A History of the
English Church and People #1
An accurate, vivid and readable translation of the great work by the Venerable Bede, an 8th-century historian and Benedictine monk often called "the Father of English History.”
The chronicle provides a fascinating picture of life in Saxon England and Celtic Britain, and a unique account of the gradual unification of the Medieval British peoples as a result of the rise of Christianity.
Bede skillfully charts the gradual conversion of the native Britains to Christianity marking the slow decay of monastic and Celtic tribal orders and their supercession by the highly centralized system of the Roman Church. Writing about Roman and Celtic leaders with equal justice and appreciation, Bede clearly shows how the common belief in Christ gradually drew the peoples of Britain together into what would later become the English nation.
Bede was one of the most learned men of his generation in Western Europe, and his History of the English Church and People is considered the unique result of intensive and unprecedented research. This translation is based on the annotated Latin text of Bede's work prepared by Charles Plummar.
BEDE (Baeda) was probably born in A.D. 673. He himself tells us that when he reached the age of seven he was placed under the care of Abbot Benedict, but when the monastery of St. Paul was established as a joint-foundation at Jarrow in 682, he seems to have been transferred to the care of its first abbot, Ceolfrid, and to have remained a monk there for the rest of his life. He has been described as the ‘Father of English History’ and wrote A History of the English Church and People - Lives of the Saints and Lives of the Abbots. Bede died in 735.
[BEDE WAS ROMAN CATHOLIC, HENCE FOR HIM NO OTHER “CHURCH” WAS CORRECT AND SO HIS SLANT ON “ENGLAND” BECOMING “CHRISTIAN” WAS AS WE WOULD EXPECT, FAVORED IN REGARDS TO ROME. HE DWELLS LITTLE ON THE “BRITISH CHURCH” THAT EXISTED FOR CENTURIES BEFORE THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH CAME INTO ENGLAND. OTHER RECORDS SHOW THAT A LETTER WAS SENT BACK TO THE POPE SAYING THE BRITISH WERE HERETICS FOLLOWING JEWISH PRACTICES….. THE OBSERVANCE OF THE 7TH DAY SABBATH AND THE 14TH PASSOVER LORD’S MEMORIAL. WE DO FIND BEDE TAKES SOME TIME TO RECORD THE DEBATE OVER THE PASSOVER/EASTER IN 664 BETWEEN THE CELTIC CHURCH AND THE CHURCH OF ROME - Keith Hunt]
CHAPTER 1: The situation of Britain and Ireland: their earliest inhabitants
Britain, formerly known as Albion, is an island in the ocean, lying towards the north west at a considerable distance from the coasts of Germany, Gaul, and Spain, which together form the greater part of Europe. It extends 800 miles northwards, and is 200 in breadth, except where a number of promontories stretch further, so that the total coastline extends to 3600 miles. To the south lies Belgic Gaul, to whose coast the shortest crossing is from the city known as Rutubi Portus, which the English have corrupted to Reptacaestir.1 The distance from there across the sea to Gessoriacum,2 the nearest coast of the Morini, is fifty miles, or, as some have written, 450 furlongs. On the opposite side of Britain, which lies open to the boundless ocean, lie the isles of the Orcades.3 Britain is rich in grain and timber; it has good pasturage for cattle and draught animals, and vines are cultivated in various localaties. There are many land and sea birds of various species, and it is well known for its plentiful springs and rivers abounding in fish. Salmon and eels are especially plentiful, while seals, dolphins, and sometimes whales are caught. There are also many varieties of shell-fish, such as mussels, in which are often found excellent pearls of several colours, red, purple, violet, and green, but mainly white. Whelks are abundant, and a beautiful scarlet dye is extracted from them which remains unfaded by sunshine or rain; indeed, the older the cloth, the more beautiful its colour. The country has both
3. The Orkneys.
salt springs and hot springs, and the waters flowing from them provide hot baths, in which the people bathe separately according to age and sex. As Saint Basil says: 'Water receives heat when it flows across certain metals, and becomes hot, and even scalding.' The land has rich veins of many metals, including copper, iron, lead, and silver. There is also much jet of fine quality, a black jewel which can be set on fire and, when burned, drives away snakes and, like amber, when it is warmed by friction, it holds fast whatever is applied to it. In old times, the country had twenty-eight noble cities, besides innumerable strongholds, which also were guarded by walls, towers, and barred gates.
Since Britain lies far north toward the pole, the nights are short in summer, and at midnight it is hard to tell whether the evening twilight still lingers or whether dawn is approaching, since the sun at night passes not far below the earth in its journey round the north back to the east. Consequently the days are long in summer, as are the nights in winter when the sun withdraws into African regions, as long in fact as eighteen hours, whereas the summer nights and winter days are very short, and last only six hours. In Armenia, Macedonia, and Italy, and other countries of that latitude, the longest day or night lasts only fifteen hours and the shortest nine.
At the present time there are in Britain, in harmony with the five books of the divine law, five languages and four nations - English, British, Scots, and Picts. Each of these have their own language; but all are united in their study of God's truth by the fifth - Latin - which has become a common medium through the study of the scriptures. At first the only inhabitants of the island were the Britons, from whom it takes its name, and who, according to tradition, crossed into Britain from Armorica,1 and occupied the southern parts. When they had spread northwards and possessed the greater part of the island, it is said that some Picts from Scythia put to sea in a few longships, and were driven by storms around
2. Here probably Scandinavia.
the coasts of Britain, arriving at length on the north coast of Ireland. Here they found the nation of the Scots, from whom they asked permission to settle; but their request was refused. Ireland is the largest island after Britain, and lies to the west of it. It is shorter than Britain to the north, but extends far beyond it to the south towards the northern coasts of Spain, although a wide sea separates them. These Pictish seafarers, as I have said, asked for a grant of land so that they too could make a settlement. The Scots replied that there was not room for them both, but said: “We can give you good advice. We know that there is another island not far to the east, which we often see in the distance on clear days. If you choose to go there, you can make it fit to live in; should you meet resistance, we will come to your help.” So the Picts crossed into Britain, and began to settle in the north of the island, since the Britons were in possession of the south. Having no women with them, these Picts asked wives of the Scots, who consented on condition that, when any dispute arose, they should choose a king from the female royal line rather than the male. This custom continues among the Picts to this day. As time went on, Britain received a third nation, that of the Scots, who migrated from Ireland under their chieftain Reuda and by a combination of force and treaty, obtained from the Picts the settlements that they still hold. From the name of this chieftain, they are still known as Dalreudians, for in their tongue dal means a division.
Ireland is far more favoured than Britain by latitude, and by its mild and healthy climate. Snow rarely lies longer than three days, so that there is no need to store hay in summer for winter use or to build stables for beasts. There are no reptiles, and no snake can exist there; for although often brought over from Britain, as soon as the ship nears land, they breathe the scent of its air, and die. In fact, almost everything in this isle confers immunity to poison, and I have seen that folk suffering from snake-bite have drunk water in which scrapings from the leaves of books from Ireland had been steeped, and that this remedy checked the spreading poison and reduced the swelling. The island abounds in milk and honey, and there is no lack of vines, fish, and birds, while red deer and roe are widely hunted. It is the original home of the Scots, who, as already mentioned, later migrated and added a third nation to the Britons and Picts in Britain.
