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Text 1. M i l i t a r y R e l i c s


Julius Caesar invaded Britain in 55 BC and 54 BC but he was not able to conquer the country. He landed in Kent but on both occasions his ships were badly damaged by storms. The Iron Age Britons whom he encountered were splendid fighters, and even the highly trained Roman armies were unnerved by their method of attack.

In AD 43 the Romans under the Emperor Claudius were able to invade Britain and make it a province of the Empire. There are the remains of this Claudian invasion in the small eastern area that he subdued.

Britain was conquered by four legions composed of Roman citizens and by cohorts of auxiliaries drawn from other provinces. Each legion normally consisted of 5600 heavily armed infantrymen in the cohorts; the auxiliaries were divided into lighter armed infantry and cavalry.

At Colchester, one of the first places to be occupied, there are some interesting military relics. A tombstone gives us a portrait of a centurion, who was an officer commanding a hundred men in a legion. His heavy woolen cloak, which he would have used as a blanket at night, hangs from his left shoulder, and round his waist is a fine ornamental belt. He is armed with a dagger and a aword. Most Roman collections have parts of soldiers’ weapons such as swords and daggers.

Colchester museum has also a tombstone bearing the portrait of a cavalryman on horseback.

Roman soldiers carried not only weapons but also rations, cooking utensils, entrenching tools and stakes for making camp. Each evening when they halted for the night they made a rectangular earth rampart.


Q u e s t i o n s :


1) When did Julius Caesar invade Britain?

2) Why wasn’t he able to conquer the country?

3) What can you say about four legions, which Britain was conquered by?

4) What are the existing military relics?



Text 2. T h e F i r s t E n g l i s h P r i n t e r


Four hundred years ago books were so dear that only the richest people could afford buying them. The man who had thirty books was considered to have quite a library. As they were dear, rules were made for their use. They were not to be touched with dirty hands, nor put on the table at meal times. None was to eat fruit or cheese while reading them. Greasy elbows were not to be placed on the pages. Books were dear in price because every copy had to be written out by hand, and this was a long process, which only educated men could perform.

The man who first introduced printing into England was William Caxton, and his house was in Westminster close to the Abbey. Houses didn’t have numbers in those days. There were distinguished from one another by signs. Outside Caxton’s house there was a picture of a shield with a red hand running from top to bottom. Now the house is gone, and nobody knows exactly where it stood.

That is how he became a printer. For 30 years he had lived as a cloth merchant at Brugge in Belgium. When he gave up business, he remembered that idleness was the matter of vice, and so he sought a good occupation, and found it in reading. In a French book, which he read, he found many funny stories. This book was new and had never been read in English, he thought it would be “a good business” to translate it. When he had performed his task he found that many people desired to buy the book and asked him to write out fresh copies. So, having heard of a newly discovered way of making books, he sought out men to teach him. He learned how to print, came to England in 1476 and set up his shop in Westminster. There were some workers-printers; each of them had his own work. The process of printing is very complex. For example, if the printer wants to make 80 copies of a book, he prints eighty pages one after the other and places them one on top of the other, drawing the paper from the unused pile in front of him. When the eighty are complete, he takes the frame from the press, takes out the type and sets it in order for a new page. At last, when all the necessary pages are complete, he sends them to the binder to be stitched together.

This man sits at work with velvet and leather close to him to supply covering for the boards of the books. He has thread for stitching, clasps of copper and brass to hold the backs of the books together when it is shut and nails to fasten on the clasps. Perhaps such books will be sold to a lord, or presented to King Edward IV. For the king is very interested in the new way of making books.


Q u e s t i o n s :


1) Who was the first to print books in England?

2) How did William Caxton decide to learn the art of printing?




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