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Italy; the Papacy; the (Greek) Byzantine Empire; Spain; Frank Kingdoms; Feudalism; Britain and England. page 4

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The early state of Ireland - wild, tangled, roadless territory, abounding in forests, streams, lakes, and in the bogs which still cover about one-sixth of the surface - is wrapt in mystery. We can only begin to deal with the country as historical after the beginning of the Christian era, when the rude Celtic tribes had bards styled Ollamhs or Sennachies, and men called Brehons as the judges and law-makers. The country was called " Scotia " from the Scoti, a Celtic people who took much of the land from previous possessors of their own race. There was no primogeniture or hereditary right. Before the death of a chieftain, one of his family, judged to be the fittest, was chosen " Tanist," or successor, by the clan. AU the land belonged to the clan or sept, and was held by it for the general benefit, without any system of a feudal kind. In view of the modern land-question in Ireland, it is curious to find, in the Senchus-Mor, one of the two chief books of ancient Irish law, regulations on three rents: the rack rent, to be extorted from one of a strange tribe; the fair rent, required from one of the same tribe; and the solicited rent, to be paid by either. There was a large class of "broken men," outcasts from misconduct or from the breaking-up of clans through intertribal war, and these, becoming like slaves or serfs, were attached to chiefs as his armed retainers, the fierce class known in later times as "kerns" and "galloglasses." In time of war they were forcibly quartered upon other chiefs, and thus arose the system of "coyne and livery " or compulsory entertainment for horse and men, which became most detrimental to the people in later times. There was no representative system of rule. The method of government was patriarchal; the household looking up to its head and he to the chief of the clan. Blood-relationship was the real bond of union, combined with the system of fosterage by which the children of the wealthy were nursed and brought up in poor families till the age of 13 in the case of daughters and 17 for sons.

This system of tribes, clans, or septs, a local organisation beyond the limits of which no person or property was sacred, had the same effect as in the Scottish Highlands, where life, in the wild times, was largely spent in fighting, plundering, and burning. Under such a system, men could not settle down to an orderly life, and the ideas of patriotism and nationality, in the modern sense, were unknown. We have here the key, taken in connection with Ireland's lack of thorough conquest by a strong governing power m early days, to much of the subsequent history of a people whose character has presented the strangest combination of shrewdness, credulity, poetry, humour, piety, courage, lack of discipline, indolence, cleverness, amiability, and impracticability that ever was seen in the world. A new figure and a new element came on the scene in Ireland with St. Patrick, the great missionary who brought the people to the acceptance of Christianity. This remarkable man, born towards the end of the 4th century at Dumbarton, was carried off as a slave to Antrim. In a few years he escaped to Gaul, where he became a monk, first at Tours and then at Lerins, a group of small islands near Cannes. In 432, when he was about 60 years old, he went as a missionary-bishop to Ireland, and landed in Strangford Lough. His success was wonderful and rapid, and the new faith was soon founded in Meath, Connaught, and Ulster. In about 20 years, numerous churches had been built, bishops consecrated, and priests ordained, and the Irish became the most enthusiastic of Christians. We have already seen their missionary work in Germany, and we shall shortly find them engaged in Scotland. A glorious time of spiritual and intellectual light in Ireland had come, and during the 7th and 8th centuries the country played a really great part in European history. Students came in large numbers from Britain, Germany, and Gaul, and were maintained and educated without charge in the Irish monasteries and schools. The work was carried on by St. Columba, a native of Donegal, whose chief scene of labour was, however, in the neighbouring country. Artistic advance went hand in hand with the development of Christianity, and the monks of Ireland became architects, painters, carvers, gilders, bookbinders, makers of crosiers and chalices in gold and silver, carvers of crosses, and writers of most elaborately decorated manuscripts. The political history, from the 5th to the 8th century, includes much petty warfare between the clans, and the more important matter of the aggregation of clans under the rule of greater chieftains, ending in the formation of what are called the kingdoms of Meath, Connaught, Munster, Leinster, and Ulster. A time of trouble was coming in the Danish invasions, which were to fill the country with misery and ruin. The black ships of the piratical Northmen first appeared off the coast about 790, and landed their men on the east side of the island. The cathedral of Armagh, the see of St. Patrick, was burned, the monks were slain, and the whole east coast was occupied by the invaders. The interior was then assailed as far as Athlone, and fresh hordes kept coming from the north. The famous round towers of Ireland, concerning which antiquaries have puzzled themselves with so much needless ingenuity, were erected in those evil days, and, being always found connected with churches or monasteries, were undoubtedly places of defence against the Danes. When the prows of the piratical vessels were seen, or an advance of foes inland was reported, the defenceless inmates of monasteries took refuge in these keeps with the church-plate and other valuables, and the place having been provisioned, and the ladders drawn up to the door set many feet from the ground, a siege of some length could be endured. It was chiefly on the coast that the Danes established themselves, gathering the plunder of the country into towns which they built and fortified. This was the origin of the cities of Dublin, Limerick, and Cork, and of Waterford and Wexford. The Danish invasions and partial conquest of the country were most disastrous to Ireland. Their ravages, along with the intertribal wars, almost swept away for a long period the civilisation which had arisen under Christian influences. The Northmen, in Ireland, were not soon civilised, as in England, by contact with the invaded people, but remained heathen, foreign tyrants and oppressors, utterly hated by the people, and waging ruthless war against them and their religion.

