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THE SECOND BOOK. - John Milton, The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2 
The Prose Works of John Milton, With a Biographical Introduction by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. In Two Volumes (Philadelphia: John W. Moore, 1847). Vol. 2.
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THE SECOND BOOK.
I am now to write of what befel the Britons from fifty and three years before the birth of our Saviour, when first the Romans came in, till the decay and ceasing of that empire; a story of much truth, and for the first hundred years and somewhat more, collected without much labour. So many and so prudent were the writers, which those two, the civilest and the wisest of European nations, both Italy and Greece, afforded to the actions of that puissant city. For worthy deeds are not often destitute of worthy relators: as by a certain fate, great acts and great eloquence have most commonly gone hand in hand, equalling and honouring each other in the same ages. It is true, that in obscurest times, by shallow and unskilful writers, the indistinct noise of many battles and devastations of many kingdoms, overrun and lost, hath come to our ears. For what wonder, if in all ages ambition and the love of rapine hath stirred up greedy and violent men to bold attempts in wasting and ruining wars, which to posterity have left the work of wild beasts and destroyers, rather than the deeds and monuments of men and conquerors? But he whose just and true valour uses the necessity of war and dominion not to destroy, but to prevent destruction, to bring in liberty against tyrants, law and civility among barbarous nations, knowing that when he conquers all things else, he cannot conquer Time or Detraction, wisely conscious of this his want, as well as of his worth not to be forgotten or concealed, honours and hath recourse to the aid of eloquence, his friendliest and best supply; by whose immortal record his noble deeds, which else were transitory, become fixed and durable against the force of years and generations, he fails not to continue through all posterity, over Envy, Death, and Time also victorious. Therefore when the esteem of science and liberal study waxes low in the commonwealth, we may presume that also there all civil virtue and worthy action is grown as low to a decline: and then eloquence as it were consorted in the same destiny, with the decrease and fall of virtue, corrupts also and fades; at least resigns her office of relating to illiterate and frivolous historians, such as the persons themselves both deserve, and are best pleased with; whilst they want either the understanding to choose better, or the innocence to dare invite the examining and searching style of an intelligent and faithful writer to the survey of their unsound exploits, better befriended by obscurity than fame. As for these, the only authors we have of British matters, while the power of Rome reached hither, (for Gildas affirms that of the Roman times no British writer was in his days extant, or if any were, either burnt by enemies or transported with such as fled the Pictish and Saxon invasions,) these therefore only Roman authors there be, who in the Latin tongue have laid together as much, and perhaps more than was requisite to a history of Britain. So that were it not for leaving an unsightly gap so near to the beginning, I should have judged this labour, wherein so little seems to be required above transcription, almost superfluous. Notwithstanding since I must through it, if aught by diligence may be added or omitted, or by other disposing may be more explained or more expressed, I shall assay.
Julius Cæsar (of whom, and of the Roman free state more than what appertains, is not here to be discoursed) having subdued most part of Gallia, which by a potent faction he had obtained of the senate as his province for many years, stirred up with a desire of adding still more glory to his name, and the whole Roman empire to his ambition; some* say, with a far meaner and ignobler, the desire of British pearls, whose bigness he delighted to balance in his hand; determines, and that upon no unjust pretended occasion, to try his force in the conquest also of Britain. For he understood that the Britons in most of his Gallian wars had sent supplies against him; had received fugitives of the Bellovaci his enemies; and were called over to aid the cities of Armorica, which had the year before conspired all in a new rebellion. Therefore Cæsar,† though now the summer well nigh ending, and the season unagreeable to transport a war, yet judged it would be great advantage, only to get entrance into the isle, knowledge of men, the places, the ports, the accesses; which then, it seems, were even to the Gauls our neighbours almost unknown. For except merchants and traders, it is not oft,‡ saith he, than any use to travel thither; and to those that do, besides the sea-coast, and the ports next to Gallia, nothing else is known. But here I must require, as Pollio did, the diligence, at least the memory, of Cæsar: for if it were true, as them of Rhemes told him, that Divitiacus, not long before a puissant king of the Soissons, had Britain also under his command, besides the Belgian colonies which he affirms to have named, and peopled many provinces there; if also the Britons had so frequently given them aid in all their wars; if lastly, the Druid learning, honoured so much among them, were first taught them out of Britain, and they who soonest would attain that discipline, sent hither to learn;§ it appears not how Britain at that time should be so utterly unknown in Gallia, or only known to merchants, yea to them so little, that being called together from all parts, none could be found to inform Cæsar of what bigness the isle, what nations, how great, what use of war they had, what laws, or so much as what commodious havens for bigger vessels. Of all which things as it were then first to make discovery, he sends Caius Volusenus, in a long galley, with command to return as soon as this could be effected. He in the meantime with his whole power draws nigh to the Morine coast, whence the shortest passage was into Britain. Hither his navy, which he used against the Armoricans, and what else of shipping can be provided, he draws together.
This known in Britain, the embassadors are sent from many of the states there, who promise hostages and obedience to the Roman empire. Them, after audience given, Cæsar as largely promising and exhorting to continue in that mind, sends home, and with them Comius of Arras, whom he had made king of that country, and now secretly employed to gain a Roman party among the Britons, in as many cities as he found inclinable, and to tell them that he himself was speeding thither. Volusenus, with what discovery of the island he could make from aboard his ship, not daring to venture on the shore, within five days returns to Cæsar. Who soon after, with two legions, ordinarily amounting, of Romans and their allies, to about 25,000 foot, and 4500 horse, the foot in 80 ships of burden, the horse in 18, besides what galleys were appointed for his chief commanders, sets off, about the third watch of night, with a good gale to sea; leaving behind him Sulpitius Rufus to make good the port with a sufficient strength. But the horse, whose appointed shipping lay windbound eight mile upward in another haven, had much trouble to embark.
Cæsar, now within sight of Britain, beholds on every hill multitudes of armed men ready to forbid his landing; and * Cicero writes to his friend Atticus, that the accesses of the island were wondrously fortified with strong works or moles. Here from the fourth to the ninth hour of day he awaits at anchor the coming up of his whole fleet. Meanwhile, with his legates and tribunes, consulting and giving order to fit all things for what might happen in such a various and floating water-fight as was to be expected. This place, which was a narrow bay, close environed with hills, appearing no way commodious, he removes to a plain and open shore eight miles distant; commonly supposed about Deal in Kent.† Which when the Britons perceived, their horse and chariots, as then they used in fight scowering before, their main power speeding after, some thick upon the shore, others not tarrying to be assailed, ride in among the waves to encounter, and assault the Romans even under their ships, with such a bold and free hardihood, that Cæsar himself between confessing and excusing that his soldiers were to come down from their ships, to stand in water heavy armed, and to fight at once, denies not but that the terror of such new and resolute opposition made them forget their wonted valour. To succour which he commands his galleys, a sight unusual to the Britons, and more apt for motion, drawn from the bigger vessels, to row against the open side of the enemy, and thence with slings, engines, and darts, to beat them back. But neither yet, though amazed at the strangeness of those new seacastles, bearing up so near, and so swiftly as almost to overwhelm them, the hurtling of oars, the battering of fierce engines against their bodies barely exposed, did the Britons give much ground, or the Romans gain; till he who bore the eagle of the tenth legion, yet in the galleys, first beseeching his gods, said thus aloud, “Leap down soldiers, unless you mean to betray your ensign; I for my part will perform what I owe to the commonwealth and my general.” This uttered, overboard he leaps, and with his eagle fiercely advanced runs upon the enemy; the rest heartening one another not to admit the dishonour of so nigh losing their chief standard, follow him resolutely. Now was fought eagerly on both sides. Ours who well knew their own advantages, and expertly used them, now in the shallows, now on the sand, still as the Romans went trooping to their ensigns, received them, dispatched them, and with the help of their horse, put them every where to great disorder. But Cæsar causing all his boats and shallops to be filled with soldiers, commanded to ply up and down continually with relief where they saw need; whereby at length all the foot now disembarked, and got together in some order on firm ground, with a more steady charge put the Britons to flight: but wanting all their horse, whom the winds yet withheld from sailing, they were not able to make pursuit. In this confused fight,* Scæva a Roman soldier having pressed too far among the Britons, and beset round, after incredible valour shown, single against a multitude, swam back safe to his general; and in the place that rung with his praises, earnestly besought pardon for his rash adventure against discipline; which modest confessing after no bad event, for such a deed, wherein valour and ingenuity so much outweighed transgression, easily made amends and preferred him to be a centurion. Cæsar also is brought in by Julian,† attributing to himself the honour (if it were at all an honour to that person which he sustained) of being the first that left his ship, and took land: but this were to make Cæsar less understand what became him that Scæva.
The Britons finding themselves mastered in fight, forthwith send ambassadors to treat of peace, promising to give hostages, and to be at command. With them Comius of Arras also returned; whom hitherto, since his first coming from Cæsar, they had detained in prison as a spy: the blame whereof they lay on the common people; for whose violence, and their own imprudence, they crave pardon. Cæsar complaining they had first sought peace, and then without cause had begun war, yet content to pardon them, commands hostages: whereof part they bring in straight, others, far up in the country to be sent for, they promise in a few days. Meanwhile the people disbanded and sent home, many princes and chief men from all parts of the isle submit themselves and their cities to the dispose of Cæsar, who lay then encamped, as is thought, on Barham down. Thus had the Britons made their peace; when suddenly an accident unlooked for put new counsels into their minds.
Four days after the coming of Cæsar, those eighteen ships of burden, which from the upper haven had taken in all the Roman horse, borne with a soft wind to the very coast, in sight of the Roman camp, were by a sudden tempest scattered and driven back, some to the port from whence they loosed, others down into the west country; who finding there no safety either to land or to cast anchor, chose rather to commit themselves again to the troubled sea; and, as Orosius reports, were most of them cast away. The same night, it being full moon, the galleys left upon dry land, were, unaware to the Romans, covered with a springtide, and the greater ships, that lay off at anchor, torn and beaten with waves, to the great perplexity of Cæsar, and his whole army; who now had neither shipping left to convey them back, nor any provision made to stay here, intending to have wintered in Gallia. All this the Britons well perceiving, and by the compass of his camp, which without baggage appeared the smaller, guessing at his numbers, consult together, and one by one slyly withdrawing from the camp, where they were waiting the conclusion of a peace, resolve to stop all provisions, and to draw out the business till winter. Cæsar, though ignorant of what they intended, yet from the condition wherein he was, and their other hostages not sent, suspecting what was likely, begins to provide apace, all that might be, against what might happen; lays in corn, and with materials fetched from the continent, and what was left of those ships which were past help, he repairs the rest. So that now by the incessant labour of his soldiers, all but twelve were again made serviceable.
While these things are doing, one of the legions being sent out to forage, as was accustomed, and no suspicion of war, while some of the Britons were remaining in the country about, others also going and coming freely to the Roman quarters, they who were in station at the camp gates sent speedily word to Cæsar, that from that part of the country, to which the legion went, a greater dust than usual was seen to rise. Cæsar guessing the matter, commands the cohorts of guard to follow him thither, two others to succeed in their stead, the rest all to arm and follow. They had not marched long, when Cæsar discerns his legion sore overcharged: for the Britons not doubting but that their enemies on the morrow would be in that place, which only they had left unreaped of all their harvest, had placed an ambush; and while they were dispersed and busiest at their labour, set upon them, killed some, and routed the rest. The manner of their fight was from a kind of chariots; wherein riding about and throwing darts, with the clutter of their horse, and of their wheels, they ofttimes broke the rank of their enemies; then retreating among the horse, and quitting their chariots, they fought on foot. The charioteers in the meanwhile somewhat aside from the battle, set themselves in such order that their masters at any time oppressed with odds, might retire safely thither, having performed with one person both the nimble service of a horseman, and the steadfast duty of a foot soldier. So much they could with their chariots by use and exercise, as riding on the speed down a steep hill, to stop suddenly, and with a short rein turn swiftly, now running on the beam, now on the yoke, then in the seat. With this sort of new skirmishing the Romans now over-matched and terrified, Cæsar with opportune aid appears; for then the Britons make a stand: but he considering that now was not fit time to offer battle, while his men were scarce recovered of so late a fear, only keeps his ground, and soon after leads back his legions to the camp. Further action for many days following was hindered on both sides by foul weather; in which time the Britons dispatching messengers round about, learn to how few the Romans were reduced, what hope of praise and booty, and now, if ever, of freeing themselves from the fear of like invasions hereafter, by making these an example, if they could but now uncamp their enemies; at this intimation multitudes of horse and foot coming down from all parts, make towards the Romans. Cæsar foreseeing that the Britons, though beaten and put to flight, would easily evade his foot, yet with no more than thirty horse, which Comius had brought over, draws out his men to battle, puts again the Britons to flight, pursues with slaughter, and returning burns and lays waste all about. Whereupon embassadors the same day being sent from the Britons to desire peace, Cæsar as his affairs at present stood, for so great a breach of faith, only imposes on them double the former hostages to be sent after him into Gallia: and because September was nigh half spent, a season not fit to tempt the sea with his weather-beaten fleet, the same night with a fair wind he departs towards Belgia; whither two only of the British cities sent hostages, as they promised, the rest neglected. But at Rome when the news came of Cæsar’s acts here, whether it were esteemed a conquest or a fair escape, supplication of twenty days is decreed by the senate, as either for an exploit done, or a discovery made, wherein both Cæsar and the Romans gloried not a little, though it brought no benefit either to him or to the commonwealth.
