Romans Part 3
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Part III




The Romans suffer a severe setback

n A.D 61 Suetonius, now the new governor of Britain, whilst being in the west of the country moved the seat of government to Chester. This was undertaken to solve a problem that existed for some time, the Welsh Druids. Druids were fanatical religious people who predominated in Wales and especially the island of Mona ( Anglesey ). Suetonius felt that these people who gave sanctuary to anti Roman fugitives must be defeated. Constructing narrow bottom boats for supplies, the infantry waded and swam across with their horses. When they reached the island, they formed up in battle fashion, ready for the fight. What greeted them must have affected them profoundly. Lined up to face them were the Druids, possibly unarmed, interspersed with armed fighters. Between them there were women dressed in black holding torches. The Romans unsure how to proceed, which probably was the Druid intention. Suetonius gave orders in no uncertain terms that these people should not be spared. The Romans advanced and killed them all and burnt down their properties. Druids in those times were followers of the human sacrifice, using the entrails of the enemy as a gift to the Gods. Suetonius also burnt down the sacred oak groves of the Druids. On the other side of England, in East Anglia, an event was about to occur which had momentous repercussions. What happened is now legend. A tribe called the Iceni existed in England at this time. The tribal king, a well respected man died or was killed by centurions. Prior to this, he had made Emperor Nero godfather to his two daughters, under the premise that this would offer them some protection. It did not. They were raped and his wife beaten almost to death.


I wish we hadn't done that

here is nothing like a woman scorned, especially if her name is Boadicea ( or Boudicca as she should be correctly called ). The total outrage caused by the defiling of this family instigated Britain's version of the killing fields. Up to this point the Iceni was the largest indigenous tribe in the country and also one of the least aggressive. But the events that developed caused dreadful bloodshed. Boadicea by default following the death of her husband, became their queen. She planned revenge. Britain was being run by a force of about 20 to 25 thousand Romans comprising 4 legions. About half comprising the Fourteenth and Twentieth legions, who were with Suetonius in Chester or Wales. The Second legion in Gloucester and the Ninth in Lincoln. Camulodunum ( Colchester ) . This was to be the first target of Boadicea and her force. Colchester was the seat of Roman religion and authority. The British who had been living in the area had been forcibly ejected from their homes and farms by the Romans and must have supported this action. There were no survivors. Everybody was killed who had any Roman leanings. It is thought about 15 thousand people were massacred that day. The ninth infantry hearing of the slaughter, immediately proceeded towards Colchester, only to meet the Britons marching to meet them. The Roman legion of about 5 thousand men were simply over-run by force of numbers and all were killed apart form their commander Petilius Cerialis, who escaped with his cavalry. When Suetonius heard of the massacre of his legion, he immediately rode to London with a small cavalry force. He sent a message to the Second legion in Gloucester to march with haste to meet up with him. The commander after hearing of the sacking of Colchester refused to comply. His refusal left Suetonius in an impossible situation. He had to make a military decision quickly. Under the circumstances, he decided to leave London to its own fate. He knew it was futile to try and stop Boadicea without adequate forces, so he withdrew and rejoined his men in the west. The carnage and death was inevitable and followed in the same manner as Colchester. 30 to 40 thousand people lost their lives in London. If this had not been enough, Boadicea turned her sights on Verulamium ( St Albans ), a large trading centre. As in Colchester and London, everything and everybody who had any affiliation with the Romans was killed or destroyed. All in all it is calculated that somewhere between 50 to 70 thousand people died following the death of Boadicea's Husband.


