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There are two separate chronicles that are both named after the years of their final entries,

  • Chronica Gallia a CCCCLII - The Gallic Chronicle of 452
  • Chronica Gallia a DXI- The Gallic Chronicle of 551

The two chronicles survive in the form of various manuscripts dating from the 9th and 10th century which are considered to be copies of the 5th and 6th century originals.

Both appear to be intended as a continuation of Jerome's The Chronici Canones, which itself was a translation and continuation of Eusebius work on Church history. Although the authorship of both is anonymous, they are believed to emanate from some monastic establishment in southern Gaul. As with almost all historical sources of this vintage, there have been arguments over their validity and accuracy. The pendulum appears to have swung in their favour at the moment, but this could naturally change with the ebb and flow of debate.

The complier of the Chronicle of 511 probably used that of 452 as a source, and it is therefore unlikely to be completely independent, but it is used as an important cross-reference as its dating is apparently more accurate.

Their importance for early British history is the information that they provide on two key events.

Firstly for the year 408 AD it provides evidence of the Anglo-Saxon raids that helped precipitate the revolt of 409 AD. The Chronicle of 452 states that,

Britanniae Saxonum incursione devastatae
That is, Britain was devastated by an incursion of the Saxons. A statement which, generally speaking is historically accepted.

Secondly, for the year 441 AD, the Chronicle of 452 gives us the following,

Britanniae, usque ad hoc tempus variis cladibus eventibusque latae in dicionem Saxon rediguntur
That is, Britain, which up to this time had suffered various defeats and misfortunes, is reduced to Saxon rule. A message that is repeated in the Chronicle of 511 with a different wording. It is this later date that tends to cause the controversy as it rather contradicts Bede's dating of the Adventus Saxonum to 449 AD.

We know of course, that this statement cannot be taken literally, since the whole of Britanniae, as in the provinces of Roman Britain, never did fall under "Saxon rule" What it does tell us, is that from the point of view of someone writing in southern Gaul in 452 AD, something dramatic and important had happened in Britain; namely that the Anglo-Saxons were there in force.

Part of the Sub-Roman Britain project, where sources are detailed.

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