Roman Faeland

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This article concerns the areas of the Faelish Isles subjugated by Rome. For information on the rest of Faeland see Faeland During the Roman Empire.

Roman Faeland

Roman Faeland refers to those parts of the island of Faeland controlled by the Roman Empire between 52 CE and (roughly) 260. The Romans referred to their province as Gallia Maritima ("Gaul-on-the-Sea") or Gallia Transatlantica ("Gaul-across-the-Atlantic") and to the island as Valania. Prior to the Roman invasion, Iron Age Faeland already had cultural and economic links with Continental Europe, but the invaders introduced new developments in agriculture, urbanization, industry and architecture and also brought a second wave of horses to the isles, leaving a legacy that is still apparent today.

Historical records of the initial invasion are copious, although many later historians mention the province only in passing. Most of the knowledge of the period afterward comes from archaeological investigations and especially epigraphic evidence. Through these finds, an accurate chronology of the life of the province can be ascertained.

The first Romans to campaign extensively in Faeland were the forces of Julius Caesar in 54 BCE, but the first significant conquest did not begin until more than a century later in 52 CE, under the Emperor Claudius. The Romans established a provincial government and steadily extended their control westward from the Margoreci Peninsula, but were never able to extend control to Faeland south of the Aemili Mountains. Following the conquest of the native tribes in the region, a distinctive Vallo-Roman culture emerged. The Romans cemented the province's southern border with the Vallum Aelium, completed by ca 150 CE. For much of its later existence, Faeland was increasingly neglected by the imperial center and often drifted into near autonomy under the complete control of governors.

The Romans "withdrew" from Faeland around 261 CE. The Roman evacuation was in fact due to the continental rebellion of Postumus, who recalled the auxiliaries stationed in the province as part of his program of Rhine defense and, likely, to secure his bid for localized power in the Gauls. While his Gallic Empire laid claim to Roman Faeland, no administrators or officials are recorded thereafter bearing imperial authority, be it Gallic or Roman. Apocryphal evidence purports that some auxiliary soldiers returned following the assassination of Postumus in 268, bearing news that "neither Rome nor Trier has imperium (command over) [us]."

Historians accept that here begins the sub-Roman period -especially for the Pentapolis- but the legacy of the empire was felt for hundreds of years. The near total evacuation of non-assimilated Romans led to a gradual revitalization of the native element in Vallo-Roman society, and yet a trickling trade and cultural intercourse were maintained with the empire. Many shipwrecks found in the Marquies Sea from this period indicate continued contact with Namnetum, Burdigala, and possibly Hispania.

Despite its Senatorial status, the province was often under the command of a Prefect, as the only military units were auxiliaries drawn from the colonists and assimilated natives.

Geographic Extent

Although Rome claimed the entirety of the island, only the portion known today as the Latin Coast was occupied. Eventually, the emperor Hadrian erected the "Aelian Wall" to demonstrate the limits of imperial ambitions on the island. The entire northeast of the island was colonized, south to the Montes Aemili.


Despite the name for the province, the connection with Gaul does not seem to have outlasted the Alan Invasion, as Gallia appears very infrequently as a name for the region following the collapse of imperial power.



Faeland was not unknown to the Classical world. As early as the 4th cent. BCE Pytheas of Massalia refers to the Lycitides or "wolf islands" and describes them as being situated somewhere far off the west coasts of Europe. Indeed, Strabo gave a full (albeit wildly inaccurate) description of the main island of "Bounessos" in his Geographica. But it was regarded as a place of mystery, with some writers even refusing to believe it existed.

First (Caesarean) Invasion

Main article: Caesar's Invasions of Faeland

The first direct Roman contact came when the Roman general and future dictator, Julius Caesar, sent an expedition to Faeland in 54 BCE as an offshoot of his conquest of Gaul (and also, it should be noted, Britain), believing the Faels had been helping the Gallic tribes. The first expedition, more a reconnaissance than a full invasion, gained a foothold in the Trifluvian Delta but, undermined by hostile tribes and a lack of supplies, was unable to advance further. The expedition was a military failure.

In an attempt to reverse the setbacks, Caesar sent Publius Fabius Scipio with a substantially larger force and proceeded to coerce or invite many of the native Celtic tribes to pay tribute and give hostages in return for peace. A friendly local king, Sibilaunus, was installed, and his rival, Crovertius, was granted concessions. Hostages were taken, but historians disagree over whether the tribute agreed was paid by the Faels after Scipio's return to Gaul with his forces.

