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Thread: 82 AD - Roman invasion of Ireland contemplated

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    Default 82 AD - Roman invasion of Ireland contemplated

    Interesting to read in Fergal Keane's introduction to The Story of Ireland that Agricola, the Roman governor of Britain, contemplated an invasion of Ireland after an Irish prince sought assistance to aid his claim to the throne (shades of Dermot McMurrough). He derives the account from Tacitus, who writes that "the conquest of Hibernia would only require one legion", but a rebellion in Scotland required attention and the moment was lost. It seems unlikely that the Romans could ever have completed an Irish campaign - Scotland proved most difficult to subdue as demonstrated by the swift retreat from the Antonine Wall, and the combination of sea-crossings, rough terrain and numerous tribes would have strained Imperial resources. That said, it was a mere generation since the conquest of Britain, and the Empire would continue to expand until the death of Hadrian, so one can see the temptation visible across the water.
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    Politics.ie Member wombat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FloatingVoterTralee View Post
    Interesting to read in Fergal Keane's introduction to The Story of Ireland that Agricola, the Roman governor of Britain, contemplated an invasion of Ireland after an Irish prince sought assistance to aid his claim to the throne (shades of Dermot McMurrough).
    I always wondered what crime a Roman had to commit to be sent to Holyhead

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    Politics.ie Member Rural's Avatar
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    The auld straight roads would have been a blessing though!
    No a la vista, no en mente!

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    The logistics would have been daunting.

    The crossing to Ireland much more difficult than Gaul to Britain.

    Legions' style of fighting more used to open country - the Germans caused them a lot of bother in the forest

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    Politics.ie Member diy01's Avatar
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    The reason for the building of Hadrian's wall is unknown apparently. The popular perception is that it was built to keep out the vicious 'barbarian hordes' who the Romans had been unable to subdue. Another interpretation I've read is that present day Scotland was too resource-poor to be worth the bother so the Romans just built the wall instead of conquering northern Britain.

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    Politics.ie Member Morgellons's Avatar
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    Was Agricola the brother of Coca?

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    Politics.ie Member Drogheda445's Avatar
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    It may just be only speculative but I believe that the Romans did have preparations in place for an attack on Ireland. The Roman fort of Deva Victrix, for example, near to modern day Chester, was located close to the sea and had easy access to Ireland across the Irish Sea. It could have been a base for a potential invasion.

    However, it has to noted that Ireland would not have been seen as a major target for the Romans. The Empire didn't simply expand into whatever territory was nearby, there were several key factors involved. For example, the Britons were providing support to Gaul when Rome invaded it, hence Caesar's invasion in 55BC. There was also the presence of valuable resources like tin and copper in Cornwall and Devon, and gold in Wales. Ireland neither provided support for Rome's enemies nor had any significant natural resources that the Romans wanted. It's also important to remember that the Romans were seriously overextending themselves militarily even when invading Britain, and Ireland would simply have been too impractical for the Romans, being as it was in the fringe of Europe.

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    Politics.ie Member Rural's Avatar
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    But, the Romans gave a lot to England, including sanitation, the hot baths, straight roads (as mentioned) and lots more stuff. Why couldn't we get a piece of that?
    No a la vista, no en mente!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drogheda445 View Post
    It may just be only speculative but I believe that the Romans did have preparations in place for an attack on Ireland. The Roman fort of Deva Victrix, for example, near to modern day Chester, was located close to the sea and had easy access to Ireland across the Irish Sea. It could have been a base for a potential invasion.

    However, it has to noted that Ireland would not have been seen as a major target for the Romans. The Empire didn't simply expand into whatever territory was nearby, there were several key factors involved. For example, the Britons were providing support to Gaul when Rome invaded it, hence Caesar's invasion in 55BC. There was also the presence of valuable resources like tin and copper in Cornwall and Devon, and gold in Wales. Ireland neither provided support for Rome's enemies nor had any significant natural resources that the Romans wanted. It's also important to remember that the Romans were seriously overextending themselves militarily even when invading Britain, and Ireland would simply have been too impractical for the Romans, being as it was in the fringe of Europe.
    All valid points, the other to add to this (although not always a hard and fast rule with all Roman leaders) was that primarily invasions and annexations were because of serious security threats to the empire. Carthage, Gaul, Germany, Palestine, all were annexed/invaded because of security threats to the empire.
    "If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy." - Thomas Jefferson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rural View Post
    But, the Romans gave a lot to England, including sanitation, the hot baths, straight roads (as mentioned) and lots more stuff. Why couldn't we get a piece of that?
    "If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy." - Thomas Jefferson

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