View and download A History of unpauvagari.ga on DocDroid. A History of Britain, Volume 1 - At the Edge of the World BC-AD - dokument [*.pdf] A History of Britain At the Edge of the World? BC–AD . This massively popular series, first released in , tells the story of our islands in a straightforward, chronological narrative. Carter and Mears' writing is.
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last corrections and im- provements. " Reprxnt. Onglnally published: London. T. Cadell, With new foreword. 1. Great. Britain--History--To. 9 Great. McDowall, David: An Illustrated History of Britain. London: B.1 MAIN ARCHITECTURAL STYLES IN BRITAIN AND LEADING BRITISH. ARCHITECTS. will not think of writing its history as a nation in detail: for a foreigner this would be from that of Great Britain and be compelled to give way to it. The attempt to.
Before Roman times 'Britain' was just a geographical entity, and had no political meaning, and no single cultural identity. Arguably this remained generally true until the 17th century, when James I of England and VI of Scotland sought to establish a pan-British monarchy.
Throughout recorded history the island has consisted of multiple cultural groups and identities. Many of these groupings looked outwards, across the seas, for their closest connections - they did not necessarily connect naturally with their fellow islanders, many of whom were harder to reach than maritime neighbours in Ireland or continental Europe.
It therefore makes no sense to look at Britain in isolation; we have to consider it with Ireland as part of the wider 'Atlantic Archipelago', nearer to continental Europe and, like Scandinavia, part of the North Sea world. This is a vast time span, and we know very little about what went on through those years; it is hard even to fully answer the question, 'Who were the early peoples of Britain? Throughout prehistory there were myriad small-scale societies and many petty 'tribal' identities We can, however, say that biologically they were part of the Caucasoid population of Europe.
The regional physical stereotypes familiar to us today, a pattern widely thought to result from the post-Roman Anglo-Saxon and Viking invasions - red-headed people in Scotland, small, dark-haired folk in Wales and lanky blondes in southern England - already existed in Roman times. Insofar as they represent reality, they perhaps attest the post-Ice Age peopling of Britain, or the first farmers of 6, years ago. From an early stage, the constraints and opportunities of the varied environments of the islands of Britain encouraged a great regional diversity of culture.
Throughout prehistory there were myriad small-scale societies, and many petty 'tribal' identities, typically lasting perhaps no more than a few generations before splitting, merging or becoming obliterated. These groups were in contact and conflict with their neighbours, and sometimes with more distant groups - the appearance of exotic imported objects attest exchanges, alliance and kinship links, and wars. These reveal a mosaic of named peoples Trinovantes, Silures, Cornovii, Selgovae, etc , but there is little sign such groups had any sense of collective identity any more than the islanders of AD all considered themselves 'Britons'.
Calling the British Iron Age 'Celtic' is so misleading that it is best abandoned. However, there is one thing that the Romans, modern archaeologists and the Iron Age islanders themselves would all agree on: they were not Celts. This was an invention of the 18th century; the name was not used earlier.
The idea came from the discovery around that the non-English island tongues relate to that of the ancient continental Gauls, who really were called Celts. This ancient continental ethnic label was applied to the wider family of languages. But 'Celtic' was soon extended to describe insular monuments, art, culture and peoples, ancient and modern: island 'Celtic' identity was born, like Britishness, in the 18th century. However, language does not determine ethnicity that would make the modern islanders 'Germans', since they mostly speak English, classified as a Germanic tongue.
And anyway, no one knows how or when the languages that we choose to call 'Celtic', arrived in the archipelago - they were already long established and had diversified into several tongues, when our evidence begins.
Certainly, there is no reason to link the coming of 'Celtic' language with any great 'Celtic invasions' from Europe during the Iron Age, because there is no hard evidence to suggest there were any. Archaeologists widely agree on two things about the British Iron Age: its many regional cultures grew out of the preceding local Bronze Age, and did not derive from waves of continental 'Celtic' invaders.
And secondly, calling the British Iron Age 'Celtic' is so misleading that it is best abandoned. Of course, there are important cultural similarities and connections between Britain, Ireland and continental Europe, reflecting intimate contacts and undoubtedly the movement of some people, but the same could be said for many other periods of history.
