Saturday, February 28, 2009

Agricola in Britain

78—84.—Agricola, who arrived as governor in 78, took care to deal fairly with all sorts of men, and to make the natives thoroughly satisfied with his rule. He completed the conquest of the country afterwards known as Wales, and thereby pushed the western frontier of Roman Britain to the sea. Yet from the fact that he found it necessary still to leave garrisons at Deva and Isca Silurum, it may be gathered that the tribes occupying the hill country were not so thoroughly subdued as to cease to be dangerous. Although the idea entertained by Ostorius of making a frontier on land towards the west had thus been abandoned, it was still necessary to provide a frontier towards the north. Even before Agricola arrived it had been shown to be impossible to stop at the line between the Mersey and the Humber. Beyond that line was the territory of the Brigantes, who had for some time occupied the position which in the first years of the Roman conquest had been occupied by the Iceni—that is to say, they were in friendly dependence upon Rome, without being actually controlled by Roman authority. Before Agricola's coming disputes had arisen with them, and Roman soldiers had occupied their territory. Agricola finished the work of conquest. He now governed the whole of the country as far north as to the Solway and the Tyne, and he made Eboracum, the name of which changed in course of time into York, the centre of Roman power in the northern districts. A garrison was established there to watch for any danger which might come from the extreme north, as the garrisons of Deva and Isca Silurum watched for dangers which might come from the west.

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