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The Roman Empire destroyed by “Greedy bankers, foreign wars and climate change – sound familar?”

Thus went a line in the latest British television history series by Micheal Woods  – I do not even remember the name of the series (it was something like the “little people’s history” or some other Ellsworth Toohey style title), I turned it off and I will not be watching any more of this shit, but young people will get their view of history from it.

Of course the Roman Empire was not destroyed by “greedy bankers” (Roman law did not even allow fractional reserve banking – indeed a “deposit” under Roman law was literally that, it was money that someone “deposited” with someone else for safe keeping, they were not allowed to lend it out). Aggressive “foreign wars” – the Roman Empire had basically been on the defensive for centuries before it collapsed. And as for “climate change”  – no doubt all those nonexistant Roman cars and aircraft (as I turned thing off Woods was walking among mocked up abandoned cars and trucks talking about the collapse of our civilization “when the oil runs out” hardly history) really pumped out a lot of C02.

Before I got to the off switch Micheal Woods had already informed the viewers that the Anglo Saxons were the same people as the ancient Britons (so that is why this is being typed in Welsh) at least the modern inhabitants of England are genetically the same  as the ancient Britons  – not in the eastern parts of England you P.C. arsewipe. Micheal Woods also said that the Anglo Saxons were “economic migrants” (forgeting that he had just said that they were not new people) – “economic migrants” with swords, spears and axes (I repeat my point about “P.C. arsewipe”).

This is not an untypical example of how British history is being taught. This (I think) was an ITV (“independent” television) show – but the BBC is no better (if anything it is worse).

For example, the latest issue of the BBC history magazine readers are told that Christian Roman persecution of pagans brought “Britons and Anglo Saxons together” (hey I thought they were supposed to be the same  people). Evidence? Why would the BBC bother with evidence?

Then we are told that that the Roman Empire in Britain ended with “egalitarian social revolution” (held to be a good thing of course) led by such “Red monks” as Gildas.

Before Americans (or other people) start laughing too hard – how do you think your own history is being taught?


  1. This is how history is taught in schools as well. 30 years ago we were told to gather facts, form a hypothesis, test it and reach a conclusion. Now, sometimes the conclusions reached would not be what was expected. That was OK because we had had to think to reach the, possibly erroneous conclusion, and learning to think was the prime goal.

    Today you will be told the conclusion and given only the facts that support it.

    Say goodbye to independant or critical thinking, it will not be recognisable in the future.

  2. CountingCats says:

    Dunno how the bankers got into the act, and foreign wars by the Eastern Empire really were, well, history, but climate change? I have always understood that had a significant part to play. Sure. Colder winters got the barbarian tribes moving south and west and the Rhine suddenly starting to freeze in winter gave them a route directly into the Empire. Prior to that, the river had been the impassible boundary between civilization and the armies of not civilization.

  3. Kinuachdrach says:

    “Prior to that, the river had been the impassible boundary between civilization and the armies of not civilization.”

    You mean, Germans can’t swim?

    Political Correctness is a mortal sin, and ought to be a Capital crime. But what else would you expect from the BBC? Why won’t Brits simply refuse to pay the BBC tax? They can’t put you all in jail! If 10 million or 5 million or even 1 million Brits just grew a backbone & declined to pay that tax, the BBC would be finished.

    By the way — good book on this topic, even if it is 20 years old: “The Collapse of Complex Societies”, by archaeologist Joseph Tainter. Expends a lot of words on the ends of both the Western & Eastern Roman Empires, among about 20 other collapsed societies. Basically, government got too big, too complicated, too expensive — diminishing governmental returns, leading to the long goodnight.

  4. CountingCats says:

    You mean, Germans can’t swim?

    Not carrying armour, swords, and all support materials for a couple of weeks campaigning they can’t.

    Besides, how do they get their loot back home?

    Shipping an army across in boats, or even rafts, while keeping all preparations secret from the Imperials was a little beyond their logistical skills as well.

