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The Great Conspiracy

PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 10:47 am
by Aulus Flavius
Salve amici,

I was wondering if I could get some expert insight into this rather intriguing chapter of Roman history. For those of you who do not know the Great Conspiracy was a concerted attack on Roman Britain in 367 from Picts, Scoti, Saxons and Attacotti.

Vast swaths of the diocese were over-run (however some cities in the south-east apparently held out, suggesting that attacks against the Saxon Shore Forts perhaps didn't go according to plan).

What is noted about this attack is just how organised it appears to be. Each of these people had raided Roman territory in Britain at some point, but apparently never on this scale. Strangely enough, whilst the attack and Roman reaction is fairly well documented, there doesn't appear to be any mention as to why the barbarian tribes united like this.

What do you think could have spurned them on to such unity? A joint hatred of Rome? I'm at a total loss to explain what prompted these people to undertake such a coordinated effort to attack Roman Britain.


A. Flavius

De Conjuratione Magna

PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 5:13 am
by Valerius Claudius Iohanes
Salve, Aule Flavii -

Is the term "Great Conspiracy" a 19th century term? I hope one of our better-educated sodales can shed some light on it, because I had not heard of it before.

Does 367 AD coincide with the departure of legions from Britain? Was the Conspiracy perhaps just opportunity?

Sorry I offer only questions instead of answers! Right now I'm off to Wikipedia to see what their self-appointed authorities can offer on this....

Vale bene.

On the Saxon Shore

PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 6:54 am
by Aldus Marius
Salvete commilitones!

The period in question isn't quite when the Romans left Britain for keeps (that occured in AD 410); but it is the timeframe when the Saxon Shore forts were being frantically built, manned and maintained. Indeed, this is why the Great Conspiracy was even an option; the barbari, seeing Rome so busy on the southeast coast, figured a coordinated attack on the northern frontier could be a success. It wasn't that the Romans didn't expect trouble from Caledonia; but manning was tight, a lot of it had been 'permanently borrowed' and taken to the Continent for various civil wars and separatist movements, and most of what was left was on the Saxon Shore, where was perceived to be the greater immediate threat.

The Legions in Europe, who might logically have been made available to shore up Northern Britain, had their own set of troubles; many were being transferred to an increasingly unstable East, shortly to be wiped out at Adrianople. Basically, nobody was in a position to reinforce anybody. The tribesmen may not have been aware of this additional factor, but it certainly helped them.