Notes: Episode 42, Roman Britannia (Part 2)

As with every show, I’ll list any corrections or clarifications here. If there’s anything I’ve overlooked, please contact me by email or in the comments and I’ll edit the notes to reflect the new information.


8:18 – Listen, we all say things sometimes that we wish we could take back. To categorize the Romanization of the Britons as not hurting anyone and no one minding is painting the entire thing with an awfully broad brush; Boudica, for example, had minded quite a bit. Keeping in mind the complex dynamics of conquest and imperialism, though, the Romans were in certain ways not the worst conquerors in history. They expected standards of legal and social behavior, but by the second century or so, the Roman Empire was becoming rather metropolitan; it was quite possible to be Roman and still retain your identity as a Briton, so long as you stayed in line on certain matters. So while I said this as though the Romans did nothing wrong in conquering the Britons, what I really meant to say is that the relationship between the Britons and the Romans was not the modern European mercantilist imperialism that we usually associate the term with today. Whatever resentments the Britons may have held, the Roman administration saw the isle as another province – not a resource to be bled dry.

17:42 – We definitely misjudged the sizes on this one. Europe is about the size of all of Canada, not the size of Ontario, depending of course on how you measure these things. Still, the point stands: The relative distances at play in the Roman Empire seems smaller from the perspective of a North American.

17:52 – “The difference between America and England is that Americans think 100 years is a long time, while the English think 100 miles is a long way.” -Earle Hitchner

19:11 – Phil is referring to the Schengen Area, created in 1995 to simplify trade within Europe and expanded and incorporated under the European Union. It’s not exactly synonymous with the EU – some EU states have opted out (Britain and Ireland), while some members are not part of the EU (Norway and Iceland). However, all future members of the EU are legally bound to join the Schengen Area. I didn’t know this region had specific name, so this one was entirely Phil.

1:03:16 – I was off by about a decade – the “Battle of Fishguard” took place in 1797 when a Revolutionary French force landed about 1400 troops using four warships. The force was made up largely of irregulars, and lasted about two days before disorder and a zealous local militia reduced the command to surrender. Militarily it was of virtually no consequence, but it did wonders for British morale at the time.

1:15:09 – I said that “historicity” is a real word so defensively that I thought I’d leave a note – I did look it up to confirm, and it is indeed a real word. Perhaps not incredibly widely used, but relevant to this specific case. It generally comes up in discussions of mythical or potentially mythical figures about whom people know things from sources other than historical ones; a common reason for discussion of historicity, for example, would be Jesus Christ and how much of his life verifiably happened from a purely historical perspective. (By the way, the mainstream view on this is that Jesus existed; history declines to comment on the divinity of Christ, which is only appropriate. There are some arguments against his existence altogether, but those are usually rather political opinions and often use poor methodology.) It would be rare to discuss it in the context of someone like Winston Churchill, for example, due to the plethora of historical evidence about him, though you could perhaps discuss the historicity of some of his infamously witty quips that are quoted time and again in a rather mythological manner.

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