The winter following,* Cæsar, as his custom was, going into Italy, whenas he saw that most of the Britons regarded not to send their hostages, appoints his legates whom he left in Belgia, to provide what possible shipping they could either build, or repair. Low built they were to be, as thereby easier both to freight, and to haul ashore; nor needed to be higher, because the tide so often changing, was observed to make the billows less in our sea than those in the Mediterranean: broader likewise they were made, for the better transporting of horses, and all other freightage, being intended chiefly to that end. These all about six hundred in a readiness, with twenty-eight ships of burden, and what with adventurers, and other hulks about two hundred, Cotta one of the legates wrote them, as Athenæus affirms, in all one thousand; Cæsar from port Iccius, a passage of some thirty mile over, leaving behind him Labienus to guard the haven, and for other supply at need, with five legions, though but two thousand horse, about sunset hoisting sail with a slack south-west, at midnight was becalmed. And finding when it was light, that the whole navy lying on the current, had fallen off from the isle, which now they could descry on their left hand; by the unwearied labour of his soldiers, who refused not to tug the oar, and keep course with ships under sail, he bore up as near as might be, to the same place where he had landed the year before; where about noon arriving,† no enemy could be seen. For the Britons, which in great number, as was after known, had been there, at sight of so huge a fleet durst not abide. Cæsar forthwith landing his army, and encamping to his best advantage, some notice being given him by those he took, where to find his enemy; with the whole power, save only ten cohorts, and three hundred horse, left to Quintus Atrius for the guard of his ships, about the third watch of the same night, marches up twelve miles into the country. And at length by a river, commonly thought the Stowre in Kent, espies embattled the British forces. They with their horses and chariots advancing to the higher banks, oppose the Romans in their march, and begin the fight; but repulsed by the Roman cavalry, give back into the woods to a place notably made strong both by art and nature; which, it seems, had been a fort, or hold of strength raised heretofore in time of wars among themselves. For entrance, and access on all sides, by the felling of huge trees overthwart one another, was quite barred up; and within these the Britons did their utmost to keep out the enemy. But the soldiers of the seventh legion locking all their shields together like a roof close over head, and others raising a mount, without much loss of blood took the place, and drove them all to forsake the woods. Pursuit they made not long, as being through ways unknown; and now evening came on, which they more wisely spent in choosing out where to pitch and fortify their camp that night.
The next morning Cæsar had but newly sent out his men in three bodies to pursue, and the last no further gone than yet in sight, when horsemen all in post from Quintus Atrius bring word to Cæsar, that almost all his ships in a tempest that night had suffered wreck, and lay broken upon the shore. Cæsar at this news recalls his legions, himself in all haste riding back to the seaside, beheld with his eyes the ruinous prospect. About forty vessels were sunk and lost, the residue so torn and shaken, as not to be new-rigged without much labour. Straight he assembles what number of shipwrights either in his own legions or from beyond sea could be summoned; appoints Labienus on the Belgian side to build more; and with a dreadful industry of ten days, not respiting the soldiers day or night, drew up all his ships, and intrenched them round within the circuit of his camp. This done, and leaving to their defence the same strength as before, he returns with his whole forces to the same wood, where he had defeated the Britons; who preventing him with greater powers than before, had now repossessed themselves of the place, under Cassibelan their chief leader: whose territory from the states bordering on the sea was divided by the river Thames about eighty miles inward. With him formerly other cities had continual war; but now in the common danger had all made choice of him to be their general. Here the British horse and charioteers meeting with the Roman cavalry fought stoutly; and at first, something overmatched, they retreat to the near advantage of their woods and hills, but still followed by the Romans, made head again, cut off the forwardest among them, and after some pause, while Cæsar, who thought the day’s work had been done, was busied about the intrenching of his camp, march out again, give fierce assault to the very stations of his guards and sentries; and while the main cohorts of two legions, that were sent to the alarm, stood within a small distance of each other, terrified at the newness and boldness of their fight, charged back again through the midst, without loss of a man. Of the Romans that day was slain Quintus Laberius Durus a tribune; the Britons having fought their fill at the very entrance of Cæsar’s camp, and sustained the resistance of his whole army intrenched, gave over the assault. Cæsar here acknowledges, that the Roman way both of arming, and of fighting, was not so well fitted against this kind of enemy; for that the foot in heavy armour could not follow their cunning flight, and durst not by ancient discipline stir from their ensign; and the horse alone disjoined from the legions, against a foe that turned suddenly upon them with a mixed encounter both of horse and foot, were in equal danger both following and retiring. Besides their fashion was, not in great bodies, and close order, but in small divisions and open distances to make their onset; appointing others at certain spaces, now to relieve and bring off the weary, now to succeed and renew the conflict; which argued no small experience, and use of arms. Next day the Britons afar off upon the hills begin to show themselves here and there, and though less boldly than before, to skirmish with the Roman horse. But at noon Cæsar having sent out three legions, and all his horse, with Trebonius the legate, to seek fodder, suddenly on all sides they set upon the foragers, and charge up after them to the very legions, and their standards. The Romans with great courage beat them back, and in the chase, being well seconded by the legions, not giving them time either to rally, to stand, or to descend from their chariots as they were wont, slew many. From this overthrow, the Britons that dwelt farther off betook them home, and came no more after that time with so great a power against Cæsar. Whereof advertised, he marches onward to the frontiers of Cassibelan,* which on this side was bounded by the Thames, not passable except in one place, and that difficult, about Coway-stakes near Oatlands, as is conjectured. Hither coming he descries on the other side great forces of the enemy, placed in good array; the bank set all with sharp stakes, others in the bottom, covered with water; whereof the marks, in Beda’s time, were to be seen, as he relates. This having learned by such as were taken, or had run to him, he first commands his horse to pass over; then his foot, who wading up to the neck, went on so resolutely and so fast, that they on the other side, not enduring the violence, retreated and fled. Cassibelan no more now in hope to contend for victory, dismissing all but four thousand of those charioteers, through woods and intricate ways attends their motion; where the Romans are to pass, drives all before him; and with continual sallies upon the horse, where they least expected, cutting off some and terrifying others, compels them so close together, as gave them no leave to fetch in prey or booty without ill success. Whereupon Cæsar strictly commanding all not to part from the legions, had nothing left him in his way but empty fields and houses, which he spoiled and burnt.
Meanwhile the Trinobantes, a state or kingdom, and perhaps the greatest then among the Britons, less favouring Cassibelan, send embassadors, and yield to Cæsar upon this reason. Immanuentius had been their king; him Cassibelan had slain, and purposed the like to Mandubratius his son, whom Orosius calls Androgorius, Beda Androgius; but the youth escaping by flight into Gallia, put himself under the protection of Cæsar. These entreat, that Mandubratius may be still defended, and sent home to succeed in his father’s right. Cæsar sends him, demands forty hostages and provision for his army, which they immediately bring in, and have their confines protected from the soldiers. By their example the Cenimagni, Segontiaci, Ancalites, Bibroci, Cassi (so I write them, for the modern names are but guessed) on like terms make their peace. By them he learns that the town of Cassibelan, supposed to be Verulam, was not far distant; fenced about with woods and marshes, well stuffed with men and much cattle. For towns then in Britain were only woody places ditched round, and with a mud wall encompassed against the inroads of enemies. Thither goes Cæsar with his legions, and though a place of great strength both by art and nature, assaults it in two places. The Britons after some defence fled out all at another end of the town; in the flight many were taken, many slain, and great store of cattle found there. Cassibelan for all these losses yet deserts not himself; nor was yet his authority so much impaired, but that in Kent, though in a manner possessed by the enemy, his messengers and commands find obedience enough to raise all the people. By his direction, Cingetorix, Carvilius, Taximagulus, and Segonax, four kings reigning in those countries which lie upon the sea, lead them on to assault that camp, wherein the Romans had entrenched their shipping; but they whom Cæsar left there issuing out slew many, and took prisoner Cingetorix a noted leader, without loss of their own. Cassibelan after so many defeats, moved especially by revolt of the cities from him, their inconstancy and falsehood one to another, uses mediation by Comius of Arras to send embassadors about treaty of yielding. Cæsar, who had determined to winter in the continent, by reason that Gallia was unsettled, and not much of the summer now behind, commands him only hostages, and what yearly tribute the island should pay to Rome, forbids him to molest the Trinobantes, or Mandubratius; and with his hostages, and a great number of captives, he puts to sea, having at twice embarked his whole army. At his return to Rome, as from a glorious enterprise, he offers to Venus, the patroness of his family, a corslet of British pearls.*
Howbeit other ancient writers have spoken more doubtfully of Cæsar’s victories here; and that in plain terms he fled from hence; for which the common verse in Lucan, with divers passages here and there in Tacitus, is alleged. Paulus Orosius,* who took what he wrote from a history or Suetonius now lost, writes, that Cæsar in his first journey, entertained with a sharp fight, lost no small number of his foot, and by tempest nigh all his horse. Dion affirms, that once in the second expedition all his foot were routed; Orosius that another time all his horse. The British author, whom I use only then when others are all silent, hath many trivial discourses of Cæsar’s being here, which are best omitted. Nor have we more of Cassibelan, than what the same story tells, how he warred soon after with Androgeus, about his nephew slain by Evelinus nephew to the other; which business at length composed, Cassibelan dies, and was buried in York, if the Monmouth book fable not. But at Cæsar’s coming hither, such likeliest were the Britons, as the writers of those times,† and their own actions represent them; in courage and warlike readiness to take advantage by ambush or sudden onset, not inferior to the Romans, nor Cassibelan to Cæsar; in weapons, arms, and the skill of encamping, embattling, fortifying, overmatched; their weapons were a short spear and light target, a sword also by their side, their fight sometimes in chariots fanged at the axle with iron sithes, their bodies most part naked, only painted with woad in sundry figures, to seem terrible,‡ as they thought; but, pursued by enemies, not nice of their painting to run into bogs worse than wild Irish up to the neck, and there to stay many days holding a certain morsel in their mouths no bigger than a bean, to suffice hunger;§ but that receipt, and the temperance it taught, is long since unknown among us: their towns and strong holds were spaces of ground fenced about with a ditch, and great trees felled overthwart each other, their buildings within were thatched houses for themselves and their cattle: in peace the upland inhabitants, besides hunting, tended their flocks and herds, but with little skill of country affairs; the making of cheese they commonly knew not, wool or flax they spun not, gardening and planting many of them knew not; clothing they had none, but what the skins of beasts afforded them,∥ and that not always; yet gallantry they had,¶ painting their own skins with several portraitures of beast, bird or flower, a vanity which hath not yet left us, removed only from the skin to the skirt behung now with as many coloured ribands and gewgaws: towards the seaside they tilled the ground and lived much after the manner of the Gauls their neighbors, or first planters:** their money was brazen pieces or iron rings, their best merchandize tin, the rest trifles of glass, ivory, and such like:†† yet gems and pearls they had, saith Mela, in some rivers: their ships of light timber wickered with ozier between, and covered over with leather, served not therefore to transport them far, and their commodities were fetched away by foreign merchants: their dealing, saith Diodorus, plain and simple without fraud; their civil government under many princes and states,‡‡ not confederate or consulting in common, but mistrustful, and ofttimes warring one with the other, which gave them up one by one an easy conquest to the Romans: their religion was governed by a sort of priests or magicians, called Druids, from the Greek name of an oak, which tree they had in great reverence, and the mistletoe especially growing thereon. Pliny writes them skilled in magic no less than those of Persia; by their abstaining from a hen, a hare, and a goose, from fish also saith Dion, and their opinion of the soul’s passing after death into other bodies,§§ they may be thought to have studied Pythagoras; yet philosophers I cannot call them, reported men factious and ambitious, contending sometimes about the archpriesthood not without civil war and slaughter; nor restrained they the people under them from a lewd, adulterous, and incestuous life, ten or twelve men, absurdly against nature, possessing one woman as their common wife, though of nearest kin, mother, daughter, or sister; progenitors not to be gloried in. But the gospel, not long after preached here, abolished such impurities, and of the Romans we have cause not to say much worse, than that they beat us into some civility; likely else to have continued longer in a barbarous and savage manner of life. After Julius (for Julius before his death tyrannously had made himself emperor of the Roman commonwealth, and was slain in the senate for so doing) he who next obtained the empire, Octavianus Cæsar Augustus, either contemning the island, as Strabo* would have us think, whose neither benefit was worth the having nor enmity worth the fearing; or out of a wholesome state-maxim, as some say to moderate and bound the empire from growing vast and unwieldy, made no attempt against the Britons. But the truer cause was party civil war among the Romans, partly other affairs more urging. For about twenty years after,† all which time the Britons had lived at their own dispose, Augustus, in imitation of his uncle Julius, either intending or seeming to intend an expedition hither, was come into Gallia, when the news of a revolt in Pannonia diverted him:‡ about seven years after in the same resolution, what with the unsettledness of Gallia, and what with embassadors from Britain which met him there, he proceeded not. The next year, difference arising about covenants, he was again prevented by other new commotions in Spain. Nevertheless some of the British potentates omitted not to seek his friendship by gifts offered in the Capitol, and other obsequious addresses. Insomuch that the whole island§ became even in those days well known to the Romans; too well perhaps for them, who from the knowledge of us were so like to prove enemies. But as for tribute, the Britons paid none to Augustus, except what easy customs were levied on the slight commodities wherewith they traded into Gallia.
