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It is not expedient to enter, in this place, on the forms and minute regulations of the government which the Romans esta. blished in Britain ; but it may be observed, that the leading principle in their disposal of power throughout the provinces, as in the parent-state, consisted in a union of the civil and military authorities under one great executive head.
The Political Divisions of the Roman territories in Britain demand more explicit notice. *
In the early steps of the Roman ascendancy in Britain, the subdued parts were simply divided by the conquerors into two districts, termed the Upper and the Lower. Antiquarian writers (for to that class of authors the discussion of this subject is now confined) differ as to the portions of the island compreliended in those terms. Camden considers the higher part of Britain to signify the southern, and the lower the northern; supposing the line of demarkation to lie about the Humber, or Mersey. Mr. Horsley reverses this plan, on the authority of Cæsar, who expressly calls the southern the lower. Mr. Whitaker, in contradiction to both, asserts that “the true division is into eastern and western, the legions at Caerleon and Chester being placed by Dio in the higher Britain, and that at York in the lower; and Pliny placing Ireland super Britanniam. Roman Britain,” Mr. Whitaker further observes, “ is naturally broken into east and west; a chain of hills running from the highlands of Scotland, and joining to the peak of Derby, the moorlands of Staffordshire, Edgehill in Warwickshire, and the Chiltern in Buckinghamshire.”+
I leave unnoticed the periods at which subdivisions occurred, and the policy which dictated them; and present a statement of the districts into which Britain was allotted by the Romans, when in the plenitude of their power, in respect to this island. Britaiv, when the Romans attained their utmost landmark of
• Allusions to these are of frequent occurrence, in such pages of the “ Beauties of England and Wales," us treat of the general history of parti. cular districts, or counties.
+ Hist. of Manchester, Vul. I. p. 98. (note.)
territory, was divided into six provinces; but one of these (entitled Vespasiana) consisted of districts beyond the rampart of Antoninus, and was held by an uncertain tenure, on account of the refractory dispositions of the northern tribes. It was finally relinquished by Caracalla.
Roman-Britain, as to the parts which were subject to the entire ascendant of the Romans, and were contentedly influenced by their laws, and pervaded by their customs, was divided into five provinces, which were thus named :
Britannia Prima comprehended all the country that lies to the south of the Thames, to the east of the Severn, and to the south of a line drawn from Cricklade, or its vicinity, upon the one side, to Berkeley, or its neighbonrhood, on the other; and included, according to Mr. Whitaker, "eleven nations of the Britons, and contained about thirty-six stations."*--The following English counties were comprised in this division of Roman-Britain : Kent; Sussex; Surrey; Berks; Hants; Wilts; Dorset; Somerset; Devon; and Cornwall.
Britannia Secunda consisted of the country beyond, or to tha west, of the rivers Severn and Dee; and coutained three tribes of the Britons, and about twenty stations.t The counties of Hereford and Monmouth, and the whole of Cambria, or North and South Wales, were comprehended in this province.
Flavia, or Flavia Cæsariensis, comprised all the central
• Hist. of Manchester, Vol. I. p. 92. For the number of original tribes and stations, presumed to have been included in this province, I am indebted, as in the former instance, to Mr. Whitaker, whose statements are founded on those of Richard of Cirencester.
regions of the island, being limited by the two above named provinces on the south and west, and by the rivers Hainber, Don, and Mersey, upon the north. It included, according to the historian of Manchester, about eight tribes, and fifty stations. The great extent of this province is best explained by an enumeration of the counties into which it is now divided :--Middlesex ; Essex; Suffolk; Norfolk; Cambridge; Huntingdon ; Northampton; Bedford; Herts; Buckingham; Oxford; Gloucester; Warwick; Worcester; Stafford; Shropshire; Cheshire; Derby; Nottingham; Lincoln; Rutland; and Leicester.
Marima, (or Marina Cæsariensis) was bounded by the two seas on the east and west; by the wall of Severus on the north; and by the rivers Humber, Don, and Mersey, on the south. It comprised three tribes, and about thirty stations, besides the line of forts at the wall.- Maxima is now divided into the counties of Lancaster; York ; Durham ; Westmoreland ; and Cumberland.
Valentia comprehended the whole of the country between the two walls, and contained five tribes, with ten stations. The only parts of the province of Valentia that require notice, in a topographical survey of England and Wales, are the large and fine district now denominated Northumberland, and a small portion of Cumberland.
