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England-The Introduction of Christianity


had encouraged her to hope for success. Legend represents them as foreseeing the greatness of England, and promising the frenzied queen—

"Regions Cæsar never knew

Thy posterity shall sway;
Where his eagles never flew,
None invincible as they."

At first it seemed as if the furious and fanatic Britons would sweep the Romans into the sea. London, St. Albans, and other towns were given to the torch, and the inhabitants slain without mercy, but when Suetonius hurried back he stamped out the revolt in one great battle. Eighty thousand Britons are said to have fallen, and Boadicea poisoned herself in despair.

The real conqueror of Britain was Cnæus Julius Agricola, who was governor from A. D. 78 to 84. He was an excellent ruler, who built a line of forts from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Clyde, to keep back the turbulent North Britons. Then sailing round the north of the island, he discovered the Orkneys. He stopped the merciless tyranny of the Roman tax gatherers, and encouraged the natives to build comfortable dwellings, good roads, and thriving towns. The pleasing character of the country caused many Romans to settle there, and their power may be considered as having been established by this wise and good governor.

The Emperor Hadrian visited Britain in A. D. 120, and not feeling strong enough to hold all the lands gained by Agricola, he constructed an immense earthwork from the Tyne to the Solway Firth. In 139 the Emperor Antoninus Pius built a new dyke, which followed the line of that of Agricola. The restless North Britons continued troublesome, and the Emperor Severus made a campaign against them between 207 and 210, and erected a chain of forts along the line of the dyke built by Hadrian.

Historians have not been able to fix the time when Christianity was introduced into Britain. It is generally believed that the first church was built at Glastonbury, the structure being of the most primitive character. The new religion at that time was held in scorn by the Romans, but its steady growth caused them fear. Finally in the closing years of the third century, the Emperor Diocletian determined to stamp out the hated faith. You know of the dreadful persecution he set on foot in every part of the Roman Empire. St. Alban was the first in Britain to suffer death, and on the spot where in 304 he gave up his life for his religion the abbey of St. Albans was erected five centuries later.

The impact of Roman civilization made a lasting impression on the people and the country.

The Romans built some fifty towns, many protected by walls,

and of these London soon became the chief, though York was made the civil and military capital of the country. You can still see some of the towers that flanked the ancient walls of the latter city. The most notable incident in the history of York was the proclamation of Constantine as Emperor in 306. Through him Christianity became the established religion of the empire, though his friendship for the growing faith was that of a statesman rather than of a devout believer.

The changing forms of government finally resulted in Britain being separated into five provinces, all traversed by admirable, paved roads, which centred in London and were connected across the Straits of Dover with other masterpieces of engineering skill in France, Spain, and Italy, ending at the Roman capital-for, as you know, in those days they used to say, "all roads lead to Rome."

Rome ruled Britain for three centuries and a half, but by that time the stupendous empire was crumbling to ruin. Her legions were called back to the capital and the condition of Britain became the extreme of feebleness. The people were in a state of hopeless collapse, with not a particle of their former vigor and resolution remaining. On the north the Picts, on the northwest the Scots, and on the south and east the Teutons were hammering the miserable beings, who meekly bowed their heads to the blows and quarrelled among themselves over theological questions, while their enemies swarmed over the border and swept them out of their path like so much chaff.

The foes who came by sea were Teutonic tribes from the mouths of the Elbe and the Weser in North Germany. Most of the country was conquered by these Teutons, of whom the principal tribes were the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, who finally fused into one people, under the name of Anglo-Saxons, or Angles or English, while that portion of Britain in which they made their home was called England. They were cruel, and such of the conquered Britons as they did not enslave, they huddled into the western part of the island.

The first of these Teutonic kingdoms was founded in Kent. A despairing British chieftain or king, Vortigern, undertook the dangerous experiment of fighting fire with fire. To save his people from their northern foes, the Scots, he invited the Teutons to come to his aid. Two well-known Jutish vikings, Hengist and Horsa, accepted the invitation with their followers, and in the year 449 landed on the island of Thanet, the southeastern extremity of England.

At first Hengist and Horsa served their host well, driving back the wild northern tribes. Soon, however, larger ambitions took possession of the shrewd sea-kings. They recognized their own strength and the Britons' weak

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