The Leading Facts of English History
by D.H. Montgomery
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The Leading Facts of History Series

The Leading Facts of English History

by D. H. Montgomery

"Nothing in the past is dead to the man who would learn how the present came to be what it is." — Stubbs, "Constitutional History of England"

Revised Edition

Ginn and Company Boston - New York - Chicago - London

Copyright, 1887, 1889, 1898, 1901, 1912, by D.H. Montgomery Entered at Stationers' Hall All Rights Reserved 313.8

The Athenaeum Press Ginn and Company - Proprietors - Boston - U.S.A.

I dedicate this book to the memory of my friend J.J.M. who generously gave time, labor and valuable suggestions toward the preparation of the first edition for the press


Most of the materials for this book were gathered by the writer during several years' residence in England.

The attempt is here made to present them in a manner that shall illustrate the law of national growth, in the light thrown upon it by the foremost English historians. The present edition has been carefully revised throughout, and, to a considerable extent, rewritten.

The authorities for the different periods will be found in the Classified List of Books in the Appendix; but the author desires to particularly acknowledge his indebtedness to the works of Bright, Brewer, Gardiner, Guest, Green, Lingard, Oman, and Traill; to the source books of Lee and of Kendall; and to the constitutional histories of Stubbs, Hallam, May, and Taswell-Langmead.

The author's hearty thanks are due to the late Professor W. F. Allen, of The University of Wisconsin; Professor Philip Van Ness Myers, of College Hill, Ohio; Professor George W. Knight, of Ohio State University; and to a number of teachers and friends for many valuable suggestions which they have kindly made.

David H. Montgomery


Leading Dates xviii Period I. Britain before Written History began II. The Geography of England in Relation to its History III. Roman Britain; A Civilization which did not civilize IV. The Coming of the Saxons[1]; the Coming of the Normans V. The Norman Sovereigns[1] VI. The Angevins, or Plantagenets; Rise of the English Nation[1] VII. The Self-Destruction of Feudalism VIII. Absolutism of the Crown; the Reformation; the New Learning[1] IX. The Stuart Period; the Divine Right of Kings versus the Divine Right of the People X. India gained; America lost—Parliamentary Reform—Government by the People A General Summary of English Constitutional History Constitutional Documents Genealogical Descent of the English Sovereigns[2] A Classified List of Books Special Reading References on Topics of English History

[1] Each of these six Periods is followed by a General Reference Summary of that period. See pp. 43, 71, 141, 174, 230, 316 [2] For special Genealogical Tables see pp. 124, 140, 161, 172, 179, 207, 323

Suggestions to Teachers

The writer of this brief manual is convinced that no hard-and-fast rules can be laid down for the use of a textbook in history. He believes that every teacher will naturally pursue a system of his own, and that by so doing he will get better results than if he attempt to follow a rigid mechanical course which makes no allowance for individual judgment and gives no scope to originality of method.

The author would simply suggest that where time is limited it might be well to omit the General Reference Summaries (see, for instance, p. 43) and to read the text as a continuous narrative. Then the important points in each day's lesson might be talked over at the end of the recitation or on the following day.

On the other hand, where time permits a thorough course of study, all of the topics might be taken up and carefully examined, and the General Reference Summaries may be consulted by way of review and for additional information. The pupil can also be referred to one or more books (see the Classified List of Books in the Appendix) on the subjects under consideration.

Instead of the teacher's asking a prescribed set of routine questions, the pupil may be encouraged to ask his on. Thus in undertaking the examination of a given topic—say, the Battle of Hastings (SS69-75), the issue of the Great Charter (SS195-202), or "The Industrial Revolution" and Watt's invention of an improved Steam Engine (S563)—there are five inquiries which naturally arise and which practically cover the whole ground.

These are: 1. When did the event occur? 2. Where did it occur? 3. How did it occur? 4. What caused it? 5. What came of it? It will soon be seen that these five questions call attention first to the chronology of he event, secondly to its geography, thirdly to the narrative describing it, fourthly to its relations to preceding events, and fifthly to its relations to subsequent events.

The pupil will find that while in some instances he can readily obtain answers for all of these inquiries,—for example, in the case of the Great Charter,—in other instances he will have to content himself with the answer to only a part of the questions, perhaps, in fact, to only a single one; nevertheless the search will always prove instructive and stimulating. Such a method of study, or one akin to it, will teach the pupil to think and to examine for himself. It will lead him to see the inevitable limitations and the apparent contradictions of history. It will make him realize, as pehaps nothing else can, that the testimony of different writers must be taken like that of witnesses in a court of justice. He will see that while authorities seldem entirely agree respecting details, they will generally agree in regard to the main features of important events. Last of all, and best as well as last, these five questions will be found to open up new and broader fields of inquiry, and they may perhaps encourage the pupil to continue his work on some subject in which he becomes interested, beyond the limits of the textbook and the classroom.

Pursued in this way, the study of history will cease to be a dry delving for dead facts in the dust of a dead past. It will rouse thought, it will quicken the pulse of an intellectual life, and it will end by making the pupil feel the full force of the great truth: that the present is an outgrowth of the past, and that it is only when we know what men have done, that we can hope to understnad what they are now doing. D. H. M.

Leading Dates

(The most important constitutional dates are marked by an asterisk)

55. B.C. Caesar lands in Britain (S18) 449. A.D. Coming of the Saxons (S36) 878. Alfred's Treaty of Wedmore (S56) 1066. Battle of Hastings (S74) *1100. Henry I's Charter of Liberties (S135) *1164. Constitutions of Clarendon (S165) *1190. Rise of Free Towns (S183) 1204. John's Loss of Normandy (S191) *1215. John grants Magna Carta (SS198, 199) *1265. De Montfort's Parliament (S213) *1279. Statute of Mortmain (S226) 1282. Conquest of Wales (S218) *1295. First Complete Parliament (S217) *1297. Confirmation of the Charters (S220) 1336. Rise of Wool Manufacture (S236) 1338. The Hundred Years' War (S237) 1346. Batty of Cr'ecy; Cannon (S238) *1350. Origin of Trial by Jury (S176) 1378. Wycliffe's Bible; Lollards (S254) 1381. Revolt of the Labor Class (S251) 1390. Chaucer writes (S253) *1393. Great Act of Praemunire (S243) 1455. Wars of the Roses (SS299, 316) 1477. Caxton introduces Printing (S306) 1485. Battle of Bosworth Field (S315) 1497. Cabot discovers America (S335) 1509. The New Learning (S339) *1534. The Act of Supremacy (S349) 1536. The Monasteries destroyed (S352) *1549. Protestantism established (S362) *1554. Mary restores Catholicism (S370) 1558. Rise of the Puritans (S378) 1559. Act of Uniformity (S382) 1582, 1605. Bacon's New Philosophy (S393) 1587. Mary Queen of Scots executed (S397) 1588. Destruction of the Armada (S400) 1588. Rise of the English Navy (SS401, 408) 1589(?). Shakespeare's First Play (S392) 1601. The First Poor Law (SS403, 607) 1604. The "Divine Right of Kings" (S419) 1607. Virginia permanently settled (S421) 1611. The "King James Bible" (S418) 1622. First Regular Newspaper (S422) *1628. The Petition of Right (S433) 1642. The Great Civil War (S441) *1649. Charles I beheaded; the Commonwealth established (SS448, 450) 1651. Navigation Act (S459) 1660. Restoration of Monarchy (S467) *1660. Abolition of Feudal Dues (S482) 1665. The Plague in London (S474) 1666. Great Fire in London (S474) 1670. Secret Treaty of Dover (S476) 1673. The Test Act (S477) 1678. The Disabling Act (S478) *1678. Rise of Political Parties (S479) *1679. Habeas Corpus Act (S482) 1684. Newton's Law of Gravitation (S481) 1685. Monmouth's Rebellion (S486) 1687. Declaration of Indulgence (S488) 1688. The Great Revolution (S491) *1689. The Bill of Rights (S497) *1689. Mutiny Act, Toleration Act (S496) 1690. Battle of the Boyne (S500) 1694. National Debt; Bank of England (S503) *1695. Liberty of the Press (SS498, 556) 1697. Peace of Ryswick (S502) *1701. Act of Settlement (S497) *1707. England and Scotland united (S513) 1713. Peace of Utrecht (S512) 1720. The South Sea Bubble (S536) *1721. Rise of Cabinet Government (S534) 1738. Rise of the Methodists (S546) 1748. Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (S542) 1751-1757. English Conquests in India (S544) *1759. The English take Quebec (S545) *1776. American Independence (S552) *1782. American Independence acknowledged (S553) 1784. Mail Coaches begin to run (S566) 1785. "Industrial Revolution"; Canals; Watt's Steam Engine (S563) 1796. Vaccination introduced (S537) 1799. First Savings Bank (S621) *1800. Great Britain and Ireland united (S562) 1805. Battle of Trafalgar (S557) 1807. Steam Navigation begins (S565) 1812. War with America (S558) 1815. Battle of Waterloo (S559) 1819. The Six Acts (S571) 1829. Catholic Emancipation (S573) 1830. First Passenger Railway (S584) *1832. Great Suffrage Reform (S582) *1835. Municipal Reform (S599) 1837-1911. Colonial Expansion (S618) *1838-1848. Rise of Chartrists (S591) 1839. Postage Reform (S590) 1845. First Telegraph (S614) 1845. Irish Famine (S593) 1846. Repeal of the Corn Laws (S594) 1857. Rebellion in India (S597) 1858. Jews enter Parliament (S599) 1859. Darwin's Evolution (S606) 1861. The Trent Affair (S598) 1866. Permanent Atlantic Cable (S595) 1867. Second Suffrage Reform (S600) 1869. Partial Woman Suffrage (S599) 1869. Free Trade established (S594) 1870. The Education Act (S602) *1870. Civil Service Reform (S609) 1870. Irish Land Act (S603) 1871-1906. Trades Unions Acts (S616) 1884. Third Suffrage Reform (S600) *1888, 1894. Local Government Acts (S608) 1899. The Boer War (S623) *1906. Labor enters Parliament (S628) 1908. Old-Age Pensions (S628) 1910. Imperial Federation (S625) *1911. Parliament Act; Salary Act (S631)