The things we have labelled 'Celtic' icons - such as hill-forts and art, weapons and jewellery - were more about aristocratic, political, military and religious connections than common ethnicity. Compare the later cases of medieval Catholic Christianity or European Renaissance culture, or indeed the Hellenistic Greek Mediterranean and the Roman world - all show similar patterns of cultural sharing and emulation among the powerful, across ethnic boundaries.
To a population of around three million, their army, administration and carpet-baggers added only a few per cent. The future Scotland remained beyond Roman government, although the nearby presence of the empire had major effects.
This was natural enough, since they had particular responsibilities for crown land the emperors automatically acquired the royal estates of defeated enemies, besides much else by inheritance or confiscation and crown monopolies; but they also acted as a check on the governor, the emperor's military and judicial representative.
Friction was not uncommon and not wholly unintentional. The train of events that made it certain the province would not remain confined to the south started in AD 47 with the Roman response to raids from outside. Measures taken included not only counter-attacks but also the disarming of Britons within the province. This was bound to have come eventually, since civilians were forbidden to carry arms within the empire except in certain very limited circumstances— something that says much about everyday security in Roman times—but those who had voluntarily submitted to Rome had not expected it to apply to them.
The Iceni revolted and were put down by force: the true status of the client kingdoms had now been made plain. The next step was the moving forward of the legion that had been stationed at Colchester and its replacement in AD 49 by a colony of Roman legionary veterans. This was intended as the seat of the Imperial Cult—the formal worship of Rome and the Imperial Family which focused the loyalty of the province—and the veterans were to act as a 18 Roman Britain bulwark against possible revolt.
In practice, Colchester was now an ungarrisoned civil city. Perhaps at the same moment, London was founded as a supply port. It is possible that from its beginning it was intended in due course to become the administrative centre of Britain as well. It was in all probability created as a deliberate act, rather than emerging out of a casual settlement of traders, as was formerly thought.
The pre-eminence of the Essex coast was now challenged by the Thames, and London's position at the hub of the radiating system of main roads now being built, designed for official purposes, very soon made it also the business centre of the province.
The were a decade of urban development. Only the agricultural hinterland remained largely unchanged, at least on the surface, and progress towards the universal adoption of the money economy was slow.
By AD 60, however, with the governor, Suetonius Paullinus, about to subdue the troublesome tribes of North Wales, the province looked set to progress steadily. What went wrong? Why did the provincials, led by Rome's old friends the Iceni and Trinovantes, turn into a raging horde, set on destroying every trace of Rome? We have only the Roman account, but it is enough to reveal maladministration ranging from the callously negligent to the undeniably criminal.
Tacitus makes a general comment on the British character: 'The Britons bear conscription, the tribute and their other obligations to the empire without complaint, provided there is no injustice. That they take extremely ill; for they can bear to be ruled by others but not to be their slaves. The governor has to take a share, and it cannot stop there. The young Nero, now on the throne, can hardly be blamed directly, for he was under the influence of his 'good' advisers, Burrus, the praetorian prefect, and the philosopher and dramatist Seneca.
Of these two, it seems very likely that Seneca, at least, knew what was going on in Britain because he suddenly recalled, in a ruthless manner, The Roman Conquest 19 large sums of money he had been lending to leading Britons at a high rate of interest. Reports coming out of Britain may well have indicated unrest that might put his investment at risk. In the event, the action fuelled the flames. There are two main threads to the grievances, represented respectively by the Iceni and the Trinovantes.
At his death, Boudica's husband, Prasutagus, the client king of the Iceni, had left half his possessions to the emperor, expecting that this would protect his kingdom and family. Agents of the procurator and of the governor, however, had treated this as if it were the unconditional surrender of an enemy. The king's property was confiscated, nobles were expelled from their estates, and taxation and conscription enforced.
The Trinovantes were suffering other insults. The main burden of the Imperial Cult, designed to promote loyalty to the emperor, had fallen on their nobles, while the Roman colonists— significantly with the encouragement of serving soldiers—seized their lands and treated them with contempt. They and probably the aristocracies of other civitates were facing financial ruin, the last straw being the reclaiming of grants made by Claudius and the recall of Seneca's loans.
In answer to Boudica's protests, she was flogged and her daughters raped. Rousing her own tribe and her Trinovantian neighbours and carrying other civitates with her but clearly not Cogidubnus she swept through southern Britain, burning Colchester, London, and Verulamium near St.
