The state of this Iland vnder bloudie Dioclesian the persecuting tyrant, of Alban the first that suffered martyrdome in Britaine, what miracles were wrought at his death, whereof Lichfield tooke the name; of Coilus earle of Colchester, whose daughter Helen was maried to Constantius the emperour, as some authours suppose.
The Xxvj. Chapter.
AFTER that Britaine was thus recduered by the Romans, Dioclesian and Maximian ruling the empire, the Iland tasted of the crueltie that Dioclesian exercised against the christians, in persecuting them with all extremities, continuallie for the space of ten yéeres. Amongst other, one Alban a citizen of Werlamchester, a towne now bearing his name, was the first that suffered here in Britaine in this persecution, being conuerted to the faith by the zealous christian Amphibalus, whom he receiued into his house: insomuch that when there
Beda and Gyldas.
came sergeants to séeke for the same Amphibalus, the foresaid Alban to preserue Amphibalus out of danger, presented himselfe in the apparell of the said Amphibalus, & so being apprehended in his stead, was brought before the iudge and examined: and for that he refused to doo sacrifice to the false gods, he was beheaded on the top of an hill ouer against the towne of Werlamchester aforesaid where afterwards was builded a church and monasterie in remembrance of his martyrdome, insomuch that the towne there restored, after that Werlamchester was destroied, tooke name of him, and so is vnto this day called saint Albons.
It is reported by writers, that diuers miracles were wrought at the time of his death, insomuch that one which was appointed to doo the execution, was conuerted, and refusing to
Beda. Sée the booke of acts and monuments set forth by master Fox.
doo that office, suffered also with him: but he that tooke vpon him to doo it, reioised nothing thereat, for his eies fell out of his head downe to the ground, togither with the head of that holie man which he had then cut off. There were also martyred about the same time two constant witnesses of Christ his religion, Aaron and Iulius, citizens of Caerleon
Iohn Rossus. Warwicens. in lib. de Wigorniens. epis. Lichfield whereof it tooke name.
Arwiske. Moreouer, a great number of Christians which were assembled togither to heare the word of life, preached by that vertuous man Amphibalus, were slaine by the wicked pagans at Lichfield, whereof that towne tooke name, as you would say, The field of dead corpses.
To be briefe, this persecution was so great and greeuous, and thereto so vniuersall, that in maner the Christian religion was thereby destroied. The faithfull people were slaine,
their bookes burnt, and churches ouerthrowne. It is recorded that in one moneths space
in diuers places of the world there were 17000 godlie men and women put to death, for
Matth. West. Constantius.
professing the christian faith in the dales of that tyrant Dioclesian and his fellow Maximian.
COELUS earle of Colchester began his dominion ouer the Britains in the yeere of our
Lord 262. This Coelus or Coell ruled the land for a certeine time, so as the Britains were
well content with his gouernement, and liued the longer in rest from inuasion of the Romans, bicause they were occupied in other places: but finallie they finding time for their
purpose, appointed one Constantius to passe ouer into this Ile with an armie, the which Constantius put Coelus in such dread, that immediatlie vpon his arriuall Coelus sent to him an ambassage, and concluded a peace with him, couenanting to pay the accustomed tribute, & gaue to Constantius his daughter in mariage called Helen, a noble ladie and a learned.
Gal. Mon. Fabian. Caxton.
Shortlie after king Coell died, when he had reigned (as some write) 27 yeeres, or (as other haue) but 13 yeeres.
¶ But by the way touching this Coelus, I will not denie, but assuredly such a prince there was: howbeit that he had a daughter named Helen, whom he maried vnto Constantius the Romane lieutenant that was after emperor, I leaue that to be decided of the learned. For if the whole course of the liues, as well of the father and the sonne Constantius and Constantine, as likewise of the mother Helen, be consideratelie marked from time to time, and yeere to yéere, as out of authors both Greeke and Latine the same may be gathered, I feare least such doubt maie rise in this matter, that it will be harder to prooue Helen a Britaine,
Lib. 7. cap. 18.
than Constantine to be borne in Bithynia (as Nicephorus auoucheth.) But forsomuch as I meane not to step from the course of our countrie writers in such points, where the receiued opinion may séeme to warrant the credit of the histories I will with other admit both the mother and sonne to be Britains in the whole discourse of the historie following, as though I had forgot what in this place I haue said.