M. (Paul) Rapin de Thoyras.

The history of England : written in French (Volume 1) online

. (page 34 of 360)
Online LibraryM. (Paul) Rapin de ThoyrasThe history of England : written in French (Volume 1) → online text (page 34 of 360)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

perfon, character and conduit of Aujlin, are considered,
it will be hard to believe, he made the progrefs afcribed to
him. Bede, who does not feem willing to lefTen his re-
putation, fays nothing that is very apt to raife in us an
efteem for his preaching. Inftead of embellifhing his hi-
ftory with the heads of Aujlin's firft difcourfe before Ethel-
bert, he is contented with relating only the King's an-
fwer. This gives occafion to fufpect, lie was not over-
fatisfied with that harangue. Moreover, the queftions
which Aujlin wanted the Pope to folve, do not much re-
dound to his honour. This, no doubt, was the reafon
why Bede abridged them as much as poiiible, even to the
rendring them fometimes fo obfeure, that the meaning of
the queftion muft be learnt by the anfwer.

To thefe confederations may be added, that Aujlin in
the height of his fuccefs, for which he is Co greatly ho-
noured, eftablifhed but two Bifhops only, Jujius at Ro-
chejler, and Mellitus at London, though the Pope had ex-
prefly ordered him to fettle Bifhops where-ever there fhould
be occafion. This is a clear evidence, that the progrefs
afcribed to him was not fo confiderable as Gregory ima-
gines. But what can one think of this fame Aujlin, who
the very firft year deferts his mijfion, and goes to Aries to
get himfelf confecrated Archbifhop, when as yet there was
but a handful of Chriftians in England, or rather in the
alone kingdom of Kent? To what end the title of Jrch-
bijhop and Primate, at a time when there was not fo much
as one Biihop in being ? What can one think moreover
of the Pope's anfwer to him concerning the Bifhops of
Gaul, That he alloivs him no manner of jurifdiclion over
them ? May it not be prefumed, that Aujtin, not content
with the Primacy of Great-Britain wherewith the Pope
had honoured him, wanted to extend his jurifdidtion over
Gaul too ? In fine, what can one think of Gregory's let-
ter to him, exhorting him not to be elated at the Gift of
Miracles God had beftowed on him, unlefs Aujlin had
fent him word he had wrought feveral ? But what were
thefe miracles? Would Bede, who has carefully related
thofe of Aidan, Finan, Furfeus, and the other Scotch
Monks, whom he looked upon as Schifmaticks, have
omitted thofe of Aujlin ? And yet he gives us only one,
and that of a later date than Gregory's letter, and the
moft fufpicious that eve*> was, fince by the confeffion of
the fame hiftorian, it was wrought in order to bring the
Britons to the obedience of the Pope ? What opinion can
one have of Aujlin, when it is confidered with what zeal
he laboured to reduce the Britons under the jurisdiction of
the See of Rome, whilft five Saxon kingdoms were fuftered
to grovel in darknefs and idolatry ? To what purpofe did
he complain to the Pope of the want of labourers in fo
plentiful an harvejl, if he did not employ thofe he already
had ? And if he did employ them, where are the fruits of
their labours ? What were their names I Where did they
preach the gofpel ? No hiftorian fays a word of thele
things ; and except Jujlus and Mellitus, who preached at
Rochejler and London, it is not known where he fent his
companions, who according to the general opinion, were
forty in number.

Again, the Converts made by thefe Italian Monks
were not, 'tis to be feared, well grounded in their re-
ligion. This is a natural inference from the apoftacy
of the people of EJfex , Eajl-Anglia , Northumberland,
and Kent itfelf, at a time when, had they been true
Chriftians, they would have given marks of the highe/l
zeal. This makes one think, theii converfion was with-
out any previous initnidtion, and rather the effedt of
fear, or complaifar.ee to their Kings, than of a thorough




Vol. I.


perfwafion and knowledge of the truth. It is therefore
iurprizingly ftrange, that the Converfion of the Englijl)
fhould be afcribed to Aujiin, rather than to Aldan, to Fi-
nan, to Column, to Cedd y to Diuma and the other Scotch
Monks, who undoubtedly laboured much more abundantly
than he. But here lies the cafe. Thefe lajl had not their
Orders from Rome, and therefore muft not be allowed any
Jhare in the glory of this work.

