ST. BEDE THE VENERABLE
Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum:
The History of the Primitive Church of England.
Book One, Chapter Two
Translated by Rev. William Hurst, 1814.
The first Invasion of Britain by the Romans, under Caius Julius Cæsar.
Britain was neither resorted to nor known by the Romans till the time of Caius
Julius Cæsar, who, in the year 593 [other MSS more accurately
"693"; the accepted date is 699] from the building of
Rome, the 60th before the birth of Christ, having been elected Consul with
Lucius Bibulus, whilst he conducted the war against the nations of the Germans
and the Gauls, separated only by the river Rhine, came into the province of
the Morini, from which, as we just now observed, is the shortest passage into
this island. Here, having soon equipped a fleet of about 80 ships, large and
small, he sailed over into Britain, where he at first met with a warm
reception from the Britons, who made the most vigorous stand against him, and
greatly harassed him. Afterwards being overtaken by a violent storm, he not
only lost the greatest part of his fleet, but a great portion of his infantry,
and almost all his cavalry.
Returning into France, he put his legions into
winter quarters, and gave orders for building large and small ships of
different descriptions, to the number of 600. Then, passing over again into
Britain, he landed with an immense army, and attacked the Britons; but, whilst
he was engaged in the battle, a sudden tempest arose, by which the ships,
riding at anchor, were either dashed one against another, or driven on the
sands; and 40 of them lost. The rest were with much difficulty repaired.
Cæsar's cavalry was defeated by the enemy at the first charge, and here
Labienus the tribune was killed: but Cæsar, renewing the attack after a
great loss of his men, at length put the Britons to flight.
Thence he marched
as far as the river Thames, which is said to be fordable only in one place.
On the farther side of this river, an immense multitude of the enemy had
assembled, under the command of Cassabelan their general; and fenced the bank,
and almost all the ford under water, with very sharp stakes; the remains of
which stakes are to be seen there to this day. They appear to be about the
thickness of a man's leg, and being cased with lead, remain immovably fixed in
the bottom of the river. The Romans having discovered this stratagem, avoided
the danger by passing over the river at a little distance from them: which
the Britons having perceived, and not daring to meet the shock of the Roman
Legions, fled into the neighbouring woods to conceal themselves; from which
they afterwards frequently sallied out, and greatly harassed the Romans. In
the mean time, the strongest city of the Trinovantes (London), with
Androgorius their general, surrendered to Cæsar, delivering forty hostages to
him. This example was immediately followed by many other cities, which formed
an alliance with the Romans. With their direction and assistance, Cæsar at
length, with much difficulty, took Cassabelan's town, which
was situated between two marshes, fortified by the surrounding woods, and
furnished with all necessaries.
Cæsar, having afterwards returned into
France, and put his legions into winter quarters, was suddenly surrounded and
attacked on all sides by different nations, who rose in rebellion against the