THE APOSTLE PAUL IN BRITAIN #3
THE BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY AT ROME. THE ARTMATHACAN, OR FIRST
INTRODUCTION OF CHRISTIANITY INTO BRITAIN
HAVING thus established the British king and his family in
the Titulus, we turn our attention to St. Paul, who arrived at
Rome for the first time on his appeal to Caesar, A.D.58.1
A strong Christian Church, celebrated for its zeal and fidelity,
existed in Rome before the visit of St. Paul or any other apostle
to it. We know, from many passages in the Epistle to the Romans
itself, that at the time of its composition and despatch St. Paul
had not yet been to Rome. Amongst the members of the Church,
however, were some not only of the most intimate fellow-labourers
and friends, but relatives of the Apostle. Some of the latter,
such as Andronicus and Junia, had been converted before him.
Herodion is mentioned as another kinsman. In connection with
Rufus Pudens who is saluted by name, occurs another salutation
which originates an interesting question, the right solution of
which would throw a flood of light on this part of the history
both of Paul and Pudens -- Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and
his mother and mine." Does this mean natural or spiritual
relationship? We are inclined to believe the former. A spiritual
father or mother is, in Gospel phraseology, the person who
converts another to Christ. St. Paul's conversion was effected
I Jerome states St. Paul was sent to Rome in the second year of
Nero, i.e. A.D.56. in which date agree Bede, Ivo, Freculphus
Platina, Scaliger, Capellus, Cave, Stillingfleet, Alford, Godwin
De Proesulibus, Rapin, Bingham, Stanhope, Warner, Trapp. We
believe this to be the true date, and its assumption would be
more favourable to the tenor of this essay, as it would allow
three years instead of one for the interview at Rome between St.
Paul and Caractacus. We prefer, however, not to insist upon it.
by Christ Himself by a direct miracle. With respect to him the
terms could not be applied to any human being. Was, then, the
mother of Rufus the mother also of Paul? Were Rufus and Paul
half-brothers - the latter, the elder, by a Hebrew, the former,
the younger, by a second marriage with a Gentile, or proselyte
This mother was a Christian, living with Rufus, and is
termed also his mother by St. Paul. In the palace of Rufus, when
at Rome, Paul spent most of his time, though he had also his own
hired house. 2 The children of Claudia and Pudens, as we learn
from the Roman Martyrologies, were brought up on his knees, and
we find in the last scene of his life preceding his martyrdom,
the only salutations sent by him to Timothy to be those of
Eubulus, Claudia, Linus, and Pudens - the same family evidently
ministering and attending to him to the last. There is, whichever
way we decide, a closeness in the connection between the Apostle
and the family of Pudens which has hitherto escaped observation,
and remains to be explained. And this continued even after death,
for the children of Pudens, all of whom suffered martyrdom, were
interred by the side of the Apostle, as in a common family
cemetery, in the Via Ostiensis. Leaving the question of the
nature of this affinity in abeyance, we now observe --
1. That Pudens was converted before St. Paul came to Rome, and by
some other Christian than Paul.
2. That Hermas Pastor appears at this very early date to have
been the pastor at the Titulus, which constituted the place of
meeting for the Gentile Church, or Church
2 That the apostles having once been received into the Palatium
Pudentinum, should continue to make it their home in Rome, is in
conformity with our Lord's instructions, "Into whatsoever city
or town ye enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and there abide
till ye go thence." - Matthew x. ii. At the same hospitium Justin
Martyr was received. "Nobili revera atque praecipua in urbe
Christi familia."--Baron, vol. i. p.228.
of the uncircumcision. The Hebrew Church, or Church of the
circumcision, met at the House of Aquila and Prlscilla. 3
3. That the household of Aristobulus is greeted, but Aristobulus
himself is not, being absent at the time from Rome. Hence arise
the questions - Who were the evangelizers of the family of
Claudia Britannica and Pudens? Where was Aristobulus absent? Was
it in Britain? Was Britain evangelized in any degree before St.
Paul came to Rome? and if so, by whom?---: an investigation of
the utmost interest.
The fairest way of treating the subject of the first
"Introduction of Christianity Into Britain" seems to be to lay
down an affirmative statement, adduce what evidence there is in
support of it, and leave the reader to draw the conclusion
whether it makes good such statement or not. We write as
investigators, not as dogmatists, but our propositions must of
necessity often assume the affirmative form, or we should be mere
negationists of history.
Our statement, then, will take the following form:--
Christianity was first introduced into Britain by Joseph of
Arimathaea, A.D.36-39; followed by Simon Zelotes, the apostle;
then by Aristobulus, the first bishop of the Britons; then by St.
Paul. Its first converts were members of the royal family of
Siluria - that is, Gladys, the sister of Caradoc, Gladys
(Claudia) and Eurgen his daughters, Linus his son, converted in
Britain before they were carried into captivity to Rome; then
Caradoc, Bran, and the rest of the family, converted at Rome. The
two cradles of Christianity in Britain were Ynys Wydrin, 'the
Crystal Isle,' translated by the Saxons Glastonbury, in
Somersetshire, where Joseph settled and taught, and Siluria,
where the earliest churches and schools, next to Ynys Wydrin,
were founded by the Silurian dynasty. Ynys Wydrin was
3 Rom. xvi. 5.
also commonly known as Ynys Avalon, and in Latin "Domus Dei,"
Now for the consecutive evidences of this statement. They
have been collected at the cost of much research from various
quarters, but the reader will remember that they are not
presented as decisive. All historic evidence must be ruled by
times and circumstances. If it be such as the times and
circumstances of the era alone admit, it is entitled to be
received in court, and if there is no contrary evidence which can
be brought forward to cancel it, we must bring in, till such
evidence be produced, a verdict of proven. The testimony in other
historical cases may be stronger and more satisfactory, but we
must be content in all cases to give judgment by such evidence as
we can command. In ages when literature or written evidence had
but very limited existence, tradition and general belief are the
chief sources to which we can apply for the knowledge of broad
facts, their details being a minor consideration.
The constant current of European tradition affirmed Britain
to have been the first country in Europe which received the
Gospel, and the British Church to be the most ancient of the
Churches of Christ therein. The universality of this opinion is
I. Polydore Vergil in the reign of Henry VII, and after him
Cardinal Pole (A.D.1555), both rigid Roman Catholics, affirmed
in Parliament, the latter in his address to Philip and Mary, that
"Britain was the first of all countries to receive the Christian
faith." "The glory of Britain," remarks Genebrard, "consists
not only in this, that she was the first country which in a
national capacity publicly professed herself Christian, but that
she made this confession when the Roman empire itself was Pagan
and a cruel persecutor of Christianity."
II. This priority of antiquity was only once questioned, and that
on political grounds, by the ambassadors of France and Spain, at
the Council of Pisa, A.D.1417. The Council, however, affirmed it.
The ambassadors appealed to the Council of Constance. A.D.1419,
which confirmed the decision of that of Pisa, which was a third
time confirmed by the Council oś Sena, and then acquiesced in.
This decision laid down that the Churches of France and Spain
were bound to give way in the points of antiquity and precedency
to the Church of Britain, which was founded by Joseph of
Arimathaea "immediately after the passion of Christ." 4
We may therefore accept as the general opinion of
Christendom, the priority in point of antiquity over all others
of the British Church. This opinion is well expressed by
Sabellius:--" Christianity was privately confessed elsewhere, but
the first nation that proclaimed it as their religion, and called
itself Christian after the name of Christ, was Britain." 5
It is certain that the primitive British, Irish. Scot, and
Gallic Churches formed one Church, one communion, and that on the
assumption of the Papacy, A.D.606, by Rome, this great Celtic
Church, which had been previously in full communion with
primitive Rome, refused in the most peremptory terms to
acknowledge her novel pretensions.
4 "Statim post passionem Christi." An account of the pleadings at
the Council of Constance will be found in a thin quarto,
"Disceptatio super Dignitatem Analioe et Gallice in Concilio
Constantiano," Theod. Martin (Lovar. 75117).
Robert Parsons, the Jesuit, in his "Three Conversions of
England," admits, in common with the great majority of Roman
Catholic writers, that Christianity came into Britain direct from
Jerusalem. "It seems nearest the truth that the British Church
was originally planted by Grecian teachers, such as came from the
East, and not by Romans."-- vol. i. p.15. The Eastern usages of
the British Church would alone attest the fact.
