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Early Britain--Roman Britain
The End of Roman Britain, A.D. 211-455
by Conybeare, Edward


Era of Pretenders—Probus—Vandlebury—First notice of Saxons—Origin of name—Count of the
Saxon Shore—Carausius—Allectus—Last Romano-British coinage—Britain Mistress of the Sea
—Reforms of Diocletian—Constantius Chlorus—Re-conquest of Britain—Diocletian provinces
—Diocletian persecution—The last "Divus"—General scramble for Empire—British Army wins
for Constantine—Christianity established.

A. 1.—After the death of Severus in A.D. 211, Roman historians tell us nothing more concerning Britain till we come to the rise of the only other Emperor who died at York, Constantius Chlorus. During the miserable period which the wickedness of Caracalla brought upon the Roman world, when Pretender after Pretender flits across the scene, most to fail, some for a moment to succeed, but all alike to end their brief course in blood, our island remained fairly quiet. The Army of Britain made one or two futile pronunciamentos (the least unsuccessful being those for Postumus in A.D. 258, and Victorinus in A.D. 265), and in 277 the Emperor Probus, probably to keep it in check, leavened it with a large force recruited from amongst his Vandal prisoners,316 whose name may, perhaps, still survive in Vandlebury Camp, on the Gog-Magog317 Hills, near Cambridge. But not till the energy and genius of Diocletian began to bring back to order the chaos into which the Roman world had fallen does Britain play any real part in the higher politics.

A. 2.—Then, however, we suddenly find ourselves confronted with names destined to exert a supreme influence on the future of our land. The Saxons from the Elbe, and the Franks from the Rhine had already begun their pirate raids along the coasts to the westwards.318 Each tribe derived its name from its peculiar national weapon (the Franks from their throwing-axe (franca),319 the Saxons from the saexes, long murderous knives, snouted like a Norwegian knife of the present day, which they used with such deadly effect);320 and their appearance constituted a new and fearful danger to the Roman Empire. Never, since the Mediterranean pirates were crushed by Pompey (B.C. 66) had it been exposed to attacks by sea. A special effort was needed to meet this new situation, and we find, accordingly, a new officer now added to the Imperial muster,—the Count of the Saxon Shore. His jurisdiction extended over the northern coast of Gaul and the southern and eastern shores of Britain, the head-quarters of his fleet being at Boulogne.

A. 3.—The first man to be placed in this position was Carausius,321 a Frisian adventurer of low birth, but great military reputation, to which unfortunately he proved unequal. When his command was not followed by the looked-for putting-down of the pirate raiders, he was suspected, probably with truth, of a secret understanding with them. The Government accordingly sent down orders for his execution, to which he replied (A.D. 286) by open rebellion, took the pirate fleets into his pay, and having thus got the undisputed command of the sea, succeeded in maintaining himself as Emperor in Britain for the rest of his life.

A. 4.—His reign and that of his successor (and murderer) Allectus are marked by the last and most extraordinary development of Romano-British coinage. Since the time of Caracalla no coins which can be definitely proved to deserve this name are found; but now, in less than ten years, our mints struck no fewer than five hundred several issues, all of different types. Nearly all are of bronze, with the radiated head of the Emperor on the obverse, and on the reverse devices of every imaginable kind. The British Lion once more figures, as in the days of Cymbeline; and we have also the Roman Wolf, the Sea-horse, the Cow (as a symbol of Prosperity), Plenty, Peace, Victory, Prudence, Health, Safety, Might, Good Luck, Glory, all symbolized in various ways. But the favourite type of all is the British warship; for now Britannia, for the first time, ruled the waves, and was, indeed, so entirely Mistress of the Sea that her fleet appeared even in Mediterranean waters.322 The vessels figured are invariably not Saxon "keels," but classical galleys, with their rams and outboard rowing galleries, and are always represented as cleared for action (when the great mainsail and its yard were left on shore).

A. 5.—The usurpation of Carausius, "the pirate," as the Imperial panegyrists called him,323 brought Diocletian's great reform of the Roman administration within the scope of practical politics in Britain. The old system of Provinces, some Imperial, some Senatorial, with each Pro-praetor or Pro-consul responsible only and immediately to the central government at Rome, had obviously become outgrown. And the Provinces themselves were much too large. Diocletian accordingly began by dividing the Empire into four "Prefectures," two in the east and two in the west. Each pair was to be under one of the co-Augusti, who again was to entrust one of his Prefectures to the "Caesar"324 or heir-apparent of his choice. Thus Diocletian held the East, while Galerius, his "Caesar," took the Prefecture of Illyricum. His colleague Maximian, as Augustus of the West, ruled in Italy; and the remaining Prefecture, that of "the Gauls," fell to the Western Caesar, Constantius Chlorus. Each Prefecture, again, was divided into "Dioceses" (that of Constantius containing those of Britain, Gaul, Spain, and Mauretania), each under a "Vicar," and comprising a certain number of "Provinces" (that of Britain having four). Thus a regular hierarchy with rank above rank of responsibility was established, and so firmly that Diocletian's system lasted (so far as provincial government was concerned) till the very latest days of the Roman dominion.

A. 6.—When Constantius thus became Caesar of the West, his first task was to restore Britain to the Imperial system. He was already, it seems, connected with the island, and had married a British lady named Helen.325 Their son Constantine, a youth of special promise (according to the panegyrists), had been born at York, about A.D. 274, and now appeared on the scene to aid his father's operations with supernatural speed, "quasi divino quodam curriculo."326 Extraordinary celerity, indeed, marked all these operations. Allectus was on his guard, with one squadron at Boulogne to sweep the coast of Gaul, and another cruising in the Channel. By a sudden dash Constantius [in A.D. 296] seized the mouth of Boulogne harbour, threw a boom across it, "defixis in aditu trabibus," and effectually barred the pirates from access to the sea.327 Meanwhile the fleet which he had been building simultaneously in various Gallic ports was able to rendezvous undisturbed at Havre.

A. 7.—His men were no expert mariners like their adversaries; and, for this very reason, were ready, with their Caesar at their head, to put to sea in threatening weather, which made their better-skilled pilots hesitate. "What can we fear?" was the cry, "Caesar is with us." Dropping down the Seine with the tide on a wild and rainy morning, they set sail with a cross wind, probably from the north-east, a rare thing with ancient ships. As they neared the British coast the breeze sank to a dead calm, with a heavy mist lying on the waveless sea, in which the fleet found it impossible to keep together. One division, with Constantius himself on board, made their land-fall somewhere in the west, perhaps at Exeter, the other far to the east, possibly at Richborough.

A. 8.—But the wonderful luck which attended Constantius, and on which his panegyrists specially dwell, made all turn out for the best. The mist enabled both his divisions to escape the notice of the British fleet, which was lying off the Isle of Wight on the watch for him; and the unexpected landing at two such distant points utterly demoralized the usurper. Of the large force which had been mustered for land defence, only the Frankish auxiliaries could be got together in time to meet Constantius—who, having burnt his ships (for his only hope now lay in victory), was marching, with his wonted speed, straight on London. One battle,328 in which scarcely a single Roman fell on the British side, was enough; the corpse of Allectus [ipse vexillarius latrocinii] was found, stripped of the Imperial insignia, amongst the heaps of slain barbarians, and the routed Franks fled to London. Here, while they were engaged in sacking the city before evacuating it, they were set upon by the eastern division of the Roman army (under Asclepiodotus the Praetorian Prefect)329 and slaughtered almost to a man. The rescued metropolis eagerly welcomed its deliverers, and the example was followed by the rest of Britain; the more readily that the few surviving Franks were distributed throughout the land to perish in the provincial amphitheatres.

A. 9.—The Diocletian system was now introduced; and, instead of Hadrian's old divisions of Upper and Lower Britain, the island south of his Wall was distributed into four Provinces, "Britannia Prima," "Britannia Secunda," "Maxima Caesariensis," and "Flavia Caesariensis." That the Thames, the Severn, and the Humber formed the frontier lines between these new divisions is probable. But their identification, in the current maps of Roman Britain, with the later Wessex, Wales, Northumbria, and Mercia (with East Anglia), respectively, is purely conjectural.330 All that we know is that when the district between Hadrian's Wall and Agricola's Rampart was reconquered in 369, it was made a fifth British Province under the name Valentia. The Governor of each Province exercised his functions under the "Vicar" of the "Diocese," an official of "Respectable" rank—the second in precedence of the Diocletian hierarchy (exclusive of the Imperial Family).

A. 10.—With the Diocletian administration necessarily came the Diocletian Persecution—an essential feature of the situation. There is no reason to imagine that the great reforming Emperor had, like his colleague Maximian, any personal hatred for Christianity. But Christianity was not among the religiones licitae of the Empire. Over and over again it had been pronounced by Imperial Rescript unlawful. This being so, Diocletian saw in its toleration merely one of those corruptions of lax government which it was his special mission to sweep away, and proceeded to deal with it as with any other abuse,—to be put down with whole-hearted vigour and rigour.

