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"When did Arthurians become the Welsh?" Topic

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FilsduPoitou29 Jun 2023 4:21 p.m. PST

Sorry, I was daydreaming again at work and thinking about Dark Age Britain after watching a bunch of youtube videos on the subject. When did the Romano-Britons become the Welsh?

Obviously the most nuanced position would be a gradual evolution over the centuries from cavalry heavy armies, oval shields and Pannonian hats of the 5th century to the lighter infantry based armies employed by the Welsh during the Viking age, but from a wargaming standpoint, where would you draw the line?

The battle of Badon ~500? The height of Arthurian legend?
The battle of Dyrham in 577 with the death of three Briton kings, the separation of Wales from Cornwall, and the loss of prime grazing land for horses in the midlands?
The battle of Chester in 616, another crushing defeat that led to the Welsh Britons being separated from the Celtic people of northern Britain?
Brunanburh in 937?!

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2023 4:50 p.m. PST

Maybe when the Saxons drove them into the corner?

Wackmole929 Jun 2023 6:26 p.m. PST


The problem is the outer edge of Britanna (Cornwall,Around Hadrian wall, and Wales) Romono culture didn't stick to long.
Alot of the Romonobritish feld to Britanny. those who remained were never armed like late Romans.

Wales was always a place of light guerilla warefare type.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine29 Jun 2023 11:29 p.m. PST

I think wackermole has it about right. The further west and north you went the lighter the touch of Rome was. Many of the ancient British kingdoms carried on after the Roman conquest the chieftains becoming Romanised and took roles in the Roman administration but for the commoners not much changed and local Brythonic languages continued to be spoken. Hence you find kingdoms like Dumnonii in the west country reappearing in the 4th century because they had never really gone away.

The arms and armour thing is harder to break down Constantine III took the last mobile field army to Gaul in 411 after that I think the local garrison units slowly just became part of local society but when exactly they went from uniformed to more irregular I couldn't say.

42flanker30 Jun 2023 7:08 a.m. PST

'Welsh' and 'Wales' derive from English epithets regarding the natives of sub- or post-Roman Britain.

Given that, it may be more instructive to consider the Welsh name for themselves, Cwmry – said to derive from a Brittonic *'cumbrogi' meaning 'our folk' or 'us' or 'allies' (see also 'Cumbria,' etc) – and ask when the embattled Romano-Britons started referring to themselves in that fashion.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2023 12:49 p.m. PST

Tricky without a time machine, but surely not much later than Dyrham? When you lose the horse country, you lose the cavalry. Costume may have changed independently of tactics, too. See Y Gododdin, usually guestimated at about 600 and still with mounted warriors with armor, spear and shield. I'd be pretty surprised if they could have been mistaken for late Romans.

Unless I'm grossly misinformed, though, we don't have any tactical accounts with the level of detail we'd need for a plausible order of battle, and 6th and 7th Century archaeology hasn't been greatly forthcoming.

42nd Flanker makes a good point, of course. And to "Welsh" add "Cornwall" and "Walloon"--all deriving from an Old High German word for "foreigner." But self-identification isn't arms and armor either: the Byzantines still called themselves Romanoi long after they'd abandoned Roman equipment, organization and language.

Stalkey and Co29 Aug 2023 4:18 p.m. PST

The answer must be "yes".

Seriously, it's impossible to know except by the – often vague – comments of authors what might be a "trend" or "development" in a culture's timeline.

How long does a Roman helmet last, if you take great care of it? 50 years? 100 years? How about the swords?

When would someone stop wearing their great great etc grandads helmet?

All this to say, that there's not a good way to draw a line.

Playing and pandering to people's sensibilities, I figure the clothing would indicate the most recent changes, at least with the more mobile and "well off" nobility and leaders.

So I have Welsh from Old Glory that are in shield wall, and I use them as my dark ages welsh usually. The ones with longer spears and more medieval dress, also Old Glory, I use as later medieval types.

The archers just do everything – bit moustaches and all.

Hope that helps a little…

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2023 1:07 a.m. PST

In 580 AD after the WRG, LOL

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