inhabitants of Europe, p.
84; John Whitaker, The history of Manchester (2 vols., London, 1771“5), II, p. 358. For
the orientalist interpretation, see Maurice, Indian antiquities, I, p. 118; III, p. 61 (citing
William Jones); VI, ˜A dissertation on the Indian origin of the Druids™ (citing Reuben
Burrow).
ӈ Daniel Langhorne, An introduction to the history of England (London, 1676), p. 33.
64 Theological contexts

to the Gauls, sent over some colonies into both these islands, of which
extract Tacitus reports our Caledonians to have been, and the very name
of Irish Causi proves them an oVspring of the German Chauci.™”• Lang-
horne was not alone in this common ethnic conXation. Aylette Sammes
(1636?“79?), a fellow of Christ™s College, Cambridge, constructed in his
monumental Britannia antiqua illustrata a scheme of ethnic origins involv-
ing the Cimbri which embraced both the ancient Britons and the later
Saxon settlers, though via Magog rather than Gomer. Sammes used
Noachic ethnology to confer a degree of meaningful continuity on an
otherwise erratic national history of polyethnic settlement and con-
quest.”’ In his Historical geography of the Old Testament (1711“12), Ed-
ward Wells (1667“1727) speculated about the locations of the Garden of
Eden, the resting place of the Ark and the Tower of Babel, but also added
a patriotic dimension to his enquiries. Using bogus etymologies to yoke
together the Germanic Cimbri and the ancient British Cymri, he was able
to fuse the historic nations of England as kindred peoples:

it can™t reasonably be doubted, but the true old Britons, or Welsh, are descend-
ants of Gomer. And since it has been also observed above, that the Germans were
likely descendants of Gomer, particularly the Cimbri, to whom the Saxons,
especially the Angles, were near neighbours: hence it follows, that our ancestors
likewise, who succeeded the Old Britons in these parts of the isle, were descended
of the same son of Japhet.”“

The idea of a common descent persisting in spite of waves of superWcially
diVerent ethnic settlement strengthened the notion of immemorial conti-
nuity.
A resort to Japhetan origins enabled a similar sort of comprehension to
be imposed upon the polyethnic diversity of the ancient history of Ireland.
The Leabhar gabhala, or ˜Book of Invasions™, was a medieval account of
´
the reception in ancient Ireland of a series of diVerent waves of settle-
ment. These peoples were the followers of Partholon, the Nemedians, the
´
Fir-Bolg, the Tuatha-De-Danaan and, eventually, the Milesian Scots.
´
The Irish took great pride in their antiquity, but there was a problem of
appropriating for the Gaels, who claimed to be the descendants of the
Milesians, the high antiquity of the peoples who preceded them in Ire-
land.”“ Resorting to the Biblical history of the Noachic line, Peter Walsh
”• Ibid., p. 17.
”’ Aylette Sammes, Britannia antiqua illustrata (London, 1676); Parry, Trophies of time, ch.
11.
”“ Edward Wells, An historical geography of the Old Testament (3 vols., London, 1711“12), I,
p. 131.
”“ See below, ch. 7.
Ethnic theology and British identities 65