A. 11.—The Faith had by this time everywhere become so widespread that the good-will of its professors was a political power to be reckoned with. Few of the passing Pretenders of the Era of Confusion had dared to despise it, some had even courted it; and thus throughout the Empire the Christian hierarchy had been established, and Christian churches been built everywhere; while Christians swarmed in every department of the Imperial service,—their neglect of the official worship winked at, while they, in turn, were not vigorous in rebuking the idolatry of their heathen fellow-servants. Now all was changed. The sacred edifices were thrown down, or (as in the famous case of St. Clement's at Rome) made over for heathen worship, the sacred books and vessels destroyed, and every citizen, however humble, had to produce a libellus,331 or magisterial certificate, testifying that he had formally done homage to the Gods of the State, by burning incense at their shrines, by pouring libations in their name, and by partaking of the victims sacrificed upon their altars. Torture and death were the lot of all recusants; and to the noble army of martyrs who now sealed their testimony with their blood Britain is said (by Gildas) to have contributed a contingent of no fewer than seventeen thousand, headed by St. Alban at Verulam.

A. 12.—So thorough-going a persecution the Church had never known. But it came too late for Diocletian's purpose; and it was probably the latent consciousness of his failure that impelled him, in 305, to resign the purple and retire to his cabbage-garden at Dyrrhachium. Maximian found himself unwillingly obliged to retire likewise; and the two Caesars, Galerius and Constantius, became, by the operation of the new constitution, ipso facto Augusti.

A. 13.—But already the mutual jealousy and distrust in which that constitution was so soon to perish began to manifest themselves. Galerius, though properly only Emperor of the East, seized on Rome, and with it on the person of the young Constantine, whom he hoped to keep as hostage for his father's submission. The youth, however, contrived to flee, and post down to join Constantius in Gaul, slaughtering every stud of relays along the entire road to delay his pursuers. Both father and son at once sailed for Britain, where the former shortly died, like Severus, at York. With their arrival the persecution promptly ceased;332 for Helena, at least, was an ardent Christian, and her husband well-affected to the Faith. Yet, on his death, he was, like his predecessors, proclaimed Divus; the last formal bestowal of that title being thus, like the first,333 specially connected with Britain. Constantius was buried, according to Nennius,334 at Segontium, wherever that may have been; and Constantine, though not yet even a Caesar, was at once proclaimed by the soldiers (at his native York) Augustus in his father's room.

A. 14.—This was the signal for a whole outburst of similar proclamations all over the Roman world, Licinius, Constantine's brother-in-law, declared himself Emperor at Carnutum, Maxentius, son of Maximian and son-in-law of Galerius, in Rome, Severus in the Illyrian provinces, and Maximin (who had been a Caesar) in Syria. Galerius still reigned, and even Maximian revoked his resignation and appeared once more as Augustus. But one by one this medley of Pretenders swept each other away, and the survival of the fittest was exemplified by the final victory of Constantine over them all. For a few years he bided his time, and then, at the head of the British army, marched on Rome. Clear-sighted enough to perceive that events were irresistibly tending to the triumph of Christianity, he declared himself the champion of the Faith; and it was not under the Roman Eagle, but the Banner of Christ,335 that his soldiers fought and won. Coins of his found in Britain, bearing the Sacred Monogram which led his men to the crowning victory of 312 at the Milvian Bridge (the intertwined letters [Chi] and ?[Rho] between [Alpha] and [Omega], the whole forming the word [ARChÔ], "I reign"), with the motto Hoc Signo Victor Eris, testify to the special part taken by our country in the establishment of our Faith as the officially recognized religion of Rome,—that is to say, of the whole civilized world. And henceforward, as long as Britain remained Roman at all, it was a monarch of British connection who occupied the Imperial throne. The dynasties of Constantius, Valentinian, and Theodosius, who between them (with the brief interlude of the reign of Julian) fill the next 150 years (300-450), were all markedly associated with our island. So, indeed, was Julian also.


Spread of Gospel—Arianism—Britain orthodox—Last Imperial visit—Heathen temples stripped
—British Emperors—Magnentius—Gratian—Julian—British corn-trade—First inroad of Picts and
Scots—Valentinian—Saxon raids—Campaign of Theodosius—Re-conquest of Valentia.

B. 1.—For a whole generation after the triumph of Constantine tranquillity reigned in Britain. The ruined Christian churches were everywhere restored, and new ones built; and in Britain, as elsewhere, the Gospel spread rapidly and widely—the more so that the Church here was but little troubled336 by the desperate struggle with Arianism which was convulsing the East. Britain, as Athanasius tells us, gave an assenting vote to the decisions of Nicaea [sumpsêphos etunchane], and British Bishops actually sat in the Councils of Arles (314) and of Ariminum (360).

B. 2.—The old heathen worship still continued side by side with the new Faith; but signs soon appeared that the Church would tolerate no such rivalry when once her power was equal to its suppression. Julius Firmicus (who wrote against "Profane Religions" in 343) implores the sons of Constantine to continue their good work of stripping the temples and melting down the images;—in special connection with a visit paid by them that year to Britain337 (our last Imperial visit), when they had actually been permitted to cross the Channel in winter-time; an irrefragable proof of Heaven's approval of their iconoclasm. It is highly probable that they pursued here also a course at once so pious and so profitable, and that the fanes of the ancient deities but lingered on in poverty and neglect till finally suppressed by Theodosius (A.D. 390).

B. 3.—And now Britain resumed her rôle of Emperor-maker.338 After the death of Constans, (A.D. 350), Magnentius, an officer in the Gallic army of British birth, set up as Augustus, and was supported by Gratian, the leader of the Army of Britain, and by his son Valentinian. Magnentius himself had his capital at Treves, and for three years reigned over the whole Prefecture of the Gauls. He professed a special zeal for orthodoxy, and was the first to introduce burning, as the appropriate punishment for heresy, into the penal code of Christendom. Meanwhile his colleague Decentius advanced against Constantius, and was defeated, at Nursa on the Drave, with such awful slaughter that the old Roman Legions never recovered from the shock. Henceforward the name signifies a more or less numerous body, more or less promiscuously armed, such as we find so many of in the 'Notitia.' Magnentius, in turn, was slain (A.D. 353), and the supreme command in Britain passed to the new Caesar of the West, Julian "the Apostate."

B. 4.—Under him we first find our island mentioned as one of the great corn-growing districts of the Empire, on which Gaul was able to draw to a very large extent for the supply of her garrisons. No fewer than eight hundred wheat-ships sailed from our shores on this errand; a number which shows how large an area of the island must have been brought under cultivation, and how much the country had prospered during the sixty years of unbroken internal peace which had followed on the suppression of Allectus.

B. 5.—That peace was now to be broken up. The northern tribes had by this recovered from the awful chastisement inflicted upon them by Severus,339 and, after an interval of 150 years, once more (A.D. 362) appeared south of Hadrian's Wall. Whether as yet they burst through it is uncertain; for now we find a new confederacy of barbarians. It is no longer that of Caledonians and Meatae, but of Picts and Scots. And these last were seafarers. Their home was not in Britain at all, but in the north of Ireland. In their "skiffs"340 they were able to turn the flank of the Roman defences, and may well have thus introduced their allies from beyond Solway also. Anyhow, penetrate the united hordes did into the quiet cornfields of Roman Britain, repeating their raids ever more frequently and extending them ever more widely, till their spearmen were cut [Errata: to] pieces in 450 at Stamford by the swords of the newly-arrived English.341

B. 6.—For the moment they were driven back without much difficulty, by Lupicinus, Julian's Legate (the first Legate we hear of in Britain since Lollius Urbicus), who, when the death of Constantius II. (in 361) had extinguished that royal line, aided his master to become "Dominus totius orbis"—as he is called in an inscription342 describing his triumphant campaigns "ex oceano Britannico." And after "the victory of the Galilaean" (363) had ended Julian's brief and futile attempt to restore the Higher Paganism (to which several British inscriptions testify),343 it was again to an Emperor from Britain that there fell the Lordship of the World—Valentinian, son of Gratian, whose dynasty lasted out the remaining century of Romano-British history.

B. 7.—His reign was marked in our land by a life-and-death struggle with the inrushing barbarians. The Picts and Scots were now joined by yet another tribe, the cannibal 344 Attacotti345 of Valentia, and their invasions were facilitated by the simultaneous raids of the Saxon pirates (with whom they may perhaps have been actually in concert) along the coast. The whole land had been wasted, and more than one Roman general defeated, when Theodosius, father of the Great Emperor, was sent, in 368, to the rescue. Crossing from Boulogne to Richborough in a lucky calm,346 and fixing his head-quarters at London, or Augusta, as it was now called [Londinium vetus oppidum, quod Augustam posteritas apellavit], he first, by a skilful combination of flying columns, cut to pieces the scattered hordes of the savages as they were making off with their booty, and finally not only drove them back beyond the Wall, which he repaired and re-garrisoned,347 but actually recovered the district right up to Agricola's rampart, which had been barbarian soil ever since the days of Severus.348 It was now (369) formed into a fifth British province, and named Valentia in honour of Valens, the brother and colleague of the Emperor.

