Early Britain—Roman Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about Early Britain—Roman Britain.

D. 5.—­And as the Britons never quite forgot their claims on the Empire, so the Empire never quite forgot its claims on Britain.  How entirely the island was cut off from Rome we can best appreciate by the references to it in Procopius.  This learned author, writing under Justinian, scarcely 150 years since the day when the land was fully Roman, conceives of Britannia and Brittia as two widely distant islands—­the one off the coast of Spain, the other off the mouth of the Rhine.[375] The latter is shared between the Angili, Phrissones,[376] and Britons, and is divided from North to South[377] by a mighty Wall, beyond which no mortal man can breathe.  Hither are ferried over from Gaul by night the souls of the departed;[378] the fishermen, whom a mysterious voice summons to the work, seeing no one, but perceiving their barks to be heavily sunk in the water, yet accomplishing the voyage with supernatural celerity.

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


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

E. 1.—­Few questions have been more keenly debated than the extent to which Roman civilization in Britain survived the English Conquest.  On the one hand we have such high authorities as Professor Freeman assuring us that our forefathers swept it away as ruthlessly and as thoroughly as the Saracens in Africa; on the other, those who consider that little more disturbance was wrought than by the Danish invasions.  The truth probably lies between the two, but much nearer to the former than the latter.  The substitution of an English for the Roman name of almost every Roman site in the country[381] could scarcely have taken

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Early Britain—Roman Britain from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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