The Suicide and Conquest of Britain Revisited

What, wretched man… is it given to you…to keep the charge committed to you against such a series of inveterate crimes which has spread far and wide, without interruption, for so many years?[1]

The mid-sixth century Welsh monk, Gildas Sapiens (Gildas the Wise), asked himself this question as he observed the descent of Roman Britain into barbarism. Gildas wrote his De Excidio et Conquestu Brittaniae (The Suicide and Conquest of Britain) as both a warning to posterity and an explanation of how a once wealthy, civilized, Roman province declined into what historians once referred to as the Dark Ages.

Given the current divided and depressed state of post-Brexit Britain, Gildas’ commentary on how and why Roman Britain disintegrated is perhaps worth recalling. The problem Gildas identified in the mid-sixth century, which also besets the UK today, was the growing separation of the isles into divided ‘nations’ and the threat to its integrity unlimited migration from Europe posed. Over a period of half a century, Gildas argued, migration turned into an invasion that fundamentally transformed the British Isles, and not for the better. [2]

If Gildas returned today he would be alarmed, but not entirely surprised, to learn that official figures show more than 10 million people living in the UK were born overseas. In the year 2022 alone the UK attracted more than half a million migrants, more than twice the number entering the country the previous year.[3] In the same year, some 40,000 illegal migrants from Albania and Afghanistan arrived from France, often on water taxis organized by criminal gangs.[4] Somewhat predictably, The Financial Times deemed the problem insoluble.[5] Interestingly, this was a conclusion that Gildas’ more complacent contemporaries also reached fifteen hundred years earlier in response to the godless hordes entering the country from the south east.

Unlike the sixth century experience, when successive home secretaries have actually proposed the Rwandan solution to assess refugee claims, they incurred the wrath of the Financial Times, Human Rights lawyers, NGO’s and the European Court of Humans Rights. The Abbott government’s successful  Australian policy for offshore processing asylum seekers clearly influenced British conservative thinking.  Yet, when in November 2022 the home secretary, Suella Braverman, described the number of illegal arrivals an ‘invasion of our southern coast’ she invoked ubiquitous progressive opprobrium. The Archbishop of Canterbury, captured the prevailing woke orthodoxy, denouncing  Braverman’s  rhetoric as ‘shrill’, ‘immoral’ and ‘disgraceful’. Treating migrants as ‘invaders’ to be deterred, he continued, denied them both ‘dignity’ and ‘value’ as fellow human beings[6].

However, given that millions of migrants have descended upon these shores in the space of a decade ‘invasion’ might indeed be the noun that best captures current reality. Welby’s sixth century Celtic church predecessor would certainly have thought so. Yet. for Welby, the mainstream media, and academic and business elites this invasion should, in any case, be welcomed as a positive contribution to indigenous population decline, not a cause of existential concern.

Yet it is daily evident that current levels of migration place unwarranted pressure on already stressed health and social services, housing and education, as well as what were once regarded as traditional British values. In other words, contra  Archbishop Welby and the progressive establishment, we should perhaps be far less indifferent to the profound change two decades of open borders have had upon a British way of life and self-understanding. Once large-scale migration begins it becomes a self-reinforcing process. “If there is a single ‘law in migration,” Myron Weiner wrote in the 1990s, “it is that a migration flow, once begun, induces its own flow. Migrants enable their friends and relatives back home to migrate by providing them with information about how to migrate, resources to facilitate movement, and assistance in finding jobs and housing.”[7] As Samuel Huntington observed in his prescient The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996) Europe and the UK experienced an evolving post-Cold War migration crisis partly because of these unregulated flows, but also because migrants from different cultures fail to integrate into Western civilization.[8]