5 Sabell. Enno., lib. vii. c. 5.
It is, of course, this primitive British Church, and not the
Roman Church introduced by Augustine, A.D. 596, into Kent among
the Pagan Saxons, of which such priority must be understood. That
such a Church existed on a national scale, and was thoroughly
antagonistic to the Roman Church in its new form and usurpations
in the person of Augustine, is so notorious, that we may dispense
with all but a few testimonies in proof of the fact. "Britons,"
declares Bede 6 "are contrary to the whole Roman world, and
enemies to the Roman customs, not only in their Mass, but in
their tonsure." The Britons refused to recognise Augustine, or to
acquiesce in one of his demands. "We cannot," said the British
bishops, "depart from our ancient customs without the consent
and leave of our people." Laurentius, the successor of Augustine,
speaks yet more bitterly of the antagonism of the Scottish
"We have found the Scotch bishops worse even than the British.
Dagon, who lately came here, being a bishop of the Scots, refused
so much as to eat at the same table, or sleep one night under the
same roof with us." 7
6 Bede's Hist. Frag., quoted by Usher, "Ancient Irish Church," c.
4, Hist., lib. ii. c. 2. One demand of Augustine was that the
British Church should recognise him as Archbishop, "At illi,"
says Bede, lib. ii. p.112, "nihil horum se facturos neque illum
pro Archiepiscopo habituros esse respondebant." Bede must
himself, one would suppose, from his own testimony in favour of
the British Church, and his knowledge of its extent and
institutions, have felt some astonishment at this demand of an
emissary whose only religious establishment in Britain was a
solitary church among the Pagans of Kent. "The Britons," he
writes, lib. i. c. 4. "preserved the faith which they had
received under King Lucius uncorrupted and entire in peace and
tranquillity, until the time of the Emperor Diocletian." Nicholas
Trivet says, "Abbot Dinothus, of Bangor, treated Augustine with
7 Laurentii Epist. ad Papam: Bede, Eccles. Hist., ii. c. 4.
And the protest of the British Church itself, signed on its
behalf by the Archbishop of St. David's, six bishops, and the
abbot of Bangor, who conducted the conference with Augustine at
Augustine's Oak, A.D.607;, place in still clearer light the gulf
which the change of the primitive Roman Church into the Papacy
formed between the Churches hitherto in full communion, It ran as
"Be it known and declared that we all, individually and
collectively, are in all humility prepared to defer to the Church
of God, and to the Bishop of Rome, and to every sincere and godly
Christian, so far as to love every one according to his degree,
in perfect charity, and to assist them all by word and in deed in
becoming the children of God. But as for any other obedience,
we know of none that he whom you term the Pope, or Bishop of
Bishops, can demand. The deference we have mentioned we are ready
to pay to him, as to every other Christian, but in all other
respects our obedience is due to the jurisdiction of the Bishop
of Caerleon, who is alone, under God, our ruler to keep us
right in the way of salvation." 8
It is plain from these and similar testimonies that
Britain--I. Was a distinct diocese of the empire. 2. That it was
subiect neither to the partriarch of Rome, nor to any foreign
ecclesiastical jurisdiction. 3. That it had its sovereignty
within itself. 4. That it never consulted the See of Rome nor any
foreign power in its rites, discipline, government, or
consecration of bishops and archbishops. 5. That it recognised no
surperior but but God to its archbishop of Caerleon, or St.
As late as the twelfth century no instance could be
8 Hengwrt MSS.; Humphry Llwyd; Sebright MSS.; Cottonian Library
(British Museum), Cleopatra, E.i. i.
9 Spelmanni Concilia; Sir Roger Twysden, Historical Vindication;
Brerewood, p.113: Collier, vol. i. p.6, &c.; Bishop Lloyd's
Government, &c., &c.
produced of the British metropolitan receiving the pall from
The two British metropolitans of London and York, Theon and
Tediac, had retired from their Sees into Wales A.D.586, ten
years only before the arrival of Augustine.
In the Diocletian persecution the British Church supplied
the following remarkable list of native martyrs :--Amphibalus,
Bishop of Llandaff; Alban of Verulam; Aaron and Julius,
presbyters of Caerleon; Socrates, Archbishop of York; Stephen,
Archbishop of London; Augulius, his successor; Nicholas, Bishop
of Penrhyn (Glasgow); Melior, Bishop of Carlisle, and above
10,000 communicants in different grades of society.
Its religious institutions were on an immense scale. William
of Malmesbury describes the ruins of Bangor Iscoed Abbey in his
days as those of a city - the most extensive he had seen in the
kingdom. Two other British foundations in England retained their
superiority over all others of a later date, under every change
of rulers till the Reformation - St. Alban and Glastonbury. Of
all the monasteries these continued the most popular and highly
10 It is certain, states Spelman (p.18), that the people of that
province held no oath so sacred as that "by the old church"
(Glastonbury), fearing nothing so much as to incur the guilt of
perjury in taking it, "The church of Glastonbury, from its
antiquity called by the Angles 'Ealde Churche,' savoured of
sanctity from its very foundation. Here arrive whole tribes of
the lower orders, thronging every path. Here, divested of their
pomp, assemble the opulent. It has become the crowded residence
of the literary and religious. There is no corner of the church
in which the ashes of some saint do not repose. The very floor
inlaid with polished stones, and the sides of the altar, and even
the altar itself, above and beneath, are laden with the multitude
of relics. The antiquity, and multitude of saints, have endowed
the place with such sanctity that at night scarcely any one
presumes to keep vigil there, or during the day to spit upon
the floor. St. Patrick is buried by the right side of the altar
in the 'old church.' The men of lreland frequent it to kiss the
relics. St. David, that celebrated and incomparable man, built
and dedicated the second church here. He sleeps by St.
Patrick." William of Malmesbury, b. i. c. 2. St. Aidan was buried
by the side of St. David.
Tracing our course back from the Diocletian era, a consensus
of authorities fixes the national establishment of Christianity
in Britain somewhere about the middle of the second century. From
A.D.33, then, to A.D.150, we have in round numbers a space of
120 years left for the propagation of the faith and the gradual
conversion of the nation.
All accounts concur in stating that the person who baptized
Lucius, or Lleeuer Mawr, the monarch who thus established the
Church, was his uncle, St. Timotheus, the son of Pudens and
Claudia, who was brought up on the knees of the apostles.
The infancy of Timotheus carries us back to Paul himself, to
Claudia, to Pudens, to Linus, Caractacus, Bran, and the other
members of the Silurian house in their captivity at Rome.
But we have seen that Pudens and others were Christians
before Paul came to Rome, which carries the first British
conversions to an earlier date than A.D.58.
And thus we arrive within twenty-five years of the
Crucifixion. In which of these years, then, was the Gospel first
introduced into Britain?
Gildas, the British historian, who flourished A.D.520-560,
states expressly that it was introduced the last year of the
reign of Tiberius Caesar. 11
The Crucifixion took place in the seventeenth year of
Tiberius. The last year of Tiberius would be his twenty
11 "We know that Christ, the true Son, afforded His light to our
island in the last year of Tiberius Caesaris."--Histor. Briton.
Usher terms Gildas " auctor veracissimus."
second. Consequently, if we follow Gildas, Christianity was
introduced into Britain five years after the Crucifixion, that
(The author is wrong here. Jesus was crucified in 30 A.D. making
it 8 years later that Christianity was introduced to Britain -
This is certainly an early period, but Gildas speaks
positively-- "ut scimus." It synchronizes with the first
persecution of the Church by Saul of Tarsus, and its general
dispersion. "They were all scattered abroad except the apostles."
If all, then Joseph of Arimathaea among them. Regarding
Gilda's date as our starting-point, we have the following
testimonies assigning the introduction of Christianity in or
about the same year to Joseph of Arimathaea:--
1. Gregory of Tours, in the "History of the Franks:" He
flourished circiter A.D.544-595. This is Gallic testimony.
2. The Pseudo-Gospel of Nicodemus, 14 supposed to be a
composition of the fourth century. This is Oriental tradition.
3. Maelgwyn of Llandaff, the uncle of St. David. His era is
circiter A.D.450. His words being remarkable, we insert them at
length:-- "Joseph of Arimathaea, the noble decurion, received his
everlasting rest with his eleven associates in the Isle of
Avalon. He lies in the southern angle of the bifurcated line of
the Oratorium of the Adorable Virgin. He has with him the two
white vessels of silver which were filled with the blood and the
sweat of the great Prophet Jesus. 15
(This idea of the blood and sweat of Jesus is goobydigoo nonsense
that would have arisen from misinformation and as nearly all
basic truth gets corrupted over the centuries with silly aditions
- keith Hunt)
12 Acys viii. 1.
14 Ad finem.
15 "Joseph ab Arimathea nobilis decurio in insula Avallonia
cum xi. Sociis suis somnum cepit perpetuum et facet in meridiano
angulo lineae bifurcatae Oratorii Adorandae Virginis. Habit enim
secum duovascula argentea alba cruore et sudore magni prophetae
Jesu perimpleta."--Thick vellum Cottonian MS., quoted also by
Usher, "Melchini Fragmentum." Joseph of Arimathaea is by Eastern
tradition said to have been the younger brother of the father of
the Virgin Mary. The records of Glastonbury, as cited by
Malmesbury and others, preserved the genealogy of his descendants
in Britain:- "Helias nepos Joseph genuit Josua, Josua genuit
Amminadab, Amminadab Castellor," 8:c.--"Historia de Glastonbury."
