The Real Lives of Roman Britain

The Real Lives of Roman Britain The Britain Of The Roman Occupation Is, In A Way, An Age That Is Dark To Us While The Main Events From BC To AD Are Little Disputed, And The Archaeological Remains Of Villas, Forts, Walls, And Cities Explain A Great Deal, We Lack A Clear Sense Of Individual Lives This Book Is The First To Infuse The Story Of Britannia With A Beating Heart, The First To Describe In Detail Who Its Inhabitants Were And Their Place In Our History A Lifelong Specialist In Romano British History, Guy De La B Doy Re Is The First To Recover The Period Exclusively As A Human Experience He Focuses Not On Military Campaigns And Imperial Politics But On Individual, Personal Stories Roman Britain Is Revealed As A Place Where The Ambitious Scramble For Power And Prestige, The Devout Seek Solace And Security Through Religion, Men And Women Eke Out Existences In A Provincial Frontier Land De La B Doy Re Introduces Fortunata The Slave Girl, Emeritus The Frustrated Centurion, The Grieving Father Quintus Corellius Fortis, And The Brilliant Metal Worker Boduogenus, Among Numerous Others Through A Wide Array Of Records And Artifacts, The Author Introduces The Colourful Cast Of Immigrants Who Arrived During The Roman Era While Offering An Unusual Glimpse Of Indigenous Britons, Until Now Nearly Invisible In Histories Of Roman Britain

Guy de la B doy re is author of Roman Britain A New History and many other histories of Roman Britain widely admired for their accessibility and flair He is also author of the popular volume The Romans for Dummies.

[EPUB] ✼ The Real Lives of Roman Britain  By Guy de la Bédoyère –
  • Hardcover
  • 264 pages
  • The Real Lives of Roman Britain
  • Guy de la Bédoyère
  • English
  • 10 May 2019
  • 9780300207194

10 thoughts on “The Real Lives of Roman Britain

  1. says:

    1st Century Roman mosaic in the Roman palace at Fishbourne, ChichesterThough Britons in the Southeast had commercial dealings with the Roman Empire and tribal leaders had been displaying their status by bringing prestige items across the Channel for quite some time, they didn t feel the weight of the Empire until Julius Caesar s adventures on the scepter d isle in the summers of 55 and 54 BCE But Caesar had other matters on his plate and left, taking his army with him Subsequent invasions were planned by Augustus and Caligula, but it was Emperor Claudius who sent four legions to occupy the island in 43 CE The Roman army would remain until approximately the year 410 the aftereffects of Roman civilization would remain significantly longer.As Guy de la B doy re warns, The Real Lives of Roman Britain 2015 is not a history of Roman Britain, it is a glimpse into what can be retrieved about the lives of the people who lived there and then Some history is related for context, of course, but the focus is on culture with a small c and normal life as evidenced by archaeological digs, numismatics, funerary and other inscriptions, the Vindolanda tablets and the like.For the most part, this is done very soberly Along with explicitly declining to pass a value judgment on the occupation, de la B doy re doesn t choose to tell the most colorful versions of his tales For example, instead of playing all the registers of the well known story of Boudica as embellished by later fabulists for various purposes, de la B doy re explains what little one really can know and what motivated Tacitus and Cassius Dio to set the legend in motion in the first place So, this is not a popularization of the egregious sort one might be led to expect by the title The fact that the book is published by the Yale University Press is also a hint On the other hand, it is also no dry as dust academic monograph of the sort I have been reading lately and learning a great deal from The roughly chronological organizing principle suggested on the level of chapters is constantly violated in the very digressive paragraphs, as is seemingly any other likely form of organization Though the famous make their cameo appearances, the author draws our attention to the Thracian trooper, Longinus Sdapeze, who died at forty after fifteen years in the saddle on Rome s behalf before he had reached the magic number of 25, at which he would have become a Roman citizen and Saturninus Gabinius, the most idiosyncratic of the water nymph Coventina s adherents, who fabricated from clay two curious incense burners and proudly inscribed them with his name and the Gaulish import export businessman, Lucius Viducius Placidus, who was so successful that he made a dedication to a local goddess in what is now Holland and paid for a gate and arch in a temple precinct in York and the Briton, Verecunda, daughter of the Dobunni tribe who married a Romanized Gaul, Excingus, and died at thirty five to be buried in the Roman manner and marked with a Roman tombstone inscribed in Latin To mention only a few of many Although each individual emerges out of the shadows of time to wave briefly and then recede, de la B doy re uses them to exemplify the general facts about ordinary life in Roman Britain that he weaves into the discussion.And so we have here a Sammelsurium of the activities, customs and beliefs of Roman Britons, as can yet be reconstructed from their traces And what a difference there is between the nature and quantity of the pre Roman traces and the post Roman One finishes the book with the feeling of having glimpsed the ordinary life of the place and time, something that is generally not vouchsafed to the curious by those who write histories Model of the Fishbourne palace, built some 30 years after the Claudian invasion The Vindolanda tablets consist of correspondence and records written on thin sheets of wood that were found in the ruins of a Roman fort on the northern frontier of Roman Britannia They provide direct insight into the day to day life of the people living and working there around 100 CE An Oxford website dedicated to these tablets may be found here It appears that as a young man the poet Juvenal was posted at Alauna, one of those northernmost forts A portion of Hadrian s Wall marking, for a time, the northern frontier of Roman Britannia

