Next up in the series is the eighth album, Asterix in Britain. In this adventure, the Gauls head north to help distant cousins in their own fight against the invading Romans. We rather like this story, old fruit. Goscinny and Uderzo have a bunch of fun with the traditional stereotypes of the motherland.
The Roman occupation of Britain lasted approximately 400 years. As with elsewhere the occupation had its pluses and minuses. Obviously, the invasion of another nation means bloodshed and repression, but the Romans brought technology and new social ideas, and unified the country’s disparate tribes.
Genetically and culturally related to the northern tribes of Gaul, the Britons aided their cousins in resisting the Roman invaders. Later, Caesar crossed the channel to challenge the island’s affront. It’s this period of Roman encroachment that Goscinny and Uderzo capture in their album.
One quick history note as a nod to the red-headed scrappers to the north of Britannia: the ancestors of the Scots (the Caledonians) did a better job of resisting the Romans than did their southern counterparts. This may have been because the Romans had already stretched themselves thin and didn’t see tremendous value in taking over the north. The tribes were terribly difficult to control and antagonized the Romans to no end. What history has discovered is that the Caledonians actually had their own magic potion of sorts. Buoyed up by a recipe of horrific ingredients that only the ancient Scots could digest, haggis turned the typically grumpy tribesmen into angry and violent warriors. Haggis, for the novices, is a combination of onion, oatmeal, animal fat, salt and spices, sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs all stuffed into a sheep’s stomach and cooked up for saliva-slurping yumminess. It’s good mood food (bleh) but is one of the primary reason the Caledonians only had a life-expectancy of 35 years at the time (the other major reason being that when a Scotsman got sick, he was reticent about spending any money on medical care, thus leading to more serious illness and usually death; how’s that for our own stereotyping?).