There is a very extensive arm of the sea,1 which originally formed the boundary between the Britons and the Picts. This runs inland from the west for a great distance, where there stands to this day the strongly fortified British city of Alcluith.2 It was to the northern shores of this firth that the Scots came and established their new homeland.
[THE WELSH AND IRISH HISTORY IS EXTENSIVE AS PRODUCED FOR YOU ON THIS WEBSITE. WE KNOW FROM WELSH HISTORY THAT THEIR TRADING WITH EUROPE AND NATIONS FURTHER EAST, WAS LARGE AND BOUNDLESS. WE KNOW THE WELSH CLAIM TO HAVE THE OLDEST LIVING LANGUAGE IN EUROPE. WE KNOW FROM WELSH HISTORY THAT BRUTUS AND HIS PEOPLE CAME FROM TROY, AND THEIR ANCESTRY WAS FROM THE TRIBE OF JUDAH WHO WERE ONE OF THE 12/13 TRIBES OF ISRAEL; THEY WERE THE FIRST REAL SETTLERS IN BRITAIN. WE ALSO KNOW THAT A KING AROSE ABOUT 500 B.C. CALLED MOLMUTIUS WHO ENACTED LAWS VERY MUCH LIKE THE LAWS OF THE BIBLE…… EVEN SHAKESPEARE MENTIONS HIM AND HIS LAWS IN ONE OF HIS PLAYS. WE KNOW FROM DRUID HISTORY THE ANCIENT BRITON WAS EDUCATED, INDUSTRIOUS, MERCHANTS TADING NEAR AND FAR, SKILLFUL IN HORSE RIDING, CHARIOT MAKING, AND MANY OTHER STILLED TRADES. JULIAS CAESAR WAS SURPRISED TO FIND THEM IN CHARIOTS READY TO FIGHT HIM AND HIS SOLDIERS - Keith Hunt]
CHAPTER 2: On Gains Julius Caesar, the first Roman to Britain
Britain remained unknown and unvisited by the Romans until the time of Gaius Julius Caesar, who became Consul with Lucius Bibulus 693 years after the founding of Rome, and sixty years before the birth of our Lord. During a campaign against the Germans and Gauls, whose common boundary was the Rhine, he entered the province of the Morini, from which is the nearest and quickest crossing into Britain. Here he assembled about eighty transports and galleys, and crossed into Britain, where his forces suffered in a fierce battle. Next, encountering a violent gale, he lost most of his fleet and many troops, including almost all his cavalry. So he returned to Gaul, dispersed his legions to winter quarters, and gave orders for the construction of 600 vessels of both types. With these he made a second attempt on Britain in the spring; but while he was advancing against the enemy with large forces, the fleet lying at anchor was struck by a storm, and the ships were either dashed against each other, or driven on the sands and destroyed. Forty ships were wrecked, and the remainder, were
I. Firth of Clyde.
only repaired with great difficulty. At the first encounter, Caesar's cavalry suffered a defeat at the hands of the Britons, and the tribune Labienus was killed. In a second battle, which involved considerable risk, he put the Britons to flight. His next objective was the Thames, where a vast host of the enemy under Cassobellaunus was holding the far bank, and had constructed a defence system of sharpened stakes which ran along the bank, and under water across the ford. Traces of these stakes can still be seen; cased in lead and thick as a man's thigh, they were fixed immovably in the river-bed. But they were noticed and avoided by the Romans, and the barbarians, unable to resist the charge of the legions, hid themselves in the forests and harassed the Romans by frequent fierce sorties. Meanwhile the strongest city of the Trinovantes and its commander Androgius surrendered to Caesar and gave him forty hostages. Following its example, several other cities came to terms with the Romans and, acting on their information, Caesar, after a severe struggle, captured the stronghold of Cassobellaunus, which was sited between two swamps, flanked by forests and well provisioned. After this, Caesar left Britain for Gaul; but no sooner had he sent his legions into winter quarters than he was suddenly troubled and distracted by sudden wars and revolts on all sides.
[THE ROMANS DID NOT ENTER BRITAIN AGAIN FOR 100 YEARS - Keith Hunt]
CHAPTER 3: Claudius, the second Roman to reach Britain, annexes the Isles of Orkney to the Roman Empire: under his direction Vespasian subdues the Isle of Wight
In the 798th year after the founding of Rome, Claudius, fourth emperor in the succession beginning with Augustus, wishing to prove himself a benefactor to the State, applied himself to war and conquest on a grand scale, and undertook an expedition against Britain which had been roused to revolt by the Roman refusal to give up certain deserters. Before Claudius no Roman, either before or since Julius Caesar, had dared to land on the island: yet, within a few days, without battle or bloodshed, he receive the surrender of the greater part of the island. He also annexed to the Empire the Isles of Orkney, which lie in the ocean beyond Britain; and returning to Rome only six months after his departure, he granted his son the title of Britannicus. He brought this campaign to a close in the fourth year of his reign, and in the forty-sixth year after the birth of our Lord. This was the year in which a very serious famine occurred in Syria, which is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as having been foretold by the prophet Agabus. Vespasian, who was to succeed Nero as Emperor, was sent by the same Claudius, and brought the Isle of Wight under Roman rule. This island lies off the south coast of Britain and is about thirty miles in length from east to west, and twelve from north to south. Six miles of sea separate it from the mainland at its eastern end, but only three at the west. When Nero succeeded Claudius as Emperor, he attempted no military expeditions, and in consequence, apart from countless other injuries to the Roman State, he nearly lost Britain, for during his reign two most noble towns there were taken and destroyed.
[BEDE’S KNOWLEDGE AND HISTORY IS HERE VERY POOR. HE MISSES ALL THE FACTS OF THE ROMAN HISTORIAN TACITUS WHO WROTE EXTENSIVELY ABOUT THE FAMOUS BOADICEA AND CARACTACUS OR CARODOC (THE TIME SPAN FOR BOTH BEING A.D. 40-65) WHO DEFEATED THE ROMANS MANY TIMES IN BATTLES. YOU WILL FIND THE HISTORY OF BOTH UNDER THIS SECTION OF MY WEBSITE, FROM OTHER WRITERS. THE ROMANS HAD TO BUILD A WALL ACROSS ENGLAND TO PREVENT THE PICS AND SCOTS FROM COMING DOWN AND DRIVING THEM BACK TO EUROPE. IT WAS THE GENERAL ADRIAN WHO UNDERTOOK THIS BUILDING, AND THE WALL BECAME KNOWN IN BRITISH HISTORY AS ADRIAN’S WALL. AT BEST THE ROMANS “OCCUPIED” ENGLAND AND WALES, BUT NEVER CONQUERED THOSE LANDS; THE BRITONS CONTINUED TO HAVE THEIR KINGS AND QUEEN, AND FREEDOM OF COMMERCE, AND WAY OF LIFE, LANGUAGE AND EDUCATION UNDER THE LEADERS WHO WERE SOME OF THE FIRST OUTSIDE THE HOLY LAND TO EMBRACE CHRISTIANITY, ONLY A MATTER OF YEARS AFTER THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD - Keith Hunt]
CHAPTER 4: Lucius, a British king, writes to Pope Eleutherus to be made a Christian
In the year of our Lord's Incarnation 156, Marcus Antoninus Verus, fourteenth from Augustus, became Emperor jointly with his brother Aurelius Commodus. During their reign, and while the holy Eleutherus ruled the Roman Church, Lucius, a British king, sent him a letter, asking to be made a Christian by his direction. This pious request was quickly granted, and the Britons received the Faith and held it peacefully in all its purity and fullness until the time of the Emperor Diocletian.
