View Full Version : Romans still in Britannia following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire

November 3rd, 2007, 04:54 PM
(I dunno if this has been asked before...)

By 410 AD, the Roman Empire had effectively withdrawn its military presence from Britannia due to its continued decline and the threats faced in the city of Rome itself.

What if, however, that the Roman Emperor thought it more logical for all/most of the Roman armies to remain in Britannia so as to keep in check 'Barbarian' actions in North Western Europe, as well as be an area of relief for the remaining Roman armies in Northern Gaul (even if this was not practically feasible).

Whether or not this results in the sooner collapse of the Western Roman Empire, how does the presence of Roman armies, in Britannia, who no longer take orders from Rome, affect the political and social development of the island?

November 3rd, 2007, 05:03 PM
For the time being stablity; an authoritarian figure like the commanding general would have emerged. Later on, a more Romano-British martial society, which that many legions perpetually in the country with cut off orders from Rome (who wanted to follow an idiot in Rome when everything was nice and cosy in Britannia?) would carry on.:o

November 3rd, 2007, 05:16 PM
Well, if the Western Empire withdraws to Britannia, they might be able to hold out indefinitely, especially if the Emperor goes there or a "rival" claimant to the throne arises. Britain could grow its own food, has resources for weaponry, and a viable economy. Christianity could unify the land in a way the Romans never did, especially if a Celtic church arises that is unique to this Britannic Empire. Heck, have the legendary Arthur as one of the eventual Emperors and he goes on a Crusade to retake northern France or conquer Hibernia. With time, they could be in a position to retake much of old Gaul, maybe even in time to counter the arab threat at Tours and Narbonne.

November 3rd, 2007, 05:17 PM
Very good. Make a TL of that. Now!

November 3rd, 2007, 05:18 PM
I think I did, it should already be in the system somewhere from about 12-18 months ago.

November 3rd, 2007, 05:52 PM
I think the idea of the Western Empire withdrawing to Britannia is a little far fetched. Pride, logistics and likely mass opposition to such a move would make it rather unlikely.

I do believe, however, that the idea of an independent Roman military dictatorship being established in the wake of the Western Empire collapse, and its eventual fusion with the islands civil society will result in a distinct Romano-Britannic culture and identity forming. The Romans will need to work and integrate the islanders into society. This will mean concession on their part. This will be a culture which will mix Roman and Celtic traditions, under Christianity and can in theory, be a very powerful force. Could such a society avoid the 'dark ages' all together?

November 3rd, 2007, 05:54 PM
there's the "Britons Triumphant" timeline, which is pretty similar to this concept, but the romans did withdraw in that timeline too... but it might be good for ideas

November 3rd, 2007, 06:45 PM
I think its too far fetched... They had to withdraw their armies from the island... Rome needed the British Legions so they could deal with invading Goths in Gaul and Italy...

November 3rd, 2007, 07:28 PM
410 - Instead of removing himself to Rome, the Western Emperor Constantine III decides that he should move the capital of the Empire to Londinium after deciding that Rome was indefensible in the face of barbarian invasion. He declares that all Romans who wish to live with him are free to move to Britain under the condition that able-bodied males serve five year in the army and moves all the documents he can from Rome to Londinium to build what would later become the Great Northern Library. Many hate Constantine for his decision and feel that he is abandoning his people, but war-weary locals are tired of a sucession of Emperors and somehow the provinces do not revolt. Using recruited refugees, Constantine is also able to establish a line of Gaulic territory including Normandy, Brittany, and western Aquitaine as territories for settlers. Another emperor from Rome takes the throne there in response to the "abandonment" of the people of that city

415 - Constantine III has been able to negotiate with the Frankish, Hun, and other invaders to grant him some measure of peace in exchange for lands in eastern Gaul. Italy is spared the worst ravaging as northeastern Gaul goes to the Franks, including Lutetia which becomes the local capital. Hunnish territories are marked in southeastern Gaul with a capital at Arles. Visigothic territories rule much of south-central Gaul while the Romans have an enclave along the northern edge of Iberia and the Suevic kingdom rules much of western and northern Iberia. Rome has been sacked by the Visigoths and Roman refugees are fleeing to Britain and the coastal enclaves en masse. Several thousand of these refugees flee to Hibernia in hopes of starting a new life and perhaps a new government, the local Irish populations trading with them and gradually forming a hybrid culture

420 - With the Romans losing the Crown Prince Constantus in a battle against the barbarians near Bordeaux, Constantine's son Utherium Augustus is in line to take the throne. Named somewhat in the local tradition, he is a wise and capable ruler with a taste for hedonism who decides to march with his troops as they retake Bordeaux the next year. He also focuses his policies on trying to attain a line of defense along the Seine, Loire, and Rhone. For now, their territory is barely a third of that, with Toulouse firmly in Hunnic hands and Limoges in Frankish ones. Most of coastal Gaul from the Pyrenees to the marshlands of Upper Germania is in Roman hands though no one knows if they can hold it.

425 - Britannia is stating to recover economically as trade with the Germannic tribes, Vandals, Visigoths, and Scandinavians is starting to revive the economy to some extent. Constantine III dies and Utherius comes to the throne, keeping his capital at the growing city of Londinum with over 150,000 people. This Roman Empire is slowly adapting to the local population and moving gradually north, for the first time in decades there are expeditions beyond Hadrian's wall to explore southern Caledonia. Smaller towns in Hibernia also apply to Londinium for protection against maurauding tribesmen who fear a potential Roman invasion, within three years they make their worst fears come true as Roman influence over the island begins to increase from bases at Leinster. Farmland here will quickly turn this area into a breadbasket for the Empire

November 3rd, 2007, 08:30 PM
I think Britian could survive and thrive as an independent kingdom, indeed I've read that the revolts in britina during Roman times meant that it was effectively independent for a lot of the time._____________ I think that what people want is the continuation of Roman infrastructure, industry and technology; paved roads, stone buildings, state equipped armies etc rather than the actual city and govt itself.

November 4th, 2007, 05:20 AM
Isn't one of the minor candidates for the "real Arthur" one Artorius, who was a British-based general who almost became Emperor sometime in the 300's?

(yes, yes, the times all wrong for Arthur, who was not a Roman etc etc, I did say a minor candidate.)

Given time, could the Legions of England turn Arthur into Justinian, by reconquering Europe?

November 4th, 2007, 06:58 AM
Dont know... 2-3 isolated Legions stuck in an island while Europe is being flooded by Barbarians might have a difficult time surviving... Even if they did they would be completely useless to future Emperors...

November 4th, 2007, 07:00 AM
heres a TL of OTL, I think there are severl good possible POD's in it55 - Julius Caesar's first invasion of Britain.

54 - Julius Caesar's second invasion of Britain. British forces led, this time, by Cassivellaunus, a capable commander. Despite early Roman advances, British continued to harass the invaders, effectively. A "deal" with the Trinovantes (tribal enemies of Cassivellaunus), and the subsequent desertion of other British tribes, finally guaranteed the Roman victory. Caesar's first two expeditions to Britain were only exploratory in nature, and were never intended to absorb Britain into the Roman sphere, at that time.

54 BC-43 AD - Roman influence manages to increase in Britain during this time, eventhough Roman troops are absent, as a direct result of trade and other interaction with the continent.

5 - Rome acknowledges Cymbeline, King of the Catuvellauni, as king of Britain

43 - Romans, under Aulus Plautius, land at Richborough (Kent) for a full-scale invasion of the island. In the south-east of Britain, Togodumnus and Caratacus have been whipping up anti-Roman feeling and have cut off tribute payments to Rome. Caratacus leads main British resistance to the invasion, but is finally defeated in 51.

51 - Caratacus, British resistance leader, is captured and taken to Rome

61 - Boudicca, queen of the Iceni, led uprising against the Roman occupiers, but is defeated and killed by the Roman governor, Suetonius Paulinus

63 - Joseph of Arimathea came to Glastonbury on the first Christian mission to Britain.

c.75-77 - The Roman conquest of Britain is complete, as Wales is finally subdued; Julius Agricola is imperial governor (to 84)

122 - Construction of Hadrian's Wall ordered along the northern frontier, for the purpose of hindering incursions of the aggressive tribes there into Britannia

133 - Julius Severus, governor of Britain, is sent to Palestine to crush the revolt

138 - When Hadrian died in 138 AD his successor Antonius Pius abandoned the newly completed wall and again pushed northwards.
A new frontier, the Antonine Wall was established between the Forth and Clyde rivers in Scotland.

160 - The Antonine Wall was abandoned and thereafter Hadrian's Wall again became the northern boundary of the Roman Empire in Britain.

167 - At the request of King Lucius, the missionaries, Phagan and Deruvian,were said to have been sent by Pope Eleutherius to convert the Britons to Christianity. This is, perhaps, the most widely believed of the legends of the founding of Christianity in Britain.

184 - Lucius Artorius Castus, commander of a detachment of Sarmatian conscripts stationed in Britain, led his troops to Gaul to quell a rebellion. This is the first appearance of the name, Artorius, in history and some believe that this Roman military man is the original, or basis, for the Arthurian legend. The theory says that Castus' exploits in Gaul, at the head of a contingent of mounted troops, are the basis for later, similar traditions about "King Arthur," and, further, that the name "Artorius" became a title, or honorific, which was ascribed to a famous warrior in the fifth century.

