Early Britain—Roman Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 195 pages of information about Early BritainRoman Britain.
place had there been anything like continuity in their inhabitants.  Even the Roman roads, as we have seen,[382] received English designations.  We may well believe that most Romano-British towns shared the fate of Anderida (the one recorded instance of destruction),[383] and that the word “chester” was only applied to the Roman ruins by their destroyers.[384] But such places as London, York, and Lincoln may well have lived on through the first generation of mere savage onslaught, after which the English gradually began to tolerate even for themselves a town life.

E. 2.—­And though in the country districts the agricultural population were swept away pitilessly to make room for the invaders,[385] till the fens of Ely[386] and the caves of Ribblesdale[387] became the only refuge of the vanquished, yet, undoubtedly, many must have been retained as slaves, especially amongst the women, to leaven the language of the conquerors with many a Latin word, and their ferocity with many a recollection of the gentler Roman past.

E. 3.—­And there was one link with that past which not all the massacres and fire-raisings of the Conquest availed to break.  The Romano-British populations might be slaughtered, the Romano-British towns destroyed, but the Romano-British Church lived on; the most precious and most abiding legacy bestowed by Rome upon our island.

E. 4.—­The origin of that Church has been assigned by tradition to directly Apostolic sources.  The often-quoted passage from Theodoret,[388] of St. Paul having “brought help” to “the isles of the sea” [[Greek:  tais en to pelagei diakeimenais nesois]], can scarcely, however, refer to this island.  No classical author ever uses the word [Greek:  pelagos] of the Oceanic waters; and the epithet [Greek:  diakeimenais], coming, as it does, in connection with the Apostle’s preaching in Italy and Spain, seems rather to point to the islands between these peninsulas—­Sardinia, Corsica, and the Balearic Islands.  But the well-known words of St. Clement of Rome,[389] that St. Paul’s missionary journeys extended to “the End of the West” [Greek:  to terma tes duseos], were, as early as the 6th century, held to imply a visit to Britain (for our island was popularly supposed by the ancients to lie west of Spain).[390] The lines of Venantius (A.D. 580) even seem to contain a reference to the tradition that he landed at Portsmouth: 

    “Transit et Oceanum, vel qua facit insula portum, Quasque
    Britannus habet terras atque ultima Thule.”

    ["Yea, through the ocean he passed, where the Port is made by
    an island, And through each British realm, and where the world
    endeth at Thule.”]

E. 5.—­The Menology of the Greek Church (6th century) ascribes the organization of the British Church to the visitation, not of St. Paul, but of St. Peter in person.

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