"This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of ewar; This happy breed of men this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall, Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands; This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England." Shakespeare, "Richard II"


1. The Earliest Inhabitants of England.

England was inhabited for many centuries before its written history began. The earliest races that possessed the country were stunted, brutal savages. They used pieces of rough flint for tools and weapons. From flint too they produced fire. They lived by hunting and fishing, and often had no homes but caves and rock shelters.

Following the Cave-Men came a race that had learned how to grind and polish the stone of which they made their hatchets, knives, and spears. This race cleared and cultivated the soil to some extent, and kept cattle and other domestic animals.

[1] Reference Books on this Period will be found in the Classified List of Books in the Appendix. The pronunciation of names will be found in the Index. The Leading Dates stand unenclosed; all others are in parentheses.

2. The Britons

Finally, a large-limbed, fair-haired, fierce-eyed people invaded and conquered the island. They came from the west of Europe. They made their axes, swords, and spears of bronze,—a metal obtained by melting and mingling copper and tin. These implements were far superior to any made of stone.

The new people were good farmers; they exported grain, cattle, and hides to Gaul (France), and mined and sold tin ore to merchants who came by sea from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean.

This strong and energetic race, known as Celts, eventually called themselves Britons. By the time they had adopted that name they had made a great step forward, for they had learned how to mine and manufacture iron,—the most useful metal known to man; from it they forged scythes, swords, and spears.

Such were the people Caesar met when he invaded Britain, fifty-five years before the beginning of the Christian era. The great Roman general called the Britons "barbarians"; but they compelled him to respect them, for they were a race of hard fighters, who fearlessly faced even his veteran troops.

3. The Religion of the Britons; the Druids.

The Britons held some dim faith in an overruling Power and in a life beyond the grave. They offered human sacrifices to that Power, and when they buried one of their warriors, they buried his spear with him so that he might fight as good a battle in the next world as he had fought in this one.

Furthermore, the Britons had a class of priests called Druids, who seem to have worshiped the heavenly bodies. These priests also acted as prophets, judges, and teachers. Caesar tells us that the Druids instructed the youth about the stars and their motions, about the magnitude of the earth, the nature of things, and "the might and power of the immortal gods."

More than this, the Druids probably erected the massive stone columns of that strange stucture, open to the sky, whose ruins may still be seen on the lonely expanse of Salisbury Plain. There, on one of the fallen blocks, Carlyle and Emerson sat, when they made their pilgrimage to Stonehenge[1] many years ago, and discussed the life after death, with other questions of Druid philosophy.

[1] Stonehenge: This remarkable structure is believed to be the remains of a pre-historic monument to the dead, which was, perhaps, used also as a place of worship. It stands on Salisbury Plain about nine miles northeast of the city of Salisbury. (See map facing p. 38.) It consists of a broken circle of huge upright stones, some of which are still connected at the top by blocks of flat stones. Within this circle, which is about one hundred feet in circumference, is a circle of smaller stones. The structure has no roof. The recent discover of stains of bronze or copper on one of the great stones, seven feet below the surface, strengthens the theory that Stonehenge was constructed by the race who used bronze implements and who were later known as Britons (S2). Consult Professor C. Oman's "England before the Norman Conquest"; see also R. W. Emerson's "English Traits," and O. W. Holmes's fine poem on the "Broken Circle," suggested by a visit to Stonehenge.

4. What we owe to Prehistoric Man.

We have seen that the Romans called the Britons "barbarians" (S2). But we should bear in mind that all the progress which civilization has since made is built on the foundations which those primitive races slowly and painfully laid during unnumbered centuries of toil and strife.

To them we owe man's wonderful discovery of the power to produce fire. To them we are indebted for the invention of the first tools, the first weapons, and the first attempts at architecture and pictorial art. They too tamed the dog, the horse, and our other domestic animals. They also discovered how to till the soil and how to mine and manufacture metals. In fact those "barbarians" who lived in "the childhood of the world," and who never wrote a line of history, did some things equal to any which history records, for out of wild plants and trees they developed the grains and fruits which now form an indispensable part of "our daily bread."

Finally, through their incessant struggles with nature, and incessant wars among themselves, those rude tribes learned to establish forms of self-government for towns or larger districts. Many of their salutary customs—their unwritten laws—still make themselves felt in the world.[1] They help bind the English nation together. They do even more than that, for their influence can be traced in the history of newer nations, which, like the American republic, have descended from the great mother-countries of Europe.

[1] For example, parts of the "Common Law" can be traced back, through English "dooms" (decisions or laws), to prehistoric times. See E. A. Freeman in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (10th edition, VIII, 276). The New England "Town Meeting" can be likewise traced back to the German ancestors of the Anglo-Saxons.

[Figures: Carved bone, flint dagger, and bronze spearhead]


"Father Neptune one day to Dame Freedom did say, 'If ever I lived upon dry land, The spot I should hit on would be little Britain.' Says Freedom, 'Why that's my own island.' O, 't is a snug little island, A right little, tight little island! Search the world round, none can be found So happy as this little island." T. Dibdin


5. Geographical Names given by the Britons and the Romans

The steps of English history may be traced to a considerable extent by geographical names. Thus the names of most of the prominent natural features, the hills, and especially the streams, originated with the Britons. They carry us back to the Bronze Age (S2) and perhaps earlier. Familiar examples of this are found in the name Malvern Hills, and in the word Avon ("the water"), which occurs in Stratford-on-Avon, and is repeated many times in England and Wales.

The Roman occupation of Britain is shown by the names ending in "cester" or "chester" (a corrupton of castra, a military camp). Thus Leicester, Worcester, Dorchester, Colchester, Chester, indicate that these places were walled towns and military stations.

[1] Reference Books on this Period will be found in the Classified List of Books in the Appendix. The pronunciation of names will be found in the Index. [2] As this Period necessarily contains references to certain events which occurred in later history, it may be advantageously reviewed by the pupil after he has reached an advanced stage in his course of study.

6. Saxon and Danish Names.

On the other hand, the names of many of the great political divisions, especially in the south and east of England, mark the Saxon settlements, such as Essex (the East Saxons), Sussex (the South Saxons), Middlesex (the Middle or Central Saxons). In the same way the settlement of the two divisions of the Angles on the coast is indicated by the names Norfolk (the North folk) and Suffolk (the South folk). (See map facing p. 24.)

The conquests and settlements of the Danes are readily traced by the Danish termination "by" (an abode or town), as in Derby, Rugby, Grimsby. They occur with scarcely an exception north of London. They date back to the time when King Alfred made the Treaty of Wedmore (S56), A.D. 878, by which the Danes agreed to confine themselves to the northern half of the country. (See map facing p. 32.)

7. Norman Names.

The conquest of England by the Normans created but few new names. These, as in the case of Richmond and Beaumont, generally show where the invading race built a castle or an abbey, or where, as in Montgomeryshire, they conquered and held a district in Wales.

While each new invasion left its mark on the country, it will be seen that the greater part of the names of counties and towns are of Roman, Saxon, or Danish origin. With some few and comparatively unimportant exceptions, the map of England remains to-day in this respect what those races made it more than a thousand years ago.

