|Saudi oil production, btw. 1945 is to the left of the start of the curve. You know, where the oil production is really, really low.|
The final issue, a little out of order, is that laboriously retyped speech from Clint Eastwood's 2006 Iwo Jima epic, Flags of Our Fathers. The speech is so utterly anachronistic that I'm almost incapable of coherent response. The addition of the "Saudi Oil Production" chart is recent, a product of my third re-reading, as the previous two had achieved full apoplectic collapse before I got to the part where America's war effort in the spring of 1945 depended on "Arab" oil, for which the "Arabs" would only take bullion. It has been brought to my attention that Mr. Eastwoord isn't necessarily the most sophisticated of political thinkers, but I'm a little discouraged that something so blazingly silly appears in a critically well-received movie. (Though the Rotton Tomato rating of 73% suggests that regular readers had their difficulties with the headline reviews.)
The speech wouldn't matter much more than a certain address to an empty chair were it has an independent existence on the Internet. The "Movie" subheading of the "War Bons in Popular Culture" Wikipedia article consists entirely of someone's retyping of this speech from the transcript. Whoever they are, they are, this Wikipedia contributor thinks that the war was funded by war savings bonds, and that America was about to run out of money to pay for the war in the spring of 1945, and, had that happened, America would have abandoned the Pacific war.
This probably isn't the place to talk about Pacific First and the China Lobby. It's a story that will get old long before the seventieth anniversary of the declaration of the People's Republic arrives, much less the Korean War. (March of the Volunteeers.) What matters is that I'm a little discouraged that it isn't more obvious that the mid-century War loan drives weren't to fund the war. They were intended to soak up elevated wartime wages and prevent inflation. Even the secondary goal of spreading wartime spending over into peacetime demand wasn't much emphasised in bond sale propaganda. Although a little trawl through a Google Image search of war bond posters turned up the point that the Mighty Seventh was so important precisely because the war was almost over, and inflation was expected to overheat with demobilisation. (Thank you, Jones and Lawson Machinery Company of Springfield, Vermont!)
But we just can't leave it at that, can we? It's never possible to just print money and spend it on an existential crisis of the state (or the species) without worrying that just putting that money out there will have some awful result. You can probably guess that I've had that frustrating argument a number of times lately in connection with the fight against climate change, so it's probably as well to take a moment to push back. Whether it's worthwhile to reconstruct the fall of the Roman Empire as an extended exercise in dear money is another matter.
|By Pevensey_Castle_aerial_view.jpg: Lieven Smitsderivative work: Hchc2009 (talk) - Pevensey_Castle_aerial_view.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17155846|
Thing is, we're missing scale. Here's a ground-level picture. This is a lot of room.
|By MortimerCat - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1819404|
|Allectus wants you to know that he's all about the boats. By Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. http://www.cngcoins.com, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=380124|
Panegyric informs us that the invasion of 296 was carried out by two fleets. One, leaving Rouen, commanded by Asclepiodotus, while the other, departing Boulogne, was commanded by Constantius Chlorus. Asclepiodotus avoiced Allectus' fleet near the Isle of Wight, allowing him to land, presumably in Solent Water. Allectus' army was encountered and defeated on land, but a residual force remained in London, and this was defeated by Constantius. who then made a naval entry into the provincial capital. Roger Rees reads this narrative as somewhat contrived, to emphasise the Tetrarchy's victory over the element of ocean, or Ocean, presumably seen as exemplifying anarchy or chaos or corruption or some such. It isn't that any of the details provided are wrong, but we should be open to the possibility that the facts have been cherry picked, especially in regards to the (marine) piracy at the root of the insurrection.
This logic has led to characterisations of Pevensey as a defensive work against imminent invasion. This isn't necessarily wrong. Pevensey doesn't look like an optimal site for a Roman invasion of a breakaway province. It's only a "limb" of Hastings under the Cinque Port scheme. Even a landing in east Sussex does not necessarily have to go through Pevensey, and after that, any invasion of England via East Sussex faces the inconvenient fact that it is going to have to cross the Wealdor go around it, as William the Conqueror did, on the way to London. William did, of course, land in East Sussex, but he chose his landing spot to draw out Harold, because Harold had lots of Sussex estates. The fact that he did not land in Kent, on the doorstep of the Archbishop of Canterbury, or in Dorset, hard under Winchester and the old Wessex royal heartland, quite possibly tells us something about the complicated politics of the Conquest. (To wit, that Winchester and Canterbury welcomed William. "I, for one. . .")
If Pevensey's waslls are so massive, what are these putative besiegers so upset about? Why do they want the cows inside so much?
