History of Britain From The Flood To A.D. 700 | Part Three
THE THIRD, OR ROMAN ERA.
CESAR, in justification of his invasion of Britain, alleges that the Britons were the first aggressors. This statement is in some degree borne out by the “Historic Triads.” Prior to the campaigns in the North of Gaul, the “second silver host,” recorded in these writings, quitted Britain under the command of Gwenwynwyn and Gwanar, nephews of Caswallon, accompanied by Caswallon in per-son. They landed to the number of 50,000 men at Brest, B.C. 57. Marching Southward, they effected a junction with the Aquitani. Flûr, or Flora, daughter of Mygnach Gôr (the Dwarf,) who had been engaged in marriage to ‘Caswallon, had been forcibly carried off by Morchau, a Regulus of Aquitania. The Triads affirm Cesar to have been the instigator of the act; and the reckless immorality of his private life in Gaul, as depicted by Suetonius, gives color to the statement. The castle of Morchau was stormed by Caswallon, and Flora brought in safety to Caer Troia. Lucius Valerius Proeconinus, the Roman lieutenant, taking the field against Caswallon, was routed at Tolosa, with the loss of six thousand men. Lucius Marsilius, the pro-consul, attempting to retrieve the disaster of his predecessor, met with a more ignominous fate, being compelled to fly with the loss of all his baggage and commissariat stores. Cesar, on receiving intelligence of these reverses, and finding in all his engagements British troops in the Gallic armies arrayed against him, decided on turning his arms against Britain itself. The Veneti of Armorica, who were then the great mercantile people of Gaul, and carried on a flourishing trade with Britain, took immediate measures for preventing his passage. As long as the Venetine fleet remained mistress of the narrow seas, no expedition to which it was hostile could quit the ports of Gaul. The destruction of this fleet became, therefore, Cesar’s first object. His description of it shows that the Veneti had attained a very high state of proficiency in naval architecture. The ships were constructed of solid oak, to resist the violence of the Atlantic storms and waves. The benches for the rowers were rivetted with iron pins, an inch each in diameter. Iron cables secured the ponderous anchors. Instead of canvas, sheets of dressed leather were used for sails. On the sides of these vessels, the hulls of which towered above the Roman masts, the brazen beaks of the latter force could make no impression; nor could their decks be swept by engines or archery. (Cesar, lib. III.) Whenever a city or fortress on the coast was besieged and hard pressed, the Venetine navy ran in and embarked the population for some other locality. Cesar seized at last the opportunity of a dead calm, which nullified its manoeuvring superiority, to attack it. The Venetines, after a battle which lasted from morning to night, succumbed to the tactics and courage of the Roman commander. The victory was stained by an act of the most revolting cruelty. The whole of the Venetine senate was massacred, and every prisoner of war sold into slavery. The news soon reached Britain, and the whole Island rang with execrations on the perpetrator. Caswallon immediately returned from Aquitaine into Britain—leaving the Kymric army, under his nephews, in permanent occupation of the land between the Lower Loire and the Gironde,—a tract as full of Druidic remains as Wales or Bretagne. Cesar, advancing by slow marches along the coast, arrived at Portus Iccius, near Calais.
“Prior to Cesar,” observe the classic authors, “no foreign conqueror had ever ventured to assail the shores of Britain.” A brief account of this extraordinary man may not, therefore, be out of place in these outlines of British History.
Caius Julius Cesar, the son of Caius Julius, was born B.C. 108 years. In his 16th year he lost his father; in his 17th, he was appointed Flamen Dialis, or priest of Jupiter—the highest ecclesiastical office in Rome. In his 18th year he married Julia, daughter of Cinna, one of the great leaders of the Roman Democrat y against Oligarchy. She bore him a daughter, named Julia. Cesar’s aunt, Julia, was married to Caius Marius, the military leader of the democracy. In his oration at her funeral, Cesar thus speaks of his family descent:-
“My aunt Julia derived her descent, by the mother, from a race of Kings; and by her father, from the immortal Gods. For the Marcian kings, her mother’s family, deduce their pedigree from Ancus Martius and the Julii, her father’s from Venus—of which stock we are a branch. We unite therefore in our descent the sacred majesty of Kings, the chiefest among men, and the divine majesty of Gods, to whom Kings themselves are subject.”
Sylla, the leader of the oligarchy, after the death of Marius, insisted on Cesar divorcing Julia ; and on his declining, deprived him of his office, and confiscated his own and his wife’s estates. He wandered for many months in extreme danger and penury amongst the fastnesses of the Apennines. Sylla’s most influential supporters interceded strongly with him on Cesar’s behalf. He consented, but most reluctantly, to recall shim, using these prophetic words:—“Take him to you—but know that in this young man are many Marii—he will be the destruction of the aristocracy of Rome.” He was soon acknowledged as the leader of the people. His career ill appointed to the command of the legions in Gaul must be sought for in the history of Rome. The account of his campaigns in Gaul, which has come down to us from his own pen, is perhaps the most cold-blooded narrative ever composed by a great mind. It is difficult to point out in it a single chivalrous sentiment or a spark of generous sympathy with the heroes, the patriots, or the antagonists opposed to him in defence of their native lands. The quantity of human blood shed by him can on the other hand scarcely be estimated; the computation of five millions of lives destroyed in his various wars in Gaul, Britain, Italy, Spain, Africa, Greece, and Asia, falls probably short of the truth. In Gaul alone eight hundred towns were sacked by him, —- oftener, states his biographer, for the sake of the spoil than for any ill they had done. In some of them—Avaricum, for instance, not a single person was left alive. The Eburones, a Kymro-Teutonic tribe, rising after the campaigns in Britain, under Ambiorix, their youthful king, defeated and cut to pieces the legions of Cotta and Sabinus. Cesar, instead of proceeding according to the law of nations, proclaimed them outlaws to the human race, leagued the Keltic clans in alliance with Rome against them, and ordered every Eburon, wherever found, to be put to death without mercy. The gallant tribe, resisting to the last, was exterminated to a man, and the forest of Ardennes gradually closed upon the district once studded with their populous villages. This utter callousness to the first sentiments of humanity forms the principal feature in the character of Cesar, as indeed of many other conquerors. Yet, brutally as it was developed on a great scale, the Latin court writers under ‘his successors, do not blush to attribute to him the virtue of clemency, because he spared the lives of a few of his countrymen, opposed to his views at Rome.
In the magnitude of his wars—in military genius, sagacity, fertility of invention, rapidity and thoroughness of execution, there are but four commanders who can be considered his equals—Alexander, ‘Hannibal, Constantine the Great, and Napoleon. He possessed in the ‘highest degree the art of winning the devotion of his soldiers. After a victory, he allowed them unbounded relaxation. In his orations, he always addressed them as “fellow soldiers.” He took care that their arms and accoutrements should be both splendid and effective. His attachment to them was, or pretended to be, so strong that on hearing of the defeat of one of his generals, Titurius, he neither shaved nor cut his hair until he had avenged it upon the enemy. None of his soldiers in either his foreign or civil wars ever deserted him. Many who were taken prisoners and offered their lives on condition of serving against him, refused. In actual service, the discipline he maintained was of extreme severity. To such a pitch of endurance had he trained his legions that Pompey, when beseiged by them, and knowing that they had nothing to support themselves on but bread made of herbs, observed, “He had to do with wild beasts, not men.” A single cohort of the ninth legion held, on one occasion, a fort against four legions of Pompey. Every man was wounded, and within the ramparts were subsequently counted 138,000 arrows, which had been discharged against them. In the use of arms, Cesar was himself perfect. No amount of labour affected his iron constitution. He rose with the sun. On a march, he took his position at the head of his favourite legion, the l0th—sometimes on foot, more generally on horse back, with his head bare in all kinds of weather. In a light carriage, without luggage, he often travelled one hundred miles a day. If the rivers were flooded, he would swim, or float on inflated hides across with the current to the other side; being thus the herald of his own arrival on the scene of action. His daring and caution were alike conspicuous. At the .end of a long march or in the midst of the most violent storm, he would attack the enemy. The earth-works, camps, and lines of circumvallation thrown up by his army, still excite the wonder and envy of modern engineers. If the issue of a battle threatened to be dubious, he sent away all the horses, his own first. If his men gave way at any spot, he charged there at the head of his body guard in person. On one of these occasions a standard-bearer, whom he arrested in his retreat, left the standard in his hand. He lost two swords in single combats, one to Nennius, the brother of Caswallon, at the battle of Caer caint, or Canterbury; the other at the siege of Gergovia, in Auvergne. When shown the latter, years afterwards by the townsmen, he sternly bid them take it out of his sight. The former was preserved at the Bryn gwyn, till removed by Constantine to Constantinople.
The Commentaries of Cesar, containing his Gallic and British campaigns, are to be received as the bulletins of an enemy—much as we should read the bulletins of Napoleon on the late Peninsular war, or those of the Russian Government on the actions in the Crimea. His own party admitted them to be composed with little regard to facts; but as giving us the first foreign impressions of our Island, they are, despite the credulity they exhibit, and the grave suppressions of truth in which they abound, very valuable contributions to our knowledge of Ancient Europe.
Cesar does not give the number of ships of war employed on his first invasion. The transports for the infantry were about eighty; for the cavalry, eighteen. The army consisted of two legions, amounting with their auxiliaries, to between twenty-four and thirty thousand men. It is evident the Roman commander egregiously under-rated the extent of the British power, and the ability of the King by whom it was wielded : nor does he explain how his statements that British auxiliaries abounded in the Gallic armies, and that all the young nobility of Gaul were educated in the Druidic colleges of Britain, can be reconciled with another statement of his, that all his efforts at a general congress of the Gallic merchants failed to elicit any information with regard to the constitution, laws, and, military resources of the Island. There can be little doubt that such ignorance was affected and that the knowledge possessed by thousands on these points was, under the tremendous seal of silence imposed by the Druidic hierarchy, designedly withheld. Comius of Arras, who had been dispatched by him into Britain was arrested and thrown into prison. Caius Volusenus, whom he had sent to survey the coast, returned on the fifth day with information that the whole of the sea line opposite Gaul was occupied at regular intervals by British troops. The reply of the British Pendragon to the Roman demands was delivered to Cesar by Comius of Arras, who was liberated and provided with a vessel for this purpose. It was to the following effect. —-
Caswallon, Pendragon of Britain, to Caius Julius Cesar, Consul.
We have received your letters demanding tribute and submission on the part of this Island of Britain, to the Senate of Rome. The ambition of the Roman people we know to be insatiable; Europe it too little for them—they covet the riches of the nation whom the ocean itself divides from the rest of the world. But our possessions alone will not content them—we must cease to be free, we must become their slaves. The Britons and Romans derive their descent from the same Trojan origin—such consanguinity should be the firmest guarantee of peace and equality between them. Our alliance we freely tend Rome; but as for subjection, we have never hitherto known the thing, even by name. If the Gods themselves invaded our liberties, we would to the utmost of our power defend them—much more are we prepared to do so against the Romans, who are like ourselves but men.”
On the 5th August, B.C. 55, the Roman fleet crossed the channel in two divisions. The first land it made was the cliffs of Dover. These bristled with the battalia of the British Dictator. Deterred by their appearance, and the unfavourable nature of the spot, Cesar lay at anchor for five hours. During this time he convened a council of war on board his own ship, delivered his instructions to his lieutenants, and pointed out the necessity for the promptest obedience in executing his orders. The current in the straits of Dover sets in a North-easterly direction. Finding it favorable, he dropped down with it seven miles and prepared to force a disembarcation on the open beach between Walmer castle and Sandwich.
Meantime Caswallon had with his chariots and light infantry followed by land the movements of the fleet. The great tonnage of some of Cesar’s vessels compelled them to keep in deep water at a distance from the shore. The lighter vessels could alone approach the beach. Into these the troops were draughted, and thence formed into their respective companies., It was a point of honor with the Ancient Britons to meet an invading enemy in the water—” where the ninth wave broke.” Many of the graves of their heroes were for this reason erected at high water mark. The British infantry on this occasion advanced into the sea to meet the Legions. Behind them the chariot-force was drawn up, presenting an impenetrable phalanx. Caswallon took his station. in the centre. The Roman legions in attempting to form, were charged and driven back upon the ships. Cesar then brought the broadsides of his vessels of war to bear upon the British ranks, clearing the immediate neighbourhood of the transports by means of his engines. Dismayed, however, by the novelty of the system of warfare they were called upon to face, the veterans who had subdued the continent, hesitated to do their duty. The thunder of the chariots and the shouts of defiance from the British infantry added momentarily to the con-fusion. One man averted the impending defeat. The standard-bearer of the loth legion made the last appeal that could be made to Roman honour. Waving the standard in view of the whole fleet, he leapt from the deck of the vessel into the waves, exclaiming—” He that will not betray the Roman Eagle, follow me! “ The effect was electrical—for to lose the Eagle of a legion was the last degree of infamy. The legionaries, plunging from every ship after their leader, formed a second time under cover of the hail of missiles discharged from the vessels of war, and advanced on the British columns.
