Were the roman army ever in Ireland(1st Cen AD)

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Re: Were the roman army ever in Ireland(1st Cen AD)

Postby Zip » Thu May 08, 2008 12:19 am

As you said we can see what history turns up. But from what i have read it seems they had planned for some sort of Invasion hence the scouting party. But mind you at the time Ireland was all forest. So I have know idea why they wanted to invade.
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Re: Were the roman army ever in Ireland(1st Cen AD)

Postby the_power » Thu May 08, 2008 5:38 am

Germany was as forested as Ireland was, in the 1st century CE. The big difference was that Ireland had a big coastline, so was much more accessible. It also had an excellent climate for growing grain, and had an abundance of meat from indigenous farmers. That would have been reason enough to setup decent sized coastal settlements. Many of the classical civilisations had long histories of founding trading colonies among rural communities that became large cities - Rome itself was likely a Pheonician or Greek trading colony. Not that different to the towns that the Vikings started, for similar reasons.

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Re: Were the roman army ever in Ireland(1st Cen AD)

Postby gaius marius » Fri May 09, 2008 10:13 pm

Tacitus in the Agricola dose writ that the Romans in Britian had knowlage of Ireland's teran because of traders working there ;)
"The Kaiser knows the Munsters,
by the Shamrock on their caps,
And the famous Bengal Tiger, ever ready for a scrap,
And all his big battalions, Prussian Guards and grenadiers,
Fear to face the flashing bayonets of the Munster Fusiliers."

Go bua
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Re: Were the roman army ever in Ireland(1st Cen AD)

Postby Nerva » Mon May 12, 2008 4:04 pm

the_power wrote:Rome itself was likely a Pheonician or Greek trading colony


How Dare you sir :shock: We, associated with child sacrificing or tunic lifting barbarians...I think not :evil:

Actually, eveidence found so far shows definite interaction with Greece though no signs of Greek settlement. Classical Rome is a bit too late for Pheonician influence. If you are to beleive one of the stories about the foundation of Rome, the city was founded by Aneas, son of Praim, king of Illium (Troy) - this tale is the one Romans told their children, not the one about Romulus and Remus, that came later.
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Re: Were the roman army ever in Ireland(1st Cen AD)

Postby carraig » Mon May 12, 2008 4:57 pm

Conquest of Ireland could be quite difficult, because of several factors:

- terrain knowledge: In 1st c. BC attempts to conquer the Britons failed. One of the reasons was the poor knowledge of Albion's topography and the legions weren't used to such natural obstacles as Albion produced. If we compare British and Irish landscape, we'll see that it would be twice as difficult.

- tactical superiority of the Hibernian tribesmen: perhaps Romans were the greatest tactics of the ancient world, but the Gaels of Hibernia were more familiar with guerrilla warfare suitable for such a terrain.

-costs: constant wars with Britons were consuming quite a share of the Empire's finances, while such incidents like the Boudicca's revolt resulted in a great loss of men and many forts being ruined. The constant rebellions of the Britons made conquering a neighbouring island more than a bit risky and it certainly would consume more funds, that would be more required for, say, repairing the damage the British rebellions caused.

If you put it this way - making a fort and perhaps trading with the Gaels would be more fruitful than trying to conquer an island of unknown topography and unknown forces, while the previous captured province still refuses to stay calm under the new reign.
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Re: Were the roman army ever in Ireland(1st Cen AD)

Postby Nerva » Mon May 12, 2008 9:43 pm

carraig wrote:Conquest of Ireland could be quite difficult, because of several factors:

- terrain knowledge: In 1st c. BC attempts to conquer the Britons failed. One of the reasons was the poor knowledge of Albion's topography and the legions weren't used to such natural obstacles as Albion produced. If we compare British and Irish landscape, we'll see that it would be twice as difficult.

- tactical superiority of the Hibernian tribesmen: perhaps Romans were the greatest tactics of the ancient world, but the Gaels of Hibernia were more familiar with guerrilla warfare suitable for such a terrain.

-costs: constant wars with Britons were consuming quite a share of the Empire's finances, while such incidents like the Boudicca's revolt resulted in a great loss of men and many forts being ruined. The constant rebellions of the Britons made conquering a neighbouring island more than a bit risky and it certainly would consume more funds, that would be more required for, say, repairing the damage the British rebellions caused.

