Less DA Binchy Code, Please… St Patrick’s Origins: In His Own Words (2)

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Vox Hiberniae flying over Glendalough, Co. Wicklow. Image: Europeanstamps.net / Public Domain

(…continued from Part 1)

Patricks Origins: In His Own Words

Which brings us (finally!) to the matter at hand. In the light of all the above considerations – what does the historical Patrick actually say about his origins in his own writings? As previously noted, Patrick  uses the term ‘Britanniis’ a total of three times. One of those examples is not entirely specific as to his origins, although it does infer the location of his clerical background in later life, and the location where his family apparently pleaded with him not to leave – just prior to his setting off for Ireland. I include here anyway:

In relation to his ecclesiastical superiors finding him unsuitable for the rank of Bishop he states that (the formal case) occurred:

quod ego non interfui nec in Brittannis eram nec a me orietur ut et ille in mea absentia pulsaret pro me
…at which I was not in attendance, nor was I present in ‘The Britains’ , nor did the urging of it originate from me in my absence…
Patricius, Confessio 32

The second example is somewhat more specific: identifying his parents’ home and a place previously unspecified (in his dream of escape) as his homeland – to which he eventually returned, several years after making said escape:

Et iterum post paucos annos in Brittanniis eram cum parentibus meis,
And again after a few years, I was in ‘The Britains’ with my parents…
Patricius, Confessio 23

The third example is almost certainly conclusive. Just prior to it, Patrick expresses concern  at the perils under which some of his recent converts in Ireland operate – along with his fears of leaving them for long periods. This is framed against the wider (implied) accusation from external critics that he is refusing to return to Britain to answer charges of wrongdoing:

Unde autem etsi uoluero amittere illas et ut pergens in Brittanniiset libentissime paratus eram quasi ad patriam et parentes; non id solum sed etiam usque ad Gallias uisitare fratres et ut uiderem faciem sanctorum Domini mei
Moreover, I even yet wish to be let go/released, so that I could proceed to ‘The Britains’ – and I was most willing and resolved to, as if to my fatherland/home country and my parents – not only that land/country/region, but indeed also further, all the way to ‘The Gauls’ to visit the Brethren in order that I would look at/perceive the faces of the saintly ones of my Lord…
Patricius, Confessio 43

‘Oops… I Did It Again’

In short, Patrick states his desire (if he could) to leave Ireland, not least for personal and familial reasons. Not only does he (again) identify his home country and that of his parents as being in ‘The Britains’, he also states his wish to go even further  – all the way to (the equally plural) ‘The Gauls’ in order to see a group of ecclesiastical brethren. The two regional locations, both of which were collective/provincial Roman territories,  are specifically separated in both subject matter, designation and distance. ‘The Gauls’ are – to his mind and perspective – further away from both Ireland and ‘The Britains’, at a distance which apparently involved a separate journey to get there. In other words, from Patrick’s perspective, being in ‘The Britains’ was not the same as being in ‘The Gauls’.

‘Inside Out’ – Patrick’s use of ‘Britanniis’ V Late Antiquity

As we can see then, Patrick’s Latin usage of both ‘The Gauls’ and ‘The Britains’ as overall designators of provincial and geographical units within the Roman administrative system in late antiquity, tallies closely with that of other independent, contemporary authors who also used ‘Britanniis’ in a similar fashion when referring to a specific insular British identity (made up of collective provinces)  within the geographic island itself. Interestingly, there are also several further subtextual indications within his writings which – when viewed in their respective contexts – suggest not only the same, but also infer a deep awareness of, and personal conflict regarding, his own insular British identity and the conduct of other fellow Britons.

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Photo credit: mharrsch / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA)

‘I’m a Slave 4U’

Patricks Epistola (Letter to Soldiers of Coroticus) is the shorter and perhaps less famous of his surviving documents – but it contains significant implications as to his conceptual understanding of his own identity. The Epistola is particularly interesting as it is a second communique, written in haste, and while nominally addressed to Coroticus and his supporters, is in actuality, an open letter to multiple Christian audiences in both Ireland & Britain.

Coroticus was the leader of a band of pirates/raiders who had just killed and captured a number of Patrick’s recent converts. The Epistola is Patricks angry remonstrating. The fact that this event had just occured – and as he tells us himself he had already sent a previous letter to Coroticus which had been scorned – indicates that Coroticus and his soldiers were relatively close by and ‘reachable’. Coupled with Patrick’s overriding anger at such treatment being meted out by (nominally) fellow Christians, his plea for other Christians not to accept alms or hospitality from Coroticus, along with the identification of his allies being Irish and Picts – strongly implies (before we even get into specifics) that Coroticus and his band were fellow Romano-Britons.

At the very start, Patrick admonishes them by saying:

I cannot say that they are my fellow-citizens, nor fellow-citizens of the saints of Rome, but fellow-citizens of demons, because of their evil works…
Epistola 2

Note the double use and the deliberate separation of ‘fellow citizens’. In Patrick’s eyes, he is denouncing both a shared Roman/Civilian/Provincial identity – and – a Christian identity. But wait, you say, surely he could be equally talking about fellow Christians/citizens in Gaul? (Well done on still being awake.) Hold that thought…

Further on, concerning the subject of the ill-treatment and prejudice accorded to him and his Irish converts he utilizes biblical echoes to ram home his point:

If my own people do not recognise me, still no prophet is honoured in his own country.
Epistola 11

Immediately after that, Patrick castigates Coroticus:

…the evil-minded Coroticus. He is far from the love of God, who betrays Christians into the hands of Scots (Irish) and Picts.
Epistola 12

Note the specific inferences. Coroticus was trafficking (Christian) slaves to pagan Irish and Pictish buyers. By implication, he is not of either background. There is no mention of him trafficking slaves to Britons. Coroticus himself would not have needed reminding of who he was selling slaves to. The section is squarely aimed at a Romanised audience who would presumably have shared Patrick’s horror of such transgressions – hence his motivation for writing it and channelling biblical echos for added effect.  Patrick was not trying to shame Coroticus for enslaving Irish people –  he was trying to shame him for enslaving ‘Christian’ Irish people. Worse, in his eyes, is that they were expected to be then sold on to Non-Romans/Non-Christian owners, i.e. people outside the umbrella of Romano-British identity. He is therefore appealing to the Christianised ‘Romanitas’ of his audience – as well as shaming any who may partake of alms, hospitality or any other dealings with him in the future.

That audience then, are of the same background as Patrick and Coroticus i.e. Patricks ‘fellow citizens’, his ‘fellow Christians’, his ‘own people’ from his ‘own country’ who do not recognise him, his mission, or the new Christianised status of his Irish converts. For any of this to even potentially work in Patrick’s favour, Coroticus needs to be (nominally) Christian and Romano-British. And if Coroticus was Romano-British… then so was Patrick.

