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England Cæsar's Conquests

963 The Romans knew nothing of that gloomy and fearful religion, and at first were afraid to offend the unknown god whom the savages worshipped. They hesitated, and we can fancy that Cæsar himself may have faltered at first, though not for long. When the invaders were close to land and the shrieking horde on shore were waiting for them to come within reach of their war clubs and swords, the standard-bearer of the tenth legion leaped into the sea and shouted as he dashed toward shore:

"Follow me, my fellow-soldiers, unless you will give up your standard to the enemy!"

Thrilled by the heroism of their comrade, the others sprang after him and drove the defenders before them. Discipline always prevails, and, despite their bravery, the Britons were soon scattered in disorder. They learned in the furious struggle that they were no match for these terrible invaders, and on the morrow sent ambassadors to Cæsar begging for peace. The great Roman was always approachable and considerate to the feelings of others. He listened to the suppliants kindly, agreed upon the terms, and a few weeks later sailed away for Rome. In his "Commentaries," Cæsar refers to his first campaign in Britain as a reconnoitring expedition, and expresses his intention of returning there later.

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Accordingly, the following year he came back with a more powerful force, and penetrated some distance inland. His most determined opponent, the hero whose name first stands out for our femembrance in British history, is called by the conqueror, Cassivelanus, which is probably a Latinized form of the British name Cadwallon. Cadwallon was the chiefjor king of a tribe dwelling in the neighborhood of modern London, and his capital stood on the present site of St. Albans. He fought valiantly against the Romans; but some of the neighboring tribes over whom he wielded a vague and probably tyrannous lordship, turned against him.

These rebels, joining the Romans, guided them to Cadwallon's hidden city, which was sacked and burned. Still, however, Cadwallon kept up his resistance, and after several months Cæsar, finding little either of pleasure or profit in the wild, bleak island, abandoned it. Cadwallon was regarded as a natural hero by the Britons, and his leadership over the island continued until his death.

Cæsar, on his return to Rome, brought with him some spoils and large numbers of captives as hostages. Yet there was significance in the declaration of Tacitus regarding these expeditions of Cæsar: "He did not conquer Britain; he only showed it to the Romans."

Britain was now left to itself for nearly a hundred years. 43 the Emperor Claudius led a third invasion into the country.

Then in A.D.

As before,

the islanders made a sturdy resistance, and it was not until nine years had passed that Roman valor and discipline triumphed. Among the captives brought back to Rome was Caractacus, the heroic leader of the Britons. Though in chains, Caractacus held his head unbowed and his spirit unbroken. When he looked upon the splendor and magnificence of Rome, he exclaimed: "Why do you who possess all this, covet the poor hovels of my countrymen?

Brought in front of Claudius, Caractacus iooked him defiantly in the face and refused to kneel and beg for his liberty. The simple majesty and dignity of the prisoner so impressed the Emperor that he set him and his family free.

It has been said that the religion of the ancient Britons was Druidical. This faith was hideous in many of its features and of frightful severity, possessing no trace of the gentleness of Christianity. Druid is from a word meaning an oak. The people venerated this tree and also the mistletoe, which still forms a part of our Christmas festivities. They had a regularly organized priesthood, dwelt in forests, met in sacred groves, and offered up human sacrifices to win the favor of the gods. The priests held all the traditions, administered the laws, and prescribed the customs. Naturally, they were held in great fear by the people, for when the priests were offended they sometimes roasted those whom they disliked, in large wicker cages. This horrible religion seems to have been brought from Gaul in the earliest times, and was woven in with the worship of the serpent, of the sun and moon, and some of the heathen gods and goddesses. The priests kept most of their faith and its ceremonies secret; but they certainly believed in a life beyond the grave. They built temples and altars, open to the sky. Many remains of these may still be seen. The most striking is Stonehege, on Salisbury plain in Wiltshire.

In A.D. 61 Suetonius Paulinus, the Roman governor of Britain, seeing there could be no real peace so long as the Druids were allowed to make their fanatical appeals to the people, set out to extirpate them. The island of Anglesey, off the coast of Wales, was their sacred refuge, and against that he marched. At sight of the priests wildly calling down curses, and the women with streaming hair and flaming torches rushing to and fro, the soldiers paused in superstitious fear, but at the stern command of their leader they rushed forward, cut down the Britons, demolished the stone altars, flung the frantic Druids into their own divine fires, and hewed away the sacred groves.

The Roman yoke, however, was not yet firmly fitted to the necks of the Britons. While Suetonius was in Anglesey, a vicious uprising broke out in the east. The leader was Boadicea, widow of a king of the Icenians, who was driven to irrestrainable rage by the brutality with which she and her two daughters were treated. Her flaming appeals drew the surrounding tribes to her, and she led them into battle. The Druids by their doubtful prophecies

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