    A little light banditry was all that was ever possible.

  5. Roue le Jour says:

    Ah, Walking with Romans, then, is it?

    Next week, why too much democracy led to the downfall of the Greeks, and how we’re saving you from that, for your own good.

  6. Lynne says:

    I tend not to watch TV “history” because inevitably it is so much biased, ill informed crap, as Paul has pointed out.

    What, in fact, is a Briton? Is it the mesolithic hunter gatherers who crossed the land bridge and settled here after the retreat of the last ice sheet? Or the more sophisitcated neolithic farmers who sailed from Europe around five thousand years later? Or the bronze agers who came on the next wave of migration circa 2,300 BC? Or the Iron Age Celts who came in on the Indo-European migration 1,500 years later? Or the Saxons, Angles and Jutes?

    One of the earliest confirmed “Britons” seems to be H heidelbergensis whose remains were found in Boxgrove and Swanscombe.

    My money isn’t on the Saxons.

  7. Stonyground says:

    I didn’t think that there were any ‘empires’, in the sense that the Roman Empire was, existing any more. Surely the Soviet Empire was the last one of that kind?

    Using the history of the past to predict the future maybe a worthwhile endevour because we don’t really have anything better, but it is always going to be pretty unreliable. The situation that we find ourselves in is never identical to any past ones and there are too many variables. I suppose one thing that could really screw up a confident prediction is a new invention.

  8. steng says:

    A zillion years ago (I exaggerate; I ought to work for Al-Beeb) I am sure I read in a book* that one of the reasons the Roman Empire collapsed was that it was increasingly turning to look inwards and became absorbed in its own spectacles and ‘shows’ in the gladiatorial arenas while ignoring threats from outside.

    While the Romans were self-absorbed in amusement, along came the barbarians to knock on the door (actually, I mean break it down). I can see the parallel with the modern liberal thinking: we are self-absorbed in er, television shows that either resemble staged fights or purport to be intelligent discussions.

    Our leaders like to play at intellectual games while providing a trumped up and overhyped spectacle… perhaps this was in its way just what the Romans encountered.

    *I’d love to think the book was “Those About To Die” by Daniel P Mannix, but probably wasn’t.

  9. berenike says:

    I have a vague recollection of military outsourcing, failure to culturally absorb immigrants (or whatever people are called who stay still but the border moves outside them), and not enough babies. But I think this is taken mostly from a drunken exposition of pet theories by a historian friend :)

  10. CountingCats says:

    Military outsourcing, yep, that was a contributing factor. Start paying barbarians to protect you from other barbarians and pretty soon the barbarians are the boss. That happened.

    failure to culturally absorb immigrants

    Yaaaay. Yep. Hadn’t thought of that in the past in these terms, but Rome fell because of its multicultural policies.

  11. David B. Wildgoose says:

    I highly recommend “The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization” by Bryan Ward-Perkins. Needless to say, there were a number of factors. One of the ones that struck me was that Rome deliberately disarmed its population – they made it illegal for ordinary citizens to possess weapons. Sound familiar?

    As for “speaking Welsh”, the English have never spoken Welsh. The Romans described us as Germanic tribes speaking a language similar to the Belgae (modern day Dutch). And we still do – Frisian is English’s closest relation if you discount Scotch. Anglo-Saxon (and Scandinavian, etc.) invaders have only ever added a relatively small percentage to that base neolithic stock. Furthermore, they weren’t that dissimilar, nor did they speak a language that was too radically dissimilar either.

    Of course this ended up with English being formed from a common subset of all these different related Germanic languages, and it is still a remarkably terse language compared to other languages as anyone writing multi-lingual software applications will be aware.

  12. Paul Marks says:

    There are quite a few lunatics (who, of course, get their own shows on British television) who will tell you that the Anglo Saxon invasions never happened – either that modern English is a Celtic language (it is not) or that the Germanic speaking tribes were already here in force before the time of the Romans (they were not).

