Gnaeus Julius Agricola
A statue of Agricola erected at the Roman Baths at Bath in 1894
|Born||13 June 40|
|Died||23 August 93 (aged 53)|
|Years of service||58–85|
|Commands held|| Legio XX Valeria Victrix |
|Battles/wars|| Battle of Watling Street |
Battle of Mons Graupius
Gnaeus Julius Agricola ( // ; 13 June 40 – 23 August 93) was a Roman Italo-Gallic general responsible for much of the Roman conquest of Britain. Written by his son-in-law Tacitus, the De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae is the primary source for most of what is known about him, along with detailed archaeological evidence from northern Britain.
Agricola began his military career in Britain, serving under governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus. His subsequent career saw him serve in a variety of positions; he was appointed quaestor in Asia province in 64, then Plebeian Tribune in 66, and praetor in 68. He supported Vespasian during the Year of the Four Emperors (69), and was given a military command in Britain when the latter became emperor. When his command ended in 73, he was made patrician in Rome and appointed governor of Gallia Aquitania. He was made consul and governor of Britannia in 77. While there, he completed the conquest of what is now Wales and northern England, and led his army to the far north of Scotland, establishing forts across much of the Lowlands. He was recalled from Britain in 85 after an unusually lengthy service, and thereafter retired from military and public life.
Agricola was born in the colonia of Forum Julii, Gallia Narbonensis (now Fréjus, France). Agricola's parents were from noted political families of senatorial rank in Roman Gaul. Both of his grandfathers served as imperial governors. His father, Lucius Julius Graecinus, was a praetor and had become a member of the Roman Senate in the year of his birth. Graecinus had become distinguished by his interest in philosophy. Between August 40 and January 41, the Emperor Caligula ordered his death because he refused to prosecute the Emperor's second cousin Marcus Junius Silanus.
His mother was Julia Procilla. The Roman historian Tacitus describes her as "a lady of singular virtue". Tacitus states that Procilla had a fond affection for her son. Agricola was educated in Massilia (Marseille), and showed what was considered an unhealthy interest in philosophy.
He began his career in Roman public life as a military tribune, serving in Britain under Gaius Suetonius Paulinus from 58 to 62. He was probably attached to the Legio II Augusta , but was chosen to serve on Suetonius's staffand thus almost certainly participated in the suppression of Boudica's uprising in 61.
Returning from Britain to Rome in 62, he married Domitia Decidiana, a woman of noble birth. Their first child was a son. Agricola was appointed as quaestor for 64, which he served in the province of Asia under the corrupt proconsul Lucius Salvius Otho Titianus. While he was there, his daughter, Julia Agricola, was born, but his son died shortly afterwards. He was tribune of the plebs in 66 and praetor in June 68, during which time he was ordered by the Governor of Spain Galba to take an inventory of the temple treasures.
During that same, the emperor Nero was declared a public enemy by the Senate and committed suicide, and the period of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors began. Galba succeeded Nero, but was murdered in early 69 by Otho, who took the throne. Agricola's mother was murdered on her estate in Liguria by Otho's marauding fleet. Hearing of Vespasian's bid for the empire, Agricola immediately gave him his support. Otho meanwhile committed suicide after being defeated by Vitellius.
After Vespasian had established himself as emperor, Agricola was appointed to the command of the Legio XX Valeria Victrix , stationed in Britain, in place of Marcus Roscius Coelius, who had stirred up a mutiny against the governor, Marcus Vettius Bolanus. Britain had revolted during the year of civil war, and Bolanus was a mild governor. Agricola reimposed discipline on the legion and helped to consolidate Roman rule. In 71, Bolanus was replaced by a more aggressive governor, Quintus Petillius Cerialis, and Agricola was able to display his talents as a commander in campaigns against the Brigantes in northern England.
When his command ended in 73, Agricola was enrolled as a patrician and appointed to govern Gallia Aquitania. There he stayed for almost three years. In 76 or 77, he was recalled to Rome and appointed suffect consul,and betrothed his daughter to Tacitus. The following year, Tacitus and Julia married; Agricola was appointed to the College of Pontiffs, and returned to Britain for a third time, as its governor ( Legatus Augusti pro praetore ).
Arriving in midsummer of 77, Agricola discovered that the Ordovices of north Wales had virtually destroyed the Roman cavalry stationed in their territory. He immediately moved against them and defeated them. He then moved north to the island of Mona (Anglesey), which Suetonius Paulinus had failed to subjugate in 60 because of the outbreak of the Boudican rebellion, and forced its inhabitants to sue for peace. He established a good reputation as an administrator, as well as a commander, by reforming the widely corrupt corn levy. He introduced Romanising measures, encouraging communities to build towns on the Roman model and educating the sons of the native nobility in the Roman manner.
Agricola also expanded Roman rule north into Caledonia (modern Scotland). In the summer of 79, he pushed his armies to the estuary of the river Taus, usually interpreted as the Firth of Tay, virtually unchallenged, and established some forts. Though their location is left unspecified, the close dating of the fort at Elginhaugh in Midlothian makes it a possible candidate.
