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Medieval and Byzantine History Medieval and Byzantine History Forum - Period of History between classical antiquity and modern times, roughly the 5th through 16th Centuries


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Old November 12th, 2012, 05:08 AM   #71
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I imagine it's likely that Arthur was a Roman officer who held out for a while against the Saxons. It's interesting that a civilised society could fall to pagan barbarians and that the barbarians had no interest in living in towns./bothered to rebuild them. It's also interesting that the local Britons, after the legions had been recalled, hired barbarians to fight the barbarians rather than create their own military force.

After Vortigern went on the rampage and the Saxons started taking land things soon fell apart. If only more sources other than Bede et al could be found, it is a fascinating and rather complex period of history.

Vortigern - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Romans in Britannia Prima hired British from beyond the Wall, according to our legends, whereas the other provinces, like all Romans, hired Germans. The whole point about the Empire was to keep the populace disarmed. And, by the way, wooden towns just produce 'black earth' which racist archeologists just shovelled out of the way.
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Old November 12th, 2012, 05:18 AM   #72

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A point which could give some suggestions about the nature of "Arthur" is that after a "Golden Age", the Arthurian legends tell us that his power was lost. No other leaders were able to keep such an organization standing after him [or them in case there was not only an "Arthur"].

Despite the reconstruction of a certain Roman British power on the isle, Arthur was not able to make it lasting, durable.

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The Romans in Britannia Prima hired British from beyond the Wall, according to our legends, whereas the other provinces, like all Romans, hired Germans. The whole point about the Empire was to keep the populace disarmed. And, by the way, wooden towns just produce 'black earth' which racist archeologists just shovelled out of the way.
Yes, this was part of the Roman legacy. Romans used this military / social strategy to involve Barbarian population in granting the security of remote areas of the Empire.

It's also correct that Romans wanted the general population without weapons [because of obvious reasons of control of the territory].
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Old November 12th, 2012, 07:30 AM   #73

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it would be worth pointing out that Arthur was made the hero of celtic heroic myth dating back into the iron Age. Obviously he wasn't around then (and there's no evidence I know of concerning a population of giants in those days, whatever ancient texts tell us) and therefore we see Arthur as being made the hero of existing stories because he was a popular hero. He had after all been credited with the battle of Mons Badonicus (some believe that was a victory for Ambrosius Aurelianus (described as from superior Roman blood, who would have therefore been a very very old man if that was the case and perhaps an unlikely general), a confrontation listed by Gildas though he doesn't mention Arthur.

However, Arthur's credibility as a ruler is somewhat blunted because most of it was invented after the fact, especially by Geoffery of Monmouth, and also we see records of a Roman called Artorius who is sometimes thought to have been the protoype for Arthur.

Personally I think the mistake people make today is assuming, like early medieval writers, that 'Arthur' is one unique identifiable character. Far from being a ruler, he was a succesful war leader (Nennius may not be correct about the title of Dux Bellorum, but's a very specific honour for a man if the title wasn't real. back then, titles meant something. You didn't call a man a king unless he was, or unless it thought he ought to be real soon.

What we're seeing basically is a romantic reinvention of a historical reinvention of a celtic reinvention of a number of actual existing men. Arthur, incidentially, appears for the first time as a name in the late 5th century. Bit of a coincidence there.
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Old November 12th, 2012, 10:20 AM   #74

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Quote:
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The Romans in Britannia Prima hired British from beyond the Wall, according to our legends, whereas the other provinces, like all Romans, hired Germans. The whole point about the Empire was to keep the populace disarmed. And, by the way, wooden towns just produce 'black earth' which racist archeologists just shovelled out of the way.

Well we had to keep the Celtic savages from the Western valleys in order. Tacitus said they painted themselves with blue woad and had a penchant for chopping each other's heads off for sentimental decoration.

He also said the most civilised people in all Britannia lived in Kent, clearly he was a very perceptive chap old Tassy.
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Old November 12th, 2012, 10:28 AM   #75
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Well we had to keep the Celtic savages from the Western valleys in order. Tacitus said they painted themselves with blue woad and had a penchant for chopping each other's heads off for sentimental decoration.

He also said the most civilised people in all Britannia lived in Kent, clearly he was a very perceptive chap old Tassy.
That was before the barbarians came over from Deutchland in their rowing boats.. They couldn't afford paint and had two heads anyway, both too ugly for decoration..
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Old August 13th, 2014, 10:59 PM   #76

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The hypothesis of Viroconium


I add a further option to the list of the possible sites of a nomad Camelot in Britain.

According to Graham Phillips there could be the possibility that the Roman city of Viroconium [today the village of Wroxeter, Shropshire] had revived in the V century CE after that Romans left the area.

