By Matt Schwoebel (an amateur historical Arthur scholar/enthusiast)

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Friday, July 16, 2004

6. Late Roman History

The movie’s entire understanding of the Roman withdrawal from Britain is askew.  The legions in Britannia elected an Emperor, Constantine III, and went with him to the continent around 406-411 A.D.  The soldiers apparently picked Constantine III because of his fortuitous name (Constantine the Great was raised to the purple, made Emperor, in Britain).  He didn’t last long, but significantly the last of the Roman legions had now left Britannia.  Afterwards the Britons were left to govern for themselves (there is a letter stating such by Emperor Honorius).  Britannia was effectively no longer a Roman province.  The local Briton leaders, more Roman in the south & east and more Celtic in the west, would have asserted their right to rule.  Many people certainly believed Rome would return, but it never did.  Rome would not have sent needed Sarmatian cavalry to remote Britain when it was dealing with the more pressing problem of the Huns ravaging lands everywhere they went on the continent.  The movie is dated in the 440’s-450’s A.D. when Britannia was effectively no longer part of the Roman Empire (see point 5).  It depicts the Romans withdrawing from Britannia at too late a date.  Rome did not completely ignore Britannia between 410 A.D. and its downfall, but it had no real control of Britain during this time period.
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