But wait again, you say. Maybe he was talking to fellow citizens of Christian Gauls, in the same way as before? Well done. This is where it all starts to fall into place…

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Photo credit: peterjr1961 / Flickr (CC BY-NC)

‘Don’t Keep Me Waiting’

Patrick uses a very interesting example to further shame both Coroticus and his intended Romano-British audience:

The Christians of Roman Gaul have the custom of sending holy and chosen men to the Franks and to other pagan peoples with so many thousands in money to buy back the baptised who have been taken prisoner. You, on the other hand, kill them, and sell them to foreign peoples who have no knowledge of God.
Epistola 14

Lets say, for argument’s sake, that Patrick was a Breton or Gaulish person – and was talking to fellow Christians of Roman Gaul – would he have had the need to explain their own customs and actions, or indeed, identify themselves to themselves? Would he then have contrasted themselves with their own behaviour? Of course not. What Patrick is attempting here, is the further shaming of Coroticus, as well as his ‘fellow citizens’ and members of his ‘own people’ by holding up an example of Christian behaviour elsewhere i.e. Gaul. If he is informing them of customs from Gaul, then they have to be Romano-British. Both they and Coroticus have ‘knowledge of God’ and as Romano-Britons and nominal  Christians, they are offending his sensibilities by selling his captured converts to those without i.e the pagan Picts and Irish.

By logic and implication alone, Patrick’s largest target audience in his letters – aside from his surviving Irish converts and Coroticus & Co. – are fellow Christians resident somewhere in Britain – not Gaul, or Brittany – and in particular, in regions likely to be in close proximity to Irish and Pictish activity. They are the same people he specifically identifies as fellow countrymen, fellow citizens and fellow Christians. They are the same people who he identifies as ‘our own’ when referencing the large number of descendants born to foreign slaves trafficked to, and within, Ireland (‘et de genere nostro qui ibi nati sunt nescimus numerum eorum’: Confessio 42). They are the same people to which he uses biblical rhetoric against – for their  ‘unneighbourly’ behaviour towards Irish converts (Epistola 1, 9, 16).

For him, or them, to have been anything other than Romano-Britons involves making everything a hell of a lot more complicated, implausible, uneconomical, unrealistic and nonsensical – in addition to completely disregarding Patrick’s actual words specifying ‘The Britains’ – and that of the attested meaning and intention of independent contemporary usage of the same.

‘I Wanna Go’

Lets fast forward 200 years or so, to the earliest surviving Insular Irish hagiography of  the mid-late seventh century when Armagh was successfully manipulating the cult, status, authority and ancient authenticity of ‘Saint’ Patrick as a vehicle for all Ireland ecclesiastical primacy. Contrary to those who believe in the popular misconception of some class of independent ‘celtic christianity’, the Early Irish Church was very interested in proclaiming and projecting its loyalty to, and succession from, the See of Peter in Rome. Armagh, in particular, was very interested in positioning itself as the national ecclesiastical mediator. By acting as disseminator of papal authority in Ireland, it hoped to cement its own national primacy. As part of the effort, it apparently sought out what were likely some of the earliest surviving evidence from the earliest Christian missionary period – that of Patricks writings – and started to project itself as the official ‘heir of Patrick’.

Imagine their surprise when they became aware of the continental roman account of a completely different fifth century bishop by another name, apparently dispatched by a pope, to fifth century Ireland. A significant retro-fitting ensued in order to fuse depicted dates, activities (and in Patrick’s case, a non-existent papal authority) into a pseudo-historical hagiographical framework that facilitated all disparate strands and avenues of a combined ‘saintly’ past.

Image: Author

A brief glance at the earliest patrician hagiography from this time, either Tírechán or Muirchú, illustrates the extent to which they went to in order to portray Patrick’s episcopal training, authority and mission as coming from both Gaul and/or Rome. Muirchú (I.6-I.9) presents Patrick as having intentions of travelling to Rome – but then somehow managing to get distracted in Gaul for 30-40 years –  before conveniently hearing of the death and failure of Palladius in Ireland. The saint subsequently receives episcopal consecration and returns to Ireland to do battle with anyone remotely smelling of paganism and/or anyone who looked at him crookedly. Tírechán (1,6) has Patrick backpacking around Gaul and Italy for 37 years before charting a party cruiser and arriving off the Irish coast with a plethora of Gaulish support staff and hangers-on…

And yet, not once do they infer that he was himself either Breton or Gaulish.

Although having ample opportunity & significant ecclesiastical motivation to reinvent him as being from the continent (closer to Roman/papal sanction/authority/blessing) – not to mention removing at a stroke the stain of illegitimate authority from elsewhere, or indeed, nowhere –  they do not even attempt to do so. Strange, considering that it would have made things an awful lot easier for their respective political and ecclesiastical purposes.

Muirchú is in fact very specific:

Patrick, also named Sochet, a Briton by race, was born in Britain. His father was Cualfarnius, a deacon, the son (as Patrick himself says) of a priest, Potitus, who hailed from Bannavem Thaburniae, a place not far from our sea.
Muirchú 1.1
the-benediction-of-saint-patrick_l

Photo Credit: starbeard / Flickr (CC BY)

‘Out From Under’

People in Early Medieval Ireland obviously had no reason to believe he was from anywhere other than Britain. Patricks British identity and origins (as reflected in his own writings) were apparently well established, well-known and well attested in both  Irish tradition and early ecclesiastical history by the late seventh century – (his actual writings were known in some form or other to Tírechán, Muirchú and Ultán). So well attested, in fact, that the early Irish church did not even attempt to infer a Gaulish origin, let alone a secondary British/Breton diaspora resident in Gaul.

Patrick the saint – despite his portrayed lengthy hagiographical sojourns in Gaul –  is and always has been, portrayed as Romano-British by his earliest hagiographers and by the vast majority of scholars who have applied serious historical analysis to the subject over the last century or so. Given the fractious nature of Patriciana in general – where every single inane detail and interpretation surrounding him has been argued over ad infinitum – this strange exception, accepted by almost all sides at the earliest visible historical horizon we can detect in early Irish history, looms large and somewhat a little too loudly to be shouted down from a distance of 1500 years.

