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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, ColoradoRise of Nation State England

Rise of Nation State England
Roman Conquest of Britain -

Britain - A New Province for Rome
In 55 BC a fleet of eighty ships left for the coast of Britain. The ships carried two legions of Roman soldiers - more the 10,000 of the world's best equipped and most highly trained fighting men. Julius Caesar was the leader. He claimed that Britain's people had been helping the Gauls in their wars against Rome. Julius Caesar knew that he would gain even greater popularity in Rome if he could conquer this mysterious country, which Roman called "the islands at the end of the earth."

Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar wrote very full descriptions of his campaigns, so for the first time we have a written account of events in British history. That first visit to Britain only lasted about three weeks. Caesar got a hostile reception, with javelins lined up on the cliffs, backed by cavalry and warriors in chariots.

Caesar's Second Trip to Britain
In 54 BC, five legions (500 men per legion) and 2,000 cavalry in several hundred ships headed to Britain. Before Caesar could press home his advantage, he heard that another sudden storm had damaged many of his ships. Ten precious days were lost while repairs were carried out. When Caesar again marched inland, he found that larger British forces had now been assembled from all sides, overall command and conduct of the campaign to Cassivellaunus.

After a short time the enemy proved unable to resist the violent attack of the legion, and rushed out of the fortress on another side. Many of those trying to escape were captured or killed. Cassivellaunus, alarmed by so many defeats and by the devastation of his country, sent messengers to Caesar to agree term of surrender. Before the messengers arrived, Caesar had already decided to abandon the invasion.

Pre-Christian Fortress in Ulster
Navan Fort. Pre-Christian fortress of the kings of Ulster and burial mound of Queen Macha.

The Claudius Invasion
After Caesar's departure, nearly a hundred years went by before a Roman army was again seen in Britain. Not until the region of the emperor Claudius (41 - 54 AD) was an invasion of Britain attempted. Britain was known to be rich in metals and it was a good land for growing wheat and raising cattle. Cartacus wrote:

"The Britons ... would not come to close quarter with the Roman but hid in the marshes and forests, hoping to wear them out through pointless effort."

Realizing that the hilly regions of wheat might be more difficult to conquer, he fled to Wales. Plautitus called a halt and sent for Claudius to receive in person the surrender of several British tribal chiefs. Claudius only stayed for sixteen days. Before returning to Rome to celebrate victory, he made Plautius the governor and left him instruction for the conquest of the rest of the country.

After more than three years of hard fighting, Roman armies had occupied Britain as far north as the rivers Humber and Severn. As they advanced they built a network of roads. The Britons only had tracks for footpaths, which were unsuitable for marching large numbers of soldiers. Therefore the Roman legions had to spend much of their time quarrying stone and building roads and bridges. Extra laborers were obtained from conquered tribes. Altogether, 5,000 miles of roads were built by the Romans in Britain

Caratacus / South Wales
The battles at South Wales were led by Caratacus. From well-concealed hideouts the Britons made surprise raids on the Romans, retreating before the enemy had a chance to recover. After nearly two years of fighting, Caratacus was defeated, captured, and sent to Rome in chains. However, the emperor Claudius was so impaired by his spirit and courage that he pardoned Caratacus and allowed him to live freely in the capital.

Queen Boudicca
Romans continued their advance into Wales in 59 AD. Queen Boudicca (often called Boadicea) and her family had been abused by some Roman soldiers. The historian Tacitus tells us:

"Boudicca was whipped and (her) daughter raped; all the chief men of the Iceni tribe had their lands taken away, and the King's relatives were treated as slaves. Moved by this outrage and the fear of worse to come ... they took up arms."

Boudicca's forces attacked the Roman town of Colchester and burned it to the ground. The Romans were slaughtered. London (Verulamium) had been reduced to ashes. Boudicca foolishly allowed her forces to advance between two areas of woodlands. Romans massacred them. Broudicca poisoned herself to avoid capture.

The Britons regained control of southeast Britain and rebuilt the three ruined towns. We know a lot about Agricola. (There is a book about him.) As far as we know, Tacitus never saw Britain for himself, but he was able to get information directly form Agricola. Agricola crushed all remaining opposition in England and then marched into Caledonia (Scotland) building roads and forts on the way. The Britons were at a disadvantage with their small shield and large, unwieldy swords which had no sharp point, and were therefore unsuitable for hand-to-hand fighting. One Roman wrote,

"Our soldiers rained blow after blow on the Britons. About 10,000 Britons lay dead, while on our side we lost 360 men..."

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall.
Roman Emperor Hadrian (117 - 138 AD) secured the empire and built a wall in Britain.
(They messed up and put a moat on both sides of the wall!)

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Mr. Sedivy's Lecture Notes & Historical Info

The Celts
| Gallic He-Men | Celtic Culture, Trade, Religion, Women |
| Threat of the Celts - Celtic Battles and Conquests |

- Rise of Nation State England -
| Roman Conquest of Britain | Christianity in Britain |
| Customs: Thanes, Churls, Thralls, Wergeld, Folk-Moot |
| Dark Ages: Alfred the Great, Edward the Elder, Athelstan |
| The Return of the Vikings |
| Kings of Britain: Aethelred, Cnut, Edward the Confessor |
| Bayeaux Tapestry, William the Conqueror,
Edward the Confessor, Harold Godwinson, Harold II
| The Crusades: Richard Lion Heart, Pope Urban |
| King John, Innocent III, Archbishop Stephen Langton |
| Magna Carta / First Parliament |

Wales and Scotland
| Wales: Edward I, Llewellyn, Snowdonia |
| Scotland: Alexander III, John Balliol,
William Wallace, Robert Bruce, King Edward II

The 100 Years War
| Edward III, Longbows at Crecy, Edward IV, Black Prince |
| Henry V, King Charles VI, Battle at Calais, Treaty of Troyes |

More Information
| Other Kings of the Dark and Middle Ages:
William II, Henry I, Henry II
| The British Monarchy's Peerage: Dukes, Viscounts,
Marquess, Earls, Baronets, and Barons

Class Activities
Roman Conquest Comparison
Battle of Agincourt

Related Information
Mr. Sedivy's World History - The Middle Ages
The Complete Bayeux Tapestry
Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages / Crusades
The Hundred Years War
King Henry VIII
The Interesting Life of Elizabeth I
The Stuarts - James I, Charles I, Charles II, James II
Oliver Cromwell



Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000

Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Advanced Placement Modern European History | Rise of Nation State England | World History |
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