Caesar had conquered no territory and had left behind no troops, but had established clients on the island and had brought Faeland into Rome's consciousness. Augustus planned invasions of Britain in 34, 27 and 25 BC, but circumstances were never favorable to include Faeland in those plans, and at any rate his plans never materialized.

The relationship between Faeland and Rome dissipated until it was informal trade.

Rome appears to have encouraged a balance of power in coastal Faeland, records mention occasional diplomatic relations between the heirs of Sibilaunus' kingdom and another local ruler: Cattripus of the Lenotavi.

Second (Claudian) Invasion

Main article: Claudian Wars

Legend maintains that when the Roman emperor Claudius completed his conquest of Britain, it was Caractacus who suggested that the emperor settle his troops on the fertile northern coastal plains of Faeland. Whatever his motivation, it is known that following the completion of the conquest of Britain, the legions were brought to Faeland to be settled into colonies.

The "invasion" was thus less of an imperial measure than a political one, and the entire operation had a very limited, albeit well-planned, objective. Unlike Caesar's earlier attempt, Claudius had his troops were well-provisioned and under orders to maintain peace if at all possible.

The five legions landed in the northeast of the island, at the Falcan Peninsula and along what would become the Latin Coast. Despite the Roman posturing, the native Brettae soon realized their intentions and attacked the troops. Thus began the conquest of the area in earnest, with Claudius already gone.

The force in 52 CE was led by Gaius Sentinus Paulus. Five legions were present; XX Valeria Victrix, XIV Gemina, IX Hispana, II Augusta, and X Martia.

The Romans defeated the Faels in several campaigns: they took place around the shores of the Marquies Sea, in La Vassa, and in the mountains. One of the principal leaders died in battle, and the remaining tribes scattered to fight on their home grounds. Determining that such retreats would not be countermanded, Sentinus wisely chose to not divide his force, but to assault each remaining tribe in turn.

The weight of five legions was more than any one tribe could resist, and the so-called Gallic Plain was soon subdued (but not entirely pacified). Literary evidence for resistance in the countryside continues as late as the reign of Titus.

"Settlement" and Wars of Pacification

Main article: Wars of Pacification

Despite having created a province upon his arrival, Claudius's proclamation did little to make Roman rule a reality. Only later, with the subjugation of the Brettae, did "Gallia Maritima" -as the Romans called it- come under Roman rule.

The legions were officially discharged and created the famous "Five Cities" (Pentapolis). The cities were: Colonia Falcata (Falcatta), Colonia Martia (Martžu), Colonia Regilla (Rhexíl), Colonia Fucina Augusta (Fhužin), Forum Julium (Vhoriul).

1st Rebellion

Tribes of Faeland during initial Roman occupation.

Main article: First Faelish Rebellion

Nevertheless, from the 60's CE onward, the part of the island that fell under Roman control saw frequent insurrection, rebellion, and wars of pacification. In the year of xx, the province was the scene of a rebellion by the Silavi and Lithones communities. The Proconsul Quintus Micio had considerable difficulty controlling those rebellions. The further regions of the province briefly escaped Roman control when the governor died as the local Palones people also began rebelling. In 71 CE, Rome was forced to send the legate Sextus Ligurius. He arrived in Maritima to find the further province in nearly full rebellion with Roman forces controlling only the fortified cities. He quelled the rebellion in summer of the same year and reestablished control over the province, but he failed to endear himself to the natives or Aravanni— who acted as paid mercenaries for the Romans. After making a show of force by passing the Roman legions through Aravanni territory, Micio convinced them to return to their homes. The natives' submission, however, proved superficial because when rumors spread that Ligurius would soon depart for Italy, the rebellion reignited. Ligurius acted decisively once again, conquering the rebels and selling the instigators off into slavery. The native population was totally disarmed. Ligurius returned to Rome with great fanfare from the Roman Senate. He brought with him an enormous war chest of over 1,000 kilos of silver, 60 kg of gold, 12,000 denarii, and 50,000 silver coins, all of which was taken from the rebellious peoples in the course of his military actions.

