Teachers' blog


【The History of the UK: The Roman Invasion】

(Contributed by George)
The Roman Empire had ‘swallowed’ most of Europe, it stretched from Babylon in the east, to the shores of Spain in the west – from Egypt to the North of France, the first truly modern western culture spread across all of Europe with its ruthlessly efficient military ‘wielding’ superior weaponry. Weapons such as the gladius (short sword) and the Pila (Javelins) helped the romans dominate – it was also the fact that their armour (such as Lorica Segmentata) was cheap to produce and for the time was very light and flexible.
This army spread across Europe, crushing much larger forces of ‘barbarians’ (what the romans called everyone who wasn’t roman or Greek). They then reached the northern beaches of France, and decided to spread beyond. Britain was actually a common trading partner of the Roman Empire even before they invaded. But when they did come, it was always a general (Legatus or similar) who was in search of glory and a province to rule. But the English Channel was a tough barrier to cross, and many invasions failed or just gave up (often due to rebellions elsewhere in the empire).
When they did finally come, the Britain were already Romanised to some extent, the south of England in particular already had taken on a lot of Roman culture, and some of the kings gave away their land during invasion and even fled to Rome to live as supplicants to the Empire.
The Romans invaded many times, failed many times, and succeeded a few times. The famous Emperor Caligula even command his army to attack the English channel ordering them to fight a battle against the sea itself – he afterwards ordered them to pick up shells and the like from the beach as ‘plunder’ or ‘loot’ from the battle.
The Roman period shaped Britain and built Londinium (London) and made it the capital. But it also ‘paved the way’ for Britain’s role as an independent island fighting to stay separate from Europe (a love/hate battle that still rages today) – even though back then we loved the sexy Italian culture of the Romans.

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