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Northern Neil

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Northern Neil last won the day on May 31

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About Northern Neil

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  • Birthday 01/11/1962

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    HOMVNCVLVM, Brigantia, Britannia
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    Jazz Guitarist, Double Bassist, Accordioniste, Motorcyclist (British bikes only!) also I dabble in astronomy. Rock n' Roll, Rockabilly and forties/fifties style.

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  1. I think that the reason France, Portugal and Spain (as well as Protestant England) became great colonisers was on account of their proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Also, what about Poland and the Czech republic? Out of the confines of the Empire, North and East of the Rhine and Danube frontiers, yet majority Catholic. Dalmatia was part of the Eastern Empire after 395, yet Croatia and Slovenia are Catholic, not Orthodox. I'm not trying to dismiss your hypothesis, but there are anomalies which run contrary to it.
  2. It is debatable wether or not the Catholic church was a civilising influence at all, given that its eventual triumph over Paganism (and classical philosophy and science) heralded a massive economic collapse, decline in technology , fall in population, drop in literacy and diminution of a complex society in Western Europe. It may be currently unfashionable to call this a 'Dark Age', but it is somewhat telling that the rise of the other great monotheism coincided with a similar regression of society 200 years later in the Eastern Mediterranean. That society in both regions 'bounced back' (eventually) happened despite religious influences, not because of them. Classical science and philosophy was extinguished by Justinian once Christianity had full sway over the Roman Empire and its lost Western provinces. The 'Golden age of Islam' similarly came to an end when it became clear that mathemeticians and scientists started to discover things that ran contrary to the scriptures.
  3. It depends which time we are talking of. I'm not sure about the early imperial period, but during the late Roman era, one of the things that made the Germanic tribes so dangerous was their degree of Romanisation. Also many of them had served as soldiers in the Roman army. As the smaller tribes coalesced to form the super-tribes of Goth, Allemanni and Frank, larger forces were mobilised. I believe Ammianus Marcellinus (I cant be sure some of my books are packed away) made references to Germanic tribesmen using illegally sold Roman weapons, and employing tactics against the Romans that some had learnt when in service with the Roman army.
  4. I wouldn't say that saints are Roman gods in disguise, what I would say is that the Christian Religion - or the version of it which has come down to us - is the Roman religion in disguise. The process of sanctifying revered figures is a direct continuation of the Roman custom of deifying prominent figures. The depiction of Christ as being a stern man with a beard and long hair replaced his earlier depiction as being a cheerful, Apollo type figure at roughly the same time as Zeus / jupiter was replaced by the Christian God. It was all a cut and paste exercise.
  5. Northern Neil

    Mausoleum of Theodoric

    Been a while. folks... Anyway. The Mausoleum of Theodoric. Often described as Ostrogothic Architecture, particularly by people who want to deny the collapse of the West as being a 'thing' and to assert that the successor Germanic kingdoms (and the Avars, Huns, Slavs etc) where at a similar level of civilisation as the Mediterranean world of the Classical era. To me, this seems to be a Roman building in every sense of the term, derived directly from classical styles of architecture, designed and built by Roman architects and builders. Because, of course, by 490 people in Italy had not stopped calling themselves Romans, speaking Latin, or building monumental structures. The only thing that makes it Ostrogothic is that it was commissioned by the leading warlord of the region , who happened to be Ostrogothic. What do you all think?
  6. Hmm... am I at the right place? Anyway as I have been away from good old UNRV for several years I thought I'd re-introduce myself as a lot of things will have changed and moved on since I was last here. As for me too - I drifted from Roman history, to 'late antiquity' and then into mediaeval and modern history and have come full circle back to my true historical love. I have also drifted from the North of England to Central France where there is of course just as much - if not more - Roman stuff than the North of England, albeit of a different nature. It must be about 6 years since I last contributed anything, and probably 2 years since I last logged in. So - Hello!
  7. Northern Neil

    Reconstruction Of Things........

    In his 'Penguin Atlas of Medieval History' Colin McEvedy states that the last pagans were around at the time of Heraclius (early 7th century). I don't know what his source was, however. A year or two ago on BBC I saw a news article about modern greeks who have started worshipping the old gods, dressing in ancient greek clothes and going to Delphi etc etc. As an agnostic verging on atheism I say good look to them, at least it is a religion directly ancestral to their own culture. The thing that made me laugh was an Orthodox bishop, saying they were infantile and that their religion was nonsense. Really? From someone who believes that a guy walked on water and rose from the dead?
  8. Northern Neil

    Julius Caesar: 15 Things You Didn’t Know

    Indeed - and the writing was on the wall from the time of Marius and Sulla.
  9. Northern Neil

    Most Influential Byzantine Emperors/Figures

    If we are talking about influence due to actions, I would go for Romanus IV Diogenes. His bad judgement prior to and during the Battle of Manzikert started a trail of events which not only sealed the fate of the Eastern Roman Empire, but led to eventual supremecy of the Ottoman Sultanate in Eastern Europe, the drawing up of borders between nations which held sway until 1918, and cultural/religious divisions evident in the Balkans to this day. The fall out from this battle also resulted in the subsequent conversion of the Seljuk Turks to Islam.
  10. Northern Neil