By the early twenty first century, two-thirds of migrants in Europe were Muslim, and European concern with immigration is, above all, concern with Muslim migration and integration. The challenge is both demographic and cultural. Sustained immigration produces divided communities. Moreover, as culture assumes increasing salience in an identity obsessed post-Cold War disorder, formerly monocultural European societies have become ‘cleft’. In a cleft country, Huntington tells us, minority groups and their host country find that ‘the forces of repul­sion drive them apart and they gravitate toward civilizational magnets in other societies’. [9]

Unlike mainland Europe, the UK has not had to cope with either unregulated migration or an ‘invasion’ until the last decade of the twentieth century. Ironically, Brexit has only exacerbated the problem. Whilst European countries endured a history of internal and external war, invasion and conquest, the United Kingdom, as an island once preserved by a silver sea, ‘which serves it in the office as a wall, or as in a moat defensive to a house’[10] had always controlled its borders. Its defensive moat repelled foreign invaders from the Spanish Armada in the sixteenth century, to Napoleon in the nineteenth and the Third Reich in the twentieth century. All found the island fortress and its naval defences impregnable. The last successful conquest of Britain was that undertaken by William the Conqueror in 1066 which over time imposed a new Norman elite upon most of the British Isles.

The Barbarian invasion problem revisited

However, it was a very different and much earlier invasion that most resembles the UK’s current migration chaos. As fifth century Rome endured sustained assaults from barbarian tribes Huns, Goths and Visigoths, its legions retreated from the British Isles to shore up the West’s crumbling European defences.[11] Left to their own devices the Romanised, or more precisely, civilized, Britons failed to maintain their internal borders. Instead, they endured, growing incursions from the Scots and  Pictish tribes from across the Irish sea and beyond Hadrian’s wall, which the Romans had built ‘to repel’ these uncivilized ‘foes’.

 The Britons, ‘with no head to guide them’ and the legions gone, Gildas wrote, impotently witnessed ‘the Picts and Scots, like worms which in the heat of the mid-day come forth from their holes… differing one from another in manners, but inspired with the same avidity for blood, and all more eager to shroud their villainous faces in bushy hair than to cover with decent clothing those parts of their body which required it, having heard of the departure of our (Roman) friends ,and their resolution never to return, they seized with greater boldness than before on all the country towards the extreme north’.[12]

The Romanised Britons ignored the northern threat and continued to revel in the ‘extraordinary plenty’ that the cultivated towns and cities of England still enjoyed. Wealth licensed ‘every kind of luxury and licentiousness’. A pattern all too familiar to a woke generation working from home and accustomed to sanctimonious virtue signalling set in. As Gildas wrote, ‘It grew with so firm a root, that one might truly say of it, “Such fornication is heard of among you, as never was known the like among the Gentiles.” But besides this vice, there arose also every other, to which human nature is liable and, in particular, that hatred of truth… which still at present destroys everything good in the island’ and, we might add, still does.[13]

 Eventually, in order to protect their comfortable lifestyle, the Britons called a council ‘to settle what was best and most expedient to be done, in order to repel such frequent and fatal irruptions and plunderings’ that civilized Britain continued to suffer at the hands of the Scots and Irish ‘nations’.

The solution arrived at was again an all too familiar one. ‘All the councillors’, together with ‘Gurthrigern’ [Vortigern], the British king ‘were so blinded, that, as a protection to their country, they sealed its doom by inviting in among them (like wolves into the sheep-fold), the fierce and impious Saxons, a race hateful both to God and men, to repel the invasions of the northern nations. Nothing was ever so pernicious to our country, nothing was ever so unlucky. What palpable darkness must have enveloped their minds-darkness desperate and cruel! Those very people whom, when absent, they dreaded more than death itself, were invited to reside, as one may say, under the self-same roof. Foolish are the princes, as it is said, of Thafneos, giving counsel to unwise Pharaoh. A multitude of whelps came forth from the lair of this barbaric lioness’.[14]

The new migrants ‘being thus introduced… into the island, to encounter, as they falsely said, any dangers in defence of their hospitable entertainers, obtain an allowance of provisions, which, for some time being plentifully bestowed, stopped their doggish mouths. Yet they complain that their monthly supplies are not furnished in sufficient abundance, and they industriously aggravate each occasion of quarrel, saying that unless more liberality is shown them, they will break the treaty and plunder the whole island. In a short time, they follow up their threats with deeds’.[15]

 Evidently, the migrant invasion today is not quite as brutal. Yet there remain uncanny resemblances. Whilst non Western migrants today may not be ‘hateful to God and man’, they form sufficiently culturally distinct and increasingly welfare dependent communities that undermine the traditional structures and institutions the United Kingdom once enjoyed.

