Listen to the arguements and then you decide.  The Lunt staff are intelligentsia in their own lunch breaks and often pretend to have ideas of their own!  No seriously we all are keen historians who love debating and discussing history.

Rob and I disagreed about the importance Britain to the Romans and need your help!  Please vote to tell us what you think.

First Robs muttering

I don’t think the Romans needed Britain at all. I think that in the long-term The Empire probably made a net loss from Britain in financial terms. It was a perennial drain on the resources of the Army. Two or three legions had to be permanently stationed here, massive defensive works had to be built and maintained, an expensive Fleet had to patrol the Channel…… the list goes on. Its true that Britain held useful mineral resources – lead, silver, copper, iron, even a little gold – but these needed huge investment in the necessary mining infrastructure. In agriculture the Romans laboured mightily to improve output to a level where, for brief periods, Britain was an exporter of grain – mainly used to help feed the Legions on the Rhine. Transport costs were always high, however efficiently agriculture was organised.
I think the reason they came – and the reason they stayed – was a matter of prestige. Pure and simple. Rob

Now my insightful observations

Well I disagree. Britain was important to the Romans and afforded significant advantages. It may have made a net loss financially but strategically it was worth all the money they wasted on it. This is demonstrated by their investment, their military commitment and even the war they fought to regain the province at the end of the British Empire period. In contrast Dacia was abandoned after the death of Constantine the Great showing that the Romans were quite happy to abandon unprofitable provinces, and that Britain wasn’t one of them.The strategic importance of Britain was in the control of Northern Europe. The fleet based in Britain was essential for policing the North Sea. Without this base Angle pirates would have not been tackled at their source but would have been able to pirate about the Atlantic at will.
Next the military commitment in the country was a reminder to continental powers that if they were looking at migrating across the boarder they soon would be fighting a war on too fronts. They took on the role of a fleet in being http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleet_in_being .
Finally if Britain was important for ensuring that it was not a haven for terrorists and insurgents who would cause problems for the Romans on the continent as the Belgians did during Julius’ campaign. The resources of Britain needed to be in hands of the Empire so that they did not fall into the hands of their enemies.

 

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