Albans , torturing every Roman or Roman sympathizer she could catch, and inflicting devastating defeats on the few Roman units that had been left in that part of the country. The governor only just avoided the total loss of the province. After the eventual victory when he had brought her to battle his retribution was all the more extreme. For a while it looked as if the ruin of the province of Britain would now ironically be achieved at Roman hands.
Nero, indeed, at one stage in his reign—possibly earlier, perhaps now—had been inclined to abandon Britain altogether. The recovery that occupied Britain for the decade after Boudica was genuine but unspectacular. There is some evidence that under the last governor appointed by Nero it was beginning to accelerate.
But the outbreak of civil war across the empire in AD 69 The Year of the Four Emperors' revived the spectre of generals fighting for supremacy. However, the outcome of the wars brought in a vigorous new administration in the persons of the Flavian emperors. For Britain, this spelled provincial renewal and the expansion of Roman power. As Tacitus says, 'Now come great generals and magnificent armies, and with them the hopes of our enemies fall into ruin.
The north of Britain was no longer secure. The old policy of client kingship, already shaken by Boudica and previous Brigantian disturbances, was finally discredited. Within a few years even Cogidubnus was probably pensioned off to live in the splendid villa of Fishbourne.
By AD 84 or 84 a succession of first-rate governors had carried Roman arms to the far north of Scotland and garrisons to the edge of the Highlands—and were pressing ahead with Romanization. Tacitus, in describing the work of his father-in-law Agricola, uses words that can characterize the Flavian period as a whole: In order to encourage a truculent population that dwelled in scattered settlements and was thus only too ready to fall to fighting to live in a peaceful and inactive manner by offering it the pleasures that would follow on such a way of living, Agricola urged these people privately, and helped them officially, to build temples, public squares with public buildings fora , and private houses domus.
He praised those who responded quickly, and severely criticized laggards. In this way, competition for public recognition took the place of compulsion. Moreover he had the children of the leading Britons educated in the civilized arts The Roman Conquest 21 and openly placed the natural ability of the Britons above that of the Gauls, however well trained.
The result was that those who had once shunned the Latin language now sought fluency and eloquence in it. Roman dress, too, became popular and the toga was frequently seen. Little by little there was a slide toward the allurements of degeneracy: assembly-rooms portions , bathing establishments and smart dinner parties.
In their inexperience the Britons called it civilization when it was really all part of their servitude. To a certain extent this urbanization under the Flavians was less than completely successful. The core of its more securelybased development can reasonably be associated with the visit of the Emperor Hadrian to Britain in person in , when existing schemes were revived or replaced and vast new works put in hand.
But, looked at in longer perspective, the period from AD 70 to the s is the age when Britain truly became Roman and its lasting features as part of the empire emerged. Central to this absorption into the Roman system was the more or less universal devolution of the burden of routine administration to the local aristocracies that replaced the client kingdoms.
It was crucially important to this policy to win over the native aristocracy whose confidence had been so disastrously lost in the reign of Nero, and it is in this context that Tacitus must be read. Archaeologically, we can observe in the late first century and the beginning and middle of the second century the development of the cities and towns of Roman Britain to their full extent.
The administrative centres of the civitates were provided with civic centres: the forum and basilica that provided market, law courts, civic offices, and council chambers; the public baths which in the Roman world provided the urban centre for relaxation and social life; engineered water supplies; public monuments honouring imperial figures and local worthies; and, in a number of cases, theatres or amphitheatres.
This archaeological evidence is all the more significant in that in the empire it was normally the local notables themselves in council or as individuals who paid for such amenities, not State or 22 Roman Britain emperor.
Occasionally, a great private patron with local connections might favour the town with a benefaction or by acting as friend at court.
Only in rare and well-publicized instances did emperors take a part, directly or through their representatives. The urban expansion could not, of course, have rested solely on the basis of a relatively small native aristocracy taught to accept Roman ways. Indeed, the fact that this spread of town life was followed by the appearance of many 'villas' in the countryside—at this stage mainly modest but comfortable Roman houses, often replacing native homesteads—indicates that the British gentry retained their connections with the land.
Most probably they were still chiefly resident on their estates, and many ordinary farmers shared their prosperity. In this period, too, veterans discharged from the legions were principally concentrated in the small number of cities deliberately founded to take them: Colchester, Lincoln, and Gloucester. The flourishing of the towns as a whole, therefore, depended equally on the emergence, well attested, of a lively urban population made up of officials, the professions, traders, and skilled artisans.