8. Climate.

With regard to the climate of England,—its insular form, geographical position, and its exposure to the warm currents of the Gulf Stream give it a temperature generally free from great extremes of heat or cold. On this account, it is favorable to the full and healthy development of both animal and vegetable life.

Nowhere is greater vigor or longevity found. Charles II said that he was convinced that there was not a country in the world so far as he knew, where one could spend so much time out of doors comfortably as in England.

9. Industrial Division of England.

From an industrial and historical point of view, the country falls into two divisions. Let a line be drawn from Hull, on the northeast coast, to Leicester, in the Midlands, and thence to Exmouth, on the southwest coast. (See map on p. 10.) On the upper or northwest side of that line will lie the coal and iron which constitute the greater part of the mineral wealth and form the basis of the manufacturing industry of England; here too are all the largest towns except London.

On the lower or southeast side of the line there will be a comparatively level surface of rich agricultural land, and most of the fine old cathedral cities with their historic associations; in a world, the England of the past as contrasted with modern and democratic England, that part which has grown up since the introduction of steam.

10. Eastern and Western Britain compared.

As the southern and eastern coasts of Britain were in most direct communication with the Continent, and were first settled, they continued until modern times to be the wealthiest, most civilized, and progressive part of the island. Much of the western portion is a rough, wild country. To it the East Britons retreated, keeping their primitive customs and language, as in Wales and Cornwall.

In all the great movements of religious or political reform, up to the middle of the seventeenth century, we find that the people of the eastern half of the island were usually on the side of a larger measure of liberty; while those of the western half were generally in favor of increasing the power of the King and the Church.

11. Influence of the Island Form on the Roman Invasion

Geologists tell us that Great Britain was once connected with the mainland of western Europe. It was fortunate for Britain that this connection was severed and that it became an island. We see an illustration of this advantage in the case of the Roman invasion. It was easy for the Romans to march great armies into Gaul and take complete possession of that country, but it was with no little difficulty that they sent fleets across the tempestuous waters of the Channel. This may have been one reason why they never succeeded in permanently establishing their language and their laws in the island of Britain. It is true that they conquered and held it for several centuries, but they never destroyed its individuality,—they never Latinized it as they did France and Spain.

12. Influence of the Island Form on the Saxon Invasion.

In like manner, when the northern tribes of Europe overran the Roman Empire, they found themselves, in some measure, shut out from Britain by its wall of sea. The Jutes, Saxons, and Angles could not enter it in countless hordes, but only in small numbers and by occasional attacks. Because of this, the invaders could only drive back the Britons by slow degrees, and they never entirely crushed them.

Again, the conquerers could not build up a strong, united kinigdom, but they had to content themselves with establishing a number of petty kingdoms which were constantly at war with each other. Later, the whole of England became subject to a sing sovereign. But the chief men of the separate kingdoms, which had now become simply shires or counties, retained a certain degree of control over the government. This prevented the royal power from becoming the unchecked will of an arbitrary ruler. Finally, it may be said that the isolation of England had much to do with the development of the strong individual character of its people.

13. Influence of the Island Form on the Danes and Normans.

In the course of the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries the Danes invaded England, but the sea prevented their coming all at once and with overwhelming force. They got possession of the throne (S63) and permanently established themselves in the northern half of the country. The English, however, held their own so well that the Danes were eventually compelled to unite with them. Even when the Normans invaded England and conquered it (SS74, 107), they felt obliged to make many concessions to both the English and the Danes. The result was that every invasion of the island ended in a compromise, so that no one race ever got complete predominance. In time all the elements mingled and became one people.

14. Influence of the Channel in Later History.

Furthermore, the immense protective value of the Channel to England may be traced down to our own day. In the great crisis when Simon de Montfort was fighting (1264) to secure parliamentary representation for the people (S213), King Henry III sought help from France. The French monarcy got a fleet ready to send to England, but bad weather held it back, and Henry was obliged to concede De Montfort's demands for reform.[1]

[1] W. Stubb's "Select Charters," p. 401

Again, when the Spanish Armada swooped down upn England (1588) a terrible tempest dispersed a part of the enemy's fleet. Many of the vessels were wrecked (S399) and only a few were left to creep back, crippled and disheartened, to the ports of Spain. When Queen Elizabeth publicly thanked the leaders of her valiant navy for what they had done to repel the Spanish forces, she also acknowledged how much England owed to the protective power of wind and wave.

The same elements taught Napoleon a lesson which he never forgot. He had carefully planned an expedition against England (S557), but violent and long-continued storms compelled him to abandon the hazardous undertaking (1804). The great French commander felt himself invincible on land, but he was obliged to confess that "a few leagues of salt water" had completely out-generaled him.

In fact, ever since England organized a regular navy (1512) the encircling arms of the ocean have been her closest and surest friend. They have exempted her from keeping up a large standing army and so preserved her from the danger of military despotism at home. They too have made her the greatest sea power,[1] and, at the same time, the greatest colonizing power[2] the world has yet seen. They have also made her the greatest commercial power on the globe.[3]

[1] The English navy far outranks that of any other nation in the number of its warships. [2] The English colonial possessions and "spheres of influence" cover an area of more than 11,400,000 square miles. (See map between pp. 422, 423.) [3] The total commerce of the United Kingdom in 1910 was nearly 912,000,000 pounds and that of the British Empire exceeded 1,990,680,000 pounds.

It is true that the use of steam for vessels of war has diminished the natural protective service of the Channel, since a hostile fleet can now move against England in almost any weather. Still, the "silver streak," as the English call that waterway, will always remain, in some degree, a defense against sudden invasion, except, of course, from a squadron of military airships.

15. England as a Commercial Center.

In closing this period, the position of England, with respect to facilities for commerce, deserves particular attention. In the first place the country has many excellent harbors; next, it is situated in the ocean which is the great highway between the two continents having the highest civilization and the most constant intercourse. Finally, a glance at the maps on pages 185 and 420 will show that geographically England is located at about the center of the land masses of the globe.

It is evident that a large island so placed stands in the favorable position for easy and rapid trade communications with every quarter of the world. For this reason England has been able to attain, and thus far to maintain, the highest rank among maritime and commercial powers. It is true that since the opening of the Suez Canal (1869) the trade with the Indies, China, and Japan has considerably changed. Many cargoes of teas, silks, spices, and other Eastern products, which formerly went to London, Liverpool, or Southampton, to be reshipped to different countries of Europe, now pass by other routes direct to the consumer. Furthermore, it is a question what effect the completion of the Panama Canal will have on English trade in parts of the Pacific. But for the present England retains her supremacy as the great carrier and distributor of the productions of the earth,—a fact which has had a very decided influence on her history, and on her relations with other nations, both in peace and war.

[Industrial Map of England (S9)]


"Force and Right rule the world: Force, till Right is ready." Joubert

ROMAN BRITAIN, 55 B.C.; 43-410 A.D.


16. Europe shortly before Caesar's Invasion of Britain.

Before considering the Roman invasion of Britain let us take a glance at the condition of Europe. We have seen that the tribes (S2) of Britain, like those of Gaul (France), were not mere savages. On the contrary, we know that they had taken more than one important step in the path of progress; still the advance should not be overrated, for north of the shores of the Mediterranean there was no real civilization.

[1] Reference Books on this Period will be found in the Classified List of Books in the Appendix. The pronunciation of names will be found in the Index. The Leading Dates stand unenclosed; all others are in parentheses.

17. Caesar's Campaigns.

Such was the state of Europe when Julius Caesar, who was governor of Gaul, but who aspired to be ruler of the world, set out on his first campaign against the tribes north of the Alps (58 B.C.).

In undertaking the war he had three objects in view: First, he wished to crush the power of those restless hordes that threatened the safety of the Roman Republic. Next, he sought military fame in the hope that it would make him supreme ruler of that Republic. Lastly, he wanted money to maintain his army and to bribe the party leaders of Rome to help him carry out his political plans. To this end he compelled every tribe which he conquered to pay him tribute in cash or slaves.

18. Caesar reaches Boulogne and crosses over to Britain, 55 B.C.

In three years Caesar had subjugated the enemy in a succession of victories, and a great part of Europe lay helpless at his feet. Late in the summer of 55 B.C. he reached Boulogne on the coast of Gaul. Standing there, he could see the gleaming chalk cliffs of Britain, so vividly described in Shakespeare's "King Lear."[1]

[1] Shakespeare's "King Lear," Act IV, scene vi.

While encamped on the shore he "resolved," he says, "to pass over into Britain, having had trustworthy information that in all his wars with the Gauls the enemies of the Roman commonwealth had constantly received help from thence."[2]

[2] Caesar's "Gallic War," Book IV.