After Cassibelan, Tenantius the younger son of Lud, according to the Monmouth story, was made king. For Androgeus the elder, conceiving himself generally hated for siding with the Romans, forsook his claim here, and followed Cæsar’s fortune. This king is recorded just and warlike.
His son Kymbeline, or Cunobeline, succeeding, was brought up, as is said, in the court of Augustus, and with him held friendly correspondences to the end; was a warlike prince; his chief seat Camalodunum, or Maldon, as by certain of his coins, yet to be seen, appears. Tiberius, the next emperor, adhering always to the advice of Augustus, and of himself less caring to extend the bounds of his empire, sought not the Britons; and they as little to incite him, sent home courteously the soldiers of Germanicus, that by shipwreck had been cast on the British shore.∥ But Caligula,¶ his successor, a wild and dissolute tyrant, having passed the Alps with intent to rob and spoil those provinces, and stirred up by Adminius the son of Cunobeline; who, by his father banished, with a small number fled thither to him, made semblance of marching toward Britain; but being come to the ocean, and there behaving himself madly and ridiculously, went back the same way: yet sent before him boasting letters to the senate, as if all Britain had been yielded him. Cunobeline now dead, Adminius the eldest by his father banished from his country, and by his own practice against it from the crown, though by an old coin seeming to have also reigned; Togodumnus, and Caractacus the two younger, uncertain whether unequal or subordinate in power, were advanced into his place. But through civil discord, Bericus (what he was further, is not known) with others of his party flying to Rome,* persuaded Claudius the emperor to an invasion. Claudius now consul the third time, and desirous to do something, whence he might gain the honour of a triumph, at the persuasion of these fugitives, whom the Britons demanding, he had denied to render, and they for that cause had denied further amity with Rome, makes choice of this island for his province:† and sends before him Aulus Plautius the prætor, with this command, if the business grew difficult, to give him notice. Plautius with much ado persuaded the legions to move out of Gallia, murmuring that now they must be put to make war beyond the world’s end, for so they counted Britain; and what welcome Julius the dictator found there, doubtless they had heard. At last prevailed with, and hoisting sail from three several ports, lest their landing should in any one place be resisted, meeting cross winds, they were cast back and disheartened; till in the night a meteor shooting flames from the East, and as they fancied directing their course, they took heart again to try the sea, and without opposition landed. For the Britons, having heard of their unwillingness to come, had been negligent to provide against them; and retiring to the woods and moors, intended to frustrate and wear them out with delays, as they had served Cæsar before.
Plautius, after much trouble to find them out, encountering first with Caractacus, then with Togodumnus, overthrew them; and receiving into conditions part of the Boduni, who were then subject to the Catuellani, and leaving there a garrison, went on toward a river: where the Britons not imagining that Plautius without a bridge could pass, lay on the further side careless and secure. But he sending first the Germans, whose custom was, armed as they were to swim with ease the strongest current, commands them to strike especially at the horses, whereby the chariots, wherein consisted their chief art of fight, became unserviceable. To second them he sent Vespasian, who in his latter days obtained the empire, and Sabinus his brother; who unexpectedly assailing those who were least aware, did much execution. Yet not for this were the Britons dismayed; but reuniting the next day, fought with such a courage, as made it hard to decide which way hung the victory: till Caius Sidius Geta, at point to have been taken, recovered himself so valiantly, as brought the day on his side; for which at Rome he received high honours. After this the Britons drew back towards the mouth of Thames, and, acquainted with those places, crossed over; where the Romans following them through bogs and dangerous flats, hazarded the loss of all. Yet the Germans getting over, and others by a bridge at some place above, fell on them again with sundry alarms and great slaughter; but in the heat of pursuit running themselves again into bogs and mires, lost as many of their own. Upon which ill success, and seeing the Britons more enraged at the death of Togodumnus, who in one of these battles had been slain, Plautius fearing the worst, and glad that he could hold what he held, as was enjoined him, sends to Claudius. He who waited ready with a huge preparation, as if not safe enough amidst the flower of all his Romans, like a great Eastern king, with armed elephants marches through Gallia. So full of peril was this enterprise esteemed, as not without all this equipage, and stranger terrors than Roman armies, to meet the native and the naked British valour defending their country. Joined with Plautius, who encamping on the bank of Thames attended him, he passes the river. The Britons who had the courage, but not the wise conduct of old Cassibelan, laying all stratagem aside, in downright manhood scruple not to affront in open field almost the whole power of the Roman empire. But overcome and vanquished, part by force, others by treaty come in and yield. Claudius therefore, who took Camalodunum, the royal seat of Cunobeline, was often by the army saluted Imperator; a military title which usually they gave their general after any notable exploit; but to others, not above once in the same war; as if Claudius, by these acts, had deserved more than the laws of Rome had provided honour to reward. Having therefore disarmed the Britons, but remitted the confiscation of their goods,* for which they worshipped him with sacrifice and temple as a god, leaving Plautius to subdue what remained; he returns to Rome, from whence he had been absent only six months, and in Britain but sixteen days; sending the news before him of his victories, though in a small part of the island. By which is manifestly refuted that which Eutropius and Orosius write of his conquering at that time also the Orcades islands, lying to the North of Scotland; and not conquered by the Romans (for aught found in any good author) till above forty years after, as shall appear. To Claudius the senate, as for achievements of highest merit, decreed excessive honours; arches, triumphs, annual solemnities, and the surname of Britannicus both to him and his son.
Suetonius writes, that Claudius found here no resistance, and that all was done without stroke: but this seems not probable. The Monmouth writer names these two sons of Cunobeline, Guiderius and Arviragus; that Guiderius being slain in fight, Arviragus, to conceal it, put on his brother’s habiliments, and in his person held up the battle to a victory; the rest, as of Hano the Roman captain, Genuissa the emperor’s daughter, and such like stuff, is too palpably untrue to be worth rehearsing in the midst of truth. Plautius after this, employing his fresh forces to conquer on, and quiet the rebelling countries, found work enough to deserve at his return a kind of triumphant riding into the Capitol side by side with the emperor.† Vespasian also under Plautius had thirty conflicts with the enemy; in one of which encompassed, and in great danger, he was valiantly and piously rescued by his son Titus:‡ two powerful nations he subdued here, above twenty towns and the Isle of Wight; for which he received at Rome triumphal ornaments, and other great dignities. For that city in reward of virtue was ever magnificent; and long after when true merit was ceased among them, lest any thing resembling virtue should want honour, the same rewards were yet allowed to the very shadow and ostentation of merit. Ostorius in the room of Plautius viceprætor met with turbulent affairs;§ the Britons not ceasing to vex with inroads all those countries that were yielded to the Romans; and now the more eagerly,∥ supposing that the new general, unacquainted with his army, and on the edge of winter, would not hastily oppose them. But he weighing that first events were most available to breed fear or contempt, with such cohorts as were next at hand, sets out against them: whom having routed, so close he follows, as one who meant not to be every day molested with the cavils of a slight peace, or an emboldened enemy. Lest they should make head again, he disarms whom he suspects; and to surround them, places many garrisons upon the rivers of Antona and Sabrina. But the Icenians, a stout people, untouched yet by these wars, as having before sought alliance with the Romans, were the first that brooked not this. By their example others rise; and in a chosen place, fenced with high banks of earth and narrow lanes to prevent the horse, warily encamp. Ostorius though yet not strengthened with his legions, causes the auxiliar bands, his troops also alighting, to assault the rampart. They within, though pestered with their own number, stood to it like men resolved, and in a narrow compass did remarkable deeds. But overpowered at last, and others by their success quieted, who till then wavered, Ostorius next bends his force upon the Cangians, wasting all even to the sea of Ireland, without foe in his way, or them, who durst, ill handled; when the Brigantes, attempting new matters drew him back to settle first what was unsecure behind him. They, of whom the chief were punished, the rest forgiven, soon gave over; but the Silures, no way tractable, were not to be repressed without a set war. To further this, Camalodunum was planted with a colony of veteran soldiers; to be a firm and ready aid against revolts, and a means to teach the natives Roman law and civility. Cogidunus also a British king, their fast friend, had to the same intent certain cities given him:* a haughty craft, which the Romans used, to make kings also the servile agents of enslaving others. But the Silures, hardy of themselves, relied more on the valour of Caractacus; whom many doubtful, many prosperous successes had made eminent above all that ruled in Britain. He, adding to his courage policy, and knowing himself to be of strength inferior, in other advantages the better, makes the seat of his war among the Ordovices; a country wherein all the odds were to his own party, all the difficulties to his enemy. The hills and every access he fortified with heaps of stones, and guards of men; to come at whom a river of unsafe passage must be first waded. The place, as Camden conjectures, had thence the name of Caer-caradoc on the west edge of Shropshire. He himself continually went up and down, animating his officers and leaders, that “this was the day, this the field, either to defend their liberty, or to die free;” calling to mind the names of his glorious ancestors, who drove Cæsar the dictator out of Britain, whose valour hitherto had preserved them from bondage, their wives and children from dishonour. Inflamed with these words, they all vow their utmost, with such undaunted resolution as amazed the Roman general; but the soldiers less weighing, because less knowing, clamoured to be led on against any danger. Ostorius, after wary circumspection, bids them pass the river: the Britons no sooner had them within reach of their arrows, darts, and stones, but slew and wounded largely of the Romans. They on the other side closing their ranks, and over head closing their targets, threw down the loose rampires of the Britons, and pursue them up the hills, both light and armed legions; till what with galling darts and heavy strokes, the Britons, who wore neither helmet nor cuirass to defend them, were at last overcome. This the Romans thought a famous victory; wherein the wife and daughter of Caractacus were taken, his brothers also reduced to obedience; himself escaping to Cartismandua, queen of the Brigantes, against faith given was to the victors delivered bound; having held out against the Romans nine years, saith Tacitus, but by truer computation, seven. Whereby his name was up through all the adjoining provinces, even to Italy and Rome; many desiring to see who he was, that could withstand so many years the Roman puissance: and Cæsar, to extol his own victory, extolled the man whom he had vanquished.
