Britain Under Roman Rule

A Roman bath house in Bath, UK.
Gladiators.
A Roman amphitheater.
Oriental spices.
The back of a Roman soldier.
The Roman Empire at its greatest extent in 117 CE.

When the Romans had subdued most of Britain and sent some of their British captives as slaves or gladiators to Rome, they started to adjust Britain to Roman standards. This meant that the Romans built theaters, bath houses, market squares and large road-grids, setting up the type of recreation facilities and infrastructure already existing elsewhere in their empire.

Import of luxury goods

The new roads in Britain were used, among other things, to transport imported luxury goods such as silk and spices from the orient and wine from Gaul. The theaters and the bath houses, furthermore, gave a Mediterranean touch to local communities, and together with other adjustments, made life away from home more enjoyable for Britain’s Roman inhabitants.

Many Britons, just like the Romans, enjoyed the fruits of living in a modern empire with far international reach. The Romans, moreover, managed their assimilation policy well, and although violent resistance to their rule sporadically occurred, could form a well-functioning society together with the Britons. This relative stability then made it possible for Rome to hold on to Britain for centuries, even though Britain, a rugged country perceived to be on the outskirts of modern civilization, was never the Roman caesars’ highest priority.

Rome withdraws its military

As could be expected from the ceasars’ priorities, when more important parts of the Roman Empire came under attack, Rome decided to gradually withdraw its military forces from the British Isles for use elsewhere. With weakened military defenses, other peoples then began raiding Britain, and in the early 5th century, Roman reign here was over for good. Nevertheless, some physical remnants of the empire’s erected buildings would remain, as would its Christian religion.