    The decline and fall of the Roman Empire – yes indeed from the time of Augustus private ownership of military weapons (and training with them) was “discouraged” (to put things mildly) that meant that Roman civilization survived or died with the existance of the state – the people could not stand without the state (although the motive of Augustus was simply to make revolts against his rule less likely). Oddly enough Britain did have quite a lot of armed civilians (at least in the north and west) due to the Roman practice of making alliances with (rather than totally crushing) certain tribes (although, under Roman influence, local rulers restented any claim that they were just tribal chiefs)- some of these British Kingdoms (which is what they became after the fall of the Empire) lasted for centuries. Even if one does not include the Welsh (who, of course, are still about) and in some ways considered themsleves to be Romans (although the Romans would have thought…..) for example the Welsh word for themsleves comes from the Roman word for “citizens”.

    Importing mercenaries – the Romans hired Germanic warriors (actually these normally proved loyal – although there were some betryals, such as when the men of Stilicho went over to the Goths, although the Romans had provoked them a bit by murdering Stilicho and murdering their wives and children). And some (not all) “Rommano British” rulers continued the policy there was indeed a famous revolt in Britain that involved the destruction of some towns, although only Kent actually fell under the control of the rebels. (Kentish history is in some ways different from that of the rest of England even to this day – for example people talk about Norman land law being imposed on England after 1066, but Kent retained Anglo Saxon land law till the 1920′s, yes the 20th century, and, to give a modern example, when the rest of England went over to the “compreshensive mixed ability” system of state education in the 1960′s and 1970′s Kent somehow did not )

    The decline of Rome involved also an economic decline (over a very long period). In the time of Augustus (unless you were a slave) the economy was fairly free and taxes were quite low, but over the centuries “the law” became a spiders web of regulations (which tried to control every aspect of human life) and taxes and government spending became crushing.

    The so called “saviour of the Empire from the crises of the third century” (in reality the Empire had been reunified and the civil wars stopped, years before his revolt) Diocletian is the most obivious example of the advance of statism.

    Not only his attemt to set all prices (limited price controls had been around for a long time – but Diocletion tried to set the prices of all products), but also his increase of taxation, his state factories, his advancement of such regulations as people being forced into the occupations of their fathers – and …..

    Most importantly he declared that peasants (the great majority of Roman citizens) could not leave the land (because he feared they might flee his taxes) – this de facto turned most people into serfs.

    However, perhaps a key military mistake had to wait for the time of the Emperor Constantine – if you have a largely disamed and untrained general population your armed forces have to be on the borders defending against barbarian invasion.

    Constantine (and later Emperors) created an elite army that was whereever the Emperor was (not defending the borders – unless he was, and then only the border he was on). The men actually defending the provinces were supposed to be of equal status to this new army – but, of course, they were not really.

    Generations of historians have said how wonderful Constantine’s judgement was – “defence in depeth” and other such talk has been used. But actually this is nonsense – as such ideas only work with modern technology (if they even work now – which I doubt).

    It does no good to have a elite army WEEKS away from a threatened provice – by the time it gets there (in response to a barbarian invasion) the farms of the province will have been burned, and its people either killed or carried away into slavery (it does not matter how high your tax rate is – if there is nothing left to tax).

    “But there were the border troops” – yes military units that Constantine and later Emperors treated as second class. The truth is that Constantine did not have any clever “modern” idea of “defence in depth” (or whatever). What he really wanted was to make sure that frontier generals could not take their army and defeat the centre and take over – i.e. DO WHAT HE HAD DONE.

    The Emperor had long had a strong military force with him (at least from the time of the Emperor Septimus Severas), but the army had always been been basically about the frontier legions (the elite army would be on the spot to face a barbarian invasion at once – and if defeated the army in a province would be rebuilt by troops sent from other legions), after Constantine the army became basically about the forces with the Emperor – and that could not work in the 4th and 5th centuries AD (if it can ever work).

