The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is
the people versus the banks. — Lord Acton

Story of the English - Helene Guerber




Caesar in Britain

In exchange for the tin from the mines of Wales and Cornwall, the Phoenicians brought the Britons many useful things, and taught them how to make better weapons. But as few people besides the Phoenicians ever came to Britain, the inhabitants progressed very slowly, and were still savages when Julius Caesar, the most famous of Roman generals, conquered Gaul, the country which is now called France.

Hearing from some merchants that the Britons had sent help to the Gauls, Caesar made up his mind to cross the Channel and punish them. Vessels were prepared to carry the Roman legions (or regiments) across the water; and one night, when a favourable wind was blowing, Caesar and his men embarked. Early the next morning they drew near the tall white cliffs at Dover; and, seeing no good landing place there, Caesar bade his men sail eastward along the coast until they came to a shelving beach.

Warned by the merchants that Caesar was coming over to conquer them, the fierce Britons had assembled there. They watched the coming of the Romans, who gazed with surprise at them; for their bodies were painted blue, and they uttered blood-curdling cries as they brandished their spears and shook their war rattles.

Although surprised, the Roman soldiers under Caesar were too hardened warriors to be frightened; and as soon as the water was shallow enough, the standard bearer sprang out and waded ashore, closely followed by his companions. Then the Britons and the Romans had a fierce battle; but in spite of their great bravery, the Britons were defeated and forced to make a treaty with Caesar. As some of the tribes in Gaul had taken advantage of his absence to revolt, Caesar did not remain in Britain to continue his conquests, but hastily recrossed the Channel. When he had put down this rebellion, he found that the Britons did not keep their promises, so he crossed the Channel once more, with a larger army, to force the Britons to obey him. They resisted fiercely, but vainly, under the able leadership of a brave chief named Cassivellaunus.

These two expeditions into Britain were made in the years 55 and 54 B. C., and it was thus that the Romans became masters of the country where the tin mines were situated. Caesar himself wrote an account of both campaigns in his Commentaries, a Latin work which is still read in our schools. In that book the country is called Britannia—a name still used in poetry to-day.

The Britons, thus brought into contact with the Romans for a short time, made some progress; but, instead of keeping the treaty they had made, they proved for a while very rebellious subjects. During the next one hundred years the Romans were too busy elsewhere to pay much attention to them; so it was not till the time of the emperor Claudius that legions were again sent out to their island.

This time the Britons were led by Caractacus, who fought for nine years before he was conquered. The Roman general then took this Briton chief to Rome, where the captive was forced to march in chains in the victor's triumph. As the barbarian slowly passed along the streets of the Eternal City, amid the deafening shouts of the people, he gazed in awe at the beautiful buildings, and bitterly cried: "Alas! How is it possible that a people possessed of such magnificence at home could envy me my humble cottage in Britain?

caractacus
CARACTACUS LED IN TRIUMPH THROUGH ROME.


This remark was repeated to the emperor Claudius, and, although he was not noted for his kind-heartedness, he was so touched by the Briton chief's bravery and homesickness that he set him free, as well as the other captives of his race.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

Early Times
The Druids
The Britons
Caesar in Britain
Queen Boadicea
The Great Walls
The Great Irish Saint
The Anglo-Saxons
Brave King Arthur
The Laws of the Saxons
The Story of St Augustine
Three Great Men
The Danish Pirates
King Alfred and the Cakes
Alfred conquers the Danes
A King's Narrow Escape
The King and the Outlaw
The Monasteries
An Unlucky Couple
St Dunstan
King Canute and the Waves
A Saxon Nobleman
Lady Godiva's Ride
The Battle of Hastings
The Conquest
Lords and Vassals
Death of William
The Brothers' Quarrels
Arms and Armour
The "White Ship"
Matilda's Narrow Escapes
Story of Fair Rosamond
Thomas a Becket
Murder of Thomas a Becket
Richard's Adventures
Richard and the Saracens
The Faithful Minstrel
Death of Richard
The Murder of Arthur
The Great Charter
The Rule of Henry III
A Race
Persecution of the Jews
The Conquest of Wales
A Quarrel with France
The Coronation Stone
The Insolent Favourite
Bruce and the Spider
Death of Edward II
The Murderers punished
The Battle of Crecy
The Siege of Calais
The Age of Chivalry
The Battle of Poitiers
The Peasants' Revolt
Richard's Presence of Mind
A Tiny Queen
Henry's Troubles
Madcap Harry
A Glorious Reign
The Maid of Orleans
The War of the Roses
The Queen and the Brigand
The Triumph of the Yorks
The Princes in the Tower
Richard's Punishment
Two Pretenders
A Grasping King
Field of the Cloth of Gold
The New Opinions
Death of Wolsey
Henry's Wives
The King and the Painter
A Boy King
Lady Jane Grey
The Death of Cranmer
A Clever Queen
Elizabeth's Lovers
Mary, Queen of Scots
Captivity of Mary Stuart
Wreck of the Spanish Armada
The Elizabethan Age
Death of Elizabeth
A Scotch King
The Gunpowder Plot
Sir Walter Raleigh
King and Parliament
Cavaliers and Roundheads
"Remember"
The Royal Oak
The Commonwealth
The Restoration
Plague and Fire
The Merry Monarch
James driven out of England
A Terrible Massacre
William's Wars
The Duke of Marlborough
The Taking of Gibraltar
The South Sea Bubble
Bonny Prince Charlie
Black Hole of Calcutta
Loss of the Colonies
The Battle of the Nile
Nelson's Last Signal
The Battle of Waterloo
First Gentleman of Europe
Childhood of Queen Victoria
The Queen's Marriage
Wars in Victoria's Reign
The Jubilee