The Roman Occupation Of Britian

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It is known that if you treat people well and are fair and just towards them, then they will intern be loyal and respect you. If the Romans had been fair to the people of Britain during their occupation after their invasion in 43 a.d. then they would have gained the respect of the people in England, and intern prospered as coexisting civilizations. Instead they raped and pillaged England of it's pride and honor. They destroyed the Druid religion of the people. They disrespected the customs of the Celts. They installed puppet kings to make the people think they had some in the Government. The Romans did all this from thousands of miles away. This general harsh treatment of the British people led to the rebellion of Boudicca and the sack and Burning of London.

The Romans occupied Britain from 47 ad. to 450 ad. They were harsh throughout this occupation, taking the traditions away from the celts and killing there religion.

The Romans forced their own religion and customs onto the people of Britain.

The first invasion happened on an evening in August in 55 b.c. Two Roman legions led by Julius Caesar, sailed from Boulogne in eighty ships. They reached Dover the next day. They won the beachhead at Dover. Julius Caesar left a month later recalling that the British troops were stronger than he had thought. (10, p.19) Julius Caesar had multiple motives for his attack of Britain. First, he wished to punish the Britons for giving refuge to Celtic rebels fleeing from Gaul. Second, he had heard of the great wealth that could be found in Britain. There was supposed to be large quantities of gold, silver, lead, tin, grain, and slaves. Third was the prestige that he could gain for adding a new province on to the vast Roman Empire.(10, p.19) Julius Caesar returned in 54 bc. With 800 ships and 25,000 thousand men.(10, p.19) This was ten times larger of a force than the first time he had attacked. This time he sailed inland and landed up the Thames river. He defeated Cassivelaunus, the most powerful British King. Caesar was only able to stay for two months. Due to an insurrection in Gaul he had to remove his troops. Julius Caesar never returned to Briton again.

When Claudius became emperor of Rome in 41 ad. he needed to gain respect quickly due to a physical deformity of his own. Things were also getting very hectic in Britain. Two Roman collaborators in Britain had been lost. Cunobelin, who let Roman traders in and established an early capital of Britain, had died. His estate was taken over by two sons who were reckless. They had attacked and defeated Rome's other ally Verica. Rome thought the lack of support for Verica would badly damage the prestige of Rome. This was just one of the reasons for invading Britain. Claudius also figured two legions in Britain would weaken the growing power of the Rhine garrison. Romans also thought that the only way they could suppress Druidism in Gaul was to suppress it in Britain.

In 43 ad. Claudius decided to order Aulus Plautius to sail to Britain with 40,000 men. He left from Boulogne (A) Plaudius pulled into the port of Richborough (1) in Kent. He consolidated a beach head from Richborough to Canterbury (4). Plautius then advanced to Medway. Here he met in battle with Caractacus and Togodumus. He defeated them and advanced to the Thames river. He crossed at Londinium (5), which was then a small city that had just been populated. He waited there for the arrival of the emperor Claudius. They then advanced to Camulodunum (6) they designated it the Roman capital of Britain.

To consolidate the rest of England, Plautius sent legion IX from Camulodunum (6) to establish a fortress in Lindum (10). He sent legion XIV and legion XX from Londinium (5) to establish a fortress on the Severn river up at Viroconium (11). Plautius also advanced II Augusta southward to the isle of Wight, then westward through Dorset. Legion II Augusta fought battles at Hod Hill (7) and Maiden Castle (8). They then moved northward and established a fortress at Gloucester. With these movements they set up a provincial frontier along the Severn-Avon-Trent line. This was patrolled by detachments from the legionary forces.

The tribes of Britain were initially deprived of many customs. They were not allowed to fight each other. There was also no stealing allowed between tribes. The Romans wanted tribes to obey the Ius Gentium, which was the complex document that set law and order in their new colony. Few tribes members understood this law. Still, they were all punished under it.

The ruling groups of the various tribes were demanded to pay tribute. To meet the demands made upon them by the procurator and his agents, the tribes had to resort to money lenders who flocked to Britain from Gaul and Italy. The money lenders were willing to loan hard cash on the security of land. Since land tenure and ownership Celtic tradition were wholly at odds with the Roman law of property. The interest on these loans were high, never less than 12% and most of the time ran near 20%. (3, p.85) This was a real financial burden on the Britons due to their lack of financial experience.

