The Roman Conquest of Bits of The Isles,
I must apologise for the delay in producing this most important part of the series, however as I am now writing about an era which is replete with many classic (roman that is) commentaries, histories and other journals, it was necessary to make sure all dates were reasonably accurate. The romans being ones to ensure dates were entered in the accounts to make sure everyone knew how organised the romans were.
The Invasion and Conquest
Anyway as alluded to in the previous essay, Cesare Claudius invaded Britain on the basis that every elderly emperor should have a hobby. He thoughtfully invaded at a time which would be recorded as 43 AD this would make things very easy for later generations of history students as 43 is a prime number and not easily confused, unless you don’t know much about prime numbers.
Having access to the accounts of the Great Julius (Cesare that is), the romans were ready for the celts, their chariots and heroes. There were several notable battles, which the romans were careful to record, since they won them. The conquest was neatly divided into the following episodes:
AD 43- 60– During which the south and the west was conquered by force of arms, unless the next king in line got the message and at once surrendered (his heroes being disposed of to avoid any unnecessary delay in the process)
AD 60– (Ooops). Naturally during any period of invasion and colonisation the said instigators fail to understand local feelings which results in a massive miscalculation and bloodshed. This arose when one Prastugas, thinking he was doing right by leaving part of his kingdom to Rome and the other bit to his wife, thoughtfully died. Naturally there was a dispute over the true meaning of the will but in an attempt to save money on legal fees the roman administration simply treated his widow and daughters horribly and took all the land for themselves. As the widow was named Boudicca she was not one to take any latin excuses (probably a junior roman civil,servant) of Ipso Facto or Quod Erat Demonstrandum and don’t try any of that fortis attachiamentum, validior praesumptionem stuff either! (two classy quotes and one bonus free!). Anyway having gathered an army, sacked cities and heroically slaughtered civilians, Boudicca’s army was then treacherously slaughtered by a professional roman army, which was a typical roman trick. She then died. Regrettably for romantics there is no specific evidence that this was in battle against innumerable foes. She was, however re-discovered by England when England was being a world power and Rome was just a city where Popes lived, which gave English writers the write to make up all sort of tales.
AD 60-78– With this delay over with the roman forces then marched north, just to make sure all the kings in that direction had got the message. Most of them did.
AD 78 – 84– What was vexing to the romans was that some of the kings were so lacking in education that they had not read the documents of surrender properly and thought they could do as they just pleased as in the old days. So during this era the romans were obliged to wander all over the lands reminding these kings of the rules of Pax Romanica; essentially being that the romans made the rules otherwise you’d end up in pieces.
AD 84- 96– At this stage the romans decided they needed to press on even more northwards. This proved to be an error. The tribes in the far north were the Picts and Scots. They had cunningly convinced tribes in north east Ireland that if they all sailed back and forth and migrated here and there, then no one would know whether they were natives or visitors. This confused the romans so much and horrified at the thought as to what these accents could do to Latin, that one industrious roman Hadrian built a very big wall to keep these peoples out of the way of civilised folk.
During these episodes and in subsequent decades several romans wrote about Ireland and the possibility of invading it. But all this came to naught, and as neither the romans or the greeks had any concept of 0 the romans didn’t realise they had got where they had and so did not go to Ireland.
The Colonisations and Romanisation of A Big Bit of The Isles
Obviously the Celtic way of doing things was not going to suit the romans, so they set changing fundamental aspects of Celtic Culture and Society:
Kings– Any who still hadn’t got the message were given the choice. They could either see things the roman way and be allowed to rule in a roman(ish) way, or be heroically captured, taken in chains to Rome, be allowed to make a defiant but noble speech (which since it wasn’t it Latin would lose some of its impact) and then be put to a notable death. Unsurprisingly the former was a popular choice.
Heroes – Charging in singular fashion at a long line of roman legionaries backed up by other lines of the same only profited the bards and any light fingered legionary (see Celtic gold and ornaments). Thus there was no need of the expenses of chains, transport, etc
Druids – Romans could normally put up with other folk worshipping their own gods, but when they found out that the druids were also practitioners of law, that caused much concern. It would not do for locals to turn up pointing out that whatever the local pro-consul had in mind was illegal. The romans approached this problem in two ways; (a) Massacre (b) Discrediting. In the case of the latter various commentators were brought in to deliberately misunderstand druidic practices, such as suggesting they built big baskets and put folk in these to set alight. Druids who pointed out that this was the most dam’d silly idea they’d ever heard of, were forced into big wicker baskets, when the big wicker baskets subsequently fell over, the druid escaped, but since druids had nobly refused to learn Latin they could not write up hilarious accounts of the event. Some commentators wrote that since the druids had the hearts, ears and minds of the people, then they must indulge in sacrifices. All these accounts were written out on tablets and were thus the forerunners of The Tabloid Press.
Young Nobles– The romans dealt with these in a cunning way. They convinced young men that a roman education was just the thing a forward looking celt needed. Thus when they returned from a strong dose of education any ideas their fathers had of having strong sons start rebellions the father could not be blamed for were dashed; the sons being inclined simply to talk at great length about republics. Attempts to arrange marriages with other noble families foundered when the lads went on about platonic relationships. And any complaints about Rome would only be met by a stoic response.
Artisans – Since the roman men liked to buy something for the ‘little woman’ gold and silversmiths did very well. Also as the romans were bringing in roads, baths, running water and sewers as well as villas there was no shortage of business opportunities and soon local craftsmen were doing very nicely. So much so that they were soon employing latin when explaining the rise in costs or the delays in completing the work, citing the saying of the legendary roman builder Various Excuses.
All this went on reasonably well until Rome began to decline and fall (see previous paragraph). The effects of which we shall discuss in the next seminar…..