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Italy; the Papacy; the (Greek) Byzantine Empire; Spain; Frank Kingdoms; Feudalism; Britain and England. page 3

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Turning at last to the British Isles, inhabited by Celts who, before the dawn of history, migrated thither from Gaul, we find southern Britain occupied by various tribes - the Cantii (Kent), Trinobantes (Middlesex and Essex), Cenimagni or Iceni (Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire), Bibroci (Hampshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire), Cassi (Hertfordshire), Damnonii (south-west to Land's End), the Brigantes between the Humber and the Tyne, the Silures in South Wales. The religion was the well-known Druidism, the priests of which were the arbiters of disputes and the judges of crime. The creed included a belief in the immortality of the soul and the doctrine of transmigration; the ritual offered human sacrifices. The artistic nature of the Celts, with its bold and active fancy and love of music, had its instinctive wants met by the performances of the class called Bards, who sang to the strains of a rude harp the exploits and genealogies of chiefs, the wonders of nature, and the praises of the gods, in verse that abounded in metaphor and simile. The visits of Julius Caesar to the island have been noted. The country was then mostly covered by forest and marsh, with a few clearings for the growth of corn, and the towns were collections of timbered or wattled huts, surrounded by a deep ditch, and a defence of felled trees. Far removed from mere barbarism, the Britons were subject to the authority of chiefs; miners and smelters of their native tin; tillers of the soil in the more civilised south-eastern district; fabricators of swords, shields, spears, and war-chariots; exporters of lead, tin, slaves, hunting-dogs, the skins of wild animals and domestic cattle, and of the delicious oysters of Rutupia; (Richborough, in Kent), dear to the Roman epicures; importers of brass, salt, earthenware, and woven fabrics from Gaul. The excavation of barrows or sepulchral mounds has disclosed bodkins, necklaces, beads, drinking-cups, and urns; and prior to the Roman conquest Cunobelin, king of the Trinobantes, having his capital at Camalodunum (either Colchester or Maldon, in Essex), had a coinage probably of British workmanship. The Roman conquest began in a.d. 43, under the emperor Claudius, and was carried on by legions under the command of Vespasian, Titus, and other generals. The fierce and determined resistance of the Britons, under leaders such as Caradoc (Caractacus), king of the Silures, and the great outbreak under Boadicea, queen of the Iceni, were overcome by a.d. 62. The conquest of the country south of the Clyde and the Forth was completed between 78 and 84 by the famous Julius Agricola, father-in-law of the historian Tacitus, whose eulogistic memoir of the great and good Roman ruler is one of the finest things in that class of literature. The Ordovices, a powerful tribe in North Wales were subdued. The ground won was firmly held by the planting of forts and garrisons at suitable points, and conciliation brought many natives to submission. The warfare of Agricola ended with his great victory over the Caledonian tribes at the foot of the Grampians. Under his government Britain, by the circumnavigation of Roman vessels, was first proved to be an island. The Roman arts and language were introduced and taught to the sons of chiefs; the burden of tribute was equitably settled; and the people were encouraged to dwell in towns under municipal rule. The Britons had good reason to regret the loss of Agricola, who was recalled in a.d 84 by the jealous tyrant Domitian.

For over three centuries the country was a province of the Roman Empire. The south of the island remained generally at peace, while the northern parts were troubled by incursions of the fierce predatory Picts and Scots, forcing Agricola's line of armed posts between the estuaries of the Forth and the Clyde, and the emperor Hadrian's strong stone wall and earthen rampart between the Tyne and the Solway Firth. During the 3rd century Saxon pirates began to trouble the south-eastern coast, and in the latter half of the 4th century, when the Roman garrisons had been weakened by the withdrawal of troops to defend Italy and other parts of the empire, the Picts and Scots made their way to London. A respite came with the arrival of reinforcements from Gaul, and the enemy were driven back to their northern fastnesses. The Christian religion had been introduced, as is proved by the martyrdom of St. Alban, in 304, during Diocletian's great persecution, and by the presence of three British bishops, in 314, at the Council of Aries, in the south of Gaul. The religion of the old British Church survived, in Wales, the conquest effected by our heathen English forefathers. After the renewed weakening of the Roman garrisons, the Picts, Scots, and Saxon pirates made fresh attacks, and the year 418 saw the last of Roman troops in Britain. In 443 the misery of the people caused them to address to the great Roman general Aetius a letter known as The Groans of the Britons. "The barbarians," they wrote, "chase us into the sea; the sea flings us back on the barbarians; our only choice is to die by the waves or by the sword." Aetius, hard pressed to defend the Western Empire against other foes, could do nothing to aid the unhappy Britons, and the way was left open for the arrival of the Teutonic people who were to turn ancient Britain into England.