[AGAIN BEDE’S KNOWLEDGE HERE IS WANTING. HE KNOWS JUST ABOUT NOTHING OF THE FACTS OF HISTORY, AS WHEN AND HOW TRUE APOSTOLIC CHRISTIANITY CAME TO BRITAIN; WHICH YOU CAN FIND ELSEWHERE ON THIS WEBSITE - Keith Hunt]
CHAPTER 5: Severus divides Roman Britain from the rest by an earthwork
In the year of our Lord 189, Severus, an African born at Leptis in the province of Tripolitania, became seventeenth Emperor from Augustus and ruled seventeen years. Harsh by nature, he was engaged in almost constant warfare, and ruled the State with courage, but with great difficulty. He was victorious in the grave civil wars that troubled his reign. He was compelled to come to Britain by the desertion of nearly all the tribes allied to Rome, and after many critical and hard-fought battles he decided to separate that portion of the island under his control from the remaining unconquered peoples. He did this not with a wall, as some imagine, but with an eathwork. for a wall is built of stone, but art eathwork, such as protects a camp from enemy attack, is constructed with sods cut from the earth and raised high above ground level, fronted by the ditch from which the sods were cut, and surmounted by a strong palisade of logs. Severus built a rampart and ditch of this type from sea to sea and fortified it by a series of towers. After this he was taken ill and died in Eboracum,1 leaving two sons, Bassianus and Geta. The latter was subsequently condemned to death as an enemy of the State, but Bassianus became Emperor with the cognomen of Antoninus.
[BEDE’S HISTORY AND FACTS ARE WEAK AND OBVIOUSLY UNEDUCATED ABOUT THE DETAILS OF THE FIRST 200 YEARS A.D. IN BRITAIN - Keith Hunt]
CHAPTER 6: The reign of Diocletian: his persecution of the Christian Church
In the year o£ our Lord 286, Diocletian, a nominee of the army, became thirty-third in the succession of Augustus. He ruled twenty years, and chose Maximian, known as Herculius, as his co-Emperor. During their reign, Carausius, a man
of humble birth but a capable and energetic soldier, was appointed to protect the sea-coasts, which were then being ravaged by Franks and Saxons. But he put his own interests before those of the Republic, and suspicion arose that he was deliberately permitting the enemy to raid the frontiers: any loot that he recovered from the pirates was not restored to its rightful owners, but retained for his own advantage. Maximian ordered his execution, but Carausius assumed the imperial purple and seized Britain, which he won and held for seven years with great daring. He lost his life through the betrayal of his colleague Allectus, who then held the island for three years, after which he was defeated by Asclepiodotus, Prefect of the Praetorian Guard, who thus restored Britain to the Empire after ten years.
THE GREATEST CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION
Meanwhile Diocletian in the East and Herculius in the West ordered all churches to be destroyed and all Christians to be hunted out and killed. This was the tenth persecution since Nero, and was more protracted and horrible than all that had preceded it. It was carried out without any respite for ten years, with the burning of churches, the outlawing of innocent people, and the slaughter of martyrs. But at length the glory of these martyrs' devoted loyalty to God was to light even Britain.
[THIS WAS INDEED A TEN YEAR PERSECUTION AND KILLING OF CHRISTIANS IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE. IT WAS FORETOLD IN THE PROPHETIC BOOK OF REVELATION, UNDER THE “CHURCH AGE” CALLED SMYRNA - REV. 2:10. THIS ALSO PROVES THE 7 CHURCHES WERE PROPHETIC PERIODS OF TIME AS WELL AS LITERAL CHURCHES OF JOHN’S DAY. ALL PROVED IN MY MANY STUDIES UNDER THE “PROPHECY” SECTION OF THIS WEBSITE - Keith Hunt]
CHAPTER 7: The martyrdom of Saint Alban and his companions, who shed their life-blood for Christ at this time [A.D. 301]
In this country occurred the suffering of Saint Alban, of whom the priest Fortunatus in his Praise of Virgins, in which he mentions all the blessed martyrs who came to God from every part of the world, says:
In fertile Britain’s land
Was noble Alban born.
When these unbelieving Emperors were issuing savage edicts against all Christians, Alban, as yet a pagan, gave shelter to a Christian priest fleeing from his pursuers. And when he observed this man's unbroken activity of prayer and vigil, he was suddenly touched by the grace of God and began to follow the priest's example of faith and devotion. Gradually instructed by his teaching of salvation, Alban renounced the darkness of idolatry, and sincerely accepted Christ. But when the priest had lived in his house some days, word came to the ears of the evil ruler that Christ's confessor, whose place of martyrdom had not yet been appointed, lay hidden in Alban's house. Accordingly he gave orders to his soldiers to make a thorough search, and when they arrived at the martyr's house, holy Alban, wearing the priest's long cloak, at once surrendered himself in the place of his guest and teacher, and was led bound before the judge.
When Alban was brought in, the judge happened to be standing before an altar, offering sacrifice to devils. Seeing Alban, he was furious that he had presumed to put himself in such hazard by surrendering himself to the soldiers in place of his guest, and ordered him to be dragged before the idols where he stood. “Since you have chosen to conceal a sacrilegious rebel,” he said, “rather than surrender him to my soldiers to pay the well-deserved penalty for his blasphemy against our gods you shall undergo all the tortures due to him if you dare to abandon the practice of our religion.” But Saint Alban, who had freely confessed himself a Christian to the enemies of the Faith, was unmoved by these threats, and armed with spiritual strength, openly refused to obey this order. “What is your family and race?” demanded the judge. “How does my family concern you?” replied Alban; “if you wish to know the truth about my religion, know that I am a Christian, and carry out Christian rites.” “I demand to know your name,” insisted the judge, “tell me at once.” “My parents named me Alban,” he answered, “and I worship and adore the living and true God, who created all things.” The judge was very angry, and said; “If you want to enjoy eternal life, sacrifice at once to the great gods.” Alban replied: “You are offering these sacrifices to devils, who cannot help their suppliants, nor answer their prayers and vows. On the contrary, whosoever offers sacrifice to idols is doomed to the pains of hell.”
Incensed at this reply, the judge ordered God's holy confessor Alban to be flogged by the executioners, declaring that he would shake his constancy of heart by wounds, since words had no effect. But, for Christ's sake, he bore the most horrible torments patiently and even gladly, and when the judge saw that no torture could break him or make him renounce the worship of Christ, he ordered his immediate decapitation. Led out to execution, the saint came to a river which flowed swiftly between the wall of the town and the arena where he was to die. There he saw a great crowd of men and women of all ages and conditions, who were doubtless moved by God's will to attend the death of his blessed confessor and martyr. This crowd had collected in such numbers and so blocked the bridge that he could hardly have crossed that evening, and so many people had come out from the city that the judge was left unattended. Saint Alban, who ardently desired a speedy martyrdom, approached the river, and as he raised his eyes to heaven in prayer, the river ran dry in its bed and left him a way to cross. When among others the appointed executioner himself saw this, he was so moved in spirit that he hurried to meet Alban at the place of execution, and throwing down his drawn sword, fell at his feet, begging that he might be thought worthy to die with the martyr if he could not die in his place.
While this man changed from a persecutor to a companion in the true Faith, and other executioners hesitated to pick up his sword from the ground, the most reverend confessor of God ascended a hill about five hundred paces from the arena, accompanied by the crowd. This hill, a lovely spot as befitted the occasion, was clad in a gay mantle of many kinds of flowers. Here was neither cliff nor crag, but a gently rising slope made smooth by nature, its beauty providing a worthy place to be hallowed by a martyr's blood. As he reached the summit, holy Alban asked God to give him water, and at once a perennial spring bubbled up at his feet - a sign to all present that it was at the martyr's prayer that the river also had dried in its course. For it was not likely that the martyr who had dried up the waters of the river should lack water on a hill-top unless he willed it so. But the river, having performed its due service, gave proof of its obedience, and returned to its natural course. Here, then, the gallant martyr met his death, and received the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. But the man whose impious hands struck off that pious head was not permitted to boast of his deed, for as the martyr's head fell, the executioner's eyes dropped out on the ground.
The soldier who had been moved by divine intuition to refuse to slay God's confessor was beheaded at the same time as Alban. And although he had not received the purification of Baptism, there was no doubt that he was cleansed by the shedding of his own blood, and rendered fit to enter the kingdom of heaven. Astonished by these many strange miracles, the judge called a halt to the persecution, and whereas he had formerly fought to crush devotion to Christ, he now began to honour the death of his saints.
Saint Alban suffered on the twenty-second day of June near the city of Verulamium, which the English now call Verlamacaestir or Vaeclingacaestir. Here, when the peace of Christian times was restored, a beautiful church worthy of his martyrdom was built, where sick folk are healed and frequent miracles take place to this day.
In the same persecution suffered Aaron and Julius, citizens of the City of Legions,1 and many others of both sexes throughout the land. After they had endured many horrible physical tortures, death brought an end to the struggle, and their souls entered the joys of the heavenly City.
1. Possibly Caerleon-on-Usk.
[NO DOUBT GOD DID HAVE HIS FAITHFUL MINISTERS AND PEOPLE, NO DOUBT MIRACLES AT TIMES WERE DONE AND SEEN. THE BRITISH CHURCH AT THIS TIME IN HISTORY WAS STILL QUITE PURE IN DOCTRINE AND LIFE; THE ROMAN CHURCH HAD NOT YET ARRIVED IN THE LAND OF THE BRITONS. WHEN IT DID IT FOUND A CHRISTIANITY IT CLAIMED WAS HERETICAL……EVEN JEWISH HERETICAL —- AND SO MIGHTILY BEGAN TO ERADICATE THE BRITISH CHURCH. IT TOOK MANY CENTURIES BUT ROME DID FINALLY WIN OUT WITH ITS FALSE BLASPHEMOUS BABYLON MYSTERY RELIGION - Keith Hunt]
CHAPTER 8: The Church in Britain enjoys peace from the end of this persecution until the time of the Arian heresy
When this storm of persecution came to an end, faithful Christians, who during the time of danger had taken refuge in woods, deserted places, and hidden caves, came into the open, and rebuilt the ruined churches. Shrines of the martyrs were founded and completed and openly displayed everywhere as tokens of victory. The festivals of the Church were observed, and its rites performed reverently and sincerely. The Christian churches in Britain continued to enjoy this peace until the time of the Arian heresy. This poisonous error after corrupting the whole world, at length crossed the sea and infected even this remote island; and, once the doorway had been opened, every sort of pestilential heresy at once poured into this island, whose people are ready to listen to anything novel, and never hold firmly to anything.
THE RISE OF CONSTANTINE WHO BECAME ROMAN EMPEROR
At this time, Constantius, a man of exceptional kindness and courtesy, who had governed Gaul and Spain during the lifetime of Diocletian, died in Britain. His son Constantine, the child of Helena his concubine, succeeded him as ruler of Gaul. Eutropius writes that Constantine, proclaimed Emperor in Britain, succeeded to his father's domains. In his time, the Arian heresy sprang up, and although it was exposed and condemned at the Council of Nicaea, the deadly poison of its false teaching nevertheless infected, as we have said, not only the continental churches, but even those of these islands.
[THE FAMOUS CONSTANTINE CAME FROM BRITAIN. HE HAD TO FIGHT FOR THE ROMAN THRONE. THE FINAL BATTLE THAT MADE HIM VICTORIOUS, IT IS SAID HE SAW A VISION OF THE CROSS, AND WAS TOLD TO FIGHT UNDER ITS BANNER. IT WAS CONSTANTINE WHO ENDED THE 10 YEAR PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS (303 - 313) AND IN 321 MADE CHRISTIANITY THE STATE RELIGION OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE; IT WAS CONSTANTINE WHO INSTITUTED THE “SUNDAY” LAW OF WORSHIP. BUT ALL OF HIS LIFE HE REMAINED BOTH “PAGAN” AND “CHRISTIAN” - IT WAS THOUGH THE START OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH’S POWER AND INFLUENCE IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE - Keith Hunt]
CHAPTER 9: During the reign of Gratian, Maximus is created Emperor in Britain, and returns to Gaul with a large army
In the year of our Lord 377, Gratian, fortieth in line from Augustus, ruled as Emperor for six years from the death of Valens; he had already reigned as co-Emperor with his uncle Valens and his brother Valentinian. Finding the affairs of the State in grave disorder and approaching disaster, he chose the Spaniard Theodosius to restore the Empire in its need, investing him with the royal purple at Sirmium, and creating him Emperor of Thrace and the East.
At this juncture, however, Maximus, an able and energetic man, well fitted to be Emperor had not ambition led him to break his oath of allegiance, was elected Emperor by the army in Britain almost against his will, and he crossed into Gaul at its head. Here he treacherously killed the Emperor Gratian who had been dumbfounded at his sudden attack, and was attempting to escape into Italy. His brother the Emperor Valentinian was driven out of Italy, and took refuge in the east, where Theodosius received him with fatherly affection. Within a short time, however, he regained the Empire, and trapping the despot Maximus in Aquileia, he captured him and put him to death.
CHAPTER 10: During the reign of Arcadius, the Briton Pelagius presumptuously belittles the grace of God
In the year of our Lord 394, Arcadius, son of Theodosius, forty-third in line from Augustus, became joint-Emperor with his brother Honorius, and ruled for thirteen years. In his time, the Briton Pelagius spread far and wide his noxious and abominable teaching that man had no need of God's grace, and in this he was supported by Julian of Campania, a deposed bishop eager to recover his bishopric. Saint Augustine and other orthodox fathers quoted many thousand Catholic authorities against them, but they refused to abandon their folly; on the contrary, their obstinacy was hardened by contradiction, and they refused to return to the true faith. Prosper the rhetorician has aptly expressed this in heroic verse:
Against the great Augustine see him crawl,
This wretched scribbler with his pen of gall.
In what black caverns was this snakeling bred
That from the dirt presumes to rear its head?
Its food is grain that wave-washed Britain yields,
Or the rank pasture of Campanian fields.
Gratian and Constantine set up as despots in Britain: the former is killed shortly afterwards in Britain, and the latter in Gaul.