B. 8.—The Twentieth Legion, whose head-quarters had so long been at Chester, seems to have been moved to guard this new province. Forty years later Claudian speaks of it as holding the furthest outposts in Britain, in his well-known description of the dying Pict:
"Venit et extremis legio praetenta Britannis,
Quae Scoto dat frena truci, ferroque notatas
Perlegit exsangues Picto moriente figuras."

["From Britain's bound the outpost legion came,
Which curbs the savage Scot, and fading sees
The steel-wrought figures on the dying Pict."]

The same poet makes Theodosius fight and conquer even in the Orkneys and in Ireland;
"—maduerunt Saxone fuso
Orcades; incaluit Pictorum sanguine Thule;
Scotorum cumulos flevit glacialis Ierne."349

["With Saxon slaughter flowed the Orkney strand,
With Pictish blood cold Thule warmer grew;
And icy Erin wept her Scotchmen slain."]
The relief, however, was but momentary. Five years later (374) another great Saxon raid is recorded; yet eight years more and the Picts and Scots have again to be driven from the land; and in the next decade their attacks became incessant.


Roman evacuation of Britain begun—Maximus—Settlement of Brittany—Stilicho restores the Wall
—Radagaisus invades Italy—Twentieth Legion leaves Britain—Britain in the 'Notitia'—Final
effort of British Army—The last Constantine—Last Imperial Rescript to Britain—Sack of Rome by
Alaric—Collapse of Roman rule in Britain.

C. 1.—By this time the evacuation of Britain by the Roman soldiery had fairly begun. Maximus, the last victor over the Scots, the "Pirate of Richborough," as Ausonius calls him, set up as Emperor (A.D. 383); and the Army of Britain again marched on Rome, and again, as under Constantine, brought its leader in triumph to the Capitol (A.D. 387). But this time it did not return. When Maximus was defeated and slain (A.D. 388) at Aquileia by the Imperial brothers-in-law Valentinian II. and Theodosius the Great350 (sons of the so-named leaders connected with Britain), his soldiers, as they retreated homewards, straggled on the march; settling, amid the general confusion, here and there, mostly in Armorica, which now first began to be called Brittany.351 This tale rests only on the authority of Nennius, but it is far from improbable, especially as his sequel—that a fresh legion dispatched to Britain by Stilicho (in 396) once more repelled the Picts and Scots, and re-secured the Wall—is confirmed by Claudian, who makes Britain (in a sea-coloured cloak and bearskin head-gear) hail Stilicho as her deliverer:
Inde Caledonio velata Britannia monstro,
Ferro picta genas, cujus vestigia verrit
Coerulus, Oceanique aestum mentitur, amictus:
"Me quoque vicinis percuntem gentibus," inquit,
"Munivit Stilichon, totam quum Scotus Iernen
Movit, et infesto spumavit remige Tethys.
Illius effectum curis, ne tela timerem
Scotica, ne Pictum tremerem, ne litore toto
Prospicerem dubiis venturum Saxona ventis."352

[Then next, with Caledonian bearskin cowled,
Her cheek steel-tinctured, and her trailing robe
Of green-shot blue, like her own Ocean's tide,
Britannia spake: "Me too," she cried, "in act
To perish 'mid the shock of neighbouring hordes,
Did Stilicho defend, when the wild Scot
All Erin raised against me, and the wave
Foamed 'neath the stroke of many a foeman's oar.
So wrought his pains that now I fear no more
Those Scottish darts, nor tremble at the Pict,
Nor mark, where'er to sea mine eyes I turn,
The Saxon coming on each shifting wind."]
C. 2.—Which legion it was which Stilicho sent to Britain is much more questionable. The Roman legions were seldom moved from province to province, and it is perhaps more probable that he filled up the three quartered in the island to something like their proper strength. But a crisis was now at hand which broke down all ordinary rules. Rome was threatened with such a danger as she had not known since Marius, five hundred years before, had destroyed the Cimbri and Teutones (B.C. 101). A like horde of Teutonic invaders, nearly half a million strong, came pouring over the Alps, under "Radagaisus the Goth," as contemporary historians call him, though his claim, to Gothic lineage is not undisputed. And these were not, like Alaric and his Visigoths, who were to reap the fruits of this effort, semi-civilized Christians, but heathen savages of the most ferocious type. Every nerve had to be strained to crush them; and Stilicho did crush them. But it was at a fearful cost. Every Roman soldier within reach had to be swept to the rescue, and thus the Rhine frontier was left defenceless against the barbarian hordes pressing upon it. Vandals, Sueves, Alans, Franks, Burgundians, rushed tumultuously over the peaceful and fertile fields of Gaul, never to be driven forth again.

C. 3.—Of the three British legions one only seems to have been thus withdrawn,—the Twentieth, whose head-quarters had been so long at Chester, and whose more recent duty had been to garrison the outlying province of Valentia, which may now perhaps have been again abandoned. It seems to have been actually on the march towards Italy353 when there was drawn up that wonderful document which gives us our last and completest glimpse of Roman Britain—the Notitia Dignitatum Utriusque Imperii.

C. 4.—This invaluable work sets forth in detail the whole machinery of the Imperial Government, its official hierarchy, both civil and military, in every land, and a summary of the forces under the authority of each commander. A reference in Claudian would seem to show that it was compiled by the industry of Celerinus, the Primicerius Notariorum or Head Clerk of the Treasury. The poet tells us how this indefatigable statistician—
"Cunctorum tabulas assignat honorum,
Regnorum tractat numeros, constringit in unum
Sparsas Imperii vires, cuneosque recenset
Dispositos; quae Sarmaticis custodia ripis,
Quae saevis objecta Getis, quae Saxona frenat
Vel Scotum legio; quantae cinxere cohortes
Oceanum, quanto pacatur milite Rhenus."354

["Each rank, each office in his lists he shows,
Tells every subject realm, together draws
The Empire's scattered force, recounts the hosts
In order meet;—which Legion is on guard
By Danube's banks, which fronts the savage Goth,
Which curbs the Saxon, which the Scot; what bands
Begird the Ocean, what keep watch on Rhine."]
To us the 'Notitia' is only known by the 16th-century copies of a 10th-century MS. which has now disappeared.355 But these were made with exceptional care, and are as nearly as may be facsimiles of the original, even preserving its illuminated illustrations, including the distinctive insignia of every corps in the Roman Army.

C. 5.—The number of these corps had, we find, grown erormously since the days of Hadrian, when, as Dion Cassius tells us, there were 19 "Civic Legions" (of which three were quartered in Britain). No fewer than 132 are now enumerated, together with 108 auxiliary bodies. But we may be sure that each of these "legions" was not the complete Army Corps of old,356 though possibly the 25 of the First Class, the Legiones Palatinae, may have kept something of their ancient effectiveness. Indeed it is not wholly improbable that these alone represent the old "civil" army; the Second and Third Class "legions," with their extraordinary names ("Comitatenses" and "Pseudo-Comitatenses"), being indeed merely so called by "courtesy," or even "sham courtesy."

C. 6.—In Britain we find the two remaining legions of the old garrison, the Second, now quartered not at Caerleon but at Richborough, under the Count of the Saxon Shore, and the Sixth under the "Duke of the Britains," holding the north (with its head-quarters doubtless, as of yore, at York, though this is not mentioned). Along with each legion are named ten "squads" [numeri], which may perhaps represent the ten cohorts into which legions were of old divided. The word cohort seems to have changed its meaning, and now to signify an independent military unit under a "Tribune." Eighteen of these, together with six squadrons [alae] of cavalry, each commanded by a "Praefect," form the garrison of the Wall;—a separate organization, though, like the rest of the northern forces, under the Duke of the Britains. The ten squads belonging to the Sixth Legion (each under a Prefect) are distributed in garrison throughout Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Westmoreland. Those of the Second (each commanded by a "Praepositus") are partly under the Count of the Saxon Shore, holding the coast from the Wash to Arundel,357 partly under the "Count of Britain," who was probably the senior officer in the island358 and responsible for its defence in general. Besides these bodies of infantry the British Army comprised eighteen cavalry units; three, besides the six on the Wall, being in the north, three on the Saxon Shore, and the remaining six under the immediate command of the Count of Britain, to whose troops no special quarters are assigned. Not a single station is mentioned beyond the Wall, which supports the theory that the withdrawal of the Twentieth Legion had involved the practical abandonment of Valentia.359

C. 7.—The two Counts and the Duke were the military leaders of Britain. The chief civil officer was the "respectable" Vicar of the Diocese of Britain, one of the six Vicars under the "illustrious" Pro-consul of Africa. Under him were the Governors of the five Provinces, two of these being "Consulars" of "Right Renowned" rank [clarissimi,] the other three "Right Perfect" [perfectissimi] "Presidents." The Vicar was assisted by a staff of Civil Servants, nine heads of departments being enumerated. Their names, however, have become so wholly obsolete as to tell us nothing of their respective functions.

