One of the principal problems for historians when dealing with THE ROMANS, was that THE ROMANS made a great deal of themselves, and so it is difficult to wrap them up into one article. This is the last one and deals with parts of the Isles settling down to trying to be roman(ish) and then the sheer irresponsibility of THE ROMANS uping sticks are leaving.
At the time Rome conquered bits of Britain Rome was a rather grand empire; however, this had given many important romans the idea that they along could be a better emperor than anyone . Although this was the forerunner of Equal Opportunity and there was the noble experiment of AD 69 when four different emperors were allowed this did not suit well for the outer provinces, they being consistently behind the times and thus suspicious of the latest coinage.
In addition, such disruptions led to tribes situated in Scotland invading, The Romans did invade them back, but they never seemed to get the message, and as alluded to earlier no one understood them anyway, so peace treaties were virtually impossible. Also beastly pirates from places which the romans had not noticed were always raiding and as Alfred the Great had not yet been invented the British were not allowed to have their own navy, which of course would have solved the problem.
Despite these issues, folk from many parts of the Roman Empire came and settled in the roman parts of Britain. This of course confused the issue of Celtic heritage and so to make it simpler many folk began to call themselves Britains. Naturally neither the Irish or Those in Scotland saw the need to subscribe to this policy.
In AD 193 one Servirus Spetimus became emperor. He had achieved this in a very tidy and organised way by fatally removing the incumbent (whose name was Didius and thus quite unsuited to the role) He busied himself defeating anyone else who thought they could do the job. He then proceeded to make Britain easier to rule by dividing it into Britannia Superior (which made northerners insufferable in their conceit) and Britannia Inferior (which annoyed southerners to no end). In AD 210 he arrived in Britain determined to sort out all those untidy tribes behind Hadrian’s Wall, in what was then known as Caledonia. Unaware of the climate he became ill and expired in AD211. His son Caracalla took over and tried to pretend he was the first king of Britain, without asking anyone.
As emperors came and went life continued in the Isles, with those in positions of authority being quite crafty in their ways of ruling, but since the common folk had access to villas, could walk roads, have baths afterwards and benefit from sewers, a classical education and forge currency they did not mind. Very astute locals were also making a good living by taking romans to Stonehenge and spreading all such of tall tales; such as it had been built by Jupiter, Mars used to play squash with his foes there and Mercury was known to show off by putting a girdle around it.
AD 280 marks a milestone date in that one governor Bonosus having seen the local roman fleet sunk by Germanic pirates, proclaimed himself emperor. This cunning move exempted him from having to go to Rome and face charges, as since he was an emperor he had simply suffered a military defeat. This is one of the most brilliant moves by a CEO in shifting the blame and was not bettered until the financial crises of AD 2008.
After this move there was much celebrating in Britain as the land was now an empire from AD 286-AD296, which allowed craftsmen to raise their prices, soldiers to claim imperial guard status and bards to complete for crowns.
However…Emperor in Rome Diocletian was not having any of this, and sent other romans (also, Scythians, Germans, Franks and Spaniards) to sort this out. This army was commanded by one Marcus Aureilus Probus, who with such a fine sounding name was bound to be successful, realising this Bonosus hung himself. Diocletian then divided up Britain even further (and any British who didn’t agree with him), but curiously since he was persecuting Christians at the time, put vicars in charge.
Diocletian being far too stern and organised to be assassinated or usurped, simple took ill and retired. Then died in AD311. No one in Britain noticed for a few years as they were too busy bothering the vicars about harvests & festivals.
Another period of many emperors followed with more confusion; so much so that no one noticed a conspiracy of Scots, Scotti (Irish for tax purposes), Picts, Saxons and possibly Franks who in AD 369 invaded lots of parts of Britain. Eventually more Romans (Scythians, Germans, Franks and Spaniards, and anyone else the Roman empire could sign up) arrived and slaughtered the invaders who they correctly termed barbarians. It was a sad reflection on the British that they did not think to slaughter the invaders themselves. The result was that despite this victory folk were beginning to lose faith in Rome and not sending their sons there to be educated. Some were growing quite nostalgic for the good old days. There were even suggestions that locals should get together and go on raids of their own; the bards who were getting short of material thought this a splendid idea.
Not much came of it until in AD383.Prominent resident of the isles, Magnus Maximus decided he could do one better and set up another empire. Anyone who went around with the name of Big Mag was likely to impress a rather enfeebled Rome and so he was allowed to rule Britain and Gaul. This set a precedent for folk resident in Gaul to be affronted at those across the channel who they thought quite galling and would continue across the centuries. The British, however were to be very disappointed when he moved his place of rule to Gaul, but in later centuries tried to get around this by claiming him as a king of Britain or at least Wales. In AD 383 he was killed in battle trying to have more of the empire, and the British only found out when not only Saxon, Scots, Picts and Franks but Irish began raiding and invading.
From AD 383 to AD 407 emperors came and went so often that none of then found to the time to reply to British correspondence complaining about raids, pot holes in roads and declines of sewers and in fact by AD 410, Britain was quite on its own.
And thus entered the Dark Ages.
Which actually weren’t that Dark, but since there were no Latin Scholars in Britain to write commentaries on events, later historians decided this era must have been so, particularly as the villas had declined and fallen and folk had to live in mud and straw huts once more, or so these historians claimed.
Before examining this era, we shall consider Legendary Folk as this allows us not to bother too much with facts, thus they will be the subject matter of the next seminar.