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I've searched for this book but couldn't find anything on the site so I hope this hasn't come up before.

Does anyone who's read this book have any conclusions on Johnson's theory on the removel of troops in first 10 years of the 400's and his assertion that Britain had already become independent of the Empire before 410AD?

I
Hi Fasta,
Quote:I've searched for this book but couldn't find anything on the site so I hope this hasn't come up before.
Does anyone who's read this book have any conclusions on Johnson's theory on the removel of troops in first 10 years of the 400's and his assertion that Britain had already become independent of the Empire before 410AD?
I
Why do you stop in mid-sentence? :lol:

I bought this book back in 1986, one of my first on this topic I recall.
Johnson makes a lot of sense, but he wrote this book 3 decades ago and therefore a lot of new facts were not known to him.
Nevertheless, he's sloppy at times (Magnus Maximus was not defeated in 388 at Arles, but at Aquileia).

Johnson is not exactly rocking the boat in his views. His description of Constantine III taking 'all [the troops] but the static frontier guard troops' follows the mainstream interpretation of the sources, but at the same time betrays that he did not have a good idea about the numbers of these forces. Evidently the field army units were smaller in number (if we take the Notitia Dignitatum at face value, and I see no reason why we should not do so) than the Limitanei frontier troops. Which means that Constantine thought he could do the job without weakening the defence of Britain very much. Johnson therefore may be sloppy in thinking that Constantine took the bulk of the army, but hardly unconventional so far.

Johnson is more extreme in his next step, the interpretation of Zosimus' account of the raid on Britain (Johnson places this in 408) and the following expulsion of Roman officials. He rejects the view that the uprising which followed the Saxon raid was a bagaudic one, again a bit sloppy because bagaudae were evidently not longer only bent on overthrowing Roman society, as they might have been during the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Later Roman bagaudae are also described as disaffected citizens of every social group, and these might have been for overthrowing Roman ruled and still have wanted to free the cities from the Saxons.

Johnson now connects two one piece of faulty reasoning (the apparent small number of Roman troops left by Constantine III) with another (that the group or groups reacting to the Saxon raid by freeing the cities had to be the common citizens) to conclude that the uprising of 408 was a British revolt against Rome.

I can’t quite follow that. Roman troops were still aplenty - we do not have exact numbers and the Notitia may not be complete, but there is no reason to think that the uprising was directed to all of Rome,. Instead, I would like to think that it was directed against the government of Constantine III. Even Johnson admits that the ‘rescript of Honorius’ indicated that at least some groups were still interested in contact with Rome.

Anyway, there’s something to be said for and against Johnson’s views, which hardly differ from what many historians think might have happened. The date of 410 is hardly more significant that the date of 408 or 409, however, since the sources are not clear in their dates. Honorius may not have written to Britain at all, but to Bruttium. And Ralf Scharf has recently advocated that the changes on the Notitia Dignitatum for Britain show that at least plans may have existed to regain Imperial control of the island by c. 420 – or indeed that this might already have taken place!
:mrgreen:
I ........can't remember what I was going to write now :lol: I must of pressed the submit button before I was finshed :wink:

Thank you for your reply.It's pretty much what I thought,but I was interested to hear from other people who had read it. It's a little old and behind the lastest thinking.It will teach me for buying books from second hand shops :lol:
Quote:It's a little old and behind the lastest thinking.It will teach me for buying books from second hand shops :lol:
It ain't THAT bad.. I would still rank it as a pretty good book, it's just that now, 20 years on, I can spot the small mistakes better.. :wink: