At the peak of its power, Rome ruled more than 45 million people across Europe, North Africa and Asia. Its army was the most powerful in the world, and as it conquered more land, Rome grew from a town into an enormous capital.
In AD43, the full might of the Roman army landed on the beaches in Kent. Over the next year it battled inland, storming through hillforts and chopping down anyone who stood in their way.The Romans wanted Britain's precious metals. They called the land ‘Britannia’, which meant 'land of tin'. However, they weren't just a destructive force
The legionaries were the elite (very best) soldiers. A legionary had to be over 17 years old and a Roman citizen. Every new recruit had to be fighting fit - anyone who was weak or too short was rejected. Legionaries signed up for at least 25 years' service. But if they survived their time, they were rewarded with a gift of land they could farm. Old soldiers often retired together in military towns, called ‘colonia’. An auxiliary was a soldier who was not a Roman citizen. He was only paid a third of a legionary’s wage. Auxiliaries guarded forts and frontiers but also fought in battles, often in the front lines where it was the most dangerous.
After a long day’s march, Roman soldiers had to build a camp, complete with a ditch and a wall of wooden stakes. The next day, they had to do it all again! A Roman soldier almost always followed orders. Anyone who didn't faced tough punishments. If you fell asleep on duty, you could be sentenced to death.
Most gladiators were slaves, criminals or captured soldiers. If a gladiator was very successful he could win his freedom. There were lots of types of gladiators. Some fought with a sword and shield, while others used a net and trident. When a gladiator was beaten, the audience would signal if they wanted him to be saved or killed. The emperor would then decide whether the gladiator should live or die.
The Romans were pagans too, but they didn't believe in the same gods as the Britons. They let the Britons worship their own gods, as long as they were respectful of the Roman ones too. Christianity arrived in Britain during the second century. At first only a few people became Christian.