Early Britain—Roman Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about Early Britain—Roman Britain.
pronunciamentos (the least unsuccessful being those for Postumus in A.D. 258, and Victorinus in A.D. 265), and in 277 the Emperor Probus, probably to keep it in check, leavened it with a large force recruited from amongst his Vandal prisoners,[316] whose name may, perhaps, still survive in Vandlebury Camp, on the Gog-Magog[317] Hills, near Cambridge.  But not till the energy and genius of Diocletian began to bring back to order the chaos into which the Roman world had fallen does Britain play any real part in the higher politics.

A. 2.—­Then, however, we suddenly find ourselves confronted with names destined to exert a supreme influence on the future of our land.  The Saxons from the Elbe, and the Franks from the Rhine had already begun their pirate raids along the coasts to the westwards.[318] Each tribe derived its name from its peculiar national weapon (the Franks from their throwing-axe (franca),[319] the Saxons from the saexes, long murderous knives, snouted like a Norwegian knife of the present day, which they used with such deadly effect);[320] and their appearance constituted a new and fearful danger to the Roman Empire.  Never, since the Mediterranean pirates were crushed by Pompey (B.C. 66) had it been exposed to attacks by sea.  A special effort was needed to meet this new situation, and we find, accordingly, a new officer now added to the Imperial muster,—­the Count of the Saxon Shore.  His jurisdiction extended over the northern coast of Gaul and the southern and eastern shores of Britain, the head-quarters of his fleet being at Boulogne.

A. 3.—­The first man to be placed in this position was Carausius,[321] a Frisian adventurer of low birth, but great military reputation, to which unfortunately he proved unequal.  When his command was not followed by the looked-for putting-down of the pirate raiders, he was suspected, probably with truth, of a secret understanding with them.  The Government accordingly sent down orders for his execution, to which he replied (A.D. 286) by open rebellion, took the pirate fleets into his pay, and having thus got the undisputed command of the sea, succeeded in maintaining himself as Emperor in Britain for the rest of his life.

A. 4.—­His reign and that of his successor (and murderer) Allectus are marked by the last and most extraordinary development of Romano-British coinage.  Since the time of Caracalla no coins which can be definitely proved to deserve this name are found; but now, in less than ten years, our mints struck no fewer than five hundred several issues, all of different types.  Nearly all are of bronze, with the radiated head of the Emperor on the obverse, and on the reverse devices of every imaginable kind.  The British Lion once more figures, as in the days of Cymbeline; and we have also the Roman Wolf, the Sea-horse, the Cow (as a symbol of Prosperity), Plenty, Peace, Victory, Prudence, Health, Safety, Might, Good Luck, Glory, all symbolized in various ways.  But the favourite

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