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CIVIL SERVICE ENGLISH HISTORY.
THE ROMAN PERIOD.
B.C. 55-A.D. 410.
1. The Ancient Britons.-Little is known respecting the aboriginal inhabitants of Britain. It is believed that they were descended from Celts, who had colonised the island from the continent. At the time of the Roman Invasion they were broken up into separate tribes, which were perpetually at war. The Britons of the north and middle districts were chiefly hunters and herds• men. Those in the south were more advanced. They possessed the arts of mining and smelting, and traded with foreigners in tin, lead, &c.*
2. Cæsar's Invasions, B.C. 55, 54.-In the autumn of B.C. 55, after the conquest of Gaul, Julius Cæsar invaded Britain, upon the pretext, among others, that its inhabitants had aided his Gallic foes. He first made a descent upon the coast of Kent, landing, it is generally believed, at Deal, was opposed, and, after obtaining promises of submission from the Britons, returned into Gaul. In the following spring, B.C. 54, finding these promises were disregarded, he made a second expedition, penetrated to St. Albans (Verulamium), which he burned, and finally concluded a peace.
* Cæsar ('De Bello Gallico '), Tacitus (Agricola '), Camden's 'Britannia,' the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and the works of Lappenberg, Palgrave, Sharon Turner, Kemble, Wright, Herbert, Guest, and others, may be consulted for the period of English History preceding the Norman Conquest. After this the sources of information are innumerable, and need not be particularised.
3. Ostorius Scapula, A.D. 47.-A long period elapsed before the Romans again visited Britain. An expedition under Aulus Plautius, sent over in 43 by the Emperor Claudius (who subsequently himself came to the aid of his general), was opposed by the Britons under Caractacus; and it was not until Ostorius Scapula overran the country as far north as the Tyne that Caractacus was made prisoner and sent to Rome. Even then the Roman general failed to subdue the inhabitants of South Wales (Silures), and he is said to have died of grief in consequence.
4. Massacre of the Druids, 61.-Suetonius Paulinus, the third successor of Scapula, reduced Anglesea (Mona) and suppressed the barbarous and cruel worship of the Druids, who had gradually taken refuge in that island, causing the priests and priestesses to be burned in the fires which they had prepared for their enemies. The Druids were the priesthood of Britain, and possessed immense influence over the people. They enjoyed immunity from war and taxes, were the sole educators of youth, and decided all disputes.
5. Revolt of the Iceni, 61.-In the absence of Suetonius, the Britons revolted under Boadicea (Queen of the Iceni, or inhabitants of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridge), who, with her daughters, had suffered great indignities at the hands of the Roman Procurator, Catus. London was taken and burned by the insurgents, but they were ultimately defeated by the Romans with great slaughter, and the 'British Warrior Queen' poisoned herself to avoid falling into the hands of her conquerors.
6. Agricola's Conquest, 78-85.-Julius Agricola finally established the Roman Dominion. He extended it into Scotland (Caledonia) defeating the Scottish chief Galgacus at the foot of the Grampian Hills. His fleet sailed round Britain, which was now first discovered by the Romans to be an island.
7. Walls of Hadrian and Antoninus, 121, 139.-These were erected to prevent the incursions of the northern barbarians, later known as the Picts and Scots,* who descended into southern Britain from Scotland. The so-called Wall of Hadrian (now known as the Picts' Wall), built in 121, extended from the Solway Firth to the mouth of the Tyne. The Emperor Severus
*Much uncertainty prevails with respect to these tribes. The former are generally held to have been remnants of the aboriginal Celtic population who took refuge in the-to the invaders-inaccessible mountains of Wales and Scotland. The latter are believed to have been an Irish race, who entered Northern Britain from the adjacent island of Ireland, or, as it was then named, cotia.
afterwards repaired and strengthened it. A second and more northerly wall, the Wall of Antoninus (now known as Graham's Dyke), was built in 139, during the reign of the Emperor whose name it bore. It reached from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Clyde, and lay along a line of fortresses constructed by Agricola as a protection against the Caledonian tribes. (See map of Roman Britain, p. 73.)
8. Evacuation of Britain by the Romans, 410.-The power of the Romans, which had been gradually declining, came to an end in the reign of the Emperor Honorius, who was wholly engrossed by the attacks of the Goths under Alaric. Honorius withdrew his legions, released the British cities from their homage, and, although many Romans remained in the island until a much later date than 410, its connexion with the empire was severed. It was thus left unprotected against the Picts and Scots, who assailed it from the north, while a new enemy appeared in the south, in the persons of the Teutonic pirates who infested the coasts of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, and Sussex.
9. State of Britain under the Roman Dominion, B.C. 43-A.D. 410.—When Cæsar invaded the country the inhabitants were rude and uncultivated, though certainly above the level of barbarians. In all probability the Romans furthered, if they did not actually initiate, the introduction of Christianity into Britain; and under their auspices great advances were made by the inhabitants in agriculture, commerce, and civilisation generally. They built numerous towns, whose origin is still attested by their names, e.g.— Maldon, Camalodunum; Lincoln, Lindum colonia; and they improved and perfected, if they did not originally construct, four great main roads, viz. (1) Watling Street, which ran westward from Richborough (Rutupia) and London to Caernarvon; (2) Ikenild Street, which ran from Tynemouth by York (Eboracum), Birmingham, and Derby to St. David's; (3) Ermin, or Hermin Street, leading from St. David's in a south-easterly direction to Southampton, and (4) the Foss Way, which went from Cornwall by Exeter (Isca Dumnoniorum), Cirencester (Corinium), and Leicester (Rage), to Lincoln. They protected the country from the Picts and Scots, and from the Saxon pirates, for which latter duty a special officer, styled the Count of the Saxon Shore (Comes littoris Saxonici), whose jurisdiction extended from Brancaster in Norfolk to Pevensey in Sussex, was appointed. They seem to have occupied the land as conquerors, and, mixing little with the natives, left few traces of their blood.
THE SAXON AND DANISH PERIOD.
10. The Saxon Invasion, 449.-To protect themselves against the Picts and Scots, the Britons, who had grown unaccustomed to the use of arms during the Roman occupation, and who failed in their appeals to Rome for assistance, are said to have invoked the aid of their southern assailants, the Saxons, who afterwards turned against their allies, and, continually recruited by fresh immigrants, gradually established themselves in the country.
Although known by the general name of Saxons, the new invaders really consisted of (1) Jutes, from the present peninsula of Jutland; (2) Saxons, from the region between the Rhine and Elbe; and (3) Angles, from Schleswig-Holstein. The Saxons and Angles were by far the more numerous: from the latter comes the name England, first used in 688, but formally given to the country by Egbert in 829. 11. The Heptarchy, 457-827.-By the successive incursions of the Saxons, seven kingdoms were formed, as follow: