« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
the Ports, on the S. E. coast of England, under the title of Warden of the Cinque Ports, from his presiding over five ports. Hastings is the chief of these ports, which, with it's members, Winchelsea, Rye, Romney, Hythe, Dover, and Sandwich, is obliged to find 21 ships, within 40 days after the King's summons, 'with 21 able men in each ship, well-furnished, and well-armed for the King's service; they are to stay 15 days in the said service, at their own charge, but, if their attendance be longer required, they are to be paid by the King. The suddenness and boldness displayed by the Saxons, in their descents on the coast, were as remarkable, as the address and knowledge, with which their schemes were concerted : hence, they were generally successful in their disembarkations, notwithstanding the watchfulness of the Romans, whose troops, though they might check their piracies, could not, from the ingenuity and skill of the Saxons, wholly prevent them.
2. The same general decay, which, in the fourth century, exposed the Northern frontier of the Roman empire to invasion, at every point, tempted the Picts and Scots to make a series of cruel and desolating inroads upon Britain ; and it was only by the abilities of the brave Theodosius, that they were prevented from making themselves 'masters of the whole island. This celebrated general, the father of a line of emperors, found it no very difficult task to meet the scattered and desultory warfare of the Barbarians; the prudent spirit, and consummate art, which he displayed in his two campaigns against them, successively rescued every part of the Province from their rapacious cruelty. He diligently restored the cities and fortifications, and, with a strong hand, confined the trembling Caledonians to the Northern extremity of the island; perpetuating, by the name, and settlement of the province Valentia, the glorious reign of Valentinian'. But, in the progressive decline of the empire, the Britons were again exposed to all the calamities of foreign war, and domestic tyranny, by the brutal administration of their rulers, and by the almost irresistible fury of the Barbarians of the land and sea. At last, whilst Italy was ravaged by the Goths, and the provinces beyond the Alps were oppressed by a succession of feeble and corrupt tyrants, the British Island separated itself from the body of the Roman Empire. The regular forces, which guarded this remote province, had been gradually withdrawn for the more urgent purpose of protecting the seat of dominion; and Britain was abandoned, without defence, to the Saxon pirates, and the savages of Ireland and Caledonia (A. D. 409). The Britons, reduced to this extremity, no longer relied on the tardy, and doubtful aid of a declining monarchy: they assembled in arms, expelled the invaders, and rejoiced in the important discovery of their own strength. The independence of Britain was soon afterwards confirmed by Honorius himself, the lawful Emperor of the West; and the separation was, therefore, unembittered by the reproach of tyranny, or rebellion : on the contrary, the claims of allegiance and protection were succeeded by the mutual, and voluntary offices of national friendship. The Britons are thought to have been governed, from this time, till the descent of the Saxons, by the authority of the clergy, the nobles, and the municipal towns.
3. About 40 years after the dissolution of the Roman government, Vortigern obtained the supreme, though precarious, command, of Britain. This unfortunate monarch has been almost unanimously condemned, for the weak and mischievous policy of inviting a formidable stranger, to repel the vexatious inroads of a domestic foe; but he could only balance the various evils which assaulted, on every side, his throne and people. For the Picts and Scots, encouraged by the departure of the Romans, and meeting with little resistance from the lethargic Britons, possessed themselves of the whole Northern part of the Island, committing those cruel and merciless massacres, by which their invasions were always distinguished, over more than half the country. The Saxons, on the other hand, now no longer kept in check by the Roman garrisons, were hovering round the coast in those boats, with which they boldly ventured to meet the storms of the German Ocean, the English Channel, and the Bay of Biscay, though only constructed with the lightest timber, covered with wicker and hides. These boats were flat bottomed, and drew so little water, that they were easily taken a considerable way up the rivers, and were, besides this,
so light, as to be readily carried over land, from one place to another. The daring spirit of the Saxon pirates braved the perils both of the sea, and the shore : they had long since acquired an accurate knowledge of the maritime provinces of the West, and so extended the scenes of their depredations, that the most sequestered places had no reason to presume on their security. The policy of Vortigern, then, may deserve either praise, or excuse, if he preferred the alliance of those Barbarians, whose naval power rendered them the most dangerous enemies, and the most serviceable allies. He engaged Hengist and Horsa, two Saxon chiefs of the race of Odin (or Woden), by an ample stipend, to undertake the defence of Britain ; they readily consented, and having arrived in Britain (A. D. 449), their intrepid valour soon delivered the country from the Caledonian invaders. The Isle of Thanet, a secure and fertile district, was allotted for the residence of these German auxiliaries; and they were supplied, according to the treaty, with a plentiful allowance of clothing and provisions. This favourable reception soon drew forth reinforcements of their countrymen; some of whom, by the advice of the crafty Hengist, were permitted, after having ravaged the Orkneys, to settle in the neighbourhood of the Picts, on the coasts of Lothian and Northumberland, at the opposite extremity of the devoted land. It was easy to see, but it was impossible to prevent, the impending evils; the two nations were soon divided, and exasperated by mutual jealousies; the causes of fear and hatred were inflamed into an irreconcileable quarrel, and the Saxons flew to arms.
4. Hengist, who boldly aspired to the conquest of Britain, exhorted his country. men to embrace the glorious opportunity: he painted, in lively colours, the fertility of the soil, the wealth of the cities, the pusillanimous temper of the natives, and the convenient situation of a spacious, solitary island, accessible, on all sides, to the Saxon fleets. The successive colonies, which issued, in the period of a century, from the mouths of the Elbe, the Weser, and the Rhine, were principally composed of three valiant tribes, or nations, of Germany; the Jutæ (who passed over from Scandinavia, into that part of the Cimbric Chersonese, now called Jutland, and thence into Britain), the Saxones, and Angli; or, as they are called, in the Anglo-Saxon language, the Jotas, Seaxan, and Englas. The Jutes, who fought under the peculiar banner of Hengist, assumed the merit of leading their countrymen in the paths of glory, and of erecting, in Kent, the first independent kingdom. Many heroes van. quished, and fell in the invasion ; but only seven victorious leaders were able to maintain the title of kings. Seven independent thrones, the Saxon Heptarchy, were founded by the conquerors (A. D. 455-582), and seven families, one of which has been continued, by female succession, to our present Sovereign, derived their equal, and sacred lineage, from Odin, the god of war. One of these states appears to have generally attained an ascendancy over the others, which, though it was undefined and fluctuating, furnished it's ruler with the official title of Bretwalda, which, in the Saxon language, signifies Wielder of the Britons.
5. After a war of a hundred years, the independent Britons still occupied the principal cities of the inland country, as well as the whole extent of the Western coast, from the wall of Antoninus to the extreme promontory of Cornwall; but their
3 For dread of whom, and for those Picts' annoyes,
He sent to Germany straunge aid to reare;
From whence eftsoones arrived here three hoyes
Hengist and Horsa, well approv'd in warre,
Then they which sought at first their helping hand,
Spenser, Faery Queene, II. x. 61.
resistance became more languid, as the number and boldness of the assailants increased. Winning their way by slow and painful efforts, the invaders advanced from the North, from the East, and from the South, till their victorious banners were united in the centre of the island : beyond the Severn, the Britons still asserted their national freedom, which survived the heptarchy, and even the monarchy of the Saxons. The bravest warriors, who preferred exile to slavery, found a secure refuge in the mountains of Wales: the reluctant submission of Cornwall was delayed for some ages; and a band of fugitives acquired a settlement in Gaul, where they have left their name in the province of Britany. During this century of perpetual, or at least implacable war, much courage and skill were exerted in the defence of Britain : but, amongst all the names of those, who fought in the cause of freedom, that of the illustrious Arthur, the hereditary prince of the Silures, in South Wales, and the elective king of the nation, stands pre-eminent. Resistance, however, as it did not avert, increased the miseries of conquest : and conquest has never appeared more dreadful and destructive, than in the hands of the Saxons, who hated the valour of their enemies, disdained the faith of treaties, and violated, without remorse, the most sacred objects of the Christian worship. But their acts of cruelly and treachery were not confined to the native Britons: the several petty chiefs, jealous of their neighbours' rising power, waged war against each other with unrelenting fierceness, and spilt their kindred blood, as freely as that of their common enemy. The whole Island became one wide scene of disgusting cruelty and oppression, the bare recital of which is shocking to humanity : so much so, that the darkness, which at once conceals the history, and horrors of the early Saxon kings, is scarcely to be regretted. At last, however, the introduction of Christianity, in some measure alleviated the bitter misfortunes, under which the whole land was groaning. Augustine, commonly called the Apostle of the English, was dispatched to Britain, by Gregory the Great, and, having landed in Kent (A. D. 596), was well received by the lawless barbarians. He found both the Christian religion, and the British language, extinct in the provinces of the Heptarchy; a convincing proof of the ferocious and exterminating warfare, which had been desolating the country for nearly a hundred and fifty years. He succeeded in abolishing the monsters of heathen impiety; and, finally, by the assistance of a King of Kent, who had married a Christian princess, inculcated the doctrines of Christianity, in the minds of the savage pirates.
