The Romans in Britain
To the Roman world, Britain was an unknown mysterious land across the sea.
Caesar invaded the land in 55-54BC, Roman Britain was the area of the island of Great Britain that was governed by the Roman Empire which comprised virtually the whole of England majorly.
Caesar later made peace with his opponents and later returned to Gaul, but before that, the romans enjoyed rapid military success.
This invasion brought a lot of changes across Britain style of life, farming, dressing, building styles, products and behavioral patterns. The stay of the Romans also brought lots of developments too.
FACTS ABOUT ROMANS IN BRITAIN
- Roman military of about three legions remaining in Britain settled at permanent bases and auxiliary troops distributed across northern England and close to Hadrian’ wall. The Romans organized Britain into tribal areas called civitates and pacified parts named as capitals for them. Roman styled buildings and road networks were developed, Britain produce were exchanged for Roman-style goods.
- Romans stayed in Britain for almost 4 centuries (400 years), 43 AD to 410 AD, the Roman Empire was ruled from Britain for a brief period in AD 208-11. Britannia Superior which was a province with London being the capital is one of the two provinces that were created by Emperor Septimius Severus. Another province that was created after the Emperor divided Britain was Britannia inferior with York being the capital.
- The shortest distance from any place to another is a straight line, so Romans made all roads as straight as possible building their roads on foundations of clay and gravel, bulged in the middle and had ditches either side to drain rain off.
- Britons were pagans, believing in lots of different Gods and spirits. Romans were pagans too. By the second century, Christianity arrived Britain. The Romans banned it when it started getting popular but Christians refused to worship Roman emperor and were ready for penalties. By AD313 Emperor Constantine declared that Christians were free to worship freely and it became Roman official religion by 391.
- Few people could read or write in Britain before Roman arrival, information was passed by word of mouth from person to person. The Romans wrote their history, literature and laws. They called their language Latin, few people started using it while those in the countryside stuck to their old Celtic language. But the impact of the Latin is still with some words and phrases e.g. ‘exit’ and pedestrian.
- The Romans introduced living in big towns and cities with their towns laid out in GRID. Initially, London was called Londinium and it was part of the Roman City. The city was known as a meeting point for traders, both buyers and sellers for everyone in the Empire. It grew strong till it was the most important city in Roman Britain.
- Roman Britain had an estimated population between 2.8 million and 3 million people at the end of second century. At the end of the fourth century, it had an estimated population of 3.6 million people including over 124,000 Roman Army and their families and dependents.
- The Romans made another attempt to conquer southern Scotland after governor Agricola failed in his own attempt (79AD), they made some gains and built another wall which was later abandoned in160AD.
- In 360 AD, Roman Britain was attacked by tribal groups of Picts, Scots, Franks and Saxons but the attack was repelled by reinforcement sent to Britain from Rome.
- Roman Britain was being attacked by many barbarian tribes and soldiers stationed in Britain were recalled. By 410AD, all Romans had been recalled to Rome and the Emperor Honorius told the people of Britain that they should defend themselves because they have no connection with Rome again.
- Anglo-Saxon took over Britain after the Romans left. They settled in different areas, the Romans called them Barbarians.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON THE ROMANS IN BRITAIN
- Question: How long was the road networks constructed by Romans in Britain?
Answer: Over 16,000km
- Question: Who was in England before the Romans?
Answer: The Anglo-Saxon (a group of close related Germanic tribe)
- Question: Which Roman general rebelled against Rome?
Answer: Roman general Postumus
- Question: The Romans stayed in Britain for how long?
Answer: Almost 4 centuries (400years)