Significantly, under pressure from the Saxon invasion ‘the miserable remnant’ of sixth century Britons took to the mountains or constrained by famine, came and yielded themselves to be slaves for ever to their foes.[16] Some, under the influence of Ambrosius Aurelianus, the prototype of the Arthurian legend, mounted a resistance to ‘their cruel’ migrant ‘conquerors’, but were increasingly confined to the west of the country. As Gildas concludes his account of Britain’s ruin ‘And yet neither to this day are the cities of our country inhabited as before, but being forsaken and overthrown, still lie desolate; our foreign wars having ceased, but our civil troubles still remaining, as well the remembrance of such terrible desolation of the island.’[17]

Roman Britain, never recovered from its earlier migrant invasion, although its  Celtic church maintained itself uncertainly in West Wales and Cornwall. Gildas’ account like more recent studies of civilizational decline illustrates how civilizations decline from within before they are defeated on the battlefield. What happens ‘within a civilization is crucial to containing internal sources of decay’. This was the deracinating danger Huntington thought multiculturalism, together with unrestricted migration flows, posed to the survival of the West.[18]

Multicultural ideology, that dominated UK and US political discourse from the end of the Cold War envisages a country of no civilization without a cultural core. ‘Multiculturalism at home’, Huntington wrote, ‘threatens the US and the West, whilst universalism abroad threatens the West and the world.’[19] Of course, twenty first century United Kingdom is not (yet) dark age Britain, but there are some uncanny resemblances between the civilizational collapse of late Roman Britain and today’s decline of the west in general and that of the UK in particular. As in Britain on the brink of the dark age, an out of touch elite preoccupied with multicultural virtue signalling considers mass migration by culturally distinct peoples no threat to the cultural integrity of the United Kingdom. Indeed its more woke multicultural enthusiasts, like the Archbishop of Canterbury, consider its civilization an oppressive weight worth trashing. Meanwhile a leaderless people take white flight from once thriving  cosmopolitan centres like London and Birmingham consigning these cities to barbarism and multicultural decline. History, of course, may not repeat itself, but as Mark Twain observed it does rhyme.


[1] Gildas, (trans J.A. Giles, On the Ruin of Britain Project Gutenberg, EBook 1999, p.9

[2] Gildas The Ruin Ibid pp.37-38





[7] Weiner, Myron The Global Migration Crisis New York, Harper Collins, 1995, pp.21-28

[8] Huntington, Samuel, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order New York, Simon& Schuster 1996 pp.102=120

[9] Huntington Clash Ibid p.125.

[10] Shakespeare, William Richard II

[11] Addis, Ferdinand, ‘Under Siege’ Rome Eternal City London, Head of Zeus 2018, ch.11.

[12] Gildas The Ruin Ibid p.27

[13] Gildas The Ruin Ibid p.30

[14] Gildas The Ruin Ibid p.33

[15] Gildas The Ruin Ibid p.34

[16] Gildas The Ruin Ibid p.35

[17] Gildas The Ruin Ibid p.38

[18] Huntington, Clash Ibid p.301.

[19] Huntington Clash Ibid p.307.

9 thoughts on “The Suicide and Conquest of Britain Revisited


    Easily adaptable to Aussies as “Excidio et Conquestu Terra Australis”.