Embarking with a force of between eight and ten thousand men[3] in eighty small vessels, Caesar crossed the Channel and landed not far from Dover, where he overcame the Britons (S2), who made a desperate resistance. After a stay of a few weeks, during which he did not leave the coast, he returned to Gaul.

[3] Caesar probably sailed about the 25th of August, 55 B.C. His force consisted of two legions, the 7th and 10th. A legion varied at different times from 3000 foot and 200 horse soldiers to 6000 foot and 400 horse.

19. Caesar's Second Invasion of Britain.

The next year (54 B.C.), a little earlier in the season, Caesar made a second invasion with a much larger force, and penetrated the country a short distance north of the Thames. Before the September gales set in, he reembarked for the Continent, never to return.

The total results of his two expeditions were a number of natives carried as hostages to Rome, a long train of captives destined to be sold in the slave markets, and some promises of tribute which the Britons never fulfilled. Tacitus, the Roman historian, says Caesar "did not conquer Britain; he only showed it to the Romans."

20. The Third Invasion of Britain by the Romans, 43 A.D.

For nearly a hundred years the Romans made no further attempt on Britain, but in 43 A.D. the Emperor Claudius invaded the island. After nine years' fighting, he overcame Caractacus, the leader of the Britons, and carried him in chains to Rome. The brave chief refused to beg for life or liberty. "Can it be possible," said he, as he was led through the streets, "that men who live in such places as these envy us our wretched hovels!" "It was the dignity of the man, even in ruins," says the Roman historian, "which saved him." The Emperor, struck with his bearing and his speech, ordered him to be set free.

21. The Romans plant a Colony in Britain, Llyn-din.

Meanwhile the armies of the Empire had established a strong colony at Colchester in the southeast of Britain. (See map facing p. 14.) There they built a temple and set up the statue of the Emperor Claudius, which the soldiers worshiped, both as a protecting god and as the representative of the Roman Empire.

The army had also conquered other places. One of these was a little native settlement on a bend in the Thames where the river broadened slightly. It consisted of a few miserable huts and a row of intrenched cattle pens. It was called in the British tongue Llyn-din or the Fort-on-the-pool. This name, which was pronounced with difficulty by Roman lips, eventually became known wherever ships sail, trade reaches, or history is read,—London.

22. Expedition against the Druids.

But in order to complete the conquest of the country, the Roman generals resolved to crush the power of the Druids (S3), since these priests exhorted the Britons to refuse to surrender. The island of Anglesey, off the northwest coast of Wales, was the stronghold to which the Druids had retreated. (See map facing p. 14.) As the Roman soldiers approached to attack them, they beheld the priests and women standing on the shore, with uplifted hands, uttering "dreadful prayers and imprecations."

For a moment the Roman troops hesitated; then they rushed upon the Druids, cut them to pieces, and cast their bodies into their own sacred fires. From this blow Druidism as an organized faith never recovered, though traces of its religious rites still survive in the use of the mistletoe at Christman and in May-day festivals.

23. Revolt of Boadicea (61).

Still the power of the Latin legions was only partly established, for while the Roman general was absent with his troops at Anglesey, a formidable revolt had broken out in the east. A British chief, in order to secure half of his property to his family at his death, left it to be equally divided between his daughters and the Emperor. The governor of the district, under the pretext that Boadicea, the widow of the dead chief, had concealed part of the property, seized the whole of it.

Boadicea protested. To punish her presumption, the Romans stripped and scourged her, and inflicted still more brutal and infamous treatment on her daughters. Maddened by these outrages, Boadicea appealed to her countrymen for vengeance. The enraged Britons fell upon London, and other places held by the Romans, burned them to the ground, and slaughtered many thousand inhabitants. But in the end Roman forced gained the victory, and Boadicea took her own life rather than fall into the hands of her conqueror.

The "warrior queen" died, let us trust, as the poet has represented, animated by the prophecy of the Druid priest that,—

"Rome shall perish—write that word In the blood that she has spilt;— Perish, hopeless and abhorred, Deep in ruin, as in guilt." [1]

[1] Cowper's "Boadicea."

24. Christianity introduced into Britain.

Perhaps it was not long after this that Christianity made its way to Britain; if so, it crept in so silently that nothing certain can be learned of its advent. The first church, it is said, was built at Glastonbury, in the southeast of the island. (See map facing p. 38.) It was a long, shedlike structure of wickerwork. "Here," says an old writer,[1] "the converts watched, fasted, preached, and prayed, having high meditations under a low roof and large hearts within narrow walls."

[1] Thomas Fuller's "Church History of Britain."

At first no notice was taken of the new religion. It was the faith of the poor and the obscure, and the Roman generals treated it with contempt; but as it continued to spread, it caused alarm.

The Roman Emperor was not only the head of the state, but the head of religion as well. He represented the power of God on earth: to him every knee must bow (S21). But the Christians refused this homage. They put Christ first; for that reason they were dagerous to the state, and were looked—[SECTION MISSING]—rebels, or as men likely to become so.

25. Persecution of British Christians; [SECTION MISSING] last of the third century the Roman Emperor / root out this pernicious belief. The first He refused to sacrifice to the Roman But the ancient historian[2] says, with SECTION executioner who struck "the wicked stroke MISSING rejoice over the deed, for his eyes dropped together with the blessed martyr's head later the magnificent abbey of St. Albans commemorate him who had fallen there. /

[2] Bede's "Ecclesiastical History of Britain," completed about the year 731. [3] St. Albans: twenty miles northwest of London. (See map facing p. 16.)

26. Agricola builds a Line of Forts (7 [END OF LINE MISSING]

When Agricola, a wise and equitable Roman ruler, became governor of Britain he explored the coast, and first discovered Britain to be an island. He gradually extended the limits of the government, and, in order to prevent invasion from the north, he built a line of forts (completed by Antoninus) across Scotland, from the mouth of the river Forth to the Clyde. (See map facing p. 14.)

From this date the power of Rome was finally fixed. During the three hundred years which followed, the surface of the country underwent a change. The Romans cut down forests, drained marshes, reclaimed waste land, and bridged rivers. Furthermore they made the soil so productive that Britain became known in Rome as the most important grain-producing and grain-exporting province in the Empire.

27. Roman Cities; London; York.

Where the Britons had once had a humble village enclosed by a ditch and protected by a stockade, the Romans built the cities of Chester, Lincoln, London, York, and other towns, protected by massive walls and towers of stone. These places have continued to be centers of population ever since.

London early became the Roman commercial metropolis, while the city of York in the north was made the military and civil capital of the country. (See map facing p. 14). There the Sixth Legion was stationed. It was the most noted body of troops in the Roman army, and was called the "Victorious Legion." It remained there for upwards of three centuries. There, too, the governor resided and administered justice. For these reasons York got the name of "another Rome."

The city had numerous temples and public buildings, such as befitted the Roman capital of Britain. There an event occurred in the fourth century which made an indelible mark on the history of mankind. Constantine, the subsequent founder of Constantinople, was proclaimed Emperor at York, and through his influence Christianity became the established religion of the entire Roman Empire.[1]

[1] Constantine was the first Christian Emperor of Rome. The preceding emperors had generally persecuted the Christians.

28. Roman System of Government; Roads.

During the Roman possession of Britain the country was differently governed at different periods, but eventually it was divided into five provinces. These were intersected by a magnificent system of paved roads running in direct lines from city to city, and having London as a common center. (See map facing p. 14.)

Over these road bodies of troops could march rapidly to any required point. By them, and by similar roads, leading through France, Spain, and Italy, officers of state, mounted on relays of fleet horses, could pass from one end of the Empire to the other in a few days' time. (See map below, and that facing p. 14.)

So skillfully and substantially were these highways constructed, that modern engineers have been glad to adopt them as a basis for their work. The four chief Roman roads[1] continue to be the foundation, not only of numerous turnpikes in different parts of England, but also of several of the great railway lines, especially those from London to Chester and from London to York.

[1] The four chief roads were: (1) Watling Street; (2) Icknield Street; (3) Irmin Street; and (4) The Fosse Way. (See map facing p. 14.)

29. Roman Forts and Walls Defenses against Saxon Pirates.

Next in importance to the roads were the fortifications. In addition to those which Agricola had built (S26), either Hadrian or Severus constructed a wall of solid masonry across the country from the shore of the North Sea to the Irish Sea. This wall, which was about seventy-five miles south of Agricola's work, was strengthened by a deep ditch and a rampart of earth. (See map facing p. 14.)

It was furthur defended by square stone castles built at regular intervals of one mile. Between them were stone watchtowers, used as sentry boxes; while at every fourth mile there was a stone fort, covering several acres and occupied by a large body of troops.

But the northern tribes were not the only ones to be guarded against; bands of pirates prowled along the east and south coasts, burning, plundering, and kidnaping. These marauders came from Denmark and the adjacent countries (S37).