Some of these people, particularly among the craftsmen and traders, were immigrants or visitors from other parts of the empire, and many officials were on short-term postings to the province. Nevertheless, the population of Roman Britain remained overwhelmingly Celtic.
The ranks of the Roman army, too, were increasingly recruited from the provinces in which units were stationed; gradually Britons who had been, like the mass of their fellows, without the distinctive Roman citizenship when they joined the army, must, as discharged veterans with their grants of citizenship and substantial gratuities, have formed an important part of the solid centre of the Romanized society now emerging.
In the towns, slaves were set up in business by their masters; and the frequent use in the Roman world of the power to set slaves free or allow them to purchase their liberty expanded the skilled labour force and added to the The Roman Conquest 23 body of businessmen. Whatever the condition of the agricultural labourer, social mobility was high in the skilled and educated portion of society.
Whilst the vast bulk of the ordinary people of Britain undoubtedly remained on the land—and we have to recall that industry too, was largely concentrated in the countryside—the towns of the Early Empire came to provide centres of public life, exchange and services for the rural hinterland, and wide opportunities of advancement at different levels of society. Hadrian's revival of flagging Flavian initiatives was thus of major importance. But his impact on the province was great in other ways.
A man of restless and extraordinary character and energy, much of his reign was taken up with tours of the provinces. One of the few emperors deliberately to set himself against the tradition of expansion of the empire, he was personally unpopular with the Roman aristocracy and many of his vast enterprises were only partially successful, though whether due to internal opposition or to flaws in planning is not always clear.
In Britain there are at least three major examples. Hadrian's Wall was constructed on the line to which Roman forces had been withdrawn in stages over the thirty years since the extreme point'of expansion, partly because of demands for troops elsewhere, partly due to fairly serious local reverses in the field.
Such a policy suited Hadrian's general inclination to limit the empire, and the design of the Wall was brilliantly original. Partly because of this, however, detailed study of its early history has revealed a remarkable series of changes of plan within Hadrian's reign; and it must have cost many times the original estimates of the expenditure and time required for completion.
Similarly, the agricultural colonization of the Fenlands of East Anglia involved water engineering on a grand scale, yet many of the farms failed after only a few years. Hadrianic London, too, saw the demolition of the substantial Flavian forum and basilica and their replacement with a complex twice the normal size. In Gaul and elsewhere Hadrian intervened to help cities erect public buildings. In London this 24 Roman Britain was probably related to the presence of the emperor himself during his visit to Britain in AD , which is supported by the erection of a permanent fort in the city at about this time— something almost unparalleled in the cities of the empire outside Rome.
But when a great fire had swept through London later in Hadrian's reign the effort to reconstruct areas that had been devastated was relatively short-lived, and in the later years of the second century London shows signs of advanced urban decay. Hadrian's frontier line from Tyne to Solway Firth represents broadly the limit within which the province settled for most of its history. Yet there were at least three major wars of conquest northwards subsequent to Hadrian, two of them commanded in person by emperors; and for long periods garrisons were maintained at points beyond the Hadrianic line and a degree of control exercised.
Indeed, within months of his death in plans were in hand to launch a new invasion of Scotland; and by AD the armies of his generally unmilitary successor, Antoninus Pius, had, like those of Claudius, provided him with a conquest in the prestigious field of Britain.
Scotland as far as the Firth of Tay was in Roman hands, and work commenced on a new, shorter, and more simply-built linear barrier to run from the Forth to the Clyde. Elaborate commemorative stone relief sculptures, set at positions along what we know as the Antonine Wall, record the confident mood of what was to be the last period of unconstrained expansion of Roman rule. In this early Antonine period, the developments we have seen in town and country reached their first peak.
Elsewhere, the empire is generally considered to have been enjoying a golden age of tranquillity and prosperity. In Britain the economic system of the Early Empire had been fully accepted, based on a money economy and large-scale, long-distance trade.
Culturally, Roman fashions were dominant, and classical art and decoration widely adopted. First-rate works of art from Roman Britain are relatively few compared with, say, southern Gaul, but they do exist. The middle range of material is, however, quite plentiful and it is abundantly clear that massproduced articles were freely available. It is these, rather than the few works of high art that have survived, that reveal an everyday revolution in the way of life since the pre-Roman Iron Age.
