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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
[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,
"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
["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."]
stamped out by Germanus—The
Alleluia Battle—Romano-British churches—Why so
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
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
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
 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.
 This name may also echo some tradition of barbarians from
afar having camped there.
 Eutropius (A.D. 360), 'Breviarium,' x. 21.
 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.
 See Florence of Worcester (A.D. 1138); also the Song of
 Eutropius, ix. 21.
 The Franks of Carausius had already swept that sea
(see p. 219).
 Mamertinus, 'Paneg. in Maximian.'
 Caesar, originally a mere family name, was adapted
first as an Imperial title by the Flavian Emperors.
 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).
 Eumenius, 'Panegyric on Constantine,' c. 8.
 Eumenius, 'Panegyric on Constantius,' c. 6.
 Salisbury Plain has been suggested as the field.
 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
 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).
 Specimens of these are given by Harnack in the
'Theologische Literaturzeitung' of January 20 and March 17, 1894.
 See Sozomen, 'Hist. Eccl.' I, 6.
 See p. 123.
 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.
 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.
 Hilary (A.D. 358), 'De Synodis,' § 2.
 Ammianus Marcellinus, 'Hist.' XX. I.
 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.
 See p. 202.
 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.
 Henry of Huntingdon, 'History of the English,' ii. I.
 Murat, CCLXIII. 4.
 See p. 225.
 Jerome, in his treatise against Jovian, declares
that he could bear personal testimony to this.
 See p. 194.
 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.
 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.
 Marcellinus, 'Hist.' XXVIII. 3. See p. 202.
 'De Quarto Consulatu Honorii,' I. 31.
 Theodosius married Galla, daughter of Valentinian I.
 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.
 'In Primum Consulatum Stilichonis,' II. 247.
 Alone amongst the legions it is not mentioned
in the 'Notitia' as attached to any province.
 'Epithalamium Paladii,' 85.
 The first printed edition was published 1552.
 See p. 90.
 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.
 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.
 See p. 237.
 This word, however, may perhaps signify Imperial
rather than London.
 Olympiodorus (A.D. 425).
 'Hist. Nov.' vi. 10. He is a contemporary authority.
 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.
 See Rhys, 'Celtic Britain,' pp. 116, 136.
 Gildas (xxiii,) so calls him.
 "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.
 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.)
 See Elton, 'Origins,' ch. xii.
 Henry of Huntingdon, 'Hist. of the English,' ii. 1.
 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.
 A coin of Valentinian was discovered in the Cam valley
in 1890. On the reverse is a Latin Cross surrounded by a laurel
 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
 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.
 The ambition of Henry V. for Continental dominion was
undoubtedly thus quickened.
 Procopius, 'De Bello Gothico,' iv. 20.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 Procopius, 'De Bello Gothico,' ii. 6.
 See my 'Alfred in the Chroniclers,' p. 6.
 See p. 175.
 See p. 168.
 '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."
 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).
 In the districts conquered after the Conversion of
the English there was no such extermination, the vanquished Britons
 For the British survival in the Fenland see my
'History of Cambs.,' III., § 11.
 Romano-British relics have been found in the Victoria
 'Comm. on Ps. CXVI.' written about 420 A.D.
 'Epist. ad. Corinth.' 5.
 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."
 'Menol. Graec.,' June 29. A suspiciously similar passage
(on March 15) speaks of British ordinations by Aristobulus, the
disciple of St. Paul.
 Nero. This would be A.D. 66.
 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.
 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.
 See also William of Malmesbury, 'Hist. Regum,' § 20.
 See p. 62.
 See Introduction to Tennyson's 'Holy Grail' (G.C.
Macaulay), p. xxix.
 See Bp. Browne, 'Church before Augustine,' p. 46.
 Chaucer, 'Sumpnour's Tale.'
 Epig. xi. 54: "Claudia coeruleis ... Rufina
 See p. 141.
 Epig. v. 13.
 Tacitus, 'Ann.' xiii. 32.
 See p. 69.
 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.
 Homily 4 on Ezechiel, 6 on St. Luke.
 'Adversus Judaeos,' c. 7.
 'Eccl. Hist.' iv.
 Pope from 177-191.
 Haddan and Stubbs, i. 25. The 'Catalogus' was composed
early in the 4th century, but the incident is a later insertion.
 See p. 225.
 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.
 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,
 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.
 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.]
 'Ad Jovian' (A.D. 363).
 'Contra Judaeos' (A.D. 387).
 'Serm. de Util. Lect. Script.'
 Hom. xxviii., in II. Corinth.
 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
 Ep. xlix. ad Paulinum. These pilgrimages are also
mentioned by Palladius (420) and Theodoret (423).
 Ep. lxxxiv. ad Oceanum.
 Ep. ci. ad Evang.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 This name is merely the familiar Welsh Morgan,
which signifies sea-born, done into Greek.
 See Orosius, 'De Arbit. Lib.,' and other authorities in
Haddan and Stubbs.
 Sidonius, Ep. ix. 3.
 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.
 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.'
 See p. 185.
 Bede, 'Eccl. Hist.' I. xxvi.
 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.
 See Lanciani, 'Pagan and Christian Rome,' p. 115.
 At Frampton, near Dorchester, and Chedworth, near
Cirencester, stones bearing the Sacred Monogram have been found
amongst the ruins of Roman "villas."
 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.
 The Mission of St. Columba the Irishman to Britain was a
direct result of the Mission of St. Patrick the Briton to Ireland.
 Magna Charta opens with the words Ecclesia Anglicana
libera sit; and the Barons who won it called themselves "The
Army of the Church."