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

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?



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.