Ignoring such evidence in favour of hammering much later versions into the equation is lazy, pedestrian and smacks of modern-day sensationalism of the Dan Brown variety. As previously mentioned, it does not do justice to many the relevant disciplines, credentials, abilities and expertise of decades of Patrician scholars who have previously looked at the theory and have found the Breton position entirely lacking. Nor indeed, does it do justice to the earliest insular sources, their contents, the historical individuals concerned, their respective contemporary contexts, and most of all, the original words of the historical Patrick himself, upon which all modern-day scholarly consensus is firmly laid upon.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of all this, to those who actually take the time and effort to engage in serious study, is that everything presented above – sources, editions and their respective translations – are all freely available online in the last few years; retrievable within a few minutes by anyone with a rudimentary understanding of google, and an inclination towards historical first principles. Through open access websites and data repositories – such as the Royal Irish Academy St Patrick’s Confessio Hypertext Stack Project – anyone can search  out such original texts for themselves, should they so desire. No need to have to resort to reading those ‘experts in Dublin’.

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Photo credit: shawdm / Flickr / CC BY-NC

‘Dear Diary’

Speaking of which, that reminds me of Rev. Losack’s implication of possible academic conspiracies surrounding the ongoing mistranslation of ‘Britanniis’ and in particular the RIA ‘removing the plural form of the original and still referring to the island of Britain, exclusively’. While I certainly cannot speak for the RIA, I feel compelled to point out that the wonderfully clear, modern, concise and readable translation by McCarthy on the Confessio website was no doubt intended to be read by the widest general audience. In this it succeeds marvellously – its modern rendering removing many of the problems involved in translating the more obtuse arrangement, syntax and regularly disrupted flow of Patrick’s original text.

In so doing, it nevertheless imparts the correct identification and original meaning behind Patrick’s own words – in much the same way as anyone choosing to translate, say, a reference in an English text to “The States” into that of “l’amérique” in French. If Rev Losack would care to check some of the other well-known translations of the Confessio, he would no doubt find that many others have opted to render it in the same way. One only has to seek out the more critical translations with academic footnotes, or papers & articles intended for academic audiences, to find that yes indeed, it is occasionally given as that literally expressed.

‘Anticipating’

And so, while not wishing to stamp on anyone’s hopes and dreams, especially those with an apparent penchant for over-dramatic, ‘celtic’ peddling, da binchy code-esque conspiracy claiming, quasi-mystical twaddle – of the sort dressed up as ‘lost’ arcane knowledge, conjured up by the likes of those who have listened to one too many Clannad albums – I fear I must deflate his impressions on this matter. Alas, there is no secret academic cabal hidden away in a dank dungeon in the depths of Dawson Street, flagellating themselves with copies of the Cathach after hours.Britanniis’, in the plural, has long been acknowledged, accepted and understood by the scholarly community. Forgive them for endeavoring to make things  less complicated  for the more general reader who is unfamiliar, and if we’re being honest, probably not all that interested in the exact minutia of fifth century Latin. Especially when the chosen translation is merely a modern rendering of the same thing.

‘Work B1tch’

Having gone through some of the main reasons why such a position does not add up, or even make sense, when you examine the actual contexts and sources involved – there is  precious little more to add. Except, perhaps, to disagree with Dr. Johnston’s original critique: that ‘the place-name evidence, adduced by Marcus Losack, does not carry any historical weight‘.

It’s not so much a case of it having no historical weight; its more a case of it being so utterly enfeebled as to need a serious course of antibiotics, ahead of medical assistance, in order for it to even make it, blinking and wheezing, onto the page. There is more weight, depth, critical mass and insight contained within the whispy remains of a dead fart wafting through the hot air billowing out of an academic common room at closing time on the last day of term – than there is in the old Patrician ‘Breton Theory’ as rehashed by Rev. Losack.

I nevertheless wish him all the very best with his book and, perhaps more importantly, any spin-off tours that may come out of it. What a stroke of luck for all concerned that he happens to be in the pilgrimage giving and spiritual guiding business. Who knows, we may just be witnessing the birth of a new Patrician pilgrimage site; an Armorican encore, so to speak, with Rev Losack as a modern day Sir Tristram, preaching mishe mishe thouartpatrick to everyone elses tuff tuff on a scraggy isthmus of Europe minor.

+ + +

It seems only fitting to leave the historical Patrick with the last word:

I ask insistently whatever servant of God is courageous enough to be a bearer of these messages, that it in no way be withdrawn or hidden from any person. Quite the opposite – let it be read before all the people…
Epistola 21

It may have taken 1500 years or so, but Patricks last plea has finally been fulfilled. Anyone and everyone can of course now read him online, in his own words, in a variety of languages (and a lot more besides) at the  St. Patricks Hypertext Stack Project.

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+ + + Addendum + + + (March 2014) + + + Addendum + + +

Please see comments section below for a very detailed, interesting and scholarly reply from Rev Losack to the above. I’d like to express my gratitude to him for taking the time to do so and – more importantly – for being a decent salt with regard to my penchant for (good-natured) irreverence and sarcasm within the original post. I was, of course, totally playing to the academic gallery. Just to re-iterate, the above posts were an irreverent academic reply to some slightly taunting letters on the subject which appeared in a national newspaper. I have not read the honorable gentlemen’s book in question.

____________________________________________________________________

Bibliography and Further Reading

Bieler, L. (1979) The Patrician Texts in the Book of Armagh. Scriptores Latini Hiberniae 10. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

Charles-Edwards, T. M., (2000) Early Christian Ireland, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

De Paor, L (1993) (Ed. and trans.) Saint Patrick’s World. Blackrock and Dublin: Four Courts Press.

Dumville, D. N. (1993) Saint Patrick: A.D. 493-1993. Woodbridge, Suffolk, Rochester: NY.

Howlett, D. R. (1994) Liber Epistolarum Sancti Patricii Episcopi. The Book of Letters of Saint Patrick the Bishop. Dublin.

Koch, J.T. (2003) ‘Celts, Britons and Gaels’, Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, New Series, Vol. 9, 41-56.

Koch, John T., and Carey, John (eds.) (2003) The Celtic Heroic Age. Literary sources for ancient Celtic Europe and early Ireland & Wales, Celtic Studies Publications 1. Aberystwyth: Celtic Studies Publications.

Koch, John T. (1991) Ériu, Alba and Letha: when was a language ancestral to Gaelic first spoken in Ireland?Emania 9, 17–27.

O’Loughlin, T. (1999) St Patrick: The Man and his Works. London.

Snyder, C. A. (2003) The Britons. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.

St. Patricks Hypertext Stack Project; available at: http://www.confessio.ie/

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10 thoughts on “Less DA Binchy Code, Please… St Patrick’s Origins: In His Own Words (2)

  1. Reblogueó esto en Mujerárbol Nuevay comentado:
    O sea, que en todas partes cuecen esas habas flatulentas denominadas “destripar la Historia para construir una historieta”. ¡Excelente estocada a una de esas cosas tan chupiguais que claman santa indignación contra malvadas conspiraciones! (Muy güeno lo de que los supuestos conspiradores se flagelan con copias del Cathach).