Still the people of Briton were not incredibly upset. Trade was increasing step by step. The overall standard of living was rising as far as a modern view. People lived in greater security. There was no fear of sudden invasion from your neibors or anything of that nature. Rich and poor people began to grasp the concept of gaining benefits as long as they lived up to there responsibilities.

Tribes were slowly broken up by the building of roads. People were able to move much more easily so they did. This resulted in the breakdown of tribal isolation. This also allowed a wider spread of Roman ideas. The province was restrained from active protest only by the hopelessness of challenging the legions. The towns of England looked peaceful and prospering with its flourishing towns and villages and the busy ports. In actuality there was a lot of Celtic anger brewing in England.

Veranius was the Major of Britain. He was a Roman and the Romans did not believe it would be at all beneficial to but a Briton on the throne. He therefore had many plans to secure the northern part of the island or at least up to the narrow waist between the Firth of Clyde and Forth. Veranius was unable to complete these ideas due to his untimely death. He fell not in battle but to some sickness.

The death of Veranius did not alter the imperial policy of expanding Britain beyond it's current boundaries. Nero the current emperor had to find a general with the necessary energy and aggressiveness to complete their task. They chose Caius Suetonius Paulinius, a soldier known for his intense combat tenacity. He was famous for having led a military expedition to what is now currently Tanger.

As a rule both in the expanding of a republic and the stabilizing of an Empire. Complete tolerance of religious beliefs of subject peoples was taken for granted. This rule was only altered when the religion could be identified with doubtful loyalty to the state, or found to be a center of agitation against Rome.

It is thought that perhaps the Romans feared the mystical practices of the Druids. Druid practices were looked on as horrible barbarian vestiges surviving in a civilized day. (3, p.89) The thing that probably encouraged the Romans were the Druid Clergies belief in complete resentment of the advance into the Celtic world of Roman culture and civilization.

Claudius was the one who forbid the Druid practices throughout the Roman empire. He tried to wipe out the Druid population with fire and soldiers. The result of this was the fleeing of all true believers from Gaul to Britain. They then proceeded to concentrate themselves in the sacred oak groves of the island of Mona. This island is currently called Anglesey, separated by the Menai Straight from northwest Wales.

In order to cover both western flank and be able to have a direct attack route to the shrines of Mona Paulines moved legion XX from it's base Viroconium to a temporary base in Chester on the Dee River. Paulinius's problems in setting up the attack on Mona led him to leave his civil duties in the hands of his Procurator. His procurator, Decianus, was left with no supervision.

Decianus had responsibilities too. For example, the finishing of the capital building, theater, and bath. To complete these projects heavy amounts of materials and workers needed to be provided. Decianus had to enforce the collection of taxes, and above all he would have to rigorously enforce the Roman law on issues that were previously disregarded. Under these new standings anger built up around the people of Britain.

Now all that was needed was a spark to enflame the fire of anger. The Iceni were the tribe of Britons located in what is currently Norfolk were powerful under there king Prasutigas. They had remained loyal with there treaty with Rome. Then in the winter of 60ad. Prasutigas died leaving a widow Boudicca and two daughters.

Since the succession of his empty throne rested upon the Roman governmen, Prasutigas to insure fair treatment of his people, left half of his possessions to Nero the Roman emperor and a quarter to each daughter. Decianus who was growing more and more greedy by the day not only wanted the half for Rome, but also he found out that in Prasutigas's agreement with Rome he gave many grants to his barons. These were all listed in his treaty with Claudius, which had of cource been signed by him. These grants which were now about fifteen years old were all revoked by Decianus. This action made members of the Iceni lose all respect for the justness of Roman law.

Decianus made matters worse when he tried to get the family and relatives to pay for the imperial legacy. When an understandable delay occurred, Decianus started putting up lands for sale himself. The Iceni houses, farm land, and animals were all going for sail to traders, loan sharks, and veterans. Boudicca angrily protested she was beaten for it and forced to watch while her two daughters were raped.