The Britons and Romans called them Saxons, a most significant name if it refers to the stout sharp knives which made them a terror to every land on which they set foot. To repel them, the Romans built a strong chain of forts along the coast, extending from the Wash on the North Sea to the Isle of Wight on the south. (See map facing p. 14.)

The greater part of these Roman walls, fortifications, and cities have perished. But those which remain justify the statement that "outside of England no such monuments exist of the power and military genius of Rome."

30. Wherein Roman Civilization fell Short.

But this splendid fabric of Roman power signally failed to win the support of the majority of the Britons. Civilization, like truth, cannot be forced on minds unwilling or unable to receive it. Least of all can it be forced by the sword's point and the taskmaster's lash.

In order to render his victories on the Continent (S17) secure, Caesar butchered thousands of prisoners of war, or cut off the right hands of the entire population of large settlements to prevent them from rising in revolt.

The policy pursued in Britain, though very different, was equally heartless and equally fatal. There were rulers who endeavored to act justly, but such cases were rare. One of the leaders of the North Britons said, "The Romans give the lying name of Empire to robbery and slaughter; they make a desert and call it peace."

31. The Mass of the Native Population Slaves; Roman Villas.

It is true that the chief cities of Britain were exempt from oppression. They elected their own magistrates and made their own laws. But they enjoyed this liberty because their inhabitants were either Roman soldiers or their allies, or Romanized Britons.

Outside these cities the great mass of the native Britons were bound to the soil and could not leave it, while a large proportion were absolute slaves. Their work was in the brickyards, the quarries, the mines, or in the fields or forests.

The Roman masters of these people lived in stately villas adorned with pavements of different-colored marbles and beautifully painted walls. These country houses, often as large as palaces, were warmed in winter, like our modern dwellings, with currents of heated air. In summer they opened on terraces ornamented with vases and statuary, and on spacious gardens of fruits and flowers.[1] On the other hand, the laborers on these great estates lived in wretched cabins plastered with mud and thatched with straw.

[1] More than a hundred of these villas or country houses, chiefly in the south and southwest of England, have been exhumed. Some of them cover several acres.

32. Roman Taxation and Cruelty.

But if the condition of the British servile classes was hard, many who were free were but little better off, for nearly all that they could earn was swallowed up in taxes. The standing army of Britain, which the people of the country had to support, rarely numbered less than forty thousand. Great numbers of Britons were forced into the ranks, but most of them appear to have been sent away to serve abroad. Their life was one of perpetual exile. In order to meet the civil and military expenses entailed upon him, every farmer had to pay a third of all that his farm could produce, in taxes. Furthermore, he had to pay duty on every article that he sold, last of all, he was obliged to pay a duty or poll tax on his own head.

On the Continent there was a saying that it was better for a property owner to fall into the hands of savages than into those of the Roman assessors. When they went round, they counted not only every ox and sheep, but every plant, and registered them as well as the owners. "One heard nothing," says a writer of that time, speaking of the days when revenue was collected, "but the sound of flogging and all kinds of torture. The son was compelled to inform against the father, men were forced to give evidence against themselves, and were assessed according to the confession they made to escape torment."[1]

[1] Lactantius, cited in Elton's "Origins of English History," p. 334. It should be noted, however, that Professor C. Oman in his "England before the Norman Conquest," pp. 175-176, takes a moer favorable view of the condition of Britain under the Romans than that which most authorities maintain.

So great was the misery of the land that sometimes parents destroyed their children, rather than let them grow up to a life of suffering. This vast system of organized oppression, like all tyranny, "was not so much an institution as a destitution," undermining and impoverishing the country. It lasted until time brought its revenge, and Rome, which had crushed so many nations of barbarians, was in her turn threatened with a like fate, by bands of northern barbarians stronger than herself.

33. The Romans compelled to abandon Britain, 410.

When Caesar returned from his victorious campaigns in Gaul in the first century B.C., Cicero exultantly exclaimed, "Now let the Alps sink! the gods raised them to shelter Italy from the barbarians; they are no longer needed." For nearly five centuries that continued true; then the tribes of northern Europe could no longer be held back. When the Roman emperors saw that the crisis had arrived, they recalled their troops from Britain in 410 The rest of the Roman colonists soon followed.

At this time we find this brief but expressive entry in the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" (SS46, 99): "After this the Romans never ruled in Britain." A few years later this entry occurs: "418. This year the Romans collected all the treasures in Britain; some they hid in the earth, so that no one since has been able to find them, and some they carried with them into Gaul."

34. Remains of Roman Civilization.

In the course of the next three generations the political and social elements of Roman civilization in Britain seem to have disappeared. A few words, such as "port" and "street," which may or may not have been derived from the Latin, have come down to us. But there was nothing left, of which we can speak with absolute certainty, save the material shell,—the walls, roads, forts, villas, arches, gateways, altars, and tombs, whose ruins are still seen scattered throughout the land.

The soil, also, is full of relics of the same kind. Twenty feet below the surface of the London of to-day lie the remains of the London of the Romans. In digging in the "City,"[1] the laborer's shovel every now and then brings to light pieces of carved stone with Latin inscriptions, bits of rusted armor, broken swords, fragments of statuary, and gold and silver ornaments.

[1] The "City": This is the name given to that part of central London, about a mile square, which was formerly enclosed by Roman walls. It contains the Bank of England, the Royal Exchange, and other very important business buildings. Its limit on the west is the site of Temple Bar; on the east, the Tower of London.

So, likewise, several towns, long buried in the earth, and the foundations of upwards of a hundred country houses have been discovered; but these seem to be about all. If Rome left any traces of her literature, law, and methods of government, they are



"The happy ages of history are never the productive ones." — Hegel



36. The Britons beg for Help; Coming of the Jutes, 449 (?).

The Britons were in perilous condition after the Romans had left the island (S33). They had lost their old spirit (SS2, 18).[2] They were no longer brave in war or faithful in peace. The Picts and Scots[3] attacked them on the northwest, and the Saxon pirates (S29) assailed them on the southeast. These terrible foes cut down the Britons, says an old writer, as "reapers cut down grain ready for the harvest."

[1] Reference Books on this Period will be found in the Classified List of Books in the Appendix. The pronunciation of names will be found in the Index. The Leading Dates stand unenclosed; all others are in parentheses. [2] Gildas, in Bohn's "Six Old English Chronicles"; but compare Professor C. Oman's "England before the Norman Conquest," pp. 175-176. [3] The Picts and Scots were ancient savage tribes of Scotland.

At length the chief men wrote to the Roman consul, begging him to help them. They entitled their piteous and pusillanimous appeal, "The Groans of the Britons." They said, "The savages drive us to the sea, the sea casts us back upon the savages; between them we are either slaughtered or drowned." But the consul was busy fighting enemies at home, and he left the groaning Britons to shift for themselves.

Finally, the courage of despair forced them to act. They seemed to have resolved to fight fire with fire. Acting on this resolution, they accordingly invited a band of sea rovers to come and help them against the Picts and Scots. The chiefs of these Jutes[1] or Saxon pirates did not wait for a second invitation. Seizing their "rough-handled spears and bronze swords," they set sail for the shining chalk cliffs of Britain, 449(?). They put an end to the ravages of the Picts and Scots. Then instead of going back to their own country, they took possession of the best lands of Kent and refused to give them up. (See map opposite.)

[1] The Jutes, Saxons, and Angles appear to have belonged to the same Teutonic or German race. They inhabited the seacoast and vicinity, from the mouth of the Elbe, northward along the coast of Denmark or Jutland. These tribes which conquered England, and settled there, remained for a long time hostile to each other, but eventually, they united and came to be known as Anglo-Saxons or English. (See map opposite.)

37. The Saxons and Angles conquer Britain.

The success of the first band of sea robbers in Britain (S36) stimulated other bands to invade the island (477-541). They slaughtered multitudes of Britons and made slaves of many more. The conquerors named the parts of the country which they settled, from themselves. Each independent settlement was hostile to every other. Thus Sussex was the home of the South Saxons, Wessex of the West Saxons, Essex of the East Saxons. (See map opposite.) Finally, a band of Angles came from a little corner, south of the peninsula of Denmark, which still bears the name of Angeln. They took possession of all of eastern Britain not already appropriated. Eventually, they came to control the greater part of the land, and from them, all the other tribes, when fused together, got the name of Angles or English (S50). (See map opposite.)