Being brought to Rome, the people as to a solemn spectacle were called together, the emperor’s guard stood in arms. In order came first the king’s servants, bearing his trophies won in other wars, next his brothers, wife, and daughter, last himself. The behaviour of others, through fear, was low and degenerate; he only neither in countenance, word, or action submissive, standing at the tribunal of Claudius, briefly spake to this purpose: “If my mind, Cæsar, had been as moderate in the height of fortune, as my birth and dignity was eminent, I might have come a friend rather than a captive into this city. Nor couldst thou have disliked him for a confederate, so noble of descent, and ruling so many nations. My present estate to me disgraceful, to thee is glorious. I had riches, horses, arms, and men; no wonder then if I contended, not to lose them. But if by fate, yours only must be empire, then of necessity ours among the rest must be subjection. If I sooner had been brought to yield, my misfortune had been less notorious, your conquest had been less renowned; and in your severest determining of me, both will be soon forgotten. But if you grant that I shall live, by me will live to you for ever that praise which is so near divine, the clemency of a conqueror.” Cæsar moved at such a spectacle of fortune, but especially at the nobleness of his bearing it, gave him pardon, and to all the rest. They all unbound, submissly thank him, and did like reverence to Agrippina the emperor’s wife, who sat by in state; a new and disdained sight to the manly eyes of Romans, a woman sitting public in her female pride among ensigns and armed cohorts. To Ostorius triumph is decreed; and his acts esteemed equal to theirs, that brought in bonds to Rome famousest kings. But the same prosperity attended not his later actions here; for the Silures, whether to revenge their loss of Caractacus, or that they saw Ostorious, as if now all were done, less earnest to restrain them, beset the prefect of his camp, left there with legionary bands to appoint garrisons: and had not speedy aid come in from the neighbouring holds and castles, had cut them all off; notwithstanding which, the prefect with eight centurions, and many their stoutest men, were slain: and upon the neck of this, meeting first with Roman foragers, then with other troops hasting to their relief, utterly foiled and broke them also. Ostorius sending more after, could hardly stay their flight; till the weighty legions coming on, at first poised the battle, at length turned the scale: to the Britons without much loss, for by that time it grew night. Then was the war shivered, as it were, into small frays and bickerings; not unlike sometimes to so many robberies, in woods, at waters, as chance or valour, advice or rashness, led them on, commanded or without command. That which most exasperated the Silures, was a report of certain words cast out by the emperor, “That he would root them out to the very name.” Therefore two cohorts more of auxiliars, by the avarice of their leaders too securely pillaging, they quite intercepted; and bestowing liberally the spoils and captives, whereof they took plenty, drew other countries to join with them.
These losses falling so thick upon the Romans, Ostorius with the thought and anguish thereof ended his days; the Britons rejoicing, although no battle, that yet adverse war had worn out so great a soldier. Cæsar in his place ordains Aulus Didius: but ere his coming, though much hastened, that the province might not want a governor, the Silures had given an overthrow to Manlius Valens with his legion, rumoured on both sides greater than was true, by the Silures to animate the new general; by him in a double respect, of the more praise if he quelled them, or the more excuse if he failed. Meantime the Silures forgot not to infest the Roman pale with wide excursions; till Didius marching out, kept them somewhat more within bounds. Nor were they long to seek who, after Caractacus, should lead them; for next to him in worth and skill of war, Venutius, a prince of the Brigantes, merited to be their chief. He at first faithful to the Romans, and by them protected, was the husband of Cartismandua, queen of the Brigantes, himself perhaps reigning elsewhere. She who had betrayed Caractacus and her country to adorn the triumph of Claudius, thereby grown powerful and gracious with the Romans, presuming on the hire of her treason, deserted her husband; and marrying Vellocatus one of his squires, confers on him the kingdom also. This deed so odious and full of infamy, disturbed the whole state; Venutius with other forces, and the help of her own subjects, who detested the example of so foul a fact, and withal the uncomeliness of their subjection to the monarchy of a woman, a piece of manhood not every day to be found among Britons, though she had got by subtile train his brother with many of his kindred into her hands, brought her soon below the confidence of being able to resist longer. When imploring the Roman aid, with much ado, and after many a hard encounter, she escaped the punishment which was ready to have seized her. Venutius thus debarred the authority of ruling his own household, justly turns his anger against the Romans themselves: whose magnanimity not wont to undertake dishonourable causes, had arrogantly intermeddled in his domestic affairs, to uphold the rebellion of an adulteress against her husband. And the kingdom he retained against their utmost opposition; and of war gave them their fill; first in a sharp conflict of uncertain event, then against the legion of Cæsius Nasica. Insomuch that Didius growing old, and managing the war by deputies, had work enough to stand on his defence, with the gaining now and then of a small castle. And Nero* (for in that part of the isle things continued in the same plight to the reign of Vespasian) was minded but for shame to have withdrawn the Roman forces out of Britain: in other parts whereof, about the same time other things befel.† Verannius, whom Nero sent hither to succeed Didius, dying in his first year, save a few inroads upon the Silures, left only a great boast behind him, “That in two years, had he lived, he would have conquered all.” But Suetonius Paulinus, who next was sent hither, esteemed a soldier equal to the best in that age, for two years together went on prosperously, both confirming what was got, and subduing onward. At last over-confident of his present actions, and emulating others, of whose deeds he heard from abroad, marches up as far as Mona, the isle of Anglesey, a populous place. For they, it seems, had both entertained fugitives, and given good assistance to the rest that withstood him. He makes him boats with flat bottoms, fitted to the shallows which he expected in that narrow frith; his foot so passed over, his horse waded or swam. Thick upon the shore stood several gross bands of men well weaponed, many women like furies running to and fro in dismal habit, with hair loose about their shoulders, held torches in their hands. The Druids (those were their priests, of whom more in another place) with hands lift up to Heaven uttering direful prayers, astonished the Romans; who at so strange a sight stood in amaze, though wounded: at length awakened and encouraged by their general, not to fear a barbarous and lunatic rout, fall on, and beat them down scorched and rolling in their own fire. Then were they yoked with garrisons, and the places consecrate to their bloody superstitions destroyed. For whom they took in war, they held it lawful to sacrifice; and by the entrails of men used divination. While thus Paulinus had his thought still fixed before to go on winning, his back lay broad open to occasion of losing more behind: for the Britons, urged and oppressed with many unsufferable injuries, had all banded themselves to a general revolt. The particular causes are not all written by one author; Tacitus who lived next those times of any to us extant, writes that Prasutagus king of the Icenians, abounding in wealth, had left Cæsar coheir with his two daughters; thereby hoping to have secured from all wrong both his kingdom and his house; which fell out far otherwise. For under colour to oversee and take possession of the emperor’s new inheritance, his kingdom became a prey to centurions, his house to ravening officers, his wife Boadicea violated with stripes, his daughters with rape, the wealthiest of his subjects, as it were, by the will and testament of their king thrown out of their estates, his kindred made little better than slaves. The new colony also at Camalodunum took house or land from whom they pleased, terming them slaves and vassals; the soldiers complying with the colony, out of hope hereafter to use the same license themselves. Moreover the temple erected to Claudius as a badge of their eternal slavery, stood a great eyesore; the priests whereof, under pretext of what was due to the religious service, wasted and embezzled each man’s substance upon themselves. And Catus Decianus the procurator endeavoured to bring all their goods within the compass of new confiscation,* by disavowing the remitment of Claudius. Lastly, Seneca, in his books a philosopher, having drawn the Britons unwillingly to borrow of him vast sums upon fair promises of easy loan, and for repayment to take their own time, on a sudden compels them to pay in all at once with great extortion. Thus provoked by heaviest sufferings, and thus invited by opportunities in the absence of Paulinus, the Icenians, and by their examples the Trinobantes, and as many else as hated servitude, rise up in arms. Of these ensuing troubles many foregoing signs appeared; the image of victory at Camalodunum fell down of itself with her face turned, as it were, to the Britons; certain women, in a kind of ecstacy, foretold of calamities to come: in the council-house were heard by night barbarous noises; in the theatre hideous howlings, in the creek horrid sights, betokening the destruction of that colony; hereto the ocean seeming of a bloody hue, and human shapes at low ebb, left imprinted on the sand, wrought in the Britons new courage, in the Romans unwonted fears. Camalodunum, where the Romans had seated themselves to dwell pleasantly, rather than defensively, was not fortified; against that therefore the Britons make first assault. The soldiers within were not very many. Decianus the procurator could send them but two hundred, those ill armed: and through the treachery of some among them, who secretly favoured the insurrection, they had deferred both to entrench, and to send out such as bore not arms; such as did, flying to the temple, which on the second day was forcibly taken, were all put to the sword, the temple made a heap, the rest rifled and burnt. Petilius Cerealis coming to his succour, is in his way met and overthrown, his whole legion cut to pieces; he with his horse hardly escaping to the Roman camp. Decianus, whose rapine was the cause of all this, fled into Gallia. But Suetonius at these tidings not dismayed, through the midst of his enemy’s country, marches to London (though not termed a colony, yet full of Roman inhabitants, and for the frequency of trade, and other commodities, a town even then of principal note) with purpose to have made there the seat of war. But considering the smallness of his numbers, and the late rashness of Petilius, he chooses rather with the loss of one town to save the rest. Nor was he flexible to any prayers or weeping of them that besought him to tarry there; but taking with him such as were willing, gave signal to depart; they who through weakness of sex or age, or love of the place, went not along, perished by the enemy; so did Verulam, a Roman free town. For the Britons omitting forts and castles, flew thither first where richest booty and the hope of pillaging tolled them on.
In this massacre about seventy thousand Romans and their associates, in the places above mentioned, of certain lost their lives. None might be spared, none ransomed, but tasted all either a present or a lingering death; no cruelty that either outrage or the insolence of success put into their heads, was left unacted. The Roman wives and virgins hanged up all naked,* had their breasts cut off, and sewed to their mouths; that in the grimness of death they might seem to eat their own flesh; while the Britons fell to feasting and carousing in the temple of Andate their goddess of victory. Suetonius adding to his legion other old officers and soldiers thereabout, which gathered to him, were near upon ten thousand; and purposing with those not to defer battle, had chosen a place narrow, and not to be overwinged, on his rear a wood; being well informed that his enemy were all in front on a plain unapt for ambush: the legionaries stood thick in order, empaled with light armed; the horse on either wing. The Britons in companies and squadrons were every where shouting and swarming, such a multitude as at other time never; no less reckoned than two hundred and thirty thousand: so fierce and confident of victory, that their wives also came in wagons to sit and behold the sports, as they made full account of killing Romans: a folly doubtless for the serious Romans to smile at, as a sure token of prospering that day: a woman also was their commander in chief. For Boadicea and her daughters ride about in a chariot, telling the tall champions as a great encouragement, that with the Britons it was usual for women to be their leaders. A deal of other fondness they put into her mouth not worth recital; how she was lashed, how her daughters were handled, things worthier silence, retirement, and a vail, than for a woman to repeat, as done to her own person, or to hear repeated before a host of men. The Greek historian† sets her in the field on a high heap of turves, in a loose-bodied gown, declaiming, a spear in her hand, a hare in her bosom, which after a long circumlocution, she was to let slip among them for luck’s sake; then praying to Andate the British goddess, to talk again as fondly as before. And this they do out of a vanity, hoping to embellish and set out their history with the strangeness of our manners, not caring in the meanwhile to brand us with the rankest note of barbarism, as if in Britain women were men, and men women. I affect not set speeches in a history, unless known for certain to have been so spoken in effect as they are written, nor then, unless worth rehearsal: and to invent such, though eloquently, as some historians have done, is an abuse of posterity, raising in them that read other conceptions of those times and persons than were true. Much less therefore do I purpose here or elsewhere to copy out tedious orations without decorum, though in their authors composed ready to my hand. Hitherto what we have heard of Cassibelan, Togadumnus, Venusius, and Caractacus, hath been full of magnanimity, soberness, and martial skill: but the truth is, that in this battle and whole business the Britons never more plainly manifested themselves to be right barbarians: no rule, no foresight, no forecast, experience, or estimation, either of themselves or of their enemies; such confusion, such impotence, as seemed likest not to a war, but to the wild hurry of a distracted woman, with as mad a crew at her heels. Therefore Suetonius, contemning their unruly noises and fierce looks, heartens his men but to stand close awhile, and strike manfully this headless rabble that stood nearest, the rest would be a purchase rather than a toil. And so it fell out; for the legion, when they saw their time, bursting out like a violent wedge, quickly broke and dissipated what opposed them; all else only held out their necks to the slayer; for their own carts and wagons were so placed by themselves, as left them but little room to escape between. The Romans slew all: men, women, and the very drawing horses lay heaped along the field in a gory mixture of slaughter. About fourscore thousand Britons are said to have been slain on the place; of the enemy scarce four hundred, and not many more wounded. Boadicea poisoned herself, or, as others say, sickened and died. * She was of stature big and tall, of visage grim and stern, harsh of voice, her hair of a bright colour flowing down to her hips; she wore a plaited garment of divers colours, with a great golden chain; buttoned over all a thick robe. Gildas calls her the crafty lioness, and leaves an ill fame upon her doings.