    UNRV Brexit poll

    Many people in the UK who have genuine concerns about a range of issues have been either ignored or told politely to shut up for decades, and have been made out to be racist, uneducated or old fashioned because of their views. So, when a chance came to make a statement on this, a lot of people who don't usually vote came out in droves, and voted to leave. And who can blame them, when prominent populist figures have lied to them in the way I have seen over the past few months. And actually, I do blame them. Anybody is capable of turning off X-factor and Soaps for a couple of hours a week, and becoming properly informed about issues they then plan to vote on. Anybody is capable of switching on BBC Radio 4 occasionally, and perhaps missing the odd episode of 'The Jeremy Kyle Show'. The problem is, many of these issues aren't, or weren't, the fault of the EU. We will continue to import our skilled tradesmen from Europe for as long as average intelligence British youngsters are encouraged to go to university by their parents to get low value degrees, whilst at one time they would have become joiners, electricians or plumbers. We will continue to receive immigrants from the rest of the world for as long as English is a world language which most people have a smattering of, and for as long as unscrupulous employers deliberately make low - income jobs unviable for British applicants. Unfortunately, our farming industry will now take a hit as EU subsidies dry up, cars will cost 20% more to reflect the immediate loss of value of the pound, Scotland may well have another referendum which this time the SNP will win, and 2 million Brits working abroad because their own country cannot or wont employ them are now on dodgy ground. Just the tip of the iceberg. But at least we will retain our sovereignty. And we won the World Cup in 1966.
  11. In essence I agree fully with most of Caldrail's points with a couple of exceptions. I wouldn't regard the climate change thing as something that 'Merely kicked in 100 years ago' - it is far more grave than that; I was simply answering the question posed by the title of this subject, and explaining that it already has. Also I would say that the absence of human activity as a causal element in previous climate shifts does not neccessarily rule it out now. But otherwise, fully agreed. Also I agree that whilst it is happening, it is by no means certain that human activity is the sole factor. As John Bagot Glubb once said, the lesson we learn from history is that people dont learn from history. When our friiends from, say, cold regions of the US or Russia deny global warming because it is cold where they live, I am reminded once more of the refusal of many romans in the 4th and 5th centuries to accept that a major crisis was afoot, and it seems to be part of human nature to be oblivious of drastic change if it is played out over more than a generation, and see events contributing to that change as isolated events. I am pretty sure that people living in Crete or Egypt in 450 may well have said: ' I dont believe all this crisis crap from the senators. Life seems fine here'.
  12. As usual, I am at work in my coffee break and reading this thread, with none of my books to hand. I do seem to remember reading about an inscription found in York, in which a Syrian soldier celebrates being made a citizen at last. If I remember correctly, he renamed himself 'Antoninus' to broadcast his gratitude. I think that perhaps for one or two generations, the Antonine Constitution was a very big deal.
  13. To anyone over the age of 35, the fact that global warming is occurring is blindingly obvious, and it kicked in about a century ago, when coal burning in the industrial revolution began to make an impact. A current local cold spell, or even a snowfall in Egypt, does not cancel out the upward trend in global temparatures over the past century which is a matter of record, and clearly visible to those who can be bothered to look at the meteorological records. Who can look at ice cap shrinkage and recession of glaciers all over the world, and still deny it is happening? News agencies may not have made much of a song and dance about it, but heatwaves in Europe in 2003, 2009 and 2013 each killed around 20'000 in Europe. The fact that each of these natural disasters affected mainly the old, and played out over weeks rather than a single day, doesn't make them any less catastrophic than any Tsunami or hurricane. Just less sexy for news agencies - especially ones bankrolled by Exxon and Haliburton. I find the use of the 'Church' metaphor rather amusing in this context - I rather thought that the Church traditionally was unshakeable in its beliefs, closed its eyes to science and denied empirical evidence which threatened its own paradigm? One problem is, people now are much the same as they were in the Empire of the 4th and 5th centuries. We tend to see disasters or change as individual events, rather than symptoms of a far bigger problem, and refuse to accept evidence that our way of life - which of course will last forever - could possibly be under threat. And I havent even begun on the subjects of over population, peak oil and the imminent collapse of fiat currency...
  14. Northern Neil

    Roman constructions in northern Barbaricum?

    I have read that there are Roman structures in the Czech Republic and southern Poland; I have the precise references somewhere, but would have to wade through all my books, and at present I am not at home. These structures seem to be temporary in nature, i.e. marching camps etc. Likewise there are marching camps and temporary forts well forward of the Antonine Wall in Scotland, as far north as 100 miles from the frontier. As for Northern Germany and Scandinavia as far as I am aware there are no structures which can be definitely verified as Roman. Yet.
  15. Northern Neil


    'Illegal' immigration into Britannia during the 5th century certainly had a profound effect. Genetically, it has been found ( see oppenheimer etc ) that the Anglo Saxon, viking and Norman invasions only account for 8% of the British genetic makeup* - and yet almost all of the British Isles speak a language derived from a mixing of dialects imported from Lower Germany, with some Scandinavian and Norman French input. Despite being Celts in the ethnic sense (whatever that word really means ) almost none of us speaks Welsh, Cornish or Gaelic. The same situation exists in Turkey, where the language and identity of a relatively small proportion of central Asian nomads was imposed upon a population which, in the genetic sense, is not very different from that of Anatolia prior to the disaster at Manzikert. Which means, wether they like it or not, most Turks have a great deal of Greek and Armenian genes! Back on topic though, it sems to me that Germanic influx into the Empire had relatively little effect. Spain and Gaul still speak a Latin based language despite the Franks and the visigoths. *The sample data obtained, of course, from indigenous British people. The current population migration into Britain from South Asian countries is far larger, proportionally, than the tiny Saxon influx in the 5th century...