This is British testimony, of one also personally acquainted
with the interior of the church of Avalon, or Domus Dei, and the
exact spot within it of the restingplace of Joseph. The greater
weight is due to Maelgwyn's evidence, as no fact is better
established than the reconstruction of the Domus Dei on a
cathedral scale by his nephew, St. David the Archbishop. 16
4. The Vatican manuscript, quoted by Baronius in his
"Ecclesiastical Annals," ad annum 35 (the same year in which the
Acts of the Apostles state all, except the apostles, were
scattered abroad from Judaea). The manuscript records that in
this year! Lazarus, Maria Magdalene, Martha, her handmaiden
Marcella, Maximin a disciple, Joseph the Decurion of Arimathaea,
against all of whom the Jewish people had special reasons of
enmity, were exposed to the sea in a vessel without sails or
oars. The vessel drifted finally to Marseilles, and they were
saved. From Marseilles Joseph and his company passed into
16 In the two "vascula argentea alba," full of the Saviour's
blood and sweat shed on the cross and at Gethsemane, we have the
first nucleus of the celebrated legend and a quest of the
SantGreal. They gave the name of the Crystal Isle to Glastonbury.
The Britons commemorate (writes Forcatulus) that Joseph brought
with him the pledge and testimony of the sacred Eucharist,
namely, the chalice which was used by the Saviour, and placed
before His most holy guests the apostles, and which is preserved
by them (the Britons) as the pledge of the safety of Britain, as
the palladium was of that of Troy.---Fortaculus de Gallor.
Imperio et Philos., lib. vii. p.989. Greal in British is a
collection of elements; Sant-Greal, the holy elements.
(All this about the cup and the bllod and sweat of Christ on that
14th Passover day is nothing but silly aditions over time, Roman
Catholic type traditions that are so common in thier history.
There is an outside chance that someone went back into that upper
room of the last Passover Jesus observed with his disciples and
retreived the "cup" but it has become totally lost today; and the
blood and sweat of Jesus is total garbage of crazy things that
get added to basic truth as time goes on - Keith Hunt)
Britain, and after preaching the Gospel there, died. 17 "
(this would have been about 3 years later - if as the author has
given 38 AD for Christianity to come into Britain. It is common
sense that those people would have remained in Marseilles for 3
years or so to preach the Gospel there also before some moved on
to Britain - Keith Hunt)
5. The "Chronicon" of Pseudo-Dexter, the "Fragmenta" of Haleca
Archbishop of Saragossa, Freculphus and Forcatulus, 18 deliver
the same statement professedly from primitive sources of unknown
date. Cressy, Pitsaeus, Sanders, Alford, the Roman Catholic
historians, concur with Gildas in the year, and with the above
authorities in holding Joseph of Arimathaea to have been the
first who preached Christ in Britain.
(as the author has given - 38 AD - 8 years after the death and
resurrection of Christ - which makes common sense that they would
not leave Judea earlier than that and under the sacttering of the
saints as recorded in the book of Acts - Keith Hunt)
6. We possess abundant proofs that Britain was studded with
Christian churches before the end of the second century, and
whatever direction our investigations take, we find authorities
unanimous in the statement that the church of Joseph in Avalon,
or Glastonbury, was the first and oldest of these churches, many
affirming it to be the oldest or senior Christian church in the
whole world. It will be useful to transcribe the conclusions
arrived at by the historians who have treated on this subject
"The church of Avalon in Britain no other hands than those of
the disciples of the Lord themselves built - Publius Discipulus.
"The mother church of the British Isles is the Church in Insula
Avallonia, called by the Saxons Glaston." - Usher.
"If credit be given to ancient authors, this church of
Glastonbury is the senior church of the world." - Fuller.
"It is certain that Britain received the faith in the first age
from the first sowers of the Word. Of all the churches whose
origin I have investigated in Britain, the church of Glastonbury
is the most ancient." - Sir Henry Spelman.
17 The respective dates of A.D.35 and 38 allow three years
between the expulsion of Joseph from Judea and his settlement in
Britain - an undesigned harmony which goes far chronologically to
confirm the common record.
(And that would make sense - about 35 AD for the first
persecution of saints and their scattering as recorded in the
book of Acts - Joseph and company in Marseilles for about 3 years
teaching the Gospel and arriving in Britain in 38 AD. - Keith
18 Lib. vii. p.989.
Had any doubt existed on this point of priority, it
certainly would have been contested by some other church in our
island, for it was not a question of mere chronology, but one
which drew with it enormous privileges and advantages. It never
was disputed. It was universally conceded: and upon it the long
series of the royal charters of the church and monastery, from
that of King Arthur, the nephew of its second founder, St. David,
to that of Edward III, proceed. "The first church in the kingdom,
built by the disciples of Christ," says the charter of Edgar.
"This is the city," states the charter of Ina, or Ivor, "which
was the fountain and origin of Christ's religion in Britain,
built by Christ's disciples."
The tombs of Saxon and British kings, saints, bishops, and
abbots, buried in and around its confines, confirm the charters.
Of the general truth of the Arimathaean mission there have been
numerous supporters. No author, indeed, who has taken due pains
to examine its evidences, rejects its main facts. "We dare not
deny," writes the caustic Fuller, "the substance of the
story." Bishop Godwin, in his quaint style, writes, "The
testimonies of Joseph of Arimathaea's coming here are so many, so
clear, and so pregnant, as an indifferent man cannot but discern
there is something in it. 19" Archbishop Usher defends it with
his usual display of erudition, and with unusual vehemency of
manner, as if the honour of ecclesiastical Britain rested on its
truth. The reader will form his own judgment.
For our part, we cast aside the addenda and crescendo, the
legends, poems, marvels which after ages, monk, troubadour, and
historian piled high and gorgeously on the original foundation.
That foundation must indeed have originally possessed no mean
strength, depth, and solidity,
19 Godwin's "Catalogue of Bishops," Prasul., p.11.
to bear the immense superstructure which mediaeval superstition
and literature emulated each other in erecting above the simple
tomb of the Arimathaean senator in the Avalon isle. This
superstition was rising tide-high in the time of Augustine, A.D.
600. "In the western confines of Britain," he writes to the
Pope, "there is a certain royal island of large extent,
surrounded by water, abounding in all the beauties of nature and
necessaries of life. In it the first neophytes of the catholic
law, God beforehand acquainting them, found a Church constructed
by no human art, but by the hands of Christ Himself, for the
salvation of His people. The Almighty has made it manifest by
many miracles and mysterious visitations that He continues to
watch over it as sacred to Himself, and to Mary the mother of
God." 20 The same edifice of figments has been built in all ages,
more or less, on Christianity itself, but we do not therefore
demur to the primitive facts of Christianity. Leaving details out
of the question, the cardinal features of the first, or
Arimathaean, mission of Christianity into Britain are, in our
opinion, entitled to historic acceptance and registration.
These cardinal features we consider to be the
following,:--Joseph and his company, including Lazarus, Mary,
Martha, Marcella, and Maximin, came at the invitation of certain
Druids of high rank, 21 from Marseilles into Britain, circiter
A.D.38,39; were located at Ynys Avalon, the seat of a Druidic
cor, which was subsequently made over to them in free gift by
Arviragus. Here they built the first church, which became the
centre and mother of Christianity in Britain. Here also they
terminated their mortal career, the gentle and conciliatory
character of Joseph securing the protection of the reigning
20 Epistolae ad Gregorium Papam.
21 "Negotium habuit cum Druidis quorum primi precipuique
doctores erant in Britannia" - Freculphus, apud God., p.10
the conversion of many of its members. Joseph died and was
interred A.D. 76.
The church was 60 ft. in length by 26 in breadth, built
Gallico more of timber pillars and framework doubly wattled
inside and out, and thatched with straw? 22 This simplicity might
have been the effect of necessity or design. The Druidic faith
required three essentials in every temple:--1. It must be
circular; 2. Hypaethral, or roofless at top, and open at the
sides; 3. Its materials must be monoliths, vast single stones
unhewed, untouched by metal. The Arimathaean church rose in
direct though humble antagonism to the old Cyclopean architecture
- it was oblong, it was of wood, it was roofed and covered in.