Roman pottery alone reveals the existence of a 'throwaway society' that is quite different from what went before or came after. Because it affected the deepest levels of consciousness, the most telling evidence for the assimilation of Roman and native comes from religion. Roman Britain was a religious kaleidoscope, ranging from the formal rites of the Roman State— Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, in particular—and the Imperial Cult that had more recently been grafted on to it, through a wide range of religions imported both from the neighbouring West and from the East, to the local Celtic cults.
People from overseas often retained their own favourite practices: Diodora, a Greek priestess, dedicated an altar at Corbridge in her own language to the demi-god Heracles of Tyre; soldiers from the Netherlands set up others at Housesteads on Hadrian's Wall to their native goddesses the Alaisiagae, Baudihillia and Friagabis, Beda and Fimmilena.
But for our purpose the most significant are the 'conflations' or amalgamations of classical and Celtic deities. This was a difficult and uncertain process, since Celtic religion identified its deities much less clearly than Roman, but it was very widespread. That its acceptance was more than superficial is clear, for example, from an altar in the great complex of temple and baths at Bath erected to Sulis Minerva— the native healing spirit of the hot springs conflated with the Roman goddess of wisdom—by Lucius Marcius Memor, haruspex.
The function of the haruspices was divination of the future from the entrails of sacrificial animals. This ancient practice, The Roman Conquest 27 held in the highest honour, went back to very early Etruscan strands in Italian religion, yet it is here related to a half-Celtic deity. Again, on Hayling Island, a major shrine of the preRoman Iron Age—more than likely associated with the kingship of Verica—was rebuilt subsequently in Roman materials, probably by an architect from Roman Gaul commissioned by Cogidubnus.
It is a particularly fine example of a very large class of distinctive shrines known to archaeologists as 'Romano-Celtic temples', found right across Britain, Gaul, and Roman Germany, and quite clearly the expression in Roman architectural terms of a pre-existing type peculiar to the Celtic peoples.
They are instantly recognizable, being square, circular, or polygonal structures, usually box-like with a concentric 'ambulatory', and often set within enclosed precincts which may sometimes have preserved sacred groves from pre-Roman times. At a much less formal level we find in Weardale a cavalry officer giving thanks to Silvanus a Celtic rural god in Roman guise for 'a remarkably fine boar no one had previously been able to catch', or at Greta Bridge two ladies setting up an altar to the local nymph.
These are typical of the deep belief of both Celts and Roman's that every place had its own deity. Romans found no difficulty in accepting these deities of place in the lands they conquered.
Indeed, they showed real anxiety to find out their names and honour them, as a precaution if nothing else. The darker side was a belief in ghosts and the need to placate them. Here we are at the heart of Roman religion, very congenial to the Britons, the animistic belief in the localized spirits of hearth, home, family, and ancestors, and of places and objects outside, which long pre-dated the public adoption of the classical gods of Olympus.
The black element is represented archaeologically by written curses, some still sickening to read. From Clothall near Baldock comes a lead plate bearing a message written backwards a practice common in magic , declaring that 'Tacita is hereby cursed, and this curse shall reveal her to be putrefying like rotting blood'. It is surely not i8 Roman Britain just chance that excavation of a temple at Uley in Gloucestershire has approximately doubled the total of curse-bearing tablets known from the entire Roman world.
The Britons, we are told by a classical source, were obsessed with ritual. The specifically Roman contributions were to provide new artistic and architectural forms to express religious feelings, and written language in which to make those sentiments clear and permanent.
Roman religious practice, with that same sense that informed Roman law, depended on the exact performance of every act and word. The care with which the Romano-Briton phrased his dedications and curses demonstrates how well the new capacity to set wording down indelibly accorded with his own ritual inclinations. After the invasion of Scotland, Antoninus Pius waged no more aggressive wars anywhere in the Roman world, and in the i6os the mood began to change.
In Britain something had gone seriously wrong around There is some evidence that the Brigantes had to be suppressed, a situation perhaps made possible by premature thinning out of troops on the ground in the Pennines under the demands of the occupation of southern Scotland; and it seems the Antonine Wall itself was temporarily lost.
A brief reoccupation of Scotland, perhaps after a punitive campaign though the chronology of this period in the north is exceptionally obscure was followed by a definitive return to the Hadrianic line. In the reign of the next emperor, Marcus Aurelius, barbarian pressure on the frontiers of the empire generally became serious.