In 81, Agricola "crossed in the first ship" and defeated peoples unknown to the Romans until then. Tacitus, in Chapter 24 of Agricola,does not tell us what body of water he crossed, although most scholars believe it was the Clyde or Forth, and some translators even add the name of their preferred river to the text; however, the rest of the chapter exclusively concerns Ireland, so southwest Scotland is perhaps to be preferred. The text of the Agricola has been amended here to record the Romans "crossing into trackless wastes", referring to the wilds of the Galloway peninsula. Agricola fortified the coast facing Ireland, and Tacitus recalls that his father-in-law often claimed the island could be conquered with a single legion and auxiliaries. He had given refuge to an exiled Irish king whom he hoped he might use as the excuse for conquest. This conquest never happened, but some historians believe the crossing referred to was in fact a small-scale exploratory or punitive expedition to Ireland, though no Roman camps have been identified to confirm such a suggestion.
Irish legend provides a striking parallel. Tuathal Teachtmhar, a legendary High King, is said to have been exiled from Ireland as a boy, and to have returned from Britain at the head of an army to claim the throne. The traditional date of his return is between 76 and 80, and archaeology has found Roman or Romano-British artefacts in several sites associated with Tuathal.
The following year, Agricola raised a fleet and encircled the tribes beyond the Forth, and the Caledonians rose in great numbers against him. They attacked the camp of the Legio IX Hispana at night, but Agricola sent in his cavalry and they were put to flight. The Romans responded by pushing further north. Another son was born to Agricola this year, but died before his first birthday.
In the summer of 83, Agricola faced the massed armies of the Caledonians, led by Calgacus, at the Battle of Mons Graupius.Tacitus estimates their numbers at more than 30,000. Agricola put his auxiliaries in the front line, keeping the legions in reserve, and relied on close-quarters fighting to make the Caledonians' unpointed slashing swords useless as they were unable to swing them properly or utilise thrusting attacks. Even though the Caledonians were put to rout and therefore lost this battle, two thirds of their army managed to escape and hide in the Highlands or the "trackless wilds" as Tacitus calls them. Battle casualties were estimated by Tacitus to be about 10,000 on the Caledonian side and 360 on the Roman side.
A number of authors have reckoned the battle to have occurred in the Grampian Mounth within sight of the North Sea.In particular, Roy, Surenne, Watt, Hogan and others have advanced notions that the site of the battle may have been Kempstone Hill, Megray Hill or other knolls near the Raedykes Roman camp; these points of high ground are proximate to the Elsick Mounth, an ancient trackway used by Romans and Caledonians for military manoeuvres. However, following the discovery of the Roman camp at Durno in 1975, most scholars now believe that the battle took place on the ground around Bennachie in Aberdeenshire.
Satisfied with his victory, Agricola extracted hostages from the Caledonian tribes. He may have marched his army to the northern coast of Britain,as evidenced by the probable discovery of a Roman fort at Cawdor (near Inverness).
He also instructed the prefect of the fleet to sail around the north coast, confirming (allegedly for the first time) that Britain was in fact an island.
Agricola was recalled from Britain in 85, after an unusually long tenure as governor. Tacitus claims Domitian ordered his recall because Agricola's successes outshone the Emperor's own modest victories in Germany. He re-entered Rome unobtrusively, reporting as ordered to the palace at night. The relationship between Agricola and the Emperor is unclear; on the one hand, Agricola was awarded triumphal decorations and a statue (the highest military honours apart from an actual triumph); on the other, Agricola never again held a civil or military post, in spite of his experience and renown. He was offered the governorship of the province of Africa, but declined it, whether due to ill health or (as Tacitus claims) the machinations of Domitian. In 93, Agricola died on his family estates in Gallia Narbonensis aged fifty-three. Rumours circulated attributing the death to a poison administered by the Emperor Domitian, but no positive evidence for this was ever produced.
Boudica or Boudicca, also known as Boadicea or Boudicea, and in Welsh as Buddug, was a queen of the British Celtic Iceni tribe who led an uprising against the conquering forces of the Roman Empire in AD 60 or 61. She died shortly after its failure and was said to have poisoned herself. She is considered a British folk hero.
Domitian was Roman emperor from 81 to 96. He was the son of Vespasian and the younger brother of Titus, his two predecessors on the throne, and the last member of the Flavian dynasty. During his reign, the authoritarian nature of his rule put him at sharp odds with the Senate, whose powers he drastically curtailed.
The Province of Britain was the area of the island of Great Britain that was governed by the Roman Empire, from 43 to 410 AD. It comprised almost the whole of England and Wales and, for a short period, southern Scotland.