The Druidic mind could not, without a strong effort, connect such
a building with the ideas of religion and worship. It carried
with it no image, no symbolism of the One, the Infinite, and the
The Briton on his way to one of the great cosn--Amesbury or
Stonehenge, with their miles of obelisks - would smile with pity
on the ecclesia, or, as he rendered this new word from the East,
the eglwys of the Wyr Israel (men of Israel). But the Druidic
religion knew of no such monstrous abortions as intolerance and
persecution. There is no instance of Druidism persecuting
conscience or knowledge. Such crime was left for Rome, for a
religion of foreign importation. Casting his eye round the circle
of the horizon, and then upwards to the vast open dome of heaven,
the Briton saw the outer ring, as it were, the circumference of
his own Druidic cor; he would resume his march, trying to
discover some possible identification in nature between an oblong
pitched roof and the temple of the universe.
22 And such also was the primitive Capitol of Rome: "Quae fuerat
nostri si quaeras Regia nati, Adspice de Canna straminibusque
Domum." Ovid, Faest. ad Fest. Roma.
The tomb of Joseph was inscribed with the following epitaph,
touching from its spirit of faith, peace, and humility:-- 23
"AD BRITANNOS VENI POST CHRISTUM SEPELIVI. DOCUI. QUIEVI."
Of the perpetual exemption of the twelve ploughs of land
conferred by Arviragus on the Arimathaean Church, the Domesday
Survey of A.D.1088 supplies curious confirmation. "The Domus
Dei, in the great monastery of Glastingbury, called the Secret of
the Lord. This Glastingbury church possesses, in its own villa,
xii. hides of land which have never paid tax." 1
After A.D.35-36 Joseph disappears from the Scripture
The Greek and Roman menologies and Martyrologies commemorate
with scrupulous jealousy the obituaries and death-places of all
the earlier Christian characters of mark who died within the pale
of the Roman empire. They nowhere record those of Joseph. Now we
know from Tertullian that Britain was Christian before it was
Roman. The Dove conquered where the Eagle could make no progress.
"Regions in Britain which have never been penetrated by the
Roman arms," are his words (A.D.192) "have received the
religion of Christ." If this statement were correct, after the
war between Rome and Britain had raged for a century and a half,
from A.D.43 to A.D.192 and in a national point of view it is
impartial testimony, for Tertullian was an African - it is
obvious that the
23 Hearne's Antiquities of Glastonbury; Leland, ibid.; John of
Tynemouth, Ad Josephum Arimath.
1 "Domus Dei in magno Glaston. monasterio quod secretum Domini
vocatur, Ecclesia Glaston. habet in ipsa villa xii. hydas quae
nunquam geld averunt."--Domesday Survey, fol., p.449.
Arimathaean mission must have been founded in the heart of
independent Britain, quite out of the pale, therefore, of the
Roman empire. And this inference tallies with the rest of the
evidence. Joseph died in these "loca inaccessa Romanis." His
death, therefore, could not be chronicled by Greek or Roman
Lazarus is asserted to have accompanied Joseph. The only record
we possess of him beyond the Scripture narrative 2 is in a very
ancient British Triad: "The Triad of Lazarus, the three,
counsels of Lazarus: Believe in God who made thee; Love God who
saved thee; Fear God who will judge thee." 3 It is difficult to
explain how the name and counsel of Lazarus could find their way
into these peculiarly British memorials except by his presence
and teaching in Britain.
Finally, were there any other eminent converts, besides
those of the Silurian family, made at this very early date in
Britain? Three are particularly mentioned - Beatus, whose first
name was Suetonius, Mansuetus, and Marcellus. Beatus, born of
noble parents in Britain, was there also converted and baptized.
He became the founder of the Helvetian Church. He fixed his
mission at Underseven, on the lake of Thun, disposing of all his
property to ransom prisoners of war. His death occurred in the
cell still shown at Underseven, A.D.96. 4
Mansuetus, born in Hibernia, converted and baptized in
Britain, was sent afterwards from Rome with St. Clement,
afterwards the second bishop of Rome, to preach the Gospel in
Gaul. He founded the Lotharingian Church.
2 The tradition of the Church of Lyons makes him return with
Martha and Mary to Marseilles, of which town he became the first
bishop, and there died.
3 Triads of Primitive Britain.
4 Theatr. Magn. Britan., lib. vi. p.9.
fixing his mission at Toul, where, after extending his labours to
Illyria, he suffered martyrdom, A.D.110. 5
Marcellus, a noble Briton, became bishop of Tongres, and
afterwards founder-bishop of Troves - the diocese which for
centuries exercised the chief influence in the Gallic Church. The
conversion of Linus, the son of Caractacus, is attributed to him.
Before, therefore, the incorporation of Britain with the
Roman empire, whilst the war of invasion raged, we have before us
these remarkable facts:--1. A young and vigorous Christian
Church, direct from Jerusalem and the East, and which had never
touched or passed through Rome, was in full and successful work
in the heart of independent Britain, under the protection of the
very sovereign and family that conducted the war against Rome. 2.
This native Church, though so young, does not limit its
operations to Britain. It ramifies from Britain to the Continent,
and becomes, through native-born missionaries, the mother-Church
of Gaul, Lotharingia, and Helvetia. Providence, for the most
part, works in a very noiseless way, by natural means. Nothing
could be more natural than that Joseph and his companions - for
whom, as Christians, there was neither peace nor safety among
their own countrymen; for whom, as Christians and Jews, there was
no assurance of their lives in any Roman province - should seek
refuge in the only independent kingdom of the West, whose
national religion, like their own, was marked for destruction on
the Continent; for, as we have seen, the decrees of Augustus,
5 Pantaloon, De Viris Illus. Germaniae, pars. L; Guliel.
Eisengren, cent. 2, p.5; Petrus Mersaeus, De Sanctis German.;
Franciscus Guilliman, Helvetiorum Historia, lib. i. c. 15; Petrus
de Natalibus, Episcop. Regal. Tallensis.
6 Marcellus Britannus, "Tungrorum episcopus postea Trevirorum
Archiepiscopus," &c. --Mersaesus, De Archiepiscopis Trevirensium.
Claudius constituted Druidism a capital offence? Nothing could be
more natural than that Guiderius and Aviragus, on the
intercession of influential Druids, should receive and protect
such refugees, and in accordance with their own Druidic
principles, leave whatever religion they professed to the
voluntary acceptance or rejection of their subjects. All this, we
repeat, was very natural, yet we may well affirm that Providence
was working in the wheel of Nature. If the stoker was Nature, the
engineer was Providence. Under this reflection lies another.
Whatever the errors of Druidism were, it was, in its main truths,
a grand religion, forming grand and truthful characters. Its
foundation - maxim was, "Truth against the world "; literally,
against "all being."
Now, if we just cast one eye on Britain, on a Druidic
Caractacus, Arviragus, or Claudia, listening from their thrones
to a Christian missionary, because he professed to bring and to
preach truth, and Christ as the Truth, the Way, and the Life;
then cast the other on a Pilate, asking, in the profoundest
disbelief in all virtue and goodness, "What is truth?" we shall
see at a glance that Britain was prepared, and the Roman empire
not prepared, for Christianity. The British and Roman minds were
different. Druidism, therefore, dissolved by the natural action
of its own principles into Christianity. No persecution until
the tenth, under Diocletian, touched Britain, for Christianity
had become nationality. And the Diocletian was stopped in two
years, on his own responsibility, at the hazard of civil war, by
Constantius. Then rose Constantine, with a British army sworn to
put down the persecution of
7 "Penitus religionem Druidarum abolevit Claudius."--Suetonius,
in Vita Claud.
8 St. Paul's maxim, "We can do nothing against the truth,"
breathes a kindred spirit, and would at once conciliate a Druidic
Christianity for ever. The clue is a national, a British one. The
next missionary after Joseph was Simon Zelotes the apostle. There
can be little doubt, we think, on this point. One Menology
assigns the martyrdom of Zelotes to Persis in Asia, but others
agree in stating he suffered in Britain. Of these the principal
authority is Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre, in the reigns of
Diocletian and Constantius (A.D.300). His testimony we consider
decisive:-- "Simon Zelotes traversed all Mauritania, and the
regions of the Africans, preaching Christ. He was at last
crucified, slain, and buried in Britain." Crucifixion was a Roman
penalty for runagate slaves, deserters, and rebels: it was not
known to the British laws. We conclude Simon Zelotes suffered in
the east of Britain, perhaps, as tradition affirms, in the
vicinity of Caistor, under the prefecture of Caius Decius, the
officer whose atrocities were the immediate cause of the
Boadicean war. Two things strike the investigator of early
Christian history: the marvellous manner in which Christian seed
is found growing and fructifying in unheard-of places; the
indifference of the sowers to perpetuating their own name and
labours. They seem to have been quite satisfied and blest in
sowing Christ, and then resting. The epitaph of Joseph of Avalon
would express the feelings of all:- "Docui, Quievi," "I taught, I
have entered on my rest." Beautiful as is this in fact and faith,
it is very unsatisfactory in history. As Christians we feel its
propriety; as writers we desiderate more of that yearning for
immortality on earth which inspires the Greek and Latin authors,
and inspires us also in reading them. Yet the effects of the
Christian principle are undoubtedly greater; for the principle it
is which meets us face to face. It is Christ or self. We come on
a field: the sower has inclosed it, built round it strongly,
sowed proved seed in it, entrusted it to a few like-minded men,
and he vanishes.
