Before the Romans invaded, the Britons were a collection of Celtic tribes, like the Picts or the Scots. The Britons were those tribes that the Romans were able to conquer, though they only did so with difficulty. They turned the old tribes into civitates with the same names, and when Rome could no longer control the island, Honorius passed the imperium back to them. After three centuries of Roman rule, the south and east became very Roman, but the west and north remained fiercely Celtic. Those influences now divide the Britons between those who wish to see the imperium of Rome restored, and those who see an opportunity for a revival of the ancient British ways. Some Britons imagine themselves as the heirs of ancient Celtic tribes; others, as loyal citizens of Rome; and quite a few imagine themselves as both at the same time.
Current Issue: Roman or British?
Even after three centuries of Roman rule, the tribes in the north and west remained fiercely Celtic. Meanwhile, the civitates in the south and east became quite romanized. While nearly all Britons can speak some degree of both Latin and Brythonic, and are familiar with both Roman and British customs (many of which have mixed into a unique Romano-British culture), most lean more towards one or the other. The revolution split along this cultural dividing line into the Nationalist and Imperialist camps. While the Imperialists await the return of Rome, the Nationalists are often divided by tribal loyalties. The Imperialists adhere to the teachings of the pope in Rome, while the Nationalists hold up the teachings of the British monk Pelagius, branded as a heretic by Rome, as a British Christianity. The Nationalists proposed the idea of a “High King,” but more recently, they’ve begun to rally around another idea, calling themselves and even the more romanized Britons combrogi — “countrymen.”
- Ystrad Clud