In the year 407, Honorius, the younger son of Theodosius, was Emperor, and the forty-fourth in line from Augustus. This was two years before the invasion of Rome by Alaric, King of the Goths, on which occasion the nations of the Alani, Suevi, Vandals, and many others defeated the Franks, crossed the Rhine, and devastated all Gaul. At this juncture, Gratian, a citizen of the island, set himself up as a despot and was killed. In his place Constantine, a common trooper of no merit, was chosen Emperor solely on account of his auspicious name. Once he had obtained power, he crossed into Gaul, where he was hoodwinked into many worthless treaties by the barbarians and caused great harm to the commonwealth. Before long, at the orders of Honorius, Count Constantius entered Gaul with an army, besieged Constantine in the city of Aries, captured him, and put him to death. His son Constans, a monk whom he had created Caesar, was also put to death by Count Gerontius in Vienne.
Rome fell to the Goths in the 1164th year after its foundation. At the same time Roman rule came to an end in Britain, almost 470 years after the landing of Gaius Julius Caesar. The Romans had occupied the country south of the earthwork which, as I have said, Severus built across the island, as cities, forts,1 bridges, and paved roads bear witness to this day: they also held nominal jurisdiction over the more remote parts of Britain and the islands beyond it.
1. Or ‘lighthouses’.
[THE OFFICIAL YEAR GIVEN IN HISTORY BOOKS FOR THE FALL OF ROME IS 476 A.D. BUT SUCH A YEAR IS FOLLY, FOR IT WAS OVER A PERIOD OF TIME THAT ROME FELL; THE EMPIRE WAS FAR AND WIDE, AND SLOWLY THE ARMS OF ROME COULD NOT WITHSTAND THE MIGHT AND ARMS OF ITS ENEMIES….DEFEAT AND DESOLATION OF THE EMPIRE WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME. THE TRUE HISTORICAL FACTS OF THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, IS NOW BROUGHT FORTH IN A RECENT BOOK THAT SHOWS THE ERRORS OF GIBBON’S “DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE” - Keith Hunt
CHAPTER 12: The Britons, harassed by the Scots and Picts, seek help from the Romans, who come and build a second wall across the island. Notwithstanding, these enemies again break in and reduce the Britons to worse straits
Henceforward, the part of Britain inhabited by the Britons which had been hurriedly stripped of all troops and military equipment and robbed of the flower of its young men, who had been led away by ambitious despots and were never to return, lay wholly exposed to attack, since its people were untrained in the science of war. Consequently for many years this region suffered attacks from two savage extraneous races, Scots from the northwest, and Picts from the north. I term these races extraneous, not because they came from outside Britain, but because their lands were sundered from that of the Britons: for two sea estuaries lay between, one of which runs broad and deep into the country from the sea to the east and the other from the west, although they do not actually meet. In the middle of the eastern estuary stands the city of Giudi,1 while on the right bank of the western stands the city of Alcluith,3 which in their language means 'the rock of Cluith', as it stands near a river of that name.
When these tribes invaded them, the Britons sent messengers to Rome with moving appeals for help, promising perpetual submission if only the Romans would drive out their enemies. An armed Legion was quickly dispatched to the island, where it engaged the enemy, inflicted heavy losses on them, and drove the survivors out of the territory of Rome's allies. Having thus freed the Britons for a time from dire oppression, the Romans advised them to construct a protective wall across the island from sea to sea in order to keep their foes at bay. The victorious Legion then returned home. The islanders built this wall as they had been instructed, but having no engineers capable of so great an undertaking, they built it of turf and not of stone, so that it was of small value.
1. The island of Inchkeith.
However, they built it for many miles between the two above-mentioned estuaries or inlets, hoping that where the sea provided no protection, they might use the rampart to preserve their borders from hostile attack. Clear traces of this wide and lofty earthwork can be seen to this day. It begins about two miles west of the monastery of Aebbercurnig1 at a place which the Picts call Peanfahel and the English Penneltun,2 and runs westward to the vicinity of the city of Alcluith. But as soon as the old enemies of the Britons saw that the Roman forces had left, they made a seaborne invasion, breaking in and destroying wholesale, slaughtering right and left as men cut ripe corn. The Britons therefore sent more envoys to Rome with pitiful appeals for help, without which their unhappy land would be utterly ravaged and the name of a once illustrious Roman province be brought into disgrace and obliterated by barbarous tribes, who year by year were carrying off their plunder unchecked. Once more a Legion was dispatched, which arrived unexpectedly in autumn and inflicted heavy casualties on the invaders, forcing all who survived to escape by sea.
The Romans, however, now informed the Britons that they could no longer undertake such troublesome expeditions for their defence, and urged them to take up arms for their own part and cultivate the will to fight, pointing out that it was solely their lack of spirit which gave their enemies an advantage over them. In addition, in order to assist these allies whom they were forced to abandon, they built a strong wall of stone directly from sea to sea in a straight line between the towns that had been built as strong-points, where Severus had built his earthwork. This famous and still conspicuous wall was built from public and private resources, with the Britons lending assistance. It is eight feet in breadth, and twelve in height; and, as can be clearly seen to this day, ran straight from east to west. When the wall was completed, the Romans gave firm advice to the dispirited Britons, together with
2. Old Kilpatrick.
instructions on the manufacture of weapons. In addition, they built towers at intervals overlooking the south coast where their ships lay, because there was a danger of barbarian raids even from this quarter. Then they bade farewell to their allies, with no intention of ever returning.
On the departure of the Romans, the Picts and Scots, learning that they did not mean to return, were quick to return themselves, and becoming bolder than ever, occupied all the northern and outer part of the island up to the wall, as if it belonged to them. Here a dispirited British garrison stationed on the fortifications pined in terror night and day, while from beyond the wall the enemy constantly harassed them with hooked weapons, dragging the cowardly defenders down from their wall and dashing them to the ground. At length the Britons abandoned their cities and wall and fled in disorder, pursued by their foes. The slaughter was more ghastly than ever before, and the wretched citizens were torn in pieces by their enemies, as lambs are torn by wild beasts. They were driven from their homesteads and farms, and sought to save themselves from starvation by robbery and violence against one another, their own internal anarchy adding to the miseries caused by others, until there was no food left in the whole land except whatever could be obtained by hunting.
CHAPTER 13: During the reign of Theodosius the Younger, Palladius is sent to the Christians among the Scots. The Britons make an unsuccessful appeal to the Consul Aetius [A.D. 446]
In the year of our Lord 423, Theodosius the Younger, next after Honorius and forty-fifth in succession from Augustus, ruled the Empire for twenty-six years. In the eighth year of his reign, the Roman Pontiff Celestine sent Palladius to the Scots who believed in Christ to be their first bishop. In the twenty-third year of his reign, Aetius, an illustrious patrician, became Consul for the third time together with Symmachus. To him the wretched remnant of the Britons sent a letter, which commences: “To Aetius, thrice Consul, come the groans of the Britons”, and in the course of the letter they describe their calamities: “The barbarians drive us into the sea, and the sea drives us back to the barbarians. Between these, two deadly alternatives confront us, drowning or slaughter.” But even this plea could not obtain help; for at the time Aetius was already engaged in two serious wars with Blaedla and Attila, the kings of the Huns. And although Blaedla had been assassinated the previous year through the treachery of his brother Attila, the latter remained so dangerous an enemy to the State that he devastated nearly all Europe, invading and destroying cities and strongholds alike. During this period there was a famine at Constantinople, followed closely by a plague, and much of the walls of that city and fifty-seven towers fell into ruin. Many other cities fell into disrepair, and the polluting stench of rotting corpses spread disease among men and beasts alike.
