The hero of this book is a Roman-British naval commander in charge of keeping pirates away from the British Isles near the turn of the fourth century. During his watch, the empire is beginning its final collapse. The legionnaires leave Britain, the provinces are left to govern themselves, and eventually he is told to abandon his post. From that point the Celtic Britons are left alone to battle the Scottish Picts and Saxon invaders by themselves.
THE BURNING OF THE VILLA.
"The Count of the Saxon Shore" was a title bestowed by Maximian (collegue of Diocletian in the Empire from 286 to 305 A.D.) on the officer whose task it was to protect the coasts of Britain and Gaul from the attacks of the Saxon pirates. It appears to have existed down to the abandonment of Britain by the Romans.
So little is known from history about the last years of the Roman occupation that the writer of fiction has almost a free hand. In this story a novel, but, it is hoped, not an improbable, view is taken in an important event—the withdrawl of the legions. This is commonly assigned to the year 410, when the Emperor Honorius formally withdrew the Imperial protection from Britain. But the usurper Constantine had actually removed the British army two years before; and, as he was busied with the conquest of Gaul and Spain for a considerable time after, it is not likely that they were ever sent back.
|A. J. C.|