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  2. Rev Losack,

    Many thanks for the most detailed reply. I was actually in the middle of writing requesting something along those very lines, so much appreciated. I shall endevour to reply in full when I get the chance to peruse it in detail.

    In the meantime, I hope you will not mind if I insert space breaks, so as to make it clearer for reading purposes. The comment options/formatting on these blogs tend not to favour long bodies of text.

    Also, at the risk of deflating any impressions of grandeur you may have – alas, there is no ‘brigade’ at hand. It is just myself, a lowly and insignificant PhD student and his academic ramblings on a blogorum obscura, primus rusticus & indoctus scilicet. I very much doubt they are even aware of its existence, let alone these exchanges. But just to be clear: I have no formal or informal contact or relationship with either of them.

    “I have taken my little talent—a boy’s paddle-boat, as it were—out on this deep and perilous sea of sacred narrative, where waves boldly swell to towering heights among rocky reefs in unknown waters…”

    But I have taken it out myself, under my own steam. I am my own man and my own mind. Apologies if this comes as a disappointment.

    Best wishes and kind regards…

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  3. Vox – I have edited what I sent you and made some corrections, plus headliners. Hope you can post this. Thanks. Marcus

    The Homeland of St Patrick

    Dear Terry,
    I would like to reply to your recent article “Less DA Binchy Code…please” and will do so now, if I may, in the form of this letter. Firstly, may I say that I greatly appreciated the effort you made in writing your article, even though I did not appreciate the tone of some of your more personal remarks about me, many of which I think were distasteful and unnecessary, unbecoming of a scholarly gentleman such as yourself – as my responses over Christmas were unbecoming of a clergyman!
    So let’s move on and re-engage with the cut and thrust. You have made a serious academic attempt to look at the evidence from primary sources and tackle the key question – the true meaning of the Latin name ‘Britanniis’ as this appears in Patrick’s Confessio. I congratulate you for doing this and for trying to bring a sense of historical integrity to the essential question.
    I am not persuaded in any way by the evidence you have gathered or the main thrust of your argument against Brittany, however, and wish to outline the reasons why I am still willing to suggest that the traditional theory of origins is incorrect.

    CONTEMPORARY SOURCES – SULPITIUS SEVERUS:

    Let’s reflect on the quotations you have given from contemporary sources (Claudian, Ammianus, Orosius, Historia Augustus etc). Most of these refer to the island of Britain using the plural form ‘Britanniis’, as you suggest. In my book ‘Rediscovering St Patrick- A New Theory of Origins’ (Columba Press, 2013) I have argued that the plural form holds within itself a degree of uncertainty and that we should remain cautious and not assume that it applied to the island of Britain exclusively at the close of the fourth century, when your sources were putting pen to paper. If my understanding of Sulpitius Severus is correct, then we have an important example of another contemporary witness applying the name ‘Britannia’ or ‘Britanniis’ to Brittany. Since he lived in Aquitania and was more familiar with local ethnic geography (and the complex series of events that surrounded the rebellion of Magnus Maximus) than any of the classical authors you have quoted, his testimony needs to be considered seriously.
    Severus (363-425 CE).was a native of Aquitania and is best known for his Chronicle of Sacred History (published in 403 CE) and a biography of Saint Martin of Tours, a copy of which is preserved in the Book of Armagh. Severus describes a Church Synod at Ariminum which took place in Italy in 359 CE, shortly before the time of Patrick. He provides some intriguing information about local, ‘ethnic’ geography in the following passage, in which the Latin names given for the ‘Britons’ and/or ‘Britain’ are open to interpretation:
    More than four hundred western bishops were summoned. For all of these the Emperor had ordered provisions and lodgings to be provided. But that appeared unseemly to the men of our part of the world that is, to the Aquitanians, the Gauls and Britons (Britanniis) so that refusing the public supplies they preferred to live at their own expense…. Three only of those from Britain (Britannia) through want of means of their own, made use of the public bounty, after having refused contributions offered by the rest for they thought it more dutiful to burden the public treasury than individuals.
    ‘Sed id nostris, id est Aquitanis, Gallis ac Britannis, indecens visum; repudiatis fiscalibus propriis cum sumptibus vivere maluerunt. Tres tantum ex Britannia inopia proprii publico usi sunt, cum oblatam a ceteris collationem respuissent, sanctius putantes fiscum gravare quam singulos’…
    Sulpitius Severus, Sacred History, XLI, in The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, ed Schaff, XI, p116.

    In the first part of the passage he tells us that men from ‘his own part of the world’, namely Aquitanians, Gauls and Britons (Britanniis) refused financial support because they preferred to live at their own expense. On the other hand, three delegates who represented the Church in Britain (Britannia) having no means of their own, made use of the public funds they had been offered. Severus appears to be describing two different regions (or countries) by his use of the names ‘Britanniis’ and ‘Britannia’. He refers to two different places both called ‘Britain’ or associated with the ancient Britons. In this passage, the ‘Britons’ that Severus identified as being from ‘his own part of the world’, probably came from a region on the continent most likely to have been Armorica. If so, then Severus refers to the Armorican Britons in Latin as ‘Britanniis’. This is precisely the name which is used to describe St Patrick’s homeland in the earliest surviving copy of St Patrick’s Confession, preserved in the Book of Armagh. Did this name refer to a place, a people or to both? For Severus the name ‘Britanniis’ reflects a cultural as well as a geographical identity. Just as the Aquitanians are from ‘Aquitania’, the Galls are from ‘Gallis’ (‘within the Gauls’- plural) so he says the Britons from his part of the world (which is on the continent) are from ‘Britanniis’ (in the Britons/among the Britons/plural). The three poor Churchmen appear to have come from Roman Britain (Britannia). Severus uses and deliberately chooses different words to make this clarification.
    If this is a correct interpretation of the meaning of his words, then Severus distinguished these Armorican Britons from the Aquitanians and Gauls and from those Britons from the island of Britain who availed of the public purse. The geographical distinctions recorded by Severus, who was writing at the end of the fourth century are very significant. This is the time when St Patrick was born.

    BRITTANY SPEARS – YOU LITTLE TIGER! Time out for this…
    Scholars agree that ‘Britanniis’ is a plural form but could it be possible that we might view Patrick’s ‘Britanniis’ not simply as a plural form but also as a diminuative, e.g. ‘Little Britain’ or ‘Britannia Minor’ just as the name given for St Patrick’s sister, Tigris, can be understood to mean ‘a little tiger’?)