The real conflict now commenced. The race of Brennus, which had stormed Rome, were now in their turn called upon to defend their soil against their brethren of Italy. An incident, recorded by Plutarch, illustrates the severity of the conflict: a soldier named Publius, seeing his officers defending themselves desperately, on a rock washed by the tide, against the Britons, swam to it, and drawing upon himself the attacks of the assailants, gave time for the officers to retreat. His shield in affecting his own escape was torn from his shoulder, and his arms cut to pieces. Partly by swimming, partly by wading, he reached the ship on the deck of which Cesar was surveying the fluctuations of the engagement. Bursting into tears, Publius fell on his knees, imploring his General’s pardon for the loss of his shield. Cesar promoted him on the spot to the rank of centurion. The battle raged along the whole length of the beach with the same fury. The Romans at last again gave way, unable to sustain the repeated charges of the British cavalry which, by Cesar’s account, were trained to fight in water as well as on land. The reserves on board the men-of-war were as a last resort embarked in the long boats and light sloops. The combat was a third time renewed at all points under Cesar in person. The legionaries eventually won their way through the sea, wave by wave, and drew up their lines at night-fall on the long-contested beach. A camp was quickly formed, and the light vessels of the fleet sent out in all directions to expedite the arrival of the cavalry.
On August 8th, the eighteen transports, with the cavalry on board, hove in sight. Communications were at the same time opened through the medium of Comius of Arras, with Avarwy and his faction. Avarwy, or Androgeus, was the son of the last sovereign, Lud, and regarded by a powerful party as the rightful heir to the throne. Caswallon, after his election, first to the sovereignty, and secondly to the Pendragonate, or military dictatorship of the whole Island, appears to have treated him as his own son. He gave him Kent, with the whole territory between the Thames and the Wash, for his Princedom. He appointed him also governor of London. To his brother Tenuantius, he assigned the Dukedom of Cornwall. Cesar, though attempting to brand Caswallon as an usurper, admits that his election to the Pendragonate was the unanimous act of the nation. The unpopularity of Avarwy with the mass of the people was marked by the stigmatic name commonly applied to him, Dubrâdwr, Mandubrad—the black traitor, perpetuated in the form of Mandubratius in Cesar’s commentaries. With this man—consigned to eternal infamy in the Triads of his country, as the first of the three capital traitors of the Isle of Britain—a secret treaty was entered into by which, in return for Cesar’s support, Avarwy engaged on the deposition of Caswallon, to hold the kingdom as a tributary of Rome. Avarwy undertook also, if Cesar could hold his ground, to join him with all his forces, and on his advance to throw open by means of his partizans, the gates of London (Caer Troia) to the combined army. This black treason was not destined as yet to succeed. Whilst Avarwy was levying his troops among the Corandae, one of the channel gales, for which the narrow seas between Gaul and Britain have in all ages been disastrously famed, came on. Part of the Roman fleet was riding at anchor, part was hauled up by way of a marine rampart on the beach. The former ran before the storm or drifted in masses of wreck to and fro on the current. The same night happened to be full moon. The spring tide, augmented by the fury of the storm, swept over the rampart, shattering to pieces the vessels of which it was composed. The next morning displayed the full extent of the ruin inflicted, and the critical position in which the invading force was thereby placed. No other Roman fleet could be found nearer than the Tagus. The quantity of grain in camp sufficed for only a few weeks’ consumption. The only hold on the soil yet gained was the ground under their feet. Around was a warlike nation, whose territory was for the first time desecrated by a foreigner in arms. Succours from the continent could neither be expected nor transported. With the exception of one locality, the harvest in Kent had by orders of Caswallon been reaped and conveyed into the interior. Caswallon himself was encamped at Canterbury, watching every movement of the enemy.
An inferior mind would have been prostrated under such calamities, Cesar’s rose to the emergency. Twelve of the damaged transports were broken up and their materials applied to the repair of the rest. A few Gallic horsemen were mounted as scouts, and placed under the command of Comius. The camp was restored, by the incessant labor of the legionaries, to its former state. .A new supply of grain was the next requisite demanding attention. To obtain it, the seventh legion was dispatched to the spot where the scouts reported the harvest still unreaped. Clouds of dust ascending in that direction, with distant sounds readily recognized by the practised ear of the veteran soldier, soon announced that the legion had fallen in with a hostile force. The corn had been intentionally left by Caswallon, the legion thus falling into an ambuscade prepared for it. Cesar leaving two cohorts only in guard of the camp, forthwith marched with his other troops to the scene of action. On arriving, he for the first time saw the chariot system of Troy, familiar to him hitherto only in the descriptions of Homer, in actual operation. The heroic and historic modes of warfare were pitted against each other.
The admiration expressed in his commentaries, by the Roman General, of the efficiency of the chariot, as distinguished from the cavalry system, appears to be based on sound grounds. No one was more competent to form an opinion on the subject; and he states that the force as organized by Caswallon embodied the two essentials which military science seeks to combine in a perfect branch of service, the rapidity of cavalry and the stability of infantry. The chariots were built of light well-seasoned wood, many of them richly blazoned and adorned with the precious metals. They generally held two, sometimes four combatants. They were drawn by two horses abreast, so thoroughly broken in to their work, that Cesar declares in descending a hill full speed they would on a motion of the charioteer, wheel round and retrace their course, scarcely slackening their pace. The charioteers themselves frequently leapt from the chariot upon the pole, re-arranged the harness and returned to their place. They drove standing. From the axle-trees of the chariots, keen falchions of great breadth projected; inflicting the most ghastly wounds, and rendering it a matter of no small peril to attempt to attach the chariot on the flank. They drew up in divisions, each under its own commander, and all of them under the Pendragon. One of the divisions commenced the action by bearing down on some given point on the enemy’s line. The 1 spectacle of the charge itself, the cheers of the combatants, the rush of the horses, and the roar of so many wheels mingling with the clang of arms rarely failed, states Cesar, before a blow was exchanged to disorder the ranks of the best disciplined troops opposed to them. A passage being forced, the combatants as circumstances pointed out, either quitted their chariots and formed in a body in the centre of the enemy, or broke out at some other point, discharging as they swept on,their heavy javelins, and re-uniting for a second onset under cover of their infantry. The open legionary formation was not able to cope with such a system directed by the hand of a master. The seventh legion was in the act of giving way when Cesars’ arrival changed for a time the aspect of the engagement. But the repulse was of short duration. The British cavalry under Nennius attacked the tenth legion commanded by Cesar in person—their infantry at the same time bore down and completed the success of the charge. The outmost efforts of the Roman General failed to remedy the confusion which ensued. In vain he threw himself into the melee. The disorder and mingling of the troops were irretrievable. His voice was lost in the tumult and din of the field. The Eagle itself was borne down, and Cesar in covering it with his body was assailed by Nennius. The sword of the great Roman buried itself in the shield of the British Prince, and before he could extricate it, the tide of battle separated the combatants, leaving the weapon a trophy to be long aferwards exhibited to the inhabitants of Caer Troia. The oligarchic party at Rome exaggerated the incident so far as to give out, that Cesar betrayed on this occasion unequivocal proofs of poltroonery—that he positively turned his back and fled before the British Prince to the camp.
(Territa quoesitis ostendit terga Britannis)
Cesar performed all that an able general or intrepid soldier could do to recover the honour of the day. But fortune and superior skill were both against him. All that he could succeed in effecting was, to prevent the British army entering the camp with the routed remains of his own legions. The night found Caswallon master of the field. He threw up his camp within a few furlongs of the Roman.
The next morning, the Pendragon offered battle—drawing up his forces between the two camps. Cesar declined it, confining himself to strengthening his fortifications. On the second day the Roman camp was assaulted and attempted to be carried on three sides by the Britons. The attack was repelled with a loss on the British side proportionate to the obstinacy with which it had been conducted. Taking advantage of the interval of quiet thus secured, Cesar made the necessary arrangements, and before the assault could be renewed, secretly embarked his shattered forces and took his departure from Britain on the mid-night preceding the autumnal equinox. He landed at Boulogne, September 23rd, B.C. 55. His first campaign lasted thus fifty-five days, during which he had failed to advance beyond seven miles from the spot of disembarkation—had lost one pitched battle, and had his own camp (a thing which had never before occurred in his career) attacked by the victorious enemy.
The failure of the expedition could not be concealed. The invincibility of Cesar, established by thirty victories on the Continent, received a rude shock. His clear judgment saw that a second invasion was imposed upon him by the necessity of his position, and with that unwearied energy to which Cicero ascribes the secret of his successes, he proceeded to organize it on a scale more commensurate than the first with the resources of the power to be attacked. During the winter, six hundred additional transports and twenty-eight ships of war were constructed. The chiefs of all the Gallic states in alliance with, or subject to Rome, were commanded to rendezvous at Boulogne, in order to accompany Cesar in person. Dumnorix, prince of the Œdui—the great Druidic state of Celtica, refusing from religious scruples to do so, was summarily put to death. ‘Assurances were on the other hand lavished on the democracies by the Roman commander, that on his return he would restore their liberties, emancipate the slaves, and remove the confiscations from the estates of the refugees and proscribed. Emissaries meanwhile maintained communication with Avarwy and his faction. The levies of Avarwy were made chiefly among the Coranidae (Coritani), who applied for and were received under the Protectorate of Rome. This Protectorate extended to some petty anti-national faction was invariably made the pretext by the Romans for interference in the internal affairs of other States, and ultimately for their annexation. The elder tribe, the Kymry, treated all who accepted or acknowledged It, as traitors. The machinations of Avarwy were conducted with such secrecy as to escape not only detection but even all suspicion on the part of his sovereign.
The preparations being completed, the invading armament, consisting of above one thousand trans-ports with fifty thousand infantry and two thousand cavalry on board—the army which terminated its career by the conquest of Rome itself on the plains of Pharsalia—set sail from Whitsand (Portus Iccius), four miles West of Calais, May loth, B.C. 55. Dion Cassius states that the Britons did not believe that after the rough handling he had received in the first, Cesar would with any amount of force venture on a second invasion. The intelligence of the sharp measures adopted by the Roman general for preserving tranquility in Gaul, the death of Dumnorix, and the compulsory service of the greater part of the Gallic nobility as hostages, in the forthcoming campaign, undeceived them. The Gorsedd (high court) of the nation was convened by Caswallon in London. Avarwy and his faction attended in great numbers. The decision arrived at is known in the Triads as the first of the “three fatal counsels” of the Isle of Britain. Caswallon, who had already posted detachments of troops along the coast, urged the policy of opposing so formidable an invader, as before, on the beach itself, and thus prevent a single hostile camp from being thrown up on British soil. Avarwy, on the contrary, maintained that it was derogatory to the honour of the nation to adopt any other plan of action than would at once bring Romans and Britons face to face on an equal field with each other—that every facility for landing ought to be afforded Cesar—that the great lesson to be taught the continent was, that Britain relied for the maintenance of her liberties, not on her inaccessibility as an Island, but on the native courage of her own children. The insidious advice prevailed. The council resolved—“that it was beneath the dignity of the nation of the Britons to defend their country otherwise than by the might of manhood, and that the landing of the Cesaridæ (Romans) be unopposed.” Imprudent, doubtlessly, as this resolution, admitting a foreign enemy within the kingdom, must be considered, it is impossible not to admire the stern, yet simple heroism, which dictated such a challenge to the first general of the first army of the greatest military Empire of the age. Intelligence of the result of the council reached Cesar in time to enable him to direct the course of his fleet toward the Isle of Thanet, where Avarwy commanded. Prisoners who afterwards fell into his hands, informed him that from their stations on the cliffs they had counted more than 800 ships of the Roman flotilla in sight at one time. The following night part of the fleet proceeded up the mouth of the Thames. At the cove of Min-y-glâs (the lip of the blue water), in the Isle of Thanet, Cesar landed with his cavalry, and held the clandestine conference with Avarwy termed in the Triads, “the first of the three treasonous conferences of the Isle of Britain.” Avarwy delivered his son, (called by the Roman writers Scoeva, and who afterwards signally distinguished himself by his personal prowess in the wars against Pompey,) as a hostage to the Roman. His partizans prepared also to throw London open to the Invader. The British army under Caswallon, including the Coranidæ commanded by Avarwy, held the Gwyddelian road, on the eastern side of the Stour, between Fordwich and Sturry. Cesar leaving 4,000 men to defend the camp off Thanet, came in view of it after a night march of twelve miles. Finding he could not force the passage of the Stour without an engagement, he made his dispositions accordingly. During the action, as had been previously concerted, the Coranidæ, with Avarwy at their head, passed over in a body to the Romans. Caswallon was defeated with heavy loss, and fell back with his broken forces on a position above Caer caint, the natural strength of which, states Cesar, art had converted into a formidable fortress. Into it, to cover his retreat, Caswallon threw a strong body of troops. After a desperate defence, it was carried by a testudo, formed of the whole of the seventh legion; but sufficient time was thus given the British Pentagon to bring up fresh forces, and to obviate as far as possible the effects of the “black treason,” to which he and his whole army had well nigh fallen victims.