For those who are about to die

hat was Suetonius to do ? leave the people of London to die by the hand of Boadicea or protect them with what he had available. If he had done so, he would almost certainly have been killed and his legions would have lost their commander. Too many battles in history have been lost by the death of the leader. It must have been an agonizing decision to make. As Winston Churchill pointed out, a difficult but correct decision. Suetonius also knew what his duty was, and the reason he was in Britain. Boadicea had to be defeated. He made his plans. The Fourteenth and Twentieth legions, 10 thousand soldiers, set out to destroy her. The Romans chose open ground to fight, being especially good at hand to hand combat, where the British had been using ambush and hit and run tactics until now. Boadicea's forces must have suffered a large number of casualties when it faced the Roman Ninth legion. Even so, it is thought that she had in excess of 70 thousand fighters for this final battle. The British way of fighting then, was to bring the family along. So many of these would have been women and children. The Romans with their superior training and tactics, along with cavalry, defeated Boadicea, slaying everybody. Suetonius's casualties were in the hundreds. Following this defeat, Boadicea committed suicide by poison. The commander of the Second legion did similar for his refusal to fight. He probably would have been executed for cowardice anyway. Suetonius then went on a killing spree of his own, making examples of the British and demonstrating what would happen if there were any more uprisings. The barbarity of it all had not gone without notice in Rome. The Procurator, Julius Classicianus stationed in Britain, informed the Senate that Britain would be turned into a agricultural and financial desert if something wasn't done soon. To this end, a governor was sent and Suetonius ordered home.


The Final Frontier

gricola was sent to be the governor of Britain in A.D. 78. He immediately acted beyond his jurisdiction by attacking troublesome tribes and especially the Druids on the island of Mona, who were still posing a threat. His authority assured, he reversed course and went on a building exercise, and to his credit, introduced an education policy for the islanders. The style of dress changed to the toga, for those who were prepared to accept Roman authority. It almost became a status symbol to dress this way and indicated social superiority. He built ships and introduced a decent agricultural system that had been neglected in the previous turbulent years. Not all of Britain had been subjugated however, because Agricola had Rome's sanction for six northerly excursions to finally crush all resistance to Roman rule. The north of England and Scotland had no Roman presence. This made Agricola uncomfortable. He wanted the whole country under his governor ship. The last large Roman battle to take place in Britain occurred in A.D.83 in a Scottish pass. Known only as Mons Graupius, Agricola on his sixth campaign north, defeated the last army to be formed against Rome in Britain. To Rome, these northerly battles were a luxury they could no longer afford, so no more were sanctioned. Rome considered the problem they were still having in Germany of more importance. By all intents and purposes, Britain belonged to Rome.


After the sixth Campaign

fter the 6th campaign north by Agricola, an extended period of peace reigned in Britain. For the next three hundred years a new culture sprang up, based on the Roman type of lifestyle. Since the birth of Christ, this country has never had a peaceful period which has lasted so long. The occupying force would only have been about 6 Legions or 35 thousand men. Quite a small number to control a million inhabitants. Within a few generations most of the Roman military were British conscripts or of mixed Roman blood. Excellent roads were built which were long, flat and straight. Law and order was enforced, so that people could move around without fear. Houses for the affluent were built of stone and centrally heated, sewage was disposed of in a safe manner and cleanliness was the custom rather than the exception. The Romans introduced education and a currency. The country's economy flourished and was a port of call for most traders of Europe, especially to London. Hadrian built a long manned wall across the north of the country to keep out the barbarian Picts ( Scottish) and Scots ( who were from Ireland). Forts were built along the eastern shores to protect the country from the threat of invasion from Europe. A fleet of ships were built to protect the coastline.


The end of Roman rule in Britannia

ike a star which finally uses up its resources, the end may take some time but the inevitable will eventually arrive. The Roman Empire encompassed most of Europe, except the countries of the far north comprising Norway Denmark and Sweden. Even though Britain was at peace, there was still not a feel good factor. Despite the better conditions, the population was still subjugated and were subject to Roman and not British law ( not that there was any to start with ). Agricultural techniques had not really progressed in all those years and the hopes of the Romans of an increasing prosperous country did not materialise. They overbuilt ( like the Victorians in the 19th century ). Many of their projects were never completed or used. Houses were constructed that were never totally inhabited due to the static population. Constant raids by the Picts and Scots on the other side of Hadrian's wall took its toll. The barbarians developed a new strategy of sailing round it, which defeated the object of the wall.


