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Ancient Rome

England and the Roman Empire

History >> Ancient Rome

We often think of the Roman Empire as ruling Italy and the areas around the Mediterranean Sea. However, for nearly 400 years, Rome also ruled much of Britain. They called the land Britannia.

Caesar Invades Britain

It was Julius Caesar who first invaded Britain in 55 BC. He led two Roman legions across the waters and landed on the coast of Kent. This first invasion wasn't very successful. Caesar returned to France before the winter.

A year later, in 54 BC, Caesar returned to Britain with a larger force of five Roman legions. He was much more successful this time, invading well into Britain and even crossing the River Thames. He left peacefully after the tribes of Britain agreed to pay tribute to Rome.

The Romans Conquer Britain

About 90 years later, in 43 AD, Emperor Claudius decided he needed to conquer a new land and make a name for himself. He decided to conquer Britain. Under the leadership of General Plautius, four Roman legions invaded Britain. Conquering Britain wasn't a simple task, though. It took around 30 years for Rome to gain control of the southern part of the island.

Hadrian's Wall

In 122 AD the Roman Emperor Hadrian had a wall built across the middle of England. This wall created a fortified border between northern and southern Britain. The wall was 73 miles long. It varied in size from 10 to 20 feet wide and 10 to 20 feet tall. It is estimated that more than 10,000 troops manned the wall at some point. The wall helped to keep out the northern barbarians and also served as a point for taxation on imports and exports.

Picture of Hadrian's Wall in England
Portions of Hadrian's Wall still stand today
Photo by Velella at Wikimedia Commons

The End of Roman Rule

The Romans ruled Britain for nearly 400 years from 43 AD to 410 AD. They left Britain to defend their homeland in Italy which was being threatened by barbarians such as the Goths and the Vandals. The Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476 AD.

Lasting Culture

The Roman legions may have returned home to Italy, but they left a lasting legacy on the culture of Britain. Roman construction such as aqueducts, roads, and concrete had a lasting impact on the people of Britain. Other aspects of Roman culture that remained in England included the Julian calendar, Roman laws and government, and many words from the Latin language.

The City of London

The Romans also established the city of Londinium around 50 AD, which later became London. The Romans built a network of roads throughout England many of which went through Londinium making the city an important trade center.

The Romans built many major structures in Londinium including temples, bathhouses, a basilica for meetings, and a governor's palace. Around 200 AD, they built a defensive wall around the city called London Wall. The wall was around three miles long, 20 feet high, and 8 feet wide.

Interesting Facts about the Roman Empire in England

For more about Ancient Rome:

Overview and History
Timeline of Ancient Rome
Early History of Rome
The Roman Republic
Republic to Empire
Wars and Battles
Roman Empire in England
Fall of Rome

Cities and Engineering
The City of Rome
City of Pompeii
The Colosseum
Roman Baths
Housing and Homes
Roman Engineering
Roman Numerals
Daily Life
Daily Life in Ancient Rome
Life in the City
Life in the Country
Food and Cooking
Family Life
Slaves and Peasants
Plebeians and Patricians

Arts and Religion
Ancient Roman Art
Roman Mythology
Romulus and Remus
The Arena and Entertainment
Julius Caesar
Constantine the Great
Gaius Marius
Spartacus the Gladiator
Emperors of the Roman Empire
Women of Rome

Legacy of Rome
The Roman Senate
Roman Law
Roman Army
Glossary and Terms

Works Cited

History >> Ancient Rome

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