C. 8.—Whatever these may have been they did not include the financial administration of the Diocese, the general management of which was in the hands of two officers, the "Accountant of Britain" [Rationalis Summarum Britanniarum] and the "Provost of the London Treasury" [Praepositus thesaurorum Augustensium].360 Both these were subordinates of the "Count of the Sacred Largesses" [Comes Sacrarum Largitionum], one of the greatest officers of State, corresponding to our First Lord of the Treasury, whose name reminds us that all public expenditure was supposed to be the personal benevolence of His Sacred Majesty the Emperor, and all sources of public revenue his personal property. The Emperor, however, had actually in every province domains of his own, managed by the Count of the Privy Purse [Comes Rei Privatae], whose subordinate in Britain was entitled the "Accountant of the Privy Purse for Britain" [Rationalis Rei Privatae per Britanniam]. Both these Counts were "Illustrious" [illustres]; that is, of the highest order of the Imperial peerage below the "Right Noble" [nobilissimi] members of the Imperial Family.

C. 9.—Such and so complete was the system of civil and military government in Roman Britain up to the very point of its sudden and utter collapse. When the 'Notitia' was compiled, neither Celerinus, as he wrote, nor the officials whose functions and ranks he noted, could have dreamt that within ten short years the whole elaborate fabric would, so far as Britain was concerned, be swept away utterly and for ever. Yet so it was.

C. 10.—For what was left of the British Army now made a last effort to save the West for Rome, and once more set up Imperial Pretenders of its own.361 The first two of these, Marcus and Gratian, were speedily found unequal to the post, and paid the usual penalty of such incompetence; but the third, a private soldier named Constantine, all but succeeded in emulating the triumph of his great namesake. For four years (407-411) he was able to hold not only Britain, but Gaul and Spain also under his sceptre; and the wretched Honorius, the unworthy son and successor of Theodosius, who was cowering amid the marshes of Ravenna, and had murdered his champion Stilicho, was fain to recognize the usurper as a legitimate Augustus. Only by treachery was he put down at last, the traitor being the commander of his British forces, Gerontius. Both names continued for many an age favourites in British nomenclature, and both have been swept into the cycle of Arturian romance, the latter as "Geraint."

C. 11.—Neither Gerontius nor his soldiers ever got back to their old homes in Britain. What became of them we do not know. But Zosimus362 tells us that Honorius now sent a formal rescript to the British cities abrogating the Lex Julia, which forbade civilians to carry arms, and bidding them look to their own safety. For now the end had really come, and the Eternal City itself had been sacked by barbarian hands. Never before and never since does history record a sacked city so mildly treated by the conquerors. Heretics as the Visi-goths were, they never forgot that the vanquished Catholics were their fellow-Christians, and, barbarians as they were, they left an example of mercy in victory which puts to the blush much more recent Christian and civilized warfare.

C. 12.—But, for all that, the moral effect of Alaric's capture of Rome was portentous, and shook the very foundations of civilization throughout the world. To Jerome, in his cell at Bethlehem, the tidings came like the shock of an earthquake. Augustine, as he penned his 'De Civitate Dei,' felt the old world ended indeed, and the Kingdom of Heaven indeed at hand. And in Britain the whole elaborate system of Imperial civil and military government seems to have crumbled to the ground almost at once. It is noticeable that the rescript of Honorius is addressed simply to "the cities" of Britain, the local municipal officers of each several place. No higher authority remained. The Vicar of Britain, with his staff, the Count and Duke of the Britains with their soldiery, the Count of the Saxon Shore with his coastguard,—all were gone. It is possible that, as the deserted provincials learnt to combine for defence, the Dictators they chose from time to time to lead the national forces may have derived some of their authority from the remembrance of these old dignities. "The dragon of the great Pendragonship,"363 the tufa of Caswallon (633), and the purple of Cunedda364 may well have been derived (as Professor Rhys suggests) from this source. But practically the history of Roman Britain ends with a crash at the Fall of Rome.


Beginning of English Conquest—Vortigern—Jutes in Thanet—Battle of Stamford—Massacre of
Britons—Valentinian III.—Latest Roman coin found in Britain—Progress of Conquest—The
Cymry—Survival of Romano-British titles—Arturian Romances—Procopius—Belisarius—Roman
claims revived by Charlemagne—The British Empire.

D. 1.—Little remains to be told, and that little rests upon no contemporary authority known to us. In Gildas, the nearest, writing in the next century, we find little more than a monotonous threnody over the awful visitation of the English Conquest, the wholesale and utter destruction of cities, the desecration of churches, the massacre of clergy and people. Nennius (as, for the sake of convenience, modern writers mostly agree to call the unknown author of the 'Historia Britonum') gives us legends of British incompetence and Saxon treachery which doubtless represent the substantial features of the break-up, and preserve, quite possibly, even some of the details. Bede and the 'Anglo-Saxon Chronicle' assign actual dates to the various events, but we have no means of testing their accuracy.

D. 2.—Broadly we know that the unhappy civilians, who were not only without military experience, but had up to this moment been actually forbidden to carry arms, naturally proved unable to face the ferocious enemies who swarmed in upon them. They could neither hold the Wall against the Picts nor the coast against the Saxons. It may well be true that they chose a Dux Britannorum,365 and that his name may have been something like Vortigern, and that he (when a final appeal for Roman aid proved vain)366 may have taken into his pay (as Carausius did) the crews of certain pirate "keels" [chiulae],367 and settled them in Thanet. The very names of their English captains, "Hengist and Horsa," may not be so mythical

as critics commonly assume.368 And the tale of the victory at Stamford, when the spears of the Scottish invaders were cut to pieces by the swords of the English mercenaries,369 has a very true ring about it. So has also the sequel, which tells how, when the inevitable quarrel arose between employers and employed, the Saxon leader gave the signal for the fray by suddenly shouting to his men, Nimed eure saxes370 (i.e. "Draw your knives!"), and massacred the hapless Britons of Kent almost without resistance.

D. 3.—The date of this first English settlement is doubtful. Bede fixes it as 449, which agrees with the order of events in Gildas, and with the notice in Nennius that it was forty years after the end of Roman rule in Britain [transacto Romanorum in Britannia imperio]. But Nennius also declares that this was in the fourth year of Vortigern, and that his accession coincided with that of the nephew and successor of Honorius, Valentinian III., son of Galla Placidia, which would bring in the Saxons 428. It may perhaps be some very slight confirmation of the later date, that Valentinian is the last Emperor whose coins have been found in Britain.371

D. 4.—Anyhow, the arrival of the successive swarms of Anglo-Saxons from the mouth of the Elbe, and their hard-won conquest of Eastern Britain during the 5th century, is certain. The western half of the island, from Clydesdale southwards, resisted much longer, and, in spite of its long and straggling frontier, held together for more than a century. Not till the decisive victory of the Northumbrians at Chester (A.D. 607), and that of the West Saxons at Beandune (A.D. 614) was this Cymrian federation finally broken into three fragments, each destined shortly to disintegrate into an ever-shifting medley of petty principalities. Yet in each the ideal of national and racial unity embodied in the word Cymry372 long survived; and titles borne to this day by our Royal House, "Duke of Cornwall," "Prince of Wales," "Duke of Albany," are the far-off echoes, lingering in each, of the Roman "Comes Britanniae" and "Dux Britanniarum." The three feathers of the Principality may in like manner be traced to the tufa, or plume, borne before the supreme authority amongst the Romans of old, as the like are borne before the Supreme Head of the Roman Church to this day. And age after age the Cymric harpers sang of the days when British armies had marched in triumph to Rome, and the Empire had been won by British princes, till the exploits of their mystical "Arthur"373 became the nucleus of a whole cycle of mediaeval romance, and even, for a while, a real force in practical politics.374

D. 5.—And as the Britons never quite forgot their claims on the Empire, so the Empire never quite forgot its claims on Britain. How entirely the island was cut off from Rome we can best appreciate by the references to it in Procopius. This learned author, writing under Justinian, scarcely 150 years since the day when the land was fully Roman, conceives of Britannia and Brittia as two widely distant islands—the one off the coast of Spain, the other off the mouth of the Rhine.375 The latter is shared between the Angili, Phrissones,376 and Britons, and is divided from North to South377 by a mighty Wall, beyond which no mortal man can breathe. Hither are ferried over from Gaul by night the souls of the departed;378 the fishermen, whom a mysterious voice summons to the work, seeing no one, but perceiving their barks to be heavily sunk in the water, yet accomplishing the voyage with supernatural celerity.