The initiative, though Rome did not recognize it for centuries, had passed from her. For a traveller arriving from the Continent, there was one particularly striking fashion in which Britain would have seemed different from northern Gaul, whose development it had in so many ways paralleled, allowing for the century less of time it had been under Roman rule.
The permanent military presence will have made him aware that a primary concern of governors in Britain was always one of defence: there were three legions, two in the west in fortresses at Chester and at The Roman Conquest 29 Caerleon in South Wales, and one in the north at York, together with a very large number of auxiliary units, many occupied in containing the nominally pacified tribesmen of the hills inside the province by means of a network of forts and patrolled roads.
But the most visible difference in the south was the presence of town walls. The building of these walls was not other than at one period a general response to a particular crisis. It was a leisurely process, starting in the first century with towns such as Winchester and Verulamium and still in progress in the By the early second century the three prestigious colonies had walls; and an element of civic rivalry may have stirred elsewhere.
The main reason for their walls, however, had to be something sufficiently important to overcome the reluctance of Roman emperors to allow the construction of fortifications that might be held by an enemy or insurgents locals paid for the walls, but the emperor's express permission was required ; and permanent enough for the process to continue even though Britain was several times implicated in major challenges to authority.
Lack of defences to the villas rules out a disorderly countryside or fear of peasant revolt. The reason must be the same factor that kept the legions in the province and the auxiliary units stationed where they were—apprehension of barbarian incursion from outside and risings in the hills within the province.
The cities and towns, lying on the main roads, were the obvious targets for tribes or war parties on the move. In the ancient world city walls were more or less impregnable, except to armies with sophisticated siege machinery and the logistic support necessary to sustain a prolonged siege, or where the attackers had friends within the town.
Against tribesmen, therefore, walls were a first-rate form of civic defence; and their prevalence in Britain must indicate a much greater awareness of threat than was abroad in Gaul. The walls, however, took a long time to build, and a speedier remedy was sometimes needed.
At Cirencester, for example, an earth rampart was thrown up to link monumental stone city gates and interval towers already built, as if an urgent decision had been taken to interrupt the leisurely construction programme and put the defences into immediate commission.
Of the various candidates that have been proposed for this period of crisis, the most likely seems the outbreak in the north around which included barbarian penetration of the frontier, reported widespread damage, and the death of a Roman general. A much less likely context is the candidacy of a governor of Britain, Clodius Albinus, for the imperial throne in the years The events surrounding his attempt, however, herald a new age in the history of the empire, in the course of which Britain's fortunes diverged much more sharply from that of neighbouring Gaul.
Marcus Aurelius' great wars on the Danube, which in the event marked the beginning of the unrelenting barbarian pressure in the West, might, had not his death intervened, have led to his achieving his aim of conquering Central Europe north of the Danube.
Instead, the year saw the breakdown of the system of nominating successors to the imperial throne that had produced a century of moderate and extremely able emperors. The accession of Marcus' dreadful son, Commodus, coincided in Britain with the outbreak of the serious warfare in the north mentioned above.
In Britain and elsewhere, attempts to tighten up discipline in the Roman army had ironic consequences. A short period that saw a return to a rapid succession of murdered emperors and fresh outbreaks of civil war ended not only with the army in a much stronger position in society but with other profound changes in the system. The final victor, after the defeat of Clodius Albinus in Gaul, was the immensely tough Septimius Severus.
But, far from bringing the army back to the disciplined loyalty of the previous hundred years, Severus' strategy for the survival of his own dynasty was to subordinate everything to the interests of the troops. The third-century emperors abandoned the pretence of rule by consent. The senatorial class, which the second-century The Roman Conquest 31 emperors had, with varying degrees of sincerity, tried to keep involved in the responsibilities of government, both civil and military, lost ground to the career soldiers who were providing the professional officers whom the army increasingly required.
The old distinction between Roman citizens and provincials without the citizenship, already fading as more and more of the latter won Roman status, was now swept away and replaced by a new class structure before the law—an upper division honestiores and a lower humiliores.
Significantly, soldiers fell into the former category. By the middle of the century, rampant inflation had severely damaged confidence in the currency; and the old economic pattern of major centres of production serving very large areas of the Roman world by means of longdistance trade based on a money economy was tending to be replaced by more localized industries.