(1618?“88) was able to link together the polyethnic saga of Irish conquest
and settlement as the common heritage of various Japhetan kindred.
According to Walsh, ˜all the several invasions of Ireland . . . descended
from Japhet, who for their common language had the Irish tongue™,
though he conceded that there was ˜some diVerence in the dialect™. Only
the conquered aborigines of Ireland, the followers of Ciocal, had a dis-
tinct Noachic genealogy, being ˜descended from the accursed Ham, and
come out of Africa™. By associating the conquered aborigines with Ham,
and the various waves of peoples identiWed in the Book of Invasions as
Japhetan kindred, Walsh was able to weave together a rather messy
ancient Irish tradition with the prevailing myth of the Fir-Bolg origins of
the Milesian regnum.”” Mosaic history persisted as a fundamental consti-
tuent of the patriotic histories propagated by Ireland™s Gaelic community
to a greater extent than it did in ethnic discourses elsewhere in the British
Isles. In particular, Ogygia (1685), Roderic O™Flaherty™s royalist history
of Ireland, traced the descent of the Milesian Scots from Fenisius or
Phenius, a great-grandson of Japhet in the Magogian line. O™Flaherty also
claimed that the Irish language was one of the original languages formed
in the plain of Sinaar.¦»» Warmed by the Ogygian tradition and the
seminal inXuence of Bochart™s sacred geography on Irish literati, eight-
eenth-century Gaels continued to bask in the glory of a prominent place
in sacred history. In addition, Milesian antiquities attracted the English-
born Church of Ireland Bishop of Down and Connor, Francis Hutchin-
son (1660“1739), precisely because their longevity might be used to
buttress Mosaic orthodoxy in an age of rampant scepticism. Rather than
questioning the authenticity of the ancient Irish past, Hutchinson
thought it ˜rather a wonder that all nations have not as old as Ireland
pretends to™. For although he recognised that there was ˜stronger evi-
dence of the Wrst peoplers of nations and the Wrst builders of cities after
the Flood, than we have of following times™, he argued that ˜in the
succession of time, when we know the Wrst beginnings of nations, and
have our share in the present, we are as certain that there hath been a
continuation of intermediate generations, and a moderate degree of
evidence will incline us to believe the accounts of them, because we saw
what was before them™. A commitment to Mosaic orthodoxy overcame

”” Peter Walsh, A prospect of the state of Ireland, from the year of the world 1756 to the year of
Christ 1652 (London, 1682), pp. 6“9, 356“7.
¦»» Roderic O™Flaherty, Ogygia (1685: trans. James Hely, 2 vols., Dublin, 1793), I,
pp. lxix“lxx, 14“15, 92“3. For the persistence of sacred history in early nineteenth-
century Irish Catholic antiquarian circles, see Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Dublin 1
(1808), vi“vii.
66 Theological contexts

the normal English suspicion of the fantastic Milesian past claimed by the
Gaels of Ireland.¦»¦
It is impossible to study eighteenth-century British Celticism without
reference to the ethnic theology of the Breton scholar, the Abbe Paul- ´
Yves Pezron (1639“1706), whose treatise L™antiquite de la nation et de la
´
langue des Celtes, autrement appellez Gaulois (1703) was published in 1706
in an English translation as The antiquities of nations; more particularly of the
Celtae or Gauls, taken to be originally the same people as our ancient Britains.
Pezron had an enormous inXuence on the construction of Celtic patriot-
isms in Wales and Scotland, and on the attitudes of English scholars to
the Celtic peoples of the British Isles.¦»  His work on the Gomerian roots
of the Celts was intended as a corrective to the work of Bochart, who had
ignored the role of the continental Celts in the dispersal of nations;
eventually Pezron displaced the Huguenot pastor as the most cited Wgure
in British ethnic theology.
The Abbe™s earlier writings had included a work of chronology,
´
L™antiquite des tems retablie (1687), in which he had argued for an ex-
´ ´
tended Biblical chronology which would render redundant some of the
recent doubts about the compatibility of the ancient civilisations of the
world with the scheme of Mosaic history. Pezron believed that modern
chronology, unlike the patristic scheme, had been misled by errors and
corruptions which had crept into the Hebraic tradition since the fall of
Jerusalem. At issue was the duration of the period from the creation of the
world to the coming of the Messiah: ˜Tous les chronologistes modernes,
qui ont ecrit depuis un siecle et demy, ne donnent, apres les Juifs, que
´ ` `
quatre mille ans, tout au plus; et je soutiens apres les Peres de l™Eglise, et
` `
les anciens Hebreux, qu™il a dure plus de cinq mille cinq cens ans.™¦»À
´
Pezron™s treatise on the Celts was an additional euhemeristic plank of his
defence of orthodoxy, but also added a rich seam of Breton patriotism.

