Page:A short history of social life in England.djvu/54

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34
SAXON CONQUEST

were held together by no bonds of unity, bound by no patriotism, moved by no enthusiasm. Consequently, with daring spirit and boundless brutality the new-comers wrested from them portion after portion of the fair country, until Britain became Engle-land and the Celts were driven westward. Neither were the English slow to appreciate the material advantages of their newly acquired territory. If they were fierce warriors, they were also skilful agriculturists, and the rich water meadows, the flourishing condition of sheep, goats and cattle, the golden cornfields producing more grain than the island could consume, appealed to them with irresistible force. More so indeed than did the thirty walled towns, the elaborately warmed villas, the theatres and amphitheatres of their predecessors—the Romans.

Avoiding the towns as much as possible, they made their new homes in family clusters, surrounded by earthworks for protection. Here within these little townships, as they were called, dwelt the farmer freemen with their slaves, and under their Chief of the Clan. As they had crossed the North Sea, and as they had fought side by side for the land, so now they made