  2. says:

    The percentage of people living in Roman Britain from the Conquest in 43 AD to 410, when the Roman Army departed for good and shortly thereafter for which we have any record, was maybe 1% of the total population But we re lucky to have at least the names of people who actually lived, and for some, of their stories Through the years archaeologists have uncovered inscriptions, some besides giving us names, also listed accomplishments We have the records of both the high and the low, the latter mostly tradesmen and artisans Interesting examples are the incompetent Aldgate Pulborough potter Regina, the freed British slave of a Syrian trader arguably the most famous woman after Boudica various soldiers of all ranks who put up altars, fulfilling vows a letter from the wife of the commander of one fort on Hadrian s Wall to another military commander s wife at another fort this last was found among the Vindolanda Tablets, a treasure trove of information about the army and many others During the reigns of the usurpers Carausius and Allectus during the last two decades of the 3rd century , soldiers were pulled from the Wall to fight for them and the spate of military inscriptions ceased In the last few generations of Roman occupation, opulent villas, a pagan temple complex, and treasure troves with engraving on some of the pieces mostly spoons give us clues as to the Romano Britons who may have possessed them or at least buried them This was a fascinating recent archaeological study where the author tried to give us a sense of Roman Britain and people who really lived although what remains of their lives to us are merely snapshots I appreciated the numerous color plates Recommended.

  3. says:

    3.5History seen through the fragments left by ordinary lives what could be fascinating I had no idea that our knowledge about Roman Britain was simultaneously so thorough and yet so la Bedoyere states that the British were an anomaly While most native peoples that the Romans invaded quickly climbed the social ladder, no British native has been known to reach even equestrian status This might be due to an incomplete record or an eager adoption of Roman names and customs, but the British are conspicuous by their absence in the historical record The Romans portrayed many native British tribes as untamable savages, exemplified by their construction of Hadrian s Wall One interesting insight I gained was the difference of female stature in the two worlds When the Celtic leader Caratacus was taken to visit the Emperor Claudius, he also paid homage to Agrippina the Younger, possibly because women had much higher status in Britain Female consorts held power, and women could be chieftans and not just in the case of the somewhat mythical Boudica When the wife of Caledonian chieftan Argentocoxus met empress Julia Domna some time around 200 AD, Julia Domna made a nasty crack about British men sharing out their women, she responded that while British women could consort openly with the best men in public, Roman women were debauched in private.I ve been fascinated with Roman Britain ever since I read Ruth Downie s Medicus series, so I was looking forward to learning about the minutiae of life in Roman Britain And by the way, this book taught me that the Medicus series is far accurate than I d thought While the idea of the book is excellent, the execution leaves something to be desired I read an advanced reader copy, so hopefully things are a little smoother in the final version However, in my copy, de la Bedoyere s style is awkward, and the absence of important commas often forced me to read a sentence twice to understand the changes in object or subject Given my writing style, I know this is a pot kettle complaint, but hey, that s why I don t write books Take a few examples Cunobelinus was not to feature in the story of the Roman invasion since by 43 he was dead, but another ruler, Verica of the Atrebates, did Pliny the Younger, a senator born in the early 60s, lived on into the second century AD and despite a far ranging career climaxing in the governorship of Bithynia and Pontus never forgot his home town of Como The ungainly prose wasn t assisted by the paragraph length, which often made the pages feel like walls of text The paragraphs themselves were less than coherent, typically containing multiple subjects tenuously connected by awkward segues While many images were referenced in the text, my advanced reader copy was devoid of all pictures except for the peculiar cartoon sketches of artefacts that appeared at the beginning of each chapter The book s final form will have images scattered throughout the book, which will likely assist with the text density issue And despite the issues in execution, many of de la Bedoyere s characters did come to la Bedoyere s narrative spans from the beginning of Roman conquest to its slow dissolution He uses coins, pottery, tombs, inscriptions, and ruins to try to piece together the lives of ordinary citizens I think it s the absurdity that brings these characters to life Take Docimedis, who submitted a curse tablet requesting that the man who stole his gloves to lose his minds and eyes and that the man who stole his cloak to never sleep again or have children until he returned the cloak And then there s Gaius Severius Emeritus, a centurion in charge of civil policing in what would become the city of Bath We know his name because of an inscription he left behind detailing the work he had done to restore all that had been wrecked by the insolent He sounds so much like the jaded, exasperated cop from a police procedural that I m just waiting for someone to turn him into a hardboiled detective novel.It s the little details, the mundanity and the absurdity, that brings a culture to life Although the text is rather rough, I think that de la Bedoyere succeeds in providing a glimpse of the colorful, vibrant world of Roman Britain I received an advanced reader copy of this ebook through Netgalley from the publisher, Yale University Press Cross posted on BookLikes.

  4. says:

    I have a background in Roman archaeology and was fascinated to read this It did not disappoint, despite its lesson that so little survives to tell us about the individuals who lived in Roman Britain The author uses what there is to evoke past lives very well indeed, although these intriguing snippets did make me wish that there was .

  5. says:

    Back in the grey mists of time and fantasy, floated a mythical island populated by wise Druidic priests and beautiful Celtic warrior princesses Sometime after the birth of a carpenter in a far off land, this idyll was destroyed by the arrival of the evil Julius Caesar and his marauding soldiers Truth or Fantasy Many people claim to believe in this mythologised Britain, but the real truth is that we don t know and for all intents and purposes we cannot know As far as we do know, the Druids and Celts were not a literate, record keeping people, so there are virtually no records of what life was like before the coming of the Romans Any readily accessible information comes to us via the writings of historians like the infamous Julius Caesar, or Cassius Dio, whose 80 volume Roman History includes several chapters on Roman Britain The noted historian, Gaius Cornelius Tacitus was the son in law of Gaius Julius Agricola, and whose history not only talks about battles he observed but gives us some of the earliest descriptions of native Britons As with any histories composed by the agents of conquerors, these have to be regarded as biased More up front and possibly honest were the inscriptions place on monuments and tombstones Fortunately, not only military personnel but tradesmen and artisans, as always, have put their marks and inscriptions on their work, leaving a tantalising glimpse of their lives for posterity Guy de la B doy re, author of this extremely readable new book appropriately titled The Real Lives of Roman Britain, has performed an obsessive yeoman s job of reading and translating hundreds of these artefacts He has scrutinised everything from the Vindolanda tablets to inscriptions on coinage, building tiles, buried hoards, temples to Gods, minor, major and, synthesised Roman and Celtic From objects deliberately left behind, like tombstones or treasure dropped, thrown or hidden and never recovered, the author has reconstructed, or posited, a picture of the ordinary people who lived under and with the occupying Romans We get stories of slaves freed, lovers, wives, children mourned, business disputes or hopes for success in business Vicious inscriptions found in the vicinity of temple remains around the country attest to the particularly nasty practice of ordering lead curse tablets, and call to mind some of the ugly flame wars we find on today s Twitter Places of pilgrimage, and especially healing were an important element in the Roman world A population composed primarily of soldiers would be in particular need of medical and recuperative services To meet this need, the Romans established religious and healing centres all over their empire Here would gather the civilian and military sick hypochondriacs and the genuinely ill, administrators, scribes, priests, soothsayers, inn keepers, souvenir makers, tourists and thieves All required services of one kind or another and many lefty behind some token of their time at the centres In Britain, Aquae Salis in Bath has been an especially rich source of inscribed material for the first two centuries of the Roman time.Later, from the third century, as instabilities and difficulties in other parts of the empire drew attention away from Britain, the practice of erecting tombstones and monuments declined Now the author draws his material from the host of buried treasure finds that are the beneficence of those obsessives who quarter fields with metal detectors Composed of coins, jewellery, silver or other plate, these were buried sometime in the distant past and never recovered by their owners Their return to the light, has allowed the author to posit a fascinating picture of life in the declining years of Roman Britain and happily many of these are collected in major museums around the country Using the inscriptions and writings found in these myriad of sources, so we armchair historians don t have to undertake the intensive work of visiting all these locations, Guy de la B doy re has decoded massive numbers of inscriptions while making intelligent guesses about the lives of those who created or commissioned them The result is a vivid and thought enticing book While by no means an academic text, it is as detailed and credible as this conscientious author can make it This is a book that anyone interested in the history of Roman Britain can read and enjoy I would recommend or buy this for any number of my friends 5

