Young Folks' History of England HTML version

3. The Angle Children, A.D. 597
The old English who had come to Britain were heathen, and believed in many
false gods: the Sun, to whom they made Sunday sacred, as Monday was to
the moon, Wednesday to a great terrible god, named Woden, and Thursday
to a god named Thor, or Thunder. They thought a clap of thunder was the
sound of the great hammer he carried in his hand. They thought their gods
cared for people being brave, and that the souls of those who died fighting
gallantly in battle were the happiest of all; but they did not care for kindness
or gentleness.
Thus they often did very cruel things, and one of the worst that they did was
the stealing of men, women, and children from their homes, and selling them
to strangers, who made slaves of them. All England had not one king. There
were generally about seven kings, each with a different part of the island and
as they were often at war with one another, they used to steal one another's
subjects, and sell them to merchants who came from Italy and Greece for
Some English children were made slaves, and carried to Rome, where they
were set in the market-place to be sold. A good priest, named Gregory, was
walking by. He saw their fair faces, blue eyes, and long light hair, and,
stopping, he asked who they were. "Angles," he was told, "from the isle of
Britain." "Angles?" he said, "they have angel faces, and they ought to be heirs
with the angels in heaven." From that time this good man tried to find means
to send teachers to teach the English the Christian faith. He had to wait for
many years, and, in that time, he was made Pope, namely, Father-Bishop of
Rome. At last he heard that one of the chief English kings, Ethelbert of Kent,
had married Bertha, the daughter of the King of Paris, who was a Christian,
and that she was to be allowed to bring a priest with her, and have a church
to worship in.
Gregory thought this would make a beginning: so he sent a priest, whose
name was Augustine, with a letter to King Ethelbert and Queen Bertha, and
asked the King to listen to him. Ethelbert met Augustine in the open air,
under a tree at Canterbury, and heard him tell about the true God, and JESUS
CHRIST, whom He sent; and, after some time, and a great deal of teaching,
Ethelbert gave up worshiping Woden and Thor, and believed in the true God,
and was baptized, and many of his people with him. Then Augustine was
made Archbishop of Canterbury; and, one after another, in the course of the
next hundred years, all the English kingdoms learnt to know God, and broke
down their idols, and became Christian.
Bishops were appointed, and churches were built, and parishes were marked
off—a great many of them the very same that we have now. Here and there,
when men and women wanted to be very good indeed, and to give their