Let us now reflect a little on the manner of the conver-
fion of the EngUjh. In the beginning of Chrijlianity, and
even for the firft three hundred years, the converts gene-
rally confilled of people of the lowejl rank, and we hear
of nothing but Pcrfecution and Death from the Princes and
Ma gi ft rates. Whereas in England, the Kings were the
firjl that embraced the Faith, and by their authority and
example induced their fubjefts to do the fame. In the be-
ginning of the Church of England, we meet with no Mar-
tyrs, except the two Sons of IVulpher King oi' Mercia,
whofe ftory is of very doubtful authority. Whence
could proceed this difference between the Church founded
by the Apoftles themfelves, in fo many parts of the world,
and That founded in England in the Vllth Century?
What is the reafon the Devil lefs vigoroufly obftrufied the
converfion of the EngUjh, than That of fo many other na-
tions, during the life and after the death of the Apojlles ?
Thefe things afford matter for many reflections, which I
fhall not here enter into, but leave to the confideration of
the reader. I fhall only remark, that die eafe wherewith
the converfion of the Englijl} was brought about, extremely
weakens the force of the argument drawn in favour of the
Chrljllan Religion, from the perfections of the Roman

Let a Man confider, fays a famous writer, the eJlabUJh-
ment of Chrljllanlty, that a religion fo contrary to nature
(i), Jhould make its way in the world, by fuch mild and
gentle means, without any violence or conjlraint, and yet
jhould be Jo firmly rooted withal, that it was not in the
power of the mo/1 barbarous torments to compell the Martyrs
to renounce their Faith ; and that all this Jhould be done not
only without the ajfiftance of any Prince, but in direel oppo-
fitlon to all the Kings of the Earth, &c. It is eafy to fee this
argument lofes much of its ftrength when applied to the
converfion of the Englijl).

What ftill affords further matter for our wonder is
this : The Ecclefiajlical Hijlory fpeaks of feveral Saints
in different parts of the world ; but withal tells us, that
fcarce one of them efcaped being terribly perfecuted, or
even lofing his life in the caufe of Truth. Whereas
in England alone, we find in the fpace of two hundred
years an incredible number of Men and IVomen Saints,
who never knew what Pcrfecution meant. Moreover, if
Hiftorians may be credited, thefe Saints, for the moft part,
were endued with the gift of Miracles, though the fwift
progrefs of the Gofpel feemed to render them of little ufe.
But what is more; a confiderable number of thefe fame
Saints were Kings, J^tieens, Princes, Prlncefj'es, or perfons
of the higheft birth and ftations. In the Period above-
mentioned we have feven Kings and feven Queens, to-
gether with eight Princes, and fixteen Princefles, diftin-
guifhed with the title of Saints : Befides ten Kings and
eleven Queens, who refigned their Crozuns to turn Monks,
and who, according to the notions of thole days, might
well be ranked in the number of the Saints. If it be ask-
ed, whence is it that in the Vllth and Vlllth Centuries it
was fo eafy for the Great to procure a Sulntjhip, I can al-
ledge no other reafon, but that SanSiity confifted then in
enriching the Churches and Monajhries, which the Rich
were much better able to do than the Poor.

The EngUjh were no fooner converted, but innume-
rable miracles were wrought among them. They were
fo much in vogue during the two forementioned Cen-
turies, that one or other happened ( if I may fo fay)
every day. Bede's Ecclefiaftical Hillory is full of them ;
lor he was exceeding credulous in fuch matters, as well as
Gregory I. whofe Foible in that refpecf is vifible in his
works. It is no wonder therefore the Aiijfionaries he
fent into England fhould take after him, or that the
EngUjh fhould be as eafy of belief as their Teachers. The
Bencdicline Monks were the perfons that fet all thefe
Miracles on foot : Some out of pure fimplicity, others
with defign to attract to the Monajleries the liberalities
both of High and Loiv. Before the Benedictines were
fpread over the Ifland, the Monks of St. Columba, lefs
given to gain and worldly views, attended wholly to the
lervice of God in the places where they lived in common.
But the Benedictines never refted till they had procured
great numbers of Monafteries with large revenues, and
caufed the Papal Authority to be recognized throughout the
feven kingdoms.

