Search for keyword

books to read
Books on this subject


The History of the Primitive Church of England.
Book One, Chapter Four

Translated by Rev. William Hurst, 1814.

Chapter IV

Lucius, King of the Britons, writing to Pope Eleutherius, desires to become a Christian.

Mark Anthony Verus, the 14th from Augustus, with his brother Aurelius Commodus, were chosen Emperors, in the year of our Lord 156. In whose reign,when Eleutherius, a holy man, presided as Pontiff over the Roman church, Lucius, King of the Britons, sent a letter to him, requesting that by his means he might become a Christian. He immediately obtained the effect of his pious request; and the Britons preserved in peace, entire and unviolated, the faith which they had received, till the time of the Emperor Diocletian.


Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum:
The History of the Primitive Church of England.
Book I, Chapter 5

Translated by Rev. William Hurst, 1814.

Chapter V

The Emperor Severus divides that part of Britain which he had subdued from the rest, by a trench and rampart.

SEVERUS, who was born in the town of Lepti, in the country of Tripoli, in Africa, was the 17th from Augustus, who obtained the imperial diadem in the year of our Lord 189. He held it seventeen years. Being naturally of a martial disposition, he was always engaged in many wars, in which he displayed great industry and valour.

Returning therefore victorious from the civil wars, which he had found great difficulty in terminating, he was constrained to pass over into Britain, by the revolt of almost all the confederates; where, after successfully fighting many hard battles with them, he resolved to separate that part of the island which he had subdued from the rest which remained unconquered, not by a wall, (as some imagine,) but by a rampart. For a wall is usually built of stones; but a rampart, with which camps are fortified to repel the attacks of an enemy, is made of green turf; with which, cut out of the earth, something like a wall is raised, on which strong pallisades of wood are fixed, and in front of which a deep trench is dug. This kind of fortification Severus extended from sea to sea, and strengthened it with a great number of castles; soon after which, he fell sick at York, and died there, leaving two sons, Bassian and Geta. Geta, having been afterwards condemned as an enemy to the state, was put to death; and Bassian became Emperor, and took the surname of Antoninus.

Chapter VI.

The Emperor Diocletian raises a violent Persecution against the Christians.

Diocletian having been chosen Emperor by the army, in the year of our Lord 286, was the thirty-third in succession from Augustus. He associated Maximian, surnamed Herculius, with him in the empire, and reigned twenty years. In their time, Carausius, a person of very low extraction, but a very able and skilful general, having been appointed to guard the sea coasts, then much infested by frequent invasions of the Franks and Saxons, acted in a manner more detrimental than profitable to the state. For, instead of restoring what he recovered from the enemy to the right owners, he kept it all for himself; and, by neglecting to repair the fortifications, was even suspected of wilfully giving these invaders an opportunity of infesting and plundering the country. Being therefore ordered by Maximian to be apprehended and put to death, he usurped the sovereign power, and possessed himself of Britain, which he governed with great valour for seven years; till he was at length assassinated by the treachery of his colleague Allectus: who, having thus obtained possession of the island, governed it three years, till his usurpation was suppressed by Asclepiodotus, the captain of the Pretorian bands, who thus, at the end of ten years, recovered Britain.

In the mean time, Diocletian in the East, and Maximian Herculius in the West, raising the tenth persecution since that of Nero, commanded the churches to be destroyed, and the Christians to be put to death; which persecution continued longer, and was carried on with greater cruelty than all the others before it, for ten years incessantly; by burning churches, and proscribing and assassinating innocent Christians. Thus at length was Britain, as well as other places, exalted to the highest honour of gloriously confessing the faith, by the martyrdom of many of its inhabitants.