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Celtic Giants
Colbrand the Giant vs Sir Guy of Warwick
Cornwall, Edmund

Celtic Giants
27 Being as prolific in Europe as they had been in Asia, Gomer's oversized children soon overspread a vast territory-from the lands east of the Rhine to the Atlantic and from the Baltic Sea to the coasts of Spain. They also inhabited Switzerland and some northern parts of Italy, especially around the Adriatic.

28Gerhard Herm, his modern counterpart, agrees. He describes them as "blond giants" who struck terror in the hearts of every foe, even in the mightiest of mighty Rome, which they fought several ferocious wars with and which they once captured, sacked, and burnt to the ground. Of course, not all Celts were giants.29 The average-size ones probably towered no more than a foot above ordinary men. But their ranks also contained substantial numbers who rose to a gigantic stature. At the utmost divergence from the mean, some Celts even stood to a colossal height, perhaps as tall as or taller than the nine-foot-nine Goliath, or even Og, who required a bed over thirteen feet long.

Such behemoths, when they first put their ships ashore on Europe's seacoasts, no doubt startled the aborigines. Doing as they did in Asia and Asia Minor, the invading Celts first robbed these lesser mortals, then chased them off the best lands. As they multiplied and required even more territory, they crowded still others out. This fast-expanding nation, according to Strabo, eventually grew to some sixty different tribes-each with its own name.30 In Upper Asia, Mesopotamia, and Asia Minor, these plunderers were known as the Gomarian Sacae. But once they settled in Europe, they decided to shed their derisive name, which means "robbers," and began calling themselves the Celtae (pronounced Kelti), which denotes "potent and valiant men." The Greeks, however, understood them to say Galatai, while their Roman neighbors heard their name as Galli. The aborigines of France, meanwhile, called them Gauls. These slightly different pronunciations of course caused different spellings, as the Celtic scholar Henri Hubert explains: "The word which was written down as Keltos in Spain and the neighbourhood of Marseilles sounded differently in the ears of the Greeks of the Balkan Peninsula, who wrote it down Galates. But it was the same name."31

"potent and valiant men" continued to rob. But in their new land their new name, Celtae, better fit their appearance-which alone was enough to demoralize their enemies. Indeed, even the Romans, ordinarily a very brave people, came to dread the sight of them. Concerning their frightening look, historian Ammianus Marcellinus writes: "Nearly all the Gauls are of a lofty stature, fair and of ruddy complexion: terrible from the sternness of their eyes, very quarrelsome, and of great pride and insolence. A whole troop of foreigners would not be able to withstand a single Gaul if he called his wife to his assistance who is usually very strong and with blue eyes; least of all when she swells her neck and gnashes her teeth, and poising her huge white arms, proceeds to rain punches mingled with kicks, like shots discharged by the twisted cords of a catapult. The voices of most of them are formidable and threatening, alike when they are good-natured or angry. But all of them with equal care keep clean and neat, and in those districts, particularly in Aquitania, no man or woman can be seen, be they never so poor, in soiled and ragged clothing, as elsewhere."32

"people of great stature and haughty disposition," but they offered the Greeks their friendship in ex-change for peace. After mutual pledges were given and received, he continues, "Alexander asked the Celtic envoys what they were most afraid of in this world, hoping that the power of his own name had got as far as their country, or even further, and that they would answer, 'You, my lord.' However, he was disappointed; for the Celts, who lived a long way off in country not easy to penetrate, and could see that Alexander's expedition was directed elsewhere, replied that their worst fear was that the sky might fall on their heads.33 None the less, he concluded an alliance of friendship with them and sent them home, merely remarking under his breath that the Celts thought too much of themselves."34

"The Gauls are terrifying In aspect and their voices are deep and altogether harsh; when they meet together they converse with few words and in riddles, hinting darkly at things for the most part and using one word when they mean another; and they like to talk in superlatives, to the end that they may extol themselves and depreciate all other men." They are also "tall in stature, with rippling muscles, and white of skin, and their hair is blond, and not naturally so, but they also make it their practice by artificial means to increase the distinguishing color which nature has given it. For they are always washing their hair in lime-water, and they pull it back from the forehead to the top of the head and back to the nape of the neck, with the result that their appearance is like that of Satyrs and Pans, since the treatment of their hair makes it so heavy and coarse that it differs in no respect from the mane of horses."35