38. Resistance made by the Britons; King Arthur.

Meanwhile the Britons had plucked up courage and made the best fight they could. They were naturally a brave people (SS2, 18). The fact that it took the Saxons more than a hundred years to get a firm grip on the island shows that fact. The legend of King Arthur's exploits also illustrates the valor of the race to which he belonged. According to tradtion this British Prince, who had become a convert to Christianity (S25), met and checked the invaders in their isolent march of triumph. The battle, it is said, was fought at Mount Badon or Badbury in Dorsetshire. There, with his irresistable sword, "Excalibur," and his stanch British spearmen, Arthur compelled his foes to acknowledge that he was not a myth but a man[1] able "to break the heathen and uphold the Christ."

[1] See "Arthur" in the "Dictionary of National British Biography"; and Professor Rowley in Low and Pulling's "Dictionary of English History," p. 434. See also Geoffrey of Monmouth's "History of the Britons" and Tennyson's "Idylls of the King."

39. The Saxons or English force the Britons to retreat.

But though King Arthur may have checked the pagan Saxon invaders, he could not drive them out of the country. They had come to stay. On the other hand, many Britons were forced to take refuge among the hills of Wales. There they continued to abide. That ancient stock never lost its love of liberty. More than eleven centuries later their spirit helped to shape the destinies of the New World. Thomas Jefferson andseveral of the other signers of the Declaration of American Independence were either of Welsh birth or of direct Welsh descent.

40. Gregory and the English Slaves.

The next period, of nearly eighty years, is a dreary record of constant battles and bloodshed. Out of this very barbarism a regenerating influence finally arose.

In their greed for grain, some of the English tribes did not hesitate to sell their own children into bondage. A number of these slaves, exposed in the market place in Rome, attracted the attention of a monk named Gregory.

Struck with the beauty of their clear, ruddy complexions and fair hair, he inquired from what country they came. "They are Angles" (S37), was the dealer's answer. "No, not Angles, but angels," answered the monk; and he resolved that, when he could, he would send missionaries to convert a race of so much promise.[2]

[2] Bede's "Ecclesiastical History."

41. Coming of Saint Augustine, 597.

When Gregory (S40) became Pope he fulfilled his resolution, and sent Augustine with a band of forty monks to Britain. In 597 they landed on the very spot where the first Saxon war band had set foot on English soil nearly one hundred and fifty years before. Like Caesar and his legions, Augustine and his monks brought with them the power of Rome. But this time that power did not come armed with the sword to force men to submit or die, but inspired with a persuasive voice to cheer them with new hope.

41. Augustine converts the King of Kent and his People (597).

The English at that time were wholly pagan, and had, in all probability, destroyed every vesetige of the faith for which the British martyrs gave their lives (S25). But the King of Kent had married a French princess who was a devout Christian. Through the Queen's influence, the King was induced to receive Augustine. He was afraid, however, of some magical practice, so he insisted that their meeting should take place in the open air and on the island of Thanet. (See map facing p. 32.)

The historian Bede tells us that the monks, holding a tall silver cross and a picture of Christ in their hands, advanced and saluted the King. Augustine delivered his message, was well received, and invited to Canterbury, the capital of Kent. There the King became a convert to his preaching, and before the year had passed ten thousand of his subjects had received baptism; for to gain the King was to gain his tribe as well.

43. Augustine builds the First Monastery.

At Canterbury Augustine became the first archbishop over the first cathedral. There, too, he established the first monastery in which to train missionaries to carry on the work which he had begun (S45). Part of the original monastery of St. Augustine is now used as a Church of England missionary college, and it continues to bear the name of the man who brought Christianity to that part of Britain. The example of the ruler of Kent was not without its effect on others.

44. Conversion of the North.

The north of England, however, owed its conversion chiefly to the Irish monks of an earlier age. They had planted monasteries in Ireland and Scotland from which colonies went forth, one of which settled in Durham. Cuthbert, a Saxon monk of that monastery in the seventh century, traveled as a missionary throughout Northumbria, and was afterward recognized as the saint of the North. Through his influence that kingdom was induced to accept Christianity. Other missionaries went to other districts to carry the "good tidings of great joy."

In one case an aged chief arose in an assembly of warriors and said: "O king, as a bird flies through this hall in the winter night, coming out of the darkness and vanishing into it again, even such is our life. If these strangers can tell us aught of what is beyond, let us give heed to them."

But, as Bede informs us in his history of the English CHurch (S99), some of the converts were too cautious to commit themselves entirely to the new religion. One king, who had set up a large altar devoted to the worship of Christ, set up a smaller one at the other end of the hall to the old heathen deities, in order that he might make sure of the favor of both.

45. Christianity organized; Labors of the Monks.

Gradually, however, the pagan faith was dropped. Christianity was largely organized by bands of monks and nuns, who had renounced the world in order to lead lives of self-sacrifice and service. They bound themselves by the three vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity, and the monastic law forbade them to marry. Monasteries existed or were now established in a number of places in England.[1]

[1] For instance, at Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, off the coast of Northumberland (see Scott's "Marmion," Canto II, 9-10), at Wearmouth and Jarrow in Durham, at Whitby on the coast of Yorkshire, and at Peterborough in Northamptonshire. (See map facing p. 38.)

The monasteries were educational as well as industrial centers. The monks spent part of each day in manual toil, for they held that "to labor is to pray." They cleared the land, drained he bogs, plowed, sowed, and reaped. Another part of the day they spent in religious exercises, and a third in writing, translating, and teaching.

Each monastery had a school attached to it, and each had, besides, its library of manuscript books and its room for the entertainment of travelers and pilgrims. In these libraries important charters granted by the King and important laws relating to the kingdom were preserved.

46. Literary Work of the Monks.

It was at the monastery of Jarrow[2] that Bede wrote in rude Latin the Church history of England. It was at that in Whitby that the poet Caedmon composed his poem on the Creation, in which, a thousand years before Milton, he dealt with Milton's theme in Milton's spirit.

[2] Jarrow, Whitby, etc.; see note 1, above.

It was at the great monasteries of Peterborough and Canterbury that the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" was probably begun (S99). It was the first history of England written in English, and the one from which we derive very important knowledge of the period extending from the beginning of the Christian era down to a time nearly a hundred years after the Norman conquest of the island. Furthermore we find that the history of the country was written by the monks in the form of independent narratives, some of which are of very great value as sources of information.[1]

[1] See six extracts from the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle," in E. K. Kendall's "Source-Book of English History," chaps. ii and iii; also William of Malmesbury's "Conquered and Conquerors" (1066) and Matthew Paris's "England in 1257," in the same book, pp. 41 and 78. See also Bogn's "Six Old English Chronicles."

47. Influence of Christianity on Society.

But the power of Christianity for good was not confied to the monasteries; the priests took their part in it. Unlike the monks, they were not bound by monastic rules, though they were forbidden to marry. They lived in the world and worked for the world, and had an immense social influence. The Church, as a rule, in all forms of its activity took the side of the weak, the suffering, and the oppressed. Slavery was then the normal condition of a large class, but when the Church held slaves it protected them from ill usage. It secured Sunday for them as a day of rest, and it often labored effectually for their emancipation.

48. Political Influence of Christianity, 664.

More than this, Christianity had a powerful political influence. A great synod or council was held at Whitby, on the coast of Yorkshire, 664, to decide when Easter should be observed. Delegates to that meeting were sent from different parts of the country. After a protracted discussion all the churches finally agreed to accept the Roman custom. This important decision encouraged a spirit of true religious unity. The bishops, monks, and priests who gathered at Whitby represented Saxon tribes which were often bitterly hostile to each other (S37), but their action on the Easter question united them in a certain way. It made them feel that they had a common interest, that they were members of the same Church, and that, in that Church, they were laboring for the same object. The fact that they bowed to one supreme spiritual authority had a political significance. It suggested that the time might be coming when all the conflicting tribes or petty kingdoms in Britain would acknowledge the authority of one King, and form one English nation.

49. Egbert becomes King of Wessex, and Overlord of the Whole Country, 829.

Somewhat more than a hundred and sixty years later a great step was taken toward the accomplishment of the political union of the different sections of Britain. By the death of the King of Wessex (S37), Egbert, a descendant of Cerdic, the first chief and King of that country, succeeded to the crown. He had spent some time in France at the court of Charlemagne and had seen that great ruler make himself master of most of western Europe. Egbert was not content to remain simply King of Wessex. He resolved to make himself master of the whole country. He began a series of wars by which he, at length, compelled all the other Saxon Kings to acknowledge him as their Overlord. That title marks the beginning, in 829, of a new period in the history of the island.

50. How Britain got the Name of England.

In making himself supreme ruler over the entire English population of Britain, Egbert laid the foundations of what was finally to become the "Kingdom of England." Several causes contributed to this change of name. We can trace the process step by step. First, the people of Kent and the great council held at Whitby (SS42, 48) laid the cornerstone of the National Church; next, the people of Wessex furnished the National Overlord (S49); finally, the preponderance of the people called Angles (S37) furnished the National Name of Angle-Land or England.