We have three facts to hand, here. The first is that from round about the time of the Emperor Claudius' invasion until the middle of the Third Century, there was a "Classis Britannica," that is, "fleet of Britain," which we know about because it was involved in the production of roof tiles used for building in sites in London and the Weald --in the latter case being identified with iron-producing sites. Second, we know that Carausius was originally assigned to hunt pirates who were troubling the shores of Roman western Europe,and got into trouble over it in exactly the way that every Admiral of every county of old England used to get into trouble over it. For someone tasked with stopping piracy, he sure ended up fencing off a lot of pirate loot! Third, a little later, there's somebody called the "Count of the Saxon Shore," who commands the above-mentiond forts. Whether the forts are garrisoned with Saxon foederati, or are intended to protect the coast from Saxon pirates, or both, the sources do not say, and nothing in the later history of Atlantic piracy suggests that the question will be easily resolved.
|Source: eds. Justine Bayley, David Crossley and Mathew Ponting. Author: It's a secret! Though probably not intentionally.|
Fuel! Charcoal, that is. Given the substantial kilns used in modern charcoal burning, I asked myself what the archaeological record might reveal. It turns out that some scholars are working on the subject: Robyn Veal is working on it as a question of environmental history. Archaeologists have also noted features where they found them, and Roman iron industry historian David Sim has opinions! Mainly, that we're not going to find kilns, or even less ambitious dedicated charcoal-producing features, such as have been suggested for the Wealden iron production sites in (Bayley, Crossley and Ponting, eds) above.
Sim's Roman charcoal burners wander a landscape of about six hundred square kilometers of coppiced East Sussex oak forest. Operating not more than about six kilometers from the dispersed smelting sites, they use simple techniques: Cut, burn, turn over, shovel the bottom layer into baskets, and on you go.
1. In the deep Roman past, there was a "fleet of Britain," known to us less for its military achievements than for building iron foundries in east Sussex.
2. By the middle of the Third Century, this industry was supported by managed woodlands, where there was considerable potential for conflict with herd owners.
3. Abruptly, during the crisis, the iron-making business was suppressed.
4. By the end of the crisis, a "pirate-suppressing fleet" was active in the Channel, which mutinied and established a breakaway regime with broad popularity on both sides of the Channel, and which issued a very large quantity of very good bullion coins.
5. The restored Diocletianic regime, anomalous coin find evidence notwithstanding, established control of the mainland in 293.
6. The leader of the breakaway British regime was then assassinated and replaced by his treasurer.
7. A fort was built at Pevensey, perhaps to levy the salt tax. Given that the east Sussex woodlands were no longer being used by "the fleet" to make iorn, charcoal would have been available in large quantities to make salt, instead, so there is a priori reason to think that that the industry was growing.
8. The restored Imperial regime continued to operate Anderita, and may have built a number of similar sites on both sides of the Channel.
9. By the end of the century, this had become a region of special interest to the regime, such that the "Count" commanding this "Saxon Shore" was a notable late-Roman dignitary.
The archaeology of charcoal does not --yet-- lead to a very strong argument that it's all about grazing and salt for cattle, but the use of managed fuel sources, and the shift of charcoal away from iron to salt is at least very likely. from other uses to saltmaking. On the other hand, Pevensey Castle is pretty clearly an extraordinary exercise, and its very rapid construction suggests an intersection of fiscal and strategic exigencies. Maybe the breakaway British regime really, really needed the revenues from the salt tax? So what about the archaeology of Roman salt making? It turns out that there are known Roman salt-making sites in the protected archaeological area around Fishbourne in West Sussex, at Chidham and Thornham Boat Yard. The latest conservancy report ends with this puzzler:
"[The Fishbourne area] was also used for salt making in the Roman period. It is not clear why salt production seems to cease in the 2nd century, just when such production should be increasing."If ithe puzzling cessation in saltmaking activity in West Sussex wasn't a century prior to my theorised beginnings in east Sussex, this post would be ending on a not of triumph, instead of puzzlement.
Now, as promised, the full version of the "coal statistics"
The suggestion that the industry is working marginal pits and using lots of overtime seems persuasive to me. The statistics are not going to tell us whether or not Jimmy Saville was a Bevan Boy or not, but it seems as though more of the "Boys" absented themselves from the pits than not, and no-one was looking for them very hard. (The fact that the Army wasn't, suggests that the selection process might not have sent the cream of Britain's youth into the mines in the first place.
Hmm. You have to wonder if some grizzled old recruiting sergeant saw something in Saville that the Beeb missed. No, wait. Actually, I don't wonder at all.