While this was all happening in the southwest Paulinius had reached Mona he had to set up a base camp. He had to build rafts to carry the infantry on. Therefore there was no eliminate of surprise. The Druid priests and all of there followers, including the roman refugees from Gaul lined up along the shore and waited for the attack. While waiting for the attack the clergy yelled down religious curses. In every attempt to weaken there opposition.

Paulinius began his attack on the island of Mona. There were no secrets in this attack the people on the island could tell the amounts of men coming over due to the open rafts. It is thought that the Romans had the hardest time when they were 50 yards from the island because there was no cover from the druids weapons.

The druids were very unorganized. There was even a great many woman trying to fight against the oncoming Romans. The fourteenth legion was organized and could act on orders almost immediately. Once the beach head was gained the Roman troops began to move inland. They slaughtered everything in there path. Men, woman, children, and clergy were all killed. The shrines were found and overturned. The Romans chopped or burned the majority of the sacred forests.

The Iceni and the Trinovantes joined together to rise in revolt. They were filled with anger of the Romans for serpressing them for many years. Together they had roughly seventy thousand men ready to fight. They marched to Camuloduum and attacked. They put all Romans and Roman sympathizers to death. They even used barbaric cruelties. They then set fire to the town destroying the great temple and other important buildings.

The capital city of Britain was taken with little resistance. Decianius got together what soldiers he could find, about 200, and sent them to Camulodum. They were slaughtered upon arrival to the capital. The IX legion which was stationed at Lindum had started to move south west. This trip was 110 miles and could not be made in little time. The IX legion reached Boudicca's army and were overwhelmed. Cerealis, who led the IX legion fled back to his fortress in Lindum.

Paulinius was about a two week march from were the Iceni were. Paulinius, learning of the uprising took legion XIV and legion XX and moved south. Legion II Agusta disobeyed orders to Join with the marching force of Paulinius and stayed in there fortress at Glevum.

Verulamium was also sacked and burned by Boudicca and her army. These towns were taken very easily due to there overconfidence in a stable country. They had no fortification, not even walls. Paulinus knew that if he did not act fast and successfully then his career would come to a end. There were a lot of Roman born citizens who were not happy.

Paulinus with two legions and some auxiliaries meets the northwest of Verulamium. It was in a valley between rolling hills, describes Tacitus. This protected him from side attacks. There was a forest behind as well. The Britons charged with high hopes and great overconfidence. Although having more men the Britons lacked the discipline of the Romans.

The Britons were destroyed. Tacitus says 80,000 men woman and children were killed. This may be an exaggerated figure, still the loses were great. He also said there were only 400 Roman loses. This is even more doubtfully true but the victory was definitely Roman. Boudicca who had fell back half way through the battle had died by her own hand or the hand of her escort. Poenius Posthumus, leader of the II Augusta legion also fell on his sword upon hearing of the outcome rather than having to deal with Paulinus.

New legions were brought in from the Rhine frontier to reinforce. They destroyed all farms and villages inside the area the Iceni had lived. Selling all survivors into slavery. It is thought that this was done due to the gilt resting upon Paulinus from knowing the uprising was a fault of his.

Maybe if the Romans had treated the Iceni and there fellow tribes with respect and dignity this revolution would of never happened. Instead they raped and pillaged Britain and all the people in it. Never the less Rome continued to occupy Britain for another 350 years.

Bibliography 1. Trevelyan, G.M. History of England Volume III. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1953.

2. Webster, Graham. Roman Britain 55 B.C. - A.D. 409. London, England: Historical Times, 1979.

3. Roberts, Clayton, and Roberts, David. A History of England. Englewood, N.J.: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1991 4. Dudley, Donald, and Webster, Graham. The Rebellion of Boudicca. London, England: W&J Mackay & Co., 1962 5. Welch, George Patrick. Britannia. Middletown C.T.: Wesleyan University Press, 1963 6. Richmond, I.A. Roman Britain. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble, Inc., 1963 7. Cottrell, Leonard. The Great Invasion. New York, N.Y.: Coward-McCann, Inc., 1958 8. Dudley, Donald, and Webster, Graham. The Roman Conquest of Britain. London, England: B.T. Batsford Ltd., 1965 9. "Boudicca" Grolier Encyclopedia. 1996 ed.