Bristol Brexit-backer Arron Banks ridiculed for arguing Roman history with Professor Mary Beard

Historians in the News
tags: mary beard, Brexit, Arron Banks



The man who is said to have bankrolled Brexit, Bristol businessman Arron Banks, has sparked something of an internet sensation after arguing about Roman history with leading Classical expert Mary Beard.

Mr Banks, who owns a diamond mine and a Bristol-based insurance company, took the bold step of questioning Professor Beard's assessment of the decline of the Roman Empire – which he had compared with the European Union – and backed it up by saying he was basing it on what he learned at school decades ago and love of the film Gladiator.

Prof Beard, a professor of Classics and a fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge, for the past 32 years, is perhaps the best known and most respected Classical historian in Britain and has presented many documentaries on the subject on the BBC. ...

Their extraordinary spat – which ended amicably but with Mr Banks being mercilessly mocked – began on Twitter when the UKIP donor agreed with an assessment from someone else that the Roman Empire had fallen because Rome had 'mishandled a migration crisis', which he compared with the EU mishandling the refugee crisis caused by the wars in Syria and east Africa.

"True the Roman Empire was effectively destroyed by immigration," he began.

Mr Banks is a voracious tweeter, and wouldn't back down even when two of the nation's leading experts in the subject stepped in and said matters were a little more complicated than that.

First off was Averil Cameron, a professor of antique and Byzantine history at Keble College, Oxford, who said that this opinion was just plain wrong. And then Prof Beard weighed in to do what she thought would put the matter straight.

"I think you all need to do a bit more reading in Roman history before telling us what caused the fall of Rome. Facts guys!" she tweeted.

"Sorry but you may have strong views but you guys don't know Roman history." ...





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