D. 6.—About the same date Belisarius offered to the Goths,379 in exchange for their claim to Sicily, which his victories had already rendered practically nugatory, the Roman claims to Britain, "a much larger island," which were equally outside the scope of practical politics for the moment, but might at any favourable opportunity be once more brought forward. And, when the Western Empire was revived under Charlemagne, they were in fact brought forward, and actually submitted to by half the island. The Celtic princes of Scotland, the Anglians of Northumbria, and the Jutes of Kent alike owned the new Caesar as their Suzerain. And the claim was only abrogated by the triumph of the counter-claim first made by Egbert, emphasized by Edward the Elder, and repeated again and again by our monarchs their descendants, that the British Crown owes no allegiance to any potentate on earth, being itself not only Royal, but in the fullest sense Imperial.380


Survivals of Romano-British civilization—Romano-British Church—Legends of its origin—St.
Paul—St. Peter—Joseph of Arimathaea—Glastonbury—Historical notices—Claudia and Pudens
—Pomponia—Church of St. Pudentiana—Patristic references to Britain—Tertullian—Origen
—Legend of Lucius—Native Christianity—British Bishops at Councils—Testimony of Chrysostom
and Jerome.

E. 1.—Few questions have been more keenly debated than the extent to which Roman civilization in Britain survived the English Conquest. On the one hand we have such high authorities as Professor Freeman assuring us that our forefathers swept it away as ruthlessly and as thoroughly as the Saracens in Africa; on the other, those who consider that little more disturbance was wrought than by the Danish invasions. The truth probably lies between the two, but much nearer to the former than the latter. The substitution of an English for the Roman name of almost every Roman site in the country381 could scarcely have taken place had there been anything like continuity in their inhabitants. Even the Roman roads, as we have seen,382 received English designations. We may well believe that most Romano-British towns shared the fate of Anderida (the one recorded instance of destruction),383 and that the word "chester" was only applied to the Roman ruins by their destroyers.384 But such places as London, York, and Lincoln may well have lived on through the first generation of mere savage onslaught, after which the English gradually began to tolerate even for themselves a town life.

E. 2.—And though in the country districts the agricultural population were swept away pitilessly to make room for the invaders,385 till the fens of Ely386 and the caves of Ribblesdale387 became the only refuge of the vanquished, yet, undoubtedly, many must have been retained as slaves, especially amongst the women, to leaven the language of the conquerors with many a Latin word, and their ferocity with many a recollection of the gentler Roman past.

E. 3.—And there was one link with that past which not all the massacres and fire-raisings of the Conquest availed to break. The Romano-British populations might be slaughtered, the Romano-British towns destroyed, but the Romano-British Church lived on; the most precious and most abiding legacy bestowed by Rome upon our island.

E. 4.—The origin of that Church has been assigned by tradition to directly Apostolic sources. The often-quoted passage from Theodoret,388 of St. Paul having "brought help" to "the isles of the sea" [tais en to pelagei diakeimenais nêsois], can scarcely, however, refer to this island. No classical author ever uses the word [pelagos] of the Oceanic waters; and the epithet diakeime/nais [diakeimenais], coming, as it does, in connection with the Apostle's preaching in Italy and Spain, seems rather to point to the islands between these peninsulas—Sardinia, Corsica, and the Balearic Islands. But the well-known words of St. Clement of Rome,389 that St. Paul's missionary journeys extended to "the End of the West" [to terma tês duseôs], were, as early as the 6th century, held to imply a visit to Britain (for our island was popularly supposed by the ancients to lie west of Spain).390 The lines of Venantius (A.D. 580) even seem to contain a reference to the tradition that he landed at Portsmouth:
"Transit et Oceanum, vel qua facit insula portum,
 Quasque Britannus habet terras atque ultima Thule."

 ["Yea, through the ocean he passed,
 where the Port is made by an island,
 And through each British realm,
 and where the world endeth at Thule."]
E. 5.—The Menology of the Greek Church (6th century) ascribes the organization of the British Church to the visitation, not of St. Paul, but of St. Peter in person.
[O Petros ... ehis Bretannian paraginetai. Entha dô
cheirotribôsas [sic] kai polla tôn hakatanomatôn hethnôn
eis tôn tou Christou pistin epispasamenos ... kai pollous
toi logoi photisas tôs charitos, ekklaesias te sustêsamenos,
episkopous te kai presbuterous kai diakonous
cheipotonhêsas, dôdekatôi etei tou Kaisaros authis eis Rômên

["Peter ... cometh even unto Britain. Yea,
there abode he long, and many of the lawless folk did
he draw to the Faith of Christ ... and many did he
enlighten with the Word of Grace. Churches, too,
did he set up, and ordained bishops and priests and
deacons. And in the twelfth year of Caesar392 came he
again unto Rome."]
The 'Acta Sanctorum' also mentions this tradition (filtered through Simeon Metaphrastes), and adds that St. Peter was in Britain during Boadicea's rebellion, when he incurred great danger.

E. 6—The 'Synopsis Apostolorum,' ascribed to Dorotheus (A.D. 180), but really a 6th-century compilation, gives us yet another Apostolic preacher, St. Simon Zelotes. This is probably due to a mere confusion between [Mabritania] [Mauretania] and [Bretannia]. But it is impossible to deny that the Princes of the Apostles may both have visited Britain, nor indeed is there anything essentially improbable in their doing so. We know that Britain was an object of special interest at Rome during the period of the Conquest, and it would be quite likely that the idea of simultaneously conquering this new Roman dominion for Christ should suggest itself to the two Apostles so specially connected with the Roman Church.393

E. 7.—But while we may possibly accept this legend, it is otherwise with the famous and beautiful story which ascribes the foundation of our earliest church at Glastonbury to the pilgrimage of St. Joseph of Arimathaea, whose staff, while he rested on Weary-all Hill, took root, and became the famous winter thorn, which
"Blossoms at Christmas, mindful of our Lord,"394
and who, accordingly, set up, hard by, a little church of wattle to be the centre of local Christianity.

E. 8.—Such was the tale which accounted for the fact that this humble edifice developed into the stateliest sanctuary of all Britain. We first find it, in its final shape, in Geoffrey of Monmouth (1150); but already in the 10th century the special sanctity of the shrine was ascribed to a supernatural origin,395 as a contemporary Life of St. Dunstan assures us; and it is declared, in an undisputed Charter of Edgar, to be "the first church in the Kingdom built by the disciples of Christ." But no earlier reference is known; for the passages cited from Gildas and Melkinus are quite untrustworthy. So striking a phenomenon as the winter thorn would be certain to become an object of heathen devotion;396 and, as usual, the early preachers would Christianize the local cult, as they Christianized the Druidical figment of a Holy Cup (perhaps also local in its origin), into the sublime mysticism of the Sangreal legend, connected likewise with Joseph of Arimathaea.397

E. 9.—That the original church of Glaston was really of wattle is more than probable, for the remains of British buildings thus constructed have been found abundantly in the neighbouring peat. The Arimathaean theory of its consecration became so generally accepted that at the Council of Constance (1419) precedence was actually accorded to our Bishops as representing the senior Church of Christendom. But the oldest variant of the legend says nothing about Arimathaea, but speaks only of an undetermined "Joseph" as the leader [decurio]398 of twelve missionary comrades who with him settled down at Glastonbury. And this may well be true. Such bands (as we see in the Life of Columba) were the regular system in Celtic mission work, and survived in that of the Preaching Friars:
"For thirteen is a Covent, as I guess."399
E. 10.—And though such high authorities as Mr. Haddan have come to the conclusion that Christianity in Britain was confined to a small minority even amongst the Roman inhabitants of the island, and almost vanished with them, yet the catena of references to British converts can scarcely be thus set aside. They begin in Apostolic times and in special connection with St. Paul. Martial tells us of a British princess named Claudia Rufina400 (very probably the daughter of that Claudius Cogidubnus whom we meet in Tacitus as at once a British King and an Imperial Legate), whose beauty and wit made no little sensation in Rome; whither she had doubtless been sent at once for education and as a hostage for her father's fidelity. And one of the most beautiful of his Epigrams speaks of the marriage of this foreigner to a Roman of high family named Pudens, belonging to the Gens Aemilia (of which the Pauline family formed a part):
"Claudia, Rufe, meo nubet peregrina Pudenti,
Macte esto taedis, O Hymenaee, suis.
Diligat illa senem quondam; sed et ipsa marito,
Tunc quoque cum fuerit, non videatur anus."401

Claudia, from far-off climes, my Pudens weds:
With choicest bliss, O Hymen, crown their heads!
May she still love her spouse when gray and old,
He in her age unfaded charms behold.]
It may have been in consequence of this marriage that Pudens joined with Claudius Cogidubnus in setting up the Imperial Temple at Chichester.402 And the fact that Claudia was an adopted member of the Rufine family shows that she was connected with the Gens Pomponia to which this family belonged.

E. 11.—Now Aulus Plautius, the conqueror of Britain, had married a Pomponia, who in A.D. 57 was accused of practising an illicit religion, and, though pronounced guiltless by her husband (to whose domestic tribunal she was left, as Roman Law permitted), passed the rest of her life in retirement.403 When we read of an illicit religion in connection with Britain, our first thought is, naturally, that Druidism is intended.404 But there are strong reasons for supposing that Pomponia was actually a Christian. The names of her family are found in one of the earliest Christian catacombs in Rome, that of Calixtus; and that Christianity had its converts in very high quarters we know from the case of Clemens and Domitilla, closely related to the Imperial throne.