If you put it this way - making a fort and perhaps trading with the Gaels would be more fruitful than trying to conquer an island of unknown topography and unknown forces, while the previous captured province still refuses to stay calm under the new reign.


Hi Carrig. I'm not trying to be a smart ass and I'm not trying to be condisending but, I'm afraid I would not agree with much of your argument.

Lets take the firt point, the difficulty of the Irish terrain. Specifically you make reference to the lack of progress in the 1st century conquest of Britannia. The terrain of Britannia was not a factor in the conquest of the island. The Roman canquest of Britannia was only supported by Cladivs. Neither the senate or the equestrian class thought it was worth the effort, in fact is was not until the reign of Vespasianvs that the conquest of the island was given any real focus, and this was accomplished very quickly by the 7 campaigns of Agricola. The terrain of Hibernia offered no real challanges to the Romans, after Britannia and Gaul they had seen it all.

Your second point, the tactical superiority of the irish trobesman. What evidence/sources do you have to support this claim? There are no written sources from the 1st century that I'm aware of.

Your third point, cost, I would most certainly agree with. In real terms, the conquest of Britannia prodouced little real wealth.

Your fourth point I have mixed views on. Firstly, trade implies a business motive. This would only be the case if there was profit so where there's trade there's money. I have no doubt that trade existed between Hibernia and Romanised Britannia. You then mention the reluctance to continue conquests when existing provinces continue to revolt. This had never stopped the Romans before. Take Gaul, Spain, Illiricum, Germania, Greece etc. The Romans happily expanded the empire from these provinces while they were unstable - particularily in the case of Judia and Syria.

I'm afraid the conquest of Hibernia failed for two far more fundimental reasons than military difficulty. Firstly, money. Britannia was economically a marginal province, what more did Hibernia offer? Secondly, politics. Cladivs gained little from the conquest of Britannia, so who would dare to go to Hibernia, you weren't going to get a Triumph for that.
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Re: Were the roman army ever in Ireland(1st Cen AD)

Postby brendan » Mon May 12, 2008 9:57 pm

Nerva,
on the tactics thing I have 2 questions:
-Were many of the Roman conquests conducted in environments that were as politically fractured as Ireland of that time? My point is that later Brehon law stuff shows us 100 kingdoms. This suggests a lot of small battles to conquer. Was this model encountered elsewhere? What I am getting at is whether the lack of large, powerful, tribes made it more difficult to get a final result.
-To what extent was the success in other places related to conquest of urban centers? -Ireland didnt have any of note.

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Re: Were the roman army ever in Ireland(1st Cen AD)

Postby Nerva » Mon May 12, 2008 10:32 pm

Ahh, very good questions indeed. From the references that have survived, principally Tacitus and Dio Cassius, the nature of Hibernian civilisation was very similar to that of Britannia - Many tribes and nations with no large settlements that could be called towns or cities. We also know from the writings of Caesar in Bellum Gallica that Gaul was the same in many regions, particularily Belgica (modern Belgium, Netherlands and Germany up to the Rhine) and Acqutania (Acquitane - France). The most dispersed nation we have references too is Germania - here only clan settlements are said to have existed (though much of Britannia is said to be the same?) So, to cut to the chase, Hibernian civilisation would have been familiar to the Romans. Flip, take Parthia, they were ghost soldiers that were conquered.

The conquest of Spain, and in particular Gaul and Britannia are examples of the difficulty in conquering such a diverse 'country', however, Gaul was pacified in 9 years and Britania in 40, but 12 years in Real terms for Britannia. The one thing Roman histrory teaches us, is that military difficulty in attaining success, was never a factor in deterring a campaign of conquest.
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Re: Were the roman army ever in Ireland(1st Cen AD)

Postby Billy » Mon May 12, 2008 11:56 pm

Very reasoned debate folks, and a real pleasure to read.

The one thing Roman histrory teaches us, is that military difficulty in attaining success, was never a factor in deterring a campaign of conquest.


As true now as it was then!
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Re: Were the roman army ever in Ireland(1st Cen AD)

Postby Zip » Tue May 13, 2008 4:22 pm

Amen men to that billy.
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