“The fortune,” to which Cesar himself was wont to point, as evidence that his career was inspired and pre-ordained of Heaven, appears to have deserted him on other occasions than in the field in Britain. Scarcely had the fort of Caer caint fallen, when news arrived from the camp that a storm of equal severity with that which had caused such destruction the previous autumn had burst upon the fleet in the Thames. Forty of the largest vessels were sunk or driven on shore. Retracing his march, Cesar, after examining the scene of the catastrophe, commenced the construction of a double circumvallation—the interior for the garrison, the exterior for the flotilla, all the ships of which he hauled up and enclosed within it. On this enormous work the whole army was employed unremittingly for ten days. Subsequent events proved that the labour was well applied. Orders were dispatched to Labienus, the lieutenant at Bologne, to build a second flotilla with the utmost speed. The double camp being finished, Cesar, leaving in it the same garrison as before, augmented by the seamen of the fleet, advanced again into the interior. Caswallon with his chariots and cavalry kept up an incessant skirmishing on the Roman flanks, the Romans falling, according to the statement of the Greek historian Dion Cassius, thickly along the whole march. At night Cesar threw up his camp, and prepared for the battle his spies had informed him would be offered him by the Pentagon next morning.
To guard the camp, Cesar stationed 10,000 men with the two first cohorts of the seventh and ninth legions. The rest of his army, consisting of thirty-five thousand legionaries, three thousand cavalry, and twenty thousand Coranidæ under Avarwy, he drew up in three divisions on a declivity called in the Triads “the green spot.” The British army occupied the open ground opposite, its left wing under Nennius resting on a marsh.
It was the custom of the Roman generals, previous to an engagement, to mount a tribunal built of turf or sods of grass, in front of the line, and thence address an inspiriting harangue to their troops. The most illiterate, such as Marius, rarely omitted doing so. Cesar, the most accomplished military character whom Rome produced, has given us the substance of several such orations delivered by him in the Gallic wars. On the present occasion the few words he spoke have been handed down to us from some unacknowledged authority by Henry of Huntingdon: they were as follows, —-
“Fellow-soldiers,—Think not I imagine any words on my part can add to that disciplined valor before which the fiery Kelt and the stubborn German of the continent have both succumbed—a valor which the issues of so many battles have proved can neither be unduly elated by the most brilliant victories, nor depressed by the gloomiest reverses. I remember how often, when friends despaired and allies deserted us, the consciousness of being equal to any emergency has borne you onward and trampled down all obstacles to success—how often undismayed by disasters you have risen braver than the bravest of the races it has yet been our destiny to encounter. Courage like this refuses to acknowledge anything impossible. We have passed out of the old into a new world—we have braved the perils of an unknown ocean—behold a new and unexampled opportunity for displaying the matchless superiority of our arms. For myself, as a Roman soldier, I have never thought on the battle field but of two alternatives—either to conquer with the glory of a hero, or to fall as becomes a man. There is a third option for cowards—flight. There are none such in our ranks. Our British enemies shall learn to-day that a Roman army is but recruited by losses and inspired by difficulties.”
The engagement was one of great severity. Cesar alleges that his legionaries could not surmount the terror they felt of the British chariot charges. His cavalry also proved inoperative, the warriors of the chariot force, immediately the horse-men attempted to follow them, dismounting and charging them on foot, their retreat being at the same time cut off by other chariots, relays of which could be seen at regular intervals as far as the eye could reach. The cavalry being thus dispersed or reduced to inaction, the chariots charged the centre of the Roman infantry, rode it down, and wheeling round, broke through it a second time from the rear, before its disposition could be altered or its lines restored. Quintus Laberius Drusus in rallying the legionaries fell. Wherever the chariots were repulsed, pursuit, states Cesar, owing to the celerity of their movements, and the weight of armour carried by the legionaries, was out of the question. On the left, the battle raged between Nennius and the Coranidæ with equal fury. The Romans were towards evening driven back upon their camp, but the success of the day was dearly purchased by the death of Nennius, who fell in the last onset on the retreating enemy.
The genius evinced by Caswallon throughout thus sanguinary engagement, fought under the shadow of the Roman lines of defence, entitles him to a high rank amongst military commanders. The able manner in which he nullified the peculiar and striking excellencies of the legionary formation opposed to him merits especial commendation.
The next battle was fought at Key Col (Caii Collis), near Newington; and here the star of Cesar recovered its ascendancy. Dion Cassius states the victory was not decisive and attended with heavy loss; but of the virtual defeat of the Pentagon there can be no doubt, for we find Cesar after this date steadily advancing towards London, along the Gwyddelian road, on the South side of the Thames. London under the influence of the faction of Avarwy now declared openly for the invader. The districts which formed the territory of the “Black Traitor” promised ample supplies of provisions. With the capital and the Eastern part of the kingdom in revolt or collusion with the enemy, the position of Caswallon became exceedingly critical. He proved himself worthy of the confidence reposed in his patriotism and abilities by the nation at large. The bridge between Belin’s tower and the Southern bank of the Thames was broken down—the only ford within many miles of the metropolis now known as Coway Stakes, at Chertsey, in Surrey, was attempted to be made impassable by driving into the bed of the river lines of chevaux de frise, formed of ponderous stakes of the hardest wood embedded in lead. (They remained till Bede’s time in the eighth century). Caswallon held the North side with his chariots and infantry. His cavalry meanwhile laid waste the lands of the Coritani with fire and sword. On arriving at Chertsey, Cesar, according to Polyaenus, forced the passage of the Thames by a stratagem. In the conquest of Southern Gaul, elephants had been found by the Romans of material service against cavalry. Horses require to be trained to face these animals in action—their odor from some cause or other being almost insupportable to them. Cesar had embarked one of these huge animals on board his fleet. Covered with steel-scales, and bearing the usual appendage of a tower, manned with archers, the elephant moved into the river, sounding with the natural sagacity of these creatures, its way as it proceeded. The summer was one of extraordinary dryness; the depth of the channel immediately above the ford and the chevaux de frise was found to be not more than five feet. The legions, with Cesar at their head, bearing their swords, shields, and javelins aloft, and wading up to their chins in the stream, followed in the wake of the elephant. The chariot horses of the British force became totally unmanageable as the animal, roaring and trumpeting in the war fashion of those days, approached the margin on which they were drawn. In the con-fusion thus created the legionaries succeeded in establishing a firm footing within the British entrenchments. Caswallon fell back on the Ermyn road towards Verulam.
The description given us by Cesar of the tactics of the British Pendragon, with London on his left flank in open revolt, and the Roman army in front, supplies us with a vivid picture of the guerilla or defensive system of war-fare, conducted with singular skill and unsparing patriotism. “Cassivelaunus, abandoning from this time all intention of a pitched battle, dismissed the greater part of his forces, reserving under his own command four thousand chariots, with which he watched our movements; taking his station a little out of our line of march in positions protected by woods or otherwise difficult of access, we found him always in advance of us, sweeping the whole country of men, cattle, and provisions. Our cavalry were thus obliged to forage at a greater distance than prudence warranted—whenever they were left unsupported, Cassivelaunus, who was well acquainted with and complete master of the roads and bye-roads, charged them with his charioteers. These engagements were attended with great danger, and Cesar was compelled to restrict his cavalry movements within sight of his main body. He could consequently no further ravage the lands or burn the buildings of the enemy than they lay within the march and reach of his infantry.”
Three months had now elapsed since the disembarkation of the invading force at Thanet. During these ninety days, despite the consummate genius and dogged energy of their leader, the Romans had not succeeded in cutting their way beyond seventy miles into the interior. The cattle and provisions cleared from the country by Caswallon, were collected at a strong Caer or Fort, near where now stands St. Alban’s. Towards this depôt, Cesar directed his march unconscious of the signal peril which menaced him in Kent. The British Pentagon had placed a large portion of his infantry under the command of two of his lieutenants, Kynedda and Carvil, ordering them by a rapid detour in the rear of Cesar, to march into Kent and attempt to carry the Roman camp by storm whilst he threw out the lure of the depôt at St. Alban’s to entice the invader yet further from his fleet and solitary base of support. This masterly movement was nearly crowned with success. The attack was made, and though Quintus Atius, the General in command, after an obstinate struggle in which Kynedda was slain, repelled the assault, a second and more successful one might at any time be attempted. Cesar received intelligence of the attack, at the moment when St. Alban’s, by a double escalade, fell into his power. The magnitude of the peril escaped opened his eyes to the necessity of making the best arrangements in his power for terminating the war. Had the camp and fleet at Thanet been captured, the Roman army must in the course of the ensuing winter have surrendered at discretion. Little of the summer remained, and that little, he states, might have easily been spun out without an engagement by Caswallon. If Cesar was not in a condition to continue hostilities, very grave reasons on the other hand existed why the Pendragon should be willing to listen to any overtures, the acceptance of which delivered the Island from so formidable an enemy. The exact conditions on which peace was concluded are not specified in either the Triads or Commentaries. Hostages and a tribute are mentioned by Cesar, as having been insisted upon by him, and assented to by the Britons; but neither the number of the one or the amount of the other are stated. It is certain from numerous passages in the Roman authors of the Augustan age, that not a single Briton of any eminence quitted the Island a prisoner or hostage. Avarwy and many of his partizans deemed it prudent to take refuge from the storm of national execration, on board the Roman fleet. Avarwy died prior to the assassination of Cesar at Rome.
On the conclusion of the treaty, Cesar moved from Verulam to London. He was entertained with chivalrous magnificence by Caswallon, at the Bryn Gwyn, or White Mount, for seven days. The part of the castle in which he was lodged was henceforth and is still called after his name. The bridge across the Thames being restored, he moved his forces to the Southern side, and thence followed the Gwyddelian road to the camp opposite Thanet. The transmission of all his forces to the continent was effected in the presence of Caswallon and most of the British nobility, in two embarcations. Cesar himself sailed with the second embarcation at to at night, and arrived at Portus Iccius (Vitsand), by day-break the next morning, September 26th, B.C. 54.
The consequences attending the second Julian invasion, skillfully glossed over and coloured as they are in the Commentaries of the Roman general, demonstrates that both at Rome and the continent it was regarded as a more serious failure than the first. The measure taken by Cesar of carrying with him the chiefs of the various Gallic states into Britain enabled each of them to study the art of defensive warfare, as conducted by a general little if at all inferior in the highest qualities of military genius to the Roman. The invasion of Britain cost Cesar very nearly the loss of all his continental acquisitions. Before he could dispose of his troops in winter quarters, the Treviri, Eburones, Senones, and Sicambri, rose in arms.
In the spring, the Arverni—the state most intimately connected by ties of consanguinity with Britain, claiming the same Trojan traditions and descent, placed themselves at the head of a league for the emancipation of Gaul from Roman domination. The work of conquest, which Cesar had believed complete, had to be re-enacted and new fields to be again deluged with blood. These events belong however to Continental and not to British history.
To estimate aright the military abilities of the British Pendragon and the resources of the British people, at this period, it must be remembered that they were engaged against a general and an army to whose arms either before or after the date of the invasion, France, Spain, the Western part of Germany, Africa, Egypt, Western Asia, and finally Italy itself, successively yielded—an army that reduced Africa, Asia, and Europe, into that state of subjugation to a central throne at Rome occupied by the Julian imperial family and its successors in which they remained for several centuries. Contrasted with the overwhelming and permanent success of the Norman invasion, effected by a comparatively barbarian conqueror and forces, the double defeat of the Julian invasions may even at this remote period be dwelt upon with honorable pride by the descendants of the gallant ancestors who achieved it.
For ninety-seven years no Roman again ventured to plant a hostile foot on our Island. And when the Roman eagle under Claudius once more expanded its wings to the stormy winds of Britain, it was when no other enemy unconquered met its eye from the Euphrates to Gibraltar, and the Empire it symbolized had leisure to turn the whole of its vast forces against the sole free people of the West.