9 Dorotheus, Synod. de Apostol.; Synopsis ad Sim
He is crucified a thousand miles off, leaves no memoir of
himself, no message to posterity, no foot-mark on the geology of
the Church. In perusing the Apostolic Epistles we are struck by
the maximum of censure, the minimum of approval conveyed to the
Churches. We are apt to think they had little force or vitality.
But when we extend our survey to the whole empire of Rome, we
are almost terrified at the subterraneous mocks with which these
Churches are everywhere brining Pagan temple and tower to the
ground. We try to calculate and value this power. We fail in
doing it. The Roman government failed also. It is an unknown
power, the source of which is from above.
3. Next to Joseph and Simon Zelotes came Aristobulus. "It is
perfectly certain," writes Alford, 10 "that before St. Paul had
come to Rome Aristobulus was absent in Britain." We have seen
he was not at Rome when Paul wrote his Epistle. Now Aristobulus
must have been far advanced in years, for he was the
father-in-law of St. Peter. His wife was the subject of the
miracle recorded by St. Matthew. His daughter bore Peter a son
and a daughter. We have the following evidences that he preached
the Gospel and was martyred in Britain:--
The Martyrologies of the Greek Churches: -- "Aristobulus
was one of the seventy disciples, and a follower of St. Paul the
Apostle, along with whom he preached the Gospel to the whole
world, and ministered to him. He was chosen by St. Paul to be the
missionary bishop to the land of Britain, inhabited by a very
warlike and fierce race. By them he was often scourged, and
10 Alford's Regia Fides, vol. i. p.83. Alford, whose proper name
was Griffiths, and who assumed the name of Alford on entering the
Society of Jesuits, is next to Baronius, the most learned of the
Roman Catholic historians. His Regia Fides is a wonderful
monument of erudition and research.
dragged as a criminal through their towns, yet he converted many
of them to Christianity. He was there martyred, after he had
built churches and ordained deacons and priests for the island."
Haleca, Bishop of Augusta, to the same effect:-- "The memory
of many martyrs is celebrated by the Britons, especially that of
St. Aristobulus, one of the seventy disciples." 12
Dorotheus, A.D.303:-- "Aristobulus, who is mentioned by the
Apostle in his Epistle to the Romans, was made bishop in
Adonis Martyrologia:-- "Natal day of Aristobulus, Bishop
of Britain, brother of St. Barnabas the Apostle, by whom he was
ordained bishop. He was sent to Britain, where, after preaching
the truth of Christ and forming a Church, he received
The British "Achau," or Genealogies of the Saints of
Britain:-- "These came with Bran the Blessed from Rome to
Britain--Arwystli Hen (Senex), IIid, Cyndaw, men of Israel; Maw,
or Manaw, son of Arwystli Hen." 15
According to the genius of the British tonguc, Aristobulus
A district in Montgomeryshire, on the Severn, perpetuates by
its name (Arwystli) the scene of his martyrdom.
The Britons must have had Arwystli in person among them;
they must have been struck by the age of the venerable
missionary, or the epithet "Senex" would not have become amongst
them part of his name.
There are several points here to be noted. The first is,
11 Greek Men., ad 15 March.
12 Halecae Fragmenta in Martyr.
13 Synopsis ad Aristobulum.
14 In Diem Martii 17.
15 Achau Saint Prydain.
that Aristobulus was sent into Britain by St. Paul before St.
Paul came himself to Rome, and even before the Epistle to the
Romans was written, for Aristobulus, when St. Paul wrote it, had
left for his mission. The large space given by the Roman
historians to the wars in Britain demonstrates the interest felt
in them by the whole empire. Britain was a familiar term in every
household. Upon it the whole military attention had for some
years been concentrated. The name of Arviragus had by this time
attained as great a celebrity as that of his cousin
Caractacus--it was in every one's mouth; and Juvenal could
suggest no news which would have been hailed by the Roman people
with more intense satisfaction than that of his fall:--
"Hath our great enemy Arviragus, the car-borne British king.
Dropped from his battle-throne?"
It is certain, therefore, that St. Paul, who travelled
everywhere, mixing with every kind of society, must have been as
well acquainted with Britain, and the events passing therein, as
any other intelligent Roman citizen. There was everything to
attract his eye to it as a field for Gospel labour and
But have we any Scripture evidence that St. Paul at this
time thought at all of Western Europe? Undoubtedly we have.
Commentators and writers of his life generally refer to his visit
to Spain as contemplated after his first imprisonment at Rome. A
reference to the passage in the fifteenth chapter of the Epistle
shows, on the contrary, that his journey to Spain was meditated
not only before he came to Rome, but that it was his principal
object in leaving the East, his call at Rome being simply on the
way. "Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to
you, for I trust to see you on my journey, and to be brought on
my way thitherward by you." 16 He speaks of the journey as a
thing decided upon, taking Rome by the way. Literally, in the
original it is, "I hope in passing through to see you." It was
the West of Europe, then, beyond Rome, not Rome itself, which was
the Apostle's mark, even at this comparatively early date. All
the incidents and delays which occurred between this date (A.D.
56), and the termination of his first imprisonment at Rome, were
interruptions of his original plan of operations. His destination
was the extreme West, and this was in accordance with the command
of Christ, "I will send thee far hence to the Gentiles."
According to the Scriptures, therefore, and the view we have
therein of Paul's own mind, we think we are justified in
concluding that having already sent Aristobulus into Britain, he
intended to traverse Spain himself, and thence join his
fellow-labourer in our island; for it is plain that Aristobulus
acted as wholly under Paul's instructions in Britain as Titus in
Crete or Timothy in Asia Minor. "He preached the Gospel with St.
Paul to the whole world, and ministered to him." 17
It appears that Bran left Rome with Aristobulus, his son
Manaw, Ilid, and Cyndaw, before Caradoc. He was accompanied also
by Eurgain, the eldest daughter of Caradoc, and her husband Salog
lord in her right of Caer Salog (Salisbury), a Roman patrician.
Ilid established his mission under the protection of Bran, his
grandson Cyllinus (eldest son of Caradoc), Salog and Eurgain, in
the centre of Siluria, on the spot in Glamorgarshire known from
that period till the present as Llan-Ilid. At this Llan, or
'consecrated inclosure,' the Princess Eurgain founded and endowed
the first Christian cor, or choir, in Britain. From this
Cor-Eurgain issued many of the most eminent
16 Rom. xv.24.
17 Greek Menology, ad Diem Martii 17.
teachers and missionaries of Christianity down to the tenth
century. Of the saints of this cor, from Ilid in succession,
there are catalogues in the "Genealogies of the Saints of
Eastern and Western testimonies concur in thus proving the
Aristobulian mission to Britain under the Sanction of Bran and
his family. We complete the chain with the two following, from
"The three blessed sovereigns of the isle of Britain:-- 1. Bran,
son of Llyr Llediaith, who first brought the faith of Christ to
the Cymry from Rome, where he had been seven years a hostage for
his son Caradoc, whom the Romans put in prison, after being
betrayed by the plotting, deceit and enticement of Areddig. 2.
Lleuver, or Leirwig (Lucius), son of Coel, son of St. Cyllin, son
of Caradoc, son of Bran, son of Llyr Llediaith, called Lleuver
the Great, who founded the first church of Llandaff, and first
gave the privileges of the country and nation to all who
professed the faith in Christ. 3. Cadwalladr the Blessed, who
gave protection within all his lands to the Christians who fled
from the pagan Saxons who wished to slay them." 19
"The three priorities of the Cymry:--1. Priority as the
first colonizers of Britain; 2. Priority of government and
civilization; 3. Priority as the first Christians of Britain." 20
18 Acbau Saint Prydain. In these "Achau," or genealogies, Eurgain
is commemorated as the first female saint of the isle of Britain,
Her conversion, therefore, preceded that of her sister Claudia.
Ilid was a Hebrew:--
"Hast thou heard the saying of Ilid,
One come of the race of
'There is no mania like passion.'" -- British Proverbs.
19 Triads of the isle of Britain.
20 Triads of the Cymry.
In an ancient collection of British proverbs we find certain
sayings transmitted of Bran and the first Christians of Britain:-
"Hast thou heard the saying of Ilid,
The saint of the race of Israel?
