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to obey their generals, while the Britons went to battle like a wild disorderly multitude. When the Romans had subdued all the south of the island, they advanced into the northern division, which we call Scotland, but the Romans named it Caledonia.
They did not succeed so well there; for they could not conquer the tribes who lived in the mountains, and the Roman soldiers did not find much food or shelter in a country which was so full of barren moors, rocks, and morasses.
In Britain the Romans worked a great change. They drained marshes, cut down woods, and laid out the land in orchards and corn-fields. They built beautiful houses and temples, and raised strong walls and towers to defend their towns. Dover and some other harbours in Kent were very important places in the Roman times; so were London, York, Colchester, and Lincoln. There was a fine town close to the place where St. Alban's stands now, and another at Bath; and there were noble roads to lead to all these places.
The Britons were forced to help in these works, and by degrees they learned to build good houses for themselves, to cultivate their land, and to make gardens for vegetables, and grapes, and apple-trees, instead of being contented with acorns and the sloes and berries which grew wild in the woods. The young Britons were taught to live and dress like the Roman boys, and went to school with them, and a great many were trained up to be soldiers, and went to distant countries to fight for the emperors of Rome.
One great good-the greatest of all-came to the Britons through the Roman conquest: the knowledge of God their Saviour. When the Romans came to
Britain they were heathens worshipping many gods; but the Gospel had been preached in Rome, and the sound of its glad tidings soon went forth into every land which Rome had conquered. At first the Christians were persecuted; and in 304, Alban, and many other Britons whose names we do not know, yielded up their lives, and were joined to "the noble army of martyrs." But afterwards the worship of the true God was permitted, and the Church of Britain grew and flourished.
THE PICTS AND SCOTS-BRITAIN CONQUERED BY THE SAXONS (From 350 to 590 a. D.)
Ir was not all peace in Britain under the Roman government, for the fierce tribes of Scotland took every opportunity of attacking the northern borders. For a long time they were driven back by the Roman troops, who built strong walls and fortifications all across the island, from the Solway Frith to the Tyne, to keep them from coming into Britain. But the Roman empire was growing weak; it was attacked in Spain, and France, and Italy, by nations of barbarians, who came from the north and east of Europe. Even the great and ancient city of Rome was unable to save itself from their fury; and the emperor could no longer spare troops to take care of Britain.
In 410 he wrote to all the chief towns in the island, and told the Britons that they were their own masters now, and must take care of themselves. Perhaps they would have done so if they had been able to agree together; but the people of one city were per
petually quarrelling with those of another, and they were all sorely punished for their want of union.
The northern tribes (who were now called Picts and Scots) set at nought all the walls and defences which the Romans had raised, and poured into Britain in such numbers that the people were quite disheartened. Instead of joining together to defend their country, they called in a band of foreigners to fight for them. These new allies were Saxons; they dwelt on the shores of the Baltic, and in the country near the mouth of the Elbe; and they were as fiercely brave as the Picts and Scots themselves.
The Saxons had been in the habit of visiting the south and east coasts of Britain, and carrying off to their ships all the goods and cattle they could lay hands on; and if any of the people fell into their power they were put to death, or sold for slaves. But now the Britons made friends with a band of Saxons, and promised them large pay, and the Isle of Thanet for their home, if they would drive the Picts and Scots out of Britain. The Saxons were quite ready to do this; but they determined that they would gain all Britain for themselves, and not the little Isle of Thanet merely. So, year after year, bands of Saxons landed in the country, and fought fiercely with the Britons as well as with the Picts and Scots. And at last, after very long fighting, the Britons were forced to give way. They had one famous chief, named Arthur, who performed many wonderful deeds in defence of his country; but even Arthur was not strong enough to drive out the Saxons: and when he died, there was no chief like him to fill his place.
By the year 590 the Saxons had mastered all the
THE SEVEN SAXON KINGDOMS.
land from the Firth of Forth to the English Channel, and from the Severn to the North Sea. But quite in the west the Britons held their ground. They found shelter and safety amongst the rocks of Cornwall, and the mountains of Wales and Cumberland. In these districts they long remained a separate people, and attacked the Saxons whenever they could. Most of the people in Wales still speak the ancient British language, and those of Cornwall did so during several hundred years. A numerous company of Britons fled to France, and settled in the north-west, and the inhabitants of that district are still called Bretons.
THE SEVEN SAXON KINGDOMS.
THE Saxons were divided into different tribes; but one tribe, called the Angles, gave its name to the whole country. England means Angle-land, and the people of England are often called Anglo-Saxons.
Each of the great Saxon chiefs founded a kingdom of his own. The first was Kent. Next, the South Saxons; which included Surrey and Sussex. Third, the West-Saxons, or Wessex; which contained all the land lying west of the South-Saxons, and between the Thames and the English Channel. Fourth, Essex, or East-Saxons; which contained the land north-east of the Thames. Fifth, East Anglia; this was to the north of Essex, and contained Norfolk and Suffolk, and some other counties. Sixth, Northumbria; a very large kingdom, which reached
from the River Humber to the Firth of Forth; but it was often divided into two-the kingdom of Deira, to the south of the Tweed, and that of Bernicia, to the north. Seventh, Mercia; this contained all the middle of England. -These seven kingdoms were continually quarrelling and fighting with one another.
All the towns which the Romans had built in Britain had been ruined in the long war between the Britons and Saxons; and the British churches had been destroyed, or turned into heathen temples, where the Saxons worshipped many gods, but, above all, Odin or Woden, and Thor. They thought that these gods delighted in war, and that they would show no favour to men who lived and died quietly at home. This made every Saxon warrior hope to die in battle, that he might go to the paradise of Odin; there, he believed, the days would be spent in hunting and fighting, and the nights in feasting and drinking mead.
We have a memorial of those heathen times in the names which our Saxon forefathers gave to the days of the week. Sunday and Monday were the days of the Sun and Moon; Tuesday, the day of the god Tiw; then came Woden's day, Thor's day, Friga's day, or Friday; the day of Saterne, or Saturday.
THE SAXONS BECOME CHRISTIANS.
(From 590 to 800 a. D.)
THE worship of the true God was now confined to Wales and the other mountain districts in which the Britons had taken refuge. During the long war which had raged between the Britons and the Saxons, it does