Roman Britain Conquest & Governors

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  • Created by: Calum
  • Created on: 08-04-13 14:44

List of Governors 43AD-84AD

43-47 Aulus Plautius

47-52 Ostorius Scapula

52-57 Didius Gallus

57-58 Quintus Veranius

58-61 Seutonius Paulinus

61-63 Petronius Turpilianus

63-69 Trebellius Maximus

69-71 Vettius Bolanus

71-73 Petillius Cerialis

73-78 Julius Frontinus

78-84 Julius Agricola

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Aulus Plautius & Ostorius Scapula

43-47 Aulus Plautius: First Governor of Britain. Leads Claudius' expedition force of 4 legions, landing at Richborough, Kent. Defeats Caratacus at Medway, and defeats and kills Togodumnus at the Thames. Britons unite, and Plautius halts, awaiting Claudius' arrival. Claudius takes Camulodunum and is hailed 'Britannicus' (Dio).

Vespasian, as a military commander, pushes west, capturing 20 oppida (Seutonius)

47-52 Ostorius Scapula: By 47, South + East secured up to the Fosse Way line. Scapula is appointed, and disarms conquered tribes, causing a revolt amongst the Iceni, which is duly crushed. Decangli are conquered by clever use of auxilaries, and unrest amongst Brigantes settled. In AD 49, Colchester becomes a colony. Silures in southern Wales eventually defeated by legions. Caratacus and the Ordovices are defeated; Caratacus flees to Brigantes but is handed over by pro-Roman queen Cartimandua.

The stress of dealing with rebelling Silures' raids causes Scapula's death in 52 (Tacitus: Annals)

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Didius Gallus & Quintus Veranius

52-57 Didius Gallus: Tacitus criticises Gallus, claiming he relied on his subordinates too much. Silures defeat a legion (most probably the 20th), but Gallus' arrival restores control. Venutius & Cartimandua fall out, but Romans successfully intervene for the time being. Claudius dies in 54, and is succeeded by Nero. Seutonius says that Nero considered abandoning Britain, but didn't wish to damage Claudius' legacy. In 57, Gallus was replaced by Veranius as part of Nero's sricter policy.

57-58 Quintus Veranius: With a glorious military career and a view to bring Wales to its knees, Veranius showed promise, but died in office after just one year.

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Seutonius Paulinus

58-61 Seutonius Paulinus: Achieves great success, culminating in a full scale siege of Anglesey, known as a druidic stronghold, in 60 AD. The implication is that Paulinus had driven hard through the tough terrain of north Waleswith great success. In 60AD, the Iceni revolted under their queen Boudica after Prasutagus' death. Tacitus says that procurator Decianus Catus abused the terms of Prasutagus' will, claiming all of the Icenian territory and allowing the Romans to **** and flog Boudica and other noblewomen. Dio also blames Catus, for demanding Claudian gifts back from noblemen, but chiefly blames Seneca for recalling a 40 million sesterces loan previously imposed upon the Britons.

Londinium, Camulodunom and Verulamium are all sacked by the Britons, and Petillius Cerialis' detachment of the IX Legion are defeated. Paulinus marches straight back to the region and defeats Boudica in pitched battle, despite being outnumbered. Overall, 70-80 thousand Romans and provincials were slaughtered in the revolt (Tacitus says 70, Dio says 80). 80,000 Iceni were killed in the final battle, amd Boudica died of either poisoning (Tacitus) or illness (Dio).

On the advice of new procuratir Julius Classicianus & freedman/inquisitor Polyclitus, Paulinus is replaced more mild Petronius Turpilianus.

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Petronius Turpillianus

61-63 Petronius Turpillianus: Tacitus talks of how Turpillianus ruled in a manner that:

'neither provoked the enemy nor was harrased by them and thus he gained the honorable name of peace for what was disgraceful inactivity' (Tacitus:Annals)

Tacitus has a bias against Turpillianus; perhaps unfairly as sustained peace in the south and east allowed for eventual expansion.

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Trebellius Maximus & Vettius Bolanus

63-69 Trebellius Maximus: Under Trebellius Maximus the Britons 'learnt the pleasures of peace and civilisation'. The fact that there was no uprising amongst the Britons in the year of the 4 emperors, unlike in Gaul, is evidence of Maximus' good work at peacekeeping.