  6. says:

    I really wanted to like this book The idea behind it, using archaeological evidence tied to a deep knowledge of life in Roman times which the author certainly seems to have , is a great one There isn t enough archaeological evidence tied to specific people, though A pottery shard with the maker s name on it here, a grave monument there The author s way of indicating the resulting uncertainty is using maybe , perhaps , and possibly in every other sentence This starts to grate very quickly.Another thing is that he jumps from subject to subject very quickly, often without a paragraph break this could be because I received a pre release ebook, hopefully the formatting in the definitive copy is better The link between one person and the next could be geographical, chronological or because of something like related jobs or social class, but this was often not made explicit, and sometimes it took a page or two to find out that we d jumped to a different person, place, and time Even when you re staying in Roman Britain, there s enough places and times to do quite a bit of jumping The end result is a book with lots of really very interesting glimpses into the lives of the ordinary, non emperor people in a remote corner of the Roman empire But the presentation is so jumbled and the writing so not my cup of tea that it is the very first book in a few years that, try as I might, I couldn t finish.

  7. says:

    I picked this up mostly because Guy de la Bedoyere worked on Time Team, which I loved as a kid and now watch sometimes with my wife He was their Roman expert, or one of them, so that s a pretty good endorsement and it amused me to notice a blurb from Tony Robinson on the front The problem, as ever, is that there isn t really that much material for the real people of Roman Britain, because there s no rich written record to refer to There s scraps an inscription here, a letter there, an eloquent tomb but often de la Bedoyere is pressed to make than a paragraph or two of the material he has It s about real people, alright, but there s so little we know about them, that doesn t necessarily add to what we know.Which is not to say it s a bad book it s solidly based on the archaeology and records we have, and there are some fascinating glimpses at life in Roman Britain But it s less a full picture than a glance through a door that s open just a crack.Mind you, I m sure de la Bedoyere feels closer to the people he writes about than we do, reading about it he s examined the evidence first hand, perhaps worked on the excavations This might be satisfying if you re in that position, too Reviewed for The Bibliophibian.

  8. says:

    Roads, villas, central heating we all know what the Romans did for us but we don t actually know who they were This excellent history delves into the history of incompetent potters, workaday soldiers and East Anglian warrior Queens to give glimpse of the people behind the archeological remains Well written, readable and informative what can you ask for

  9. says:

    I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.An intriguing read from a highly respected author Guy de la Bedolyere s thoroughly researched book gives us a great insight into the everyday lives of the people of Roman Britain.

  10. says:

    Good book if you ve not read in this category before Nothing particularly new if you ve already read what s out there.

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