Book 1, Chapter 4, 78 AD to 306 AD – Roman Mode of Government – Continued
Not much is known of the state of agriculture in the island at this period, but it must have been extensively practised, for Britain became as renowned in the fourth century for its large exports of corn as it had been during the time of Julius Caesar for its enormous herds of cattle. Without a doubt, the labour of tillage was left to the natives, for the Romans themselves preferred cultivating the manufacturing arts, when they did not give themselves wholly to warlike avocations. Reference will shortly be made to existing specimens of their handicraft. The question as to the component elements of the native population is one more easily asked than answered. That population had been gradually undergoing great changes, especially in the central and southern parts of the island. It was the policy of Rome, as far as possible to destroy the nationalities of the peoples it conquered, by drafting many of the male inhabitants into the army, as auxiliaries, and sending them to distant countries for warfare or for occupation, and by establishing foreign colonies in every newly acquired territory. In the end, this policy recoiled upon Rome, by destroying her own distinctive nationality, but it goes far to account for the residence in Britain, during the third and fourth centuries, of people from widely scattered parts of the then known world.
In the Notitia Imperil, compiled in the time of Theodosius, towards the end of the Roman occupancy of Britain there is a long list of the troops who occupied military stations in the island, with a statement of their respective nationalities. These included Asiatic Samaritans, Moors, Greeks, Belgians, Dalmatians, tribes from Spain, Portugal, Thrace, Asia Minor, and from all parts of Gaul. Nor were these temporary residents like migratory bands, for monumental inscriptions almost without number, attest the settled character of their abode. What relationship the descendants of the aborigines held to these foreign auxiliaries and to the Roman legions and civil administrators, and whether by intermarriage and amalgamation of races took place to any great extent, are questions which cannot be dogmatically answered.
Chapter 4, Agricola
Chapter 4, Roman Roads and Towns
Roman Mode of Government
Chapter 4, Roman Memorial of Death
Categories: Book 1