69-71 Vettius Bolanus: Installed by Vitellius in his brief reign as Emperor. Bolanus hesitant in committing trops to Vitellius (Tacitus:Hostories) against rival Primus. Kept on by Vespasian, Bolanus ruled kindly & mildly. The poet Statius claims that Bolanus conquered Caledonia.

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Quintus Petillius Cerialis

71-74 Petillius Cerialis: Carimandua & Venutius fall out in 71, & Venutius stirs unrest leading to Roman intervention. Romans manage to rescue Cartimandua but Brigantes are now enemies ruled by Venutius, no longer a client kingdom. A dynamic governor such as Cerialis was needed.

Tacitus argues that Cerialis' career relied on luck over skill, but Cerialis motivated and disciplined his troops very successfully where Bolanus had failed. Progress was made against Brigantes, and it was during Cerialis' governorship that Venutius disappeared as the Brigante king (although his exact fate is unknown).

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Julius Frontinus

73-78 Julius Frontinus: Brigantes pacified for the moment by Cerialis, so Frontinus turns attention to Silures. Frontinus, after some difficuly, subdues them. Communications into Wales are now easier and more well established. Large army presence in Wales, showing importance and difficulties there. Romanization occurs as Frontinus was distinguished in administration. Policy was much milder than Scapula's previous extermination policy towards Silures. Some civic projects previously attributed to Agricola may have been started by Frontinus, especially Exeter's forum & Basilica (75AD) and Verulamium's forum.

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Julius Agricola

78-84 Julius Agricola: Ariving late in campaigning season, Agricola wasted no time and almost exterminated the Ordovices. Using armed auxiliaries to swim ashore, he also captured and annexed Anglesey with the element of surprise. Tacitus stresses that the ability to rule justly balanced out Agricola's ruthless strategy to make him the ideal governor. An example of this is where Agricola put an end to corruption in corn distribution.

Agricola's general policy was to harrass thiose who resisted and to reward those who cooperated. Winter of 78-79 AD was spent on 'social betterment', including the introduction of the toga & Latin and the education of nobles. Tacitus sneers that this 'civilisation' was in fact 'a feature of their own enslavement'; possibly showing Roman attitudes towards provincials and romanization.

Campaigning season of 80 AD showed great advance; pressing through Corbridge with the IX Legion and Carlisle with the ** and then merging to advance to the Tay, the Romans conquered a lot of ground.

Summer of 81 was spent consolidating up to the Forth-Clyde Isthmus. Fortifications include Camelon, Barhill & Croy.

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Julius Agricola 2

78-84 Julius Agricola: In 82 AD, there was speculation of crossing to Ireland to conquer the coastline. Agricola's ambitions to hold Ireland with one legion was totally unrealistic though.

Summer of 83; Agricola advanced north by land and sea. To prevent three pronged attacks, Agricola divided army into three sections, nearly costing the IX Legion as they were assaulted by night by the full Scottish force. Agricola's full army came to the rescue. Romans march north of the Tay, as far as Inthtuchtil.

In 84, Caledonians stake everything against Romans in pitched battle at Mons Graupius. They are routed, but many melt away and escape slaughter. Led by Calgacus, to whom Tacitus attributes a long speech.

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Far too many spelling errors, at times made it almost illegible. What happens when 'Mr Examiner' asks oh Calum who was governing from 84AD onwards. Throughout this painful document I just kept thinking to myself 'The nub, where is it?' Thus only the 1 star from me and if I'm being honest that was generous, I shall be telling Fletch about this.  



Upon initial viewing these notes seem to be sufficiently adequate for this level of study, However, after detailed analysis one can tell that they have been poorly put together. There are numerous omissions and spelling mistakes, for example, the author 'Calum' leads us to believe that Trebellius Maximus was successful, but any ancient historian worth his salt knows that he was forced to flee Britain "Despised by the army for his avarice and meanness" (Tacitus, Histories). Furthermore, there is a distinct lack of primary evidence in the description of each governor. Although I initially awarded Calum a high star rating I would now, upon further reading, would hesitate to give even 2 stars. By all means use these notes for their narrative but if you wish to obtain a good mark in your exam you will have to delve much deeper into the sources and obtain a much more balanced and accurate knowledge. 

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