It is a fact worthy of notice, in this connection, that from Egbert as a royal source every subsequent English sovereign (except the four Danish Kings, Harold II, and William the Conqueror) has directly or indirectly descended down to the present time. (See Table of Royal Descent in the Appendix, p. xlii.)

51. Alfred the Great.

Of these sovereigns the most conspicuous during the period of which we are writing was Alfred. He was a grandson of Egbert (S49). He was rightly called Alfred the Great, since he was the embodiment of whatever was best and bravest in the English character. The keynote of his life may be found in the words which he spoke at the close of it, "So long as I have lived, I have striven to live worthily."

52. Danish Invasion.

When Alfred came to the throne (871) the Danes, or Northmen, as they were often called, were sweeping down upon the country. A few months before he became King, he had aided his brother in a desperate struggle with them. In the beginning, the object of the Danes was to plunder, later, to possess, and finally, to rule over the country. They had already overrun a large portion of England and had invaded Wessex or the country of the West Saxons. (See map facing p. 30.) Wherever their raven flag appeared, destruction and slaughter followed.

53. The Danes or Northmen destroy the Monasteries.

These terrible pirates despised Christianity. They scorned it as the weak religion of a weak people. They hated the English monasteries most of all and made them the especial objects of their attacks (SS43, 45, 46). Many of these institutions had accumulated wealth, and some had gradually sunk into habits of laziness, luxury, and other evil courses of life. The Danes, who were full of the vigorous virtues of heathenism, liked nothing better than to scourge those effeminate vices of the cloisters.

From the thorough way in which they robbed, burned, and murdered, there can be no doubt that they enjoyed their work of destruction. In their helplessness and terror, the panic-stricken monks added to their usual prayers, this fervent petition: "From the fury of the Northmen, good Lord deliver us!" The power raised up to answer that supplication was Alfred the Great.

54. Alfred's Victories over the Danes: the White Horse.

After repeated defeats Alfred finally drove back these savage hordes, who thought it a shame to earn by sweat what they could win by blood.

In these attacks Alfred led one half the army and his brother Ethelred led the other. They met the Danes at Ashdown Ridge in Berkshire. (See map facing p. 32.) While Ethelred stopped to pray for success, Alfred, under the banner of the "White Horse,"—the common standard of the English at that time,—began the attack and won the day.

Tradition declares that after the victory he ordered his army to commemorate their triumph by carving that colossal figure of a horse on the side of a neighboring chalk hill, which still remains so conspicuous an object in the landscape. It was shortly after this that Alfred became "King of the West Saxons"; but the war, far from being ended, had in fact but just begun.

55. The Danes compel Alfred to retreat.

The Danes, reenforced by other invaders, overcame Alfred's forces and compelled him to retreat. He fled to the wilds of Somersetshite, and was glad to take up his abode for a time, so the story runs, in a peasant's hut. Subsequently he succeeded in rallying part of his people, and built a stronghold on a piece of rising ground, in the midst of an almost impassable morass. There he remained during the winter.

56. Alfred's Great Victory; Treaty of Wedmore, 878.

In the spring Alfred marched forth and again attacked the Danes. They were intrenched in a camp at Edington, Wiltshire. He surrounded them, and starved them into complete submission. They had to confess that Alfred's muscular Christians were more than a match for the most stalwart heathen. The Danish leader swore to maintain a peace, called the Peace or Treaty of Wedmore. (See maps facing p. 32 and p. 38.) More than this, the discomfited warrior sealed the oath with his baptism,—an admission that Alfred had not only beaten him but converted him as well.

By the Treaty of Wedmore, 878, the Danes bound themselves to remain north and east of a line drawn from London to Chester, following the old Roman road called Watling Street. All south of this line, including a district around London, was recognized as the dominions of Alfred, whose chief city, or capital, was Winchester. (See map facing p. 32.)

By this treaty the Danes got much the larger part of England (called the Danelaw), but they acknowledged Alfred as their Overlord. He thus became, in name at least, what his predecessor, Egbert (S49), had claimed to be,—supreme ruler of the whole country, though the highest title he ever assumed was "King of the Saxons or English."

57. Alfred's Laws; his Translations.

Alfred proved himself to be more than mere ruler, for he was also a lawgiver and teacher as well. Through his efforts a written code was compiled, prefaced by the Ten Commandments and ending with the Golden Rule. Referring to this introduction, Alfred said, "He who keeps this shall not need any other law book."

Next, that learning might not utterly perish in the ashes of the abbeys and monasteries which the Danes had destroyed (S53), the King, though feeble and suffering, set himself to translate from the Lating the "Universal History of Orosius," and also Bede's valuable "Church History of England."

58. Alfred's Navy.

Alfred, however, still had to fight against fresh invasion by the Danes, who continued to make descents upon the coast, and even sailed up the Thames to take London. The English King constructed a superior class of fast-sailing war vessels from designs made by himself. With this fleet, which may be regarded as the beginning of the English navy, he fought the enemy on their own element. He thus effectually checked a series of invasions which, if they had continued, might have reduced the country to barbarism.

59. Estimate of Alfred's Reign.

Considered as a whole, Alfred's reign (871-901) is hte most noteworthy of any in the annals of the early English sovereigns. It was marked throughout by intelligence and progress.

His life speaks for itself. The best commentary on it is the fact that, in 1849, the people of Wantage, his native place, celebrated the thousandth anniversary of his birth,—another proof that "what is excellent, as God lives, is permanent."[1]

[1] R. W. Emerson's "Poems."

60. St. Dunstan's Three Great Reforms (960-988).

Long after Alfred's death, St. Dunstan, then Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the English Church, set out to push forward the work begun by the great King. He labored to accomplish three things. First, he sought to establish a higher system of education; secondly, he desired to elevate the general standard of monastic life; finally, he tried to inaugurate a period of national peace and economic progress.

He began his work when he had control of the abbey of Glastonbury, in the southwest of England. He succeeded in making the school connected with that abbey the most famous one in the whole kingdom (S45). He not only taught himself, but, by his enthusiasm, he inspired others to teach. He was determined that from Glastonbury a spirit should go forth which should make the Church of England the real educator of the English people. Next, he devoted himself to helping the inmates of the monasteries in their efforts to reach a truer and stronger manhood. That, of course, was the original purpose for which those institutions had been founded (S45), but, in time, many of them had more or less degenerated. Every athlete and every earnest student knows how hard it is to keep up the course of training he has resolved upon. The strain sometimes becomes too great for him. Well, the monk in his cell had found out how difficult it was for him to be always faithful to his religious vows. St. Dunstan roused these men to begin their work anew. He re-created monasticism in England, making it stricter in discipline and purer in purpose.

Last of all, the Archbishop endeavored to secure greater freedom from strife. He saw that the continued wars of the English were killing off their young men—the real hope of the country—and were wasting the best powers of the nation. His influence with the reigning monarch was very great, and he was successful, for a time, in reconciling the Danes and the English (SS53, 56). It was said that he established "peace in the kingdom such as had not been known within the memory of man." At the same time the Archbishop, who was himself a skillful mechanic and worker in metals,[1] endeavored to encourage inventive industry and the exportation of products to the Continent. He did everything in his power to extend foreign trade, and it was largely through his efforts that "London rose to the commercial greatness it has held ever since."[2] Because of these things, one of the best known English historians,[3] speaking of that period, declares that Dunstan "stands forth as the leading man in both Church and State."

[1] The common people regarded his accomplishments in this direction with superstitious awe. Many stories of his skill were circulated, and it was even whispered that in a personal contest with the Evil One, it was the foul fiend and not the monk who got the worst of it, and fled from the saint's workshop, howling with dismay. [2] R. Green's "English People." [3] E. A. Freeman's "Norman Conquest," I, 65.

61. New Invasions; Danegeld (992).

With the close of Dunstan's career, a period of decline set in. The Northmen began to make fresh inroads (S53). The resistance to them became feeble and faint-hearted. At last a royal tax, called Danegeld, or Dane money (992), was levied on all landed property in England in order to buy off the invaders. For a brief period this cowardly concession answered its purpose. But a time came when the Danes refused to be bribed to keep away.

62. The Northmen invade France.

The Danish invasion of England was really a part of a great European movement. The same Northmen who had obtained so large a part of the island (S56) had, in the tenth century, established themselves in France.

There they were known as Normans, a softened form of the word "Northmen," and the district where they settled came to be called from them Normandy. They founded a line of dukes, or princes, who were destined, in the course of the next century, to give a new aspect to the events of English history.

63. Sweyn conquers England; Canute[1] (1017-1035).

Early in the eleventh century Sweyn, the Dane, conquered England (1013), and "all the people," says the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" (S99), "held him for full king." He was succeeded by his son Canute (1017). He could hardly be called a foreigner, since he spoke a language and set up a government differing but little from that of the English.