'No folly but ends in misery.'
Hast thou heard the saying of the noble Bran,
The blessed, to all the renowned?
'There is no good but God Himself.'
Hast thou heard the saying of Caradoc,
The exalted son of the noble Bran?
'Oppression persisted in brings on death.'"
We have at this stage of the inquiry two distinct cradles of
Christianity in Britain - the mission of Joseph in Avalon, and
the Cor-Eurgain at Llan-Ilid in Wales; the former protected by
Arviragus, the latter fostered by the family of Caradoc, his
cousin. We can entertain no reasonable doubt that very intimate
ties bound these two Christian missions together. St. Barnabas,
Aristobulus his brother, and Joseph were members of the Jerusalem
Church - they were of the one hundred and twenty which
constituted it prior to the day of Pentecost - the same spiritual
union, the same friendship, the same one faith, one heart, one
mind, one baptism, one hope, one Lord, would joint them together
in Britain as in Jerusalem. Both establishments were out of the
pale of Rome, both among the free states of Britain. Beyond
Siluria, among the Ordovices, the protection of Bran did not
avail Aristobulus: Joseph came direct from Jerusalem, and was
therefore regarded with favour; Aristobulus came from Rome, from
the metropolis of the national enemy, and fell, perhaps, rather a
victim to this fact than a martyr to religion. In Siluria itself
the royal family were hard pressed to reconcile their subjects to
the presence of men in any way, however slightly, connected with
Rome, so unappeasable was the hatred borne to the invaders, so
easily misapprehended and confounded every embassage from their
city. Every overture of peace made by the Roman government to
this "ferox provincia" was sternly rejected; rigour and mildness
were alike thrown away. "The race of the Silures," observes
Tacitus, "was not to be changed by clemency or severity." 21 Even
after the treaty which incorporated Britain with Rome (A.D.118),
two-thirds of the whole military force of the island continued to
be stationed on the frontiers of Wales, at Chester and Caeleon.
The same dogged opposition to the foreigner characterised the
same race in the West in the later Saxon eras. "It is certain,"
writes Kemble, "that neither Roman nor Saxon produced any effect
worth mentioning on the Cymric race and language west of the
Severn. We see indeed what little effect all the centuries since
then, though but a river divides the two races, has produced upon
the British language." 22
Great caution, therefore, was called for in the exercise,
under these circumstances, of the royal protection. Meanwhile,
however, the cor continued to strike roots. The royal family
themselves remained firm in the profession of Christianity.
Cyllinus, who acted as regent in the absence of his father
Caradoc, had all his children baptized. Converts increased, and
more teachers arrived from
21 "Silurum gens non atrocitate, non clementia mutabatur"--Tociti
Annal, lib. ii. c. 24.
22 History of the Anglo-Saxons, vol. i. Tacitus, in his Life of
Agricola (c. 21), takes occasion to notice the stubborn
attachment of the Briton to bis native tongue. And it is one of
the most remarkable facts connected with the occupation of
Britain by the Romans, that though they entirely recast the
languages of the Continent through the medium of their own, they
did not leave probably a hundred Latin words behind them in
Britain: within twenty years of their departure Latin had ceased
to be spoken in the island.
Greece and Rome. The following notice of St. Cyllinus is
extracted from the family records of Jestyn ap Gwrgant, Prince of
Glamorgan, in the eleventh century:--
"Cyllin ab Caradog, a wise and just king. In his days many of
the Cymry embraced the faith in Christ through the teaching of
the saints of Cor-Eurgain, and many godly men from the countries
of Greece and Rome were in Cambria. He first of the Cymry gave
infants names; for before, names were not given except to adults,
and then from something characteristic in their bodies, minds, or
Nero had succeeded Claudius Sept.28, A.D.53. He was in his
seventeenth year, and for some time remained under the influence
of Seneca, a Stoic philosopher in profession but in practice a
grinding usurer. The capital of this minister amounted to fifteen
million pounds sterling of modern money. Two millions of this he
advanced to the Iceni of Britain on the security of their public
buildings. We doubt if Rothschild or any modern capitalist would
advance half the sum on such buildings as may now be found in the
old Icenic counties. The king of the Iceni was Prasutagus, his
queen Victoria (in British, Vuddig or Boeddig--Boadicea). Tacitus
speaks of him as a sovereign whose wealth was notorious at Rome -
"longa clarus opulentid."
The commerce between Britain and the Continent continued to be
vigorously conducted. Tacitus informs us that the great foreign
emporium was London, a city the foundation of which the British
annals carried back 270 years before that of Rome, i.e. B.C.
1020. 1 Above 80,000
23 Gwehelyth Iestyn ap Gwrgant.
1 "Londinum vetus oppidum quod Augustam posteritas
appellavit."--Ammianus Marcellinus, lib. xxvii. c. 8, 9. If
London was not a prae-Roman city, Ammianus could not term it "an
ancient city:" for supposing it founded the first year of the
Claudian invasion, A.D. 43, it would still, in A.D. 350, be quite
a new town; and as the Boadicean war broke out A.D. 6o, it would
be absurd to affirm that it rose in sevens?en years to the
condition described by Tacitus: "Copia negotiatorum et commeatuum
maxime celebre."--Tacit. Annal., lib. i; Hist., lib. i., and lib.
xiv. c. 27-30.
Roman citizens, according to the Roman historians, perished in
the Boadicean war, of whom the greater number resided in London.
A Roman garrison stationed in the Praetorium--which extended
along the Thames from the temple of Diana, where now stands St.
Paul's, to the Bryn Gwyn, or White Mount, the site of the
Tower - protected their property and interests. It was just as
easy for an apostle to find his way into Britain as for any of
these 80,000, amongst whom there must have been a fair proportion
of Christians. The Roman citizen could travel from Babylon to
London along the great military itinera of the empire, more
slowly indeed, but with fewer civil inconveniences in the shape
of passports and stoppages, and no less security, than an
Englishman can now. It was not in medieval Europe, divided
amongst a thousand independent marauding states and barons, nor
in the pathless wilds of a new world, but over the length and
breadth of an empire possessed of a system of roads laid down
with consummate engineering skill, and remaining, until the
invention of railroads, without rivals on a great scale, that the
first preachers of the Gospel had to travel. The Roman "iter" at
Babylon would conduct them, under the protection of one law, one
government, without a frontier, to Calais. The whole empire was a
network of connected arteries, along which a traveller might take
his ease from anywhere to anywhere under the overshadowing
protection of the Eagles of the Caesars. It was not till he had
crossed the British Channel that the din and terror of war
assaulted his senses, So profound, indeed, until the brief civil
commotion that resulted in placing the Vespasian family on the
throne, was the peace which prevailed through Europe, that the
Roman annalists are driven, for lack of national events, to fill
page after page with court scandals, with the personal
debaucheries and cruelties of the emperors. These emperors were
despots created by the democracy against the oligarchy; they held
the same position as the Tudors of later times in Britain. When a
noble raised his head above his fellows, like Tarquin and the
poppies, they cut it remorselessly and unscrupulously down. A
lover of the old oligarchic times, such as Tacitus, would - and
no doubt in many cases justly stigmatize such executions as
judicial murders, and transmit their authors to the execration of
posterity. The people at large were unaffected; the lightning
passed over them; and, in return, it was the dagger of the
oligarch in the chamber, not the popular tumult, which the
Caesar dreaded. He walked the streets a simple citizen without
guards, but he went to the Senate armed. Meanwhile, Ostorius
Scapula in Britain suffered a defeat from Arviragus at Caervelin,
near Caerleon. Exhausted in mind and body by the harassing
vicissitudes of the war, he petitioned to be recalled. He was
succeeded by Didius Gallus, who founded Cardiff, still called by
the Welsh Caer Dydd, 'the Castle of Didius.' After a short
command Didius gave way to Veranius, under whom the Roman armies
were again driven behind the Plautian line of fortresses, and
their headquarters fixed at Verulam. Veranius was superseded by
Suetonius Paulinus, a second Fabius Cunctator, and regarded as
the ablest tactitian in the Roman service? He had under him the
ninth, fourteenth, twentieth (Vicesima Valens Victrix), and
second ,(Augusta) legions.
The expression of Tacitus, that Britain had long been
2 "Cunctator natura, nemo rei militaris callidior habe
batur."--Taciti Hist., lib. xiv. c. 20.
the field for the employment of the great generals and picked
armies of the empire, 3 may be readily understood by merely
reading over the names of the Roman commanders who were
successively entrusted with the conduct of war - Aulus Plautius,
Geta, Vespasian and Titus, Qstorius Scapula, Suetonius Paulinus.