It was not however without great difficulty that the
Popes extended their jurifdiclion over the Northumbrians,
Pitts and Scots, tho' the Roman Pricjls and Monks labour-
ed at it inceflantly. The northern nations could not con-
ceive the neceflity of owning the Bifhop of Rome for uni-
versal Bijhop; and it is certain, before the Synod of IV h it by,
the Britons, Pifis, Scots, Irijh and Northumbrians unani-
moufly declared againft the Pope's authority. Bede fays as
much, when he tells us, fpeaking of King Ojiuy ; He was at
length convinced, that the Church of Rome was the true ea-
thollck and apojiolical Church, tho' he had been educated in
Scotland. As foon as this Prince was prevailed with, he
did all he could to eftablifh the Papal Authority in his do-
minions; and Scotland at laft was carried away with the
torrent, after Egbert an Englijl) Prieft had gained the Monks
of 'Jona.

Upon the Englljh fubmitting to the jurifdiclion of the
Pope, all imaginable care was taken to keep them from
falling off. One of the moft effectual means made ufe of
for that purpofe, was, the not admitting into the govern-
ment of the Church any but Italian Priells or Monks, or
Englijl) ones educated at Rome or in France. This is evi-
dent from the Vth Canon of the fecond Council of Cal-
cuith, which forbids the allowing any Scotch Man to per-
form divine fervice in England. Bede plainly difcovers the
policy of Rome, when he fays, the Pope ordered Abbot
Adrian to attend Theodorus into England, that he might
have an eye over him, for fear that Prelate, being a na-
tive of Cillcla, fhould introduce into the Church of Eng-
land any thing contrary to the cuftoms of Rome.

I have but one remark more to make relating to the
doftrine of the Church of England inthe Vllth and Vlllth
Centuries, and the beginning of the IXth. It is a great
miftake to think the Articles of Faith in the Englljh Church
were the fame with thofe in the Roman at this day. For
inftance, it would be very wrong to imagine the EngUjh
believed, at that time, the abfolute neceflity of Baptijm as
the Romans do at this prefent. If this doctrine had been
received among them, the Council of Calcuith would not
have ordered that facrament to be adminiftred only at Eajlcr
and IVhitJ'ontide. As far from the truth is it to believe the
Englijl) worfhipped Images. The contrary is evident from
a letter the famous Alcuin an Englijhman wrote to Charles
the Great concerning the fecond Council of Nice, where
Image-worjhip was carried to a monftrous height. The
neceflity of Priefts living Jingle, is alio a doitiine unknown
to the Church of England in thofe days, fince it was not
received there till at leaft five hundred years after their con-
verfion. To thefe I might add feveral other inftances;
but as they are not peculiar to England, I fhall only ob-
ferve in general, that all the innovations in the doctrines
of the Church of England, from the converfion of the En-
glljh to the Reformation, owe their original to Rome.

I don't find the Church of England had any thing to do
in the controverfies that were on foot in the Church du-
ring the Vllth and Vlllth Centuries. Among all the Coun-
cils convened in England within that fpace, not one de-
creed any thing relating to the dodf rines of Religion, ex-
cept the Synod of Calcuith, where the condemning the Mo-
nothelites, was ratified. Their way was to read the Canons
of the General Councils, and agree to them. Thus during
thefe two centuries, it does not appear that the Church of
England was troubled with Herefies or Difputes on the
fundamental doctrines of religion. In thofe days, the
Bijhops, Priejls and Monks were more intent upon the
ways and means of augmenting their revenues, than up-
on the ftudy of divinity. There were fome alfo that were
diftinguifhed for holinefs of life, or for zeal in propaga-
ting the Gofpel. I have already mentioned fome few ;
but as I had not an opportunity of making them all known,
I fhall here fubjoin a brief account of three or four that
make a confiderable figure in the Ecclefiajlical Hijlory of