¦»¦ Hutchinson, Defence of the antient historians, pp. 3, 12“13. See also Trautmann, Aryans
and British India, pp. 93“4, for the Mosaic Gaelomania of the English artillery engineer
and amateur orientalist Charles Vallancey. See Lawrence Parsons, Observations on the
bequest of Henry Flood, esq. to Trinity College, Dublin: with a defence of the ancient history of
Ireland (Dublin, 1795), pp. 185“92, for the Magogian pedigree of Ireland™s Phoenician
ancestors. However, for a more dismissive attitude towards Irish links with the Noachic
past, see the remarks of the Dublin physician and antiquary Thomas Molyneux (1661“
1733), quoted in G. Daniel and C. Renfrew, The idea of prehistory (2nd edn, Edinburgh,
1988), p. 15.
¦»  P. Morgan, ˜The Abbe Pezron and the Celts™, Transactions of the Honourable Society of
´
Cymmrodorion (1965), 286“95; J. Sole, ˜Le mythe gaulois sous Louis XIV: Paul Pezron
et son Antiquite des Celtes de 1703™, in P. Viallaneix and J. Erhard (eds.), Nos ancetres les
´ ˆ
Gaulois (Clermont-Ferrand, 1982); D. Droixhe, De l™origine du langage aux langues du
monde: etudes sur les XVIIe et XVIIIe siecles (Tu
´ ` ¨bingen, 1987), pp. 72“4.
¦»À Paul Pezron, L™antiquite des tems retablie et defendue contre les Juifs et les nouveaux chrono-
´ ´ ´
logistes (Paris, 1687), ˜Avertissement™.
Ethnic theology and British identities 67

The Abbe™s principal aim was religious “ ˜rendre un service important a la
´
vraie religion, qui s™etablit puissamment par le devoilement des fables, et
´ ´
par le renversement de l™erreur™.¦»Ã Pezron located the origins of the ˜false
heathenish divinities™ of classical antiquity in the terrestrial history of the
Celtic monarchy. The Celts were descendants of Gomer, who had estab-
lished a universal empire across ancient Europe. According to Pezron,
this was the material out of which the myth of the Titans had been
constructed. Moreover, he went on to argue that the central positions in
the pantheon of classical paganism had been occupied by the posthum-
ously deiWed universal monarchs of the Celts, who included Jupiter and
Uranus. There was also a linguistic dimension to Pezron™s thesis. The
ancient Celts had brought with them to Europe one of the langues matrices
of the patriarchal era, the Ur-language of the Gomerian stock.¦»•
Pezron™s ethnic theology magniWed the signiWcance and achievements
of the Celtic nations, now a motley collection of impoverished peoples on
the western periphery of Europe. Pezron was able to use the methods of
ethnic theology to construct for his native Breton culture an alternative to
the prevailing Frankish idiom of French patriotism. The important
Celtomane tradition in eighteenth-century French discourse had its roots
in theological speculation, and throughout the age of Enlightenment
antiquaries continued to engage with the theological dimensions of
Gaulic antiquity, including its relationship to sacred history and the
nature of Druidic religion.¦»’ Although the defence of Breton particular-
ism was uppermost in Pezron™s Celticism, it provided material for the
revitalisation of Celtic patriotism in Britain. Pezron championed the
Welsh “ alongside the Bretons “ as the people who ˜have the honour to
preserve the language of the posterity of Gomer™.¦»“ Moreover, he also
contributed to the latitudinarian embrace of Celts and Germans which
was such a marked feature of pre-romantic Celticist discourse. Gomer,
the founding father of the Celtic nation, was also the natural father of
Ashkenaz, the founder of the German race. Hence, there was a ˜likeness
and conformity™ between these two nations, which proceeded ˜from the
Wrst origin of them™.¦»“
The reception of Pezron™s ideas into the mainstream of British ethnic
¦»Ã Paul Pezron, L™antiquite de la nation et de la langue des Celtes, autrement appellez Gaulois
´
(Paris, 1703), ˜Preface™.
´
¦»• Paul Pezron, The antiquities of nations; more particularly of the Celtae or Gauls, taken to be
originally the same people as our ancient Britains (trans. D. Jones, London, 1706).
¦»’ S. Piggott, The Druids (1968: New York, 1985), pp. 156“8; C. Volpilhac, ˜Les Gaulois a `
l™Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres de 1701 a 1793™, in Viallaneix and Erhard,
´
Nos ancetres les Gaulois, pp. 79“81. For a more sceptical approach to the Gomerites in the
ˆ
late eighteenth century, see J. Balcou, ˜La Tour d™Auvergne, theoricien breton du mythe
´

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