January 29th 2021.    

Upcoming club meetings:

Monday 1st February – 8pm.

·        Subject - This will be another ‘Zoom’ meeting, open to all members. We will be having a talk from John as well as bringing members up to date with any developments.

 

Neil has had an interesting token list sent to him concerning 18th Century tokens which I have added as an electronic attachment to the newsletter.

I’d like to say a special thank you to the members who sent me Xmas cards!

 

January Meeting

John opened the meeting by wishing ‘Happy New Year’ to all thirteen members present and thanked them for turning up when there was considerable opposition from Boris Johnson announcing the third Lockdown on the BBC. Clearly, Boris’ announcement means that we will be continuing with Zoom meetings for the foreseeable future. John further reported that the letter due to appear in the January issue of Coin News detailing the sterling(!) efforts of the club to overcome the effects of the pandemic, having just missed the deadline for the December issue, failed to turn up.

We then moved to Peter’s talk for the evening, a very topical subject, given the second biggest story in the news at the moment.

 

The Second Brexit AD410: - Constantine III

 

The province of Britannia left the Roman Empire in AD 410. Or rather, the Emperor Honorius told the cities to see to their own defences, accepting British self-governance. How did this come about?

 

During the Roman period, four legions were stationed in Britain (England and Wales). They provided some assurance from ‘native’ incursions, starting with Boudicca in AD 61 and continuing through the second and third centuries.

 

But this also meant that the Island could be used as a starting point for usurpers:

•       Carausius and Allectus (AD 286–296) The First Brexiteers.

•       Magnentius and Decentius (AD 350-353)

•       Magnus Maximus (Joint Emperor AD 383-388) withdrew troops from northern and western Britain, leaving local warlords in charge.

•                     AND: Constantine III, who withdrew virtually the whole of the Roman army from Britain from AD 406 onwards, to fend off the barbarians who had recently crossed the Rhine, and to fight for control of the Western Empire.

Constantine III, Solidus, Arles

 

But where was Honorius, the Emperor of the Western Roman Empire? Over a long period, Rome had declined as a city of importance in the administration of the Empire. In AD 286, under Emperor Diocletian, Milan became the capital of the Western Empire. It remained the capital until AD 402 when the Visigoths under Alaric entered Italy. Honorius moved his capital to the coastal city of Ravenna, which was protected by a ring of marshes and strong fortifications.

 

Alaric had been recruited into the Imperial Army as a mercenary, and leader of the Visigoths from AD 395. He successful defended the Emperors against usurpers. He was dropped during the anti-barbarian riots in Constantinople and Rome which ended with the assassinations of some of the best Roman generals, such as Stilicho the Vandal.

 

What Alaric really wanted was land on which his people could settle, but the authorities in Ravenna refused to give him any. So, he made a living by besieging and ransoming north Italian cities. He was in charge of the Visigoth army that besieged Rome in 408, withdrawing only after a ransom was paid. However, he returned in AD 410 and ‘sacked’ Rome to pay for his armies.

 

Honorius didn’t care, he was safe in Ravenna. The AD 410 sacking was civilised compared with later ones, with Christian property being left intact. The Vandals sacked Rome in 455 and the Ostrogoths in 546. Probably the most devastating event was the Sack of Rome in 1527 by the troops of Charles V. These were major shocks to the Catholic Church which remained in Rome throughout these times as a focus for the Catholics and Western Christian monarchs.

 

After an appeal to ‘Rome’, Honorius famously said in AD 410 that cities in Britain should see to their own defences. The external raids intensified and within a few years Britain was a very different place – with invasions from the Scotti, Saxons, Picts and Irish.

 

As for Constantine III who took the soldiers away, in AD 411 he was taken prisoner at Arles and executed. No more Roman coins were introduced to Britain.

 

The coinage in this period is still recognisably Roman. The main coins are the Gold Solidus: Government, big business. serious wealth accumulation and the Silver Siliqua: standard accumulation of wealth. Both these are common in late C4th/ early C5th hoards in Britain.

 

Assorted Bronze Ae 2, Ae 4 are found in their thousands – and used for market place transactions.

 

In the C5th, clipped silver siliquae circulated in the Sub-Roman period. (~0.7 grams silver).

Magnus Maximus (d. AD 388) >

 

In response to a question during Peter’s talk about his sources for the talk, Peter says he has a book ‘Alaric the Goth’ by Douglas Boin if anyone wishes to borrow it.

 

Answers to Gavin’s Quiz

1)      Whose portrait is this? Henry VII