Caswallon, after the Julian invasion, reigned for seven years over Britain and its dependencies. Augustus Cesar succeeded Julius at Rome, B.C. 30. The long succession of civil wars from the time of Marius to the defeat of Marcus Antonius at the battle of Actium had used up nearly the whole of the fighting power of Italy. The native Umbrian element which had constituted the military strength of the republic, the only one able to bear the rigor of its discipline or that was animated by a lofty principle of patriotism, was now scattered and diluted over the wide expanse of the empire. Little that could be drawn upon remained in its stern unyielding purity amongst the hills and valleys of the Apennines. Henceforth Rome must be considered rather the aggregate of the continent, in action under a series of able Despots wielding the central power, than as representing the race and mind of Primitive Italy. Many years elapsed before the resources of the empire sufficiently recovered themselves to enable Augustus to turn his attention to Britain. Ambassadors were then sent, demanding that the three Reguli of the Coraniaid, Dumno, Bellaunus, and Jernian, who had appealed to the Protectorate of Rome, to which their state had in the time of Julius been admitted, for the redress of certain alleged grievances, should be restored to their confiscated possessions. Cynvelin (Cymbeline,) the son of Tenuantius, and grand-nephew of Caswallon, had succeeded his father on the British throne. Tenuantius, a monarch distinguished for the justice of his administration and ,the moderation of his views, had lived on terms of amity with Rome. His son Cymbeline had been educated by Augustus in his own palace, and had subsequently served in the German campaigns under Cesar Germanicus. He received the ambassadors with due courtesy, but peremptorily rejected the interference of a foreign Potentate in the affairs of Britain. Augustus immediately ordered one half of the disposable force of the empire to be moved to the Gallic harbors on the channel. Of these he designed to take the command in person. The other half were sent under .AElius Gallus against the Parthians, the only independent nation in the East, as the Britons were in the West. The subjugation of these two would render the whole of the old world a Roman Provincia or conquered land; entitling Augustus, in the Opinion of the literary flatterers who crowded his court, to be considered even before his death and apotheosis a “present god on earth.” (Horace Lib. III. v. 5). The Parthians accepted the Roman terms, and surrendered the standards captured some years before on the field of Charræ or Haran, where Crassus had fallen. The invasion of Britain was a more serious enterprise. Cymbeline had concentrated his forces at Dover—the Southern coast to the Land’s end was guarded by his brother Llyr (Lear). The British fleet, as we learn from the oration of Boadicea, in Dion Cassius, swept the channel. The preparations of Augustus tardily urged indicated that prudential considerations had already superseded the suggestions of pride. His campaigns had never been conducted in person, and where the genius of Julius had been baffled, inferior skill was little likely to incur aught but disgrace. A reverse, as Horace had the courage to warn him (Lib. 1. Ode 35), would be followed by a rising of the Oligarchic faction at home. Cymbeline was not slow to take advantage of this reluctancy. An interview with the imperial friend and host of his youth was solicited. The result was the triumph of British diplomacy—a much rarer species of success in all eras of our history than that of British arms. Not only was the claim of a Protectorate over the Coraniaid and with it the demand of a tribute from that wealthy tribe abandoned, but the heavy duties previously leviable on the introduction of British goods to the continent were reduced to a very light tariff (Strabo Lib. Iv. c. 5). Friendly relations were restored. British nobles again took up their residence at Rome, and were to be seen dedicating their offerings at the shrines of the capitol. The glory of seeing the “unconquered Briton” descend the Sacra Via in chains, (Hor. Lib. III.) was deferred for another generation.
Cymbeline, after a brilliant reign of thirty-five years, was succeeded by his eldest son Guiderius (Gwyddyr) ; his younger, Arviragus, receiving the dukedom of Cornwall. Caradoc, the son of Brân, son of Llyr, brother of Cymbeline, succeeded at the same time by the resignation of his father to the princedom of Cambria. His residence was on the site of the present Dunraven Castle, in the centre of his maternal estates in Siluria. The holy nativity of our blessed Lord and Saviour took place at Bethlehem in the 13th year of the reign of Cymbeline—the crucifixion in the 11th of Guiderius and 17th of Tiberius Cesar, who succeeded Augustus, A.D. 14. Tiberius reigned twenty-three years. In the 19th year of his reign occurred the first persecution of the Church of Christ, by Paul of Tarsus—a young man whom a combination of extraordinary qualifications pointed out to the Jewish Sanhedrim as the champion of their cause against the religion of the Crucified. It raged with great fury, and for a time completely scattered the whole church—the Apostles alone excepted—from the mother-city of Jerusalem. A great propagation of the Gospel had taken place after the day of Pentecost—“devout men of every nation under he designed to take the command in person. The other half were sent under AElius Gallus against the Parthians, the only independent nation in the East, as the Britons were in the West. The subjugation of these two would render the whole of the old world a Roman Provincia or conquered land; entitling Augustus, in the Opinion of the literary flatterers who crowded his court, to be considered even before his death and apotheosis a “present god on earth.” (Horace Lib. III. v. 5). The Parthians accepted the Roman terms, and surrendered the standards captured some years before on the field of Charræ or Haran, where Crassus had fallen. The invasion of Britain was a more serious enterprise. Cymbeline had concentrated his forces at Dover—the Southern coast to the Land’s end was guarded by his brother Llyr (Lear). The British fleet, as we learn from the oration of Boadicea, in Dion Cassius, swept the channel. The preparations of Augustus tardily urged indicated that prudential considerations had already superseded the suggestions of pride. His campaigns had never been conducted in person, and where the genius of Julius had been baffled, inferior skill was little likely to incur aught but disgrace. A reverse, as Horace had the courage to warn him (Lib. 1. Ode 35), would be followed by a rising of the Oligarchic faction at home. Cymbeline was not slow to take advantage of this reluctancy. An interview with the imperial friend and host of his youth was solicited. The result was the triumph of British diplomacy—a much rarer species of success in all eras of our history than that of British arms. Not only was the claim of a Protectorate over the Coraniaid and with it the demand of a tribute from that wealthy tribe abandoned, but the heavy duties previously leviable on the introduction of British goods to the continent were reduced to a very light tariff (Strabo Lib. Iv. c. 5). Friendly relations were restored. British nobles again took up their residence at Rome, and were to be seen dedicating their offerings at the shrines of the capitol. The glory of seeing the “ unconquered Briton “ descend the Sacra Via in chains, (Hor. Lib. III.) was deferred for another generation.
Cymbeline, after a brilliant reign of thirty-five years, was succeeded by his eldest son Guiderius (Gwyddyr) ; his younger, Arviragus, receiving the dukedom of Cornwall. Caradoc, the son of Brân, son of Llyr, brother of Cymbeline, succeeded at the same time by the resignation of his father to the princedom of Cambria. His residence was on the site of the present Dunraven Castle, in the centre of his maternal estates in Siluria. The holy nativity of our blessed Lord and Saviour took place at Bethlehem in the 13th year of the reign of Cymbeline—the crucifixion in the 11th of Guiderius and 17th of Tiberius Cesar, who succeeded Augustus, A.D. 14. Tiberius reigned twenty-three years. In the 19th year of his reign occurred the first persecution of the Church of Christ, by Paul of Tarsus—a young man whom a combination of extraordinary qualifications pointed out to the Jewish Sanhedrim as the champion of their cause against the religion of the Crucified. It raged with great fury, and for a time completely scattered the whole church—the Apostles alone excepted—from the mother-city of Jerusalem. A great propagation of the Gospel had taken place after the day of Pentecost—“devout men of every nation under heaven” carrying intelligence of the miraculous descent of the Holy Spirit, and of the preaching of the new faith, known then simply as “the way—the way of God,” to their respective countries. The Pauline persecution, by dispersing the Judean Christians, caused a second great propagation. Amongst others who were thus driven to foreign lands was Joseph of Arimathea. He, with Mary Magdelene, Lazarus against whom the Jews cherished an inextinguishable hatred, Mary, and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, with their hand-maiden Mersilla, were carried out to sea and con-signed, in a vessel without oars or sails, to the mercy of the elements. After dreadful sufferings they were cast ashore near Massilia (Marseilles), in the South of France. From this city Joseph found means to communicate with his family and friends in Palestine. Forty of them, eleven being his own relatives, joined him; Philip the apostle coming with them. After preaching the Gospel twelve months in Gaul, Joseph and his fraternity were invited by some eminent British Druids who had been amongst his hearers, to Britain. They were well received by Arviragus and placed under the protection of one of the three great Druidic Côrau (Circles) of the kingdom, in Ynys Avallon. Here they laid the foundation of the, first Christian church on record, sixty feet in length and twenty-six in breadth, building it in the Gallic fashion of timber pillars, connected by double tissues of strong wicker-work. This church became the nucleus of a succession of magnificent edifices erected over its unaspiring roof. It passed for some generations by no other name than “the home of God—the house of God—the secret of God.” Subsequently it was known as the “mother of Churches—the glory of Britain—the resting place of Apostles.” The island on which it was built either from the clearness of the springs in which it abounded or because Joseph was said to have brought with him the chrystal vessel in which St. John and himself received the blood and water which at the piercing of the Centurion’s, Longinus spear had flowed on the cross from The heart of our Blessed Saviour, was called Ynys Wydrin, (the chrystal Isle), translated by the Saxons in aftertimes to Glas-ton and Glastonbury. It is satisfactory to add that the course of this the mother church of Britain as church, college, and abbacy, as it was the longest, so also was it the most beneficent of all those of the great ecclesiastical establishments of Christendom. Its estates, held in trusteeship for and ever devoted to the sustentation and employment of the poor and the encouragement of learning, were confiscated in the time of Henry viii, amidst the general regret and indignation of the kingdom. They now yield rentals exceeding 300,000 per annum. The gentle unobtrusive character of the “high-born Decurio” as Joseph is termed in the British records was admirably adapted by conciliating the esteem of Arviragus and the war-like population of his Western dominions, to prepare the way for the future extension of Christianity in the island. Amongst his converts were Gladys, sister of Arviragus and Guiderius, subsequently under her Roman designation of Pomponia Graecina married to Aulus Plautius, the Roman commander, and Eigra sister of Caractacus and wife of Salog, Lord of Caer Salog (Salisbury), the first female saint in Britain. Amongst the missionaries of the gospel educated and sent forth by Joseph at Avallon, were St. Beatus (Gwynfyd), and St. Mansuetus (Mwyngu). Beatus born of noble parentage in Britain passed over to the continent and founded the Helvetian (Switzerland) church. He began his mission by disposing of all his property for the redemption of Helvetian prisoners of war. He fixed his habitation at Underseven, near the lake of Thun, where his church and cell remain objects of profound veneration. He died A.D. 96.
Mansuetus, born in Ireland, converted in Britain, preached the gospel with St. Clement in Gaul. He founded the church of Lorraine. From this province he extended his evangelical labours to Illyria, and finally suffered martrydom at Toul, A.D. 110. Thus before an acre of British soil was incorporated with the empire of Pagan Rome, Britain had not only received the gospel, hut had been the blessed instrument of its propagation to nations on the continent.
In A.D. 37, Tiberius was succeeded by Caius Caligula. The year was marked by the births of Nero, Josephus the historian, and Julius Agricola—the last destined to enact an important part in the future wars of Britain.
The tranquility pervading the Roman Empire induced Caligula to renew the attempts at a con-quest which the first and second Cesars had either failed to achieve or wisely bequeathed to their successors. The character however of this emperor, compounded of mania and vice, left a memorable stamp of ridicule upon the whole expedition. The armies of Gaul and the Rhine rendezvoused at Boulogne; a Roman flotilla collected from Spain was moored, ostensibly prepared to embark the troops, in the Seine, The appearance however, of a British fleet under Arviragus disconcerted and put an abrupt end to the enterprize, if indeed it was ever seriously meditated. Caligula, who felt a morbid delight in burlesquing the most momentous measures of state and scandalizing the world by the maddest acts of imperial caprice, held a grand review of his splendid expeditionary force on the sands at Boulogne. At its termination, mounting the tribunal, he expatiated on the glory already encircling his brow, as one who had led his troops like Bacchus, Hercules, and Sesostris, to the confines ,of the earth-surrounding ocean—he asked if such renown ought to be jeopardized by an armed exploration of an island which nature itself had removed beyond the power and jurisdiction of the gods of Rome, and which the campaigns of the deified Cesar himself had only succeeded in pointing out to the wonder of the continental world. “ Let us, my fellow-soldiers,” he concluded, adopting the well-known phrase of the Great Julius, “ leave these Britons unmolested, —to war beyond the bounds of nature is not courage, but impiety ; let us rather load ourselves with the bloodless spoils of the Atlantic ocean, which the same beneficent goddess of nature presents on these sands so lavishly at our feet. Follow the example of your emperor—behold, he added, suiting the action to his words, I wreathe for laurel this garland of green seaweed around my immortal brow, and for spolia opima I fill my helm with these smooth and brilliant shells. Decorated with these, we will return to Rome, and instead of a British King, Neptune the god of ocean himself shall follow a captive to the capitol behind our triumphal car. To each of you, my fellow-soldiers in this arduous enterprize, I promise the gratuity of a year’s extra pay, in just acknowledgment of your services and fidelity to your emperor.”
This singular harangue, which it is difficult to regard in any other light than the practical sarcasm of an absolute despot, whose gloomy insanity, like that of Paul’s of Russia, was occasionally illuminated by disordered flashes of wit, on the scarcely less insane ambition and egotism of the whole of conquerors, was received with thunders of acclamation. The projected expedition had been from the first viewed with extreme distaste by the soldiers in general, and despite the stern indignation openly manifested and expressed by their officers, they did not hesitate to give full vent to their satisfaction, and with military jests and peals of laughter, imitate the example of their imperial master. Of all trials to the faith of a christian in the super-intending providence of God, the spectacle so constantly meeting our view in History of the welfare of nations being placed at the mercy of idiots and of the vilest characters in “ high places,” is the most trying; it is also perhaps the surest moral evidence we possess of the certainty of a future state of compensation and retribution. The British fleet gazed with astonishment on the bronzed and mail-clad veterans of the empire disporting them-selves with the hilarity of children in the childish amusement of gathering shells on the sea-shore. The explanation of so curious an illustration of the workings of despotism was scarcely less perplexing, but supplied, when comprehended, an inexhaustible topic of social merriment and Bardic satire to the whole island. The camp was broken up, and Caligula entered Rome in triumphal procession with his army, on his birthday, August 31St, A.D. 40. He was assassinated next year, in the 29th year of his age (January 24th), and succeeded by Claudius, then in his 50th year.