    BACK TO THE FUTURE…

    Severus gives reliable testimony that in his part of the world, various ethnic groups existed in three separate regions. Severus was from Aquitania. The person with whom he converses in his ‘Dialogues’ is a Gaul. The passage quoted above suggests he may have been less familiar with the ‘Britons’ who appear to have inhabited a coastal region of Armorica. Severus is our most reliable historical witness because he was a contemporary of St Patrick, familiar with this local region. It is also significant that Severus does not mention or refer to the coastal peninsular as Armorica, suggesting that this region had already been renamed or was known as ‘Britanniis’ at the time he was writing. If this is correct, then our understanding of local, ethnic geography on the continent at the time of St Patrick, especially in relation to regional divisions of Gaul, will need to be revised.

    THE REBELLION OF MAXIMUS (383-389 CE)

    Severus includes another significant reference to ‘the Britains’, in relation to the rebellion of Maximus in 385 CE. He speaks again as a contemporary witness to these events when he says,

    A faint rumor had spread that Maximus had assumed Imperial power in the Britains (intra Britannias) and he would in a short time make an incursion into Gaul.

    ‘Iam tum rumor incesserat clemens, Maximum intra Britannias sumpsisse imperium ac brevi in Gallias erupturum’. Sulpitius Severus, Hist. Sacra, XLIX.

    The Latin name (Britannias) is again in a plural form which leaves open a possibility that it could be a reference to Brittany as well as Britain. This would be the case, for example, if Severus was saying the usurpation of Maximus began and was centred in or launched not only from Britain but also from within Brittany. In other words, Maximus had assumed Imperial power in or ‘within the Britains’ (intra Britannias). If so, this again allows for the possibility that a coastal region in Armorica was also known as ‘Britannia’ at the time of St Patrick.
    Early Breton historians writing before the so called “era of modern scholarship” record that Maximus landed considerable forces at the mouth of the River Rance at the port of Aleth and subdued Gaul and Spain from Brittany whilst his other forces landed near the Rhine before going north to take Trier.
    The fact that he ruled as Emperor of the West from 385-389 CE suggests that his military presence and support on the continent must have been significant (at least during this period when he ruled) and this surely supports the argument for a significant military presence in Brittany?
    Severus published this book in 403 CE. He was probably writing it when Patrick was still a teenager, around the time St Patrick was taken captive. The geographical references given by Severus are ethnically and geographically specific and appear to reveal local, geographical distinctions within ‘Gaul’ which are more complex at a regional level than we usually see from maps of the western Empire in the final years before the Fall of Rome.

    MIS- REPRESENTING MAGNUS MARCUS

    In your article, you say “in order for Rev Losack’s theory to be possible, it necessitates the following”….

    1) “A complete dismissal of actual contemporary fourth/early fifth century evidence” (p.9)
    2) An uncritical reliance on later, medieval sources, written centuries later” (p.9).
    3) That St Patrick, if from Brittany, managed to use a sixth century ethnic designation (p.9)…..in which case…
    4) “Rev Losack is possibly using his own argument to invalidate his own argument…and is presumably at risk of ripping open a paradox and tearing a hole in the space-time continuum”.

    All the above criticisms are, in my opinion, entirely incorrect, although 4 presents an intriguing concept!

    (1) In my view, Severus is a more reliable contemporary witness than any of the primary sources you have relied upon. (2) St Patrick’s writings, in my opinion, provide the best evidence of all, to show that Britanniis was a name applied to Brittany during St Patrick’s lifetime and not to the island of Britain, exclusively. (3) I have not dealt with later medieval sources uncritically, as you would have known if you had read the book! If Brittany was known as ‘Britannia’ or ‘Britanniis’ following the rebellion of Maximus in 385 CE then I cannot be accused of placing a sixth century ethnic designation into the mouth of St Patrick…. (4) In fact, this is possibly a projection on your part, since if St Patrick’s ‘Britanniis’ was and is a reference to Brittany and not the island of Britain exclusively, then you are the one who has broken the space/time continuum because you have argued that this word did not come into existence until the late fifth century, or early sixth century at the earliest! In my view, you are actually the one who is most in danger of being defeated by your own argument!

    CLUTCHING AT STRAWS – UNRELIABLE SOURCES!

    The primary/contemporary sources you have drawn upon to support your case are, in my view, unreliable and unimpressive. Claudian was writing as a poet and his work has been criticized for being distorted by conventions and panageric. He lived in Alexandria and Rome and was therefore far removed from events taking place locally in Brittany and Britain at the close of the fourth century. The fact that he does not even mention the rebellion of Maximus suggests that he was too busy writing poetry and trying to please his imperial benefactors in Rome than engaged in a serious effort to establish what on earth was going on in the farthest corners of the western Empire at that time. He does offer a wonderful image of the tragedy (as far as he was concerned) that was unfolding before his very eyes:

    “Woe is me, whither are fled the power of Latium and the might of Rome? To what a shadow of our former glory are we by gradual decline arrived!” (Claudion, The War Against Gildo)

    I also have to discount your use of ‘evidence’ from Ammianus Marcellinus. His work chronicled the history of Rome from 96-378 CE, although only the period from 353-378 survives. His last work was completed in 391 but ends with the death of Valens in 378 CE. This is five or six years before Maximus launched his rebellion from Britain. Ammianus cannot therefore be used to support the case against Brittany, especially as I have argued that the name ‘Britanniis’ was introduced at the time of Maximus in 385 CE! Again, he does, however, include a great quote which resonated with my feelings about some of the criticisms that have been metered out against me in recent exchanges from you and others from UCD. Ammianus noted that “no wild beasts are so deadly towards humans as most Christians are towards each other”!
    I have even greater difficulty with your reliance on Orosius (385-418 CE). He appears to have been born around the same time as St Patrick (385 CE) and was therefore just coming out of his mother’s womb when the rebellion of Maximus was being launched. He left Spain/Portugal to go Jerusalem and the information we have about him is uncertain because of the great turmoil, with social and military unrest on a massive scale before and immediately following the Barbarian invasions, from which he was anxious to escape. Again, therefore, I do not think he should be regarded as a reliable witness to what was taking place at that time in Britain and Brittany.

    WINNER TAKES ALL….INCLUDING COLLABORATORS?
    THE BRITISH REBELLION IN 385 CE.

