Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > European History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

European History European History Forum - Western and Eastern Europe including the British Isles, Scandinavia, Russia


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old October 28th, 2016, 01:31 AM   #91

johnincornwall's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Nov 2010
From: Cornwall
Posts: 6,052

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Graham View Post
They do (or did, at least), but there is a multitude of views on this topic and views change and develop over time. The 'apartheid' argument is a good example. It had an initial, brief flowering but gained little long-term traction and is rarely advocated nowadays. This, I suspect, is in part at least because the trend nowadays is to see events in post-Roman Britain as being part of wider developments, rather than seeing Britain in isolation, as so often used to be the case. The 'isolationist' position led to what one might call an exceptionalist position, in that things were argued for Britain that had absolutely no parallel anywhere else and would, if true, have made the Anglo-Saxons wierdly unique amongst the various Germanic groups. Apartheid would have been one of these wierdly unique characteristics - although very limited parallels can be found on occasion on the Continent, no early medieval western polity managed (or even attempted) to impose, police and enforce a nationwide policy of apartheid which it kept it going for over three centuries, which is what the British apartheid model requires. That one reference in Ine's law code is improperly extrapolated back to the fifth-century and extrapolated across the rich and ever-evolving panoply of polities as though it represented some immutable fact.

The reality has to be very different. At odds of 5:1, the notion that only a 'trickle' (albeit a steady one) of British slaves and brides could drift into Anglo-Saxon households simply doesn't hold water. The British population had to be far more than serfs, desperate widows and pretty girls grabbed as booty by Saxon strong-arms.
Your subject Peter but there are period niggly references to people fleeing from Cornwall to both Brittany and to a lesser extent Spain (colony near El Ferrol) 'to escape the Saxons'. Together with little titbits about them killing the male warrior population and settling with the females - this latter I may have picked up on here, admittedly.

So if people are basically prepared to just leap onto some creaky boat with their family and sail not just to Brittany but to the unknown and potentially hostile Spain and France - maybe there is something in Saxon behaviour that set them apart from Goths and Franks?

That said, there is always the ignored factor of international trade and travel - it could be quite simply that Visigothic traders and sea-captains said - 'yes, come down with us, there's plenty of unsettled space, 20 dinars the lot for the trip'.
johnincornwall is offline  
Remove Ads
Old October 28th, 2016, 04:01 AM   #92
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2014
From: Westmorland
Posts: 1,847

Quote:
there are period niggly references to people fleeing from Cornwall to both Brittany and to a lesser extent Spain (colony near El Ferrol) 'to escape the Saxons'.
There are, but if you take them all together, those references don't make much sense. Gildas talks about what we might term a refugee crisis - a population on the move, fleeing the swords and spears of a hostile enemy. This is certainly how proponents of a fifth-century Anglo-Saxon invasion choose to see it. However, other sources tell us that what turned up in Armorica was not a ragged mass of migrants begging for protection, but a 12,000 strong British army, which proceeded to snaffle most of the old Roman province for itself and get itself fully and immediately involved in the power struggles of post-Roman Gaul. Even allowing for hyperbole and literary accretion, the earliest history of Brittany is hard to explain as anything other than a power-grab by strong British polities.

We also have to be alive to the possibility (and I accept it's no more than that) that the toponymy of Brittany suggests that the first migrants came from those parts of Britain which weren't going to even see an Anglo-Saxon waving his seax for another couple of hundred years or more. We also know that your very own Westcountry was prominent on the early medieval trading routes which linked Britain, Brittany and the Mediterranean.

My take on it is that Gildas reworked the founding of Brittany in order to fit his narrative - a technique which, as we have discussed before, was entirely standard practice for early medieval writers. The notion of rhetorical plausibility (that he wouldn't have said something which his audience knew wasn't true) was irrelevant at this time, for both writer and audience. What was important was "the message" (as Keith Lemon might say....).
Peter Graham is offline  
Old October 28th, 2016, 04:10 AM   #93

Aelfwine's Avatar
Scholar
 
Joined: Nov 2008
From: England
Posts: 816

Quote:
The 'apartheid' argument is a good example. It had an initial, brief flowering but gained little long-term traction and is rarely advocated nowadays.
I disagree. There are a number of historians who believe the theory has merits, and the historian, Sarah Foot, is just one example.

Quote:
This, I suspect, is in part at least because the trend nowadays is to see events in post-Roman Britain as being part of wider developments, rather than seeing Britain in isolation, as so often used to be the case.
Quite so, and as is should be. Bryan Ward-Perkins and Peter Heather are two historians who have always taken this approach.

