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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Heathenism would never have been conquered


If

we wish to point out in general the distinction between the Anglo-Saxon and other German settlements, it lies in this, that they rested neither on the Emperor's authorisation whether direct or indirect, nor on any agreement with the natives of the land. In Gaul Chlodwig assumed and carried on the authority of the Roman Empire;--in Britain it went wholly to the ground. Hence it was that here the German ideas could develop in their full purity, more so than in Germany itself, over which the Frankish monarchy, which had also adopted Roman tendencies, had gained influence.

Just as the natives who would not submit were driven out of the German settlements, so within their boundaries the germs of Christianity, which had already spread in the island, were as good as annihilated. Among the victorious Germans the Northern heathenism existed in full strength. In many names of places, at the water-springs, the watersheds, in the designations of the days of the week, the names of the gods of Germany and the North appear; the kings trace their descent directly from them as their immediate ancestors; the Sagas and poems about them symbolise those battles with the elements, the storm, the sea, and the powers of nature, which are peculiarly characteristic of the Northern mythology. With this, however, arose the question, so important for the history of the world, whether the great territory already won for the ideas of the universal culture and religion of mankind

should be again lost.

Towards the end of the 6th century the epoch began in which, as the German invaders of Gaul had already done, so now those of Spain and Italy, whether Arians or heathens, came over to the Catholic faith of the Provincials. This took place under the mediation of the chief Pontiff, who had raised the city, from which the Empire took its name, to be the metropolis of the Faith. Lombards and Visigoths became as good Catholics as the Franks already were. The relationship of the royal families, which held all Germans in close connexion, and the zeal of Rome, which could not possibly suffer the loss of a province that it had once possessed, now combined to call forth a similar movement among the Anglo-Saxons, yet one which worked itself out in a very different way. Since among the natives a peculiar form of church-life, not unconnected with the Druidic discipline, had arisen, with which Rome would hold no communion, and which rejected all demands of submission, the spiritual enmity of the missionary was united to the national enmity of the conqueror. When a king still heathen, while attacking the Britons, directed his weapons against the monks of Bangor, who (collected on a height) were offering up prayers against him, and massacred them to the number of twelve hundred, the followers of the Roman Mission saw in this a punishment decreed by God for apostasy, and the fulfilment of the prophecies of their apostle.[5] On the other hand British Christian kings also made common cause with the heathen Angles, and wasted with fire and sword the provinces that had been converted by Rome. Had not in the vicissitudes of internal war the native church organisation of the North won influence over the Anglo-Saxons, heathenism would never have been conquered; it would have always found support among the Britons.

When this however had once taken place, the whole Anglo-Saxon name attached itself to the Roman ritual. Among the motives for this change those which corresponded to the naive materialistic superstition of the time


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