Carausius and Allectus: The British Usurpers (Roman Imperial by P J Casey

By P J Casey

Lower 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 problem ended in the production of a moment tier of imperial rulers. Constantius Chlorus used to be promoted to suppress the rebellion and his good fortune 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 attractiveness. His luck - and his adoption of Christianity because the country faith - was once to form the area during which we nonetheless stay.
This little recognized yet amazing episode within the background of Roman Britain has been brilliantly pieced jointly by way of 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 used to be established upon navel energy. 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 was once to play an important, if fluctuating, half in well known political mythology. within the centuries while insular debate was once paramount, the insurrection held its position in literary and old dialogue, with mythical accretions freely grafted on; curiosity waned throughout the eighteenth century - basically to be rekindled within the current century, while a revival of Carausian reviews coincided with a go back to insularity and a redefinition of political horizons.

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Of the other occurrences conflated by Eutropius, Constantius and Galerius were promoted in 292 and the Pentapolitans, or Quinquegentianae, rose up in North Africa in the same year. Clearly the date of Carausius’s insurrection must be treated as a non-specific reference and merely as part of a generalized account of events in the early years of Diocletian’s reign. ) As we have already seen, Jerome’s chronology needs to be adjusted to take into account the missing two years of the reign. In reality his fifteenth year runs from January to December 298.

If so he was badly misled. Both Aurelius Victor and Eutropius record the death of Carausius, though not the siege of Boulogne. 14). The Panegyric of 297 next deals with the expedition to recover Britain, explaining that the three years’ delay between the death of Carausius and the defeat of Allectus was occupied both in the construction and preparation of an invasion fleet and with a campaign in the area between the Rhine and the Scheldt against the Chamavi and the Frisii (Pan. Lat. viii(v). 8).

At this juncture the newly appointed Caesar, Constantius, makes his appearance on the stage. Constantius had served as praetorian prefect to Maximian from 288; in this position we must assume that he served in a leading role in the unsuccessful campaigns against the rebel. It seems unlikely that he was himself responsible for any of the setbacks hitherto experienced by the imperial cause, for this would have disqualified him from the position to which he was now promoted. Ever since man started to wage systematic warfare it has been acknowledged that good generals are lucky generals and a lack of felicitas THE BRITISH USURPERS 43 would certainly have counted against a candidate for the highest office.

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