The year A.D. 42 was distinguished by the incorporation of the whole of Northern Africa with the Roman empire by the arms of Suetonius Paulinus and Cneius Ovidius Geta.
In July, a British embassy arrived from Guiderius at Rome, complaining of the encouragement given by the Roman court to the intrigues of Beric and Adminius, two princes of the Brigantes and Coritani, who had been banished Britain for treasonable practices, being detected in a correspondence with Caligula during the late menaced invasion. The embassy returned not only re infectâ, but announcing the determination of Claudius to attempt at all hazard the subjugation of Britain.
Whatever estimate we may form of the political capabilities of Claudius himself, it is certain at no time were the great offices of state filled by men of higher administrative powers. Policy also required that the vast military forces of the empire should be found foreign employment, no danger being so reasonably to be dreaded by a despotism as an idle and therefore licentious soldiery. The safety of the throne of the Cesars rested on the allegiance—the allegiance on the discipline—the discipline on the honorable employment of the legions against the enemies of Rome. These vital considerations formed and dictated the foreign policy of the imperial court. Colorable pretexts were never wanting for carrying out such policy against independent states. War, in the usual form of the Roman college of heralds (Feoiales)—casting a spear towards Britain and calling upon the gods to withdraw their presence and protection from her, was declared. All communication between the two kingdoms was suspended. A powerful force under Aulus Plautus, one of the ablest and most unscrupulous of the iron-hearted generals of the empire, was concentrated at the usual rendezvous of Boulogne. The fleet collected for their transportation was too numerous and well-equipped for the British naval force to cope with. It returned therefore at the orders of Guiderius to Torbay. This obstacle was no sooner removed than another from a wholly different but not unexpected quarter presented itself. The army of invasion on discovering their destination to be Britain, broke out into mutiny. Appeals to their sacraments or military oaths of obedience and loyalty failed to move them. The lapse of three generations had not extinguished the memory of the Julian campaigns in the imperial armies—tales of them, of the terrible chariot-charges, of the obstinate and sanguinary engagements on the Walmer beach, in the pitched fields and within the camps themselves, handed down as embellished in the vivid narratives of tradition, were related in every tent. The various cohorts, to the impassioned addresses of their general, returned a sullen and determined refusal to embark. Hanging up their arms they exclaimed, “We will march anywhere within the Roman world, but not out of it.” The crisis was pregnant with more than one kind of danger. Narcissus, an eunuch, the freedman and favorite minister of Claudius was immediately dispatched from the court to the scene of disaffection. Convening the soldiers, Narcissus whose defects were not those of moral or physical cowardice, mounted the general’s tribunal and began an oration to them. It was the first time an eunuch had ventured to address a Roman army. Stupefaction for a time kept the legions dumb, but when he exclaimed, “He would himself be their leader into Britain,” tears of shame burst down their cheeks, and a universal shout of indignation rose from the camp—- “than an eunuch should dare offer to lead men.” The re-action was complete. Surrounding the tent of Plautus, “they implored him to lead them to Britain or wherever he would.” The general took instant advantage of this change of temper, and embarking them in three divisions, landed two days afterwards between Thanet and Richborough.
The Claudian invasion which commences here, A.D. 43, and terminated after a war of forty-three years’ duration waged with fluctuating success, in the expulsion of the Romans from Britain, A.D. 86, is remarkable for the succession of able commanders produced by it on both sides. Britain during this period, served the same purpose for Rome as Hindostan has, during the last century, for Britain—it was the nursery for raising generals and maintaining the efficiency of her troops. With the exception of the campaigns of Corbulo, in Germany (A.D. 47), and Armenia (A.D. 58), and of the conquest of Dacia effected in one campaign, (A.D. 86), no other foreign hostilities engaged the attention of the Roman arms. The emperors were at liberty to direct the whole force of the empire against this island alone—a fact as it has been carefully ignored by the Roman historians, so it excites no surprise that it should not have been observed by the modern writers who can see nothing British in these heroic old times except through the hostile and distorting medium of Roman eyes.
The line of advance taken by Plautus was the same as that upon which Julius Cesar had, after the action at Caii Collis, moved towards the metropolis—the Gwyddelian road. The British army under Guiderius and his cousin Caradoc (Caractacus), was drawn up on the flat between the Kentish hills and the Thames, on the spot where now stands the town of Deptford. The battle which ensued terminated in the retreat of Guiderius along the south bank of the river, where, near Richmond, a second battle was fought, in which the British sovereign was slain. He was succeeded by Arviragus; but the national emergency requiring that unity of action which could only be secured by unity of command, Caradoc was by the unanimous voice of the national council nominated to the Pendragonate—Arviragus himself giving the first vote in his favor, and consenting to act under him. Caradoc withdrew his forces across the Thames at Chertsey—Plautus in pursuit, attempting to force the passage, was thrice repulsed with loss. The fourth attempt was successful. The Roman army being divided into three battalions under Plautus, Flavius Vespasian the future emperor, and his brother, entered the river at so many different points, whilst a strong body of German cavalry which had swum it lower down took the British position in flank. The engagement on the north side after the passage had been effected lasted, according to Dion Cassius the Greek historian, who drew his materials from the imperial or state records at Rome, for two days; the Pen-dragon being at last defeated by a most daring maneuver made on his flank and rear by Cneius Geta, the recent conqueror of Mauritania. So highly was this exploit appreciated that Geta was rewarded with a triumph—an almost unprecedented honor under the circumstances, for he had not yet attained the consular dignity. Caradoc, Winstead of retiring into the interior, led his forces round London into the Essex fens. Plautus and Vespasian in following him were so roughly handled that messengers were dispatched to Rome for reinforcements and instructions. The emperor himself immediately quitted Rome, and passing through Gaul, landed at Richborough with the second and fourteenth legions, their auxiliaries, and a cohors of elephants; he effected a junction with Plautus at Verulam. The army thus strengthened moved against Caer-Col or Colchester, the Coritani under Adminius joining its ranks and raising the standard of rebellion in the rear of the Pendragon. Dion Cassius calls Caer-Col the Basileion or royal city of Cymbeline, the father of Arviragus. In its defence Caradoc was persuaded against his own judgment to hazard another pitched field. His defeat was decisive; the cohors of elephants brought over by Claudius with this especial view, rendering nugatory all the efforts of the charioteers to urge their steeds as heretofore on the Roman lines. After a brief resistance Colchester surrendered. Claudius satisfied with this success concluded a treaty with the two states of the Coranida and Iceni, by which it was stipulated that on the payment of a certain amount of tribute they should under the Roman Protectorate be guaranteed the retention of their lands, laws, and native government. Claudius taking his departure and leaving the further prosecution of the war to Plautus, Vespasian, and Geta, celebrated his triumph at Rome with signal magnificence—the more impressive from the humility displayed by himself in ascending the steps of the capitol on his knees, supported on either side by his sons-in-law. To Rubrius Pollio his prefect the senate decreed a statue,—to Plautus a public triumph. Undismayed by his reverses, or by the presence of the three ablest generals of Rome in the field against him, Caradoc having wasted the territories of the Coraniaid with fire and sword, transferred the scene of warfare from the champaign countries to the hilly districts of the South-West. Vespasian was dispatched with the Roman fleet to effect a landing at Torbay, whilst Plautus marched upon the Pendragon by land; Geta being left in command at Colchester, with orders to commence the construction of a line of fortresses from the head of the fens, now forming the isle of Ely, to Glocester. This immense work, the object of which was, by inclosing Caradoc between the forces of Vespasian and the rising circumvallation in his rear, to compel him either to precipitate abandonment of the southern portion of the Island, or to a surrender, was carried on with the usual indefatigable energy of the Roman legionaries. Tower after tower rose, each as it was completed being occupied by its appropriate garrison. Vespasian mean-while attended by his son Titus, subsequently the conqueror of Judea and Jerusalem, and his successor in the empire, after being repulsed by Arviragus in an attack made by them on Dover castle, a position of great strength, directed their course to Torbay where they landed in the fourth year of the war, June 3rd, A.D. 47. Devonshire, Dorsetshire, and the south of Somersetshire were then included under the general name of Dyvnoedd, (Damnonia, Devonia,) the deep-vales. The campaigns which followed would require a volume to do them justice. They absorbed during the time they were carried on the undivided attention of the Roman world. Since the days of Mithridates no opponent of the pretensions of Rome to universal dominion had appeared worthy to be compared in martial qualities and steadiness of purpose with the British Pendragon. The camps, Roman and British, pitched at almost regular intervals in hostile frontage of each other, over the whole surface of Devonia, remain insuppressible evidences of the desperate nature of the conflict which raged for three years within its confines. According to Suetonius, thirty—according to Eutropius, thirty-two battles were fought between Vespasian and Caradoc in this brief period. Their mere number proves that in none of them could either side boast of any very decisive advantage. The head quarters of Vespasian and Titus were fixed at the great camp on Hampden hill, near Ilchested, the area of which is able to accommodate I00,000 men. On ground now forming a farm called Conquest-Farm, Bishop’s Lydiard, near a smaller camp of twenty acres, Arviragus in the absence of Caradoc sustained a total defeat. Vespasian after his victory proceeded to invest Caer-Usc (Exeter). On the eighth day of the siege he was surprised in his entrenchments by Caradoc and Arviragus, and routed with great slaughter. Titus had on this occasion the glory of saving his father’s life; the British attack was so sudden and overwhelming that Vespasian was on the point of being slain in his tent, when Titus at the head of the first cohort of the 14th legion, divining his father’s danger, charged his captors, and after a sanguinary conflict, rescued him from their hands.
The fluctuations in the fortunes of the war which ensued till the recall of Aulus Plautus and the appointment of Ostorius Scapula to the chief military command of the armies of invasion, are tersely but graphically summed up by Tacitus the Roman oligarchic historian in his description of the career of Caradoc— “the Silures reposed unbounded confidence in Caractacus, enumerating the many drawn battle he had fought with the Romans, the many victories he had obtained over them.” The disingenuousness of the Roman historians is in nothing more conspicuous than in the determined silence they observe as to the names, localities, and details of these British victories—every British reverse being on the other hand carefully and circumstantially chronicled. The memory of the incorruptible and high-souled Patriot who led the Britons in so many fields against a succession of the most skilful generals Rome could command was long cherished with ardent affection by the Kymry. Three have been, declare their Triads, our Hero-Kings—Cynvelin—Caradoc, son of Brân—Arthur. These so conquered their enemies that except by treachery they could not be overthrown. “Three have been the Chief-Battle-Kings of the Isle of Britain—Caswallon, son of Beli—Arviragus, son of Cynvelin—and Caradoc, son of Brân. The popularity of Caradoc alluded to by Tacitus is testified to in another of their ancient records, which mentions him as one of the three Kings whom every Briton from the sovereign to the peasant followed in their country’s need to battle. Nor are the literary claims of “the patriotic harasser of Rome” to be passed by without notice. Like most of the distinguished characters in Kymric annals he resembled David of Israel in uniting the prowess of the soldier with the inspiration of the Bard. The spirit of personal adventure formed also a striking trait in his character. During the truce which ensued on the recall of Plautus, he proceeded with him, in order to grace the approaching marriage of his cousin Pomponia with his presence, to Rome. Here presenting himself before the senate he
addressed them to the effect, that understanding it had been given out by the Roman generals that the forest defiles of Devon and Siluria were the chief cause of the non-success of their arms, he had given orders to burn down every tree from the Sea to the Severn on his own patrimony in the latter country: “not a sprig was left for the foot of a bird to rest upon,” the houses which were generally built, as in many parts of the Principality they still are, of timber frames filled up with stones or bricks, being reconstructed of stone alone. Being shewn by his new connections the capitol and other magnificent public and private edifices, he observed with the usual contempt of great minds for externals, “It is singular a people possessing such splendid piles of marble at home should envy me a soldier’s tent in Britain.” On the expiration of the truce and the return of Caradoc to his command, Ostorius Scapula with the Plautian line of fortresses for his base of operations, proceeded to carry the war to the West of the Severn. Our summary will not enable us to do more than state that at the end of the third campaign, A.D. 52, Caradoc was defeated and his forces dispersed at Caer Caradoc, on the Venedotian frontiers : his wife and daughter Gladys or Claudia, with his two brothers, falling into
the hands of the conqueror. He himself took refuge at her repeated solicitations, with Cartismandua, queen of the Brigantes, was arrested when asleep in his chamber by a body of armed men, loaded with chains, and delivered up to the Romans. This infamous proceeding on the part of the granddaughter of the arch-traitor, Avarwy, inheriting his detestable spirit of falsehood and treachery, is known in the Triads as the “first of the three secret betrayals of the Isle of Britain.” Sent to Rome under a strong guard, the arrival of the illustrious captive excited the attention of all classes. The populace thronged the roads leading to the city to obtain a view of the man whose name as the redoubted antagonist and often times victor of Rome in the great Isle of the West, had for nine years been familiar to their ears. The senate was convened, addresses comparing the event to the most glorious [incidents, such as the fall of Hannibal, Mithridates, and Jugurtha, in the times of the republic, were delivered, and triumphal honors decreed to Ostorius. The trial and speech of Caradoc before the throne of the Emperor in the presence of the senate are subjects too trite to be dilated upon. As free in chains as on his native hills, his calm and dignified demeanor commanded the admiration of the assembly. “Had my policy,” he said, “ in prosperous times been framed solely with a view to the preservation of my hereditary domains, or the aggrandizement of my own family, I might long since have entered this city a friend rather than a prisoner of war—nor would you have disdained as an ally a King descended from illustrious ancestors and the Pendragon of many nations. My present condition, striped of its former majesty as it is to me, is proportionately a triumph to you. I was lord of men, horses, arms, wealth —what wonder if I refused at your dictation to resign them? You aspire to universal dominion, does it follow that every nation should accept the vassalage you would impose? I am now in your power, betrayed, not conquered. Had I like others yielded without resistance where would have been the name of Caradoc, where your glory? Oblivion would have buried both in the same tomb. Bid me live, I shall survive for ever in history one example at least of Roman clemency.”
