Department of History

My research in Tübingen focuses on the early medieval settlement of Britonia, off the northern coast of Galicia. Attested first in the Acts of the II Council of Braga (572), the “bishopric of the Britons” in Gallaecia appeared in other 4 council charters from Visigothic Spain between 572 and 675. I am investigating how this Ecclesia Britoniensis came into being and how it eventually represented an offshoot of the wider early medieval Atlantic network of Brythonic connections. Despite being even less documented than the most famous Brythonic emigration towards Brittany, Britonia sits within an increasingly better understood Iberian milieu. The settlement has been explained as a consequence of monastic diaspora either following the devastation of Britain denounced by Gildas (in. VI c.) or anticipating the spread of Irish peregrinations pro Christo.

My aim is to explore a different explanation for the genesis of the sedis Britonorum, within the context of post-Roman economic contacts between Western Britain, Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Taking into consideration the constantly increasing corpus of archaeological and epigraphic data from post-Roman Western Britain and Northern Iberia, it is now clear the role played by Galicia in linking the Atlantic Island to the Mediterranean. An economic explanation can provide a plausible background for the foundation and flourishing of Britonia between VI and VII c. This can pave the way for a more in-depth understanding of Atlantic cultural networks, and reassert the role played by Western British Church in it, despite the overrepresentation of the role played by Irish actors. For this reason, I choose to analyze the doctrinal background of the Acts of the Church councils attended by the Galician Britons, in order to compare them with the theological stance shown by Gildas in his influential sermo “On the Ruin of Britain” and in his “Fragments” on Monastic rule.  This can help moving forward our understanding of early medieval Brythonic religious uniqueness, an historiographical truism fueled mainly by Bede. This will in turn, hopefully, lead to a reconsideration of post-Roman mobility, and a better understanding of the relationship between religious and economic settlements in the context of Atlantic exchange.