    A WEAKNESS in your article is that you do not investigate the rebellion of Maximus and events that took place on either side of it, as a possible historical context for St Patrick. The British Rebellion was viewed as a gross act of treason by Imperial families ruling on the continent and Maximus and his British/Breton supporters along with all their associates were not only vilified and regarded as ‘rebels without a cause’ they were historically defamed and discounted – a defamation and discounting that continues to the present day.
    Orosius collaborated with St Augustine in writing The City of God and acted as a ‘go-between’ carrying letters from Augustine to Jerome in Bethlehem and also replies from Jerome which Orosius carried back to Augustine in North Africa. Osorius informed St Augustine of a meeting he had with Pelagius when he was in Jerusalem. In fact, the decision to write his most famous work ‘Historiae Adversus Paganos’ (A History Against the Pagans) was born from ideas discussed during his meetings with Augustine. Osorius was therefore in close contact with those who had a heavy axe to grind against early Gallic (Celtic) monasticism such as that being practised by St Martin of Tours. I would not place too much faith or trust in Osorius’s credentials or appreciation for Britain or Brittany!
    What about Sidonius Apollinarus (470-480’s)? In your article, you say “Here then, is the earliest historical reference to depicted British activity/settlement within the area of Armorica”. In my view, this is not true. I am not only of the opinion that Severus is the earliest historical reference to a settlement of the ancient Britons in Brittany but also that St Patrick’s writings provide the most conclusive evidence of all that the name change had come into effect at the time of Maximus in 385 CE, in terms of local, Romano/British/Breton ethnic geography, if not more established Imperial Roman geography.

    GREGORY OF TOURS AND A TOUR DE FRANCE…

    However we interpret the descriptions given by Severus, as you have already accepted, what is not disputed by anyone is that by the time of Gregory of Tours, writing in 575 CE, a coastal region of Armorica was called ‘Britain’ and probably had been for a considerable period of time. Those who specialize in local, ethnic geography estimate that it takes between one hundred to one hundred and fifty years at least for new geographical names to become more widely known and established in historical records. This allows for the possibility that the names familiar to Gregory and his readers may have been introduced much earlier, perhaps at the time of St Patrick.
    If we deduct the minimum 100 years from Gregory’s time, we get back to c. 450 CE but if we allow the full 150 years or slightly more…we are right back to the end of the fourth century and the time of Sulpitius Severus, St Martin, St Patrick and Magnus Maximus. (c 550-150=400 CE).

    DIOCESAN DENTISTS AND THE DOGS OF WAR

    Gregory of Tours (539-594 CE) is one of our earliest and most reliable witnesses for events in Gaul, although he was more closely associated with the diocesan church in Tours than with rural, religious groups in Brittany. See Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, trans. L. Thorpe, Penguin, 1974. Gregory frequently and consistently refers to Brittany using both Latin names ‘Brittaniis’ and ‘Britannia’. Gregory says, ‘the following events occurred in Brittany’ ….(in Brittaniis haec acta sunt).
    ‘At this time a Breton called Winnoch, who practised extreme abstinence, made his way from Brittany to Tours …
    (tunc Winnocus Britto in summa abstinentia a Brittaniis venit Toronus)…he wore no clothes except sheep skins from which the wool had been removed’.
    (Gregory of Tours, HF: 20, 21. Transl. Thorpe, p 287)
    As far as Gregory is concerned, these names are synonymous and it is important to note they are both applied exclusively to Brittany, not to the island of Britain. Gregory describes how Macliavus, a count of Brittany (Comte Britannorum) gathered a band of Britons (a Britannia viris). ‘Macliavus quondam et Bodicus Brittanorum comites sacramentum … Cui tandem misertus Deus, collectis secum a Brittania viris’ (Gregory of Tours, HF: v. 16).
    He then tells how the Bretons (Britanniis) made incursions towards Rennes, which is south of St Malo. The local Breton queen had influence over Bayeaux, which is to the north of Mont St Michel. This region was clearly struggling to retain its independence. The Bretons had their own unique dress and hair style, called the ‘Breton rite’… ‘When (Queen) Fredegund learned this expedition was being led by Beppolen, whom she had hated for many a long year, she ordered the Saxons settled in Bayeux to cut their hair according to the Breton rite and to dress in the Breton fashion (ritum Brittanorum tonsos atque cultu vestimenti conpositos) and then to march in support of Warroch’. Gregory, Hist., X9. See Thorpe, p. 556.
    When Gregory writes about Brittany and Severus describes local, ethnic geography, it is important to note that they use the two names given for St Patrick’s homeland which can be found in all surviving copies of Patrick’s Confessio. Gregory includes specific, local geographical references which clearly identify ‘Britanniis’ or ‘Britannia’ as a local region on the north east coast of Brittany, close to Aleth, Dol and Mont St Michel.
    From the description he gives, this ‘Britain’ existed as an independent region with its own Breton culture and some unusual religious and political customs.

    Gregory describes the great slaughter which took place at this time among the Bretons and Saxons. The troops marched out of Brittany (exercitu a Brittaniis). The stronger men crossed the River Villaine but those less strong and the camp followers beside them were not able to wade through. They had to stay on the far side of this river. Gregory applies the name ‘Brittaniis’ in this case to a very specific local area in the vicinity of the River Villain, which is close to the region where Chateau Bonaban is today. The local French municipality in which Chateau Bonaban is located is called the ‘Isles et Villaine’.
    It can also be noted that Gregory of Tours (and, in my view, also St Patrick and Sulpitius Severus) distinguish ‘Britain’ or Brittany (which they refer to as Brittaniis and Britannia) from the Gauls (Galliis). Gregory was based in Tours which for him is clearly part of Gaul but for him, ‘Britanniis’ is a separate, independent region near the coast around St Malo and Dol.
    If Patrick’s homeland was in Brittany and not the island of Britain, this distinction may help to shed light on a geographical description given in the Confessio, in which (in my view) he distinguishes Brittany (Britanniis) from Gaul (Galliis).
    Patrick describes how he would love to have the opportunity to make a journey from Ireland to ‘Britanniis’ to visit his homeland and his family, and then to proceed further into ‘the Gauls’ (Gallias) to see his religious friends. He says:

    As a result, even if I would wish to leave them and make a journey ‘in Britanniis’ and I would most dearly love to make that journey so as to see my homeland and family – not only that but also to proceed as far as the Gauls (in Gallias) to visit the brethren and see the face of the saints of my Lord…

    ‘Pergens in Britannias et libentissime paratus eram, quasi ad patriam et parentes; non id solum, sed eram usque Gallias vistare fraters, et ut viderum faciem sanctorum Domini mei’ (C43)

    Note: ‘patriam’ means homeland or fatherland and ‘parentes’ in Latin refers not to parents but closest surviving members of Patrick’s extended family – another example of the RIA/McCarthy translation being inaccurate and potentially seriously misleading?)