    To put it in American terms – think of a military structure where the elite units tend to be gathered in one lump and go about with the President. Leaving everything else to de facto National Guard troops.

    That is what develops after Constantine – and it how the Byzantines tended to organize their miltary also. The Arabs had no trouble overwhelming rich provinces – the local civilians tended to be passive (centuries of tyranny had seen to that), and the main army was hundreds of miles away with whoever was Byzantine Emperor – and when he came to fight (if he ever did) he and his forces would not really know the local conditions (how the land would effect combat) even in their own Empire.

    Of course the Byzantine Empire had various stages and in some of them it was more like the decentralized “feudalism” of the rest of Europe – but in key periods it was rather like the above description (and with terrible results).

    The wonder is not “why this structure failed” – but how did manage to stagger on for so long.

  13. Paul Marks says:

    By the way – the Belgae tribes in south east Britain (what is now south east England) did indeed not speak Welsh in the time of the Roman Conquest – but that was because the language of modern Welsh had not yet fully evolved.

    They spoke languages that were P. Celtic (the sort of language than modern Welsh evolved from) rather than Q Celtic (the language group from which the Scottish and Irish langauges are in, the “Scots” being an Irish tribe of course).

    The main point is that there was a germanic conquest – it was not genocide (even in the eastern parts of what is England, where the DNA is largely germanic), but it was a conquest – the English were NOT always here. It has always been known that (for example) the folk (Germanic word) of Norfolk and Suffolk came in after the fall of Rome and drove the Celtic “Romano British” people into the fens (the bogs) where some of them still spoke “Welsh” in the Middle Ages (a thousand years later).

    Of course the Celtic conquest (several of them) were not genocide either – indeed in the west of this island the population comes in large part from people who were here before Celtic times.

  14. David B. Wildgoose says:

    And yet, we see from genetic assays that the current population is largely descended from the original neolithic population, and also simultaneously as you say, that the DNA in Eastern England is “Germanic”….

    We may not have always called ourselves “English”, but we were still here.

    And you have to remember that language families may evolve and also wax and wane, but they don’t just suddenly disappear overnight. Basque DNA may cover a much wider area than the Basque language, but the point is that the Basque Language is still with us.

    Norse invaders of the Western Isles, Man, Ireland and indeed Normandy all ended up speaking the local language whether that be Celtic or French. The exact same thing happened in England as well – the invaders ended up speaking our local language, and because it was a closely related branch of the Germanic family it hybridised, transforming Old English into first Middle and then Modern English.

    England was never “Welsh”.

  15. Paul Marks says:

    The DNA in the eastern parts of this island is different because of the INVASIONS (both those of the germanic tribes from the 5th century onwards – and then the Norse from the 9th century onwards).

    I know that some people deny that invasions took place – but they are wrong. Both the British writers and the Old English writers agree that the invasions took place.

    “But where are the piles of bodies” – where are the piles of bodies of the Germans forced out of East Prussia (now part of Russia) or areas of Germany that are now part of Poland?

    “Norse invaders ended up speaking the local language” EXACTLY, EXACTLY, EXACTLY.

    Do you not see what this means?

    If the Anglo Saxons had been a small elite (such as the Norse who took over the Isle of Man) they would have ended up speaking Celtic.

    The fact that they did NOT shows that they were a large body of people – NOT a small elite.

    In short their was a mass invasion – so “the English have NOT always been here”. At least if we are talking about the “Suffolk squareheads” (and so on). These Germanic people have not been here since “neolithic” times – they came in at the end of the Roman Empire.

    Of course in the west you DO have a point.

    For example the people who traditionally lived in Somerset are “English” culturally (in every way) but genetically they are NOT – they are not Celtic either (in fact as you say they come right from the neolithic times). The Cheddar Gorge study is interesing because it proved what the people doing the study did NOT set out to prove.

