Front Matter 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

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The Story of St. Augustine

The Anglo-Saxons had been masters of England for many years, when Ethelbert, the third bretwalda, married a French princess, Bertha, who was a Christian.

In the wars between the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, many captives were taken, and these were often sold as slaves. Besides this, many poor men were compelled by their hunger to sell themselves and their wives and children into slavery.

We are told that some English boys were brought to Rome by the slave merchants, and exposed there for sale on the market place. A monk named Gregory, who was passing by, stopped to look at them. Struck by the blue eyes, golden hair, and fair complexion of these children, he asked the merchant who they were. The man answered that they were Angles and heathens.

"Oh," cried the monk, "they would be indeed not Angl (Angles), but angeli (angels), if they were only Christians!"

This monk was so pleased, either by his own pun or by the good looks of the young slaves, that he wanted to go to Britain without delay; but his friends would not let him. He did not forget the Angles, however; and when he became pope, soon after, he sent Augustine and forty other monks to preach the gospel to the Angles, or English.

Augustine travelled through Gaul, where he got some men who could act as interpreters, and then landed on the island of Thanet, on the coast of England. From here, he sent a message to Ethelbert, begging for an interview, and asking permission to preach to the people. As Bertha was a Christian, she coaxed her husband to receive Augustine; but the pagan king was so afraid the monk would try to influence him by magic, that he would not receive him indoors, and sat under an oak, fancying that so holy a tree would protect him from all evil spells.

Augustine now advanced with his forty monks, and showed Ethelbert a picture of Christ. Then he preached to the king to such good purpose that he consented to be baptized. Of course all his court followed his example, and we are told that on Pentecost day ten thousand Anglo-Saxons were converted, and that the Christian religion soon took the place of the worship of Woden all through England.

Churches were built in different parts of the country, the greatest being the Cathedral of Canterbury, of which Augustine was the first bishop. There is nothing left of this old building, but the famous Cathedral of Canterbury stands on the very spot that it once occupied. Churches were also built, at this time, in Lon-don, on the sites of Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral; and when we enter these buildings, we like to think that Christians have worshipped on these spots nearly thirteen hundred years.

Canterbury Cathedral


In a very short time, the monks Gregory had sent visited all the different parts of England, and founded churches and monasteries, where many students came to learn all that the monks could teach them. Most of the monks' books were written in Latin, so all the students learned to read and write in that language, rather than in their own. As it had not seemed best to the priests that prayers should be translated into English, the church services were also held in Latin, a language which the common people did not understand.