CHAPTER 14: The Britons, made desperate by famine, drive the Barbarians out of their land. There soon follows an abundance of corn, luxury, plague, and doom on the nation
Meanwhile the famine which left a lasting memory of its horrors to posterity distressed the Britons more and more. Many were compelled to surrender to the invaders; others, trusting in God's help where-no human hand could save them, continued their resistance. Making frequent sallies from the mountains, caves, and forests, they began at length to inflict severe losses on the enemy who had plundered their country for so many years. Thereupon the Irish pirates departed to their homes unabashed, intending to return after a short interval, while the Picts remained inactive in the northern parts of the island, save for occasional raids and forays to plunder the Britons.
When the depredations of its enemies had ceased, the land enjoyed an abundance of corn without precedent in former years; but with plenty came an increase in luxury, followed by every kind of crime, especially cruelty, hatred of truth, and love of falsehood. If anyone happened to be more kindly or truthful than his neighbours, he became a target for all weapons of malice as though he were an enemy of Britain. And not only the laity were guilty of these things, but even the Lord's flock and their pastors. Giving themselves up to drunkenness, hatred, quarrels, and violence, they threw off the easy yoke of Christ. Suddenly a terrible plague struck this corrupt people, and in a short while destroyed so large a number that the living could not bury the dead. But not even the death of their friends or the fear of their own death was sufficient to recall the survivors from the spiritual death to which their crimes had doomed them. So it was that, not long afterwards, an even more terrible retribution overtook this wicked nation. For they consulted how they might obtain help to avoid or repel the frequent fierce attacks of their northern neighbours, and all agreed with the advice of their king, Vortigern, to call on the assistance of the Saxon peoples across the sea. This decision, as its results were to show, seems to have been ordained by God as a punishment on their wickedness.
CHAPTER 15: The Angles are invited into Britain. At first they repel the enemy but soon come to terms with them, and turn their weapons against their own allies
In the year of our Lord 449, Martian became Emperor with Valentinian, the forty-sixth in succession from Augustus, ruling for seven years. In his time the Angles or Saxons came to Britain at the invitation of King Vortigern in three long-ships, and were granted lands in the eastern part of the island on condition that they protected the country: nevertheless, their real intention was to subdue it. They engaged the enemy advancing from the north, and having defeated them, sent back news of their success to their homeland, adding that the country was fertile and the Britons cowardly. Whereupon a larger fleet quickly came over with a great body of warriors, which, when joined to the original forces, constituted an invincible army. These also received from the Britons grants of land where they could settle among them on condition that they maintained the peace and security of the island against all enemies in return for regular pay.
These new-comers were from the three most formidable races of Germany, the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes. From the Jutes are descended the people of Kent and the Isle of Wight and those in the province of the West Saxons opposite the Isle of Wight who are called Jutes to this day. From the Saxons - that is, the country now known as the land of the Old Saxons -came the East, South and West Saxons. And from the Angles - that is, the country known as Angulus, which lies between the provinces of the Jutes and Saxons and is said to remain unpopulated to this day - are descended the East and Middle Angles, the Mercians, all the Northumbrian stock (that is, those peoples living north of the river Humber), and the other English peoples. Their first chieftains are said to have been the brothers Hengist and Horsa. The latter was subsequently killed in battle against the Britons, and was buried in east Kent, where a monument bearing his name still stands. They were the sons of Wictgils, whose father was Witta, whose father was Wecta, son of Woden, from whose stock sprang the royal house of many provinces.
It was not long before such hordes of these alien peoples vied together to crowd into the island that the natives who had invited them began to live in terror. Then all of a sudden the Angles made an alliance with the Picts, whom by this time they had driven some distance away, and began to turn their arms against their allies. They began by demanding a greater supply of provisions; then, seeking to provoke a quarrel, threatened that unless larger supplies were forthcoming, they would terminate their treaty and ravage the whole island. Nor were they slow to carry out their threats. In short, the fires kindled by the pagans proved to be God's just punishment on the sins of the nation, just as the fires once kindled by the Chaldeans destroyed the walls and buildings of Jerusalem. For, as the just Judge ordained, these heathen conquerors devastated the surrounding cities and countryside, extended the conflagration from the eastern to the western shores without opposition and established a stranglehold over nearly all the doomed island. Public and private buildings were razed; priests were slain at the altar; bishops and people alike, regardless of rank, were destroyed with fire and sword, and none remained to bury those who had suffered a cruel death. A few wretched survivors captured in the hills were butchered wholesale, and others, desperate with hunger, came out and surrendered to the enemy for food, although they were doomed to lifelong slavery even if they escaped instant massacre. Some fled overseas in their misery; others, clinging to their homeland, eked out a wretched and fearful existence among the mountains, forests, and crags, ever on the alert for danger.
CHAPTER 16: Under the leadership of Ambrosius, a Roman, the Britons win their first victory against the Angles [c. A.D. 493]
When the victorious invaders had scattered and destroyed the native peoples and returned to their own dwellings, the Britons slowly began to take heart and recover their strength, emerging from the dens where they had hidden themselves, and joining in prayer that God might help them to avoid complete extermination. Their leader at this time was Ambrosius Aurelianus, a man of good character and the sole survivor of Roman race from the catastrophe. Among the slain had been his own parents, who were of royal birth and title. Under his leadership the Britons took up arms, challenged their conquerors to battle, and with God's help inflicted a defeat on them. Thenceforward victory swung first to one side and then to the other, until the battle of Badon Hill, when the Britons made a considerable slaughter of the invaders. This took place about forty-four years after their arrival in Britain: but I shall deal with this later.
[WE ARE NOW IN THE TIME OF KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS, WHO FOUGHT AGAINST THE ANGLO-SAXONS. THESE NEW INVADERS WERE KEPT AT BAY WHILE ARTHUR LIVED - Keith Hunt]
CHAPTER 17: Bishop Germanus sails to Britain with Lupus: with God's help he quells two storms, one of the sea, the other of the Pelagians [A.D. 429]
A few years before their arrival, the Pelagian heresy introduced by Agricola, son of Severianus a Pelagian prelate, had seriously infected the faith of the British Church. Although the British rejected this perverse teaching, so blasphemous against the grace of Christ, they were unable to refute its plausible arguments by controversial methods, and wisely decided to ask help from the bishops of Gaul in this spiritual conflict. These summoned a great synod, and consulted together as to whom they should send to support the Faith. Their unanimous choice fell upon the apostolic bishops Germanus of Auxerre and Lupus of Troyes, whom they appointed to visit the Britons and to confirm their belief in God's grace. The two bishops readily accepted the commands and decisions of Holy Church, and put to sea. They had safely sailed half-way on their voyage from Gaul with a favourable wind when they were suddenly subjected to the hostile power of devils, who were furious that such men as they should dare to recall the Britons to the way of salvation. They raised violent storms and turned day into night with black clouds. The sails were torn to shreds by the gale, the skill of the sailors was defeated, and the safety of the ship depended on prayer rather than on seamanship. Germanus their leader and bishop, spent and exhausted, had fallen asleep, when the storm reached a fresh pitch of violence, as though relieved of its opponent, and seemed about to overwhelm the vessel in the surging waves. At this juncture, Lupus and his companions roused their leader, and anxiously begged him to oppose the fury of the elements. More resolute than they in the face of imminent disaster, he called upon Christ and cast a few drops of holy water on the waves in the Name of the Sacred Trinity, encouraging his companions and directing them all to join him in prayer. God heard their cry and their adversaries were put to flight; the storm was stilled, the wind veered round to help them on their course and, after a swift and peaceful passage, they arrived safely at their destination. Here great crowds gathered from all quarters to greet the bishops, whose arrival had been foretold even by the predictions of their opponents. For when the evil spirits had been expelled by the bishops from the persons of those whom they had possessed, they disclosed their fears and revealed the origin of the storms and perils they had raised, acknowledging themselves overcome by the merits and power of the saints.