    They expected to compare local living people (farmers and so on) with the bodies discovered from five thousand years ago and find big differences in DNA (due to waves of migrants) – but (as you may well know) they found that the DNA was very similar (the people from five thousand years ago were the same ethnic group as the local farmers and so on).

    You could NOT do that in (for example) Bury St. Edmonds. – dig up a five thousand year old body and compare it to locals and find it is the same (or virtually the same) genetically.

    Sorry but the people of East Anglia (bar a few in the Fenland) are not the same ethnic group that (for example) rose against the Romans in 61 AD.

    They are Germans and Norse – and it is pointless to claim otherwise.

    Being “English” is CULTURAL not RACIAL – there is a bigger genetic gap between eastern and western England (at least till the late 20th century – when everything got confused) than there is between western England and Wales.

    However, there was some “ethnic cleansing” even in the West – local populations that did not adopt English ways were driven out, even as late as the time of King Athelstan – for example he drive out “Welsh” speakers from Exeter in the 10th century (they had refused to become “English” even after such a long period of English rule – so, to him, they had to go).

    But even in the time of King Penda (of Mercia) in the early SEVENTH century the story is much the same – when he made an alliance with Caedwallada of Wales he got land (basically Shropshire). But the local population could not just go on as before – either they had to leave, or be subject to various disablities (due to the language they spoke).

    So again it was become English – or (one way or another) go (and some, including large settlements, went).

  16. NickM says:

    I’ll complicate the mix. I am from the East of England. The North East to be precise yet my recent ancestory is mainly (on both sides) from Mayo and Donegal which were both heavily “Vikinged”. So I’m probably largely Norwegian/Danish/Celtic which is a hell of a mix and probably explains some of the fights I’ve gotten into. There is also a hint of Huguenot in the mix. There is probably God knows what else as well. But I have good sea legs (as does my partly – I mean within living memory “partly” – Danish wife) and a jupitron on the palm of my left hand. A jupitron is a benign growth on the hand that can cause problems though the consultant said, “wait and see” but it is a Norse thing. So despite being from the heavily “Vikinged” NE I’m a Viking in a roundabout way.

    Anyway, the hell with DNA! You can tell a lot from place names. Even that balls to the wall fraudster Derek Acorah managed that. He did a ghost hunt in Chester and found the shade of a Roman soldier. Amazing innit!

  17. Paul Marks says:

    Indeed – it is not your blood, but your heart that counts (which side you fight on in a fight).

    An hispanic who fights on the side of America (in the Border Patrol) against Mexican criminals is more “American” than some Ivy League lawyer (white skinned and blue eyed) who puts him in jail for shooting a Mexican criminal.

    And the retired Bishop of Rochester (a man who is as “brown as a nut” and who was born and brought up in Pakistan) is more of an Englisman than Timothy Garton Ash and all those other upper class “liberal” tossers who side with the Muslims.

  18. Watchman says:

    I’d suggest one or two commentators may need to revise their historical skills a bit here. Identity (Anglo-Saxon, Briton, Roman etc) is nothing to do with DNA, and both tell an interesting story.

    DNA profiling came just in time (what with greater mobility and immigration etc) to establish that there was a clear divide between the ‘Celtic’ west of the island of Britain and the ‘Germanic’ east. And for some unexplained reason, every model explaining this has focussed upon the Anglo-Saxons as the main cause (why not the Romans, Vikings or Normans? Or some earlier unrecorded invasion such as that which brought Parisi and Belgae to our shores). But this barrier is hardly necessary – because it assumes Britain is a discrete unit, the DNA of which is only interfered with by invasion. But consider this. You live in early medieval Stamford. You wish to travel to either Hedeby (Danish trading port) or Hereford (Anglo-Saxon bishopric and probable fort), for some reason connection to the letter h. Which is easier to get to?