6. We have already seen, that there was a sort of monarchy in the Saxon Heptarchy. This office, called Bretwalda, had been successively held, during a period of 300 years, by seven chiefs, viz. a king of the South Saxons, one of the West Saxons, one of Kent, one of the East Angles, and three of Northumberland ; and was, evidently, tending towards an hereditary government. The Kingdom of the West Saxons had been laboriously founded by Cerdic, one of the bravest of the Children of Woden; but it required the persevering efforts of three martial generations to raise it to it's greatest height. Many years afterwards (A. D. 800), the West Saxons were ruled by Egbert, the lineal descendant of Cerdic, and the common ancestor of all the dynasties, which have since filled the throne of England; he had long lived at the court of Charlemagne, and had acquired great authority over his fellow-princes of the Heptarchy. He was, at first, satisfied with the honours and influence of Bretwalda, which office, however, he, in the course of time, confined to the line of his own family. Having successively reduced Kent, the South Saxons, East Saxons, and East Angles, and, with some difficulty, brought the Myrcians and Northanhumbrians under his controul, he resolved to unite, under one name, kingdoms which had fallen under one sovereign, and, accordingly, issued an order for calling the Heptarchy of the Saxons, Engla-Land, i. e. Angle-Land, or The Land of the Angles. Hence, in Latin, it is called Anglia, and, in our own tongue, England, from the Angli, the bravest and most numerous of the three nations, who passed over into Britain; for they occupied Northanhumbria and Myrcia, the largest countries, together with East Anglia ; 'whilst the Saxons possessed only East, South, and West, Saxony; and the Jutes only Kent and the I. of Wiht. Hence, from their importance, the whole nation had been, long before, generally called after them, Angles, or, in their own language, Engla-theod, Angel.cyn, Engel-cyn, and Englisc-mon. It may be as well, also, to state here, that they are vulgarly called Anglo-Saxons : and, that they named the Saxons of Germany, Seaxan, or Eald-Seaxe, to distinguish them from themselves. At this time, the name of Britain was lost amongst the inhabitants of the island, and preserved only in books not in common use. Upon
it's taking the name of Engla-Land, the Angles were in the height of their glory, and, according to the revolution of human affairs, hastening to their decline : for the Danes, who had during many years infested our coasts, at last began to desolate the kingdom in the most miserable manner.
7. The Danes are supposed to be the same people mentioned by Ptolemy, in Scandinavia, under the name of Dauciones, or Danciones, and to have communicated their name to the Sinus Codanus, and the I. Codanonia : they, probably, passed over into the Cimbrica Chersonesus, now called Denmark, whence they invaded Gaul and Britain. Their great deity was Thor, a name which bears great affinity to the first syllable of their old appellation, Dau-ciones; and such were their savage habits, that they are said to have offered human victims on his altar, before they proceeded on any expedition : indeed, they seem to have been the lowest kind of barbarians, without either kindred, or family, or home. They scorned the Saxons, az cowardly apostates from the great idol of the North ; and the Saxons, in their turn, still glowing with the zeal of their conversion, regarded their pagan plunderers with peculiar horror, and styled them, in their chronicles, by the degrading title of “ the Heathens." The Danes, however, soon found themselves strong enough to commence their ravages upon England; the rich monasteries and churches excited their cupidity, and they, accordingly, destroyed and pillaged them with all the ferocity of the wildest savages. They plundered the cities, and laid waste the country, through which they passed : they massacred the kings of Myrcia, and East Anglia, and seized upon their dominions, together with the greater part of Northumberland. During the reigns of Ethelwolf, the son of Egbert, and of the two sons of the former king, the history of Britain presents little more than an account of their atrocities. But their progress was at last stopped by the immortal Alfred, Ethelwolf's third son, who, though he was once so reduced as to lie concealed for some time in the Isle of Athelney, burst from his seclusion, and was received by his oppressed people with the greatest enthusiasın. He succeeded in reducing the Danes to obedience, and, for fifteen years after his restoration, England enjoyed complete repose.