Cerealis, Julius Frontinus, Julius Agricola, Sallustius,
Lucullus, under whom the island was lost, and the Roman armies a
second time withdrawn to the Continent, A.D.86; from which time
till A.D.118 we have but one solitary Roman name occurring in
British history, Neratius Marcellus. From A.D.43 to A.D.86
sixty pitched battles were fought. "The series of invasions and
sanguinary conflicts," observes Smith in his "Ancient Religions,"
4 "between the Romans and Britons have no parallel in any age or
country." "We are able to perceive," writes Richardson," from
the partial story furnished by the invaders themselves, that
conquest was never more dearly attempted than in the case of
Britain by the Romans. By no people was every inch of country at
any age contested with more bravery and surrendered more
stubbornly than by the aboriginal fathers of this isle. They had
become a very populous nation, so versed in military tactics as
to meet the armies, which had been carrying the Roman banners
over the most famed and intellectual quarters of the world, on
such formidable terms, as to render victory at every encounter
little better than defeat. They had settled laws and
institutions, were distinguished for an ardent love of liberty,
in defence of which the highest degree of valour and selfdevotion
were on all occasions manifested. It is certain they reverenced
the laws by which they had been long governed, and evinced
profound homage for the memory of their forefathers: nor can we
less credit their un-
3 "Magai duces, egregii exercitus."--Tacitus, Annal., lib. ii.
daunted energy against the mercenary and implacable plunderers of
the world, against whose experienced arms they had to contend. A
man must be a barbarian himself to suppose that such a nation
could be barbarous. The idea is simply ludicrous." 5
This firm resistance to the Roman arms was mainly due to the
national religion - to Druidism, which acted then much the same
as Protestantism did on the British mind in the popish invasion
of the Armada. Druidism had been persecuted by pagan Rome on the
Continent as Protestantism in the Tudor era was by papal Rome:
both had their headquarters and stronghold in Britain, both had
common points admirably suited to the native bent and genius of
the British race; both were religions of freedom; and both were
thoroughly identified with British independence and grandeur. The
Druid, indeed, regarded the Roman mythologic religion with much
the same mixture of contempt and hatred that a strong Protestant
does still the image system and inquisition practices of the
Papacy. "When the Romans," observes Cleland, "effected a
footing in Britain, they found in Druidism a constant and
implacable enemy to their usurpation. They would have been glad
to introduce their religion, but to that point there was an
invincible obstacle in the horror and contempt of the natives for
a religion formed by a corruption of their own allegories; which
made the name of their heathen gods as familiar to them as Julius
Caesar states, but in a sense which excluded them from reception
in a divine one." 6
The Briton soon perceived the fact that Christianity and
Druidism were the two religions persecuted by Rome. The gathering
prejudice against the former, because the Aristobulean mission
came from Rome, gave way to strong
5 Richardson's Historian, p.10.
6 Cleland's Ancient Celtica, p.13.
predilections in its favour. A large class of Britons, it is
true, cared as little then, as now, for religion in itself, but
they were ardent patriots, and Druidic because patriots; they
were indifferent what the national religion was, provided it was
thoroughly anti-foreign, anti-Roman - that it was thoroughly
British. Nothing, therefore, served so much to recommend
Christianity and extend it in Britain, as its persecution by
Rome. Common oppression drove the two religions into each other's
arms, and finally united them in so indissoluble a union, that we
cannot now separate in British Christianity the Druidic from the
Christian element. Two events now occurred which crowned the
national hatred towards both the arms and religion of Rome, and,
in the same degree, disposed Druidism to identify its sufferings
with those of Christianity - these were the Boadicean outrage and
the Menai massacre.
Orders were issued from Rome to Suetonius Paulinus to
extirpate, at any cost, the chief seat of Druidism among the
Cymry, or Western Britons. Seneca, who still, in some respects,
acted as Nero's adviser, demanded repayment, at the same time, of
his loan to the Iceni, charging exorbitant interest. The Icenic
senate demurred; whereon Caius Decius, the Roman praefect at
Caistor, was instructed to take possession of all the temples,
castles, and palaces belonging to the state. These orders were
vigorously executed. Prasutagus, the king, dying in the midst of
these measures, left Nero co-heir, with his two daughters, to his
accumulated treasures. On the pretext that the whole of the royal
hoard came under the denomination of public property, Decius
proceeded to seize it. Resistance being made, the legionaries
stormed the palace, perpetrated the most inhuman outrages on the
persons of Queen Victoria and her daughters, and carried the
treasures off to the Castra. Not content with these atrocities,
Decius confiscated, in direct violation of the Claudian treaty,
the estates of many of the Icenic blaenorion, or nobility. The
Iceni sent Venusius to Arviragus, adjuring the Roman
protectorate, and placing themselves and the Coraniaid at his
disposal. Suetonius, meanwhile, by forced marches along the
Wyddelian road, had reached the banks of the Menai. On either
side extended the myvyrion, or colleges, and the cemeteries of
the ancient religion, the tumuli of which are yet traceable. Here
reposed, between the soaring ramparts of Snowdon, the sacred
mountain, the Zion of Cymru, and the blue waters of the
unexplored Atlantic, the fathers of the British Isle: chiefs
whose ashes for fifteen hundred years had never been desecrated
by the tramp of a foreign foe; arch-druids, the depositaries of
the hoary wisdom of the East; kings whose Cimbric names had
carried terror over the continents of Europe and Asia. Through
these sanctuaries of so many and such ancient memories, the
regulated march of the mailed legions of Rome now resounded.
Anglesey was then known as Mon, and ecclesiastically, from the
number of Druidic groves which covered it, sweeping down to the
margin of the Menai, as Ynys Tywyll, the dark isle. The massacre
of the Druidic priests and priestesses which ensued is
graphically described by Tacitus. It was a complete surprise.
Effecting the passage of the Menai, opposite the present seat of
the Marquis of Anglesey (Plas Newydd), Seutonius gave the
colleges to the flame and their inmates to the sword, the
resistance attempted by the native force on the spot being easily
overcome. The myvyrion were levelled with the soil, and for many
nights and days the waters of the Menai were illuminated with the
glare of the conflagrations of the sacred luci - the favourite
haunts of Druidic meditation and philosophy. Tacitus endeavours
to palliate this foul wholesale assassination of the ministers of
religion, by stating that the Druids were in the habit of
sacrificing the Roman prisoners of war on their altars. The
Romans themselves, we know, after exhibiting them in triumph,
slaughtered every captive king and chief in the Tarpeian
dungeons, whilst the privates were condemned in thousands to
butcher each other on the public altar, or the arena of the
circus, in the gladiatorial games - even the vestal virgins
smiling on the sanguinary holocausts. The immolation, on the
other hand, of Roman prisoners by the Druids, rests on the
solitary assertion of an enemy who, with a like scandalous
indifference to truth, terms almost in the same page the
Christian religion itself "a destructive superstition. 7"
The news of the massacre was no sooner diffused through
Britain than it excited the nation to frenzy. The war from this
moment became a religious war; a crusade accompanied with all the
frightful and remorseless cruelties on either side which have in
all ages distinguished such hostilities. 8 The Iceni and
Coranidae had entirely forfeited the name of Britons, and their
oppression alone might have been regarded in the light of a just
retribution, but the Menai massacre merged all other feelins in
one torrent of universal indignation and horror. Boadicea soon
found herself at the head of 120,000 men in arms. The Roman
accounts impress us vividly with the profound gloom in which
7 Suppose we knew nothing more of the Jewish dispensation and of
the Levitical priesthood than we find in Greek and Latin authors,
it must be confessed we should have either to remain in total
ignorance, or to embrace very absurd misconceptions. It may,
however, be added, that the Greeks were equally unjust towards
the Romans, for no Greek writer deigns to mention the name of any
of their authors, or, indeed, to suppose that they had any
literature at all.
8 In the Boadicean war, states Tacitus, no quarter was given or
asked on either side: "Neque enim capere aut venumdare alludve
quod belli commercium sit," &c.--Annal., lib: xiv. c. 29--39.
were plunged, by the heavy shadows of the forthcoming disasters.
Portent on portent is recorded. At Colchester the statue of
Victory, like that of Dagon at Joppa, fell backward and was
shattered to fragments. A Pythoness, agitated, like Cassandra on
the eve of the fall of Troy, with the insuppressible spirit of
divination, caused the streets to re-echo with the cry - "Death
is at hand." In the senate-house the British warcry, uttered by
invisible tongues, terrified and dispersed the councillors. The
theatres resounded with the shocks and groans of a field of
battle. In the waters of the Thames appeared the mirage of a
Roman colony subverted and in ruins. The channel between Dover
and Calais ran at high tide with blood. On the tide receding, the
sands revealed, in long lines, the impressions of files of bodies
laid out for burial. The Menai massacre had, in fact, terrified
the consciences of its perpetrators, as it had roused to fury the
passions of the whole Druidic population.. The return of Caradoc
also about this period to Siluria, though bound by solemn
stipulation, which he faithfully observed, not to bear arms again
against Rome, augmented the general commotion. The British army,
assembled at Caer Llyr (Leicester) under Venusius, was harangued
by Boadicea in person. Boadicea was a near relative of Claudia.