Diodorus' account of the way "me" Celt? wore their hair agrees

"the king contending with two men of large stature, light complexion, scanty beard, and having a remarkable load of hair pendant from the side of the head." Besides the similarity in strange hair styles, the Celts and the Anakim both wore torque necklaces. Proof that the Anakim wore them as distinguishing emblems appears in their name. For from anaq, the Hebrew word for necklace or neckpiece, came the name Anakim, which means "People of the Necklace."36 That the tow-headed Celts also adorned their necks with a twisted strip of metal, usually gold or silver, is not only shown by the ancient historians but verified by many archaeological finds. The enemy of course always took note of the Celts' attention-getting neckpieces. And so did the Roman poet Virgil, in these memorable verses: "Golden is their hair, and golden their garb. They are resplendent in their striped cloaks, and their milk-white necks are circled with gold."37

"Consequently, when they are eating, their moustache becomes entangled in the food, and when they are drinking, the beverage passes, as it were, through a kind of a strainer. . . . And it is their custom, even during the course of the meal, to seize upon any trivial matter as an occasion for keen disputation and then to challenge one another to single combat, without any regard for their lives. . . ,"38

"The Gauls believe the power of the immortal gods can be appeased only if one human life is exchanged for another, and they have sacrifices of this kind regularly established by the community. Some of them have enormous images made of wickerwork, the limbs of which they fill with living men; these are set on fire and the men perish, enveloped in the flames. They believe that the gods prefer it if the people executed have been caught in the act of theft or armed robbery or some other crime, but when the supply of such victims runs out, they even go to the extent of sacrificing innocent men."39

"they devote to death a human being and plunge a dagger into him in the region above the diaphragm, and when the stricken victim has fallen they read the future from the manner of his fall and from the twitching of his limbs, as well as from the gushing of the blood, having learned to place confidence in an ancient and long continued practice of observing such matters."40

41For armor they used long shields, as high as an ordinary man. But, as the Romans were much later to learn, not long enough to protect all of their exceptionally large bodies from well-aimed javelins and arrows, nor even the sword's thrust of much smaller men. On their heads these Titans wore bronze helmets embossed with large figures, sometimes with horns attached. Such headgear contributed much to their frightening look. Perhaps it was to these embossed helmets that Hubert referred when he said the Celts "alarmed the Italians by their resemblance to large, though magnificent, beasts."42

"Although their wives are comely," remarks Diodorus, "they have very little to do with them, but rage with lust, in outlandish fashion, for the embraces of males. And the most astonishing thing of all is that they feel no concern for their proper dignity, but prostitute to others without a qualm the flower of their bodies; nor do they consider this a disgraceful thing to do, but rather when any-one of them is thus approached and refuses the favor offered him, this they consider an act of dishonor."43

Such then were the blond Goliaths who lived beyond the Apennine Mountains, about whom the Romans knew almost nothing, but whom they would become well acquainted with during the next four centuries of devastating wars. (See Caesar's Triumph over the Giants; German Giants' Annihilation; Giants Who Became Gods; Gomarian Giants; Rome vs Senone Giants; Twilight of the Celtic Giants)

"Collection of Nature's Wonderful Works." He measured seven feet two inches.44

Colbrand the Giant vs Sir Guy of Warwick
For his many feats of valor, the celebrated warrior Sir Guy of Warwick, a son of Siward, baron of Wallingford, became a legend in his own time. As it so often happens with legendary fellows, the many stories about his tenth-century wars in Lombardy, Germany, and Constantinople grew more and more fanciful with the passing years. The bulk of the legend, as it eventually came to be told, is obviously fiction. But, as some scholars point out, many of the stories contain kernels of truth. One of the accounts that they single out as factual is Sir Guy's famous battle with the feared Danish giant Colbrand.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica reports that after gaining much fame for his prowess in war, Sir Guy won the hand of Felicia, the daughter and heiress of Roalt, earl of Warwick. But soon after his marriage, he became stricken with remorse for the violent deeds in his past. To do penance for these, he left his wife to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.


During Henry VIII's reign, William Hoggenson, yeoman of the buttery, became custodian of Sir Guy's sword and was given two-pence a day to look after it.

Shakespeare mentions Colbrand and/or Sir Guy in Henry VIII, act v, scene 3, and King John, act 1, scene 1. (For similar one-on-one duels with giants, see David vs Goliath; Sinuhe vs the Giant from Retenu)

Cornwall, Edmund
"He was in mind an emperor, from whom he descended; in wit and stile so rare, to comprise in a few words, and that so clearly, such store of matter, as I scarce ever saw any to equal him, none to excel him. He was mighty of body, but very comely, and exceeded in strength all men of his age; for his own delight he had a dainty touch on the lute, and of such sweet harmony in his nature, as, if ever he offended any, were he never so poor, he was not friend with himself till he was friend with him again; he led a single life, and before his strength decayed, entered the gate of death."46

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