E. 12.—Turning next to St. Paul's Second Epistle to Timothy, we find, in close connection, the names of Pudens and Claudia (along with that of the future Pope Linus) amongst the salutations from Roman Christians. And recent excavations have established the fact that the house of Pudens was used for Christian worship at this date, and is now represented by the church known as St. Pudentiana.405 That this should have been so proves that this Pudens was no slave going under his master's name (as was sometimes done), but a man of good position in Rome. Short of actual proof it would be hard to imagine a series of evidences more morally convincing that the Pudens and Claudia of Martial are the Pudens and Claudia of St. Paul, and that they, as well as Pomponia, were Christians. Whether, then, St. Paul did or did not actually visit Britain, the earliest British Christianity is, at least, closely connected with his name.

E. 13.—Neither legendary nor historical sources tell us of any further development of British Christianity till the latter days of the 2nd century. Then, however, it had become sufficiently widespread to furnish a common-place for ecclesiastical declamation on the all-conquering influence of the Gospel. Both Tertullian and Origen406 thus use it. The former numbers in his catalogue of believing countries even the districts of Britain beyond the Roman pale, Britannorum inaccessa Romanis loca, Christo vero subdita407. And in this lies the interest of his reference, as pointing to the native rather than the Roman element being the predominant factor in the British Church. For just at this period comes in the legend preserved by Bede,408 that a mission was sent to Britain by Pope Eleutherius409 in response to an appeal from "Lucius Britanniae Rex." The story, which Bede probably got from the 'Catalogus Pontificum,'410 may be apocryphal; but it would never have been invented had British Christianity been found merely or mainly in the Roman veneer of the population. Modern criticism finds in it this kernel of truth, that the persecution which gave the Gallican Church the martyrs of Lyons, also sent her scattered refugees as missionaries into the less dangerous regions of Britain;—those remoter parts, in especial, where even the long arm of the Imperial Government could not reach them.

E. 14.—The Picts, however, as a nation, remained savage heathens even to the 7th century, and the bulk of our Christian population must have been within the Roman pale; but little vexed, it would seem, by persecution, till it came into conflict with the thorough-going Imperialism of Diocletian.411 Its martyrs were then numbered, according to Gildas, by thousands, according to Bede by hundreds; and their chief, St. Alban, at least, is a fairly established historical entity.412 Nor is there any reason to doubt that after Constantine South Britain was as fully Christian as any country in Europe. In the earliest days of his reign (A.D. 314) we find three bishops,413 together with a priest and a deacon, representing414 the British Church at the Council of Arles (which, amongst other things, condemned the marriage of the "innocent divorcee"415). And the same number figure in the Council of Ariminum (360), as the only prelates (out of the 400) who deigned to accept from the Emperor the expenses of their journey and attendance.

E. 15.—This Council was called by Constantius II. in the semi-Arian interest, and not allowed to break up till after repudiating the Nicene formula. But the lapse was only for a moment. Before the decade was out Athanasius could write of Britain as notoriously orthodox,416 and before the century closes we have frequent references to our island as a fully Christian and Catholic land. Chrysostom speaks of its churches and its altars and "the power of the Word" in its pulpits,417 of its diligent study of Scripture and Catholic doctrine,418 of its acceptance of Catholic discipline,419 of its use of Catholic formulae: "Whithersoever thou goest," he says, "throughout the whole world, be it to India, to Africa, or to Britain, thou wilt find In the beginning was the Word."420 Jerome, in turn, tells of British pilgrimages to Jerusalem421 and to Rome;422 and, in his famous passage on the world-wide Communion of the Roman See, mentions Britain by name: "Nec altera Romanae Urbis Ecclesia, altera totius orbis existimanda est. Et Galliae, et Britanniae, et Africa, et Persis, et Oriens, et Indio, et omnes barbarae nationes, unum Christum adorant, unam observant regulam veritatis."423

["Neither is the Church of the City of Rome to be held one, and that of the whole world another. Both Gaul and Britain and Africa and Persia and the East and India, and all the barbarian nations, adore one Christ, observe one Rule of Truth."]


British Missionaries—Ninias—Patrick—Beatus—Heresiarchs—Pelagius Fastidius—Pelagianism
stamped out by Germanus—The Alleluia Battle—Romano-British churches—Why so seldom

F. 1.—The fruits of all this vigorous Christian life soon showed themselves in the Church of Britain by the evolution of noteworthy individual Christians. First in order comes Ninias, the Apostle of the Southern Picts, commissioned to the work, after years of training at Rome, by Pope Siricius (A.D. 394), and fired by the example of St. Martin, the great prelate of Gaul. To this saint (or, to speak more exactly, under his invocation) Ninias, on hearing of his death in A.D. 400, dedicated his newly-built church at Whithern424 in Galloway, the earliest recorded example of this kind of dedication in Britain.425 Galloway may have been the native home of Ninias, and was certainly the head-quarters of his ministry.

F. 2.—The work of Ninias amongst the Picts was followed in the next generation by the more abiding work of St. Patrick amongst the Scots of Ireland. Nay, even the Continent was indebted to British piety; though few British visitors to the Swiss Oberland remember that the Christianity they see around them is due to the zeal of a British Mission. Yet there seems no solid reason for doubting that so it is. Somewhere about the time of St. Patrick, two British priests, Beatus and Justus, entered the district by the Brunig Pass, and set up their first church at Einigen, near Thun. There Justus abode as the settled Missioner of the neighbourhood, while Beatus made his home in the ivy-clad cave above the lake which still bears his name,426 sailing up and down with the Gospel message, and evangelizing the valleys and uplands now so familiar to his fellow-countrymen—Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Mürren, Kandersteg.

F. 3.—And while the light of the Gospel was thus spreading on every side from our land, Britain was also becoming all too famous as the nurse of error. The British Pelagius,427 who erred concerning the doctrine of free-will, grew to be a heresiarch of the first order;428 and his follower Fastidius, or Faustus, the saintly Abbot of Lerins in the Hyères, the friend of Sidonius Apollinaris,429 was, in his day, only less renowned. He asserted the materiality of the soul. Both were able writers; and Pelagius was the first to adopt the plan of promulgating his heresies not as his own, but as the tenets of supposititious individuals of his acquaintance.

F. 4.—Pelagianism spread so widely in Britain that the Catholics implored for aid from over-sea. St. Germanus of Auxerre, and St. Lupus, Bishop of Troyes (whose sanctity had disarmed the ferocity even of Attila), came430 accordingly (in 429) and vindicated the faith in a synod held at Verulam so successfully that the neighbouring shrine of St. Alban was the scene of a special service of thanksgiving. In a second Mission, fifteen years later, Germanus set the seal to his work, stamping out throughout all the land both this new heresy and such remains of heathenism as were still to be found in Southern Britain. While thus engaged on the Border he found his work endangered by a raiding host of Picts or Saxons, or both. The Saint, who had been a military chieftain in his youth, promptly took the field at the head of his flock, many of whom were but newly baptized. It was Easter Eve, and he took advantage of the sacred ceremonies of that holy season, which were then actually performed by night. From the New Fire, the "Lumen Christi," was kindled a line of beacons along the Christian lines, and when Germanus intoned the threefold Easter Alleluia, the familiar strain was echoed from lip to lip throughout the host. Stricken with panic at the sudden outburst of light and song, the enemy, without a blow, broke and fled.431

F. 5.—This story, as told by Constantius, and confirmed by both Nennius and Bede, incidentally furnishes us with something of a key to the main difficulty in accepting the widely-spread Romano-British Christianity to which the foregoing citations testify. What, it is asked, has become of all the Romano-British churches? Why are no traces of them found amongst the abundant Roman remains all over the land? That they were the special objects of destruction at the Saxon invasion we learn from Gildas. But this does not account for their very foundations having disappeared; yet at Silchester432 alone have modern excavations unearthed any even approximately certain example of them. Where are all the rest?

F. 6.—The question is partly answered when we read that the soldiers of Germanus had erected in their camp a church of wattle, and that such was the usual material of which, even as late as 446, British churches were built (as at Glastonbury). Seldom indeed would such leave any trace behind them; and thus the country churches of Roman Britain would be sought in vain by excavators. In the towns, however, stone or brick would assuredly be used, and to account for the paucity of ecclesiastical ruins three answers may be suggested.

F. 7.—First, the number of continuously unoccupied Romano-British cities is very small indeed. Except at Silchester, Anderida, and Uriconium, almost every one has become an English town. But when this took place early in the English settlement of the land, the ruins of the Romano-British churches would still be clearly traceable at the conversion of the English, and would be rebuilt (as St. Martin's at Canterbury was in all probability rebuilt)433 for the use of English Christianity, the old material434 being worked up into the new edifices. It is probable that many of our churches thus stand on the very spot where the Romano-British churches stood of old. But this very fact would obliterate the remains of these churches.