Egbert, an EngUjh Prieft, retiring into Ireland to fol-
low his ftudies, pafled fome time after into Scotland, where
he prevailed with the Monks of "Jona to receive the rules
of the Order of St. Benedict, and acknowledge the papal
authority. Perhaps to this fcrvlce done the See of Rome,
a good part of the encomiums beftowed upon him are ow-
ing. However this be, it is faid that having a defign to
go and preach the Gofpel to the German Saxons, he was
diverted from his purpofe by an exprefs order from hea-
ven. But, as he had the converfion of that Nation
very much at heart, he pitched upon IVilbrod to go in his

IVilbrod being arrived in Germany, Pipin, Mayor of the
Palace of France, fent him into Fricfiar.d, which he had
lately fubdued, to preach the Gofpel. After WilbrodhaA


7 ' <••

Bid.-, 1. J.

c. 27.

1. 5. c. 10.


Bcdc, 1. 5.

(1) This by the By fuppofeg the Cbrifiian Religion in its primitive State to be clogg'd with all thofe Aljttriiua it now labours under, particularly
among the Rmumijls. For furely nothing wurfe, can be faid of Reveal' d Religion, than that it is contrary to Nature, Strji or Rf_ ■ ■


5 C * * <» R °0 »j

Book III.

RefleEiions on the Primitive State, &c.


made fome flay there, he took a Journey to Rome, where
he was confecrated by Pope Sergius I, Biftiop of the Frief-
landers. He fixed his See at Utrecht, of which he was
the firft Bifhop.

Winfrid, an Englijh BenediBine Monk, was fent into Ger-
many, where he alTumed the Name of Boniface. His preach-
ing having met with great Succefs, he was made the firft
Archbifhop of Mentz, and "the Pope's Legate for all Ger-

many. It is faid he was the Son of a Cartwright, and that
the Archbifliops of Mentz for that reafon bear JVhetls in
their Arms. Boniface was barbarouily murdered by the
Pagans in Friefiand in 754 (1). 7^

Guthlack ( 2 ) was the firft Anchoret in England. He made Cuthlack.
choice, for his Retirement, of a Fenny Place in Mercia, 754.'
called Croyland, where the famous Monaflery of that name i'>E"'ph-
was afterwards built (3).

flj Pits rays, he was of Royal Extraction. There is a Colkaion of his Letters extant, particularly his Letter to Etbttdrtd Kine of Mera. ouhliftVi
at Mentz. by Sararms. Du pin. Cent. VIII. * ""■'"'< P«°'"a a

0) He had been a Soldier feven Years, and out of Humanity us'd to return the Enerjiy a third part of the Plunder taken from them.

(3) As the Tranfiator deligns to take notice of all the Hiftorians omitted by Rapin, hr- begins with

NENN1US, Abbot of Banger, luppofed to be one of the fifty Monks that efcaped, wh-n twelve hundred of their Brethren were (lain bv AdiK-d Kin-
of Northumberland. He rlourilh'd about the Year 620; tho' it is faid in the belt Copies of his Book, that he wrote in 850, in 14 AW,,; Rcri, There i\
nothing publiihed of his but his Hijioria Britenum. i> t & '■ * nereis

Next after him comes BEDE, who wrote an Ecdenaftical Hiftory of England, from Julius Ceefar's Invafion, to the year of our L W d 73 l, at tlie Rcqueft
or •.eelulpb King of Northumberland, to whom it was dedicated. He was born in 673, in the Precincts of the Monaltery of J arrow near the Mouth of
the Tim in Northumberland. He was bred up from his Childhood in the faid Monaltery, where he Jived all his Life. He was ordained at nineteen a Dia
con, and at thirty a Pneft ; from which time, till the fifty-ninth of his Age, he never ceas'd writing. His Works are printed in eight Times, befides his
vpulcula. He died in 735, aged fixty-two. His Body was removed from J arrow to Durham, and plated in the fame Coffin with St. CuthbertS

Cotemporary with Bide iiv'd Stephen EDDI, Heddi, or Eddius, in the Reign of Ofric King of Nerthumbtrland, he died in 720.