For the first quarter of the third century, Septimius Severus and his dynasty seemed to offer a renewed stability, even if one based on military autocracy. But that in itself was an insecure foundation. In the middle of the century, one assassinated emperor followed another in rapid succession as army officers changed their allegiances. The old, fatal weaknesses of personal ambition and the readiness of the Roman soldier to follow his commander were unchecked.
At this point almost total disaster struck as barbarians attacked in both East and West. In the East a newly-invigorated Persian Empire captured the Emperor Valerian, while successive Germanic invasions wrecked the unwalled cities of Gaul and prevented Rome from any more shielding her towns and territories across the Rhine with a permanent military presence.
By much of the empire was in a sorry state. It was formerly believed that Britain had been similarly devastated when Clodius Albinus' unsuccessful campaign on the Continent against Severus was supposed to have stripped Britain of troops and opened the way for a major barbarian invasion. The archaeology will no longer support such a hypothesis. Problems with the tribes beyond the northern 32 Roman Britain frontier towards the end of Severus' life did, however, give him a reason to choose Britain to launch a new war of conquest.
There was no slackening of Roman ambition. Here the intention was the total subjugation of Scotland, to complete the conquest of the island. There is, indeed, cause to think that the interest of the Severan House in Britain revived a province that had become somewhat run down. Perhaps in connection with the imperial visit itself, London was tidied up, given new public buildings, provided with the longest circuit of walls in Britain and, at some time in the Severan period, its waterfront magnificently re-equipped with continuous quays running for more than half a mile.
While the war was being planned, the imperial household itself probably settled at York. Much work had already been undertaken on the forts of the north behind the Wall, many of which seem to have been neglected, since the defeat of the barbarian intruders in the early i8os.
There is some reason to think that York itself had assumed some of the governmental functions formerly located at London, perhaps when the Antonine reoccupation of Scotland extended the lines of communication. Sometime early in the third century the city that had grown up alongside the legionary fortress was dignified with the honorary rank of Roman colony. It is not, therefore, surprising to find London and York being chosen as twin capitals when, at some not entirely certain point in the Severan period, Britain was divided into two provinces.
This was in line with a new policy to reduce the number of legions under the command of any one provincial governor and thus the temptation to revolt. The planned conquest of Scotland was called off—but only after substantial successes—owing to the death of the emperor and the pressures on his successor. Security of the frontier was, however, accomplished. Britain as a whole shows every sign of having escaped the disasters of the age elsewhere.
There was a slowing of new development, but the towns remained active and the villas were, if not expanded, kept up. Some public work that might have been expected was not undertaken: restoration in the Fenlands after severe flooding, for example. But the defences of Britain continued to be refurbished, and new forts built on the south and east coast, at Brancaster and Reculver, probably for purposes of political control of the routes to the Continent and not yet indicative of an acute threat from sea-borne barbarians.
In Gaul, AD saw yet more trouble from the Germans—not yet by any means the worst—and the central government in Rome lost control. This grouping had been foreshadowed under Clodius Albinus and re-emerged later as a structural part of the restored empire. For the time being, however, possession of peaceful, prosperous Britain with its powerful and undamaged forces and its almost legendary propaganda value must have been a considerable comfort to the Gallic emperors.
Romans did not behave then or later as if Rome could ever fall. Emperors and would-be emperors or emperor-makers did not cease murdering one another, but a series of great soldier-emperors nevertheless restored the military balance against the barbarians, put down rival administrations, and began to repair the physical and institutional fabric of the State.
This was done to such an effect that the imperial system was enabled to survive another two centuries in the West and might have lasted much longer and twelve in the East. In Britain was brought back under the central government when the Emperor Aurelian eliminated the Gallic Empire. Britain's immediate fate, however, was very different from that of the Gallic part of the former independent north-western state.
In the towns of Gaul were still un- Britain under the Late Empire 35 walled when, as a literary source tells us, the worst of the barbarian invasions yet saw the capture of fifty or sixty towns and their retaking by the Romans. In north-eastern France archaeology has revealed the abandonment in the late third century of villa after villa in what had been a region outstanding for its extraordinarily dense pattern of really large country houses and their estates.
These houses were not to be reoccupied. In Britain the contrast is acute. In the period there are signs of a modest amount of building and none of universal neglect, while archaeologists are tending to date an increasing amount of new construction, particularly of villas or of enlargements and improvements to villas, to around —for example in the villas of Witcombe and Forcester Court, on the western edge of the Cotswolds.
