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Constantine III, "the usurper"


He was proclaimed emperor in Britain by the legions in AD 406. His (honorific) name referred to Constantine the Great and expressed his ambitions. In AD 411 his adventure eventually failed and he was beheaded by Constantius, emperor Honorius' general. It is thought that Constantine had left so few troops in Britain that the isle became easy prey for Saxon and other raiders (Saxons = Vikings).

Constantine III

Shortly after Constantine III went to the continent, the 'Roman' (tax) administration was destituted. It is probable that he had appointed many civil servants (of reliable Welsh origin) to enforce his authority. One of the main tasks of those civil servants was to collect taxes. Tax collecting had to be fair and independent. In reality, the very same south-Welsh families who used to export goods to the continent, and fixed the purchase prices in Britain also collected taxes. This led inevitably to corruption.

At that moment, all taxes were sent to the continent in support of Constantine’s ambitions. Britain was deprived of the means to defend itself against the raids. As a result, a part of the upper class revolted and the tax administration was made destitute. The revolt happened mainly in the most threatened eastern part of Britain. People there must have blamed the Welsh for their futile ambition and corrupt attitude. This added to the age-old reciprocal resentments.

It's not so that taxes were no longer collected. They were simply kept in Britain, locally in the hands of the British lords.

In both wars (Maximus and Constantine), it is very likely that most finances were provided by southwestern Welsh lords who hoped for a renewal of the Empire. Unthreatened by raids, the southwest lords remained loyal to the imperial ideal. The Empire always had been a major source of income for them. The eastern lords had learnt a completely different lesson.

Constantine III had left so few soldiers in Britain that there was a shortage of skilled soldiers in Britain. To overcome this problem, many east-British lords began to hire warriors from northern Germany. To finance the building of those local guards, tax money was used.

This means that there were already Anglo-Saxons coming to Britain from at least 407-408.