01. Jxftguftlttfi Canter- MalmflL

bury. He was Difciple to Egbert Archbifliopof Tori. Being fent AmbafTador by Off* to Cb*rli, the Great, that Prince got leave for him to flay at his Court
and was taught by him Legiti, Afiremmy, and Matbematieh, By his Perluafion the Emperor founded the Univerfity of Paris, and likdwife of Pa-via Hr
*rote a great many Books, as fays Pit:. He died in 804.

N»V. Vol, I.






Origin of the Danes. Their continual Irruptions from the Reign of Egbert to Edward the
Martyr, with ivhofe Reign this Book concludes. A particular and curious Account of the
Laws and Cuftoms introduc'd by Alfred the Great, which are the Bafis of the prefent
Laws of England. The State of the Church and Religion, from Egbert to Edward the
Martyr inclttftve.

H. Hunt.

Origin of tb


NGLAND now grown more pow-
erful by theUnion of thefeven King-
doms, feemed to be better fecured
than ever from foreign Invafions.
And yet, prefently after this Union
it was, that the Danes began their
Defcents with a Fury, equal to that
wherewith theEngliJh themfelves had
formerly attacked the Britons. For
above two hundred Years thefe new Enemies were fo obfti-
nately bent upon the ruin of the Ifland, that it can't be con-
ceived, either how their Country could fupply them with
Troops fufficient for fo long and bloody a War, or the En-
glijl) hold out againft fo many reiterated Attacks. This War
is to be the chief fubje£t of our fourth Book, and of great
part of the fifth. But before I enter upon particulars, it
will be neceflary to premife fome account of thefe Danes,
who in the IXth Century became fo formidable to all Eu-
rope, and efpecially to England.

c Scandia or Scandinavia ( 1 ), fituated in the North of Eu-
rope, contains a Tract: of Land in length from North to
South about four hundred Leagues, and in breadth from
Eaft to Weft about one hundred and fifty. If the nor-
thern Hiftorians are to be credited in what they fay of the
Origin of their Anceftors, this Country was peopled foon
after the Flood, by two Nations, or rather two branches
of the fame Nation, I mean, the Goths and Swedes, who
founded two large Kingdoms in this part of the World.
From thefe two Nations, who were fometimes united and
fometunes divided, fprung, as they fay, all thofe Colonies,
which alter the decline of the Roman Empire, over-ran the
reft of Europe. But without rtaying to examine, whe-
ther all they advance concerning the Conquefts of thefe
Adventurers is built on good Authority, I (hall take them
for Guides in what they fay of thofe that remained in the
northern Countries.

In the reign of Eric the fixth King of the Goths (2)
Gothland was become fo exceeding populous, that the
Country was unable to maintain its Inhabitants. To re-
medy this Inconvenience, which daily increafed, Eric was
compelled to fend away part of his Subjects to feek their
fortune in the neighbouring Ifles (3). Thefe Colonies at
length not only peopled the Hands, but alfo Jutland on
the Continent, formerly known by the name of Cimbrica
Chcrfonefus. The People thus fpread over the Ifles and .
the Cherfonefe, acknowledged above feven hundred Years Kcldinj.
the Kings of Gothland for their Sovereigns. Humel the
fixteenth King of the Goths, firft made them independent,
by letting them have for their King, Dan his Son, from
whom Denmark received its name (4). Norway alfo very
probably was peopled by Gothic Colonies, fince it remain-
ed a long while under the Dominion of the Kings of Goth-
land. In procefs of time, and after many Revolutions, SinninR ; U j.
Norway was governed by Judges independent of Gothland, chron.Dan.
till about the end of the IXth Century, when it became
fubject to a King.