Dion sets down otherwise the order of this fight, and that the field was not won without much difficulty, nor without intention of the Britons to give another battle, had not the death of Boadicea come between. Howbeit Seutonius, to preserve discipline, and to dispatch the relies of war, lodged with all the army in the open field; which was supplied out of Germany with a thousand horse and ten thousand foot; thence dispersed to winter, and with incursions to waste those countries that stood out. But to the Britons famine was a worse affliction; having left off, during this uproar, to till the ground, and made reckoning to serve themselves on the provisions of their enemy. Nevertheless those nations that were yet untamed, hearing of some discord risen between Suetonius and the new procurator Classicianus, were brought but slowly to terms of peace; and the rigour used by Suetonius on them that yielded, taught them the better course to stand on their defence.† For it is certain that Suetonius, though else a worthy man, overproud of his victory, gave too much way to his anger against the Britons. Classician therefore sending such word to Rome, that these severe proceedings would beget an endless war, Polycletus, no Roman but a courtier, was sent by Nero to examine how things went. He admonishing Suetonius to use more mildness, awed the army, and to the Britons gave matter of laughter. Who so much even till then were nursed up in their native liberty, as to wonder that so great a general with his whole army should be at the rebuke and ordering of a court-servitor. But Suetonius a while after, having lost a few galleys on the shore, was bid resign his command to Petronius Turpilianus, who not provoking the Britons, nor by them provoked, was thought to have pretended the love of peace to what indeed was his love of ease and sloth. Trebellius Maximus followed his steps, usurping the name of gentle government to any remissness or neglect of discipline; which brought in first license, next disobedience into his camp; incensed against him partly for his covetousness, partly by the incitement of Roscius Cælius, legate of a legion; with whom formerly disagreeing, now that civil war began in the empire, he fell to open discord;* charging him with disorder and sedition, and him Cælius with peeling and defrauding the legions of their pay; insomuch that Trebellius, hated and deserted of the soldiers, was content a while to govern by base entreaty, and forced at length to flee the land. Which notwithstanding remained in good quiet, governed by Cælius and the other legate of a legion, both faithful to Vitellius then emperor; who sent hither Vectius Bolanus; under whose lenity, though not tainted with other fault against the Britons nothing was done, nor in their own discipline reformed.† Petilius Cerealis by appointment of Vespasian succeeding, had to do with the populous Brigantes in many battles, and some of those not unbloody. For as we heard before,‡ it was Venusius who even to these times held them tack, both himself remaining to the end unvanquished, and some part of his country not so much as reached. It appears also by several passages in the histories of Tacitus,§ that no small matter of British forces were commanded over sea the year before to serve in those bloody wars between Otho and Vitellius, Vitellius and Vespasian contending for the empire. To Cerealis succeeded Julius Frontinus in the government of Britain,∥ who by taming the Silures, a people warlike and strongly inhabiting, augmented much his reputation. But Julius Agricola, whom Vespasian in his last year sent hither, trained up from his youth in the British wars, extended with victories the Roman limit beyond all his predecessors. His coming was in the midst of summer; and the Ordivices to welcome the new general had hewn in pieces a whole squadron of horse which lay upon their bounds, few escaping. Agricola, who perceived that the noise of this defeat had also in the province desirous of novelty stirred up new expectations, resolves to be beforehand with the danger: and drawing together the choice of his legions with a competent number of auxiliaries, not being met by the Ordovices, who kept the hills, himself at the head of his men, hunts them up and down through difficult places, almost to the final extirpating of that whole nation. With the same current of success, what Paulinus had left unfinished, he conquers in the isle of Mona: for the islanders altogether fearless of his approach, whom they knew to have no shipping, when they saw themselves invaded on a sudden by the auxiliars, whose country-use had taught them to swim over with horse and arms, were compelled to yield. This gained Agricola much opinion: who at his very entrance, a time which others bestowed of course in hearing compliments and gratulations, had made such early progress into laborious and hardest enterprises. But by far not so famous was Agricola in bringing war to a speedy end, as in cutting off the causes from whence war arises. For he knowing that the end of war was not to make way for injuries in peace, began reformation from his own house; permitted not his attendants and followers to sway, or have to do at all in public affairs: lays on with equality the proportions of corn and tribute that were imposed; takes off exactions, and the fees of encroaching officers, heavier than the tribute itself. For the countries had been compelled before, to sit and wait the opening of public granaries, and both to sell and to buy their corn at what rate the publicans thought fit; the purveyors also commanding when they pleased to bring it in, not to the nearest, but still to the remotest places, either by the compounding of such as would be excused, or by causing a dearth, where none was, made a particular gain. These grievances and the like, he in the time of peace removing, brought peace into some credit; which before, since the Romans coming, had as ill a name as war.
The summer following, Titus then emperor,* he so continually with inroads disquieted the enemy over all the isle, and after terror so allured them with his gentle demeanor, that many cities which till that time would not bend, gave hostages, admitted garrisons, and came in voluntarily. The winter he spent all in worthy actions; teaching and promoting like a public father the institutes and customs of civil life. The inhabitants rude and scattered, and by that the proner to war, he so persuaded to build houses, temples, and seats of justice; and by praising the forward, quickening the slow, assisting all, turned the name of necessity into an emulation. He caused moreover, the noblemen’s sons to be bred up in liberal arts; and by preferring the wits of Britain before the studies of Gallia, brought them to affect the Latin eloquence, who before hated the language. Then were the Roman fashions imitated, and the gown; after a while the incitements also and materials of vice, and voluptuous life, proud buildings, baths, and the elegance of banqueting; which the foolisher sort called civility, but was indeed a secret art to prepare them for bondage. Spring appearing, he took the field, and with a prosperous expedition wasted as far northward as frith of Taus all that obeyed not, with such a terror, as he went, that the Roman army, though much hindered by tempestuous weather, had the leisure to build forts and castles where they pleased, none daring to oppose them. Besides, Agricola had this excellence in him, so providently to choose his places where to fortify, as not another general then alive. No sconce or fortress of his raising was ever known either to have been forced, or yielded up or quitted. Out of these impregnable by siege, or in that case duly relieved, with continual irruptions he so prevailed, that the enemy, whose manner was in winter to regain what in summer he had lost, was now alike in both seasons kept short and straitened. For these exploits, then esteemed so great and honourable, Titus, in whose reign they were achieved, was the fifteenth time saluted imperator;† and of him Agricola received triumphal honours. The fourth summer, Domitian then ruling the empire, he spent in settling and confirming what the year before he had travelled over with a running conquest. And had the valour of his soldiers been answerable, he had reached that year, as was thought, the utmost bounds of Britain. For Glota and Bodotria, now Dunbritton, and the frith of Edinburgh, two opposite arms of the sea, divided only by a neck of land, and all the creeks and inlets on this side, were held by the Romans, and the enemy driven as it were into another island. In his fifth year‡ he passed over into the Orcades, as we may probably guess, and other Scotch isles; discovering and subduing nations, till then unknown. He gained also with his forces that part of Britain which faces Ireland, as aiming also to conquer that island; where one of the Irish kings driven out by civil wars coming to him, he both gladly received, and retained him as against a fit time. The summer ensuing, on mistrust that the nations beyond Bodotria would generally rise, and forelay the passages by land, he caused his fleet, making a great show, to bear along the coast, and up the friths and harbours; joining most commonly at night on the same shore both land and sea forces, with mutual shouts and loud greetings. At sight whereof, the Britons, not wont to see their sea so ridden, were much daunted. Howbeit the Caledonians§ with great preparation, and by rumor, as of things unknown much greater, taking arms, and of their own accord beginning war by the assault of sundry castles, sent back some of their fear to the Romans themselves: and there were of the commanders who, cloaking their fear under show of sage advice, counselled the general to retreat back on this side Bodotria. He in the mean while having intelligence, that the enemy would fall on in many bodies, divided also his army into three parts. Which advantage the Britons quickly spying, and on a sudden uniting what before they had disjointed, assail by night with all their forces that part of the Roman army which they knew to be the weakest; and breaking in upon the camp, surprised between sleep and fear, had begun some execution. When Agricola, who had learnt what way the enemies took, and followed them with all speed, sending before him the lightest of his horse, and foot to charge them behind, the rest as they came on to affright them with clamour, so plied them without respite, that by approach of day the Roman ensigns glittering all about, had encompassed the Britons: who now after a sharp fight in the very ports of the camp, betook them to their wonted refuge, the woods and fens, pursued a while by the Romans; that day else in all appearance had ended the war. The legions reincouraged by this event, they also now boasting, who but lately trembled, cry all to be led on as far as there was British ground. The Britons also not acknowledging the loss of that day to Roman valour, but to the policy of their captain, abated nothing of their stoutness; but arming their youth, conveying their wives and children to places of safety, in frequent assemblies, and by solemn covenants bound themselves to mutual assistance against the common enemy. About the same time a cohort of Germans having slain their centurion with other Roman officers in a mutiny, and for fear of punishment fled on shipboard, launched forth in three light galleys without pilot;* and by tide or weather carried round about the coast, using piracy where they landed, while their ships held out, and as their skill served them, with various fortune, were the first discoverers to the Romans that Britain was an island.
The following summer,† Agricola having before sent his navy to hover on the coast, and with sundry and uncertain landings to divert and disunite the Britons, himself with a power best appointed for expedition, wherein also were many Britons, whom he had long tried, both valiant and faithful, marches onward to the mountain Grampius, where the British, above thirty thousand, were now lodged, and still increasing; for neither would their old men, so many as were yet vigorous and lusty, be left at home, long practised in war, and every one adorned with some badge, or cognizance of his warlike deeds long ago. Of whom Galgacus, both by birth and merit the prime leader to their courage, though of itself hot and violent, is by his rough oratory, in detestation of servitude and the Roman yoke, said to have added much more eagerness of fight, testified by their shouts and barbarous applauses. As much did on the other side Agricola exhort his soldiers to victory and glory; as much the soldiers by his firm and well-grounded exhortations were all on a fire to the onset. But first he orders them on this sort: Of eight thousand auxiliary foot he makes his middle ward, on the wings three thousand horse, the legions as a reserve, stood in array before the camp; either to seize the victory won without their own hazard, or to keep up the battle if it should need. The British powers on the hill side, as might best serve for show and terror, stood in their battalions; the first on even ground, the next rising behind, as the hill ascended. The field between rung with the noise of horsemen and chariots ranging up and down. Agricola doubting to be overwinged, stretches out his front, though somewhat with the thinnest, insomuch that many advised to bring up the legions; yet he not altering, alights from his horse, and stands on foot before the ensigns. The fight began aloof, and the Britons had a certain skill with their broad swashing swords and short bucklers either to strike aside, or to bear off the darts of their enemy; and withal to send back showers of their own. Until Agricola discerning that those little targets and unwieldy glaves ill pointed, would soon become ridiculous against the thrust and close, commanded three Batavian cohorts, and two of the Tungrians exercised and armed for close fight, to draw up, and come to handy strokes. The Batavians, as they were commanded, running in upon them, now with their long tucks thrusting at the face, now with their piked targets bearing them down, had made good riddance of them that stood below; and for haste omitting further execution, began apace to advance up hill, seconded now by all the other cohorts. Meanwhile the horsemen flee, the charioteers mix themselves to fight among the foot, where many of their horse also fallen in disorderly, were now more a mischief to their own, than before a terror to their enemies. The battle was a confused heap, the ground unequal; men, horses, chariots, crowded pellmell; sometimes in little room, by and by in large, fighting, rushing, felling, overbearing, overturning. They on the hill, which were not yet come to blows, perceiving the fewness of their enemies, came down amain; and had enclosed the Romans unawares behind, but that Agricola with a strong body of horse, which he reserved for such a purpose, repelled them back as fast; and others drawn off the front, were commanded to wheel about and charge them on the backs. Then were the Romans clearly masters; they follow, they wound, they take, and to take more, kill whom they take: the Britons, in whole troops with weapons in their hands one while fleeing the pursuer, anon without weapons desperately running upon the slayer. But of all them, when once they got the woods to their shelter, with fresh boldness made head again, and the forwardest on a sudden they turned and slew, the rest so hampered, as had not Agricola, who was every where at hand, sent out his readiest cohorts, with a part of his horse to alight and scour the woods, they had received a foil in the midst of victory; but following with a close and orderly pursuit, the Britons fled again, and were totally scattered; till night and weariness ended the chase. And of them that day ten thousand fell; of the Romans three hundred and forty, among whom Aulus Atticus the leader of a cohort; carried with heat of youth and the fierceness of his horse too far on.