The custom at those most revolting exhibitions of Roman pride and blood-thirstiness called “Triumphs” was, that at a certain spot on the Sacra Via the captive Kings and Generals who followed barefooted, bareheaded, and in fetters, the triumphal car of their conqueror, should be removed from the procession, cast into the Tarpeian dungeons and there strangled, decapitated, or left to perish of hunger. The mass of common prisoners were condemned to slay each other in single combats at the next gladiatorial games, for the amusement of the most degraded rabble that perhaps were ever collected within the walls of a great city. The preservation of Caradoc forms a solitary exception in the long catalogue of victims to this cowardly and atrocious policy. He was permitted to reside for seven years in free custody at Rome; his aged father Brân, and the whole of the royal family of Siluria, being detained as hostages for him. His residence was in the palace on the declivity of the Mons Sacer, converted by his grand-daughter, Pudentiana, into the first Christian Church at Rome, known first as the “Titulus” and now as “St. Pudentiana.” Here his daughter Gladys, or Claudia, was married to Rufus Pudens, a Roman Patrician who had filled high civil and military positions in Britain, and whose estates lay in the Umbrian Apennines. Four children were the issue of this marriage, St. Timotheus, St. Novatus, St. Pudentiana, St. Praxedes. Two of the brothers of Claudia were St. Cyllinus, who ended his days in Britain, and Linus (Lleyn), who afterwards was ordained first Bishop of the Gentile Church of Rome, by St. Paul—as St. Clement was of the Hebrew Church. Rufus Pudens was converted to Christianity probably by his wife, herself a convert of the Arimathean mission, certainly before the first arrival of St. Paul at Rome—for in his Epistle to the Romans written prior to such arrival, Rufus is mentioned as already “chosen in the Lord.” In A.D. 56, St. Paul came to Rome. In A.D. 57, Brân, Caradoc, and the other members of the royal family of Siluria were converted and baptized by him.
From this date the “Titulus” became the home of St. Paul and of the other apostles whenever they visited Rome. The children of Claudia, mentioned above, were brought up literally upon their knees. Hermas, called “Pastor,” from a work of his so entitled, was ordained the first Minister to the Christians assembling for praise and prayer in this house. In A.D. 59, Aristobulus, brother of St. Barnabas, and father-in-law of St. Peter, was ordained by St. Paul first Bishop of the Britons, and left Rome with Brân, Caradoc, and the royal family for Siluria. Two other missionaries, Iltyd and Cyndav, “men of Israel,” as they are termed in the Kymric genealogies of the primitive saints, accompanied shim. Brân himself is on account of this the second phase in the introduction of Christianity into Britain, known as one of the King-benefactors of the island, and the epithet Bendigedig (Benedictus, Blessed), generally attached to his name. The following year St. Paul himself visited his royal converts in Britain, and returned after a stay of some months with Claudia, Pudens, and Linus, to the continent. In A.D. 67, after his second imprisonment at Rome, and on the evening preceding his execution, he wrote from the house of Claudius his farewell epistle to Timothy of Crete. The only salutations in it are those of the family of the great British patriot—Pudens, Linus, Eubulus, and Claudia, who were thus, by the unsearchable ways of the Almighty exalted, through the fiery ordeal of national disasters and family humiliation, to administer to the departing hours of the Apostle and founder in Christ of the Gentile Church. No lovelier character than that of the high-born British matron thus tending Paul the aged during the interval between “the offering up of his body” and “his reception of the crown of glory prepared for him” is presented to our admiration in the pages of history; nor any instance more striking of the manner in which God, who bringeth good out of evil, over-rules temporal calamities into agencies of eternal salvation. The introduction of the Gospel into Britain from direct Apostolic sources and under the highest secular auspices in the kingdom is traceable to a catastrophe which at the moment appeared not only irretrievable but to militate against the justice of Heaven in the government of nations.
In A.D. 53, Nero on the death of Claudius succeeded Sept. 28th, to the throne. He remained for some time under the influence of Seneca, a Stoic philosopher in profession, but in practice a grinding usurer. The capital of this man amounted to nearly fifteen millions of modern money. Two millions of this he advanced on the security of their public buildings, to the Iceni of Britain, being the first instance of a national loan on record. The King of the Iceni was Prasutagus—his Queen, Victoria (Vuddig, Boeddig, Boadicea). The wealth of Prasutagus was notorious at Rome.
Arviragus meanwhile had been elected successor to Caradoc in the Pendragonate. Ostorius was defeated by him at Caer Belin, near Caerleon. Worn out in mind and body by the increasing difficulties of his position, Ostorius shortly afterwards resigned the command to Didius Gallus—Gallus to Veranius, but neither proved equal to the task of coping with the British sovereign. The Roman armies were driven behind the Plautian lines. Veranius was superseded by Suetonius Paulinus—a commander of very different stamp, having, among other able subordinates under him, Julius Agricola.
In A.D. 57, Pomponia Grecina being publicly charged with the crime of Christianity, which under the Roman law was dealt with as treason, was proceeded against by order of Nero the emperor, “according to ancient institution“—that is, before a court of her relatives, presided over by her husband. She was acquitted of all imputations affecting her life or honor.
In A.D. 6o, the Boadicean war in the East of Britain was added to that which raged in the West under Arviragus. The cause of it was as follows:—Seneca, the capitalist had, without due notice given, demanded immediate repayment of his loan to the Iceni, with interest charged at an exorbitant rate. On the Iceni senate demurring to the rate of interest, and requesting time to realize the necessary funds to discharge the principal, orders at the instigation of Seneca were sent by Nero to the Roman prefect to take possession of all the public temples, castles, and palaces, belonging to the state. The order was rigorously executed—a Roman force was marched upon Castor, near Norwich, and garrisons placed in the inferior fortresses. A few months subsequent to these peremptory measures, and whilst the Iceni were yet smarting under the sense of degradation, Prasutagus the king died, leaving by will Nero co-heir with his two daughters to his accumulated treasures. On the pretext that the whole of this royal hoard came under the denomination of public property, Caius Decius proceeded to take possession of it. Resistance being made, the legionaries stormed the palace, perpetrated the most brutal outrages on the persons of Queen Boadicea (Victoria) and her two daughters, and carried off the treasures to the castle. Not con-tent with the commission of these atrocities, Decius issued an edict confiscating, in direct violation of the Claudian treaty, the estates of many of the Icenic nobility. At the same time that orders had been dispatched to Decius, Suetonius Paulinus, stationed then at St. Alban’s, received instructions to extirpate Druidism at all hazards with the sword; and with this view, to invade Mona (Anglesey), its chief seat in Cambria. The spirit of unbending patriotism which has in all ages and against all invaders so nobly distinguished the Bardic Order of Britain, was an unpardonable crime in the eyes of an empire whose unsatiable lust for territorial aggrandizement calumniated where it could not conquer, and only spared where it could safely despise. The instructions were executed with the ruthless thoroughness characteristic of the Roman service. By a succession of forced marches, Suetonius reached the Straits of the Menai. Here on either side extended the cemeteries of the ancient religion. Here reposed, between the soaring ram-parts of Snowdon and the blue waves of an unexplored and boundless sea, on the furthest verge of the old world, Chiefs whose ashes for fifteen hundred years had never been desecrated by the tramp above them of a foreign foe ; Archdruids, the depositaries of the unwritten wisdom of the East,—Kings, Cimbric names had carried terror to Southern and far distant lands. Through these sanctuaries of so many and such ancient memories, the regulated march of the mailed legions of Rome now resounded. But behind them a nation was rising in arms. Whilst Druidic Priest and Priestess were being butchered on their own altars by the Roman sword, and the waters of the Menai were illuminated night and day by the glare of the conflagrations of the) sacred groves, tens of thousands of Roman citizens were expiating with their lives the nefarious massacre. No sooner had the first intimation of the real nature of the expedition of Paulinus been made known than the war became a religious crusade. The Iceni and Coranidæ had so entirely forfeited the name of Britons that their oppression alone would have been regarded in the light of a just retribution; but the massacre of the Menai merged this feeling in one of universal indignation and horror. Offers of support poured in from all quarters, and Victoria soon found herself at the head of 120,000 men. The Roman accounts impress us vividly with the deep gloom in which the Roman forces were plunged by a series of portents, the more interesting as they are recorded in full faith by the pen of the philosophic historian, Tacitus, who in the preceding page reproaches the Druidic religion as a sanguinary superstition. At Colchester, the statue of victory, like that of Dagon at Joppa, fell backward and was broken into fragments. A Pythoness agitated as Cassandra on the eve of the fall of Troy, with the irrepressible spirit of divination, caused the streets to re-echo with her involuntary cry—“Death is at hand! In the Roman senate-house the British war-cry, uttered by invisible tongues, terrified and dispersed the councillors—the theatres resounded with the groans and wailings of a field of battle—in the waters of the Thames appeared the mirage of a Roman colony subverted and in ruins—the channel between Dover and Calais ran at high tide with blood; on the bide receding, the sands revealed in long lines the impressions of files of bodies as if laid out for burial. The Menai massacre had in fact no less terrified the consciences of its perpetrators than it had roused beyond control the religious fury of the British population. The Deity, states Dion Cassius, predicted by these and other omens the magnitude of the impending disasters. The war was marked indeed by all the atrocities on both sides which have ever been the characteristics of religious crusades. The British army assembled at Caer Llyr (Leicester), under Venusius, was harangued in person by Victoria. The description of the person of the outraged Queen, by Dion, is exceedingly interesting:—” Boadicea mounted the general’s tribunal—her stature was of the largest —her appearance terrible—her aspect calm and collected—her voice deep and stern. Her hair fell as low as the hips, in long golden tresses, collected round her forehead by a golden coronet. She wore a Tartan dress, fitting closely to the bosom, but below the waist opening in loose folds as a gown. Over it was a chlamys, or military cloak. This was her usual attire—on this occasion she carried also a spear.” Her prayer to Andraste, the British goddes of victory, will give a fair idea of the spirit and tenor of her address. ——
“I thank thee,—I worship thee, I appeal to thee, a woman to a woman, O Andraste! I rule not like Nitocris over beasts of burden, as are the effeminate nations of the East, nor like Semiramis over mere tradesmen and traffickers like the Egyptians, nor like the man-woman Nero, over slaves and eunuchs,—such is the precious literature these Romans would introduce amongst us; but I rule over Britons little skilled indeed in craft and policy, but born and trained to the game of war—men who in the cause of liberty stake down their own lives, the lives of their wives and children, their lands and property. Queen of such a race, I implore thine aid for freedom—for victory over enemies infamous for the wantonness of the wrongs they inflict, for their per-version of justice, for their contempt of religion, for their insatiable greed; but a people also that revel in unmanly pleasures, that cannot live without luxurious dishes, or sleep except on beds of down—whose affections are more to be dreaded and abhorred than their wars. Never let a foreigner bear rule over me or these my countrymen! Never let slavery reign in this Isle—its proper home is Rome. Be thou alone for ever, O goddess of manhood and of victory, sovereign and queen in Britain!”
