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Britannia at 450 AD

By Imajin

 

Authorís Note: Apologies for the lack of a proper timeline, Iíll try to have one in next month. For now, just enjoy this addition to Seleucid Triumph. For those who have not read the timeline, a quick summary may be in order: Britain remains free of Roman control, however slowly a few Roman-influenced Kingdoms begin to dominate the island.

By 450 AD, the island of Britannia was enjoying prosperity through trade agreements with the Visigoths, as well as wealthy Romans from Gallia fleeing the Visigoths, and taking their gold with them to the Island. Traditional rivalries among the Kingdoms remained important, but the constant tribal warfare of the past was long gone. In fact, the independent tribes that had once ruled the island were also gone; the remaining tribes in the North had either been absorbed into Brigantium, or joined the Caledonian Confederacy. Tribal identities were all but dead, except in the Confederations in Dumonia and Caledonia. Due to lack of information, we will only cover the largest Kingdoms, being forced to ignore the lesser Pictish kingdoms on the northern islands or the fledging Republic that existed on the island of Manopia.

The Kingdom of Trinovantium was strongest state on the island, with the largest population. Attempts at merging the lesser tribes into the dominant Trinovantes had been successful beyond the wildest dreams of the Kings, with only the Cornovii remaining a distinct tribe. The King had organized their military on Roman lines, and in fact Rome, though dead as an Empire, was a still a strong influence on Trinovantine politics. Though the common folk spoke the Celtic tongues of their forefathers, the Kings and Aristocrats had switched to Latin. The traditional rivalry with Dumonia remained, but Icenia had long ceased to be an enemy. Trinovantium was governed by the King, who was limited by a High Council of pagan Religious leaders, Aristocrats, and wealthy urban mayors. This Councilís roles were not defined, and differed depending on the strength of the Kingís personality, however it often was very influential. Religiously, Trinovantium remained pagan, though Frankish Christian missionaries made inroads. A major problem the missionaries faced was the division of Frankish Christianity. Oftentimes, supporters of the leaders in Rome would be clashing with supporters of the leaders in Narbo more often than they were making converts.

The Dumnonian Confederacy was faltering and collapsing from within. The once-mighty Dumnonian Army had ceased to be comparable to the Trinovantines, and only the geography of the area and a powerful though slowly decaying wall across the southern peninsula prevented all-out conquest. Economically, Dumonia was also much weaker than Trinovantium, and thus had become essentially an economic vassal. The King of the Dumnonii ruled with absolute power in his territories, but this rule was limited to the southern peninsula, and he constantly clashed with competing tribal leaders in the northern peninsula. Already many petty kings in the north have begun to consider breaking away from Dumnonian control, tensions that would come to height in 475.

Religiously, Dumonia was almost completely pagan. The King of the Dumnonii had hated the Frankish Christians, and many of the northern kings agreed with him. The Dumnonian religions also eschewed any Roman influence, and were almost completely the same as the old faiths that had been practiced on the isles since time uncountable. This lack of Roman influence extended to language and culture.

The Kingdom of Icenia was a prosperous, if small, kingdom allied to Trinovantium. The Icenians loved all things Roman, with some parts of the nation being almost completely free of Celtic language. This love of Rome resulted in a large number of Gallo-Roman aristocrats coming to the region, which further hastened the complete Romanization of the kingdom. Icenia was legally divided into two states in personal union, Catevellaunia in the west and Icenia in the south, each with their own Kings, but more often than not the two kings worked together, and the division into Catevellaunia and Icenia was simply a matter of tradition. A senate was established as well, made up of representatives from all the large towns and cities of the state. This senate, working with the Diarchy, governed the state. Icenia had also adopted Roman religion with zest, practicing the Roman variant of Frankish Christianity, and was a major base of operations for missionaries headed elsewhere on the island. Icenia was the only majority-Christian state on the British Isles at this time.

The Kingdom of Brigantium was in many ways more barbaric than the civilized states of Icenia, Trinovantium, and Dumnonia. The tribes, though subordinate to the Brigantii, acted often as independent, and in many ways much of Brigantium was only tributary to the leaders. In the south, the situation was different, and there were many similarities between a village of Trinovantium and a town in southern Brigantium. However, once one moved past the border regions, things grew progressively more barbaric. The border between the Brigantines and the Caledonians shifted daily, with tribes defecting often. Brigantium was poor, and the warlords of the Brigantii tribe, who often would enter the territory of theoretically allied tribes and ransack their territory, did not help the situation. Eboracum, the Brigantine capital, still lay in ruins from a sack in 445, by a claimant to the Brigantii throne. In these dark times, the people have clung to their ancient religions, and fiercely resisted Christian missionaries on their territory.

The Caledonian Confederacy, referred to as Pictavia in some contemporary records, was dominated by the Picts, who were not Indo-European ethnically, though Celtic tribes dominated much of the south. Caledonia was by far the most tribal kingdom, but was in other ways far more united than Dumnonia. The Picts, the largest tribe, had one King, who was powerful enough to exert constant control on all the other tribes. However, taxation was not aggressive, and unlike the Brigantine warlords, the Picts did not attack their allies. This made them a powerful enemy against Brigantium, and warfare was constant. In battle, the Picts wore blue paint on their faces, and the allied tribes took up this practice when they fought together. Due to the hostility many missionaries faced in Brigantium, Caledonia had little knowledge of the existence of Christianity, though judging by what looks like little devotion to their pagan gods, missionaries would have done well during this time. Caledonia was mostly isolated from other states, but at this time a trade route that would grow prosperous was beginning with Icenia and Trinovantium. This would greatly promote the growth of the coastal cities, for at this point there was very little there. Caledonia was not the only Pictish state: small Pictish kingdoms existed on some of the northern-most islands, however it was by far the largest and most powerful.

 

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