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Interesting Events in Early British History



The Gallic Chronicle - AD 441

The Chronicle of 452
HONORIUS XVI (410)
Britanniae Saxonum incursione devastatae.
(The British provinces were devastated by an incursion of the Saxons.)
THEODOSIUS II XVIII/XVIIII (441)
Britanniae, usque ad hoc tempus variis cladibus eventibusque latae in dicionem Saxon rediguntur. Alani, quibus terrae Galliae...
(The British provinces, which to this time had suffered various defeats and misfortunes, are reduced to Saxon rule.)
The Chronicle of 511
THEODOSIUS II XVI (441)
Britanniae a Romanis amissae in dicionem Saxonum cedunt.
(Britain abandoned by the Romans passed into the power of the Saxons.)
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The entries in the above Chronicles leave the impression that the Saxons had taken full control of Britain by the year 441. This was not the case, although it may have appeared so at the time. Perhaps the statements were made retrospectively and phrased the way they were to indicate that Vortigern had fallen under the influence of the Saxons by this time and that the whole island would surely follow.

There are two surviving "Gallic Chronicles" which are named after the year of their final entry. The "Chronicle of 452," which covers the years from 378 to 452, exists as a ninth or tenth-century Carolingian copy and has two British entries. The second entry is written across two years, Theodosius II XVIII (the eighteenth year of the reign of Theodosius II, or AD 441) and Theodosius II XVIIII (442), but refers to the first of these years.

The "Chronicle of 511" is unlikely to be completely independent of the other; it is likely that both chronicles were based on the same common source. This chronicle has one British entry, dated to Theodosius II XVI; but, as there is a consistent two year error in the expresion of Theodosius' regnal years in this text, the corrected date is again, 441.

Bibliography:

Mommsen, T., ed., "Chronica Minora," Berlin, 1892

Jones, M.E. and P.J. Casey, "The Gallic Chronicle Restored: a Chronology for the Anglo-Saxon Invasions and the End of Roman Britain," Britannia, vol. XIX, 1988, pp. 367-98

Burgess, R.W., "The Dark Ages Return to Fifth Century Britain: the 'Restored' Gallic Chronicle Exploded," Britannia, vol. XXI, 1990, pp. 185-96

Information courteously provided by Jeff Davies of Llys Arthur


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