    Answer – Hedeby. You get on a boat, sail down river and across the sea. Because the easiest way to travel before modern canal and rail technology was along rivers and around coasts, or even across the sea. Early medieval and Roman seafarers were perfectly competent navigators – the normal south-western approach to Britain was via Scilly, not the dangers of the Bay of Biscay for example. Land was a barrier to effective communications, water an aid. So it is likely that people on the east coast were more connected to the litoral of the Continent and to Scandinavia than they were to the West Midlands and the western areas of Britain. And this common interest and exchange of trade, marriage, migration (all documentable to some extent in the early medieval period and later, and sensible hypotheses from earlier archaeology) would allow for closely-linked DNA. Which needs have nothing to do with identity – it is all to do with proximity and inter-relatedness.

    As to identity, perhaps it is worth remembering that this was selected. To believe that someone had to be British because they were is the same as believing that the ethnic identity boxes that you have on government forms reveal something more than the answerer’s reactions to government- (are they African or British – what ‘colour’ do they feel etc). Two early kings of the West Saxons had clearly British names for example, but are recorded as Saxons, and the ‘greatest Englishman’ Saint Boniface was born Wynfrith, a name that could be British or Saxon (conveniently for a resident of marginal Exeter). It is odd that on a site which would oppose the imposition of labels by government as opposed to individual choice, that we refuse to coutenance that our ancestors may have done the same.

    As identity was chosen, and language was clearly part of early medieval identity (contemporary sources comment on this a lot (or at least a lot for a period with little written history)), arguments based around survival of language of a minority population or whatever are misplaced. If you chose to be Anglian or Saxon (Anglo-Saxon is a ninth-century French (yes I know, West Frankish to be accurate) neologism), you chose to speak that language. Which was the everyday language of the Roman army of the late-fourth century – it did not come from the continent but was already in Britain under the Romans. It is not unusual for an army in a situation where a colonial power has left to seize power for themselves (see Africa for endless examples), and for those armies to develop particular ethnic identities which became associated with the exercise of power and right to bear weapons (which was denied to Romans remember).

    There is a perfectly coherent anti-state narrative explaining the development of England without having to resort to mass immigration. Indeed, since the underpinning of immigration is statist myths such as nationalism (the state having a longer identity than the individual) or economic necessity (unless you are stupid enough to be a Malthusian, this tends to require Marxist history to back it up), I would suggest that for anti-state libertarians the best answer is to assume that historically, as now, people could select their own identity as best they could and that agencies such as government, church and army sought to restrain that whenever possible by limiting the choice of identities (Roman law even sought to ensure families remained in the same professions – seriously limiting changing identity!).

    Just because modern ideas in history may appear left-wing and statist does not mean that those we hark back to are any less so. Indeed, it is worth noting a surprising number of left-wing historians nowadays produce work that may be structually Marxist but emphasises the individual and their actions.

    Although all of that said, climate change was not a factor in the fall of the Roman Empire. Most estimates says the recovery from the dip after the Roman warm period seems to have been in place by the fourth century. I’d blame over-taxation and subsequent tax avoidance (if you stopped being Roman, you stopped paying tax – hence the increasing frequency of ‘peasant revolts’, usurpers and happy acceptance of barbarian overlords), and the collapse of an unresponsive bureaucracy that increasingly relied on powerful individuals and groups gathering and providing for clients. But that might hit a bit too close to the beliefs of our governing classes.

  19. Paul Marks says:

    There is a lot of good stuff in your comment Watchman, for example Stamford (near me) is indeed not “Anglo Saxon” (although its DNA would suggest that it was) it is Norse (the history is plain – as is the old rivarly with AngloSaxon Oakham over the border in Rutland.

    The DNA of Norse can not really told apart from Anglo Saxons anyway – although there are some signs of Norse “blood” (for want of a better term). For example, remember the mirth in leftist circles when it was discovered that both Mrs Thatcher and Ronald Reagan suffered from “claw hand” – a fairly sure sign that both were “bloody handed Vikings” (at least in part of their forefathers).

