An Age of Tyrants: Britain and the Britons, A.D. 400-600

Overview

An Age of Tyrants explores an obscure period in the history of the British Isles often referred to as Sub-Roman Britain. Such a label implies that social and cultural decline followed the end of Roman imperial control. But Christopher Snyder shows that Britain developed unique social, political, and religious institutions during this time.

Snyder's innovative approach involves analysis of both the written and archaeological record. Looking at contemporary writers such as Patrick...

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Overview

An Age of Tyrants explores an obscure period in the history of the British Isles often referred to as Sub-Roman Britain. Such a label implies that social and cultural decline followed the end of Roman imperial control. But Christopher Snyder shows that Britain developed unique social, political, and religious institutions during this time.

Snyder's innovative approach involves analysis of both the written and archaeological record. Looking at contemporary writers such as Patrick and Gildas, he shows how the cultural and political landscape was changing during this period. By the waning years of the Roman Empire, Britain was earning a special reputation as a "province fertile with tyrants." These tyrants dominate the historical accounts of the fifth and sixth centuries and tell us much about the transition from magisterial to monarchical power in Britain.

Combining this with what we know from archaeology, Snyder reveals a society that was a hybrid of indigenous (Celtic), Mediterranean (Roman), and Christian elements that preceded the coming of the Anglo-Saxons. An appendix explores how Arthur and Merlin fit into this picture. Snyder's other important findings include:

• The military arrangements of the Britons owed much to both Roman and Celtic inspiration.

• The spread of Christianity (and especially monasticism) after 400 was swift and unhindered by paganism.

• The economy of Britain was not completely coinless and, indeed, was seemingly vigorous with the revival of trade with Gaul and the Mediterranean.

• The growing cultural antagonism between the Britons and the Saxons would have far-reaching consequences.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
An Age of Tyrants is a well-crafted and thoughtful survey of a little-known period of British history. It is an attractive book for lay readers and specialists alike.”
—Frederick C. Suppe, Ball State University
Booknews
This study establishes an identity for the sub-Roman period of the island of Britain by comparing archaeological data with evidence drawn from the study of the vocabulary of written sources. The author first examines the sociopolitical terms Britannia, Patria, Britanni, Cives, Reges and Tyranni, then surveys over fifty British archaeological sites, concluding with a synthesized picture of Briton society. Paper edition unseen, $22.50 Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271017808
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1998
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,316,235
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher A. Snyder is on the faculty of History and Politics at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. He is the author of Sub-Roman Britain (A.D. 400-600): A Gazetteer of Sites (1996).

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
Introduction
Pt. I The Twilight of Roman Britain
1 Roman Britain in the Fourth Century 3
2 Independent Britain, A.D. 406-10 17
Pt. II Sub-Roman Britain: The Written Record
3 Introduction to the Written Sources 29
4 Britannia 50
5 Patria 58
6 Britanni 66
7 Cives 73
8 Reges 81
9 Tyranni 90
10 Miscellaneous Terms 109
Pt. III Sub-Roman Britain: The Archaeological Record
11 Introduction to the Archaeological Evidence 131
12 Significant Sites 137
13 Continuity and Change 217
Pt. IV Synthesis: Toward a Picture of Britain in the Fifth and Sixth Centuries
14 The Britons 225
Conclusion 251
App. A Arthur and Merlin 253
App. B Chronology of Events 257
List of Abbreviations 261
Notes 263
Bibliography 353
Index 389
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