How did Julius Caesar invade England

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From the first settlers to the conquest by the Roman Empire

In this series of articles we would like to get to the bottom of the origins of the British monarchy. In the first part of the series we describe the development of the British Isles from their formation, through the pre-Roman Iron Age, in which the islands were largely settled by Celtic tribes, to the invasion of the Romans. To better understand the evolution of a monarchy, let's go back and start with the early history of Great Britain.

The UK

The monarchy in Great Britain came into being long before the church, parliament or the nation as we know it today. To this day it is an important part of British identity and has contributed a lot to the development of Great Britain. For example, the House of Commons, which makes decisions in the British Parliament, was brought into force by Edward I as early as the 13th century. The Church of England is also a direct result of the monarchy when King Henry VIII separated from the Catholic Church in Rome, proclaimed himself head of the church, and followed the teachings of Martin Luther.

Creation of the British Isles

Chiefs and rulers existed for over 5000 years before the Romans came to Britain. About 6500 years BC The British Isles came into being when the ice melted them apart from the Eurasian continent. At that time, the islands that were created, i.e. present-day Ireland and Great Britain, were from nomadic hunters and gatherers inhabited, who developed agriculture over the millennia and became farmers. Not much is known about these peoples and one can only speculate about their social structures, but it is from these peoples that the famous Stonehenge stone circle was built. Other traces of such structures as tombs, ramparts and settlements can still be found in the UK today. About 600 BC BC Celtic peoples settled from the European continent to Britain and heralded the Iron Age with their arrival.

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Britain, Great Britain. What is the difference?
Great Britain is the main island and larger of the two islands of the United Kingdom and includes England, Wales and Scotland. There is no geographical difference between Britain and Great Britain. Historically, Britain was the ancient term for the island inhabited by the Celts and is derived from the Latin word Britannia. Nowadays the terms in German use the same geographical area.

The Celts settle in Great Britain

The Celtic peoples founded kingdoms in Britain and claimed their own territories. The Celts lived in structured, pagan societies that were ruled by a tribal leader, king or queen. The Celtic kings of Britain can be regarded as the forerunners of the later monarchy, but it would be many centuries before the first king of Britain was proclaimed. The Celts were expansionist and many of these peoples tried to expand their territory with their feared warriors. But there were also cultured peoples who traded with the continent, as well as mining, art and the production of various goods. The tribes in the south of England in particular flourished through their contact with the Gauls and the Roman Empire.

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Who were the Celts?
Celts is the name for population groups in the Iron Age in Europe. They already had a pronounced culture and highly developed social structures. Examples of a Celtic population group are the Gaulswhich were located roughly in what is now France, Belgium, Luxembourg and western Switzerland.

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Who or what are pagans?
Pagans are people or groups who belong to a non-monotheistic religion, i.e. a religion that, in contrast to Christianity, Islam or Judaism, worships more than one god.

Trade and relations with the continent eventually led to the first Invasion of the Romans in Britain in 55 BC Under Julius Caesar, who claimed that the British peoples cooperated with the Gauls, who were in turn controlled by Rome at the time. The first recorded Briton in history was a king named Cassivellaunus, who led the resistance against the Romans. The British were tactical fighters and did great damage to the Roman armed forces with their chariots, after which the Romans had to withdraw. A year later, Caesar ordered a second campaign against the British, which also failed. Again the Romans withdrew and concentrated their campaigns on the rebellious Gauls, probably Asterix and Obelix (* wink *), who were causing them a lot of worries on the continent.

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The Roman Empire.
At the time of the first invasion of Britain by the Roman Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar, the Roman Empire already extended over large parts of Europe and regions around the Mediterranean. As the Roman Empire, the area is referred to which approximately between 800 BC. BC and 700 AD was ruled by Rome. In its heyday it encompassed much of Europe as well as parts of Asia and North Africa on the Mediterranean.

Invasion of the Romans

In AD 43, the Roman Emperor Claudius launched another attack on Britain, on the Kent coast. Since the Caesar campaign, trade between Britain and the Roman Empire rose sharply, which is why the renewed invasion of the Roman army was met with mixed feelings. While some tribal leaders opposed the Romans, others saw an opportunity to expand their influence and wealth and work with instead of against Rome. An example of the latter is the chief of the Iceni, a Celtic tribe in what is now Norfolk and Suffolk: Prasutagus. But when he died the Romans took the area with the greatest brutality and sparked a deep hatred among the Icenians, which led to one of the worst rebellions during the Roman occupation.

Prasutagus widow Boudicca, humiliated by the betrayal of the Romans, allied with the neighboring tribes who were also averse to the Romans and led the united army against the Roman armed forces. In a final battle the Romans managed to crush the revolt despite being outnumbered and slaughtered anyone who opposed them or was suspected of having supported the Iceni.

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Who are the Picts?
The peoples of Scotland were referred to as Picts by the Romans, which is due to the usual body painting of these peoples. The word Picts is derived from the Latin word Picti and means “The Painted”.

At the end of the 1st century AD, the conquest of Britain was almost complete. The Romans had brought Britain (with the exception of most of Scotland, parts of the Welsh highlands and the entire island of Ireland) under their rule. In the north of England on the border with Scotland, Hadrian's Wall was built between AD 122 and AD 128 by order of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. This was supposed to prevent the Picts in Scotland from attacking and plundering villages in the territory of the Romans. Rome's power in Britain was consolidated and by the 4th century AD Britain was completely Romanized. Christianity had spread throughout Britain and bishops were appointed from Rome. When the Romans left Britain in the early 5th century AD, they left behind a strongly adapted culture: Latin as the standard language, the Christian religion, palaces, an extensive infrastructure of roads as well as sanitary and sewage systems, government institutions and a learned Roman- British elite.

Why did the Romans leave Britain?

In 395 AD, the last sole ruler of the entire Roman Empire, Theodosius I, died and his two sons were assigned the Eastern and Western Roman Empire. Thus there was a division of power in the empire. Even in the centuries before his death there were phases in which the Roman Empire was ruled by several emperors in different regions, but it was always viewed as a unit, i.e. a Roman Empire. Even during the reign of the two brothers, the unity of the kingdom was not yet called into question, but this led to disputes between the brothers over decisions that affected the kingdom as a whole. These disputes as well as the cultural, religious and economic divergence between the two emperors led to a de facto division of the empire. Both parts suffered from civil wars and attacks from rival empires, but while the Eastern Roman Empire was able to maintain its internal political stability, the militarily and financially weaker Western Empire fell apart.

In the year 406 AD Constantine III, proclaimed by the troops stationed in Britain, moved to the emperor over western Rome. (not to be confused with Constantine the Great), with a large part of the troops to Gaul to put down unrest there and to ensure security for the empire. Thus the Roman military presence in Britain came to an end. After that, the island was left to its own devices and the provinces in Britain finally renounced the empire entirely.

By the way: Eastern Current or the Eastern Roman Empire is now also referred to as the Byzantine Empire, but is in fact the same. It outlasted the western Roman Empire for many centuries up to the early 15th century. West Rome, on the other hand, broke up with the death of its last recognized emperor Julius Nepos in 480 AD.

Part 2 of History of the British Monarchy deals with the effects of the Roman withdrawal from Britain and the entry of the Anglo-Saxons.

Tags: history, celts, romans