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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well argued case for total economic collapse as the cause of the fall of Roman Britain, 31 May 2009
E. L. Wisty "World Domination League" (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ending of Roman Britain (Paperback)
Esmonde Cleary begins with a couple of chapters considering firstly the machinery of the Roman state and secondly a comparison between Britain and Gaul in the fourth century (both valuable parts of the book, as most books covering this subject consider Britain in complete isolation both in respect of the imperial apparatus and the comparable situation elsewhere).

Unlike northern Gaul, where there was a decline in the cities throughout the fourth century, archaeology supports the idea that the cities of Britain were somewhat isolated from the continental troubles for the majority of the century, continuing to thrive and undergoing something of a golden age. However it couldn't last, and even the British cities began to suffer at the end of the century, undergoing quite rapid decline. The decline in Gaul had been longer and more gradual and the cities were able to adapt, and money still flowed in the economy. In Britain however, the cutting off of the money supply from the continental mints in the early fifth century dealt a terminal blow to the economy and state just as the cities were undergoing their rapid decline.

When 40 or so years later the English began to arrive, they did not borrow from Roman civilisation as the continental invaders had done, because there was no Roman civilisation left to emulate. In effect there was something of a blank slate, and the Britons began to take on the culture of their new English masters wherever they took control.

Esmonde Cleary presents a well argued case here based on the archaeology, but there are other historians and archaeologists (see for example Britain and the End of the Roman Empire) arguing that the archaeology demonstrates that the British cities in fact continued to thrive, even after the coming of the English. I don't know who has the more persuasive argument, but because of its scope I think that this is one of the better books on the subject.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A stimulating account of the darkest of ages, 27 Aug 2001
Dr. Christopher I. Pelton (Shropshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Ending of Roman Britain (Paperback)
Anyone who has ever visited a Roman villa or Hadrian's Wall and pondered their fate will find much of interest from Mr Cleary's research.He writes for the general reader but I am sure that his thorough scholarship will appeal to the specialist. The description of the late Roman system and 4th Century Britain is very informative. Because the written sources are so poor, the emphasis is on new archeological discoveries. To begin with, this material looks daunting, but the patient reader will find an elegant and poignant detective story. One can begin to imagine the trauma of the times; the nearest modern equivalent would be the aftermath of total nuclear war. You will be disappointed if you want to find the historical Arthur. Reflecting on the transition from a Britain incorporated into a European empire to an isolated island lost to history, I think that there are underlying themes still relevant to present debates over Europe.
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The Ending of Roman Britain
The Ending of Roman Britain by A.S. Esmonde-Cleary (Paperback - 5 Feb 1991)
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