The Romans jocund of this victory, and the spoil they got, spent the night; the vanquished wandering about the field, both men and women, some lamenting, some calling their lost friends, or carrying off their wounded; others forsaking, some burning their own houses; and it was certain enough, that there were who with a stern compassion laid violent hands on their wives and children, to prevent the more violent hands of hostile injury. Next day appearing, manifested more plainly the greatness of their loss received; every where silence, desolation, houses burning afar off, not a man seen, all fled, and doubtful whither: such word the scouts bringing in from all parts, and the summer now spent, no fit season to disperse a war, the Roman general leads his army among the Horestians; by whom hostages being given, he commands his admiral with a sufficient navy to sail round the coast of Britain; himself with slow marches, that his delay in passing might serve to awe those new conquered nations, bestows his army in their winter-quarters. The fleet also having fetched a prosperous and speedy compass about the isle, put in at the haven Trutulensis, now Richburg near Sandwich, from whence it first set out:* and now likeliest, if not two years before, as was mentioned, the Romans might discover and subdue the isles of Orkney; which others with less reason, following† Eusebius and Orosius, attribute to the deeds of Claudius. These perpetual exploits abroad won him wide fame: with Domitian, under whom great virtue was as punishable as open crime, won him hatred.‡ For he maligning the renown of these his acts, in show decreed him honours, in secret devised his ruin. Agricola§ therefore commanded home for doing too much of what he was sent to do, left the province to his successor quiet and secure. Whether he, as is conjectured, were Salustius Lucullus, or before him some other, for Suetonius only names him legate of Britain under Domitian; but further of him, or aught else done here until the time of Hadrian, is no where plainly to be found. Some gather by a preface in Tacitus to the book of his histories, that what Agricola won here, was soon after by Domitian either through want of valour lost, or through envy neglected. And Juvenal the poet speaks of Arviragus in these days, and not before, king of Britain; who stood so well in his resistance, as not only to be talked of at Rome, but to be held matter of a glorious triumph, if Domitian could take him captive, or overcome him. Then also Claudia Rufina the daughter of a Briton, and wife of Pudence a Roman senator, lived at Rome famous by the verse of Martial for beauty, wit and learning. The next we hear of Britain, is, that when Trajan was emperor, it revolted, and was subdued. But Hadrian next entering on the empire,∥ they soon unsubdued themselves. Julius Severus, saith Dion, then governed the island, a prime soldier of that age: he being called away to suppress the Jews then in tumult left things at such a pass, as caused the emperor in person to take a journey hither;¶ where many things he reformed, and as Augustus and Tiberius counselled, to gird the empire within moderate bounds, he raised a wall with great stakes driven in deep, and fastened together, in manner of a strong mound, fourscore mile in length, to divide what was Roman from Barbarian; as his manner was to do in other frontiers of his empire, where great rivers divided not the limits. No ancient author names the place, but old inscriptions, and the ruin itself, yet testifies where it went along between Solway frith by Carlisle, and the mouth of Tine.** Hadrian having quieted the island, took it for honour to be titled on his coin, “The restorer of Britain.” In his time also Priscus Licinius, as appears by an old inscription, was lieutenant here. Antoninus Pius reigning,†† the Brigantes ever least patient of foreign servitude, breaking in upon Genounia (which Camden guesses to be Guinethia or North Wales) part of the Roman province, were with the loss of much territory driven back by Lollius Urbicus, who drew another wall of turves; in likelihood much beyond the former, and as Camden proves, between the frith of Dunbritton, and of Edinburgh; to hedge out incursions from the north. And Seius Saturninus, as is collected from the digests,‡‡ had charge here of the Roman navy. With like success did Marcus Aurelius,§§ next emperor, by his legate Calphurnius Agricola, finish here a new war: Commodus after him obtaining the empire. In his time, as among so many different accounts may seem most probable, Lucius∥∥ a supposed king in some part of Britain, the first of any king in Europe, that we read of, received the Christian faith, and this nation the first by public authority professed it: a high and singular grace from above, if sincerity and perseverance went along, otherwise an empty boast, and to be feared the verifying of that true sentence, “The first shall be last.” And indeed the praise of this action is more proper to King Lucius, than common to the nation; whose first professing by public authority was no real commendation of their true faith, which had appeared more sincere and praiseworthy, whether in this or other nation, first professed without public authority or against it, might else have been but outward conformity. Lucius in our Monmouth story is made the second by descent from Marius; Marius the son of Arviragus is there said to have overthrown the Picts then first coming out of Scythia, slain Roderic their king; and in sign of victory to have set up a monument of stone in the country since called Westmaria; but these things have no foundation. Coilus the son of Marius, all his reign, which was just and peaceable, holding great amity with the Romans, left it hereditary to Lucius. He (if Beda err not, living near five hundred years after, yet our ancientest author of this report) sent to Elutherius, then bishop of Rome,* an improbable letter, as some of the contents discover, desiring that by his appointment he and his people might receive Christianity. From whom two religious doctors, named in our chronicles Faganus and Deruvianus, forthwith sent, are said to have converted and baptized well nigh the whole nation:† thence Lucius to have had the surname of Levermaur, that is to say, great light. Nor yet then first was the Christian faith here known, but even from the latter days of Tiberius, as Gildas confidently affirms, taught and propagated, and that as some say by Simon Zelotes, as others by Joseph of Arimathea, Barnabas, Paul, Peter, and their prime disciples.
But of these matters, variously written and believed, ecclesiastic historians can best determine; as the best of them do, with little credit given to the particulars of such uncertain relations. As for Lucius, they write,‡ that after a long reign he was buried in Gloucester; but dying without issue, left the kingdom in great commotion. By truer testimony§ we find that the greatest war which in those days busied Commodus, was in this island. For the nations northward, notwithstanding the wall raised to keep them out, breaking in upon the Roman province, wasted wide; and both the army and the leader that came against them wholly routed, and destroyed; which put the emperor in such a fear, as to dispatch hither one of his best commanders, Ulpius Marcellus.∥ He a man endowed with all nobleness of mind, frugal and temperate, mild and magnanimous, in war bold and watchful, invincible against lucre, and the assault of bribes; what with his valour, and these his other virtues, quickly ended this war that looked so dangerous, and had himself like to have been ended by the peace which he brought home for presuming to be so worthy and so good under the envy of so worthless and so bad an emperor. After¶ whose departure the Roman legions fell to sedition among themselves; fifteen hundred of them went to Rome in name of the rest, and were so terrible to Commodus himself, as that to please them he delivered up to their care Perennis the captain of his guard, for having in the British war removed their leaders, who were senators, and in their places put those of the equestrian order. Notwithstanding which compliance, they endeavoured here to set up another emperor against him; and Helvius Pertinax,** who succeeded governor, found it a work so difficult to appease them, that once in a mutiny he was left for dead among many slain; and though afterwards he severely punished the tumulters, was fain at length to seek a dismission from his charge. After him Clodius Albinus* took the government; but he, for having to the soldiers made an oration against monarchy, by the appointment of Commodus was bid resign to Junius Severus.†
But Albinus in those troublesome times ensuing under the short reign of Pertinax and Didius Julianus,‡ found means to keep in his hands the government of Britain; although Septimius Severus,§ who next held the empire, sent hither Heraclitus to displace him; but in vain, for Albinus with all the British powers and those of Gallia met Severus about Lyons in France,∥ and fought a bloody battle with him for the empire, though at last vanquished and slain. The government of Britain¶ Severus divided between two deputies; till then one legate was thought sufficient; the north he committed to Virius Lupus. Where the Meatæ rising in arms,** and the Caledonians, though they had promised the contrary to Lupus,†† preparing to defend them, so hard beset, he was compelled to buy his peace, and a few prisoners with great sums of money. But hearing that Severus had now brought to an end his other wars, he writes him plainly the state of things here,‡‡ “the Britons of the north made war upon him, broke into the province, and harassed all the countries nigh them, that there needed suddenly either more aid, or himself in person.”
Severus, though now much weakened with age and the gout, yet desirous to leave some memorial of his warlike achievements here, as he had done in other places, and besides to withdraw by this means his two sons from the pleasures of Rome, and his soldiers from idleness, with a mighty power, far sooner than could be expected, arrives in Britain.§§ The northern people much daunted with the report of so great forces brought over with him, and yet more preparing, send embassadors to treat of peace, and to excuse their former doings. The emperor now loth to return home without some memorable thing done, whereby he might assume to his other titles the addition of Britannicus, delays his answer, and quickens his preparations; till in the end, when all things were in readiness to follow them, they are dismissed without effect. His principal care was to have many bridges laid over bogs and rotten moors, that his soldiers might have to fight on sure footing. For it seems through lack of tillage, the northern parts were then, as Ireland is at this day; and the inhabitants in like manner wanted to retire, and defend themselves in such watery places half naked. He also being past Adrian’s wall,∥∥ cut down woods, made ways through hills, fastened and filled up unsound and plashy fens. Notwithstanding all this industry used, the enemy kept himself so cunningly within his best advantages, and seldom appearing, so opportunely found his times to make irruption upon the Romans, when they were most in straits and difficulties, sometimes training them on with a few cattle turned out, and drawn within ambush cruelly handling them, that many a time enclosed in the midst of sloughs and quagmires, they chose rather themselves to kill such as were faint and could not shift away, than leave them there a prey to the Caledonians.¶¶ Thus lost Severus, and by sickness in those noisome places, no less than fifty thousand men: and yet desisted not, though for weakness carried in a litter, till he had marched through with his army to the utmost northern verge of the isle: and the Britons offering peace, were compelled to lose much of their country not before subject to the Romans.* Severus on the frontiers of what he had firmly conquered, builds a wall cross the island from sea to sea; which one author judges the most magnificent of all his other deeds; and that he thence received the style of Britannicus;† in length a hundred and thirty-two miles. Orosius adds it fortified with a deep trench, and between certain spaces many towers or battlements. The place whereof some will have to be in Scotland, the same which Lollius Urbicus had walled before. Others‡ affirm it only Hadrian’s work re-edified; both plead authorities and the ancient track yet visible: but this I leave among the studious of these antiquities to be discussed more at large. While peace held, the empress Julia meeting on a time certain British ladies, and discoursing with the wife of Argentocoxus a Caledonian, cast out a scoff against the looseness of our island women; whose manner then was to use promiscuously the company of divers men. Whom straight the British woman boldly thus answered: “Much better do we Britons fulfil the work of nature than you Romans; we with the best men accustom openly: you with the basest commit private adulteries.” Whether she thought this answer might serve to justify the practice of her country, as when vices are compared, the greater seems to justify the less; or whether the law and custom wherein she was bred, had whipped out of her conscience the better dictate of nature, and not convinced her of the shame, certain it is, that whenas other nations used a liberty not unnatural for one man to have many wives, the Britons§ altogether as licentious, but more absurd and preposterous in their license, had one or many wives in common among ten or twelve husbands; and those for the most part incestuously. But no sooner was Severus returned into the province, than the Britons take arms again. Against whom Severus, worn out with labours and infirmity, sends Antoninus his eldest son, expressly commanding him to spare neither sex nor age. But Antoninus, who had his wicked thoughts taken up with the contriving of his father’s death, a safer enemy than a son, did the Britons not much detriment. Whereat Severus, more overcome with grief than any other malady, ended his life at York.∥ After whose decease Antoninus Caracalla his impious son, concluding peace with the Britons, took hostages and departed to Rome. The conductor of all this northern war Scottish writers name Donaldus, he of Monmouth Fulgenius, in the rest of his relation nothing worth. From hence the Roman empire declining apace, good historians growing scarce, or lost, have left us little else but fragments for many years ensuing. Under Gordian the emperor we find, by the inscription¶ of an altar-stone, that Nonius Philippus governed here. Under Galienus we read there was a strong and general revolt from the Roman legate. Of the thirty tyrants which not long after took upon them the style of emperor,** by many coins found among us, Lollianus, Victorinus, Posthumus, the Tetrici, and Marius are conjectured to have risen or borne great sway in this island.