The towns established by the Romans in Britain were divided into four classes : Municipal ; Colonial ; touns under the Latian law; and Stipendiary towns.
The Municipium ranked highest in the scale of civil privi. leges, and was, indeed, favoured with a degree of freedom not to be expected in the city of a conquered country, and which was bestowed with a cautious hand, but with an exquisite refinement of policy. The constituent character of this class of settlements is satisfactorily expressed in the following excerpt:-"Municipia were towns whose inhabitants possessed, in general, all the rights of Roman citizens, except those which could not be enjoyed without an actual residence at Rome. They followed their own laws and customs, and had the option of adopting or rejecting those of Rome."* It will be readily supposed that Munisipia were chiefly occupied by Roman inhabitants. Two cities of this description are mentioned by Richard: Verulamium ( St. Alban’s) and Eburacum (York.)
It was the good policy of the Romans, to plant colonies in overy country successfully visited by their arms. These settlements were of different kinds, each distinct class being entitled to dissimilar rights and privileges; but we are destitute of information concerning the rank occupied by those of our own country. In regard to the general character, and beneficial tendency, of such establishments, it has been observed, “ that the soldiers were thereby rendered more eager to make conquests, of which they hoped to enjoy a share: the veterans were at once rewarded for their past services at a very small expence, and engaged to perform new services in defence of the state, in order to preserve, their own properties: the city of Rome, and other cities of Italy, were relieved from time to time of their superfluous inhabitants, who were dangerous at home but useful in the colonies: the Roman language, laws, manners, and arts, were introduced into the conquered countries, which were thereby improved and adorned, as well as secured and defended.”+
The first Roman colony in Britain, was fixed by Claudius at Camulodunum (Colchester;) and eight others were subsequently planted, at Richborough, London, Gloucester, Bath, Caerleon, Cambridge, Lincoln, and Chester. It will be noticed that bodies of colonized soldiery were, thus, carefully placed along the eastern and western sides of the island, · Ten cities under the Lutian law are named by Richard of Cirencester. In the valuable commentary on the work of Richard, it is observed, that “ the Latian law consisted of the privileges granted to the ancient inhabitants of Latium. These are not
• Rosini Antiq. Rom. b. 8. c. 23. as quoted in Hatcher's edition of the Itinerary, &c. of Richard of Cirencester.
+ Henry's Hist. of Great Britain, Vol. I. p. 341.
distinctly knowo; but appear principally to have been the right of following their own laws, an exemption from the edicts of the Roman Prætor, aud the option of adopting the laws and customs of Rome."*
The ten cities which are said by Richard to have been favoured with the communication of the Jus Lalii, are Durnomagus (Castor on Nen) Cataractonis (Catteric) Cambodunum (Slack) Coccium (Blackrode) Lugubalia (Carlisle) Ptorotone (Buryhead) Victoria (Dealgin Ross) Theodosia (Dumbarton) Corinum (Cirencester) Sorbiodunun (Old Sarum.)
Stipendiary towns were such as paid their tases in money, in coniradistinction from those which gave a certain porlion of the produce of the soil, and were called Vectigales. Richard enumerates twelve stipendiary towns: Venta Silurum (Caerwent) Venta Belgarum (Winchester) Venta Icenorum (Castor, near Norwich) Segontium (Caer Segont) Maridunum (Caermarthen) Rata (Leicester) Cantiopolis (Canterbury) Durinum (Dorchester) Isca (Exeter) Bremenium (Riechester, Northumberland). Vindonum (possibly Eybury Camp, Hants) and Durobrivce (Ro. chester.)
Such were the classes into which the Romans divided their towns in Britain ; and the thirty-three instances of various kinds given above, are mentioned by Richard of Cirencester, as those which were most celebrated and conspicuous. But he informs us that the total number of important towns in Romanized Britain, was not less than ninety-two; and there is reason to believe that it was indeed much greater. Mr. Whitaker asserts that “ Bria tain, from the southern sea to the firths of Forth and Clayd, at the close of the first century, possessed a hundred and forty towns in all.” Richard expressly observes that he has conme. morated only such as were greatly distinguished.
• Hatcher's edit. of Richard of Cirencester, p. 68. apud Rosini. + Rosini, as quoted in the commentary on Richard of Cirencester, p. 69.
Hist, of Manchester, Vol. I. p. 322.