197 - Clodius Albinus, governor of Britain, another claimant to the Imperial throne, is killed by Severus at the battle of Lyon

208 - Severus goes to defend Britain, and repairs Hadrian's Wall

209 - St. Alban, first British martyr, was killed for his faith in one of the few persecutions of Christians ever to take place on the island, during the governorship of Gaius Junius Faustinus Postumianus (there is controversy about the date of Alban's martyrdom. Some believe it occurred during the persecutions of Diocletian, in the next century, although we opt for the earlier dating).

c.270 - Beginning (highly uncertain dating) of the "Saxon Shore" fort system, a chain of coastal forts in the south and east of Britain, listed in a document known as "Notitia Dignitatum."

287 - Revolt by Carausius, commander of the Roman British fleet, who rules Britain as emperor until murdered by Allectus, a fellow rebel, in 293

303 - Diocletian orders a general persecution of the Christians

306 - Constantine (later to be known as "the Great") was proclaimed Emperor at York.

311 - Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire ends.

312 - Constantine defeats and kills Maxentius at battle of Milvian Bridge; Constantine realizes Christian God may be a powerful ally and decides to attempt to co-opt him for his own purposes.

313 - Edict of Toleration proclaimed at Milan, in which Christianity is made legal throughout the empire.

314 - Three British bishops, for the first time, attend a continental church gathering, the Council of Arles.

324 - Constantine finally achieves full control over an undivided empire. He was a skillful politician who is popularly believed to have made Christianity the official religion of the empire because of his personal convictions. In actuality, that act was merely an expedient intended to harness the power of its "God" for the benefit of the state. He re-located the imperial headquarters to Byzantium, whose name he then changed to Constantinople.

Despite his outward enthusiasm for Christianity and its powerful God, he didn't close many pagan temples during his reign. He did, however, strip them of their former wealth, which was then shifted to various Christian churches. This produced the result that many of the fledgling churches were put on a very firm financial footing and many of their members enjoyed great prosperity. The persecution of Christianity had stopped, perhaps, but its co-opting had just begun.

Early Christianity had no official hierarchies and functioned best as a series of small church groups worshipping with and caring for their own members while spreading the Gospel in their local areas. Constantine's move created a top-heavy structure that would quickly depart from its original purity; a church beholden to the state, out of touch with the needs of its adherents and concerned only with its own comfort. Eusebius, the early Christian historian, has given us some additional insights into the motivations of the Emperor Constantine in his "Ecclesiastical History"

337 - Constantine received "Christian" baptism on his deathbed. Joint rule of Constantine's three sons: Constantine II (to 340); Constans (to 350); Constantius (to 361)

360's - Series of attacks on Britain from the north by the Picts, the Attacotti and the Irish (Scots), requiring the intervention of Roman generals leading special legions.

369 - Roman general Theodosius drives the Picts and Scots out of Roman Britain

383 - Magnus Maximus (Macsen Wledig), a Spaniard, was proclaimed Emperor in Britain by the island's Roman garrison. With an army of British volunteers, he quickly conquered Gaul, Spain and Italy.

388 - Maximus occupied Rome itself. Theodosius, the eastern Emperor, defeated him in battle and beheaded him in July, 388, with many of the remnant of Maximus' troops settling in Armorica. The net result to Britain was the loss of many valuable troops needed for the island's defense (the "first migration").

395 - Theodosius, the last emperor to rule an undivided empire, died, leaving his one son, Arcadius, emperor in the East and his other son, the young Honorius, emperor in the West. At this point the office of Roman Emperor changed from a position of absolute power to one of being merely a head of state.

396 - The Roman general, Stilicho, acting as regent in the western empire during Honorius' minority, reorganized British defenses decimated by the Magnus Maximus debacle. Began transfer of military authority from Roman commanders to local British chieftains.

397 - The Roman commander, Stilicho, comes to Britain and repels an attack by Picts, Irish and Saxons.

402 - Events on the continent force Stilicho to recall one of the two British legions to assist with the defense of Italy against Alaric and the Visigoths. The recalled legion, known as the Sixth Victrix, was said by Claudian (in "De Bello Gallico," 416) to be "that legion which is stretched before the remoter Britons, which curbs the Scot, and gazes on the tattoo-marks on the pale face of the dying Pict." The barbarians were defeated, this time, at battle of Pollentia.

403 - Victricius, Bishop of Rouen, visited Britain for the purpose of bringing peace to the island's clergy, who were in the midst of a dispute, possibly over the Pelagian heresy.

405 - The British troops, which had been recalled to assist Stilicho, were never returned to Britain as they had to stay in Italy to fight off another, deeper penetration by the barbarian chieftain, Radagaisus.