The influence of Rome upon Britain had not the permanent and extensive character which marked her conquests in many other lands. The Latin language did not come into general use, being only current in the towns and among a small class of British land owners dwelling in rural districts. Roman arts and literature had little sway, and the scanty and superficial civilisation which the Britons received from their Roman masters was nearly swept away by the English conquest. The signs of Roman presence are well known. Traces of their straight and durable roads may be seen in most English counties. Watling Street led from Kent to the Forth; Hermin Street from the Sussex coast to the Humber; Ikenild Street from Caistor (near Norwich) to Dorchester; and the Foss Way from Cornwall to Lincoln. Among the chief towns of the Roman time were Londinium (London), Camalodunum (probably Colchester), Rutupiae (Richborough, in the Isle of Thanet), Aquae Solis (Bath), Isca Silurum (Caerleon, in Monmouthshire), Glevum (Gloucester), Lindum (Lincoln), Deva (Chester), and Chesterford, near Cambridge, all these being coloniae or Roman settlements, where the land was held by Romans, and the Roman institutions were adopted without any change in the local government. Veru-lamium (St. Albans) and Eboracum (York) were municipal cities, with special rights and privileges for the citizens. Venta Belgarum (Winchester) was an important place. The military occupation of the country, as has been already noted, is shown in such names of places as Chester, Castor (on the Nen), Caistor, Exeter, Lancaster, Gloucester, Manchester, The material signs of Roman occupation, in addition to the remains of roads, camps, and fortifications, consist of portions of villas, or country-houses, with mosaic pavements, bath-rooms, and other remains; of towns unearthed at Wroxeter in Shropshire (the ancient Uriconium), and at Silchester in Hampshire; and of countless objects of ornament and utility discovered in London, York, and other places, by workmen digging deep foundations for modern buildings - pottery and glass, sandal-soles, waxen tablets with the styles or pens of bone and wood, augers, saws, knives, coins, weaving-bobbins, bronze hair-pins, and many other articles. The state of peace, law, and order maintained by the Romans did much for the material prosperity of the country. The growth of corn increased so much as to cause a large exportation to other countries, and the emperor Julian, in the 4th century, built warehouses in his continental dominions for the storage of British cereals. Mining was also greatly developed, in the tin of Cornwall and the lead of Somerset, and the pigs of lead in the British Museum, bearing the stamp of Domitian and Hadrian, confirm the words of Tacitus as to the mineral wealth of the island. In the Forest of Dean, in Gloucestershire, iron was largely mined and smelted by the Romans, whose coins have been found in the pits from which the ore was taken.

The Teutonic conquerors of Britain were the heathen Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, in this order of numbers and importance, coming respectively from the territories now forming Schleswig, the region south and west of Schleswig, and Jutland. The people of the coast were bold and hardy seamen, living by fishing and by the piracy which had long made them a terror to the south-east coast of Britain and the northern coast of Gaul. The inland folk were tillers of the soil and rearers of cattle, but warlike and also devoted to the chase. They lived in little settlements called townships, from the tun, or hedge and ditch that formed the outer defence. The society included, firstly, the eorlas (earls), or nobles, from whom were chosen, by the people, rulers in peace and leaders in war. The title of "ealdorman" was given to such a leader, and in the new home such a man often became royal by success in war and assumed the title of "king." The ceorlas (churls, a term that became degraded after the Norman conquest), meaning "the men," as opposed to slaves, were the main body of freemen. Self-government, the proof of personal and political freedom, existed in the village-council; the hundred-court, representing the freemen of a number of villages; and the great council (witan) of the tribe, who elected the head or king, usually from some one noble family. This body included, in theory, all freemen of the tribe, but was soon limited to the more wealthy and powerful, and became a kind of house of peers. The thegns (thanes) were companions or select followers of the ealdorman, and became in England a class of minor nobles, members of the king's military household. The particulars of the conquest of Britain and its conversion into England (Engle-land, after the name of the Engle or Angles) are too well known to concern us here. In the course of less than a century and a half, from a.d. 450 to near the close of the 6th century, a number of kingdoms were formed, by the Jutes in Kent; by the Saxons in Sussex, Wessex Essex, and Middlesex; by the Angles in East Anglia, Northumbria and Mercia. We may note that Wessex included the country south of the Thames between Middlesex, Surrey, and Sussex on the east and Devonshire on the west; that Northumbria extended from the Humber to the Firth of Forth; and that Mercia included much of the Midlands.

