Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nature of the Conquest

The three peoples who effected this conquest were afterwards known amongst themselves by the common name of English, a name which was originally equivalent to Angle, whilst amongst the whole of the remaining Celtic population they were only known as Saxons. The mode in which the English treated the Britons was very different from that of the Romans, who were a civilised people and aimed at governing a conquered race. The new-comers drove out the Britons in order to find homes for themselves, and they preferred to settle in the country rather than in a town. No Englishman had ever lived in a town in his German home, or was able to appreciate the advantages of the commerce and manufacture by which towns are supported. Nor were they inclined to allow the inhabitants of the Roman towns to remain unmolested in their midst. When Anderida was captured not a Briton escaped alive, and there is good reason to believe that many of the other towns fared no better, especially as the remains of some of them still show marks of the fire by which they were consumed. What took place in the country cannot be certainly known. Many of the British were no doubt killed. Many took refuge in fens or woods, or fled to those portions of the island in which their countrymen were still independent. It is difficult to decide to what extent the men who remained behind were spared, but it is impossible to doubt that a considerable number of women were preserved from slaughter. The conquerors, at their landing, must have been for the most part young men, and when they wanted wives, it would be far easier for them to seize the daughters of slain Britons than to fetch women from the banks of the Elbe.

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