War of Fulvius Ligurianus

Main article: War of Fulvius Ligurianus

Because of the wealth brought back, many in Rome assumed that Faeland was a "Second Spain", and Ligurius' adopted son Marcus Fulvius Ligurianus attempted a war of conquest further inland, seeking riches. This war was initiated during the prosperous reign of Vespasian; whose son, the future emperor Titus fought in the mountains against the Ardui tribe gaining much experience.

The wars continued for four years and yielded little booty, most of which had been carted off to the hinterland for safety. This would become a future cassus belli for Rome later on. However, Quintus Nocautus Ligurianus, an manumitted-adopted scribe of the Fulvi, left a copious record of the Lemach culture, a linguistically isolated tribe of the North Face region.

Conquest of the North

The next major Roman step was the final conquest of the Red Hills with two crushing victories: first in 85 C.E. won by proconsul Lucius Lapidamnus, and the second, more dubious victory under the legatus Augusti Caius Vilnius in 87 (legend maintains that his second-in-command, Sextus Pontius Silo led the cohorts to battle).

Fighting the Drossi

Main article: Drossi Wars

The southeast region of the province, occupied by the Drossi tribe, was officially conquered in 91 CE. by Quintus Sabius Lacus, who took the agnomen Drossianus. He bested the local people and claimed control of several territories. But the real work was done by his lieutenant, who conquered thirty villages. He took some by sheer force and others by exploiting rivalries between the Drossi and the Aravanni to the south. These alliances with the Aravanni would facilitate the Roman domination of the Drossi.

By this time, some of the Drossi warlords and villages may have already been somewhat subject to Rome, but at any rate a significant number of them came into the political sphere of the Roman Empire voluntarily through alliance. Lacus founded a new city named Lacurris on top of the existing city of Ilúr (probably the modern-day ____ in the autonomous county of the monastic lands). It was built of standard Roman construction and it appears to have housed several disorganized Drossi and Aravanni groups. The city would have been founded in roughly 96 CE according to references in later writings. The foundation of this city marks the end of the Drossi civilization and the consolidation of Roman influence in the area of the River Lhemine. Lacurris would prove to be situated in the middle of a region that would be hotly contested between the Drossi and Aravanni. The area roughly corresponds to the modern River Raebigho Valley. Lacus was responsible for the majority of the treaties signed with the two groups. The treaties generally established a tribute from the surrounding cities to be paid in silver or other products of the earth. Each city had to supply a predetermined amount of men for the army, and only a select few cities had the right to issue currency.

2nd Rebellion

Main article: Second Faelish Rebellion

Rubria, the name given to the lands of the Vicini, was probably the area of the province that resisted the Roman occupation for the longest time. The Vicini chief Punctus made raids into the part of Rubria controlled by Rome (the foothills and valleys, generally), ending with the twenty-year peace made by the former praetor Lacus. Punctus obtained an important victory against the legates Manlius and Calvinus, inflicting 1,400 casualties and many deaths among the inhabitants of Fhužin.

After the death of Punctus, Casaros took charge of the fight against Rome, vanquishing the Roman troops again in 93 CE, waving his banner in the battle, which triumphantly showed to the rest of the local tribes how to display the vulnerability of Rome. At the time, the Palones and Exuoni had united in resistance, leaving the situation for Rome in this area of Faeland very precarious. Rubrians, Palones and Exuoni raided the Roman cities, while in order to secure their position on the island, the Romans were deployed to multiple locations simultaneously, reducing their effectiveness. It was in this year that a new governor arrived in Maritima. The urgency of restoring dominion over Faeland made the governor enter into battle within a month. The Vicini defeated were slaughtered, the youth killed and the elderly sold to the people of Germania.

In 95 CE, a new Vicini leader named Furiatho rebelled against the Roman forces. He had fled a battlefield three years earlier, and, reuniting the tribes again, Furiatho began a guerrilla war that fiercely struck the enemy without giving open battle. He commanded many campaigns and advanced with his troops to the shores of Lake Clauzio. His numerous victories and the humiliation he inflicted upon the Romans made him worthy of the permanent place he holds in Pentapolese memory as a revered hero who fought without respite. Furiatho was assassinated by his own officers, probably paid off by the Roman governor, Lenas, who was an inept commander unable to adapt to guerrilla war. With his death, the organized Vicini resistance did not disappear in Rubria, but Rome was able to push the tribes back into the mountains.

War against the Aravanni

Main article: Aravanni Wars

Between 97 and 100 CE, the Aravanni marched into the former lands of the Drossi.

