By P J Casey

Less than Carausius and his successor Allectus, Britain for a decade (AD 286-96) accomplished an independence which threatened the steadiness of the Roman Empire. With coastal parts of Gaul additionally forming a part of the separatist dominion, the quandary ended in the construction of a moment tier of imperial rulers. Constantius Chlorus was once promoted to suppress the insurrection and his luck prepared the ground for his son Constantine - who was once to take advantage of the province recovered by way of his father because the base for his personal bid for imperial reputation. His luck - and his adoption of Christianity because the kingdom faith - was once to form the area within which we nonetheless reside. This little identified yet awesome episode within the historical past of Roman Britain has been brilliantly pieced jointly through John Casey, via a painstaking - and now and then detective-like - sifting of the literary, archaeological and numismatic facts. The latter is as wealthy because it is advanced and is gifted with an impossible to resist mix of enthusiasm and readability. What emerges is that the independence of england was once dependent upon navel energy. those rulers managed the ocean lanes of the English Channel and North Sea in a manner that no naval strength had performed because the time of Augustus. within the aftermath of defeat, the abolition of a unified naval command decreased the Roman reaction to seaborne raiders to a reactive stategy, instead of an aggressively campaigning one. within the long-term this dramatic episode was once to play an important, if fluctuating, half in well known political mythology. within the centuries whilst insular debate was once paramount, the insurrection held its position in literary and old dialogue, with mythical accretions freely grafted on; curiosity waned in the course of the eighteenth century - simply to be rekindled within the current century, whilst a revival of Carausian reports coincided with a go back to insularity and a redefinition of political horizons.

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They are also very informative about events relating to the siege and fall of Boulogne and, to a lesser extent, those surrounding the fall of Allectus. They give only a superficial account of the revolt itself and the reasons for that revolt. There is no account of the manner in which Britain fell to the usurper, of why a part of the army on the Continent joined his cause. We are told nothing of his administration of Britain, of the reasons for his overthrow or the reign of his successor except that it was claimed to be oppressive by the panegyricist.

172–4, it was devastated by the raids of two German tribes, the Chauci and the Chatti, the former attacking the area by sea and the latter from across the Rhine. An imperial policy of restoration of settlements and the construction of forts did not enjoy success for very long. Frankish and Alamannic raiding in the 260s, again 38 THE LITERARY NARRATIVE 2 Sixth-century Christian tombstone from Penmachno. from across the Rhine, was so intensive that it appears to have led to the start of a depopulation of coastal areas.

But there is reason to think that the elliptical wording of the Panegyric is misleading. A more reasonable sequence of events is that Maximian was sent to Gaul to take over the THE BRITISH USURPERS 41 administration of the defeated Carinus and to deal with the Bagaudic revolt. Elevation to full imperial rank was surely dependent on the successful achievement of these tasks, otherwise Diocletian would have promoted his colleague to full rank in 285, rather than progressing him by stages from Filius Augusti and Caesar to co-emperor.

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