Page 3, 18th September 1959

18th September 1959
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Page 3, 18th September 1959 — A Roman ancestry for the English
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Locations: Milan, Brussels, Rouen

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A Roman ancestry for the English

By HENRY EDWARDS

THE EMERGENCE OF ENGLAND AND WALES, by the Rev. A, W. Wade-Evans (Helfer, 25s.).

ready filled some columns of the

The evidence

T HE most important feature of

this second edition of the "Emergence" is that it bears the imprint of an English publisher. When the first edition was published in Brussels, I thought of the forlorn little volumes printed in Milan and Rouen which contained the exquisite Welsh of Welsh patriots and Catholic recusants such as Dr. Griffith Roberts, Hugh Owen, and Morris Clynnog.

But the opposition of official historian e to Wade-Evans' thesis wavers; and in his old age he has found a doughty champion in Fr. Grosjean who has been expounding that thesis before various academic bodies.

Original error

AT the risk of repetition and that extreme compression which has already revealed a sample of critics, I dare give Wade-Evans' thesis. It is that the official history of the origins of England and Wales is fundamentally faulty because it relies overmuch upon the soundness of Bede's history, notably his interpretation of a little work called the De Excidio Britanniae.

The original error has. moreover, been made the more serious by Germanophils of the last century who may be said to have invented Anglo-Saxons.

To dare to say that there never was an Anglo-Saxon conquest invites the criticism which has al UT the critics and, indeed, all

who are interested in national origins (which are of immense importance to present day affairs because every healthy nation must possess a sound system of national historic attitude) should read the "Emergence" and see how WadeEvans considers (or manipulates, as his opponents would say) the literary evidences, among which ought to mention the famous letter Gemitus Britannorunt addressed to Aetius, which Wade-Evans believes "disposes at once of the Bedan myth of an 'Anglo-Saxon' conquest of Britain with its attendant story of an expulsion of Britons from England into Wales". What, then, became of the Britons in what is now England'? Wade-Evans argues that the question is meaningless, because there never were any Britons (Britones). The natives were, he tells us. Britaimi, and their descendants are today where Mtius, their Roman benefactor, left them.

The "Emergence" is WadeEvans life-work. It combines the scholarship of the author of those bulky "Early Legal Texts in Welsh" and the collection of Vitae Sanctoruin Britanniae with the still vibrant nationalism of that rare Welsh Nationalist, a Tory Anglican parson who works under a picture of Disraeli. But you must not suppose that this is subtle Welsh Nationalist propaganda; it is rather aimed at making the Englishman proud of being the son of a Roman provincial.




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