Bell's Cathedrals: The Cathedral Church of Saint Albans With an Account of the Fabric & a Short History of the Abbey

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Excerpt HISTORY OF THE BUILDING. Long before any church stood on the site of the present cathedral, long before the time of Albanus, who is universally allowed to have been the first Christian martyr whose blood was shed in this island, events that have found a place in the early history of Britain occurred in the immediate neighbourhood of the city we call St. Albans. Here in all probability stood the oppidum or stockaded stronghold of Cassivellaunus, who was chosen to lead the tribes of South-Eastern Britain when Julius Caesar in the year 54 B.C. made his second descent on the island. We all know the story, how the Britons gave Caesar so much trouble that, when at last Roman discipline had secured the victory, he, demanding tribute and receiving hostages as guarantees for its payment, left Britain and never cared to venture upon any fresh invasion. We know that the Trinobantes were the first to sue for peace, and, abandoning Cassivellaunus, left him to bear the brunt of Caesar's attack upon his stronghold, how this was destroyed by Caesar, and how Cassivellaunus also was obliged to make submission to the Romans. Nearly a century passed before any Roman legionary again set foot on the British shores; but when at last, in the days of Claudius, A.D. 42, the Romans invaded the island, they came to conquer and occupy all except the northern part of Britain. In the early days of their occupation a walled town, which was soon raised to the rank of a municipium, was built on the south-western side of the Ver, and from the name of the river was called Verulamium or Verlamium. It soon became a populous place, for when in A.D. 61 Boadicea, the Queen of the Iceni, stung by the insults and injuries she and her daughters had received at the hands of the Romans, raised her own and the neighbouring tribes to take vengeance on their oppressors and Ran the land with Roman slaughter, multitudinous agonies; Perish'd many a maid and matron, many a valorous legionary; Fell the colony, city, and citadel, London, Verulam, Camulodune. It is recorded that no less than seventy thousand fell in these three places and the villages around them. But her vengeance, sharp and sudden, was not allowed to pass unpunished by the Romans, and Suetonius Paulinus, hurrying from North Wales, though too late to save the three towns, utterly routed the forces of Boadicea somewhere between London and Colchester. After this Verulamium became once more a prosperous town, inhabited partly by Romans, partly by Britons, who under Roman influence embraced the civilization and adopted the customs of their conquerors. By whom Christianity was first introduced into Britain we do not know; probably it was brought from Gaul. In the reign of Diocletian a great persecution of the Christians arose throughout the Roman empire. The edict enjoining this persecution was promulgated in February, 303 A.D., and the persecution lasted until the Emperor abdicated in May, 305 A.D. It was carried out in Britain by Maximianus Herculius and Asclepiodotus, and it was during this persecution that St....
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