¿How the Romans conquered Britain?

Great Britain, also known as just Britain, was not always what it is today. Like many other countries and territories, Britain had to fight over wars for its independence.

What is the difference between Britain and The United Kingdom?

First it is important that we clarify the difference between two terms that are commonly used interchangeably; The United Kingdom and Great Britain.

Britain, today, is the island conformed by three countries; England, Scotland and Wales. On the other hand, when we refer to the United Kingdom, we are expressing the short term for The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island, which along with the three mentioned countries, a fourth one is added; Ireland.  Again, this is the correct terminology that is applied in the present.

In this article we will be focusing on the past. We will analyze the events that occurred all the way back to 55 B.C.

The Roman invasion in Britain.

Before Romans even thought of making an attempt to invade and conquer Britain, the island was lead by Celtic kings and chiefs. The Celts, or Britons, were people gathered in many different tribe groups. At that time, Britain was a territory of villages and farmers. No roads existed, and the common way of transportation would be by horse on land, or by sailing small boats in rivers.

Just across the sea, Britain was relatively close to the Roman Empire, which was quite strong already and just getting stronger and stronger with time.

The Roman Empire had been forming and extending since around a century by the time it was ruling Gaul in 55 B.C., which is what we know today as Rome. This magnificent Empire was being lead by the Roman General Julius Caesar at that time.

Julius Caesar is today very well known for the history of his conquests and military leadership. Britain was in Julius Caesar’s plans. He had the desire to fight and make Britain part of his Empire. This is when in 55 B.C. he decided to lead his army to fight for Britain against the Celts.

What he did not expect was that the Celts fought back with such bravery, that they made him go back with his troops empty-handed. But, Julius Caesar was not an opponent that gave up with one try.

During the next year, in 54 B.C. he decided to go back with many more soldiers than the last time. Although, once again he did not obtain the Briton’s territory and he no longer wanted to lose time and troops with an island that he thought wasn’t worth that much after all.

The Celts lived peacefully with their own; pacifically taking care and managing their culture and land. And that went on for approximately 100 more years. Until in A.D. 43, the Romans returned to Britain.

Stronger than ever and without the leadership of Julius Caesar; the Roman Empire battled fiercely with four legions against the Celts. This was when the Romans, leaded now by Emperor Claudius, finally conquered the Southern half of Britain and turned into part of the Roman Empire. The Empire showed up at Britain with newer weapons, and it is said that even Emperor Claudius joined his own army with a troop of elephants prepared for war.

Claudius gave the British Celts the opportunity to decide if they would fight against them or not. Those who decided to make peace had to agree to obey their laws and pay Roman taxes. Many Celts did agree to join the Empire, but many others were convinced to fight for the island.

The conquest was not done overnight, though. The Celts made it pretty difficult for the Romans to take over their territory. It took the Romans about 30 years of intense fighting until they were actually in control of most of the Southern area of Britain.

It took a total of three attempts from the Romans to finally succeed. Two failed attempts from Julius Caesar and the successful one from Claudius. The main reason why the Romans desired to win over Britain that much was due to Britain’s natural resources.

In one of Julius Caesar’s books that were found by archaeologists, it is possible to read the following statement, written by his very own hand, all those years ago:

“The Britons have a huge number of cattle, they use gold coins or iron bars as their money, and produce tin and iron.”

The Romans wanted to take over Britain in order to become richer and more powerful.

Coligny calendar

The Coligny Calendar

A calendar is a system that we use to count, define and keep track of time. We calculate days, months and years with the use of a calendar.

Was the Coligny calendar solar or lunar?

The calendar that we use in modern days, and that is used in most parts of the world, is the Gregorian calendar. It is a solar calendar; this means that it is fundamentally guided and based on the Earth’s movement around the Sun.

But, in addition to solar calendars, we also have the existence of lunar calendars. This type of calendar follows the amount of time that it takes for the Moon to complete its four orbiting phases around the Earth, and the result of that is called a lunar month.

Even a combination of both types of calculation exists as well in some kinds of calendars.

So, essentially, a calendar helps us coordinate time. Our use of the Gregorian calendar tells us that it takes the Earth 365 days to make a whole circle around the Sun.

There are twelve “lunar months” in one solar year, and this is called a lunar year. This means that in the essence of quantity; both years share 12 months. But, Lunar years do not coincide with solar years. A lunar year has a total of 354 days; this is the reason why every certain time there are thirteen lunar months in one year.

The Coligny calendar, is a lunisolar calendar, this means it combines Moon phases and the time of a solar year as well.

This calendar was found in Coligny, Ain, France in 1897. It is a big bronze tablet that was originally found broken into 73 pieces. It is believed to have been prohibited by the Romans during the Roman Empire, because at the time, Julius Caesar was making imperative the use of his calendar; the Julian calendar.

The Coligny calendar was part of the beliefs, culture and traditions of the Gaulic groups. These groups were integrated by Celtic people of an educated and professional class of Gaul, Britain and Ireland.

Now, let’s compare the Gregorian calendar to this ancient Coligny calendar.

The calendar that we use today (Gregorian) is summed up by 12 months, starting with January and ending with December. Each month has either 30 or 31 days, except for February, which has 28 days and only every 4 years contains 29 days.

Again, this calculation of time is based on the Earth’s movement around the Sun.

What makes the Gregorian different from the Coligny calendar?

Now, the Coligny calendar has a total of 12 months as well, beginning with Samonios and ending with Cantios, and each month had 29 or 30 days. And every 2.5 years, there was an extra month that was added; Sonnocingos, which was the intercalary month. This means it could be inserted before Samonios or between Cutios and Giamonios.

The Coligny calendar was a system of 30 years, divided into 12 months and the extra month number 13 every 2.5 years. Then each month was divided into halves. The first half would be made out of 15 days, and the second half would contain 14 or 15 days. At this point it was following the phases of the moon, which means that every center of the month we would have a full moon during that night.

Month

Time Period

Meaning

Days

Samonios

October – November

Seed-fall

30

Dumannios

November – December

The Darkest Depths

29

Riuros

December – January

Cold-time

30

Anagantios

January – February

Stay-home-time

29

Ogronios

February – March

Time of Ice

30

Cutios

March – April

Time of Winds

30

Giamonios

April – May

Shoots-show

29

Simivisionios

May – June

Time of Brightness

30

Equos

June – July

Horse-time

29/30

Elembiuos

July – August

Claim-time

29

Edrinios

August – September

Arbitration-time

30

Cantios

September – October

Song-time

20

Sonnocingos 

Intercalary

“Sun’s march”

30

The Coligny calendar is believed to be no longer used in the present, but there are still cultures and religions that base their calculation of time on a lunar or a lunisolar calendar.

Even though the use of the Coligny calendar was forbidden during Julius Caesar’s Roman Empire, the discovery of this ancient tablet suggests that Celtic tribes were trying to preserve their ideologies over the ones of Julius, even in the middle of difficult times of invasion and conquest.