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Total War: Shogun 2 Heaven » Forums » Total War History » Northern Britain
Topic Subject:Northern Britain
Kilos of Thermon
posted 07-10-12 12:42 PM EDT (US)         
This has been a question bugging me for some time, especially as I am reading about Roman Britain, so I will ask everyone here. Was Northern Britain (Caledonia) as Tacitus said, "Conquered and at once let go" (Tacitus was Agricola's son-in-law, however.) or did he never really have a chance at pacifying it, even without being recalled to the Rhine by Domitian?

Cattle die, kinsmen die, the self must also die. I know one thing that never dies: the fate of the honored dead. Hávamál, Gestaţáttr, #77.
posted 07-10-12 05:11 PM EDT (US)     1 / 9       
As you point out, Tacitus isn't the most objective person to write about Agricola. I think we can fairly reasonable assume that Agricola had lead an expedition into Caledonia and won a battle, causing the Caledonians to fall back or temporary make peace. Conquest is certainly a word too big for the result.

I think the expedition can be seen as a bigger version of the raids the Romans continiously did accross the Rhine to punish/intimidate tribes.
Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 07-30-12 08:10 PM EDT (US)     2 / 9       
Sorry for the late reply.

Ok, so the fact is that the ferocity of the Caledonians and the swiftness with which they adopted guerrilla warfare meant that there was never much chance in completely pacifying and conquering Northern Britain. Septimius Severus' campaigns there whilst he was emperor showed that they couldnt be effectively brought to battle and beaten even 100 years later and he tried to resort to genocide to 'make a desert and call it peace'. Agricola's campaigns were i think the last good opportunity to conquer northern Britain as the upcoming civil wars, dynastic struggles, wars in the east and on the Danube sucked away and excess and spare manpower in the legions. The fact is though, even if the are was conquered by Agricola it would have remained volatile for many years and would have stretched roman resources still further without any real fiscal or military benefit.

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
posted 08-05-12 04:33 AM EDT (US)     3 / 9       
Further to the point about stretched resources, the terrain of most of Scotland would make it a nightmare for any conqueror to control. With an inexhaustible supply of legions I dare say it could have been done, at least in part with key areas patrolled and garrisoned, but they couldn't be everywhere and those areas would remain unsafe. As I believe was the case in the remainder of Britain - the three legions based there weren't all crammed up against Hadrian's Wall and the Welsh border, most of them were focused on internal policing as the Britain beyond the town gates was never completely pacified.

So additional legions would presumably have been needed to hold down the north, but you would have to question why Rome would want to do it as there was nothing profitable, like there was in Dacia, to tempt them beyond the established frontier. So yes I think the parallel with the raids across the Rhine is a good one, because in order for a frontier to be properly defended you need to have some sort of presence beyond it now and again.
High King of Britain
posted 08-05-12 01:37 PM EDT (US)     4 / 9       
Pawprint of approval on all three above posts. Agricola may have beaten the Scots, but he had hardly conquered them. Tacitus does like blaming Domitian for everything he can. His father-in-law may well have made out to him how great his conquests were in all honesty, as indeed they may have seemed to him - but the suggestion that Scotland was actually conquered by Agricola in any meaningful sense I think we can safely put to rest.

On the other hand, the Romans did have a funny idea of "conquest". The Britons of the North and West were constantly rising up to varying degrees of rebellion: the actual official bases of the legions in Britain (although they had detachments all over the place; also not counting auxiliary units, many of whom were at the frontier) were at York, Chester and Caerleon, for long after the actual "conquest". There are records of revolts in the lands of the Brigantes (N England) throughout the entire second century, and Nennius's claim in the ninth century that the Britons threw off the Roman yoke and refused to pay them taxes any longer suggests that there was resentment to Roman rule in Wales throughout the period as well. The survival of the British language, both in Wales and Northern England (at least until the Middle Ages) can be seen as further evidence of this - the natives of these regions did not embrace Roman ways.

The situation in the South is more complex; it is not generally agreed to what extent the Britons here embraced Roman ways. There is an obvious distinction to be drawn between town and countryside, with urban areas more heavily romanised and rural ones less so, except for the villa estates of the wealthy. But we just don't know how much the Roman gods were synchretised with the British gods in the eyes of the population, or how many people learned Latin and to what extent; written evidence, the only way we can hope to know such things, that can be shown to be the product of native peasants' minds, is almost entirely lacking. Whatever the case, we Southerners were more easily conquered, the archaeological evidence shows a greater variety of lasting goods entering the homes of the native populace suggesting greater buying power and ease of life - benefits of integration to the market economy - and evidence for major rebellions is basically lacking after Boudicca's time. Boudicca famously burned Colchester, London and St Albans, however: there is some evidence of similar burning at this time in Winchester; the second legion refused to move from its base at Exeter to reinforce the governor, and many historians speculate that they didn't dare for fear of revolt and ambush; and both Tacitus and Dio call it a "province-wide rebellion".