For more nearly half a century the two had quarreled over the rich land of the Raebigho River Valley. The Caligulari clan probably carried the weight of the struggle, helped by tribal alliances among the Aravanni; the Drossi, by now, had a fairly good rapport with their Roman allies to the north and west. The Aravanni surely expected Roman assistance, but it was not forthcoming. Despite a cantonal system in the area, Roman authority saw this as trespass on Roman land.

The Aravanni quickly became enemies of Rome, and the Drossi were Rome's allies (which was reasonable for strategic reasons). When the Caligulari leadership was decimated by the Romans it was repopulated with quarrelsome replacements.

In 99, the Romans occupied the Aravanni coasts, establishing a settlement there of three thousand Latin-speaking Çelathis. The fact that they were able to do this gives an impression of the profound cultural influence Rome projected on the island in so short a time.

Belli Ardui

Main article: Belli Ardui

A reenactor dressed as a miles gregarius (common soldier) stationed in Gallia Maritima, ca. 2nd cent. CE.

The "Hard Wars", after a play on words, were a series of engagements against the last resisters to Roman rule in the province, and largely the reason that little further expansion into the island was made.

Being the last truly native uprising, it was especially fierce and brought a sense of finality to the Roman presence in the country.

The Ardui clans joined together in common revolt. In the spring of 105 CE, there were three Roman legions established near the Cervahno River, with troops organizing for a crossing of the Serdenoral Pass. According to a contemporary Roman historian, the armies of the Ardui came down from their snow-covered mountains (which is perfectly possible in spring) and settled near the source of the river, getting ready to take the three Roman winter camps.

Several Aravanni clans joined them; however one, the Voraecini, informed the Romans of their intentions. The general Carausus attacked the Ardui armies, forcing them to take refuge in the fortified oppida of Lurgeis, the most important local fort.

Once Lurgeis was besieged, the Ardui took refuge in the caves of the mountains. The Roman legions besieged the mountain, building a fifteen-mile-long moat and ditch and assaulting it with catapults. According to Orosius, the Ardui soldiers preferred to commit suicide with their own weapons and yew tree poison rather than surrender.

The fighting continued, with raids and counter raids, for three more years. In this sort of conflict, the Romans usually chose not to take prisoners. Moreover, there was a tradition among the Ardui of preferring suicide to slavery. They did this by sword, by fire, or, primarily, by poisoning themselves with potions made for the purpose. For them to die as soldiers and free men was a victory needing not military triumph.

The major fighting was completed by 107 CE, although there were minor skirmishes for a year yet. Rome, as was their practice with other territories, began to impose reforms. Despite the mass deaths, local resistance was such that the Romans had to station two auxiliary detachments in the pass for another 25 more years until they felt safe.

Through the Ardui War and the surrender of the Aravanni rebels to Rome, the Roman legions in Faeland adopted many cavalry and raiding tactics that had been used against them.

Gallia Maritima

During the first stages of Romanization, the province was divided into civitates, or cantons, by the Romans for administrative purposes.

Prestigious and economically important local settlements in occupied Faeland were granted semi-autonomy. The newly Romanized urban settlements of these client tribes were called "civitates" and were usually re-founded close to the site of an old, pre-Roman capital. These new cities were given surrounding land to administer. The new local government divisions carried out civil administration. Land destined to become a civitas was officially divided up, some being granted to the locals and some being owned by the civil government. A basic street grid would be surveyed in but the development of the civitas from there was left to the inhabitants. (These various cantons eventually coalesced into the "agri" or Lands of the modern Pentapoli.

End of Roman Rule

The Roman administration did not truly collapse in Roman Faeland. In the year 260 Postumus seized power in Gaul, cutting off Gallia Maritima from the capital. The Vallo-Roman administration continued, isolated, much as it always had. Over time it evolved into the city-states of the medieval period.

In 486, Gaul itself ceased to be a Roman territory when the Franks eliminated Syagrius' Kingdom at the Battle of Soissons. Almost immediately afterwards, Gaul came under the rule of the Merovingians, the first kings of France, while Faeland endured the wars of Syagrius' exiled son.

Following the Frankish victory, a few Gallo-Roman aristocratic families left for the Pentapolis (records indicate the most common were non-Christians). It was during this time, when these powerful families arrived, that the old, decaying, provincial style of government began to break down. Although the cities considered themselves unified and "Roman", the last 4 Prefects had been raised locally. With this new order, the cities began to consider themselves independent. Scholars believe the immigrant nobility married into the established aristocracy, invigorating the noble class and generating an identity for the nascent region.

