(Gnaeus Julius Agricola)


Roman conquest of Britain
Agricola was a governor of Britain during the age of the Flavian Emperors. He started his military career under Nero, was promoted to a governorship by Vespasian, and ended his career under Domitian. Agricola was born into a noble family in the province of Gaul, but was left fatherless at an early age. He started his soldiering career in Britain under Suetonius Paulinus, then governor. The year after Agricola arrived was the year that the Iceni tribe of Britons, under the leadership of Queen Boadicea, raised a great rebellion and took over three towns, including London. Agricola was involved in these adventures and they made a great impression on him. He returned to Rome and held various positions, but then returned to Britain in 71 A.D. as a legate to the governor. His competence was noticed, and Vespasian appointed him governor of the province of Aquitaine in Gaul. During this period, his daughter married Tacitus, the historian, and it is due to this connection that we know so well the personal history of this great Roman.

Agricola was appointed governor of Britain in 78 A.D. and it is for his work in this arena that he is best known. He spent part of his time subduing rebellions in Wales and Northern Britain, and part building up the Roman government in Britain. He was also the first Roman to circumnavigate the entire island of Britain. He founded schools, built up infrastructure, and acquitted himself so well that he incurred the jealousy of the emperor Domitian, and so was recalled to Rome in 84 A.D. He died in 93 A.D. under suspicious circumstances.

Key events during the life of Agricola:

Father killed by Caligula.
Military tribune in Britain under Suetonius.
Helped put down Boadicea's rebellion.
Tribune of the Plebes in Rome.
Legate to governor of Britain. Commander of 20th legion.
Governor of Gallia Aquitania.
Consul suffect.
Governor of Britain. Worked to Romanize the Britons.
  Subdued Wales, Northern England, and Scotland.
Recalled to Rome.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Great Captain  in  Pictures from Roman Life and Story  by  Alfred J. Church
Terrible Banquet  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Last of the Romans in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall

Image Links

The Roman Governor
 in Stories from English History

Short Biography
Tacitus Historian. Related to Agricola. Wrote Germania, Histories, and Annals.
Vespasian First emperor of humble origins. Founder of Flavian dynasty.
Domitian Third Flavian emperor. Known for purges and persecutions near end of reign.
Boadicea Queen of the Iceni. Led the largest revolt of Celtic Britons against the Romans.
Suetonius of Britain Roman governor who defeated Boadicea.