King Arthur and Brexit

History doesn’t exactly repeat itself, but it sometimes throws up interesting parallels that can look like repetitions. For example, I was checking some references for my book ‘Arthur: Warrior and King’ around the time negotiations were going on about the size of Britain’s exit payment from the EU was being discussed.

I found that the issue had come up before – in King Arthur’s time. Back then, according to Triad 51 of the ‘Triads of Britain’ (Trioedd ynys Prydein, an early Welsh collection of verses), Rome had demanded under a treaty (we may call that the Treaty of Rome) that Britain pay a tribute that had been customarily paid. Arthur robustly replied that the men of Rome had no greater claim to tribute from the men of this island than the men of the island of Britain had from them.

Mrs May hasn’t quite given that reply – at least not yet – but the sum demanded now is not very different from the continentals wanted then. In Arthur’s time, they wanted annually £3000 in money, and that is, allowing for inflation over 1500 years, not all that different from the £39 billion conditionally agreed. Arthur in the end couldn’t reach an agreement and went over to the Alps and inflicted a great military defeat upon them. Let us hope we don’t have to repeat that history.

Don Carleton's new book Arthur: Warrior and King is available for purchase now.