Vallo-Roman -the local version of Vulgar Latin- specifically the dialect of the late Roman period evolved into the Vallo language spoken today.

"Gallia" and its equivalents continued to be used sproradically, at least in writing, until the beginning of the Alan Invasion. Over time the term Pentapolis ("Five Cities") came to refer to the Latin region of the north in juxtaposition with the Çelathi interior.

See also: Pentapolis in the Middle Ages

The Vali

Main article: Vallum Aelium

After inaugurating a magnificent fortification system in Britain, the Emperor Hadrian ordered a similar project in Faeland. It shares it's name with the British building, although in popular use, the latter's is usually called by its English name. Hence, the "Valli Aeli" typically refers to the fortifications in Faeland.

The wall was the third most heavily fortified border in the Empire. In addition to its role as a military fortification, it is thought that many of the gates through the wall would have served as customs posts to allow trade and levy taxation. Unlike the British wall, most of the wall was of timber at the foothills of the Aemili Mts., and there was a heavy reliance on forts, fortlets, and watchtowers. The whole system was not always fully staffed and not all points were manned at once.


In the two and a half centuries between Claudius' conquest and the collapse of Roman authority, the Çelathi language and cultural identity of the Gallic Plain underwent a syncretism with the Roman culture of the new governing class, and evolved into a hybrid Vallo-Roman culture that eventually permeated all levels of society. Current historical research suggests that Roman Faeland was perhaps "more Roman" than Roman Gaul due to a higher ratio of settlers to natives. The Roman influence was most apparent in the areas of civic religion, administration, and agriculture. In later centuries Christianity was introduced, but never as strongly as elsewhere in the empire. The prohibition of Druids and the syncretic nature of the Roman religion led to the disappearance of the Celtic religion (itself an import to Faeland). It remains to this day poorly understood: current knowledge of the Celtic religion in Faeland is based on archeology and via literary sources from several isolated areas such as Ireland and Wales.

The Romans easily imposed their administrative, economic, artistic (especially in terms of monumental art and architecture) and literary culture, all the more so given that there was little in the pre-existing cultures to compete in these areas.

After the Roman conquest of Faeland (finished in 53 CE), Romanization of the native upper classes proceeded more rapidly than the less complete Romanization of the lower classes, who may have spoken a Latin language mixed with Çelathi. The Faels wore the Roman tunic instead of their traditional clothing. The Romano-Faels generally lived in the vici, small villages similar to those in Italy, or in villae (see: Villa System), for the richest.


Çelathi inscription found in La Vassa, showing orthographic similarity to Gaulish.

The native Çelathi heritage in spoken language was nearly wiped out within a century and a half. Anomalous Çelathi spelling and pronunciation of Latin are apparent in several 4th century poets and transcribers of popular plays. The last pockets of Çelathi speakers in the Latin Coast appear to have lingered until the late 5th century in the Red Hills of the northwest.

The Çelathi population of the La Vassa spoke a language related to Brythonic and, to some extent, Gaulish, which is moderately well attested, with what appears to be a rather narrow dialectal variation. While the Vallo language evolved from Vulgar Latin (i.e., a popular language using a different register of words), it was nonetheless influenced heavily by Classical Latin, especially in its morphological development (chiefly inflection, declension and word order) and to a very limited extent, Etruscan.

Etruscan words are present due largely to the Roman emperor Claudius. After the conquest, he established libraries in each of the forums of the Five Cities, which records indicate contained scrolls bearing Etruscan religious texts. There is also some lapidary evidence to suggest that migrants arrived from Felathri (Volterra) and Vipsul (Veszhul) in Etruria and settled in colonia Martia (see also: Etruscans in Roman Faeland).

Liguistic oddities attributable to Çelathi include the substitution of the traditional age-based salutation common to Romance languages with the Çelathi wealth-based. For example, in more traditional Vallo speech a man is typically referred to as equo (lit. "horse"), even though this no longer reflects his status. Further examples include the use of the Latin word tribus in place of the typical gens, gentis, stemming from the pre-Roman Çelathi word daoine, which means something more akin to "clan" than "people" or "group". These are relatively common examples of calqued logeme constructions as Vallophone people generally will not use foreign loanwords.

See Also