An interesting hypothesis has been advanced that there was a 'flight of capital' from Gaul to Britain. There is no positive evidence for this theory yet, but if modified a little it is attractive. It is certainly true that the great age of the Romano-British villa, long recognized as being at its peak in the fourth century, must have had its beginnings in the s.
It seems unlikely, however, that landowners could have 'extracted their capital' from their ruined Gallic estates in other words, sold them at a good price. When these estates were reoccupied at the end of the century it was as abandoned land given over to settlers imported by government.
Behind the argument, however, lies too parochial a view of land ownership, an unspoken assumption that the typical provincial landowner possessed a single estate and lived in its villa most of the time.
Possession of more than one estate was common among the upper classes of the Roman world, where wealth and status were quintessentially marked by landed property, sometimes in many parts of the empire simultaneously. For the pattern of Britain and Gaul at this period it is thus much more likely that owners with land on both sides of the Channel decided to transfer their personal residences from their Gallic villas to their properties in what must have seemed an exceptionally secure haven in an age of extreme danger; and the 3 6 Roman Britain movement may already have started among the more cautious under the Gallic Empire.
Perhaps a small piece of circumstantial evidence is that when the cities of Gaul finally were walled after , the circuits, though very strong, were in general short quite unlike Britain , sometimes more like those of very powerful fortresses than walled towns. This is just what one would expect if there were no longer enough magnates with active local interests who could be tapped for the funds to defend the whole urban area.
Architecturally, the walls of these Gallic fortress cities do have close relations in Britain which are more or less contemporary, but they are not the towns.
A number of new coastal fortresses were built in southern Britain—with the same pattern of very high stone walls and massive projecting towers—and older forts such as Brancaster and Reculver were modernized after the same fashion.
At a much later date—in the fifth century—they are listed under a commander 'of the Saxon Shore', which has persistently suggested that they originated as a planned system of defence against Saxon sea-pirates. This is probably an anachronism. There is some reason to think that Aurelian's successor, Probus, created a tighter control of both sides of the Channel by establishing in Britain and Gaul similar strings of coastal forts; but the prime purpose has not been proven. The fact that Probus had more than once to quell serious moves against his authority in Britain may suggest that the 'Saxon Shore' had more at this stage to do with political security within the empire than frontier defence.
Britain was an important asset—even more so in these straitened times—but control of the Channel was essential to its retention. This fact was demonstrated in a remarkable fashion.
In a senior Roman officer named Carausius, who had been put in charge of a campaign to clear an infestation of pirates out of the Channel, came under strong suspicion of allowing the raids to happen and misappropriating the loot when it was subsequently seized by his fleet.
Anticipating execution, Carausius rebelled and took control of Britain. Once again Britain was Britain under the Late Empire 37 under the rule of a local emperor. This episode has attracted much romanticizing, but the fact is that neither Carausius nor other Romans before or after him who claimed the imperial title regarded Britain as something separate. Carausius is typical in blandly claiming on his coinage equality and fraternity with imperial colleagues, who, in fact, held the rest of the empire but with whom his fiction implied shared rule of the whole.
The Carausian regime proved remarkably hard to dislodge, protected as it was by the sea. Carausius himself was unseated and murdered by Allectus, one of his own men, when he had lost a foothold on the Continent with the end of the siege of Boulogne in ; but it was another three years before the central Roman government could launch a successful invasion.
The Channel had proved formidable again. Despite the fact that an element of inspired seamanship and a good deal of luck contributed greatly to the defeat of Allectus— not to mention what looks very much like lack of enthusiasm for his cause on the part of the regular garrison of Britain—in fact by the rebel administration in Britain had faced a much more formidable central power.
Major changes had taken place in the Roman State in those few years which move us into the period known as. The driving force was the Emperor Diocletian. Rooting himself in Roman precedent like Augustus, he initiated through his reforms a period of change that transformed the Roman State over half a century.
He attempted to deal with the chronic political instability by creating a system of two senior emperors Augusti and two juniors as 'Caesars', with automatic succession.
The individual provinces were once again reduced in size, and now grouped in 'dioceses', under a new tier of civilian officers known as vicarii to whom the governors no longer commanding armies were now made responsible. The frontiers were strengthened by approximately doubling the units of the army, under new commanders.