September 25, 2006

Cry Havoc! And Let Slip The Kiddies Of War!

Image found here.

The Second Battle of Watling Street that I wrote about last week is on for this Friday, to be fought out on the grounds of St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method. I am scheduled to give a little pre-skirmish talk on Roman Briton and then to go out and referee the melee.

The Missus reports a tremendous amount of excitement, particularly among the boys who chose to blue their faces in the Celtic cause. Apparently, this excitement was dampened somewhat when the boys realized that the Romans actually won this battle, but they were restored to cheerfulness by the assurance that they would be able to take down some of the Legions as well.

Of course, in my best Victor Davis Hanson manner, I plan to play up the superior organization and practice of the Roman military machine in the face of the Celtic mob that badly outnumbered it. I also intend to say a few words about the benefits Briton actually received once it came under Imperial control.

On to carnage!

Oh, and yes, in the tragic tradition of Sister against Sister, there will be a Llama-ette in each of the opposing armies. (And yes, I still say "Boadicea" instead of "Boudicca".)

UPDATE: Well, I had been considering how to slip in a "People's Front of Britannia" joke somewhere but it looks like you lot beat me to it.

Posted by Robert at September 25, 2006 04:44 PM | TrackBack

Well of course the roads, that goes without saying.

Posted by: rbj at September 25, 2006 05:23 PM

And Bath. Don't forget Bath.

Posted by: Rachel at September 25, 2006 05:27 PM

"People's Front of Britannia"? Splitter!

Posted by: rbj at September 26, 2006 08:54 AM

My week for being contrary, I guess. I seem to recall that other than physical plant and monuments, there is a strong argument that the Roman occupation of Britain produced very little in the way of long lasting effects. If you compare other areas of Europe to Britain, I think you could say that the Brits resisted the best. Other areas were left with the Roman legal system and social organizations while the Brits pretty much rejected that legal system. I admit to not having given this much thought since senior year of high school, when I took a tutorial on British history, but that much still remains with me.

Posted by: rp at September 26, 2006 10:27 AM

I really meant benefits in terms of while the Romans occupied the place, not long term.

Nonetheless, I was reading somewhere or other fairly recently that there's been some new archeological evidence to refute the old notion of Roman villas standing vacant while the locals reverted to their roots.

True, the lower strata in Britain never really changed much, but the upper classes were thoroughly Romanized and tried, I believe, to maintain the systems of civil administration and local defenses put in place once the Romans pulled out. (Consider, for example, the number of Latin "castra" (camp) place-names preserved over time.)

And of course, the Romans never formally withdrew from any other part of the Western Empire. Rather, their administrations simply got taken over (and of course modified) by the various waves of invaders moving in. Byzantium became especially adept at playing on local barbarian kings who yearned for Imperial recognition.

I'd guess that whatever remnant of Romanization left in Britain was simply too small and weak (and too unsupported) to avoid being swept away by the Saxon invasion.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at September 26, 2006 11:00 AM

Sure, but all of that really goes to my argument that the Roman occupation of Britain left primarily physical traces -- place names, buildings, etc. And not social institutions like they did elsewhere. I guess in part it goes to the Romans getting beat up more in Britain than elsewhere. Still, I always thought the greatest contribution the Romans made anywhere was the system of laws. And that didn't really survive in Britain.

Posted by: rp at September 26, 2006 11:16 AM