The nature of the conquest may be described as complete, within certain limits; as utterly or very nearly overwhelming all that preceded the coming of the conquerors. In other countries subdued by German tribes the conquerors adopted the laws, the social life, and the religion of the conquered race. The followers of the Angle and Saxon chiefs brought with them the paganism and superstitions of the Elbe, and were still offering worship to Thor and Woden while the German princes in Gaul, Italy, and Spain were adoring the relics of Christian martyrs and discussing with bishops and councils points of Christian theology. In the England which arose on the ruins of Roman Britain the Christian faith became for the time extinct, save in a few distant places to which the conquerors did not penetrate. The name of the country was changed, and the language which has now been carried to the remotest parts of the earth, and is gaining supremacy over all other tongues, swept away the Latin speech of the dwellers in towns, and the British dialects of the country, except in the extreme south-west of southern Britain, and in the region to which the English gave the name of "Wales," or "the foreign land." The long resistance made by the British was greatly aided by their holding of the Roman fortified towns against invaders who had no siege-apparatus, and by the woody and marshy character of the territory, to make their way through which the Angles and Saxons had no corps of engineers, like their Roman: predecessors, 'for the making of firm causeways, the bridging of streams, and the cutting of roads through forests. The conquest was facilitated, on the other hand, by the ships of that age, which could make their way far inland by the rivers. At the end of the 6th century, the country south of the Firths of Forth and Clyde was divided between Celts and Teutons by a line stretching nearly north and south midway in the breadth of the land. There were many Britons who remained among the English on the conquered territory, and by intermarriage the old British blood was kept and may still be traced in parts of the country whose people are the most Teutonic in race. The Celtic inhabitants, driven away to the west and north, formed several small states in the hilly country. In the south, it was long before the conquerors of Wessex advanced from the Salisbury Avon to the Exe and then to the Tamar, and finally subdued the British kingdom in Devon and Cornwall, called Damnonia or West Wales. Somersetshire, Wiltshire, and Dorsetshire retained large numbers of the Britons. Wales, remaining wholly British, had several petty realms. The kingdom of Cumbria included Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire, extending from the Solway to the Mersey, and from the sea to the Pennine Hills, with its capital at Caerleol (Carlisle). In the south-west of Scotland the British kingdom of Strathclyde had its chief town in Al-cluyd, now Dumbarton.

During the 7th and 8th centuries the English were engaged in warfare with each other, and one kingdom after another gained supremacy over its neighbours. At one time Kent, at another East Anglia, and then Northumbria, and, in their turns, Mercia and Wessex, became predominant. Thus Ethelbert of Kent, ruling from 590 to 616, the first who put forth written laws, was master over Essex, East Anglia, and Mercia. From 617 to 633 Edwin of Northumbria was supreme over all Teutonic England except Kent, and was then defeated and killed by Penda of Mercia, the leader of a heathen reaction, ruling from 626 to 655. Oswald of Northumbria succumbed to the same fierce pagan, who was, at various times, supreme over Mercia, Essex, East Anglia, Wessex, and part of Northumbria. In 655 he, in his turn, was defeated and slain in battle with Oswin or Oswy of Northumbria (655-659). His son and successor Ecgfrith had much success against the Britons of Cumbria and Strathclyde, and took Lincolnshire from the king of Mercia. In 685 his life, and with it the power of Northumbria, ended in battle against the Picts at Nectansmere in Fifeshire. Ethelbald of Mercia (716-755), one of whose predecessors, Wulfhere, had been "over-lord" of Essex and Sussex, became master of the whole country south of the Humber. Offa, the great Mercian monarch, ruled from 758 to 796. He conquered Kent, Sussex, Surrey, and Essex, and then turned his arms against the Welsh. Crossing the Severn, he took Pengwyrn, the capital of the king of Powys, on the east side of North Wales, and changed its name to Scrobbes-byrig ("the town in the scrub or bush"), now Shrewsbury. After planting English settlements west of the Severn, between the river and the mountains, he secured the new frontier by the famous and still partly existing Offa's Dyke, a huge rampart with a ditch, extending from the mouth of the Dee to that of the Wye. Wessex was prominent under Ine or Ina, king from 688 to 726. This just and wise ruler issued a famous code of laws, and conciliated the Britons of the south-west, after subjection, by allowing them to keep their lands and encouraging marriages between them and his English subjects, He became master of Kent, Essex, and London. In the west, in order to guard his conquests, he built a fortress on the Tone which became the town of Taunton. Civil strife caused Ina's abdication and pilgrimage to Rome, where he died in 728. During all this time we have been leaving our forefathers in their original heathenism. The great fact of the period was the conversion to Christianity, but before dealing with that, and with the union of the kingdoms under Egbert, we must turn to the early history of Ireland and Scotland.

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Pictures for Italy; the Papacy; the (Greek) Byzantine Empire; Spain; Frank Kingdoms; Feudalism; Britain and England. page 3

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