    West Germanic the common language of the late Roman army (at least in the West) – it is more complicated than that. Even as late as 408 there were still enough Latin speakers (Romans) to overawe Stilicho’s Germanic troops (although Stilicho had first been killed) and murder their families. The Germanic troops had to flee to the Goths (who, of course, spoke eastern rather than western form of Germanic language).

    Indeed even in 451 most of Aetius’ men may well have been native Latin speakers (although their Germanic. allies rather despised them – only allying out of a mutual fear of the Huns).

    The employment of Germainc mercenaries in Britain is well known – but it only seems to have got truly out of hand after the Roman army was pulled out. Only then does it seem to have been the case that majority of armed and trained (an important point – giveing weapons to a peasant is not enough, to learn anything other than a spear takes time) men seem to have been speaking Germainic languages and only in the south east of the island.

    The “Saxon Shore” was really under “Saxon” control till after the Roman army pulled out – only then can one say that the clear majority of professional troops were Germanic (due to the unwise policy of local British rulers).

    However, the quality of the Roman army had been long in deline – in spite of desperate measures.

    For example, under Valentarian (Emperor till 376) the penality for trying to avoid conscription (which the Romans used in order to PREVENT the army being dominated by Germans) was being burned alive.

    Emperors after Valentarian were so desperate for troops that they withdraw the punishment of burning – and just forced run-a-ways to serve, even if they had cut off their own thumbs to try and avoid being forced to be soliders.

    No wonder the Goths had trouble respecting such people – people so cowardly (as the Goths would have seen it) they would run away, or even mutilate themselves to try and avoid fighting, and a government so desperate that it would force them to serve even if they could hold neither sword or shield properly (as they had cut their own thumbs off). Of course if people have been told (for centuries) that war and battle were a special thing that only barbarians and a special military caste could do – a certain bafflement (merging into terror) is perhaps only to be expected if the government starts demanding they join the army and fight.

    However, one must not exaggerate – the army of the West still seems to have been a strong fighting force (capable of defeating barbarian hosts) at least till 394.

    I suspect (although I can not prove) that the Army of the West never really recovered from those two days on the Frigid River – where they were defeated by an alliance of the Goths, the Roman Army of the East, and (it seems) nature itself (the savage storm that blow down the mountains and into their faces on the fateful second day).

    Of course as the General in command of the Army of the West was a pagan Frank (although most of his army was not) Arbogast, Christians suggested that the defeat was the will of God himself.

    Of course there was wonderful hypocrisy on the side of Theodosius – he persecuted Arian Christians yet allied with the Arian Goths.

    Although, a key difference to keep in mind is that the people Theodosius persecuted were citizens (i.e. unarmed people unused to weapons even if they got them) wereas the Goths were a rather different matter.

  20. Paul Marks says:

    The two early Kings of Wessex is one of the many things of interest that Watchman points to.

    I suspect (but can not prove) that they were Britons – however as the English speakers came to be more powerful in time they (naturally) assumed that the rulers of the Kingdom had always been their own people. Certainly the idea of a mass of people in Wessex were really Saxons does not hold water – although there was some colonization (it is not just a miliary elite – there were women and children also).

    There are many old stories – one (unproved – perhaps unproveable) seeks to explain the different character and ancient rivarly between East and West Meon in Hampshire.

    The story goes….. the Jutes (or Saxons – or both, or different times) come up the river. But rather than flee, totally, the Britons move eastward (not westward) higher up the hill to the source of the river, where they stay…….

    Thus East Meon is supposed to be “British” and West Meon is supposed to be “Anglo Saxon” .

    Most likely utter nonsense – but a legend that gained an extra bit of life when one of the folk of West Meon became one of the “Cambridge Five” traitors.

    “See [said the people of East Meon] no one of our village would ever betray this island, we have been here since the stone age – but them down there……”.

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