Carausius and Allectus: The British Usurpers by P. J. Casey

By P. J. Casey

Lower than Carausius and his successor Allectus, Britain for a decade (AD 286-96) completed 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 resulted in the production of a moment tier of imperial rulers. Constantius Chlorus used to be promoted to suppress the rebel and his luck cleared the path 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 acceptance. His luck - and his adoption of Christianity because the country faith - was once to form the realm within which we nonetheless reside. This little recognized yet impressive episode within the heritage of Roman Britain has been brilliantly pieced jointly by means of John Casey, via a painstaking - and from time to time detective-like - sifting of the literary, archaeological and numismatic proof. The latter is as wealthy because it is complicated and is gifted with an impossible to resist mix of enthusiasm and readability. What emerges is that the independence of england used to be dependent upon navel strength. those rulers managed the ocean lanes of the English Channel and North Sea in a fashion that no naval strength had performed because the time of Augustus. within the aftermath of defeat, the abolition of a unified naval command diminished the Roman reaction to seaborne raiders to a reactive stategy, instead of an aggressively campaigning one. within the long-term this dramatic episode used to be to play an important, if fluctuating, half in renowned political mythology. within the centuries whilst insular debate used to be paramount, the rebellion held its position in literary and ancient dialogue, with mythical accretions freely grafted on; curiosity waned throughout the eighteenth century - merely to be rekindled within the current century, while a revival of Carausian stories coincided with a go back to insularity and a redefinition of political horizons.

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Carson’s scheme for the dating of the coinage can be maintained as a general framework for any discussion of the internal chronology of the episode with suitable slight downward adjustment of the date of the very last issue of the reign of Allectus. 4 THE LITERARY NARRATIVE THE LITERARY SOURCES GIVE A reasonably coherent story of events at the start of the reign of Carausius though they are partial in every sense. 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.

At the lowest level of significance they are simply things which fill an otherwise empty space on the coin. On the other hand, since the chosen themes vary with time it may be claimed that they represent a changing ideological portfolio from which symbolic representations, apposite to the times, were chosen. If we look at the designs on the current coin of Britain we see a suite of symbols which make a clear statement about inter-regional parity—a leek for Wales, the thistle for Scotland, the arms of England and an obscure local plant for Ireland because the use of the traditional symbol, the Irish harp, would constitute an unacceptable partisan statement in the context of the current political situation.

A few soldiers may have been allocated to the supervision of taxation, customs duty or the acquisition of military supplies; they did not constitute a force which could, or would, defend the ramparts of a fortified town. Like the forts and fortresses, the towns appear to have been, if not in decay, at least at a low stage of their development. Large inner city areas of London had ceased to be used for housing and deposits characteristic of decay, or horticultural use, overlay what had in the second century been attractive residences furnished with mosaic floors (Perring, 1991).

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