    The journey Patrick describes would make geographical sense if his homeland was in Brittany. If St Patrick’s family were resident in Brittany, the religious friends or ‘saints’ whose faces he longed to see again, may have been based at Tours, which was ‘in the Gauls’. This is not a new idea. Even Dr John Lanigan writing in 1823 understood that at the time of St Patrick, Brittany was distinct from Gaul and not part of it. (See Lanigan, Ecc. History, vol. 2, Dublin 1823, p.118).
    The same local, geographical distinction is evident in the ‘Life of St Maclovius’ or St Malo, an early Irish or Welsh saint who travelled to Brittany and placed himself under a hermit named Aaron, who had established the first monastery on the island adjacent to Aleth where the old walled City of St Malo is now located. A disorder on the island compelled Malo to leave. After being driven away from his monastery, he is said to have cursed ‘Brittany’ or the ‘Britains / Britons / Bretons’ (Britanniis) and travelled into the Gauls (Gallias) This again confirms that ‘Britanniis’ and ‘Gallias’ were considered as separate but adjacent regions within the area we have traditionally thought of in more general terms, simply as Gaul. This is no doubt a reflection of local divisions that existed within the western Diocese of the Empire at the time of St Patrick, caused by civil wars and local rebellions. Severus is our most reliable witness, since he was writing at the time of St Patrick’s birth, towards the end of the fourth century and is more familiar with local geography and usages current at the time of the rebellion of Magnus Maximus and the period immediately following that rebellion, before the chaos that ensued as a result of the Barbarian invasions of 409 CE and fall of Rome in 410.

    EARLY BRITISH HISTORIANS

    The early British historians, Nennius and Gildas, both refer to this settlement and there is archaeological evidence to suggest that a settlement took place in the closing decades of the fourth century, shortly before the fall of Rome when the legions were withdrawn from Aleth (St Malo) to defend Rome. What happened during these few decades is crucial to the questions surrounding St Patrick’s place of origins and the location of his ‘homeland’. The pattern of traditional or established Roman geography was being torn asunder in the years before and after the Barbarian invasions and the fall of Rome. I am suggesting that the plural form ‘Britanniis’ refers not to the provincial regions within Roman Britain but rather to Britain (Britannia) and Brittany and that in the context of Patrick’s Confessio this allows for the possibility that Patrick’s homeland was located in Brittany and not the island of Britain, exclusively.

    BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT

    If Severus was referring to the Britons in Britain and Brittany, by using the names Britannia and Britanniis, and if those terms were introduced at the time of Maximus in 385 CE and not during the later settlements that took place around 450 CE, then you cannot criticize my new theory of origins for relying on folk lore or later medieval traditions. If I am correct, then St Patrick’s writings provide the most authentic and strongest historical evidence of all. It proves beyond reasonable doubt, in my view, that the name ‘Britanniis’ applied to Brittany in the closing decades of the fourth century.
    Most scholars have, for the last hundred years and more, insisted that St Patrick was taken captive from Britain and that his homeland was located somewhere within the island of Britain. The issue of concern to me is not their expertise or the quality of their otherwise magnificent work and scholarship. My concern is that they have not supplied any real evidence to support their position, in relation to the traditional theory of origins. In fact, in my view you are probably the first person (since Dr Lanigan in 1823, JH Tukner in Scotland in 1872 and Marcus Losack in 2011-2013, to try and document some of the real evidence – and I again congratulate and thank you for that, even though, in my view, your position is untenable.
    Just because so many (mostly English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish – although also modern Breton) scholars assume that St Patrick’s origins in Britain is an indisputable historical fact, does not mean this is necessarily the case unless sufficient evidence is given to prove it and in my view, no such evidence has as ever been provided to copper fasten the established and traditional (island of Britain) theory of origins.
    The uncertainty that exists with regard to the plural form ‘Britanniis’ and the historical, geographical, political and military situation in the closing decades of the fourth century in Britain and Brittany, invites us to remain cautious. This is a matter of critical importance for St Patrick’s biography. If Patrick’s family moved from northern Britain (let’s say Strathclyde) to Brittany as part of the settlement under Magnus Maximus in 385 CE then Patrick would have been of British ethnic background (a Briton) on his father’s side, but if his mother Concessa was ‘of the Franks’ as many of the early sources say she was, and Patrick was born in Brittany or grew up there from an early age and was taken captive from there, as many of the ancient Lives of St Patrick record, and if the name ‘Britanniis’ was introduced to Brittany at the time of the rebellion of Maximus or perhaps even before in local, ethnic geography, then Patrick would have grown up understanding Brittany to be his homeland. At this stage, it would be splitting hairs and makes no difference whether we think of St Patrick as a Romano-Briton or Romano-Breton. Let’s embrace an entente cordiale and think of him inclusively as a Celtic- Welsh (Scottish) Frankish- Merovingian – Romano-British-Breton!?

    TIME TO TAKE OUT A COUNT OF BRITTANY…
    There are so many references to Brittany in some of the ancient ‘Lives’ published by Fr John Colgan in 1647, in which it is claimed that St Patrick was taken captive from Brittany and not Britain. Although these cannot be viewed as primary sources or reliable historical evidence, they may hold precious clues, traditions and geographical references passed down through several generations that have to be accounted for.
    The most telling references of all (in my view) appear in Probus and also the fourth Latin Life, which says St Patrick’s ancestors were Jewish and settled in Brittany (Armoric Letha). Bury identified these references as being within what he considered to be archaic material included in the fourth Life (he called it “W”). Bury suggested that this archaic material pre-dated Muirchu, Tirechan and the Armagh Movement of the seventh century. It could and should therefore be considered more trustworthy than later hagiographical fabrications. Secondly, there is no doubt that the fifth Latin Life written by Probus (Book 1) clearly states that St Patrick’s homeland was in Brittany and that he was taken captive from there. Again, these references cannot be dismissed as ‘folk lore’ or the fruits of later nationalist (Breton) politics or spurious legend.
    I am glad you name Muirchu and Tirechan as hagiographers and do not credit them as being St Patrick’s earliest reliable, seventh century ‘biographers’ as Dr Elva Johnston did in her original letter that sparked this debate. We should be very wary of claims made by Muirchu. He uses so many different words when referring to Britain and he may not actually have known where St Patrick was taken captive from.
    Dr Tom O’Loughlin has suggested that Muirchu engaged in ‘guesswork’ and we have good grounds to distrust almost everything Muirchu and Tirechan have said about St Patrick. DA Binchy makes that point very clearly! Considering these references, it is surprising so many writers have discounted the possibility that St Patrick may have been referring to Brittany, rather than Britain when he used the Latin name ‘Britanniis’.