Emperor Diocletian

n A.D. 285 the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who was probably more famous for his persecution of the Christians, decided to change the way the Empire was run. Instead of having one Emperor, he would have four. There would be two Caesar's in training who would eventually take over the running of Rome and its dominions. He of course, would still be the senior of the four. The purpose was to preserve Rome's interests. Maximiun was appointed Co-Emperor and sent to Gaul, with responsibility for Britain. For some time Britain had been experiencing attacks, not only from the Picts and Scots, but had been bothered by pirate raids from a European invaders called Saxons. To try and combat this ever increasing threat from the Saxons, Maximiun appointed an alleged Belgian naval officer by the title of Carausius. He was totally without principle and used all manner of double dealing means to defeat the Saxon pirates. He developed the business to fine art. By encouraging all and sundry to attack Britain. Stationing himself in the port of Boulogne, he would sail behind them and capture them on the return leg. Instead of returning the booty to its rightful owners, he would keep it. Maximian on hearing this, put out a warrant for his capture and execution. 


Self declared Emperor

y A.D. 287 Carausius, whose stature and arrogance grew out of all proportion, landed in Britain and declared himself Emperor by bribing the island garrisons round to his way of thinking. Hearing this, Maximiun set sail but was defeated in a sea battle. For six years Carausius was self declared ruler of Britain. Emperor Diocletian, on hearing of his exploits, bided his time and planned his downfall. In A.D. 293, One of Diocletian's appointed Caesars, Constantius Chlorius raided Boulogne. Carausius's execution swiftly followed by the hand of one of his own officers. The officer declared himself the new ruler of Britain. He did not receive the support of the nation. Chlorius swiftly sailed across the English Channel and up the River Thames. Order was restored by repulsing the northern invaders and controlling the Saxon raiding parties. The status quo was maintained until the middle of the fourth century, but the constant threat and raids from outsiders began to take a toll. 

Pict, Scots and Saxons


hen in A.D. 367, the Picts, Scots and Saxon's by accident or conspiracy, all invaded at the same time. The defences were breached and many thousands were killed. In a determined bid to hold their northern dominion. The new Roman Emperor in A.D. 367 sent one of his toughest generals named Theodosius with a large force to protect Britain from the invaders. He rebuilt the defences and repelled the invaders. In A.D. 383, a Spaniard named Magnus Maximus who was in command at the time, declared himself Emperor of Britain. He remained in power for five years before being killed by order of Theodosius. Not only was he self declared Emperor of Britain but also Spain and Gaul. Whilst in Gaul, he had Gratien, Theodosius's predecessor executed by his own men. Seven years past with no coherent leader of Britain. 



n A.D. 390, Theodosius sent a Romanised barbarian by the name of Stilicho. Again, he drove out the Picts, Scots and Saxons. Yet again he rebuilt the defences. Stilicho returned to Rome where he was appointed Commander in Chief. In A.D. 402 Italy itself was invaded by The Visigoths led by Alaric. To defend their homeland, Stilicho recalled Legions from northern Europe and Britain. The Visigoths were driven back. The Visigoths were followed by a second invasion of barbarians in A.D. 405 which Stilicho destroyed. Northern Gaul was invaded by a combined force of Burgundians, Avars, Seuvi and the more famous Vandals. As Stilicho was preparing to do battle with them the British garrison mutinied with the excuse that they had been left helpless. The British decided to set up their own Senate and government.

Puppet Emperors


puppet Emperor was installed named Marcus, who was soon murdered, followed by another named Constantine. Constantine was no sooner in office that he departed Britain with a large force to make his fortune abroad and leaving the country to its fate. He was captured by Stilicho and executed. Rome had been sacked and Britain was now totally undefended. Appeals to Rome were greeted by this message from the new Emperor Honorius - .
( The cantons should take steps to defend themselves ). The Roman occupation as we know it ended in A.D 410.


Romans Part 1

Romans Part 2

Roman Photographs


copyright Glen Ray Crack - Battle - East Sussex - United Kingdom
Submitted 10th January 1998
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