Meanwhile, the island of Britain was rapidly influenced by the reasoning, preaching, and virtues of these apostolic bishops, and the word of God was preached daily not only in the churches, but in streets and fields, so that Catholics everywhere were strengthened and heretics corrected. Theirs was the honour and authority of apostles by their holy witness, the truth by their learning, the virtue by their merits. So the majority of the people readily accepted their teaching, while the authors of false doctrines made themselves scarce, grieving like evil spirits over the people who were snatched from their grasp. At length, after due deliberation, they dared to challenge the saints and appeared with rich ornaments and magnificent robes, supported by crowds of flattering followers. For they preferred to hazard a trial of strength rather than submit in shameful silence before the people whom they had subverted, lest they should appear to admit defeat. An immense gathering had assembled there with their wives and children to watch and judge, but the contestants were greatly dissimilar in bearing. On one side human presumption, on the other divine faith; on one side pride, on the other piety; on one side Pelagius, on the other Christ. The holy bishops gave their adversaries the advantage of speaking first, which they did at great length, filling the time, and the ears of their audience, with empty words. The venerable bishops then fed the torrents of their eloquence from the springs of the Apostles and evangelists, confirming their own words by the word of God, and supporting their principal statements by quotation from the scriptures. The conceit of the Pelagians was pricked, their lies exposed, and unable to defend any of their arguments, they admitted their errors. The people, who were acting as their judges, were hardly restrained from violence, and confirmed their verdict with acclamation.
[THIS REALLY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY ROMAN CATHOLIC INVASION OF BRITAIN; IT WAS ALL TO ADDRESS A THEOLOGICAL ERROR OR GREAT PROPORTION. BEDE’S TERM “CATHOLICS” EVERYWHERE, IS HIS TERM, NOT THE ACTUAL FACTS OF AN OFFICIAL DELEGATE FROM ROME COMING TO BRITAIN WITH WHAT BEDE WOULD SAY WAS THE “TRUE CHRISTIAN RELIGION” WHICH WAS YET TO BE SENT FROM ROME - Keith Hunt]
CHAPTER 18: Germanus gives sight to the blind daughter of a tribune. He takes some relics from the tomb of Saint Alban, and deposits relics of the Apostles and other Martyrs
Immediately after this, a man who held the status of a tribune came forward with his wife and asked the bishops to cure his blind daughter, a child often. They directed him to take her to their opponents, but the latter, smitten by guilty consciences, joined their entreaties to those of the girl's parents and begged the bishops to heal her. Seeing their opponents yield, they offered a short prayer; then Germanus, being filled with the Holy Ghost, called on the Trinity, and taking into his hands a casket containing relics of the saints that hung around his neck, he applied it to the girl's eyes in the sight of them all. To the joy of the parents and the amazement of the crowd, the child's sight was emptied of darkness and filled with the light of truth. Thenceforward all erroneous arguments were expunged from the minds of the people, who eagerly accepted the teaching of the bishops.
Once this abominable heresy had been put down, its authors refuted, and the people established in the pure faith of Christ, the bishops paid a visit to the tomb of the blessed martyr Alban to return thanks to God through him. Germanus, who had with him relics of all the Apostles and several martyrs, first offered prayer, and then directed the tomb to be opened, so that he could deposit these precious gifts within it. For he thought it fitting that, as the equal merits of the saints had won them a place in heaven, so their relics should be gathered together from different lands into a common resting-place. And when he had reverently deposited these relics, Germanus took away with him a portion of earth from the place where the blessed martyr's blood had been shed. This earth was seen to have retained the martyr's blood, which had reddened the shrine where his persecutor had grown pale with fear. As a result of these events, a great number of people were converted to our Lord on the same day.
CHAPTER 19: Germanus is detained by illness. He puts out a fire among houses by his prayer, and is healed of his sickness by a vision
While they were returning from this place, the ever-watchful Devil, having set his snares, contrived that Germanus should fall and break a leg, not knowing that his merits, like those of the blessed Job, would be enhanced by bodily affliction. While he was thus detained by illness, fire broke out in a cottage near his lodging, and after destroying the adjoining dwellings which at that place were thatched with reeds from the marshes, it was carried by the wind to the cottage where he lay. The people ran to pick up the bishop and carry him to a place of safety; but, full of trust in God, he reproved them and would not allow them to do so. In despair, the people ran off to fight the fire; but to afford clearer evidence of God's power, whatever the crowd endeavoured to save was destroyed. Meanwhile the flames leaped over the house where the saint lay disabled and helpless; but, although they raged all around it, the place that sheltered him stood untouched amid a sea of fire. The crowd was overjoyed at the miracle and praised God for this proof of his power, while innumerable poor folk kept vigil outside his cottage day and night hoping for healing of soul or body.
It is impossible to relate all that Christ effected through his servant, and what wonders the sick saint performed. And while he refused any treatment for his own illness, he saw beside him one night a being in shining robes, who seemed to reach out his hand and raise him up, ordering him to stand on his feet. From that moment his pain ceased, his former health was restored, and when dawn came he continued on his journey undaunted.
CHAPTER 20: The two bishops obtain God's help in battle and return home [A.D. 429]
Meanwhile the Saxons and Picts joined forces and made war on the Britons, whom necessity had compelled to arm; and since the latter feared that their strength was unequal to the challenge, they called on the saintly bishops for help. They came at once as they had promised, and put such heart into the timid people that their presence was worth a large army. Under these apostolic leaders, Christ himself commanded in the camp. It also happened that the holy season of Lent was beginning, and was so reverently kept under the bishops' direction that the people came each day for instruction and flocked to receive the grace of Baptism. Most of the army sought Holy Baptism, and in readiness for the Feast of our Lord's Resurrection a church was constructed of interlaced boughs and set up in that armed camp as though it were a city. Strong in faith and fresh from the waters of Baptism, the army advanced; and whereas they had formerly despaired of human strength, all now trusted in the power of God. The preparation and disposition of the British forces was reported to the enemy, who, anticipating an easy victory over an ill-equipped army, advanced rapidly, closely observed by the British scouts.
After the Feast of Easter, when the greater part of the British forces, fresh from the font, were preparing to arm and embark on the struggle, Germanus promised to direct the battle in person. He picked out the most active men and, having surveyed the surrounding country, observed a valley among the hills lying in the direction from which he expected the enemy to approach. Here he stationed the untried forces under his own orders. By now the main body of their remorseless enemies was approaching, watched by those whom he had placed in ambush. Suddenly Germanus, raising the standard, called upon them all to join him in a mighty shout. While the enemy advanced confidently, expecting to take the Britons unawares, the bishops three times shouted, 'Alleluia!' The whole army joined in this shout, until the surrounding hills echoed with the sound. The enemy column panicked, thinking that the very rocks and sky were falling on them, and were so terrified that they could not run fast enough. Throwing away their weapons in headlong flight, they were well content to escape naked, while many in their hasty flight were drowned in a river which they tried to cross. So the innocent British army saw its defeats avenged, and became an inactive spectator of the victory granted to it. The scattered spoils were collected, and the Christian forces rejoiced in the triumph of heaven. So the bishops overcame the enemy without bloodshed, winning a victory by faith and not by force.