We have seen the latter princess cultivating the "belles
lettres," throwing her palace open to Martial and the "iterati"
of the capital of Europe, receiving apostles, establishing the
first Christian Church in her own household, uniting the graces
of religion with refined art and high personal accomplishments.
This is the royal Christian lady, such as we should expect to
find, presiding, surrounded by the elite of Roman society, over
the household of a Roman senator of ample possessions and
Dion Cassius gives us a sister picture of her cousin
the Druidic queen, under very different circumstances during the
same year in Britain. It is a grand and imposing composition,
quite unique in history. Greece and Rome shew us nothing like it.
The Maid of Orleans, in more modern times, is the only approach
to it, but all the terrible features are supplanted by gentler
ones. We see a queen, stung to madness by the wrongs which most
nearly affect womanhood, leading a whole nation to battle; the
sense of injury has changed her whole nature into that of a
Bellona, an incarnate goddess of war, and she lives only for
revenge. In her eyes every Roman is a monster already doomed. She
would have been less than woman not to have felt her dishonour,
more than human not to have panted for the hour of retribution.
"Boadicea," writes Dion, "ascended the general's tribunal: her
stature exceeded the ordinary height of woman; her appearance
itself carried terror; her aspect was calm and collected, but her
voice had become deep and pitiless. Her hair falling in long
golden tresses as low as her hips, was collected round her
forehead by a golden coronet; she wore a tartan dress fitting
closely to the bosom, but below the waist expanding in loose
folds as a gown; over it was a chlamys, or military cloak. In her
hand she bore a spear. She addressed the Britons as follows." -
We give only her peroration:--
"I thank thee! I worship thee! I appeal to thee a woman to a
woman, O Andraste! I rule not, like Nitocris, over beasts of
burden, as are the effeminate nations of the East, nor, like
Semiramis, over tradesmen and traffickers, nor, like the
man-woman Nero, over slaves and eunuchssuch is the precious
knowledge these foreigners introduce amongst us - but I rule over
Britons, little versed indeed in craft and diplomacy, but born
and trained to the game of war: men who, in the cause of liberty,
stake down their lives, the lives of their wives and children,
their lands and property. Queen of such a race, I implore thine
aid for freedom, for victory over enemies infamous for the
wantonness of the wrongs they inflict, for their perversions
of justice, for their contempt of religion, for their insatiable
greed; a people that revel in unmanly pleasures, whose affections
are more to be dreaded and abhorred than their enmity. Never let
a foreigner bear rule over me or these my countrymen: never let
slavery reign in this island. Be thou for ever, O goddess of
manhood and of victory, sovereign and queen in Britain. 9"
Colchester was carried on the first assault by the British
army. The temple, garrisoned by the veterans, held out for two
days, then shared the same fate. Petilius Cerealis, the Roman
lieutenant, was defeated, with the loss of the ninth legion, at
Coggeshall (Cocci Collis). Cerealis himself, with a few horsemen,
escaped into camp. The municipal town of Verulam was then
stormed, gutted, and burnt. London had received a Roman garrison,
under the name of a colony, within its walls. Against it the
British army, now swelled to 230,000 men, directed its vengeance.
A battle was fought and lost in its defence, at Ambresbury,
between Waltham and Epping. 10 Such of the inhabitants as
possessed the means fled, at the approach of the British Queen,
to Regnum and Rutupium. The rest, including the Roman citizens
and foreign merchants, took refuge with the garrison in the
fortifications of the Praetorium, extending from the temple of
Diana to the White Mount. The ramparts were escaladed, the city
fired, public and private edifices reduced indiscriminately to
ashes, the walls levelled, and above 40,000 residents put to the
9 Dion Cassius, "Xiphilini Excerpta," printed in the government
"Monumenta Britannica," ad an. 58,59.
10 The spot of Boadicea's camp is approached across the old
Ermine Street by the Camlet (Battle-way). Its figure is described
in Cromwell's "Colchester," vol. i. p.32 as irregular,
containing twelve acres, surrounded by moats and high ramparts,
overgrown with oaks and hornbeams.
behind this terrible example of a metropolis in conflagration,
quenched with blood, Victoria swept westward to intercept
Paulinus. Tacitus records but two, Dion many engagements, between
her and the Roman forces. Her British epithet, Buddig, or Vuddig
(the Victorians), implies that in more than one battle success
followed her standard. Tacitus localizes the last battle or the
margin of Epping forest - a plain error. The British traditions
place it on Oe Wyddelian road, near the modern town of Newmarket,
in Flintshire. The names still attached to the various sites of
the field confirm this statement. Here are "Cop Paulinus," the
"Hill of Arrows," the "Hill of Carnage," the "Hollow of Woe,"
the "Knoll of the Melee," the "Hollow of Execution," the "Field
of the Tribunal," the "Hollow of No Quarter." Half-a-mile further
is a monolith, the "Stone of Lamentation," and on the road to
Caerwys was formerly - now removed to Downing - the "Stone of the
Grave of Vuddig."
Turning to the pages of Dion, we read the description of a
conflict such as these names suggest a deadly melee of
legionaries, auxiliaries, archers, cavalry, charioteers,
mingled together and swaying to and fro in all the heady currents
of a long-sustained and desperate combat. Towards sunset the
fortune of the day was decided in favour of the Romans. The
Britons, driven back on their intrenchments, left a large number
dead on the field, or prisoners in the hands of the enemy. They
prepared, however, to renew the conflict, but in the interim,
Victoria died, by poison according to Tacitus - in the course of
nature according to the Greek historian, who adds that her
obsequies were celebrated with extraordin ary magnificence. Her
death little affected the spirit or resources of the western and
northern Britons, who continued hostilities with unabated vigour
under Arviragus, Venusius, and Gwallog, or Galgacus. 11 Harassed
by the same anxieties that had undermined the constitution of
Ostorius Scapula, Paulinus, at the expiration of the year A.D.
61, resigned his command to Petronius Turpilianus. The whole of
the Roman empire elsewhere continued to enjoy tranquility, Syria
alone excepted, the disturbances in which were pacified in a few
months by Corbulo. Whatever emperor occupied the throne, the
military service was never deficient in generals of the highest
order of ability. The war had now lasted eighteen years, and the
Roman province was still limited by the Exe and Severn westward
and the Humber on the north. Even within these lines its bounds
fluctuated with the success of reverses or the imperial arms. 12
11 We have elsewhere observed that the gallant and successful
resistance of Britain to the Roman invasions was mainly due to
the patriotic spirit and exalted doctrines with regard to the
indestructibility of the soul breathed by their Druidic religion.
Seneca was the indirect cause of the Boadicean war. His nephew
Lucan, in the first book of Pharsalic, attributes the British
fearlessness of death to Druidic teaching in the following fine
"Certe populi quos despicit Arctus.
Felices errore suo, quos ille timorum
Maximus haud urget, lethi metus. Inde ruendi
In ferrum mens prona vivis animaeque capaces
Mortis et ignavum rediturae parcere vita."
Cicero had noted the fact before--"In proelio morituri exultant
Cimbri."--Tuscul. Disp., lib. ii.
12 "Non poterant Britanni sub Romana ditioni teneri," is the
frank admission of the Augustini Scriptores, p.68.
Such is the history of Britain, that so many English historians
till late, wanted to ignore and forget. Yet at the same time for
stood in London (and to this very day) in honor of Boadicea, her
statue in her chariot, leading the British forces against the
I have the BBC movie on "Boadicea." It is a Hollywood type
production and shows the WHY as to the rise of this woman against
the Roman forces.
Recently also (writing in 2012) was the Hollywood movie "The
Eagle" which shows the power and might of the tribes of Scotland
in so defeating the Romans that General Adrian of Rome needed to
build a wall across northern England to keep the Scots and Pits
from coming down and driving the Romans back to the continent of
Europe, so determined were they that the Romans would never rule
It was by treaty NOT conquest that Rome occupied what we now know
as the land of England. The British still kept their laws and
kings and way of life, which became Christian. When Rome left
England, the only thing that was ever left of Roman society was
its brokem down building and some of its roads. The CULTURE of
Roman NEVER took hold in Christian Britain.
To be continued with "The Tracing up of the ancient Royal Church
of Britain to its Apostolic Foundation."