The Danes and Norwegians, being thus feparated from
their Anceftors the Goths and Swedes, became fo powerful
as to be in condition to make head againft them both in
feveral Wars. The fituation of their Country, and the
great plenty of all things neceflary for building and equip-
ing a Fleet, foon made them fuperior at Sea to all their
Neighbours. In time, they employed all their naval For-
ces in plundering of Ships, and ravaging the Coafts of Eu-
rope. France, England, and the Low-C"'intrics, were moft
expofed to their Robberies. For above one hundred and
fifty Years the Sea was covered with Danijh Pyrates. They
were grown fo powerful, that Charles the Great could ne-
ver fubdue the Saxons, whilft aflifted by the Dtiaes. Hif- Mrurlius
tory obferves, that this Emperor having fent his Son Pepin Hi*. Dan.
to make War upon the Saxons, this Prince was prevented
in his defigns by Gothric King of Denmark's lending a

El) It CDntain'd Ntrtvay, with as much of Sweden as lay Wed of the G r Jf of B:rbt:ia. It was alfo called Baltia, whence the Ba/tick Sea.

I Ucv pretend he was Cotempotary with 'Terab, Abraham's Father; Rjprn.
'"i Aji in jjiofe days n >ne hid a permanent Intcreft in Land, which was cantonM out to the People to he poffefled (or one Year only, it was decided
■*■ 1" wh . were to leave th' ii Ci unity to £j in quell of new Habitations. Caf. de BtU Gal, 1, 6. c. ac. £f !'■ Wamfridi A Grjtis Lwgibard- c. i.
■J ; Van, according to nutheri. Hifterians; was Cotcrnpotary with Giitn, Rapin,

reinfo; cement

Book IV.

The Reign s/EGBER T.


reinforcement of Danes on board three hundred VefTels. A

northern Hiftorian affirms, that Charles the Great was ne-

Jo. Magnus, ver better pleafed than at the news of Gothric's death, hav-

J- 1; ' c ' '" ing defpaired of accomplifhing his ends, as long as that

Prince was alive.

As People encreafe and multiply exceedingly in cold
Countries, it often happened that Denmark and Norway
were overftocked with Inhabitants, and therefore forced,
in order to make room for the reft, to fend away large Co-
lonies. Their natural Inclination to a Sea-faring Life made
thefe Colonies readily abandon their Country, as it procured
them greater Liberty of roving and playing the Pyrate,
on pretence of looking out new Habitations. This was
chiefly the rife of thofe Pyracies committed by the Danes
and Norwegians, in the IXth Century, in France, England,
the Low-Countries and Germany. The great Booty the
firft Adventurers brought off", tempted the richeft and moft
powerful of their Countrymen to try their Fortune in the
fame manner. They entered into Aflbciations, and fitted
out large Fleets to go and ravage foreign Countries. Thefe
Aflbciations were much of the fame nature with thofe en-
tered into now a-days in time of war, by the inhabitants
of the Sea-port Towns in France and Flanders, and always
by the Cor fairs of Barbary. In fhort, they were fo ufed to
this gainful way of trading, that very confiderable Fleets
were put to Sea. They had the Authority of their Kings
for what they did, who, having always a fhare in the fpoils,
provided them with Admirals and Generals, and when a
confiderable Booty was in view, made no fcruple even to
command them in Perfon. Thefe arc the Fleets that made
fuch devaluations in feveral parts of Europe, and caufed the
Inhabitants of France, England, and the Low-Countries,
to make fad Lamentation for the mifcries brought upon
them by the northern Nations ( i ). They were called in
France, Normans, that is to fay, Men of the North ; but
in England, they were generally filled Danes or Goths.
There is no doubt but the Swedes and Goths very often
joined with the Danes in order to go fhares in the Booty.
Nay, it appears that the Friejlanders were concerned with
the Danes in ravaging the Coafts of France and England.
This doubtlefs is the reafon the Englijh Hiftorians call them
indifferently, Gctes, Goths, Jutes, Norwegians, Dacians,
Danes, Swedes, Vandals, Friejlanders, their Armies being
compofed of thefe feveral Nations.
Ro£.deHov, It is eafy to fee, from what has been faid of the Danes,
that their Intent, when firft they invaded the Coafts of
England, was only to plunder. And therefore they made

Online LibraryM. (Paul) Rapin de ThoyrasThe history of England : written in French (Volume 1) → online text (page 34 of 360)