Early Britain—Roman Britain eBook

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

The relief, however, was but momentary.  Five years later (374) another great Saxon raid is recorded; yet eight years more and the Picts and Scots have again to be driven from the land; and in the next decade their attacks became incessant.


Roman evacuation of Britain begun—­Maximus—­Settlement of
Brittany—­Stilicho restores the Wall—­Radagaisus invades
Italy—­Twentieth Legion leaves Britain—­Britain in the
’Notitia’—­Final effort of British Army—­The last Constantine—­Last
Imperial Rescript to Britain—­Sack of Rome by Alaric—­Collapse of
Roman rule in Britain.

C. 1.—­By this time the evacuation of Britain by the Roman soldiery had fairly begun.  Maximus, the last victor over the Scots, the “Pirate of Richborough,” as Ausonius calls him, set up as Emperor (A.D. 383); and the Army of Britain again marched on Rome, and again, as under Constantine, brought its leader in triumph to the Capitol (A.D. 387).  But this time it did not return.  When Maximus was defeated and slain (A.D. 388) at Aquileia by the Imperial brothers-in-law Valentinian II. and Theodosius the Great[350] (sons of the so-named leaders connected with Britain), his soldiers, as they retreated homewards, straggled on the march; settling, amid the general confusion, here and there, mostly in Armorica, which now first began to be called Brittany.[351] This tale rests only on the authority of Nennius, but it is far from improbable, especially as his sequel—­that a fresh legion dispatched to Britain by Stilicho (in 396) once more repelled the Picts and Scots, and re-secured the Wall—­is confirmed by Claudian, who makes Britain (in a sea-coloured cloak and bearskin head-gear) hail Stilicho as her deliverer: 

Inde Caledonio velata Britannia monstro, Ferro picta genas, cujus vestigia verrit Coerulus, Oceanique aestum mentitur, amictus:  “Me quoque vicinis percuntem gentibus,” inquit, “Munivit Stilichon, totam quum Scotus Iernen Movit, et infesto spumavit remige Tethys.  Illius effectum curis, ne tela timerem Scotica, ne Pictum tremerem, ne litore toto Prospicerem dubiis venturum Saxona ventis."[352]
[Then next, with Caledonian bearskin cowled, Her cheek steel-tinctured, and her trailing robe Of green-shot blue, like her own Ocean’s tide, Britannia spake:  “Me too,” she cried, “in act To perish ’mid the shock of neighbouring hordes, Did Stilicho defend, when the wild Scot All Erin raised against me, and the wave Foamed ’neath the stroke of many a foeman’s oar.  So wrought his pains that now I fear no more Those Scottish darts, nor tremble at the Pict, Nor mark, where’er to sea mine eyes I turn, The Saxon coming on each shifting wind.”]

C. 2.—­Which legion it was which Stilicho sent to Britain is much more questionable.  The Roman legions were seldom moved from province to province, and it is perhaps more probable that he filled up the

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