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SELECTED AND EDITED
(FROM THE ROMAN CONQUEST TO THE REVOLUTION OF 1688)
The required books of the C. L. S. C. are recommended by a Council of six. It must, however, be understood that recommendation does not involve an approval by the Council, or by any member of it, of every principle or doctrine contained in the book recommended.
Copyright, 1886, by PHILLIPS & HUNT, 805 Broadway, New York.
THE history of England really begins with the conquest of the island of Britain, in the fifth and sixth centuries of our era, by some German tribes known as the Jutes, the Saxons, and the Angles —the last ultimately giving their name to the whole country-Angleland, Engla-land, England. It is necessary, however, to go back little in order to understand the condition of both the conquered and conquerors at the time of the invasion.
Britain, at the opening of its history, was inhabited by the Celts, a race which, at that time, was spread over a large portion of western Europe. During the first century of the Christian era, the greater part of it was conquered by the Romans, and was held by them as a province of the empire for about three hundred and fifty years. In spite of this long occupation, however, the Roman civilization did not strike deep root in the island. Perhaps because it was her latest conquest in the west, perhaps because she did not find it worth her while to make the effort, Rome, in fact, never succeeded in incorporating the Celts of Britain into her system, as she had succeeded in incorporating the Celts of Gaul. The inhabitants of Britain, while they accepted Christianity, the religion of the conquerors, and submitted to the Roman rule, kept for the most part their native customs, and above all their native speech, which is still spoken in some portions of the island. When Rome, pressed by dangers nearer home, was compelled to withdraw her army from Britain, about the year 402, the Romanized Britons were left to defend themselves. They succeeded in maintaining their independence for a time; but, long accustomed as they had been to rely on foreign protection, and apparently without any national organization, they were unable to resist either the attacks of the Picts from the north, who had never come under the Roman sway, or the inroads of the German tribes from the east. The latter proved to be the more dangerous, and, in the end, the successful enemy.
The German invaders came from the Baltic lands lying about the mouths of the Elbe and the Weser. They were heathen, and, unlike their brethren who invaded the continental provinces of Rome, they had never been brought into contact with the Roman civilization. They had, therefore, no reverence either for the religion or the institutions which they found in Britain ; and, as the Britons, though unorgan.