Quote:
The 'isolationist' position led to what one might call an exceptionalist position, in that things were argued for Britain that had absolutely no parallel anywhere else and would, if true, have made the Anglo-Saxons wierdly unique amongst the various Germanic groups.
There is an element of truth in this "exceptionalist" argument. When the Goths and Vandals moved into the Western Roman Empire, they wanted to be part of it initially, not conquer it. Even the dried husk of it had appeal, it still glittered, it held the Goths in awe. There were still functioning cities and towns, much declined from their former state, but still functioning nevertheless. There was urban life, trade, and a civic administration, although much reduced from the Empire`s heyday. All of this was the "pull factor" for the Goths.

Now, none of that existed in post-Roman Britain. The towns had decayed; and civic life dad ceased. Trade had virtually ended, at least domestically; and the money based economy had likewise ended. In fact, by the end of the fifth century, the British economy had declined to the level of the Bronze Age. The Anglo-Saxons wanted land, and they found a weak, fragmented society. This was the pull factor that drew the Saxons to Britain.

This ratio would have been valid, perhaps, when the Anglo-Saxons arrived, but the ratio would not have been that high when the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms developed. Moreover, the time factor needs to be considered. The Goths and Vandals took over the Western Roman Empire relatively quickly whereas it took the Anglo-Saxons 250 years to seize control of what would become England. Plenty of time for Englishness to develop. The Goths became Romans but the Anglo-Saxons did not become British. A similar situation can be seen with the Norman swift takeover of England in 1066.. They eventually became English, and in the same way as the Goths who eventually became Roman.
Aelfwine is offline  
Old October 28th, 2016, 05:27 AM   #94
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2014
From: Westmorland
Posts: 1,847

Quote:
The Anglo-Saxons wanted land, and they found a weak, fragmented society. This was the pull factor that drew the Saxons to Britain.
This, I suspect, is the nub of our disagreement. Our narratives are conditioned by the availability of evidence and the evidence touches for the most part on a very small sector of society - the urban and military elites. The vast majority of Britons were, had and always would be, small scale farmers. The collapse of city life led to the emergence of new, elite British sites outside the towns - often on reused prehistoric monuments such as hill forts. But we shouldn't equate a decline in urbanism and visible material artefacts with political weakness. If it was the case that there was massive regrowth of forest as huge swathes of land fell out of agricultural use, I might agree with you that the turmoil of Rome ending changed everything. But that didn't happen - not at least according to the likes of Oliver Rackham. We can reasonably conclude that the adventus was a long process, not a single wave. So the notion that the existing population was booted off the land to make way for the newcomers does not tally with what we know of migration and land use.

What we have is a repositioning of an urban society into a rural society. That might have led to political weakness, but it didn't necessarily have to. It did appear to lead to new ways of defining cultural identity, but that just brings me back to my core point, which is that what we have always seen as fifth-century 'Anglo-Saxon' culture is, in fact, a hybrid Anglo-British culture. The Britons were active contributors to a new identity, rather than just having it forced upon them by warlike maniacs.

I'm under no illusions here. I don't expect many people to agree with me at this stage. These arguments are new and build on very recent work which will not be echoed in standard texts. The arguments might well be wrong, but nonetheless they represent a new way of looking at the evidence which, to date, has been largely overlooked.

One can conduct a similar exercise for the west of Britain and agree with concan that there is good evidence for the emergence of a new Hiberno-British culture in certain areas.
Peter Graham is offline  
Old October 28th, 2016, 05:48 AM   #95

AlpinLuke's Avatar
Knight-errant
 
Joined: Oct 2011
From: Lago Maggiore, Italy
Posts: 20,061
Blog Entries: 19
The villae [villas]


About the hypothesis that the Britons relocated their main social activities from the cities to the countryside, we should consider the role of the villae [villas] in this process.

The hypothesis itself is interesting, but it seems that also the villas had in part abandoned [see the work of Chris Wickham, Oxford University Press, published in 2006 "Framing the Early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean, 400800"].

In my reading of the genesis of the figure of King Arthur I have actually thought just to some surviving centers around some of the biggest villas. The owners of those villas had the resources and the money [until money was around, in fact it seems it tent to disappear after the end of Roman Britain] to gather local forces of warriors, also riding warriors.

If there was a mix of the existing Roman British culture and the incoming Anglo-Saxon culture, considering the dynamics of projection cities-villas, we should find clues of this just in the Roman villas.

I have never considered the matter from this perspective, so I will try and find out if archaeological clues are present in the sites of the villas.
AlpinLuke is offline  
Old October 28th, 2016, 05:59 AM   #96

AlpinLuke's Avatar
Knight-errant
 
Joined: Oct 2011
From: Lago Maggiore, Italy
Posts: 20,061
Blog Entries: 19
A case as example


On the base of the researches I made, my memory [so I have to check this, but it's just an example] suggests me the case of the site at Totternhoe where a Roman villa presents sights of Saxon presence [potsherds] in 5th-6th century CE.

