Magnus Maximus, the Macsen Wledig of Welsh literature, was proclaimed Roman emperor in Britain in 383. The story of his rise to power is as fascinating as his reign. He was linked to the greatest figures of his time, including Martin of Tours, Ambrose of Milan, and Theodosius the Great. Indeed, his life can be understood only when it is set against the enormous changes that were affecting the empire in the fourth and fifth centuries.
Magnus Maximus is of far greater importance in the history of Britain than is usually recognized. Military service in Britain and marriage into a prominent Romano-British family established a link between Maximus and the island diocese that was to have enormous consequences. Despite his dramatic and squalid end in 388, Britain continued under an administration still loyal to his memory and his family until 398. Even later when Britain produced three more ‘usurpers’, two of these were closely related to Maximus.
For the past thirty years or more Magnus Maximus has been relegated to the realm of myth and legend. Here, however, the early history of England and Wales, with Maximus at its centre, is uncovered and the full story told.
© David Leedham 2010
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