F. 8.—Secondly, it is very possible that many of the heathen temples may, after the edict of Theodosius (A.D. 392), have been turned into churches (like the Pantheon at Rome), so that their remains may mark ecclesiastical sites. There are reasons for believing that in various places, such as St. Paul's, London, St. Peter's, Cambridge, and St. Mary's, Ribchester, Christian worship did actually thus succeed Pagan on the same site.

F. 9.—Thirdly, as Lanciani points out, the earliest Christian churches were simply the ordinary dwelling-houses of such wealthier converts as were willing to permit meetings for worship beneath their roof, which in time became formally consecrated to that purpose. Such a dwelling-house usually consisted of an oblong central hall, with a pillared colonnade, opening into a roofed cloister or peristyle on either side, at one end into a smaller guest-room [tablinum], at the other into the porch of entry. The whole was arranged thus: [Illustration removed]

It will be readily seen that we have here a building on the lines of an ordinary church. The small original congregation would meet, like other guests, in the reception-room. As numbers increased, the hall and adjoining cloisters would have to be used (the former being roofed in); the reception-room being reserved for the most honoured members, and ultimately becoming the chancel of a fully-developed church, with nave and aisles complete.435 It may be, therefore, that some of the Roman villas found in Britain were really churches.436

F. 10.—This, however, is a less probable explanation of the absence of ecclesiastical remains; and the large majority of Romano-British church sites are, as I believe, still in actual use amongst us for their original purpose. And it may be considered as fairly proved, that before Britain was cut off from the Empire the Romano-British Church had a rite437 and a vigorous corporate life of its own, which the wave of heathen invasion could not wholly submerge. It lived on, shattered, perhaps, and disorganized, but not utterly crushed, to be strengthened in due time by a closer union with its parent stem, through the Mission of Augustine, to feel the reflex glow of its own missionary efforts in the fervour of Columba and his followers,438 and, finally, to form an integral part of that Ecclesia Anglicana whose influence knit our country into one, and inspired the Great Charter of our constitutional liberties.439 Her faith and her freedom are the abiding debt which Britain owes to her connection with Rome.

[316] Probus was fond of thus dealing with his captives. He settled certain Franks on the Black Sea, where they seized shipping and sailed triumphantly back to the Rhine, raiding on their way the shores of Asia Minor, Greece, and Africa, and even storming Syracuse. They ultimately took service under Carausius. [See Eumenius, Panegyric on Constantius.] The Vandals he had captured on the Rhine, after their great defeat by Aurelius on the Danube.

[317] This name may also echo some tradition of barbarians from afar having camped there.

[318] Eutropius (A.D. 360), 'Breviarium,' x. 21.

[319] By the analogy of Saxon and of Lombard (Lango-bardi = "Long-spears"), this seems the most probable original derivation of the name. In later ages it was, doubtless, supposed to have to do with frank = free. The franca is described by Procopius ('De Bell. Goth.' ii. 25.), and figures in the Song of Maldon.

[320] See Florence of Worcester (A.D. 1138); also the Song of Beowulf.

[321] Eutropius, ix. 21.

[322] The Franks of Carausius had already swept that sea (see p. 219).

[323] Mamertinus, 'Paneg. in Maximian.'

[324] Caesar, originally a mere family name, was adapted first as an Imperial title by the Flavian Emperors.

[325] Henry of Huntingdon makes her the daughter of Coel, King of Colchester; the "old King Cole" of our nursery rhyme, and as mythical as other eponymous heroes. Bede calls her a concubine, a slur derived from Eutropius (A.D. 360), who calls the connection obscurius matrimonium (Brev. x. 1).

[326] Eumenius, 'Panegyric on Constantine,' c. 8.

[327] Eumenius, 'Panegyric on Constantius,' c. 6.

[328] Salisbury Plain has been suggested as the field.

[329] The historian Victor, writing about 360 A.D., ascribes the recovery of Britain to this officer rather than to the personal efforts of Constantius. The suggestion in the text is an endeavour to reconcile his statement with the earlier panegyrics of Eumenius.

[330] See p. 59. An inscription found near Cirencester proves that place to have been in Britannia Prima. It is figured by Haverfield ('Eng. Hist. Rev.' July 1896), and runs as follows: Septimius renovat Primae Provinciae Rector Signum et erectam prisca religione columnam. This is meant for two hexameter lines, and refers to Julian's revival of Paganism (see p. 233).

[331] Specimens of these are given by Harnack in the 'Theologische Literaturzeitung' of January 20 and March 17, 1894.

[332] See Sozomen, 'Hist. Eccl.' I, 6.

[333] See p. 123.

[334] The name commonly given to the really unknown author of the 'History of the Britons.' He states that the tombstone of Constantius was still to be seen in his day, and gives Mirmantum or Miniamantum as an alternative name for Segontium. Bangor and Silchester are rival claimants for the name, and one 13th-century MS. declares York to be signified.

[335] The Sacred Monogram known as Labarum. Both name and emblem were very possibly adapted from the primitive cult of the Labrys, or Double Axe, filtered through Mithraism. The figure is never found as a Christian emblem before Constantine, though it appears as a Heathen symbol upon the coinage of Decius (A.D. 250). See Parsons, 'Non-Christian Cross,' p. 148.

[336] Hilary (A.D. 358), 'De Synodis,' § 2.

[337] Ammianus Marcellinus, 'Hist.' XX. I.

[338] Jerome calls her "fertilis tyrannorum provincia." ['Ad Ctesiph.' xliii.] It is noteworthy that in all ecclesiastical notices of this period Britain is always spoken of as a single province, in spite of Diocletian's reforms.

[339] See p. 202.

[340] These Scotch pirate craft (as it would seem) are described by Vegetius (A.D. 380) as skiffs (scaphae), which, the better to escape observation, were painted a neutral tint all over, ropes and all, and were thus known as Picts. The crews were dressed in the same colour—like our present khaki. These vessels were large open boats rowing twenty oars a side, and also used sails. The very scientifically constructed vessels which have been found in the silt of the Clyde estuary may have been Picts. See p. 80.

[341] Henry of Huntingdon, 'History of the English,' ii. I.

[342] Murat, CCLXIII. 4.

[343] See p. 225.

[344] Jerome, in his treatise against Jovian, declares that he could bear personal testimony to this.

[345] See p. 194.

[346] Marcellinus dwells upon the chopping seas which usually prevailed in the Straits; and of the rapid tide, which is also referred to by Ausonius (380), "Quum virides algas et rubra corallia nudat Aestus," etc.

[347] To him is probably due the reconstruction of the "Vallum" as a defence against attacks from the south, such as the Scots were now able to deliver. See p. 207.

[348] Marcellinus, 'Hist.' XXVIII. 3. See p. 202.

[349] 'De Quarto Consulatu Honorii,' I. 31.

[350] Theodosius married Galla, daughter of Valentinian I.

[351] For the later migrations to Brittany see Elton's 'Origins,' p. 350. Samson, Archbishop of York, is said to have fled thither in 500, and settled at Dol. Sidonius Apollinaris speaks of Britons settled by the Loire.

[352] 'In Primum Consulatum Stilichonis,' II. 247.

[353] Alone amongst the legions it is not mentioned in the 'Notitia' as attached to any province.

[354] 'Epithalamium Paladii,' 85.

[355] The first printed edition was published 1552.

[356] See p. 90.

[357] Portus Adurni. Some authorities, however, hold this to be Shoreham, others Portsmouth, others Aldrington. The remaining posts are less disputed. They were Branodunum (Brancaster), Garianonum (Yarmouth), Othona (Althorne[?] in Essex), Regulbium (Reculver), Rutupiae (Richborough), Lemanni (Lyminge), Dubris (Dover), and Anderida.

[358] There were six "Counts" altogether in the Western Empire, and twelve "Dukes." Both Counts and Dukes were of "Respectable" rank, the second in the Diocletian hierarchy.

[359] See p. 237.

[360] This word, however, may perhaps signify Imperial rather than London.

[361] Olympiodorus (A.D. 425).

[362] 'Hist. Nov.' vi. 10. He is a contemporary authority.

[363] Tennyson, 'Guinevere,' 594. The dragon standard first came into use amongst the Imperial insignia under Augustus, and the red dragon is mentioned by Nennius as already the emblem of Briton as opposed to Saxon. The mediaeval Welsh poems speak of the legendary Uther, father of Arthur, as "Pendragon," equivalent to Head-Prince, of Britain.

[364] See Rhys, 'Celtic Britain,' pp. 116, 136.

[365] Gildas (xxiii,) so calls him.

[366] "The groans of the Britons" are said by Bede to have been forwarded to Aetius "thrice Consul," i.e. in 446, on the eve of the great struggle with Attila.

[367] Nennius (xxviii.) so calls them, and they are commonly supposed to have been clinker-built like the later Viking ships. But Sidonius Apollinaris (455) speaks of them as a kind of coracle. See p. 37.
"Quin et Armorici piratam Saxona tractus
Sperabant, cui pelle salum sulcare Britannum
Ludus, et assuto glaucum mare findere lembo."

