In 43 AD, the Romans, under the orders of Emperor Claudius, came, saw and conquered England, making it part of the Roman Empire. England was given a new roman name, Britannia, and the first written records of England's history began. The invasion was massive, similar in magnitude to World War 2's D-Day Invasion 1,900 years later. Thus began the 400 year Roman Britain period.
It might have been 500 years if the great Julius Caesar, who had visited England 90+ years earlier in 55BC, made more of an effort to annex the British islands into the empire. However, his trip was more for personal purposes and a PR campaign to convince the Romans back home that invading Britain was a good idea. It would take 100 years before the Romans returned to invade Britain. Emperor Claudius entered London triumphant - on an elephant no less.
Within the first century of Roman occupation, they had majority control over present-day southeastern England. There were pockets of resistance, but none were successful. They were helped along by many of the Britons themselves, who already had some established ties with the empire via trading in Gaul (France).
The Romans were also very lax conquerors. It wasn't their style to force who they conquered to follow Roman culture, beliefs or traditions and were only concerned that taxes be paid on time. These qualities of the conquerors made it easier for the population to accept them.
The Romans were generally successful in their annexing of England - though they never did subdue it completely. They did have to keep a strong military presence because there were spontaneous uprisings, rebellions and such - notably Queen Boudicca - from the various still unconquered tribes.
The northern part of Britain, specifically Scotland and even Ireland and Wales to the West - were never fully conquered. In 122AD, Emperor Hadrian ordered the construction of the now-famous Hadrian's Wall, marking the northern boundaries of the Roman Empire. Much of the wall still stands today.
When the Roman Empire started to decline in other parts of the world, Roman troops were slowly shifted out back into Europe to help with the bigger campaigns and threats against the crumbling empire. With only a skeleton force left behind, the Britons decided to push out the final remnants of Roman authority in 409. So Angles, Saxons, Scots and Germanic tribes immediately began to invade.
Britain actually wrote to the Roman emperor Honorius asking for help in 410, less than a year after throwing them out. But, unfortunately, he famously wrote back, telling them to "look to their own defenses" and refused to send any help. And that was that—game over for Roman Britain.
Roman Britain was an exciting and dynamic part of British history. Their lasting legacy goes beyond the name "Britannia" and Hadrian's Wall. They brought trade and exotic goods as well as architecture, town planning and introduced Christianity. They founded forts, built roads, and established cities and palaces. They also gave the locals public services and buildings such as amphitheatres and baths to relax and socialize. But most importantly, they left behind a sense of citizenry and nation-hood for the first time in Britain's history.
Directed by: Eric TenWolde