†† Whence Porphyrius, a philosopher then living, said that Britain was a soil fruitful of tyrants; and is noted to be the first author that makes mention of the Scottish nation. While Probus was emperor,‡‡ Bonosus the son of a rhetorician, bred up a Spaniard, though by descent a Briton, and a matchless drinker; nor much to be blamed, if, as they write, he were still wisest in his cups; having attained in warfare to high honours, and lastly in his charge over the German shipping, willingly, as was thought, miscarried, trusting on his power with the western armies, and joined with Proculus, bore himself awhile for emperor; but after a long and bloody fight at Cullen, vanquished by Probus, he hanged himself, and gave occasion of a ready jest made on him for his much drinking:* “Here hangs a tankard, not a man.” After this, Probus with much wisdom prevented a new rising here in Briton by the severe loyalty of Victorinus a Moor, at whose entreaty he had placed here that governor which rebelled. For the emperor upbraiding him with the disloyalty of whom he had commended, Victorinus undertaking to set all right again, hastes thither, and finding indeed the governor to intend sedition, by some contrivance not mentioned in the story, slew him, whose name† some imagine to be Cornelius Lelianus. They write also that Probus gave leave to the Spaniards, Gauls, and Britons to plant vines, and to make wine; and having subdued the Vandals and Burgundians in a great battle,‡ sent over many of them hither to inhabit, where they did good service to the Romans, when any insurrection happened in the isle. After whom Carus emperor going against the Persians, left Carinus§ one of his sons to govern among other western provinces this island with imperial authority; but him Dioclesian, saluted emperor by the eastern arms, overcame and slew. About which time Carausius,∥ a man of low parentage, born in Menapia, about the parts of Cleves and Juliers, who through all military degrees was made at length admiral of the Belgic and Armoric seas, then much infested by the Franks and Saxons, what he took from the pirates, neither restoring to the owners nor accounting to the public, but enriching himself, and yet not scouring the seas, but conniving rather at those sea robbers, was grown at length too great a delinquent to be less than an emperor;¶ for fear and guiltiness in those days made emperors oftener than merit: and understanding that Maximianus Herculius,** Dioclesian’s adopted son, was come against him into Gallia, passed over with the navy, which he had made his own, into Britain, and possessed the island. Where he built a new†† fleet after the Roman fashion, got into his power the legion that was left here in garrison, other outlandish cohorts detained, listed the very merchants and factors of Gallia, and with the allurement of spoil invited great numbers of other barbarous nations to his part, and trained them to sea service, wherein the Romans at that time were grown so out of skill, that Carausius with his navy did at sea what he listed, robbing on every coast; whereby Maximilian, able to come no nearer than the shore of Boloigne, was forced to conclude a peace with Carausius, and yield him Britain;‡‡ as one fittest to guard the province there against inroads from the North. But not long after§§ having assumed Constantius Chlorus to the dignity of Cæsar, sent him against Carausius; who in the meanwhile had made himself strong both within the land and without.∥∥ Galfred of Monmouth writes, that he made the Picts his confederates; to whom, lately come out of Scythia, he gave Albany to dwell in: and it is observed, that before his time the Picts are not known to have been any where mentioned, and then first by Eumenius a rhetorician.¶¶ He repaired and fortified the wall of Severus with seven castles, and a round house of smooth stone on the bank of Carron, which river, saith Ninnius, was of his name so called; he built also a triumphal arch in remembrance of some victory there obtained.*** In France he held Gessoriacum, or Boloigne; and all the Franks, which had by his permission seated themselves in Belgia, were at his devotion. But Constantius hasting into Gallia, besieges Boloigne, and with stones and timber obstructing the port, keeps out all relief that could be sent in by Carausius. Who ere Constantius, with the great fleet which he had prepared, could arrive hither, was slain treacherously* by Alectus one of his friends, who longed to step into his place; when he seven years, and worthily as some say, as others tyrannically, had ruled the island. So much the more did Constantius prosecute that opportunity, before Alectus could well strengthen his affairs:† and though in ill weather, putting to sea with all urgency from several havens to spread the terror of his landing, and the doubt where to expect him, in a mist passing the British fleet unseen, that lay scouting near the isle of Wight, no sooner got ashore, but fires his own ships, to leave no hope of refuge but in victory. Alectus also, though now much dismayed, transfers his fortune to a battle on the shore; but encountered by Asclepiodotus, captain of the prætorian bands, and desperately rushing on, unmindful both of ordering his men, or bringing them all to fight, save the accessories of his treason, and his outlandish hirelings, is overthrown, and slain with little or no loss to the Romans, but great execution on the Franks. His body was found almost naked in the field, for his purple robe he had thrown aside, lest it should descry him, unwilling to be found. The rest taking flight to London, and purposing with the pillage of that city to escape by sea, are met by another part of the Roman army, whom the mist at sea disjoining had by chance brought thither, and with a new slaughter chased through all the streets. The Britons, their wives also and children, with great joy go out to meet Constantius, as one whom they acknowledge their deliverer from bondage and insolence.
All this seems by Eumenius,‡ who then lived, and was of Constantius’s household, to have been done in the course of one continued action; so also thinks Sigonius, a learned writer: though all others allow three years to the tyranny of Alectus. In these days were great store of workmen, and excellent builders in this island, whom, after the alteration of things here, the Æduans in Burgundy entertained to build their temples, and public edifices. Dioclesian having hitherto successfully used his valour against the enemies of his empire, uses now his rage in a bloody persecution against his obedient and harmless Christian subjects: from the feeling whereof neither was this island, though most remote, far enough removed.§ Among them here who suffered gloriously, Aron, and Julius of Caerleon upon Usk, but chiefly Alban of Verulam, were most renowned; the story of whose martyrdom soiled, and worse martyred with the fabling zeal of some idle fancies, more fond of miracles, than apprehensive of truth, deserves not longer digression. Constantius, after Dioclesian, dividing the empire with Galerius, had Britain among his other provinces; where either preparing or returning with a victory from an expedition against the Caledonians, he died at York.∥ His son Constantine, who happily came post from Rome to Boloigne, just about the time, saith Eumenius, that his father was setting sail his last time hither, and not long before his death, was by him on his death-bed named, and after his funeral, by the whole army saluted emperor.
There goes a fame, and that seconded by most of our own historians, though not those the ancientest, that Constantine was born in this island, his mother Helena the daughter of Coilus a British prince, not sure the father of king Lucius, whose sister she must then be, for that would detect her too old by a hundred years to be the mother of Constantine. But to salve this incoherence, another Coilus is feigned to be then earl of Colchester. To this therefore the Roman authors give no testimony, except a passage or two in the Panegyrics, about the sense whereof much is argued: others* nearest to those times clear the doubt, and write him certainly born of a mean woman, Helena, the concubine of Constantius, at Naisus in Dardania.† Howbeit, ere his departure hence, he seems to have had some bickerings in the North, which by reason of more urgent affairs composed, he passes into Gallia; and after four years returns either to settle or to alter the state of things here, until a new war against Maxentius called him back, leaving Pacatianus his vicegerent. He deceasing,‡ Constantine his eldest son enjoyed for his part of the empire, with all the provinces that lay on this side the Alps, this island also. But falling to civil war with Constans his brother, was by him slain;§ who with his third brother Constantius coming into Britain, seized it as victor. Against him rose Magnentius,∥ one of his chief commanders, by some affirmed the son of a Briton, he having gained on his side great forces, contested with Constantius in many battles for the sole empire; but vanquished, in the end slew himself.¶ Somewhat before this time Gratianus Funarius, the father of Valentinian, afterwards emperor, had chief command of those armies which the Romans kept here. And the Arian doctrine** which then divided Christendom, wrought also in this island no small disturbance; a land, saith Gildas, greedy of every thing new, stedfast in nothing. At last†† Constantius appointed a synod of more than four hundred bishops to assemble at Ariminum on the emperor’s charges, which the rest all refusing, three only of the British, poverty constraining them, accepted; though the other bishops among them offered to have borne their charges; esteeming it more honourable to live on the public, than to be obnoxious to any private purse. Doubtless an ingenuous mind, and far above the presbyters of our age; who like well to sit in assembly on the public stipend, but liked not the poverty that caused these to do so. After this Martinus was deputy of the province; who being offended with the cruelty which Paulus, an inquisitor sent from Constantius, exercised in his inquiry after those military officers who had conspired with Magnentius, was himself laid hold on as an accessory: at which enraged he runs at Paulus with his drawn sword; but failing to kill him, turns it on himself. Next to whom, as may be guessed, Alipius was made deputy. In the mean time Julian,‡‡ whom Constantius had made Cæsar, having recovered much territory about the Rhine, where the German inroads before had long insulted, to relieve those countries almost ruined, causes eight hundred pinnaces to be built; and with them, by frequent voyages, plenty of corn to be fetched in from Britain; which even then was the usual bounty of this soil to those parts, as oft as French and Saxon pirates hindered not the transportation.§§ While Constantius yet reigned,∥∥ the Scots and Picts breaking in upon the Northern confines, Julian, being at Paris, sends over Lupicinus, a well-tried soldier, but a proud and covetous man, who with a power of light-armed Herulians, Batavians, and Mæsians, in the midst of winter sailing from Boloigne, arrives at Rutupiæ, seated on the opposite shore, and comes to London, to consult there about the war; but soon after was recalled by Julian, then chosen emperor. Under whom we read not of aught happening here, only that Palladius, one of his great officers, was hither banished. This year,* Valentinian being emperor, the Atticots, Picts, and Scots, roving up and down, and last the Saxons with perpetual landings and invasions harried the south coast of Britain; slew Nectaridius who governed the sea borders, and Bulchobaudes with his forces by an ambush. With which news Valentinian not a little perplexed, sends first Severus high steward of his house, and soon recalls him; then Jovinus, who intimating the necessity of greater supplies, he sends at length Theodosius, a man of tried valour and experience, father to the first emperor of that name. He† with selected numbers out of the legions, and cohorts, crosses the sea from Boloigne to Rutupiæ; from whence with the Batavians, Herulians, and other legions that arrived soon after, he marches to London; and dividing his forces into several bodies, sets upon the dispersed and plundering enemy, laden with spoil; from whom recovering the booty which they led away, and were forced to leave there with their lives, he restores all to the right owners, save a small portion to his wearied soldiers, and enters London victoriously; which, before in many straits and difficulties, was now revived as with a great deliverance. The numerous enemy with whom he had to deal, was of different nations, and the war scattered: which Theodosius, getting daily some intelligence from fugitives and prisoners, resolves to carry on by sudden parties and surprisals, rather than set battles; nor omits he to proclaim indemnity to such as would lay down arms, and accept of peace, which brought in many. Yet all this not ending the work, he requires that Civilis, a man of much uprightness, might be sent him, to be as deputy of the island, and Dulcitius a famous captain. Thus was Theodosius busied, besetting with ambushes the roving enemy, repressing his roads, restoring cities and castles to their former safety and defence, laying every where the firm foundation of a long peace, when‡ Valentinus a Pannonian, for some great offence banished into Britain, conspiring with certain exiles and soldiers against Theodosius, whose worth he dreaded as the only obstacle to his greater design of gaining the isle into his power, is discovered, and with his chief accomplices delivered over to condign punishment: against the rest, Theodosius with a wise lenity suffered not inquisition to proceed too rigorously, lest the fear thereof appertaining to so many, occasion might arise of new trouble in a time so unsettled. This done, he applies himself to reform things out of order, raises on the confines many strong holds; and in them appoints due and diligent watches: and so reduced all things out of danger, that the province, which but lately was under command of the enemy, became now wholly Roman, new named Valentia of Valentinian, and the city of London, Augusta. Thus Theodosius nobly acquitting himself in all affairs, with general applause of the whole province, accompanied to the sea-side returns to Valentinian. Who about five years after sent hither Fraomarius, a king of the Almans,§ with authority of a tribune over his own country forces; which then, both for number and good service, were in high esteem. Against Gratian, who succeeded in the Western empire, Maximus a Spaniard, and one who had served in the British wars with younger Theodosius,* (for he also, either with his father, or not long after him, seems to have done something in this island,) and now general of the Roman armies here, either discontented that Theodosius was preferred before him to the empire, or constrained by the soldiers who hated Gratian, assumes the imperial purple;† and having attained victory against the Scots and Picts, with the flower and strength of Britain, passes into France; there slays Gratian, and without much difficulty, the space of‡ five years obtains his part of the empire, overthrown at length, and slain by Theodosius. With whom perishing most of his followers, or not returning out of Armorica, which Maximus had given them to possess, the south of Britain by this means exhausted of her youth, and what there was of Roman soldiers on the confines drawn off, became a prey to savage invasions;§ of Scots from the Irish seas, of Saxons from the German, of Picts from the North. Against them, first∥ Chrysanthus the son of Marcian a bishop, made deputy of Britain by Theodosius, demeaned himself worthily: then Stilicho a man of great power, whom Theodosius dying left protector of his son Honorius, either came in person, or sending over sufficient aid, repressed them, and as it seems new fortified the wall against them. But that legion being called away, when the Roman armies from all parts hasted to relieve Honorius,¶ then besieged in Asta of Piemont, by Alaric the Goth, Britain was left exposed as before, to those barbarous robbers.
