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NENNIUS (fl. 796)

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Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 372 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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NENNIUS (fl. 796), a Welsh writer to whom we owe the Historia Britonum, lived and wrote in Brecknock or Radnor. His work is known to us through thirty manuscripts; but the earliest of these cannot be dated much earlier than the year roots; and all are defaced by interpolations which give to the work so confused a character that critics were long disposed to treat it as an unskilful forgery. A new turn was given to the controversy by Heinrich Zimmer, who, in his Nennius vindicatus (1893), traced the history of the work and, by a comparison of the manuscripts with the 11th-century translation of the Irish scholar, Gilla Coemgim (d. 1072), succeeded in stripping off the later accretions from the original nucleus of the Historia. Zimmer follows previous critics in rejecting the Prologus maim. (§§ 1, 2), the Capitula, or table of contents, and part of the Mirabilia which form the concluding section. But he proves that Nennius should be regarded as the compiler of the Historia proper (§§ 7-65). Zimmer's conclusions are of more interest to literary critics. than to historians. The only part of the Historia which deserves to se treated as a historical document is the section known as the Genealogiae Saxonum (§§ 57-65). This is merely a recension of a work which was composed about 679 by a Briton of Strathclyde. The author's name is unknown; but he is, after Gildas, our earliest authority for the facts of the English conquest of England. Nennius himself gives us the oldest legends relating to the victories of King Arthur; the value of the Historia from this point of view is admitted by the severest critics. The chief authorities whom Nennius followed were Gildas' De excidio Britonum, Eusebius, the Vita Patricii of Murichu Maccu Machtheni, the Collectanea of Tirechan, the Liber occupations (an Irish work on the settlement of Ireland), the Liber de sex aetatibus mundi, the chronicle of Prosper of Aquitaine, the Liber beati Germani. The sources from which he derived his notices of King Arthur (§ 56) have not been determined. See J. Stevenson's edition of the Historia Britonum (English Hist. Soc., 1838), based on a careful study of the MSS. ; A. de la Borderie, L'Historia Britonum (Paris and London, 1883), which summarizes the older negative criticism; H. Zimmer, Nennius vindicatus (Berlin, 1893) ; T. Mommsen in Neues Archie der Gesellschaft far altere deutsche Geschichtskunde, xix. 283. (H. W. C. D.) NEO-CAESAREA, SYNOD OF, a synod held shortly after that of Ancyra, probably about 314 or 315 (although Hefele inclines to put it somewhat later). Its principal work was the adoption of fifteen disciplinary canons, which were subsequently accepted as ecumenical by the Council of Chalcedon, 451, and of which the most important are the following: i. degrading priests who marry after ordination; vii. forbidding a priest to be present at the second marriage of any one; viii. refusing ordination to the husband of an adulteress; xi. fixing thirty years as the age below which one might not be ordained (because Christ began His public ministry at the age of thirty) ; xiii. according to city priests the precedence over country priests; xiv. permitting Chorepiscopi to celebrate the sacraments; xv. requiring that there be seven deacons in every city. See Mansi ii. pp. 539-551; Hardouin i. pp. 282-286; Hefele (2nd ed.) i. pp. 242-251 (Eng. trans. i. pp. 222-230). (T. F. C.) NEOCOMIAN, in geology, the name given to the lowest stage of the Cretaceous system. It was introduced by J. Thurmann in 1835 on account of the development of these rocks at NeuclAtel (Neocomum), Switzerland. It has been employed in more than one sense. In the type area the rocks have been divided into two sub-stages, a lower, Valanginian (from Valengin, E. Desor, 1854) and an upper, Hauterivian (from Hauterive, E. Renevier, 1874); there is also another local sub-stage, the infra-Valanginian or Berriasian (from Berrias, H. Coquand, 1876). These three sub-stages constitute the Neocomian in its restricted sense. A. von Koenen and other German geologists extend the use of the term to include the whole of the Lower Cretaceous up to the top of the Gault or Albian. Renevier divided the Lower Cretaceous into the Neocomian division, embracing the three sub-stages mentioned above, and an Urgonian division, including the Barremian, Rhodanian and Aptian sub-stages. Sir A. Geikie (Text Book of Geology, 4th ed., 1903) regards " Neocomian" as synonymous with Lower Cretaceous, and he, like Renevier, closes this portion of the system at the top of the Lower Green-sand (Aptian). Other British geologists (A. J. Jukes-Browne, &c.) restrict the Neocomian to the marine beds of Speeton and Tealby, and their estuarine equivalents, the Weald Clay and Hastings Sands (Wealden). Much confusion would be avoided by dropping the term Neocomian entirely and employing instead, for the type area, the sub-divisions given above. This becomes the more obvious when it is pointed out that the Berriasian type is limited to Dauphine; the Valanginian has not a much wider range; and the Hauterivian does not extend north of the Paris basin. Characteristic fossils of the Berriasian are Hoplites euthymi, H. occitanicus; of the Valanginian, Natica leviathan, Belemnites pistilliformis and B. dilatatus, Oxynoticeras Gevrili; of the Hauterivian, Hoplites radiatus, Crioceras capricornu, Exogyra Couloni and Toxaster complanatus. The marine equivalents of these rocks in England are the lower Speeton Clays of Yorkshire and the Tealby beds of Lincoln-shire. The Wealden beds of southern England represent approximately an estuarine phase of deposit of the same age. The Hits clay of Germany and Wealden of Hanover; the limestones and shales of Teschen; the Aptychus and Pygope diphyoides marls of Spain, and the Petchorian formation of Russia are equivalents of the Neocomian in its narrower sense. See CRETACEOUS, WEALDEN, SPEETON BEDS. (J. A. H.) is found, except gold, which seems to have been sometimes used for ornaments. Agriculture, pottery, weaving, the domestication of animals, the burying of the dead in dolmens, and the rearing of megalithic monuments are the typical developments of man during this stage. See ARCHAEOLOGY ; also Lord Avebury, Prehistoric Times (1900) ; Sir John Evans, Ancient Stone Implements of Great Britain (1h97); Sir J. Prestwich, Geology (1886-i888).
End of Article: NENNIUS (fl. 796)
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