Roman Britain Administration

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Administration - People Involved

The Romans began to improve the administration in Britain much the same way they had improved the administration in other parts of their empire.

The top dog in administration was usually the Legatus Augusti Pro Praetor, he usually had soldiers to man the upper levels of his system and a large amount of permanent staff.

One of the most important tasks to be undertaken was managing the justice system. In this system the governor constituted the final court of appeal in all cases where there was the possibility of the death sentence or condemnation to the mines he was also expected to adjudicate appeals under native law.

One thing the governor did not do was run the economic development of the province, which lay in the hands of the Procurator Augusti Britanniae  a man drawn from the lower but still wealthy Equestrian order. Although socially below the governor he was not subject to him and too had access to the Emperor. 

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It is important that the Procurator Augusti Britanniae was not subject to the emporer because this meant that the Legatus Augusti Pro Praetor did not have total power and should he begin to make radical decisions which could effect the empire the Procurator Augusti Britanniae could step in and tell the emporer who could then make the decision to remove him or accept his decisions.

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Taxes within the province were relatively simple with the most important one being the Annona or Corn Tax.

This was grain brought for a nominal sum and used to feed the garrison and administration.

Other taxes included a sort of property tax and land tax.

To try and maintain accuracy and order within the tax system periodic census’ took place. 

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Native Involvement

In areas of Britain where stability seemed to have been assured there was a level of native involvement in the government.

One such example is the use of client kings who were relied upon to maintain the loyalty of their tribes thus freeing Roman forces for use elsewhere.

In return the tribe maintained its native identity, laws and the right to bear arms.

The most successful of these client kings was Cogidubnus  of the tribe that came to be known as the Regnenses with his capital at Chichester.

The Iceni are an example of this experiment that failed largely owing to heavy handed and disrespectful Roman treatment or Boudiccae and her daughters when the client king died.

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The Romans liked loca autonomy shown by the fact that the first recorded instance was established after just 6 years of the invasion when they converted the legionary fortress at Colchester into a colony.

The colony held prime position within local government as it was essentially a settlement for retired veterans. All of whom were Roman citizens and were given the surrounding land to farm on as part of their retirement grants. Several more colonies popped up and they were designed to inspire and overawe the native populations in which they were situated.

The administration of the colony was like a mini replica of Rome itself with a local Senate, the Ordo, which was made up of a hundred decurions, originally elected by the citizen body but who eventually became self-perpetuating in their office.

Two executive officers presided over the meetings of the Ordo and regulated local justice as well as controlling the administration of festivals and other ceremonies. They were assisted by two Aedils whose job it was to be responsible for the maintenance of public buildings streets and drains and they were also helped by the Quaestores who were responsible for the local finance.


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