Lest any wonder how the Scots came to infest Britain from the Irish sea, it must be understood, that the Scots not many years before had been driven all out of Britain by Maximus;** and their king Eugenius slain in fight, as their own annals report: whereby, it seems, wandering up and down without certain seat, they lived by scumming those seas and shores as pirates. But more authentic writers confirm us, that the Scots, whoever they be originally, came first into Ireland, and dwelt there, and named it Scotia long before the north of Britain took that name. Orosius,†† who lived at this time, writes that Ireland was then inhabited by Scots. About this time,‡‡ though troublesome, Pelagius a Briton found the leisure to bring new and dangerous opinions into the church, and is largely writ against by St. Austin. But the Roman powers which were called into Italy, when once the fear of Alaric was over, made return into several provinces; and perhaps Victorinus of Tolosa, whom Rutilius the poet much commends, might be then prefect of this island; if it were not he whom Stilicho sent hither. Buchanan writes, that endeavouring to reduce the Picts into a province, he gave the occasion of their calling back Fergusius and the Scots, whom Maximus with their help had quite driven out of the island: and indeed the verses of that poet speak him to have been active in those parts. But the time which is assigned him later by Buchanan after Gratianus Municeps, by Camden after Constantine the tyrant, accords not with that which follows in the plain course of history.§§ For the Vandals having broke in and wasted all Belgia, even to those places from whence easiest passage is into Britain, the Roman forces here, doubting to be suddenly invaded, were all in uproar, and in tumultuous manner set up Marcus, who it may seem was then deputy. But him not found agreeable to their heady courses, they as hastily kill;∥∥ for the giddy favour of a mutinying rout is as dangerous as their fury. The like they do by Gratian a British Roman,* in four months advanced, adored, and destroyed. There was among them a common soldier whose name was Constantine, with him on a sudden so taken they are, upon the conceit put in them of the luckiness in his name, as without other visible merit to create him emperor. It fortuned that the man had not his name for nought; so well he knew to lay hold, and make good use of an unexpected offer. He therefore with a wakened spirit, to the extent of his fortune dilating his mind, which in his mean condition before lay contracted and shrunk up, orders with good advice his military affairs: and with the whole force of the province, and what of British was able to bear arms, he passes into France, aspiring at least to an equal share with Honorius in the empire. Where, by the valour of Edobecus a Frank, and Gerontius a Briton, and partly by persuasion, gaining all in his way, he comes to Arles.† With like felicity by his son Constans, whom of a monk he had made a Cæsar, and by the conduct of Gerontius he reduces all Spain to his obedience. But Constans after this displacing Gerontius, the affairs of Constantine soon went to wreck; for he by this means alienated, set up Maximus one of his friends against him in Spain;‡ and passing into France, took Vienna by assault, and having slain Constans in that city, calls on the Vandals against Constantine; who by him incited, as by him before they had been repressed, breaking forward, overrun most part of France. But when Constantius Comes, the emperor’s general, with a strong power came out of Italy,§ Gerontius, deserted by his own forces, retires into Spain; where also growing into contempt with the soldiers, after his flight out of France, by whom his house in the night was beset,∥ having first with a few of his servants defended himself valiantly, and slain above three hundred, though when his darts and other weapons were spent he might have escaped at a private door, as all his servants did, not enduring to leave his wife Nonnichia, whom he loved, to the violence of an enraged crew, he first cuts off the head of his friend Alanus, as was agreed; next his wife, though loth and delaying, yet by her entreated and importuned, refusing to outlive her husband, he dispatched: for which her resolution, Sozomenus, an ecclesiastical writer gives her high praise, both as a wife, and as a Christian. Last of all, against himself he turns his sword; but missing the mortal place, with his poniard finishes the work. Thus far is pursued the story of a famous Briton, related negligently by our other historians.
As for Constantine, his ending was not answerable to his setting out; for he with his other son Julian besieged by Constantius in Arles, and mistrusting the change of his wonted success, to save his head, poorly turns priest; but that not availing him, is carried into Italy, and there put to death; having four years acted the emperor. While these things were doing,¶ the Britons at home, destitute of Roman aid, and the chief strength of their own youth, that went first with Maximus, then with Constantine, not returning home, vexed and harassed by their wonted enemies, had sent messages to Honorius; but he at that time not being able to defend Rome itself, which the same year was taken by Alaric, advises them by his letter to consult how best they might for their own safety, and acquits them of the Roman jurisdiction.** They therefore thus relinquished, and by all right the government relapsing into their own hands, thenceforth betook themselves to live after their own laws, defending their bounds as well as they were able; and the Armoricans, who not long after were called the Britons of France, followed their example. Thus expired this great empire of the Romans; first in Britain, soon after in Italy itself: having borne chief sway in this island, though never thoroughly subdued, or all at once in subjection, if we reckon from the coming in of Julius to the taking of Rome by Alaric, in which year Honorius wrote those letters of discharge into Britain, the space of 462 years.* And with the empire fell also what before in this Western world was chiefly Roman; learning, valour, eloquence, history, civility, and even language itself, all these together, as it were, with equal pace, diminishing and decaying. Henceforth we are to steer by another sort of authors; near enough to the things they write, as in their own country, if that would serve; in time not much belated, some of equal age; in expression barbarous, and to say how judicious, I suspend a while: this we must expect; in civil matters to find them dubious relaters, and still to the best advantage of what they term Holy Church, meaning indeed themselves: in most other matters of religion, blind, astonished, and struck with superstition as with a planet; in one word, monks. Yet these guides, where can be had no better, must be followed; in gross, it may be true enough; in circumstances each man, as his judgment gives him, may reserve his faith, or bestow it. But so different a state of things requires a several relation.
[* ]Suet. vit. Cæs.
[† ]Year before Christ 53.
[‡ ]Cæs. Com. l. 1.
[§ ]Cæs. Com. l. 4.
[* ]Cic. Att. l. 4. Ep. 17.
[* ]Valer. Max. Plutarch.
[† ]In Cæsaribus.
[* ]Dion, Cæsar Com. 5.
[† ]Before the birth of Christ, 52.
[* ]Oros. lib. 6, c. 7 and 8.
[† ]Dion, Mela, Cæsar.
[†† ]Tacitus, Diodor, Strabo, Lucan.
[* ]Strabo, l. 2.
[† ]Year before the birth of Christ, 32.
[‡ ]Dion, l. 49; year before the birth of Christ, 25: Dion l. 53, 24.
[§ ]Strabo, l. 4.
[∥ ]Tacit. an. l. 2.
[¶ ]Year after the birth of Christ, 16. Dion. Sueton. Cal. Ano. Dom. 40.
[† ]43. Sueton.
[* ]Dion, l. 62. Tacit. an. 14, 44.
[† ]Sueton. Claud. 5, 24
[‡ ]Sueton. Vesp. Dio. l. 60, 47.
[§ ]50. Tacit. an. 12.
[* ]Tacit. vit. Agric.
[* ]Tacit. vit. Agric.
[† ]Tacit. Hist. 3. Sueton.
[* ]Dion. l. 62.
[† ]Tacit. vit. Agric.
[* ]Tac. hist. l. 1, and vit. Agric. Anno post Christ. 69.
[† ]Tacit. hist. 2. and vit. Agric.
[§ ]Tacit. hist. 3, and vit. Agric.
[∥ ]Post Christ. 79.
[* ]Post Christ. 80.
[† ]Dion. l. 66. Post Christ. 82.
[‡ ]Post Christ. 83.
[§ ]Post Christ. 84.
[* ]Dion. l. 66.
[† ]Post Christ. 85.
[* ]Camden. Juven. sat. 2.
[† ]Eutrop. l. 7.
[‡ ]Dion. l. 66.
[§ ]Post Christ. 86.
[∥ ]Spartianus in vit. Hadrian.
[¶ ]Post Christ. 122. Spartianus ibid.
[†† ]Pausan. archad.
[‡‡ ]Cap. vit. Ant. Post Christ. 144.
[§§ ]Post Christ. 162. Digest. l. 36.
[∥∥ ] Beda.
[* ]Post Christ. 181.
[‡ ]Geoff. Mon.
[§ ]Dion. l. 72.
[∥ ]Post Christ. 183.
[¶ ]Lamprid. in comm. Post Christ. 186.
[** ]Capitolin. in Pert.
[* ]Capitolin. in Alb.
[† ]Post Christ. 193.
[‡ ]Dion. Did. Jul.
[§ ]Spartian. in Sever.
[∥ ]Herod. l. 3.
[** ]Digest, l. 28. tit. 6.
[‡‡ ]Herod. l. 3.
[§§ ]Post Christ. 208.
[∥∥ ]Post Christ. 209.
[* ]Post Christ. 210. Spartianus in Sever.
[† ]Eutropii Pean. Oros. l. 7. Cassid. Chro.
[∥ ]Post Christ. 211. Spartianus in Sever.
[¶ ]Post Christ. 242. Camb. Cumber.
[** ]Post Christ. 259. Eumen. Paneg. Const.
[†† ]Post Christ. 267. Camden, Gildas, Hieronym.
[‡‡ ]Post Christ. 282. Vopisc. in Bonas.
[* ]Zozim. l. l.
[§ ]Post Christ. 283. Vopisc. in Carin.
[∥ ]Post Christ. 284. Aurel. Victor. de Cæsar.
[¶ ]Post Christ. 285. Eutrop. Oros.
[** ]Eumen. Paneg. 2.
[†† ]Post Christ 286.
[‡‡ ]Victor Eutrop.
[§§ ]Post Christ. 291.
[¶¶ ]Paneg. 2.
[*** ]Paneg. Sigonius.
[* ]Post Christ. 292.
[† ]Camd. ex Nin. Eumen. Pan. 3. Oros. l. 7. c. 25.
[∥ ]Author, ign. post Marcellin. Valesii. Post Christ. 306. Eutrop. Eumen. idem. Auth. ignot.
[* ]Idem vit. Auth. ignot. Euseb. Const. Oros. l. 7. 25 cap. Cass. Chron.
[† ]Post Christ. 307. Sigon.
[‡ ]Post Christ. 311. Camd. Ammian. l. 20. and in cum Valesius.
[§ ]Post Christ. 340. Libanius in Basilico.
[∥ ]Post Christ. 343. Camd. ex Firmico.
[¶ ]Post Christ. 350. Camden.
[** ]Post Christ. 353. Ammian.
[†† ]Post Christ. 359.
[‡‡ ]Liban. Or. 10. Zozim. l. 3. Marcel. l. 18.
[§§ ]Amm. l. 23.
[∥∥ ]Post Christ. 360. Amm. l. 20.
[* ]Post Christ. 364. Amm. l. 26, 27.
[† ]Post Christ. 367.
[‡ ]Post Christ. 368 Amm. l. 28. Zozim. l. 4.
[§ ]Post Christ. 373. Amm. l. 29.
[* ]Zozim. l. 4. Sigon.
[† ]Pros. Aquitanic. Chron. Post Christ. 383.
[‡ ]Gildas. Post Christ. 388. Beda Ninn.
[§ ]Post Christ. 389.
[∥ ]Socrat. l. 7. Claudian de laud. Stil. l. 2. and de Bello Get.
[¶ ]Post Christ. 402.
[** ]Ethelwerd Sax. an. Bede epit. in the year 565; and Bede, l. 2. c. 4.
[†† ]Oros. l. 1. c. 2.
[‡‡ ]Post Christ. 405.
[§§ ]Post Christ. 407. Zozim. l. 6.
[∥∥ ]Sozom. l. 9.
[* ]Oros. l. 7.
[† ]Post Christ. 408.
[‡ ]Post Christ. 409.
[§ ]Sozom. l. 9.
[∥ ]Olympiodor. apud Photium.
[¶ ]Gildas, Beda, Zozim. l. 6.
[** ]Procopius Vandalic.
[* ]Calvis. Sigon.