« Alaric Albanus Albion »

Albanus

Albanus, M. The protomartyr of Britain was martyred probably at Verulamium, and according to either the "conjecture" or the "knowledge" (conjicimus or cognoscimus) of Gildas, in the time of Diocletian, and if so, A.D. 304, but according to another legend, which, however, still speaks of Diocletian, in 286 (Anglo-Sax. Chron., Lib. Landav.). Eusebius (H. E. viii. 13, and de Mart. Palaest. xiii. 10, 11), Lactantius (de Mort. Persecut. xv. xvi.), and Sozomen (i. 6) deny that there was any persecution during the time of Constantius in "the Gauls," which term included Britain. Possibly, however, Constantius may have been compelled to allow one or two martyrdoms. It is certain that 125 years after the latest date assigned to Alban's martyrdom, 144 after the earliest, viz. A.D. 429 (Prosper, Chron.), Germanus visited his relics in Britain, presumably at Verulamium (Constant. in V. S. Germani, written A.D. 473–492). Gildas mentions him in 560 (his statement, however, about the persecution is of no value, being simply a transference of Eusebius's words to Britain, to which Eusebius himself says they did not apply), and Venantius Fortunatus (Poem. viii. iv. 155) c. 580. Bede, in 731, copies Constantius and certain Acta otherwise unknown. And the subsequent foundation of Offa in 793 only serves to identify the place with the tradition. The British Life discovered by the St. Albans monk Unwona in the 10th cent., according to Matthew Paris, in VV. Abb. S. Alban., is apparently a myth; and the Life by William of St. Albans (12th cent.) is of the ordinary nature and value of lives of the kind and date. But the testimony of Germanus, in Constantius's Life of him, seems sufficient proof that a tradition of the martyrdom of somebody named Albanus existed at Verulamium a century and something more after the supposed date of that martyrdom. His martyrdom with many fabulous details is related in Bede (i. 7). W. Bright, Chapters of Early Ch. Hist. (1897), p. 6.

[A.W.H.]

« Alaric Albanus Albion »
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