    SACRE BLUE! THE GHOSTS OF AGINCOURT…

    Part of the reason for the huge conflict of opinion among scholars (and others) as to when the name Brittany or Bretagne was first applied is that the transition from the name Armorica to Brittany is a subject riddled with historical uncertainty, linked to a serious political controversy that relates to the turbulent relationship and rivalry between Britain and France. The big political hot potato is whether the British occupied this region as refugees or conquerors. This is still a very sensitive and controversial political as well as historical issue in France.
    Dr Christopher Snyder, Head of the Department of History and Politics at Marymount University says, ‘the transition from Armorica to Brittany, that is the establishment of Britons in the peninsular, remains a little understood process….The Breton succession crisis became a permanent part of the continuing struggle between the two great powers (Britain and France). Dr. C. Snyder, The Medieval Celtic Fringe. Having said that, even Gibbon recognised what he calls ‘the obscure state of Britain’ during the late Roman period and accepted that Brittany’s history is riddled with uncertainty and political controversy.
    ‘The youth of the island (of Britain) crowded to (Maximus’s) standard; he invaded Gaul with a fleet and an army, long afterwards remembered as the emigration of a considerable part of the British nation’. Gibbon, DFRE, Vol. III, p. 360. Gibbon acknowledged that the rebellion of Maximus from 383-389 C.E. had left its mark on popular memory in northwest Gaul, a region strongly associated with St Patrick in many of the ancient sources. He accepts that a coastal region of Armorica eventually acquired the name ‘Little Britain’. Gibbon says these lands were filled ‘by a strange people who under the authority of their counts and bishops preserved the laws and languages of their ancestors’. What Gibbon would not allow for is the possibility it was called ‘Britanniis’ at the time of St Patrick. Gibbon’s attitude towards events taking place in Brittany has always been influential but is it trustworthy? Hadrian Valesius, in his Notia Galliarum, had argued that a region on the continent called ‘Britain’, had existed from a much earlier date. It was known to Valesius (who was writing from a continental perspective) as ‘Britannia Cismarina’, which means a Britain ‘on this side of the ocean’. Hadrian Valesius, Notia Galliarum. pp. 98-100. Gibbon knew that some French authors claimed the government of Armorica was established as a monarchy from the period of its independence from the Roman Empire in 409 CE. He said he examined evidence given by various French historians concerning an earlier foundation for this ‘Britain’ and thought they were wrong. Like you, he refused to accept that any significant migration and settlement of Britons took place in Brittany before the middle of the fifth century, saying ‘beyond that era the Britons of Armorica can be found only in romance’. (Gibbon, Vol. IV, p.391 n.136).
    Gibbon’s authority as a historian of the Empire was strong enough to shape prevailing opinion. Naturally, his view was embraced by those who held to the established tradition that St Patrick came from Britain. Unfortunately, Gibbon had no interest in St Patrick. He mentions St Patrick and Ireland only briefly in dismissive, racist remarks. ‘The meanest subjects of the Roman Empire assumed the illustrious name of Patricius, which by the conversion of Ireland has been communicated to a whole nation’. (See Gibbon, Vol. IV, p. 300, note 26).
    Gibbon had a very negative attitude towards the ancient ‘Lives of St Patrick’ and although he must have been familiar with their writings, his attitude towards most of the early Breton historians is equally dismissive. His approach has influenced our understanding of St Patrick’s origins for many years and may be the reason why some of the intriguing accounts about St Patrick’s family which can be found in Breton sources have been neglected. Sharon Turner takes the most conservative view, claiming the coastal region of Armorica was not called Brittany until 513 CE. However, even she is prepared to admit ‘the first British colonists of Armorica have been excluded from European history and wherever they did appear, there history has been wrapped in legend and fable’ and as a result ‘the authentic history of Bretagne is almost unknown’. See Sharon Turner, History of the Anglo Saxons, London, 1852, p.179.

    THE BLIND FOLLOWING THE BLIND

    Those who follow Gibbon, Lobineau, Vertot, Turner, Prof. Charles Edwards, RPC Hanson, Ludwig Bieler, JB Bury, Terry O’Hagan, et al, in my view, are like the blind following the blind. They insist the name ‘Brittany’ was not introduced until the late fifth or early sixth century. I have suggested that the historical origins of ‘proto-Bretagne’ are far more complex and obscure and have taken the view that it is certainly possible that the name change took place at the time of the rebellion of Maximus (384-389 CE) as a result of a strategic settlement of the ancient Britons in Brittany at that time.

    BRITTANY SPEARS
    You are neither being intellectually honest and fair or historically accurate when you dismiss my work as a basic ‘re-hashing’ of an ‘old Breton theory’ of origins. At least you had the courage and honesty to admit you had not actually read the book when you published your article, but were just responding to some tit bits you read in the Letters column of the Irish Times.
    My book Rediscovering Saint Patrick- A New theory of Origins, Columba Press, 2013) does exactly what it says on the tin! It contains a whole new approach to the question of Origins with many significant new elements – some of which have never been suggested or published before. This includes, for example, a suggestion that that the Wood of Foclut was also located in Brittany, adjacent to the ancient site where Chateau de Bonaban is now located, and not in the west of Ireland and that St Patrick’s ‘Mare Occidentale’ is a reference to the ocean that extends off the coast of Brittany, not the Atlantic Ocean to the west of Co Mayo and Connacht.
    YES – I hope that one day we will be blessed with the funds and necessary support from friends and other interested parties to develop a significant new resource for pilgrims and visitors to that ancient, sacred site, where I believe St Patrick once lived, before he was taken captive. If more archaeological evidence can be found to confirm that a Roman villa existed on this ancient site at the time of St Patrick, a villa that perhaps belonged to St Patrick’s father, Calpurnius as M. Charles de Gerville (1848) and Jospeh Viel (1912) suggest, then the traditional theory of origins falls asunder and a hundred years of Patrician ‘expertise’ in academic scholarship, begins to look more like some bizarre form of modern day academic ‘hagiography’ than reliable historical analysis. Let’s hope it won’t take that much longer for the truth to be revealed!
    Yours sincerely,
    Marcus Losack
    Holy Cross Church, Palermo
    New Year’s Day/Sol Invicticus!
    2014.

    Like

  4. 🙂 Many thanks for the kind words and warm wishes…

    Just to confirm, I have replaced your original reply with that updated, along with a few extra spaces just to seperate out paragraphs for clarity. I hope it meets with your approval. I’m afraid it may take a while for me to work through it… you have given me much to consider. Many thanks again. I may end up replying in several parts under the headings – this may be better for following certain threads, I think.

    I am reminded of an infamous quote, allegedly attributed to a long suffering spouse in the 1960s which goes something like: “In Patrician scholarship, Patrician scholars have left no stone…unthrown…”

    I trust any stones thrown before xmas have now been downgraded to pink fluffy whoopee cushions 😉

    Many thanks again, and Happy New Year from both me and Brittany…

    Like

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