The classical interpretation of this is that after the Roman Britons abandoned the villa, the compound had occupied by Saxons.

But I've never looked for villas presenting an overlapping or a mixture of the two cultures [I was looking for surviving Briton Roman villas].
AlpinLuke is offline  
Old October 28th, 2016, 09:30 AM   #97
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2014
From: Westmorland
Posts: 1,847

Quote:
The classical interpretation of this is that after the Roman Britons abandoned the villa, the compound had occupied by Saxons.

But I've never looked for villas presenting an overlapping or a mixture of the two cultures [I was looking for surviving Briton Roman villas].
There is indeed a strong possibility of continuity of occupation - I have no time right now, alas, but will come back to you next week with some references which you might find interesting....
Peter Graham is offline  
Old October 28th, 2016, 11:37 AM   #98

Aelfwine's Avatar
Scholar
 
Joined: Nov 2008
From: England
Posts: 816

Quote:
What we have is a repositioning of an urban society into a rural society. That might have led to political weakness, but it didn't necessarily have to. It did appear to lead to new ways of defining cultural identity, but that just brings me back to my core point, which is that what we have always seen as fifth-century 'Anglo-Saxon' culture is, in fact, a hybrid Anglo-British culture. The Britons were active contributors to a new identity, rather than just having it forced upon them by warlike maniacs.
The Anglo-Saxon cultural identity that emerged from the murkiness of the fifth and sixth century was solidly Germanic. The Saxons and Angles looked to Germany and Scandinavia not to Wales or what remained of Rome. Their religion when pagan was Germanic with all but one royal house tracing their ancestry back to Woden. Elite trade, such as it was, was with northern Europe; and the sagas and legends were all Germanic with British heroes in their tales . There were no attempts either by the Britons or Saxons to link their royal genealogies by giving them a common ancestry. They were in the late sixth and seventh century races apart. Now it is quite permissible, despite what you say to the contrary, to back project and draw our inferences from all of this. After all every oak tree has roots and also grows from an acorn.

We even have some written evidence from the early sixth century in the works of Gildas. He tells, in one of his calmer moments, of a fifty years long period of uneasy peace. Mention is made of how all the holy shrines in the east are under Saxon and are decisively out of reach. This infers Britons and Saxons did not mix. Races apart again. What happened to the Britons remaining in the east under Saxon control is hard to tell, and after a long period of warfare there may not have been that many. The ratio you mention may well have shifted in the Saxons` favour. But that obviously is speculation. The British brought nothing culturally and very little linguistically to the Anglo-Saxon party.

This is what Alex Woolf wrote concerning those comely British slave girls, servants, and hangers-on who entered Anglo-Saxon households over the years:

"Their ability to effect the cultural or linguistic identity of the community would have been minimal, and such households would have become ethnic sausage machines, recycling stray biological material in such a way that it would not carry its ethnicity with it into the next generation. Cumulatively, however, the biological contribution of this steady trickle of Britons into English households will have been enormous over several generations."

Quote:
The Britons were active contributors to a new identity, rather than just having it forced upon them by warlike maniacs.
If your use of the words "warlike maniacs" was meant to belittle me or annoy me, you have succeeded. I will withdraw from this thread.
Aelfwine is offline  
Old October 28th, 2016, 12:36 PM   #99

Haesten's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 2,317

Quote:
Their religion when pagan was Germanic with all but one royal house tracing their ancestry back to Woden.
Which one was that?
Haesten is offline  
Old October 28th, 2016, 01:49 PM   #100
Archivist
 
Joined: Sep 2015
From: ireland
Posts: 208

I`m not sure why you`ve taken offence Aelfwine, but your contribution is appreciated.
concan is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > European History

Tags
arthurs, king



Search tags for this page
Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
What would have happened had King Harold won instead of King William? HistoryFreak1912 Speculative History 19 July 30th, 2016 02:00 PM
King Authari the Legendary King Arthur and the Elves. Sage Celestine European History 195 January 5th, 2016 03:12 PM
At what age Pashtun King Sultan King Ibrahim Lodhi became King? Changezi Asian History 5 October 17th, 2015 05:15 PM
"The King's Speech" - King George VI during WW2 SchwartzBeWithU Art and Cultural History 1 December 25th, 2010 04:39 AM
"The King's Speech" - King George VI during WW2 SchwartzBeWithU History in Films and on Television 7 December 2nd, 2010 10:11 PM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.