406 - In early January, 406, a combined barbarian force (Suevi, Alans, Vandals & Burgundians) swept into central Gaul, severing contact between Rome and Britain. In autumn 406, the remaining Roman army in Britain decided to mutiny. One Marcus was proclaimed emperor in Britain, but was immediately assassinated.

407 - In place of the assassinated Marcus, Gratian was elevated "to the purple," but lasted only four months. Constantine III was hailed as the new emperor by Roman garrison in Britian. He proceeded to follow the example of Magnus Maximus by withdrawing the remaining Roman legion, the Second Augusta, and crossing over into Gaul to rally support for his cause. Constantine's departure could be what Nennius called "the end of the Roman Empire in Britain. . ."

408 - With both Roman legions withdrawn, Britain endures devastating attacks by the Picts, Scots and Saxons.

409 - Prosper, in his chronicle, says, "in the fifteenth year of Honorius and Arcadius (409), on account of the languishing state of the Romans, the strength of the Britons was brought to a desperate pass." Under enormous pressure, Britons take matters into their own hands, expelling weak Roman officials and fighting for themselves.

410 - Britain gains "independence" from Rome. The Goths, under Alaric, sack Rome.

November 4th, 2007, 07:10 AM
Nice TL but i disagree with the arrival of Joseph of Arimathaea in Britain... thats a Legenda Aurea story... He probably never set foot there... Christianity indeed first came in Britain by 50-60 AD but it was Simon the Zealot one of Christ's Apostles who came there and preached not Joseph... Church's Fathers report that he was crucified on a rock by the Picts...

November 4th, 2007, 09:55 AM
Joseph of Aramathea may well have landed at Avalon. It's on the direct sailing route from the Mediterranean up the Bristol Channel. If you want to land without advertising your presence that's the place to do it.

We should very probably be speaking Latin.

The Saxons don't take over.

The British army goes to the continent in 469 to support Arthementius' campaign to restore civilisation to the westerm Empire. The Visigoths get defeated and the battle goes the other way.

William IV
November 4th, 2007, 11:55 AM
So would this be known as the 'Northern Roman Empire' then? I think Britannia would have made an ideal base for a Roman government in exile, provided it was defended by a good navy. Perhaps a large Romano-British army could have repelled the Anglo-Saxon, and later, Nordic invasions. It would certainly be interesting if London became the residence of the Pope and the centre of all Christendom. Great Britain may have evolved into the alternative Holy Roman Empire, a union of British kingdoms under the control of a central Imperial government.
I would certainly like to see a detailed timeline of such a scenario, complete with maps. Can't work out whether this is a Brit wank or a Rome wank though:D.

November 4th, 2007, 01:17 PM
The British army goes to the continent in 469 to support Arthementius' campaign to restore civilisation to the westerm Empire. The Visigoths get defeated and the battle goes the other way.

Who's that?

The Federation
November 4th, 2007, 02:49 PM
Romance Britain!

November 4th, 2007, 02:53 PM
He was a Western Emperor put in as the Eastern Emperor's candidate and had been a possible Eastern Emperor. The barbarians all had their own candidate and it scared the East Romans into doing something.

At once the drive started to restore the Western Empire with Eastern help.

North Africa was retaken and a seaborne expedition launched the next year to get the Visigoths. Unfortunately this got lost in a storm.

The year after an army marched up through Gaul to link up with the Roman-British army sent across from Britannia where they had just kicked out Hengist, and that of Northern Gaul under a Roman.

Unfortunatelty they got defeated by the Visigoths before the main Roman army arrived.

This is the story of Vortimer and Hengist who is supposed to have gone to the continent.

No, its not a North Roman Empire, the cives remained Roman for some time and with a good army would have been able to link up with the main Roman forces - war on two fronts for the Visigoths.

Its straight up.

November 4th, 2007, 02:57 PM
People always overestimate the importance of the Western provinces... They were underpopulated, and what population they did have was mostly foreign, no major trade routes ran through them and the oppurtunities for taxation were scarce.

The Roman Empire making a concerted effort to keep the West and the expence of the Rest would be like the French Empire dedicating all its resources to holding on to Algeria while there were hostile forces outside the limits of Paris. It's just silly.

November 4th, 2007, 03:50 PM
Perhaps one of the usurpers stays in Britain rather than making a grab for Rome itself? He'd be smart enough to realize that 3 legions might not make much of a difference in Italy but would darn well make a difference in Britain itself.

Dave Howery
November 4th, 2007, 10:04 PM
3 legions... what kind of legion are they by this late date? Surely not the standard foot legions anymore... is this the time when the legions began to be filled with various ethnic types using light shields and spears? What I'm wondering is just what will happen when the Romanized Brits have to face up to all those Saxons, Angles, Jutes, and assorted barbarians....