~ ancient briton ~

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*tegos, -esos, noun, neuter. house.

[This message has been edited by Edorix (edited 08-05-2012 @ 01:43 PM).]

Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 08-27-12 00:34 AM EDT (US)     5 / 9       
On a different but somewhat related note, what was the benefits in invading Britain in the first place? Besides the tin and a victory for Claudius, it seems in the end to be a venture where more is lost than gained.

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
Philip Regent
posted 08-27-12 10:34 AM EDT (US)     6 / 9       
This question may be out of issue here, but are you discussing the event, from which the movie "Centurion" was made from and 9th Legion got utterly destroyed??? (Was it 9th?? :O)
Terikel Grayhair
(id: Terikel706)
posted 08-27-12 11:18 AM EDT (US)     7 / 9       

And the Legio IX was not destroyed totally, though it was in the movie. The real Ninth suffered horrendous losses against Boudicca, and later against another foe, but it had cohorts fighting under its standards in Germania and in the East.
It is often said that the legion disappeared in Britain about 117 CE.[ However, the names of several high-ranking officers of the Ninth are known who probably served with the legion after c. 120 (e.g., Lucius Aemilius Karus, governor of Arabia in 142/143), which suggests that the legion continued in existence after this date. It has been suggested that the legion may have been destroyed during the Bar Kochba Revolt in Iudaea Province, or possibly in the ongoing conflict with the Parthian Empire but there is no firm evidence for this.

That the fate of the 9th was settled somewhere in the East, following a strategic transfer, rather than being lost in a British catastrophe, has now become the preferred scenario, although ultimately the evidence for this is rather insubstantial. The last testified activity of the Ninth in Britain is during the rebuilding in stone of the legionary fortress at York (Eboracum) in 108 CE. Its subsequent movements remain unknown, but there is crucial evidence, in the form of two stamped tiles, of the Legion's presence at Nijmegen (Noviomagus) in the Netherlands, which had been evacuated by X Gemina.[10] As these were stamped by the legion, and not by a vexillation of the legion, they cannot relate to the known presence of a sub unit of the legion on the Rhine frontier during the mid 80s when the emperor Domitian was fighting his war against the Chatti.
And from another source:
The last recorded, datable activity of this legion in Britain was in 108/109, when it built a stone fortress at York. What happened next, is unclear. Several scholars have argued that it was defeated and annihilated by the Picts, maybe in 117/118, and that this caused the emperor Hadrian to build the famous wall in northern England. (This is the assumption of the famous novel by Rosemary Sutcliff, The Eagle of the Ninth, 1954.)

Bronze object mentioning VIIII Hispana, from Ewijk and now in the Valkhof Museum (Nijmegen). Photo Marco Prins.
Bronze object mentioning LEG HISP IX, from Ewijk (Valkhof Museum, Nijmegen)

However, more recent research has shown that (a subunit of) the ninth legion was for a brief period after 121 at Nijmegen in Germania Inferior. (At the same time, VI Victrix moved from Germania Inferior to Britain. Did they trade places?) The fact that we know the names of several high officers of the Ninth who can not have served earlier than 122 (e.g., Lucius Aemilius Karus, governor of Arabia in 142/143), is another indication that the legion was not destroyed but transferred. This proves that it was still in existence during the reign of Hadrian.

After this, the legion disappears from our sources. It may have been destroyed during the Jewish revolt of Simon ben Kosiba (132-136), in Cappadocia in 161, or during a revolt on the Danube in 162.

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[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 08-27-2012 @ 11:29 AM).]

Philip Regent
posted 08-27-12 05:19 PM EDT (US)     8 / 9       
Da** it...I thought the movie was made on real historical course...but it never seems to the moviemakers find history real boring and always twist it somehow...probably did it in "300" as well, though haven´t the movie itself yet sadly

Movie showed that 9th Legion was ambushed in North Britannia...general was taken prisoner and then got killed in duel...few survivors, led by Centurion Dias...were trying to reach their way behind Hadrian´s wall, which was under construction at the time...
posted 08-27-12 11:39 PM EDT (US)     9 / 9       
Yeah... when it comes to movies, it's best to assume that they're consistently inaccurate, regardless of whether there's any reason for them to make such changes.

The most notorious example is probably The Patriot.

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins
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