The ginger nut. Who would have thought that this innocent looking morsel could have helped to bring down the greatest empire known to mankind.
Gingiber Lamnia was a condition which affected wealthy young men in Rome. The main symptom was a red, itchy patch around the genitals. If untreated it could lead to insanity and possible death.
In occupied Gaul the medical condition was openly mocked by the warlike tribes. They even gave the name to a biscuit which they regular ate before battle. Ginger nuts became a symbol of rebellion. To eat a ginger nut was to rub salt in the wounds of the Roman masters.
In 444 Attila the Hun saw his first ginger nut. It ultimately led to the invasion of Italy, although Attila stopped before he reached Rome. Historians now think that he had finished the whole packet.
Gradually the Gingiber Lamnia condition worsened in Rome. Aetius, who had fought Atilla was murdered by Valentianian, who was suffering from extreme ginger nuts, in 454. The Vandals then sacked Rome, bringing with them a fresh supply of ginger nuts.
The ginger nut rapidly spread throughout the empire, which crumbled just like the biscuit. As a symbol of rebellion, it proved extremely powerful. As a supplement to a nice cup of tea it was just as effective.
These days the ginger nut is the subject of small boys' jokes, but we should remember how the ginger nut once stood up to the might of Rome.