On two separate occasions, in 55 and 54 BC, Julius Caesar led campaigns into Britain. The first failed because of bad weather. The second failed because of rising problems in Gaul. Even though they were not a military success, the missions made Rome more aware of Britains existence. It would be 97 years before the Romans would return. Click here for a more detailed description of Caesars landings.
A few invasions, including Augustuss in 34, 28, and 27 BC, were planned before Claudius finally acted upon the idea. Claudius sent General Aulus Plautius with four legions and auxiliaries. He landed unopposed, defeated the Belgic leaders and waited for Claudius to arrive. When he did (with elephants!), they marched into Camulodunum (the capitol), and after a battle, the Romans triumphed. Several of the local chiefs began surrendering to Claudius, and the creation of the province of Britannia had begun.
- The military ambition of Claudius.
- The prospect of mineral and other wealth.
- The final suppression of druidism.
- Military strategy: If Britain were not invaded, then an enormous force would be needed on the coast of Gaul to protect it from the barbarians living across the Channel.
In 383, Magnus Maximus a commander of the Roman armies in Britain rose up and claimed the throne of the Roman Empire in the West. He gathered up the best troops in Britain and invaded Gaul. While he was away, however, Picts and Scots broke through Hadrians Wall and invaded north Britain. In North Wales, the Legio XX from Chester had been removed, leaving the area prone to attacks from the Irish.
In the early fifth century, troops were regularly being recalled from Britain because of raids from the Goths on Rome. The British continually appealed to the Emperor Honorius to send an army for their protection. But by this time, the Goths were at Romes door. The emperor replied that the British must protect themselves. Ties between Rome and Britain eventually broke off in 410, although it is possible that the south and east parts of the island were occupied for a short time. By AD 429, however, this reoccupation came to an end and the Romans left the British to fend for themselves.
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