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  • Jo-Anne Blanco

Goddess of the Week; Sabrina

Sabrina, also known as Habren, Hafren or Sabren, was the daughter of Locrinus, son of

Brutus, the legendary founder of the people of Britain. When Locrinus ascended to the throne of England following his father’s death, he was bound by contract to marry Gwendolen, daughter of his father’s closest ally, Corineus of Cornwall, who forced him to honour his promise. However, Locrinus was in love with the beautiful German maiden Estrildis and, after his marriage, he made Estrildis his mistress and kept her hidden for seven years in an underground chamber in a house in London. During that time, Estrildis gave birth to their daughter, Habren, and Gwendolen gave birth to a son, Maddan. Thus the young Habren spent the first years of her life in hiding underground, never going outside or seeing the sunlight.

When his father-in-law died, Locrinus abandoned Gwendolen and married Estrildis, making

her his queen and Habren princess of England. The furious Gwendolen went back to

Cornwall and raised an army against her estranged husband. In the subsequent battle,

Locrinus’ forces were defeated, Locrinus himself was killed, and Estrildis and Habren were

captured. Gwendolen sentenced Estrildis and Habren to death, ordering that they be thrown

into a river and drowned. The river was subsequently named Afon Hafren in Welsh and the

River Sabren in English, after the princess who met so cruel and unjust a fate in its depths.

The Romans later Latinised the name of the river and that of the doomed princess to Sabrina. The young woman who spent most of her life hiding underground became the embodiment of the longest river in Britain, transformed after death into the spirit-goddess who presides over its waters. The river still bears her mark in its present name: the River Severn.

Appears in Fata Morgana Books III and IV

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