Early Britain—Roman Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about Early Britain—Roman Britain.

D. 13.—­The unremitting pressure of these two garrisons crushed out at last the Silurian resistance.  The fighting men of the clan must indeed have been almost wholly killed off during these four years of murderous warfare.  Thus Avitus Didius Gallus, the successor of Ostorius, though himself too old to take the field, was able to announce to Claudius that he had completed the subjugation of Britain.  The Silurians after one last effort, in which they signally defeated an entire Legion, lay in the quietude of utter exhaustion; and though Cartismandua caused some little trouble by putting away her husband Venusius and raising a favourite to the throne, the matter was compromised by Roman intervention; and Claudius lived to hear that the island was, at last, peacefully submissive to his sway.  Then Agrippina showed herself once more the Cartismandua of Rome, and her son Nero sat upon the throne of her poisoned husband [A.D. 55].


Neronian misgovernment—­Seneca—­Prasutagus—­Boadicea’s revolt—­Sack of Camelodune—­Suetonius in Mona—­“Druidesses”—­Sack of London and Verulam—­Boadicea crushed at Battle Bridge—­Peace of Petronius.

E. 1.—­Under Nero the unhappy Britons first realized what it was to be Roman provincials.  Though Julius Caesar and Augustus had checked the grossest abuses of the Republican proconsulates, yet enough of the evil tradition remained to make those abuses flourish with renewed vigour under such a ruler as Nero.  The state of things which ensued can only be paralleled with that so vividly described by Macaulay in his lurid picture of the oppression of Bengal under Warren Hastings.  The one object of every provincial governor was to exploit his province in his own pecuniary interest and that of his friends at Rome.  Requisitions and taxes were heaped on the miserable inhabitants utterly beyond their means, with the express object of forcing them into the clutches of the Roman money-lenders, whose frightful terms were, in turn, enforced by military licence.

E. 2.—­The most virtuous and enlightened citizens were not ashamed thus to wring exorbitant interest from their victims.  Cicero tells us[170] how no less austere a patriot than Brutus thus exacted from the town of Salamis in Cyprus, 48 per cent. compound interest, and, after starving five members of the municipality to death in default of payment, was mortally offended because he, Cicero, as proconsul, would not exercise further military pressure for his ends.

E. 3.—­The part thus played in Cyprus by Brutus was played in Britain by Seneca, another of the choice examples of the highest Roman virtue.  By a series of blood-sucking transactions[171] he drove the Britons to absolute despair, his special victim being Prasutagus, now Chief of the Iceni, presumably set up by the Romans on the suppression of the revolt under Vericus.  As a last chance of saving any of his wealth for his children, Prasutagus, by will, made the Emperor his co-heir.  This, however, only hastened the ruin of his family.  His property was pounced upon by the harpies of Seneca and Nero, with the Procurator[172] of the Province, Catus Decimus, at their head, his kin sold into slavery, his daughters outraged, and his wife Boadicea, or, more correctly, Boudicca, brutally scourged.  This was in A.D. 61.

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Early Britain—Roman Britain from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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