WHEN GREGORY THE GREAT beheld the white bodies and the fair complexions of the young Britons brought to Rome about 587 to be sold in the slave market in the Forum, the Venerable Bede reports him as having exclaimed, "'Alas! alas! that brings with such bright faces should be slaves of the prince of darkness! that with outward form so lovely the mind should be sick and void of inward grace.'"1 For one of exceeding piety his response was strangely aesthetic, and his remark suggests the language which many an English poet has used in describing the beauty of statues and images like the figures Gregory himself so avidly destroyed. Deciding that the attractive young pagans with angelic faces "should be co-heirs with the angels in heaven," the churchman, shortly sent missionaries to England, where many Angles and Saxons accepted the Christian beliefs.
Today one would give much to know the other side of the story. What, for example, were the thoughts of the lovely but benighted Angles in the Roman city? With what feelings did they behold monuments surviving from classical antiquity? As the years passed, other Northerners went to Italy; and the picture of the visitors from the Gothic North discovering classical remains in Mediterranean countries gives ample scope to the play of the imagination. Among the Northern migrants were chieftains with barbarian tribes, Irish monks on missionary tasks, crusading knights and pilgrims marching to shrines throughout Christendom, kings and churchmen on business of church and state. What, indeed, did these medieval people feel____________________