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The History of England

David Hume


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With over 2,700 pages, this is David Hume's massive history of England, from the invasion of Julius Caeser to the reign of James II. Originally published in six volumes, this edition includes the entire set. Subjects include: The Britons; The Romans; The Saxons; The Heptarchy; The Kingdom of Kent; The Kingdom of Northumberland; The Kingdom of East Anglia; The Kingdom of Mercia; The Kingdom of Essex; The Kingdom of Sussex; The Kingdom of Wessex; Egbert; Ethelwolf; Ethelbald and Ethelbert; Ethered; Alfred; Edward the Elder; Athelstan; Edmund; Edred; Edwy; Edgar; Edward the Martyr; Ethelred; Edmond Ironside; Canute; Harold Harefoot; Hardicanute; Edward the Confessor; Harold; The Anglo-Saxon Government and Manners; William the Conqueror; William Rufus; Henry I; Stephen; Henry II; Richard I; John; The Feudal and Anglo-Norman Government and Manners; Henry III; Edward I; Edward II; Edward III; Richard II; Henry IV; Henry V; Henry VI; Edward IV; Edward V. and Richard III; Richard III; Henry VII; Henry VIII; Edward VI; Mary; Elizabeth; James I; Charles I; The Commonwealth; Charles II; and, James II.

This book has 2,735 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published 1754-1762.

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Excerpt from 'The History of England'

The Britons had long remained in this rude but independent state, when Cæsar, having overrun all Gaul by his victories, first cast his eye on their island. He was not allured either by its riches or its renown; but being ambitious of carrying the Roman arms into a new world, then mostly unknown, he took advantage of a short interval in his Gaulic wars, and made an invasion on Britain. The natives, informed of his intention, were sensible of the unequal contest, and endeavored to appease him by submissions, which, however, retarded not the execution of his design. After some resistance, he landed, as is supposed, at Deal, [Anno ante, C. 55;] and having obtained several advantages over the Britons, and obliged them to promise hostages for their future obedience, he was constrained, by the necessity of his affairs, and the approach of winter, to withdraw his forces into Gaul. The Britons relieved, from the terror of his arms, neglected the performance of their stipulations; and that haughty conqueror resolved next summer to chastise them for this breach of treaty. He landed with a greater force; and though he found a more regular resistance from the Britons, who had united under Cassivelaunus, one of their petty princes, he discomfited them in every action. He advanced into the country; passed the Thames in the face of the enemy; took and burned the capital of Cassivelaunus; established his ally, Mandubratius, in the sovereignty of the Trinobantes; and having obliged the inhabitants to make him new submissions, he again returned with his army into Gaul, and left the authority of the Romans more nominal than real in this island.

The civil wars which ensued, and which prepared the way for the establishment of monarchy in Rome, saved the Britons from that yoke which was ready to be imposed upon them. Augustus, the successor of Cæsar, content with the victory obtained over the liberties of his own country, was little ambitious of acquiring fame by foreign wars; and being apprehensive lest the same unlimited extent of dominion, which had subverted the republic, might also overwhelm the empire, he recommended it to his successors never to enlarge the territories of the Romans. Tiberius, jealous of the fame which might be acquired by his generals, made this advice of Augustus a pretence for his inactivity.

The mad sallies of Caligula, in which he menaced Britain with an invasion, served only to expose himself and the empire to ridicule; and the Britons had now, during almost a century, enjoyed their liberty unmolested, when the Romans, in the reign of Claudius, began to think seriously of reducing them under their dominion. Without seeking any more justifiable reasons of hostility than were employed by the late Europeans in subjecting the Africans and Americans, they sent over an army, [A.D. 43,] under the command of Plautius, an able general, who gained some victories, and made a considerable progress in subduing the inhabitants. Claudius himself, finding matters sufficiently prepared for his reception, made a journey into Britain, and received the submission of several British states, the Cantii, Atrebates, Regni, and Trinobantes, who inhabited the south-east parts of the island, and whom their possessions and more cultivated manner of life rendered willing to purchase peace at the expense of their liberty. The other Britons, under the command of Caractacus, still maintained an obstinate resistance, and the Romans made little progress against them; till Ostorius Scapula was sent over to command their armies. [A.D. 50.] This general advanced the Roman conquests over the Britons; pierced into the country of the Silures, a warlike nation, who inhabited the banks of the Severn; defeated Caractacus in a great battle; took him prisoner, and sent him to Rome, where his magnanimous behavior procured him better treatment than those conquerors usually bestowed on captive princes.

Notwithstanding these misfortunes, the Britons were not subdued; and this island was regarded by the ambitious Romans as a field in which military honor might still be acquired. [A.D. 59.] Under the reign of Nero, Suetonius Paulinus was invested with the command, and prepared to signalize his name by victories over those barbarians. Finding that the island of Mona, now Anglesey, was the chief seat of the druids, he resolved to attack it, and to subject a place which was the centre of their superstition, and which afforded protection to all their baffled forces. The Britons endeavored to obstruct his landing on this sacred island, both by the force of their arms and the terrors of their religion. The women and priests were intermingled with the soldiers upon the shore; and running about with flaming torches in their hands, and tossing their dishevelled hair, they struck greater terror into the astonished Romans by their bowlings, cries, and execrations, than the real danger from the armed forces was able to inspire. But Suetonius, exhorting his troops to despise the menaces of a superstition which they despised, impelled them to the attack, drove the Britons off the field, burned the druids in the same fires which those priests had prepared for their captive enemies, destroyed all the consecrated groves and altars; and having thus triumphed over the religion of the Britons, he thought his future progress would be easy in reducing the people to subjection. But he was disappointed in his expectations. The Britons, taking advantage of his absence, were all in arms; and headed by Boadicea, queen of the Iceni, who had been treated in the most ignominious manner by the Roman tribunes, had already attacked, with success, several settlements of their insulting conquerors. Suetonius hastened to the protection of London, which was already a flourishing Roman colony; but found, on his arrival, that it would be requisite for the general safety, to abandon that place to the merciless fury of the enemy. London was reduced to ashes; such of the inhabitants as remained in it were cruelly massacred; the Romans and all strangers, to the number of seventy thousand, were every where put to the sword without distinction; and the Britons, by rendering the war thus bloody, seemed determined to cut off all hopes of peace or composition with the enemy. But this cruelty was revenged by Suetonius in a great and decisive battle, where eighty thousand of the Britons are said to have perished, and Boadicea herself, rather than fall into the hands of the enraged victor, put an end to her own life by poison.

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