Young Folks' History of England HTML version

2. The Romans In Britain, A.D. 41—418
It was nearly a hundred years before any more of the Romans came to
Britain; but they were people who could not hear of a place without wanting
to conquer it, and they never left off trying till they had done what they
One of their emperors, named Claudius, sent his soldiers to conquer the
island, and then came to see it himself, and called himself Brittanicus in honor
of the victory, just as if he had done it himself, instead of his generals. One
British chief, whose name was Caractacus, who had fought very bravely
against the Romans, was brought to Rome, with chains on his hands and
feet, and set before them emperor. As he stood there, he said that, when he
looked at all the grand buildings of stone and marble in the streets, he could
not think why the Romans should want to take away the poor rough-stone
huts of the Britons. The wife of Caractacus, who had also been brought a
prisoner to Rome, fell upon her knees imploring for pity, but the conquered
chief asked for nothing and exhibited no signs of fear. Claudius was kind to
Caractacus; but the Romans went on conquering Britain till they had won all
the part of it that lies south of the river Tweed; and, as the people beyond
that point were more fierce and savage still, a very strong wall, with a bank of
earth and deep ditch was made to keep them out, and always watched by
Roman soldiers.
The Romans made beautiful straight roads all over the country, and they built
towns. Almost all the towns whose names end in chester were begun by the
Romans, and bits of their walls are to be seen still, built of very small bricks.
Sometimes people dig up a bit of the beautiful pavement of colored tiles, in
patterns, which used to be the floors of their houses, or a piece of their
money, or one of their ornaments.
For the Romans held Britain for four hundred years, and tamed the wild
people in the south, and taught them to speak and dress, and read and write
like themselves, so that they could hardly be known from the Romans. Only
the wild ones beyond the wall, and in the mountains, were as savage as ever,
and, now and then, used to come and steal the cattle, and burn the houses of
their neighbors who had learnt better.
Another set of wild people used to come over in boats across the North Sea
and German Ocean. These people had their home in the country that is called
Holstein and Jutland. They were tall men, and had blue eyes and fair hair,
and they were very strong, and good-natured in a rough sort of way, though
they were fierce to their enemies. There was a great deal more fighting than
any one has told us about; but the end of it all was that the Roman soldiers
were wanted at home, and though the great British chief we call King Arthur
fought very bravely, he could not drive back the blue-eyed men in the ships;