Having restored peace to the island and overcome all its enemies, both visible and invisible, the bishops prepared to return home. Their own merits and the prayers of the blessed martyr Alban obtained them a peaceful voyage, and a propitious vessel restored them to their own welcoming people.
CHAPTER 21: The Pelagian heresy revives, and Germanus returns to Britain with Severus. He heals a lame youth, and after denouncing or converting the heretics, restores the British Church to the Catholic Faith [?A.D. 435-44]
After no great interval, news came from Britain that certain people were again promulgating the Pelagian heresy. Once again all the clergy requested blessed Germanus to defend God's cause as before. Promptly assenting, he took ship and made a peaceful crossing to Britain with a favouring wind, taking with him a man of great holiness named Severus. Severus had been a disciple of the most blessed father Lupus, Bishop of Troyes; he subsequently became Bishop of Trier, and preached the Word in western Germany.
Meanwhile evil spirits throughout the land had been reluctantly compelled to foretell Germanus' coming, so that a local chieftain named Elaphius hurried to meet the saints before receiving any definite news. He brought with him his son, who in the very flower of his youth was crippled by a painful disease of the leg, whose muscles had so contracted that the limb was entirely useless. Accompanying Elaphius was the whole population of his province. The bishops on arrival were met by the ignorant folk, to whom they spoke and gave their blessing. And having assured themselves that the people as a whole remained loyal to the Faith as they had left them, and that the error was restricted to a minority, they sought out its adherents and rebuked them. Suddenly Elaphius threw himself at the bishops' feet, and presented to them his son, the sight of whose infirmity proclaimed his need louder than words. All were moved to pity at the spectacle, especially the bishops, who earnestly prayed God to show mercy. Blessed Germanus then asked the youth to sit down, and drawing out the leg bent with disease, he passed his healing hand over the afflicted area, and at his touch health swiftly returned. The withered limb filled, the muscles regained their power, and in the presence of them all the lad was restored healed to his parents. The people were amazed at this miracle, and the Catholic Faith was firmly implanted in all their hearts. Germanus then warned them to live better and to shun all error. And the false teachers, who by common consent had been condemned to banishment, were brought before the bishops to be taken to the Continent, so that the country might be rid of them and they themselves brought to recognize their error. Henceforward, the Faith was maintained uncorrupted in Britain for a long time.
Having settled all these matters, the blessed bishops returned home as successfully as they had come.
Germanus subsequently visited Ravenna to obtain peace for the people of Armorica.1 There he was received with honour by the Emperor Valentinian and his mother Placidia, and while still in tins city he departed to Christ. His body was carried back with a splendid escort to his own city and many signs of his holiness were shown. Not long afterwards, in the fifth year of Marxian's reign, Valentinian was murdered by supporters of the patrician Aetius, whom he had executed, and with him fell the Empire of the West.
[THIS WAS A LITTLE OF ROMAN CATHOLICISM IN BRITAIN, BUT NOT TO CONVERT THE WHOLE INHABITANTS INTO THE ROMAN CHURCH FOLD; THAT UNDERTAKING WAS YET TO BE OFFICIALLY TAKEN SOME YEARS HENCE - Keith Hunt]
CHAPTER 22: The Britons enjoy a respite from foreign invasions, but exhaust themselves in civil wars and plunge into worse crimes
Meanwhile Britain enjoyed a rest from foreign, though not from civil, wars. Amid the wreckage of deserted cities destroyed by the enemy, the citizens who had survived the enemy now attacked each other. So long as the memory of past disaster remained fresh, kings and priests, commoners
and nobles kept their proper rank. But when those who remembered died, there grew up a generation that knew nothing of these things and had experienced only the present peaceful order. Then were all restraints of truth and justice so utterly abandoned that no trace of them remained, and very few of the people even recalled their existence. Among other unspeakable crimes, recorded with sorrow by their own historian Gildas, they added this - that they never preached the Faith to the Saxons or Angles who dwelt with them in Britain. But God in his goodness did not utterly abandon the people whom he had chosen; for he remembered them, and sent this nation more worthy preachers of truth to bring them to the Faith.
[WE SEE BEDE’S ROMAN CATHOLIC MIND-SET NOW COMING OUT; THE BRITONS TO HIM HAD NEVER RECEIVED THE REAL AND ONLY GOSPEL OF CHRIST AS PRESERVED IN THE CHURCH OF ROME - Keith Hunt]
CHAPTER 23: The holy Pope Gregory sends Augustine and other monks to preach to the English nation, and encourages them in a letter to persevere in their mission [A.D. 596]
ROMAN CATHOLICISM IS NOW OFFICIALLY SENT TO THE BRITONS
In the year of our Lord 582, Maurice, fifty-fourth in succession from Augustus, became Emperor, and ruled for twenty-one years. In the tenth year of his reign, Gregory, an eminent scholar and administrator, was elected Pontiff of the apostolic Roman see, and ruled it for thirteen years, six months, and ten days. In the fourteenth year of this Emperor, and about the one hundred and fiftieth year after the coming of the English to Britain, Gregory was inspired by God to send his servant Augustine with several other God-fearing monks to preach the word of God to the English nation.
Having undertaken this task in obedience to the Pope's command and progressed a short distance on their journey, they became afraid, and began to consider returning home. For they were appalled at the idea of going to a barbarous, fierce, and pagan nation, of whose very language they were ignorant. They unanimously agreed that this was the safest course, and sent back Augustine - who was to be consecrated bishop in the event of their being received by the English - so that he might humbly request the holy Gregory to recall them from so dangerous, arduous, and uncertain a journey.
In reply, the Pope wrote them a letter of encouragement, urging them to proceed on their mission to preach God's word, and to trust themselves to his aid. This letter ran as follows:
“Gregory, Servant of the servants of God, to the servants of our Lord. My very dear sons, it is better never to undertake any high enterprise than to abandon it when once begun. So with the help of God you must carry out this holy task which you have begun. Do not be deterred by the troubles of the journey or by what men say. Be constant and zealous in carrying out this enterprise which, under God's guidance, you have undertaken: and be assured that the greater the labour, the greater will be the glory of your eternal reward. When Augustine your leader returns, whom We have appointed your abbot, obey him humbly in all things, remembering that whatever he directs you to do will always be to the good of your souls. May Almighty God protect you with His race, and grant me to see the result of your labours in our heavenly home. And although my office prevents me from working at your side, yet because I long to do so, I hope to share in your joyful reward. God keep you safe, my dearest sons.
Dated the twenty-third of July, in the fourteenth year of the reign of the most pious Emperor Maurice Tiberius Augustus, and the thirteenth year after his Consulship: the fourteenth indiction.”
CHAPTER 24: Pope Gregory writes commending them to the Bishop of Aries
The venerable Pontiff also wrote to Etherius, Archbishop of Aries, asking him to offer a kindly welcome to Augustine on his journey to Britain. This letter reads:
TO BE CONTINUED