Book 1, Chapter 5, 296 AD to 410 AD – Decline of the Roman Power – Continued
These statements of Tacitus, taken in connection with the remains of altars, show that the Roman mythology and worship had been largely introduced into the country although how far they had leavened or influenced native thought and feeling cannot be ascertained. The fact that such portents were believed to have occurred, whether this did occur or not, shows however that the Roman power was beginning to decline and indeed, the seeds of decay which had been slowly fructifying for many years, were about to come to maturity. Constantius Chlorus shared the imperial dignity with Galerius, on the resignation of Diocletian and Maximian, and died in Britain in A.D. 306, and was succeeded by his son, afterwards called Constantine the Great. In six years, he left the island to commence the struggle which terminated in his becoming sole ruler of the Roman world and at the end of that struggle the capital of the empire was removed from Rome to Constantinople, and thus the British province was placed yet farther from the seat of central government.
During the next fifty years there were occasional hostile irruptions by the Picts and Scots, and probably by the Saxons also who committed great ravages, and at length (A.D. 367) the emperor Valentinian, alarmed for the safety of the island sent Theodosius, one of the ablest generals of that time to repel the invaders. He defeated them with great slaughter in several battles, and drove them out of the country re-establishing the Roman authority, and restoring military discipline among the legionaries and the auxiliaries, who had sometimes been tempted from their allegiance by the agents of various pretenders to the throne.
The son of this Theodosius, also called by his father’s name, shared the imperial dignity with Gratian and during his reign, a serious revolt broke out among the troops in Britain, who saluted as emperor a young and popular general named Magnus Maximus. So far as the confused statements can be disentangled, it appears that Gratian was assassinated through treachery that Theodosius found it politic to temporise for a time with the usurper, who was acknowledged master of Britain, Gaul, and Spain. But that at length Theodosius seized on an opportunity of defeating him, and being betrayed to the emperor, he was put to death in 388. On the death of Theodosius, A.D. 395, the empire, which had been united under him, was again divided, thereby weakening it still more.
Chapter 5, Christianity in Britain
Chapter 5, Decline of the Roman Power
Decline of the Roman Power
Chapter 5, The Romans Leave Britain
Categories: Book 1