The first recorded England history came with the conquest of the romans in 43 AD. However, before the conquest, the Roman leader had paid earlier visits to the kingdom in 54 and 55 BC which was aimed for a political propaganda in his home country. The emergence of Emperor Claudius who replaced Caesar, ordered the immediate invasion of Britain. The invasion was headed by commander Aulus Plautius. The invasion led to the assimilation of roman culture in Britain and introduction of different cultures which were practiced in the Roman Kingdom. The Romans first control was Southeastern England. In 70s and 80s, the romans started to extend their rule and command in other major parts of England. The control was extended to the northern and western sections of England. Even though the romans continued with their invasion and promoting total control, they never succeeded in subduing the entire Britain territory. With their stay in England, they introduced a strong military that was always ready to defend themselves from unconquered tribes and regions of England. Throughout their presence, the romans introduced new cultures to England. Some of the culture had been adopted by Britain before the 43 AD invasion. This paper aims at analyzing how the southern Britain adopted the various aspects of the roman culture before the conquest of 43AD.
The Romanization of Britain is one of a study of cultural exchange and interactions. There are many histories of narratives of the Roman Empire, but more focus is given to synthesizing current works on archaeology to provide exciting and new evidence. Scholars including Dr. Millett consider Romanization as a social process, and their perspectives are derived locally. Dr. Millet looks into fine details at the problematic trends in interactions between native Roman population and Roman imperialism (Millett 1992, p. 3). The broad and extensive information from historical, archaeological and epigraphic records have been interpreted through socio-economic and anthropological models. However, the point of emphasis is on excavated materials which provide precise explanations without overemphasizing on literary sources. The Romans had a significant influence on the native Britons as discussed in the subsequent paragraphs. Romanization is an important theme which has been considered in the study of Roman Britain ever since the works of Haverfield in 1905. Romans were aware of the relevance of winning over leadership of the natives, and this type of diplomacy was conducted between Rome and Britons. British women were also crucial in the Romanization of Britain. The whole process of Romanization was supported by the Indo-European origin of many languages and how gods were similar. Romanization became efficient on the western side of the empire where there was weaker civilization compared to the Northern groups where there was stronger resistance. Romanization in many regions remained a strong cultural influence in different aspects of today’s life which have been described as Latin nations.
The late Iron Age in Southern Britain in the 150 BC to 43 AD, has some parallelism as they made transitions from a dominated landscape to one where there was the development of some urban centers. There was also the development of new kinship structure and warrior caste. Roman and Gallo-roman traders became active across the channels of the English, seeking grain, metal, and slaves in exchange for coins, gold, pottery and excellent metal. Before Britain acquired the status of a province of the empire which was two centuries earlier, Britons became exposed to Roman values and vice versa. The elite in Britain used the Roman metalwork and pottery and the coinage of the roman style. Some new urban centers including Silchester used rectangular buildings which were arranged in a grid, unlike the earlier circular architectural forms. At the time the Claudian invasion took place in 43 AD, most parts of South Britain had adopted the Romano-British lifestyle. This means that they did not require conquering through the use of force of arms. Acts of fighting only began in the Midlands and West Country. Architecture and artifacts changed the miraculation forms, which provided the British with new sets of constraint and possibility. The native inhabitants gladly adopted modern and civilized lifestyles. The process called Romanization led to the blending of adopted and local cultural forms. This was because of the insufficiency of the Roman culture in itself to make an empire. Apparently, the idea of the civilization of native inhabitants was not regarded with high value in the 19th century because it could lead to clichés.
The cultural values adopted by the British defined what it was like to be Roman because this was regarded as the heart of the empire. There was not any symbol of the Roman cultural system in the realm, but there was increased aristocracy levels which were spread. It was primarily regarded that cultural changes for aristocrats at any time in the empire could impact those elsewhere. The Roman culture was considered as a system where ideas, material culture, and values were circulated. The Britons were Romanized through expansions of empires and contracts. Rome was not just regarded as a state but also a process where there were different dynamics in the course of the development of the realm. Being a Roman meant that there were individuals, groups, and types of material culture reorganization. This was an aspect which the British embraced very well as new network and values came across. The late Iron Age led to the rise of personal land ownership and individualism. Groups became increasingly defined by the distribution of artifacts and coins, and change was regarded as subtle and fundamental. The British were primarily affected or assimilated by the presence of Romans who expressed an interest in having complete control over the area. The Roman Emperor Honorius, in AD 410, sent a letter to Britons, where he encouraged them to fight and defend their lives because they were on their own. Rome was under attack, the empire was falling apart, and Romans had to leave to take care of their homes. Many ancient towns in Britain fell as people moved back into the countryside. After they were gone, Romans left their mark over their country. They provided new plants, towns, a new religion, animals and ways of counting and reading. Even “Britain,” the word itself was from the Romans.
Influence of Romans in Britain
i. Roman Roads
Before the coming of the Romans, Britain did not have proper roads, and there were just muddy tracks. Romans established new paths across Britain’s landscape which was over 10,000 miles. The shortest distance was through a straight line, and Romans made consecutive roads as many as possible. They established their streets on the chalk, clay and gravel foundations. Roman roads had ditches on every side to help in draining off the rainwater. Other Roman lanes were converted into main roads and motorways which are used in the present day.
ii. How Romans Changed Religion
Before the coming of the Romans, indigenous Britons did not believe in God but different spirits and gods. Romans were also pagans but did not share the same belief in gods. Romans allowed Britons to worship their gods, provided they let the Romans worship their gods too. Britons started appreciating Christianity at the beginning of the second century. At the first instance, a few people became Christians. When Christianity began growing popular, it was banned by the Romans. Christians did not agree with worshiping the Roman emperor. Anyone caught embracing the new faith was whipped and even executed in extreme conditions. The start of the 4th century witnessed more people who followed the teaching. Emperor Constantine, in AD 313, made a declaration that Christians had the liberty of worshipping peacefully. At 391, Christianity was regarded as the official religion of the Romans, but the beliefs of the pagans still had popularity in Britain.
iii. Writing, Numbers, and Language
Before the coming of the Romans, a few people were capable of writing or reading. Information was passed through word of mouth from one person to another. Romans did write their literature, history and their rules and regulations. The official language of the Romans was Latin, and people in Britain began using it too, not after too long. Nonetheless, Latin caught up in the new towns in Rome, and many people who stayed in the countryside held on to their old Celtic language. Currently, there are a lot of phrases and words which are derived from Latin. The coins of Britain are based on the designs of Romans and some wordings in Latin. Around the $1 coin is the phrase which means glory and protection and it is called “decus et tutamen.”
iv. How Romans Changed Towns
Romans introduced the concept of residing in big cities and towns, and the ancient cities were laid out in grids. There was the crisscrossing of streets to form “insulae,” and at the town’s center, there was the forum. The forum was a big market square where trading activities took place. The Anglo-Saxons were the second people to settle in Britain after the Romans. The Anglo-Saxons were not townspeople or farmers, but they deserted many Roman towns and established new kingdoms. However, some Roman towns are still in existence currently. Roman towns have “caster,” “Chester” and “cester” in them, for instance, Gloucester, Manchester, and Doncaster. “Chester” originated from “castrum, a Latin word which meant a fort. London was also a Roman city, but it was referred to as Londinium. Upon the invasion of the Romans, they established a fortress near the River Thames.at this fort; traders came from different parts of the empire to bring their commodities to Britain. Britain continued to grow, and it became the most vital city in Roman Britain (Mattingly, 2008).
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