Colchester was carried on the first assault by the British army. The temple garrison by the veterans held out for two days, and then shared the same fate. Petilius Cerealis, the Roman lieutenant, was defeated with the loss of the whole of the 9th legion, at Cogges hall (Cocci Collis). Cerealis himself with a few horsemen escaped into camp. The municipal town of Verulam was in the same manner stormed, gutted, and burnt. London during the protracted absence of Arviragus in the West had once again failed in its allegiance, and received a Roman garrison, under the name of a colony, within its walls. Its commerce at this period was so extensive that the Roman citizens alone resident in it were estimated at 50,000. If we calculate these at so high as a sixth part of its whole population, we have a strong though undersigned confirmation of the extreme antiquity assigned by the British historians to the foundation and splendor of the British capital. Against it the British army, now swelled to 230,000 men, directed its vengeance. Such of the inhabitants as possessed the means fled at its approach; the rest, including the Roman citizens and foreign merchants, took refuge with the garrison, in the ramparts extending from the temple of Diana to the White Mount. The ramparts were escaladed —the city fired in four different quarters—public buildings and private residences reduced alike to ashes. “No quarter or ransom,” states Tacitus, “was given or taken on either side in this war.” It is difficult to conjecture how many lives were sacrificed in this act of national justice. Tacitus implies that before the engagement with Paulinus, more than 70,000 Romans had fallen either in garrison or in the field. It is worthy of remark, that the only time London has been rifled and destroyed, has been, not by a foreign enemy, but by a British Queen and a British army, visiting it with condign punishment for its collusion with a foreign invader. The lesson appears never to have been forgotten, for its citizens have ever since seen the first to repel the open attacks or insidious influences of foreign powers. Leaving this terrible example of a metropolis smouldering in ashes quenched with the blood of its inhabitants behind, Victoria swept westward with her forces. Tacitus records but two, Dion many engagements between her and the Roman general. Her epithet in the British chronicles, (Vuddig, Victoria,) implies that in not a few of these success attended her arms. Tacitus fixes the last battle on the edge of Epping Forest—the Greek historian and the British traditions, on the Gwyddelian road, near Newmarket, in Flintshire. The various names on this latter site express so correctly the incidents of the battle that we may almost imagine Dion Cassius examined the ground prior to writing his description. Here are “Cop Paulinus“—the “Hill of Arrows“—the “Hill of the Carnage“—the “Hollow of Woe“—the “Knoll of the Melee“—the “Hollow of Execution“—the “Field of the Tribunal“—the “Hollow of No-Quarter.” Half a mile distant is the memorial stone termed the “stone of lamentation”; and on the road to Caerwys was formerly, now removed to Downing, the “stone of the Grave of Buddig,” (Victoria’s tomb). Turning to the pages of Dion, we find the conflict to have been just what these names suggest and perpetuate—a deadly melee of heavy armed legionaries, auxiliaries, archers, cavalry, and charioteers, mingled together and swaying to and fro in all the heady currents of a desperate fight over the whole extent of the ground.
The fortune of the day towards sunset inclined to the Romans. The Britons were driven back within their entrenchments, leaving a large number dead on the field or prisoners in the hands of the enemy. The rest retired in good order, and pre-pared shortly afterwards to renew the conflict. In the interim, however, Victoria died; according to Tacitus, by poison—according to Dion, in the course of nature. She was buried with profuse magnificence.
The death of Victoria, or as she is generally designated, Boadicea, affected little the resources or spirit of the Kymry of the West. Under Arviragus, Venusius, and Galgacus ap Lleenog, Prince of the Strath-Clyde Britons, the war was continued with unabated vigor. The name of Arviragus had attained at Rome a celebrity equal to that of this cousin Caradoc, nor could Juvenal suggest any news which would have been hailed with more intense satisfaction than that of the fall of this indomitable Pendragon.
“——— Has our great enemy
Arviragus, the car-borne British King,
Dropped from his battle-throne?”
“Ferox Provincia,” an “untameable province,” is the name applied by the Latin historians to our Island at this period the Silurians especially, states Tacitus, “could neither be coerced by any measures, however sanguinary, nor bribed by any promises, however brilliant, to acknowledge the dominion of Rome.” Harassed by the same anxieties that had under-mined the constitution of Ostorius Scapula, Paulinus at the expiration of A.D. 60, resigned in favor of Petronius Turpilianus. The whole of the Roman empire elsewhere enjoyed tranquillity; Syria alone excepted,—the disturbances in which were pacified the same year by Corbulo. It is to be noted that whatever emperor occupied the throne, the empire itself was never deficient in statesmen and generals of the highest order of ability. The genius of the world, from the Euphrates to Gibraltar, and from Calais to the Zahara, was at its command, ready to be employed with unswerving purpose for the incorporation of Britain.
In A.D. 64, the extinction of Druidism in the territories south of the Thames, and in those of Coritani and Iceni, was completed by Turpilianus. The first persecution of the Christians by Nero took place the same year.
In A.D. 65, Turpilianus was succeeded by Trebellius Maximus. Under his command the Roman frontiers receded to the district between Devon and Dover. Maximus was re-called and Vectius Bolanus appointed, but with no better success.
In A.D. 66, Linus, the second son of Caractacus was consecrated by St. Paul, Bishop of Rome.
In A.D. 67, St. Paul and St. Peter suffered martyrdom at Rome; St. Paul was buried in the Ostian way. The four children of Claudia were in after years buried by his side.
In June, A.D. 68, Nero was succeeded by Galba.
“The year of Revolutions” (A.D. 69,) was long remembered for the rapid changes in the occupation of the imperial throne. Galba being succeeded by Otho— Otho by Vitellius — Vitellius by Vespasian.
Titus, in A.D. 70, captured and razed Jerusalem to the ground; 1, I00,000 Jews being slain in the siege or having perished from famine. An armistice was concluded with Arviragus by Petilius Cerealis, apparently with no other view than to enable Vespasian to boast that during his reign the temple of Janus was shut for the sixth time since the foundation of Rome, B.C. 753,—a mournful comment on the history of man and his empires!
Cerealis and his successor Julius Frontinus, re-advanced the Roman banners as far as the Humber, thus preparing the way for the successes of the ablest of the many able generals who had now for twenty-seven years been conducting the war in Britain—Julius Agricola. For the campaigns of Agricola, we must refer to the pages of his son-in-law and panegyrist, Caius Cornelius Tacitus. Here a brief summary of them must suffice.
His first campaign occupied the autumn of A.D. 78, and was signalized by a decisive victory near Bwlch Agricola, in the Vale of Clwyd, over the Ordovices of Venedotia, or North Wales. Linus this year suffered martrydom at Rome, and was succeeded in the Bishopric by Cletus, or Anacletus. The reader must bear carefully in mind that the primitive church of Rome bore very little resemblance to the system which was established on its corruption in the seventh century, now known as the Papacy. Primitive Rome claimed no exclusiveness or supremacy. For three hundred years it was sup- I ported by voluntary offerings, principally from the Royal House of Britain. Its early Bishops were men of unfeigned charity and fortitude, but not remarkable for superior intellect. Papal Rome was this church in great measure lapsed and re-paganized after the removal of the seat of empire by Constantine to Constantinople on the political principle of the old heathen empire—the chief distinction being that a celibate priesthood instead of a celibate army was made the instrument of spreading and consolidating its empire. Papal Rome has never been recognized by the British Church properly so termed.
Agricola’s second campaign occupied A.D. 79, and was conducted against the Brigantes, the state between the Humber and the Tyne. The fortresses of the Brigantes were celebrated for their solidity and beauty.
The third campaign carried his arms, A.D. 80, to the Firth of Tay.
In the fourth, A.D. 81, a line of forts connected by a strong vallum was drawn from Caer Edin (Edinburgh) to Dunbriton.
In the fifth, A.D. 82, he overran the West of Albyn from the Clyde to Inverness.
In the sixth, A.D. 83, an indecisive battle was fought with Galgacus (Gallog ap Lleenoc), on whom the command in the North had been devolved by Arviragus, now incapacitated by advancing years from active service. Galgacus the next year retreated into the territories of the Kymric Picts, the strong-hold of Druidism in the North ; their fine territories round Perth being sown with massive obelisks and temples. Galgacus is commemorated in the Triads as one of the three Battle-Marshals of Britain, and this dispositions in the next engagement, described by Tacitus, appear to justify the praise. It was fought on a moor which retains the name of Galgachan Rhôs, in Strathern, at the foot of the Grampian Hills. The British loss is given at 10,000 men left dead on the field. This defeat, like many others before it, failed to demoralize the nation, for though Agricola pressed his advantage with his usual celerity, and his fleet circumnavigated Scotland, the cessation of hostilities was of short duration.
In A.D. 85, Agricola was re-called by the suspicious tyrant, Domitian—Sallustius Lucullus, the inventor of certain improvements in the Roman Javelin, replacing him. The confederacy re-organized by Arviragus embracing the Kymry, the Kymric Picts, the Caledonii of Western Albyn, and the Brigantiaid, took the field anew on his departure. “Britain,” declares Tacitus, “which was considered at last effectually conquered was lost in an instant.” It was found impossible, state the authors of the Augustine histories,” to keep the Britons under the Roman dominion.” All the conquests of Agricola purchased at such heavy cost of blood, policy, and treasure, were lost to the empire. Lucullus defeated on the West and North, could offer no steady opposition to the progress of the victorious but aged Pendragon. The Plautian fortresses behind which he retreated were carried by storm, the Thames crossed, and London re-occupied.
In A.D. 86, after a war of thirty-three years, and above sixty pitched battles, the Romans were expelled from their last holds in Kent. The Claudian invasion thus ended, failed as signally as the Julian in its object of the territorial con-quest of Britain. A triumphant peace terminated the heroic struggle which had been waged against incalculable odds by the British people led by a succession of patriotic commanders, than whom none more worthy of eternal laurels have been crowned by the muse of history.
Neratius Marcellus is the only Roman name which occurs for the next thirty years in connection with the Island. All the Roman monuments and inscriptions were by order of Arviragus so completely destroyed and erased that we search in vain for any vestiges of them anterior to the year A.D. 120, thirty-eight years after this recovery of Britain. The Chichester inscription of Cogidunus is attributable to Pudens, as the husband of Claudia, rather than as a functionary of Rome. “For forty years,” in the language of Scripture, “the land had rest from all its enemies round about.”
In A.D. 89, Arviragus, unquestionably the first general of his age, and with whom in all the disinterested virtues of a patriot soldier, Washington alone can be compared, expired amidst the regrets of the people whose liberties he had so largely contributed to preserve. He was succeeded by his son Marius.
In A.D. 90, died Joseph of Arimathea in his peaceful sanctuary of the House of God, in Avallon. Tradition commemorated with holy affection the simple epitaph inscribed upon his tomb—“I came to the Britons after I had buried Jesus Christ; I taught them, and rested.”
The reign of Marius was marked by few events of moment. Rhodri, a king of Scandinavia, invading Albyn, was defeated by him at Carlisle. The numerous Scandinavian prisoners were settled by Marius in Caithness (the captive’s promontory), where their descendants exhibit much of their dialect and physical characteristics.
In A.D. 114, Marius concluded the treaty with Trajan, by which Britain at last consented on certain conditions to become part integral of the Roman empire. The chief of these conditions were that the Britons should continue under their own laws and native Kings. That the Roman law should he confined to such cities as choose to become municipia or colonies. That no Briton should be disturbed in his hereditary estates; and that the three Roman legions to be stationed at Caerion, Chester, and York, should be recruited wholly from British volunteers, and never ordered on foreign service. In return, Britain engaged to tax itself in the annual sum of three thousand pounds’ weight of silver, as its contribution to the general system of the empire, and to place its own forces under officers appointed by the Emperor. With reference to this important treaty, Lord Chief Justice Fortescue observes,—” In the time of all the different nations and kings who have governed Britain, it has always been governed by the same customs as form the base of its laws at present. If these ancient British customs had not been most excellent—reason, justice, and the love of their country, would have induced some of the kings to change or alter them, especially the Romans, who ruled all the rest of the world by the Roman laws. And Sir Winstone Churchill, the father of the celebrated Duke of Marlborough, points attention in his “Divi Brittanici” to the same distinction between Britain and the rest of the Roman empire: “the Britons whether by compact, compromise, or other means stood, it is evident, in the matter of the enjoyment of their own laws and liberties, in a different position towards the Roman government to any other province in the empire. They certainly made such conditions as to keep their own kings and their own laws.”
In A.D. 120, Hadrian constructed his rampart from the Tyne to Solway Frith. From this date to A.D. 406, Britain must be considered a department, governed by its own laws and kings, of the Roman empire; and perhaps during no other period of similar duration has it enjoyed more solid peace and prosperity. Intervals of twenty, thirty, and forty years occur of profound tranquility,—the imperial Notitiæ recording nothing beyond the names of the high officials who succeeded each other in the civil and military ministrations. Christianity meanwhile on the Continent and Druidism in Britain continued to be proscribed by the Roman government with the same relentless animosity. Hence arose between them the sympathy of common suffering. The gradual expulsion of the-latter by a combination of causes beyond the Forth, left a free field for the evangelists of Christ; and the national will in Britain soon decreed a reformation in religion more complete and unselfish than that of the sixteenth century. Coelus, or Coel, the son of St. Cyllinus, the eldest son of Caractacus, succeeded his uncle Marius, and dying left one son, Lluryg, or Lucius, who ascended the throne in his 18th year, A.D. 125. He had been educated at Rome, by his uncle St. Timotheus, the son of Claudia, and grandson of Caractacus. In A.D. 155, finding the British people prepared to support him, at a national council at Winchester, he established Christianity as the national religion instead of Druidism. He and such of his nobility as had not previously taken upon them the vows of Christian responsibility were publicly baptized by Timotheus. The Christian ministry were thus inducted into all the rights of the Druidic hierarchy. The Gorseddau, or high Druidic courts in each tribe or county, became so many episcopal sees. The Goneddau of the Arch-druids at London, York, and Caerleon, originated a new dignity in the Church—that of Arch-bishoprics.