Vitellius was Roman emperor for eight months, from 16 April to 22 December 69 AD. Vitellius was proclaimed emperor following the quick succession of the previous emperors Galba and Otho, in a year of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors. Vitellius was the first to add the honorific cognomen Germanicus to his name instead of Caesar upon his accession. Like his direct predecessor, Otho, Vitellius attempted to rally public support to his cause by honoring and imitating Nero who remained widely popular in the empire.
The Roman conquest of Britain was a gradual process, beginning in AD 43 under Emperor Claudius and being largely completed by 87 when the Stanegate was established as the northen frontier.
Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was a Roman general best known as the commander who defeated the rebellion of Boudica.
Legio secunda Augusta was a legion of the Imperial Roman army that was founded during the late Roman republic. Its emblems were the Capricornus, Pegasus, and Mars. It may have taken the name "Augusta" from a victory or reorganization that occurred during the reign of Augustus.
The Year of the Four Emperors, 69 AD, was a period in the history of the Roman Empire in which four emperors ruled in succession: Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian.
The Battle of Mons Graupius was, according to Tacitus, a Roman military victory in what is now Scotland, taking place in AD 83 or, less probably, 84. The exact location of the battle is a matter of debate. Historians have long questioned some details of Tacitus's account of the fight, suggesting that he exaggerated Roman success.
The Grampian Mountains are one of the three major mountain ranges in Scotland, occupying a considerable portion of the Scottish Highlands in northern Scotland. The other major mountain ranges in Scotland are the Northwest Highlands and the Southern Uplands. The Grampian range extends southwest to northeast between the Highland Boundary Fault and the Great Glen, occupying almost half of the land area of Scotland and including the Cairngorms and the Lochaber hills. The range includes many of the highest mountains in the British Isles, including Ben Nevis and Ben Macdui.
The Flavian dynasty was a Roman imperial dynasty, which ruled the Roman Empire between 69 AD and 96 AD, encompassing the reigns of Vespasian (69–79), and his two sons Titus (79–81) and Domitian (81–96). The Flavians rose to power during the civil war of 69, known as the Year of the Four Emperors. After Galba and Otho died in quick succession, Vitellius became emperor in mid 69. His claim to the throne was quickly challenged by legions stationed in the Eastern provinces, who declared their commander Vespasian emperor in his place. The Second Battle of Bedriacum tilted the balance decisively in favour of the Flavian forces, who entered Rome on December 20. The following day, the Roman Senate officially declared Vespasian emperor of the Roman Empire, thus commencing the Flavian dynasty. Although the dynasty proved to be short-lived, several significant historic, economic and military events took place during their reign.
The Caledonians or the Caledonian Confederacy were a Brittonic-speaking (Celtic) tribal confederacy in what is now Scotland during the Iron Age and Roman eras. The Greek form of the tribal name gave rise to the name Caledonia for their territory. The Caledonians were considered to be a group of Britons, but later, after the Roman conquest of the southern half of Britain, the northern inhabitants were distinguished as Picts, thought to be a related people who would have also spoken a Brittonic language. The Caledonian Britons were thus enemies of the Roman Empire, which was the occupying force then administering most of Great Britain as the Roman province of Britannia.
The decisive battle ending the Boudican Revolt took place in Roman Britain in AD 60 or 61 between an alliance of British peoples led by Boudica and a Roman army led by Gaius Suetonius Paulinus. Although heavily outnumbered, the Romans decisively defeated the allied tribes, inflicting heavy losses on them. The battle marked the end of resistance to Roman rule in Britain in the southern half of the island, a period that lasted until 410 AD.
According to Tacitus, Calgacus was a chieftain of the Caledonian Confederacy who fought the Roman army of Gnaeus Julius Agricola at the Battle of Mons Graupius in northern Scotland in AD 83 or 84. His name can be interpreted as Celtic *calg-ac-os, "possessing a blade", and is seemingly related to the Gaelic "calgach". Whether the word is a name or a given title is unknown.
Marcus Vettius Bolanus was a Roman senator and soldier. He was suffect consul for the nundinium of September-December 66 as the colleague of Marcus Arruntius Aquila.
Túathal Techtmar [ ˈtu:əθal ˈtʲɛxtwər ], son of Fíachu Finnolach, was a High King of Ireland, according to medieval Irish legend and historical tradition. He is said to be the ancestor of the Uí Néill and Connachta dynasties through his grandson Conn of the Hundred Battles. The name may also have originally referred to an eponymous deity, possibly even a local version of the Gaulish Toutatis.
Events from the 1st century in Roman Britain.
Scotland during the Roman Empire refers to the protohistorical period during which the Roman Empire interacted with the area that is now Scotland, which was known to them as "Caledonia". Roman legions arrived around AD 71, having conquered the Celtic tribes of "Britain" over the preceding three decades. Aiming to annex all of the island of "Albion", Romans under Q. Petilius Cerialis and Gn. Julius Agricola invaded the Caledonians in the 70s and 80s.
Easter Glacantray, an alleged Roman fort), is located near the small village of Cawdor. It is alleged to be a Roman fort although there is a lack of archaeological evidence to support this claim.
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