We have seen, in the Roman period, the conquest of some of southern Scotland, and the invasion of Britain by Picts and Scots. The earliest historical inhabitants were called Caledonians by the Romans, the Picts being possibly a mixture of Celts and of a non-Aryan race, and dwelling mostly to the north of the Forth and Clyde. In the 5th century a.d. the Celtic tribe called Scoti migrated from Ireland and settled in the Western Isles and Argyle, forming a state called Dalriada, and spreading thence to the south and east. In the end their name was given to the whole country. We have seen that the English conquerors settled in the district called Lothian, while Galloway, in the south-west, was still held by the Picts. The English speech gradually spread on the south of the Forth and Clyde, forming the dialect known as Lowland Scottish. In 617 the Northumbrian king Edwin built a fort at Dunedin, the beginning of the city called from him Edinburgh. There was much intertribal warfare, and the Picts, Saxons or English, Britons, Scots, and afterwards the Danes or Norsemen, were in frequent conflict. Common resistance to the Danes tended to bring together the other elements, and by degrees the nucleus of a united nation was created. The original centre of the historic kingdom was at Scone, Perth, and Dunkeld, on the banks of the Tay, the place of coronation being at Scone, where the king took his seat on the famous stone now in Westminster Abbey. In 841 Kenneth MacAlpin became ruler of the Scots in Argyle, and in 844 was king of the Picts at Scone. The union of these realms first created what may be fairly called a kingdom of Scotland, though the territory then comprised only Argyle, Perthshire, Fife, and parts of Dumbarton and Forfar.

The introduction of Christianity must now be dealt with. St. Ninian, believed to have been born about 360 on the shores of the Solway, made a pilgrimage to Rome, was consecrated bishop, and before his death in 432 did much to evangelise the southern Picts. In the middle of the 6th century Kentigern, the famous St. Mungo, began to work in Strathclyde, becoming the patron-saint of Glasgow, where his tomb and relics were revered down to the time of the Reformation. The great impulse to a change of faith came from Ireland, and St. Columba is regarded as "the Apostle of Scotland." Born in Donegal in 521, and trained there for the priesthood, he landed in 563 in the western islet Iona, where he founded the monastery which became so famous a centre of missionary-labours. The Picts were gained to Christianity, and many monasteries were founded. In 801 the Iona religious house was burned by the Danes, and further attacks came from the same quarter. Before the decline of Iona, however, that island had become a chief source of English Christianity. About 640 Oswald of Northumbria sent to Iona for missionaries, and the monk afterwards canonised as St. Aidan became abbot of Lindisfarne, head of the monastery which gave the place its name of Holy Island. From this new centre of the faith preachers went about in the north, and Aidan became the first bishop of Durham. Another Lindisfarne monk was Ceadda or St. Chad, bishop of Mercia and founder of the see of Lichfield. St. Cuthbert, another man of note in the early English Church, was perhaps born near Melrose about 635. This humble shepherd of flocks in the region of the Tweed and the Teviot became a preacher, under some Lindisfarne monks, and had much success through his sound sense, humour, pleasant ways, and real piety. Dying at Lindisfarne, after resigning his bishopric, St. Cuthbert was regarded in early days as the greatest of the northern saints. His shrine was much visited by pilgrims, and a cloth which he had used at mass became a standard borne in the northern armies fighting against the Scots. It waved over English heads at Flodden, and it perished by a bigot's hands when it was burnt by Calvin's sister, wife of the first Protestant dean of Durham. We now go southwards to see the introduction of Christianity direct from Rome. In 597, 1,300 years ago as we write this record, St. Austin, as he should be called to distinguish him from the great St. Augustine, arrived in the Isle of Thanet with a band of monks, dispatched by Pope Gregory the Great. The mass of English in the district, numbering only 2,000 or 3,000, were pagans, like king Ethelbert of Kent, but Christianity had a foothold there through the king's wife Bertha, the Christian daughter of a king of Paris. A Frankish bishop had come over with her, and she worshipped in the little church called St. Martin's, near Canterbury, built in the Roman times. The missionaries from Rome were allowed to preach their faith, and within a year Ethelbert and many of his subjects were baptised. The new faith spread, and Augustine became the first archbishop of Canterbury, sees being also founded at Rochester and London. Paulinus, one of St. Austin's followers, was the first bishop of York. St. David, son of a Welsh prince, was the apostle of his native country, and became bishop of Caerleon, and then of Menevia, afterwards St. David's. The Christian Church in England was placed on a firm basis in 664, when the Synod of Whitby settled its adherence to the Roman See and system, as distinguished from that of Ireland. A Greek monk, Theodore of Tarsus, who was archbishop of Canterbury from 669 to 693, was the man who organised the episcopacy and established the parochial system. The founding of many new sees and the later settlement of the tithes for the payment of the clergy gave the Church the form which lasted through mediaeval times.

Egbert, of the royal line of Cerdic, the Saxon chieftain who landed on the shore of Southampton Water in 495 and founded the kingdom of Wessex, had been driven into exile, first at the court of Offa of Mercia, and then of Karl, king of the Franks Under this last great ruler he had, during 13 years, been trained in military and political affairs in such wise as to fit him for the part he was to play in his native country. He had fought with his friend against Lombards and Huns, and was well versed in royal duties when in 802, by the choice of the Wessex nobles, he assumed the rule of that kingdom. Cornwall was reduced to pay tribute; Welsh invaders were defeated; the king of Mercia was beaten in 825, and three years later, either through force or voluntary submission, the supremacy of Egbert was recognised by Northumbria, Mercia, and East Anglia, while -Kent, Sussex, and Essex were ruled by kinsmen of his appointment. He thus became in fact, though not in title, king of all England. Before his death in 837 he was much troubled in Wessex and Kent by attacks of the Danes or Northmen, closing his reign, however, with a victory in the west over their forces united with the Britons of Cornwall.

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