  • Lawrie Ayres says:

    Equally applicable to Australia. Tony Abbott at least stopped the boats but bureaucrats keep the flood of immigrants coming. We do have cultural divides in this country caused by multiculturalism. We even have a TV station costing over $300 million every year dedicated to ensuring migrants simply board here but reside at home where ever that was. Now we are in the process of cancelling Australia Day so that migrants can be forgiven if they do not want to be part of a Nation that is embarrassed to celebrate it’s National Day. God knows how many of the blow ins will don a uniform to defend this country should the need arise. Many will probably side with the enemy if it happens to be China as seems likely. Why would they enlist when so many so called Australians have said they would leave rather than fight. I can’t imagine the Greens, the unionists nor the ALP supporting types going to the front. Past history will be repeated.

  • pmprociv says:

    What’s happening in the UK is clearly just the beginning of something big and interminable. This refugee flood originates from regions short of both natural and societal resources, yet with some of the world’s highest birth rates — no doubt boosted by a religion that glorifies propagation. The African exodus will grow exponentially as well, seeing there’s no hope of living conditions improving anywhere on that continent. One can only hope that British political leaders quickly recognise this and act decisively, despite all the idiots in their midst.

    Closer to home, it was recently reported that PNG’s population might be far greater (maybe even double?) than officially recognised, seeing huge, remote communities have not been counted in censuses. While Port Moresby has a surfeit of “raskols”, unemployed but often university-educated. Is it too imaginative to expect growing numbers of young PNG men to drift across Torres Strait, perhaps in the guise of TS Islanders? Of course, our bleeding hearts will welcome them here with open arms (and public wallets).

  • Farnswort says:

    pmprociv: “The African exodus will grow exponentially as well, seeing there’s no hope of living conditions improving anywhere on that continent.”

    It is estimated that, by 2050, 450 million Europeans will face 2.5 billion Africans – five times their number.

    “Young Africans will rush towards the Old Continent in an inversion of Europe’s “Scramble for Africa” at the end of the nineteenth century”

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    Gildas is a fine polemicist in the part-interpolated Jeremiad that has come down to us through the ages. In broad scope, I agree with your excerpts but as I am one of those few scholars (there are some) who date Gildas in the fifth century not the sixth (and I have good reason to date him within the first half of that century), I think much of his historical material refers to earlier ongoing incursions, for Rome had very little foothold on Britain even at the end of the fourth century, when in 385 the usurper Magnus Maximus took most of the regular Roman troops from Britain, followed in 2007 by the usurper Constantine 111 who took the rest. Many historians and especially archaeologists today see less of a ‘Saxon’ invasion and more of a continuing settlement of Germanic peoples into what was increasingly becoming (reverting to?) a Germanic-influenced way of life.
    This interpretation, in fact, sits even more readily with what is happening at present – where there is a population drip feed from the Continent, attracted by resources. In the processes of the fifth and sixth century these resources were the available arable and grazing land, often unoccupied due to plague depopulation. Today, the economic drawcard is generous welfare and urban ghettos for resettlement, which then produce political voting blocks.

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    typo, Maximum left Britain in 383AD.

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    Good lord, not 2007 but AD 407. Must have been the heat today causing extreme dating inattention.

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    And it is of course, Maximus, as I wrote at first rather than Maximum in the correction.
    Sorry, again, for my typos and for and not proof reading before posting.

    For those interested there is an ongoing debate about the extent to which there was ever a ‘Saxon Invasion’ although there is good evidence for a solid ongoing drip-feed from the Continent. Gildas certainly recognises a ‘Saxon’ influx. He demonises these people as heathens, but is actually unclear as to whom the fighting he details was against, newcomers in the East or Irish and Scots raiders, as well as the dates it happened. Historian Dumville comments that Gildas writes in a ‘chronological fog’. I agree.

    The genetic picture varies by region and is open to numerous interpretations as yet.

  • doconnell says:

    The last successful conquest of Britain was that undertaken by William of Orange in 1688 not the Conqueror in 1066

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