Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Wow. So it turns out the Romans didn't invade Britain in A.D. 43 after all. This seems like a pretty big discovery.

History teaches us that Emperor Claudius conquered Britain in A.D. 43, a re-hash of Julius Caesar's first invasion nearly 100 years earlier. Caesar's initial campaign was successful, but the occupation was short-lived, as he had to run back to Gaul to take care of a rebellion there. After Claudius came, the Romans stayed for centuries.

Churchill called Claudius a "clownish scholar" with little drive for military conquest, but his advisors apparently convinced him that Britain, despite being outside the known world, would actually be a nice thing to have. So 40,000 reluctant Roman troops landed in Kent and fought the native Britons, who "took refuse in the swamps and the forests, hoping to wear out the invaders." The natives' lord, Caractacus, fought on for a while, taking refuge in Wales. The Roman general Ostorius finally defeated him, and he was captured and marched all the way to Rome, where he begged of the Emperor, "Preserve my life, and I shall remain to the latest ages a monument of your clemency." It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

So the story goes.

Now they're telling us this entire tale was imperial spin? The Romans were already there when the troops came. It wasn't a conquest at all. The ancient Britons, it turns out, were "delighted when the 'invaders' overthrew a series of brutal tribal kings guilty of terrorising southern England."


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