45 – Britain: The Last Outpost

So today we’re going to do a forest view of what we’ll be talking about over the next few months. And then, after this episode, we’ll be getting down into the trees. I figure this is the best way for you to have a firm grasp of what is going on and what I’m talking about, since this is a pretty murky area of history.

Now last week we spoke about biases, and one of the biases we tend to have regarding this period is that when the Western Roman empire collapsed, it absolutely vanished. That Rome disappeared and the entire western world plunged into darkness. And there certainly were significant losses during this period, and Rome had indeed been largely kicked in the jimmy.

But that being said, I’d like to make an odd proposal. It’s odd because we’re going to spend quite a bit of time talking about the loss of Britain to barbarians. But I would like to suggest that Britannia wasn’t the weakest part of the Western empire, but rather it was the strongest. Within 100 years of the withdrawal of Rome from Britannia, the western provinces of Rome would be under barbarian control. All except for Britannia. In Britannia during that same time, as much as half of the land was held by Brits. It wouldn’t be until Edward I, that foreign rule would be extended to the Britons.

And in fact, there is evidence of the importation of mediterranean pottery in the late fifth century in Ireland, Wales, and South West Britain. Think about that. Britannia was initially the edge of the world. It was a terrifying possession of Oceanus. Then it was a rebellious place to put battlehardened leaders or imperial embarrassments. Eventually it became the jewel of the empire. Then it went back to being a backwater province before getting abandoned.

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