8. England, or Engla-Land, as the Saxons called it, was divided, soon after their treacherous attack upon the Britons, into eight kingdoms, of which the two northernmost uniting, it formed a sevenfold government, hence called the Heptarchy (from éntà septem, and åpximperium). Of these seven kingdoms, there were three in the South, three in the centre, and one in the North, of England; Wealon or Wales, the retreat of such Britons as would not yield to their merciless invaders, was never subject to the Saxons. The three Southern kingdoms, were, Cantwara Rice, Suth-Seaxna Rice, and WestSeaxa Rice, which together, corresponded with the ancient Roman province of Britannia Prima. The three central kingdoms were, Myrena Rice, East-Seaxna Rice, and the kingdom of the East-Englas; these three comprehended the ancient Roman province of Flavia Cæsariensis. The Northern kingdom was called Northanhumbra Rice, and contained, not only the Northern part of England, but the Southern part of Scotland, between the Vallum Antonini, and the Cheviot Hills : it corresponded with the two Roman provinces Maxima Cæsariensis, and Valentia. The country inhabited by the Scoti, was named Scotland, and the people themselves were termed Scottas, though the latter appellation
Rice, signifies kingdom, in the Anglo-Saxon tongue, being derived from the same root with the Latin rex.
was likewise applied to the Northern Irish; the roving, plundering Picti, were called Peohtas or Pyhtas. Ireland was known to them under it's old appellation, Hibernia or Ybernia; and Eblana, or Dublin, changed it's name but little in that of Difelin, They called France, Franc-land, and sometimes France.
9. The amount of territory included in the several kingdoms of the Heptarchy, as well as that occupied by the ancient Britons and the Picts, during the dominion of the Baxons, may be seen in the following table :
- - - - 14.690
1.680 West-Seaxna Rice
• 10. When Alfred became sole monarch of England, he divided it into counties, in order to check the outrages of his people, who, under the pretence of acting against the Danes, committed all kinds of robbery : he likewise sub-divided the counties into Hundreds and Tythings, and ordained, that every man should live within some Hundred, and Tything. He also divided the governors of the provinces into two departments, judges (now called justices), and sheriffs : these had cognizance of all matters within their jurisdiction, and by their care and diligence the kingdom enjoyed perfect peace and security in a very short time.
11. The name County is derived from the Latin word Comes, signifying Count, from it's having been under the government of a Count, or Earl; it is now generally used in the same sense with Shire, which comes from the Saxon word Scyre, signifiying a division. Hundreds derived their name, either from each one of them being obliged to find a hundred sureties of the king's peace, or a hundred able men of war; others, however, rather suppose them to have been so called, because onginally composed of a hundred families'. In some parts of the kingdom they are
• Tacitus, in his history of our blue-eyed ancestors (in tanto hominum numero, idem omnibus-truces et cærulei oculi, &c.), seems to describe a Hundred-Court very exactly: Eliguntur in iisdem conciliis et principes, qui jura per pagos vicosque reddunt. Centeni singulis er plebe comites, consilium simul et auctoritas, adsunt.
De Mor. Germ. 12. He, however, leaves the derivation of the term Hundred in doubt; for he likewise says, in alluding to their mode of warfare, In universum æstimanti, plus penes peditem roboris : eoque mixti præliantur, apta et congruente ad equestrem pugnam velocitate peditum, quos ex omni juventute delectos ante aciem locant. Definitur et numerus renteni ei singulis pigis sunt: idque ipsum inter suos vocantur, et quod primo bumerus fuit, jam nomen et honor est.
ld, c. 6.
- - --