      ('Carm.' vii. 86.)

[368] See Elton, 'Origins,' ch. xii.

[369] Henry of Huntingdon, 'Hist. of the English,' ii. 1.

[370] Nennius, xlix. This is the reading of the oldest MSS.; others are Nimader sexa and Enimith saxas. The regular form would be Nimap eowre seaxas.

[371] A coin of Valentinian was discovered in the Cam valley in 1890. On the reverse is a Latin Cross surrounded by a laurel wreath.

[372] Cymry signifies confederate, and was the name (quite probably an older racial appellation revived) adopted by the Western Britons in their resistance to the Saxon advance.

[373] Arthur is first mentioned (in Nennius and the 'Life of Gildas') as a Damnonian "tyrant" (i.e. a popular leader with no constitutional status), fighting against "the kings of Kent." This notice must be very early—before the West Saxons came in between Devon and the Kentish Jutes. His early date is confirmed by his mythical exploits being located in every Cymric region—Cornwall, Wales, Strathclyde, and even Brittany.

[374] The ambition of Henry V. for Continental dominion was undoubtedly thus quickened.

[375] Procopius, 'De Bello Gothico,' iv. 20.

[376] These presumably represent the Saxons, who were next-door neighbours to the Frisians of Holland. But Mr. Haverfield's latest (1902) map makes Frisians by name occupy Lothian.

[377] Ptolemy's map shows how this error arose; Scotland, by some extraordinary blunder, being therein represented as an eastward extension at right angles to England, with the Mull of Galloway as its northernmost point.

[378] This fable probably arose from the mythical visit of Ulysses (see p. 64 n.), who, as Claudian ('In Rut.' i. 123) tells, here found the Mouth of Hades.

[379] Procopius, 'De Bello Gothico,' ii. 6.

[380] See my 'Alfred in the Chroniclers,' p. 6.

[381] See p. 175.

[382] See p. 168.

[383] 'Anglo-Saxon Chronicle,' A. 491: "This year Ella and Cissa stormed Anderida and slew all that dwelt therein, so that not one Briton was there left."

[384] Chester itself, one of the last cities to fall, is called "a waste chester" as late as the days of Alfred ('A.-S. Chron.,' A. 894).

[385] In the districts conquered after the Conversion of the English there was no such extermination, the vanquished Britons being fellow-Christians.

[386] For the British survival in the Fenland see my 'History of Cambs.,' III., § 11.

[387] Romano-British relics have been found in the Victoria Cave, Settle.

[388] 'Comm. on Ps. CXVI.' written about 420 A.D.

[389] 'Epist. ad. Corinth.' 5.

[390] Catullus, in the Augustan Age, refers to Britain as the "extremam Occidentis," and Aristides (A.D. 160) speaks of it as "that great island opposite Iberia."

[391] 'Menol. Graec.,' June 29. A suspiciously similar passage (on March 15) speaks of British ordinations by Aristobulus, the disciple of St. Paul.

[392] Nero. This would be A.D. 66.

[393] It is less generally known than it should be that the head of St. Paul as well as of St. Peter has always figured on the leaden seal attached to a Papal Bull.

[394] Tennyson, 'Holy Grail,' 53. This thorn, a patriarchal tree of vast dimensions, was destroyed during the Reformation. But many of its descendants exist about England (propagated from cuttings brought by pilgrims), and still retain its unique season for flowering. In all other respects they are indistinguishable from common thorns.

[395] See also William of Malmesbury, 'Hist. Regum,' § 20.

[396] See p. 62.

[397] See Introduction to Tennyson's 'Holy Grail' (G.C. Macaulay), p. xxix.

[398] See Bp. Browne, 'Church before Augustine,' p. 46.

[399] Chaucer, 'Sumpnour's Tale.'

[400] Epig. xi. 54: "Claudia coeruleis ... Rufina Britannis Edita."

[401] See p. 141.

[402] Epig. v. 13.

[403] Tacitus, 'Ann.' xiii. 32.

[404] See p. 69.

[405] Lanciani, 'Pagan and Christian Rome,' p. 110. The house was bought by Pudens from Aquila and Priscilla, and made a titular church by Pius I.

[406] Homily 4 on Ezechiel, 6 on St. Luke.

[407] 'Adversus Judaeos,' c. 7.

[408] 'Eccl. Hist.' iv.

[409] Pope from 177-191.

[410] Haddan and Stubbs, i. 25. The 'Catalogus' was composed early in the 4th century, but the incident is a later insertion.

[411] See p. 225.

[412] He is mentioned by Gildas, along with Julius and Aaron of Caerleon. These last were already locally canonized in the 9th century, as the 'Liber Landavensis' testifies; and the sites of their respective churches could still be traced, according to Bishop Godwin, in the 17th century.

[413] Eborius of York, Restitutus of London, and Adelfius of "Colonia Londinensium." The last word is an obvious misreading. Haddan and Stubbs ('Concilia,' p. 7) suggest Legionensium, i.e. Caerleon.

[414] It is more reasonable to assume this than to imagine, with Mr. French, that these three formed the entire British episcopate. And there is reason to suppose that York, London, and Caerleon were metropolitan sees.

[415] Canon x.: De his qui conjuges suas in adulterio deprehendunt, et iidem sunt fideles, et prohibentur nubere; Placuit ... ne viventibus uxoribus suis, licet adulteris, alias accipiant. [Haddan, 'Concilia,' p. 7.]

[416] 'Ad Jovian' (A.D. 363).

[417] 'Contra Judaeos' (A.D. 387).

[418] 'Serm. de Util. Lect. Script.'

[419] Hom. xxviii., in II. Corinth.

[420] This text seems from very early days to have been a sort of Christian watchword (being, as it were, an epitome of the Faith). The Coronation Oath of our English Kings is still, by ancient precedent, administered on this passage, i.e. the Book is opened for the King's kiss at this point. In mediaeval romance we find the words considered a charm against ghostly foes; and to this day the text is in use as a phylactery amongst the peasantry of Ireland.

[421] Ep. xlix. ad Paulinum. These pilgrimages are also mentioned by Palladius (420) and Theodoret (423).

[422] Ep. lxxxiv. ad Oceanum.

[423] Ep. ci. ad Evang.

[424] Whithern (in Latin Casa Candida) probably derived its name from the white rough-casting with which the dark stone walls of this church were covered, a strange sight to Pictish eyes, accustomed only to wooden buildings.

[425] The practice, now so general, of dedicating a church to a saint unconnected with the locality, was already current at Rome. But hitherto Britain had retained the more primitive habit, by which (if a church was associated with any particular name) it was called after the saint who first built or used it, or, like St. Alban's, the martyr who suffered on the spot. Besides Whithern, the church of Canterbury was dedicated about this time to St. Martin, showing the close ecclesiastical sympathy between Gaul and Britain.

[426] The cave is on the northern shore of the Thuner-See, near Sundlauenen. Beatus is said to have introduced sailing into the Oberland by spreading his mantle to the steady breeze which blows down the lake by night and up it during the day. The name of Justus is preserved in the Justis-thal near Merlingen.

[427] This name is merely the familiar Welsh Morgan, which signifies sea-born, done into Greek.

[428] See Orosius, 'De Arbit. Lib.,' and other authorities in Haddan and Stubbs.

[429] Sidonius, Ep. ix. 3.

[430] Constantius, the biographer of Germanus, says they were sent by a Council of Gallican Bishops; but Prosper of Aquitaine (who was in Rome at the time) declares they were commissioned by Pope Celestine. Both statements are probably true.

[431] The lives of Germanus, Patrick, and Ninias will be found in a trustworthy and well-told form in Miss Arnold-Foster's 'Studies in Church Dedication.'

[432] See p. 185.

[433] Bede, 'Eccl. Hist.' I. xxvi.

[434] Many existing churches are more or less built of Roman material. The tower of St. Albans is a notable example, and that of Stoke-by-Nayland, near Colchester. At Lyminge, near Folkestone, so much of the church is thus constructed that many antiquaries have believed it to be a veritable Roman edifice.

[435] See Lanciani, 'Pagan and Christian Rome,' p. 115.

[436] At Frampton, near Dorchester, and Chedworth, near Cirencester, stones bearing the Sacred Monogram have been found amongst the ruins of Roman "villas."

[437] The British rite was founded chiefly on the Gallican, and differed from the Roman in the mode of administering baptism, in certain minutiae of the Mass, in making Wednesday as well as Friday a weekly fast, in the shape of the sacerdotal tonsure, in the Kalendar (especially with regard to the calculation of Easter), and in the recitation of the Psalter. From Canon XVI. of the Council of Cloveshoo (749) it appears that the observance of the Rogation Days constituted another difference.

[438] The Mission of St. Columba the Irishman to Britain was a direct result of the Mission of St. Patrick the Briton to Ireland.

[439] Magna Charta opens with the words Ecclesia Anglicana libera sit; and the Barons who won it called themselves "The Army of the Church."


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