The region is the one of the Celtic tribe of the "cornovi" [Italian definition], the tribe that gave the name to Cornwall. Claudius Ptolomaeus mentions two of their cities: Deva Vitrix [Chester, already considered in this thread] and Viroconium [also known as Cornoviorum]. The connection with this Celtic tribe would be a possible explanation of the traditional linkage of the figure of Arthur with Cornwall [it would be a relation with the tribe, which wasn't in Cornwall in V century CE, it's John Morris, Oxford Uni, to make the hypothesis that the Cornovi migrated to modern Cornwall around 460 CE, but there aren't all those archaeological evidences to support this. For accuracy I add that P. Payton says that the two tribes had the same name, but they were different entities.].

During the Roman occupation Viroconium was the base of the XX Valeria Victrix legion and a quite important center for mine exploitation [iron and silver].

Medieval later documents report that in late V century CE the city, abandoned by the Romans had reused by the Brit resistance and that a British chief leaded the local forces. He was Owain Ddantgwyn who actually carried a title recalling the bear ["Arth"].


ff fff
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Old August 15th, 2014, 02:57 AM   #77

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Camelot was a fictional castle invented by Chretien Des Troyes along with various characters he added to the legends, like Lancelot. Note the french derived spelling. Any attempt to locate Camelot is basically the same as trying to locate Rivendell in modern Europe.
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Old August 15th, 2014, 07:17 AM   #78

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Interesting thread but covering a lot of old ground.
There are three points to note:
1. There are strong arguments to suggest that Arthur or whoever it was became Arthur was based in the northern portion of the Roman provinces in Britannia.
2. The Welsh aspect of the myth could have transferred to Wales with a migration of North British to northern Wales.
3. The south-east of Britain in what became known as England suffered a total collapse of `Romanitas' very early on in the period - perhaps in the late fifth century.
What is bestowed on Arthur may belong to a number of individuals including Ambrosius whose name is remembered in Amesbury. There are also many suggestions of conflation between Arthur and Magnus Maximus among others.
It is too easy to build a mountain of myth and legend and pronounce it as history. There are two very dark centuries in the Dark Ages - the fifth and the sixth. By the end of the latter somebody started writing but by then the full story was overlaid with dynastic claims (usually bogus), property rights (stolen land) and brute force seeking some form of legitimacy.
Warlords! Who would have them?
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Old August 16th, 2014, 01:02 AM   #79

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Quote:
1. There are strong arguments to suggest that Arthur or whoever it was became Arthur was based in the northern portion of the Roman provinces in Britannia.
There are strong arguments to base him elsewhere as well. In fact, the issue of who Arthur was is hoplelessly confused. This is largely due to 'myhtic extension' - aside from the nine identified individuals who carried the name of Arthur in the Dark Age and in all probablility added to his lustre, 'Arthur' was also made the hero of other stories that did not originally have him as the hero, and indeed, old favourites dating back to Iron Age fireside tales were retold with him as the hero. We're all pretty familiar with medieval romanticism concerning Arthur, but many of the earlier tales are much more in line with heroic quests. In one, Arthur journeys in the 'Seven cities', each one forming a sort of spiritual test that is quite unlike the sort of tales we get in the Middle Ages.

Essentially what we have is someone who becomes a popular folk hero (very likely the victor of Mons Badonicus but of course that cannot be proven) at which point people want to hear stories of his exploits. If all he did was subdue the Saxons at Badon Hill, then to avoid risking the moans of "Awww we've heard that before", simply substitute the hero and tell another tale. It all added to the mix.

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2. The Welsh aspect of the myth could have transferred to Wales with a migration of North British to northern Wales.
Could have, but didn't. The welsh connection is based firmly in Southern Wales, and demographic archaeology shows no mass migration of the north British into Wales at all. I don't doubt some refugees sought sanctuary from the rule of the Saxon peoples - most simply paid homage to their new masters.

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3. The south-east of Britain in what became known as England suffered a total collapse of `Romanitas' very early on in the period - perhaps in the late fifth century.
Really? You're sure? The effects were various, including a period where people were quite happy after the Roman administration had been thrown out and no-one paid any taxes. There wasn't a complete vacuum of power of course. Some ares had been peacefully settled and others would be annexed either by force or diplomacy. Various petty kingdoms arose and as you might imagine, the lack of clear dominance produced squabbling both from internal and external factions.

However, 'Romanitas' lingered on. Latin offices were still being assigned as honours (Arthur himself was said to be 'Dux Bellorum' (Duke of battles, though I concede that might have been a nickname rather than any official status in the British Isles) and although the Britons returned to a diluted form of Iron Age social structure (which itself indicates that 'Romanisation' was not a totally assimilative process), the change was not abrupt apart from the rejection of government. There was however one aspect I must agree on - with the withdrawal of Roman military forces and the consequent loss of civil and military economic stimulus, coinage was debased and barter became established as the prime means of exchange again (Roman coins were adapted as decorative jewellry quite often in that period)
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Old August 16th, 2014, 03:01 AM   #80

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In fact Arthur, as historical figure, suffered from not having created a lasting Kingdom. These exposed his recall to the destiny of being misused by many subjects looking for roots of this or that lineage. Furthermore, a so indistinct personage has often been perfect to offer sustain to traditions without a so deep past.
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