[1] "Cnut," a shortened form of Canute.

After his first harsh measures were over he sought the friendship of both Church and people. He gave the country peace. Tradition reports that he rebuked the flattery of courtiers by showing them that the inrolling tide is no respecter of persons; he endeavored to rule justly, and his liking for the monks found expression in his song:

"Merrily sang the monks of Ely As Cnut the King was passing by."

64. Canute's Plan; the Four Earldoms.

Canute's plan was to establish a great northern empire embracing Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and England. To facilitate the government of so large a realm, he divided England into four districts,—Wessex, Mercia, East Anglia, and Northumbria—which, with their dependencies, embraced the entire country. (See map facing p. 38.)

Each of these districts was ruled by an earl[1] invested with almost royal power. For a time the arrangement worked well, but eventually discord sprang up and imperiled the unity of the kingdom. After Canute's death two of his sons divided England between themselves; both were bad rulers.

[1] Earl ("chief" or "leader"): a title of honor and of office. The four earldoms established by Canute remained nearly unchanged until the Norman Conquest, 1066.

65. Restoration of the Saxon or English Kings; Edward the Confessor (1042-1066).

On the occasion of the Danish conqueror Sweyn (S63), Ethelred II, the English King, sent his French wife Emma back to Normandy for safety. She took her son, Prince Edward, then a lad of nine, with her. He remained at the French court nearly thirty years, and among other friends to whom he became greatly attached was his second cousin, William, Duke of Normandy.

The oppressive acts of Canute's sons (S64) excited insurrection (1042), and both Danes and English joined in the determination to restore the English line. They invited Prince Edward to accept the crown. He returned to England, obtained the throne, and pledged himself to restore the rights of which the people had been deprived. By birth King Edward was already half Norman; by education and tastes he was wholly so.

It is very doubtful whether he could speak a word of English, and it is certain that from the beginning he surrounded himself with French favorites, and filled the Church with French priests. Edward's piety and blameless life gained for him the title of "the Confessor," or, as we should say to-day, "the Christian."

He married the daughter of Godwin, Earl of Wessex, the most powerful noble in England. Godwin really ruled the country in the King's name until his death (1053), when his son Harold (S67) succeeded him as earl.

66. Edward the Confessor builds Westminster Abbey.

During a large part of his reign the King was engaged in building an abbey or monastery at the west end of London, and hence called the Westminster.[2] He had just completed and consecrated this great work when he died, and was buried there. We may still see a part of the original building in the crypt or basement of the abbey, while the King's tomb above is the center of a circle of royal graves.

[2] Minster: a name given originally to a monastery; next, to a church connected with a monastery; but now applied to several large English cathedrals.

Multitudes made pilgrimages to King Edward's tomb, for the Pope had enrolled him among the saints. Even now a little band of devoted Catholics gather around his shrine every year. They go there to show their veneration for the virtues and the piety of a ruler who would have adorned a monastery, but had not breadth and vigor to fill a throne.

67. Harold becomes King (1066).

On his deathbed, King Edward, who had no children, recommended Harold, Earl of Wessex, as his successor (S65). But the Normans in France declared Edward had promised that his cousin William, Duke of Normandy (S65), should reign after him. The Witan, or National Council of England (S81), chose Harold. That settled the question, for the Council alone had the right to decide who should rule over the English people. Harold was soon afterward crowned (January 16, 1066).

68. Duke William prepares to invade England (1066).

William, Duke of Normandy, was getting ready for a hunting expedition when the news was brought to him of Harold's accession (S67). The old chronicler says that the Duke "stopped short in his preparations; he spoke to no man, and no man dared speak to him." Finally he resolved to appeal to the sword and take the English crown by force.

During the spring and summer of that year, he occupied himself in fitting out a fleet to invade England, and his smiths and armorers were busy making lances, swords, and coats of mail. The Pope favored the expedition and presented a banner blessed by himself, to be carried in the attack; "mothers, too, sent their sons for the salvation of their souls."

69. The Expedition Sails (1066).

William sailed on his great expedition in the autumn with a fleet of several hundred vesseles and a large number of transports. The Duke's ship, with the consecrated banner at the masthead, led the fleet.

His army consisted of archers and cavalry. Its strength has been variously estimated at from 14,000 men up to 60,000. They were partly his own subjects, and partly hired soldiers, or those who joined for the sake of plunder. William also carried a large force of smiths and carpenters, with timber ready cut and fitted to set up a wooden castle.

70. William lands at Pevensey.

The next day the fleet anchored at Pevensey, on the south coast of England, under the walls of an old Roman fortress which had stood, a vacant ruin, since the Saxons stormed it nearly six hundred years before. (See map facing p. 38.) Tradition says that as William stepped on shore he stumbled and fell flat with his face downward. "God preserve us!" cried one of his men; "this is a bad sign." But the Duke, grasping the pebbles of the beach with both his outstretched hands, exclaimed, "Thus do I seize the land!"

71. King Harold in the North.

There was, in fact, no power to prevent him from establishing his camp, for King Harold (S67) was in the north quelling an invasion headed by the King of the Norwegians and his brother Tostig, who hoped to secure the throne for himself. Harold had just sat down to a victory feast, after the battle of Stamford Bridge, Yorkshire, when news was brought to him of the landing of William.

It was this fatal want of unity in England which made the Norman Conquest possible. If Harold's own brother, Tostig, had not turned traitorously against him, or if the north country had stood squarely by the south, Duke William might have found his fall on the beach an omen full of disaster.

72. What Duke William did after Landing.

As there was no one to oppose him, William made a fort in a corner of the old Roman wall at Pevensey (S70), and then marched to Hastings, a few miles farther east, where he set up a wooden castle on that hill where the ruins of a later stone castle may still be seen. Having done this, he pillaged the country in every direction.

73. Harold marches to meet William.

King Harold, having gathered what forced he could, marched to meet William at a place midway between Pevensey and Hastings, about five miles back from the coast. Harold had the advantage of a stockaded fort he had built; William, that of a body of cavalry and archers, for the English fought on foot with javelins and battle-axes mainly. The Saxons spent the night in feasting and song, the Normans in prayer and confession; both were eager to fight.

74. The Great Battle of Hastings, 1066.

On the morning of the 14th of October the fight began. It lasted until dark, with heavy loss on both sides. At length William's strategy carried the day, and Harold and his brave followers found to their cost that then, as now, it is "the thinking bayonet" which conquers. The English King was slain and every man of his chosen troops with him. A monk who wrote the history of the period of the Conquest, says that "the vices of the Saxons had made them effeminate and womanish, wherefore it came to pass that, running against Duke William, they lost themselves and their country with one, and that an easy and light, battle." Doubtless the English had fallen off in many ways from what hey had been generations earlier; but the record at Hastings shows that they had lost neither strength, courage, nor endurance, and a harder battle ws never fought on British soil.

75. Battle Abbey; Harold's Grave; the Beyeu^x Tapestry.

A few years later, the Norman Conqueror built the Abbey of Battle on the spot to commemorate the victory by which he gained his crown. He directed that the monks of the abbey should chant perpetual prayers over the Norman soldiers who had fallen there. Here, also, tradition represents him as having buried Harold's body, just after the fight, under a heap of stones by the seashore. Some months later, it is said that the friends of the English King removed the remains to Waltham, near London, and buried them in the church which he had built and endowed there. Be that as it may, his grave, wherever it is, is the grave of the old England. Henceforth a new people (though not a new race, for the Normans originally came from the same Germanic stock as the English did) (S62) will appear in the history of the island.

Several contemporary accounts of the battle exist by both French and English writers, but one of the best histories of it is that which was wrought in colors by a woman's hand. It represents the scenes of the famous contest on a strip of canvas known as the Bayeux Tapestry (S155), a name derived from the French town where it is still preserved.

76. Close of the Period; what the Saxon Conquest of Britain had accomplished.

The death of King Harold ends the Saxon or English period of history. Before entering upon the reign of William the Conqueror let us consider what that period had accomplished. We have seen that the Jutes, Saxons, and Angles (SS36, 37) invaded Britain at a critical period. Its original inhabitants had become cowed and enervated by the despotism and the worn-out civilization forced on them by the Romans (SS30-32).

The newcomers brought that healthy spirit of barbarism, that irrepressible love of personal liberty, which the country sorely needed. The conquerors were rough, ignorant, cruel; but they were vigorous, fearless, and determined.

These qualities were worth a thousand times more to Britain than the gilded corruption of Rome. But in the course of time the Saxons or English themselves lost spirit (S36). Their besetting sin was a stolidity which degenerated into animalism and sluggish content.

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