In commemoration of this eventful change, Lucius endowed four churches from the royal estates—those of Winchester, now the cathedral—of Llandaff, also now the Cathedral—of St. Peter’s, Cornhill—and St. Martin’s, at Canterbury, assigned by Bertha, the queen of Ethelbert, king of Kent, four hundred and fifty Fears afterwards to Augustine and the Saxon mission on their first landing. To the British Church must be conceded the pre-eminence over all others in the priority of its foundation—in its abhorrence of persecution —in its rejection of all other standards of Divine truth than the Bible—in its spirit of patriotism and resistance of slavery in all forms, and lastly, in its uncompromising hostility to the pretensions of Rome, after Rome ceased to be Primitive and became Papal. It retained its national independence from A.D. 155 to A.D. 1203, when, in defiance of the repeated protests of its clergy, it was incorporated with the Roman Catholic Church introduced into Saxondom (as England was then called) by Augustine, A.D. J96. From the fact that the “nursing fathers and nursing mothers” of the British Church were the heads or members of the reigning dynasty,—Brân, Caradoc, Eigra, Claudia, St. Cyllinus, Lucius,—it was wont to be distinguished from other churches as “Regia Domus—the royal temple. The glory of Britain, remarks Genebrard, consists not only in this, that she was the first country which, in a national capacity, publicy professed herself Christian, but that she made this confession when the Roman empire itself was yet pagan and a cruel persecutor of Christianity.”
The usages of Britain required the consent of the whole nation to any innovation in religion. In effecting this first reformation, therefore, Lucius must have represented the opinions of the majority at least of his subjects. It was followed by an enactment as politic as it was bold and generous, by which every one who made public confession of Christianity became entitled to all the rights of a native Briton. Multitudes of the persecuted faithful on the Continent found thus not merely a temporary refuge, but a free home in Britain.
Pius, Bishop of Rome, thus announces the martyrdom of St. Timotheus, not long after his return from Britain.—“The holy Timotheus and Marcus, presbyters, who were educated by the Apostles, and who have survived to our time, have given up their lives in the good war. They rest in peace in their beds.” Pastor, or Hermas, the minister of the Titulus, was crucified at the same time. Timotheus bequeathed his palace, grounds, and baths, to the Church at Rome. The next year, Pius was admitted to the same crown of glory; and nine years afterwards, Polycarp, another contemporary of the Apostles.
The Monasteries of the British Church were on a scale of grandeur never since rivalled. “There are three perpetual Choirs,” states the Triads, “of the Isle of Britain, viz., Great Bangor in the forest of Maelor, Caer-Salog, and the Chrystal Isle in Avallon. In each of these are two thousand four hundred servants of Christ, singing night and day without intermission, a hundred every hour in rotation ; so that the praises of God are sung with-out ceasing from year’s end to year’s end.” The foundation of Bangor preceded that of any other Monastery in Europe or Asia, by above a century. “I take,” writes Sir Winstone Churchill, “Bangor, endowed by King Lucius, to be as the first, so the greatest Monastery that ever was; I say not in this island, but in any part of the world, whose foundations were laid so deep that none of the Roman emperors in the following centuries, though for the most part violent persecutors, could undermine it—the religious continuing safe in the peaceful exercise of their religion till the entrance of those accursed pagans, the Saxons.” The heads of Bangor were generally men of the highest rank in the state. At one time I0,000 teachers and students were connected with it. Every graduate was obliged to master some profession, art, or business. It was the national University for Agriculture, Theology, Science, and Literature. Its destruction by the Saxons A.D. 607, forms one of the gloomiest pages in our insular annals. Its colleges, churches, &c., covered a square of five miles from gate to gate.
Henceforth to the fall of the Roman Empire, a few only of the most striking events demand notice.
In A.D. 178, Lucius sent Elvan and Medwin, bishops of London and Llandaff, to Eleutherius, bishop of Rome, to obtain authentic copies of the Roman code of laws. Eleutherius with great wisdom urged him as the sole vicar of God over his people, to have nothing to do with such code, but to make the New Testament the secular, as he had already made it the ecclesiastical basis of British legislation. This sound counsel was followed; and since that time Christianity has been, as it still is, not only the religion but the law of Britain. Lucius died A.D. 190, and was succeeded by Cadvan, prince of Venedotia.
In A.D. 181, the Antonine rampart between the Friths of Clyde and Forth was stormed by the Picts and Caledonians, the Roman commander slain, and the country ravaged as far as York. They were defeated by Ulpius Marcellus, and their territory between the Forth and Tay reduced to ashes. Marcellus was succeeded by Perennis—Perennis by Pertinax—Pertinax by Clodius Albinus.
In A.D. 194, the British legions elected Albinus emperor. He crossed the Straits against his rival Severus, received the submission of the greater part of Gaul, and held his court for some time in Paris. The next year, April 21, he encountered Severus on the plains of Lyons. The victory, states Herodian, appeared at noon to be decided in favor of the British—the centre of the enemy being routed, and Severus himself having fled in disguise from the field. But fresh forces came up, and attacking the Britons in the disorder of pursuit, retrieved the day. Albinus was beheaded, and the British legions conducted back to Britain by a lieutenant of the conqueror—Virius Lupus. The Picts taking advantage of the disaffection which ensued, invaded the province. Lupus bought them off with a heavy payment—the first instance of the suicidal policy which afterwards became rather the rule than the exception with the Roman Empire towards its barbarian assailants. Severus was not however of a spirit to sanction such a disgraceful act. He immediately came with his two sons to Britain, repaired Dover and the rest of the southern fortresses; advanced to Albyn, now becoming better known as Caledonia, and in three campaigns carried his arms to the very extremity of the Island. The expedition cost him 50,000 soldiers, but the strength of the Picts and Caledonii was for forty years effectually broken. On the line of Hadrian’s ram-part, he built the “wall of Severus,” the northern boundary of the empire. It extended, with fortresses at fixed intervals, across the Island, from Wall’s End to the Irish sea—a stupendous work equal to what would be the circumvallation of London and its suburbs with their present population of 2,800,000 inhabitants. Severus died July 4th, the following year, A.D. 211, at York.
In A.D. 228, Cadvan was succeeded in the sovereignty by Coel, or Coelus, his son-in-law, whose favorite residence was Colchester. In A.D. 224, his daughter Helen, afterwards empress, and mother of Constantine, was born in that city. A.D. 260, Constantius nephew of Claudius Gothicus the emperor, a young man of 25 years of age, but who had already attained high military rank in Spain, was commissioned to arbitrate in certain differences between Coel and Asclepiodotus, Duke of Cornwall. Coel refusing to submit the question to arbitration, Colchester was besieged by Constantius. Matters were however arranged, and the siege terminated by the marriage, A.D. 264, of Helen with Constantius, who thus, on the abdication of their claims by her brothers, became in her right heir to the throne of Britain. Constantine the Great was born next year, A.D. 265. It was the custom of the Roman emperors to nominate their successors, under the title of Cesars. Diocletian the reigning emperor nominated (A.D. 287,) Constantius, Cesar. Britain at this period was thus governed. The viceroy of the emperor resided at York. Under him the administration was con-ducted by three consulars and two presidents. The military organization was under three generals—the first, Dux Britanniæ (Duke of Britain) had the command from the Humber northwards—the second, Comes Britanniæ (Count of Britain) was answerable for the state of the garrisons and fortresses in the interior. The third was entrusted with the defence of the coast, from the Humber southward to the Land’s End. All this coast from being opposite to the great Saxon confederation in Germany was known as “the Saxon coast,” and this officer was therefore entitled Count of the Saxon shore. As imperial admiral he had the chief command of all the naval forces of Britain. This important position was now filled by Caros (Carausius), a Venedotian, born at Min-y-don, on the banks of the Menai. Being disappointed in his hopes of the Cesariate, and resenting the elevation of Canstantius, he threw off his allegiance, and proclaimed the independence of Britain. The northern and channel fleets, and then the legions, declared in his favour. The Saxons enrolled themselves his subjects, receiving from him in return that naval discipline and training which subsequently made them the terror of the western coasts of Europe. To Caros must be attributed the glory of having first seen and realized the true policy of Britain—he first made her queen of the ocean. He reigned seven years over the united kingdoms of Britain and Continental Saxondom. His fleets ruled the seas from Gibraltar to the Hebrides. The number of coins struck in his mint, which has come down to us, exceed those of any other emperor. Maximian, the colleague of Diocletian, was defeated by him in his attempt to invade Britain; but three years afterwards this truly British sovereign was assassinated by his minister, Allectus, at York. The Island on this death invited Constantius Cesar to take possession of the throne. Allectus was slain near London. Constantius never again quitted Britain. His favorite seat was Caer Seiont, Carnarvon. He died at York, A.D. 306. In his will he ordered his body to be interred at Carnarvon. His tomb was removed within the church in the time of Edward 1.
None of the first nine persecutions of the Christians extended to Britain. The tenth under Diocletian, which raged for eighteen years over the rest of the empire was put an end to in Britain in less than a year, at the risk of civil war with his cofleagues, by Constantius. Amongst its victims were Amphibalus, Bishop of Llandaff, Alban of Verulam, Aaron and Julius, Presbyters of Caerleon ; Socrates, Arch-bishop of York ; Stephen, Arch-bishop of London ; Augulius, (his successor) Arch-bishop of London, Nicholas, Bishop of Penrhyn (Glasgow), Melior, Bishop of Caer Leil, and between ten and fifteen thousand communicants in different classes of society.
No sooner was the death of Constantius known than the British legionaries elevated his son Constantine, then in his 31st year, on their shields and proclaimed him Emperor. His career may be read at large in “Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” Educated by his mother in the Christian faith, he had early formed the resolution of putting Christianity over the whole extent of the empire on the same foundation as it had long occupied in Britain. The scheme was carried out with unerring sagacity and unflinching perseverance through the arduous campaigns of twenty years. His Pagan competitors, Maximian, Maxentius, Maximus, and Licinius succumbed in succession to his victorious arms. His legionaries chiefly selected in Britain from his hereditary domains as being Christians of the British church supported him throughout with admirable loyalty. The example of his father was his guide through life. His mother Helena he always treated with the utmost respect and affection. He well explains the great objects of his life in one of his public edicts. “We call God to witness, the Saviour of all men, that in assuming the reins of government we have never been influenced by other than these two considerations-the uniting all our dominions in one faith, and restoring peace to a world torn to pieces by the madness of religious persecution.” He expired, after being eighteen years sole disposer of the Roman world, at his palace near Nicopolis, A.D. 337. Next to Arthur Constantine he may be regarded as the greatest of the British emperors. He was the founder of secular Christendom. British Bishops attended the synods of Arles and Nice, held A.D. 314, and A.D. 325, during his reign. The Catholic creed of Nice, adopted in a Synod of all Christendom, with a native British emperor presiding, is the only creed, besides the Apostles’, of the old British church.
In A.D. 369, an invasion of the Picts and Scots was repelled by Theodosius. Scotia, before the ninth century, means Ireland, and the Scots, the Irish. After the conquest of Western Caledonia in the seventh century by the Irish Scots, the country gradually became known by their name.
In A.D. 383, Maximus, grand-nephew of Constantine the Great assumed the purple in Britain and appointed his son Owen Finddu, Cesar. Under Maximus and Helen daughter of Eudav, Prince of Cambria, his wife, the last of the “Three Silver Hosts” quitted Britain for the conquest of the Continent. Conan of Powys Meriadoc, the cousin of Helen was created by Maximus, King of Armorica. From him descended the dynasty of the Breton Sovereigns and Dukes, terminating in the 15th century in Anne of Brittany, twice Queen of France. Gaul and Northern Italy were subdued by Maximus. He fell at last near Aquileia, in Italy, against Theodosius, 26th July, A.D. 388. The remains of his army settled amongst their countrymen under Conan in Bretagne.
In A.D. 406, Britain finally separated itself from the Roman empire, electing Constantine, grand-son of Conan of Armorica, for its Sovereign ; and thus as it was the last to yield, was the first also to re-assert its ancient independence and nationality. The Roman government of Britain lasted 286 years. The Kymry, or leading tribe, were never entirely reconciled to it, but it does not appear in any material degree to have interfered with their military precedence—two of the three legions being constituted of Kymric levies, and stationed in their northern and southern capitals, Chester and Caerleon.