Persistent identifier:
52110739
image: of 194
´╗┐DAWN OF HISTORY IN SOUTHAMPTON.
143
these people has been underestimated, and that the mistake arose from a comparison drawn by the Romans with themselves.
The established history of this ancient borough is one of which we may well be proud ; in fact there are few towns in Great Britain which are able to prove their claim to greater antiquity and importance than Southampton. The History of England teems with references to our town and port, and all of you know that it was the site of the marine palace of the Anglo-Norman Kings, when Winchester continued to be the seat of Government and the residence of the monarchs of this country. Beyond that again, we know that the all-conquering Romans constructed a fortified station on the east bank of the River Itchen at Bitterne, which is known as Clausentum. Immediately preceding this period a cloud of historical confusion descends and obscures the facts which, rightly understood, would have allowed us long ago to claim a right to a pre-eminence in antiquity and importance in connection with English History, at and before the Roman subjugation of Britain.
I need not weary you with any details of the first landing of the Romans in Kent under Julius Cmsar ; is it not graven in the mind of every school boy, how in 55 B.C. he came, saw, conquered and went away ? He paid two visits to this country, the first lasting three weeks, the second less than two months. His reputation in this enterprise rests largely upon his ability as a war correspondent, and one who recorded his own triumphs. There is no doubt he abstracted some sort of a promise of tribute from the Kings of (Southern Britain, as an inducement and an excuse, to retire from a struggle in which he was often worsted, and in which he was unlikely to accomplish anything which would satisfy his lofty ambition. With these few remarks I propose to dismiss Julius Caesar, not because I do not recognise his greatness, but because his share in the invasion of Britain has little directly to do with the immediate purpose in hand.
We now pass to a period nearly one hundred years later, to be precise, to the year A.D. 43. By this time the British Kings had discontinued the payment of the tribute promised to Julius Csesar, and were, in fact, in an attitude of defiance towards Rome. The reigning Emperor, Claudius, decided to send over an expedition to 4 complete the task which Julius Cassar had begun. Accordingly he dispatched Aulus Plautius in command of four legions, the 2nd, the 9th, the 14th, and the 20th, together with cavalry and auxiliaries, so that the army probably consisted of not less than 50,000 men. They sailed from Gesoriacum, which is supposed to be Boulogne, and landed on the South coast of Britain. There does not appear to be any certainty as to the place where they landed, but we are told that the Britons did not resist their disembarkation, but withdrew into the fens and woods. After some
Facebook Twitter Stumbleupon Delicious Digg RSS