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Interactive Map of the Roman Empire and Celtic Lands
Timeline of the Roman Empire and Lands of the Celtic People
475BC The people of Rome and their allies (the Latin League) overthrew their Etruscan rulers. After the Gallic attack on Rome the city was gradually rebuilt to become one of the largest in Italy. BY 338 BC the Romans ruled the Latin League with absolute power. From 300-280BC the Romans mastered their local enemies: the Etruscans, Samnites and the Gauls of North of Italy (Po Valley).
The Greek cities in the south of Italy concerned at the power of Rome sent their champion Pyrrhus against her. He won several battles but he eventually left to fight in other wars and with his final defeat in 275BC the Romans were masters of all of Italy.
279BC The Gauls advanced into Macedonia, Greece and Thrace. They were soon forced out of each of these countries but remained in Thrace until the end of the century. From Thrace three Gallic tribes advance into Anatolia and formed a new kingdom called Gallatia.
264-241BC The Romans went to war with Carthage and built a strong navy. They finally defeated Carthage in 241 BC and gained control of the island of Sicily and later the islands of Corsica and Sardinia.
236BC The Celts began to loose their lands to other people. The Romans conquered the Gauls in the Po valley. The Romans destroyed several Gallic armies and some important Gallic tribes even left Italy and went to live north of the Alps.
In 219BC Celtic tribes lost land in Spain to the Carthaginians. When Hannibal, the Carthagian general, attacked Seguntum the Romans came to the cities defence. This was the beginning of the Second Punic War.
218BC Hannibal won many battles against the Romans including the battle of Cannae where he defeated four Legions of the Roman republic. The Romans attacked and conquered Spain and then Carthage itself. The Carthaginians were finally defeated at the battle of Zama in 203BC. The Romans gained all of Carthage's territories in Spain.
200-191BC The Gauls of the Po Valley who had sided with Hannibal were defeated and the area became the Roman Province of 'Nearer Gaul'. At the end of the century the Thracians drove the Gauls out of Thrace. The Celts also lost a lot of land in Gallatia when the Seleucids and Pergamenes attacked them.
We do not know to whether large movements of Celtic people or close trade brought Celtic culture to Britain. Some Celtic tribes from Gaul settled in Britain before the Romans attacked Britain, in 55BC.
200-146BC The Romans fought with Greek states but mainly Macedonia.
149BC The Romans finally took over Macedonia after winning their Third Macedonian War. In 146BC the Romans brought all of Greece under their direct control.
149BC In a third war between the two countries Carthage was raised to the ground and its people sold as slaves. Following this final victory the Romans gained Carthage's North African territories.
42BC Mark Anthony and his Roman legions fought the Parthians and suffered heavy casualties. He withdrew and made the Romans overlords of Armenia.
31BC Mark Anthony also helped Cleopatra recreate the Ptolemies Empire in Egypt. This was unpopular with the Romans and Julius Caesar's son Octavius defeated him at the battle of Actium.
Under Octavius Augustus' rule the Celtic kingdom of Galatia and (25BC) and Paphlagania (6BC) were absorbed into the Roman Empire.
Under Octavius although there was relative peace the Roman frontier was pushed to the River Danube. When the Romans tried to push the frontier to the River Elbe the Germans in the North of the country under the leadership of Arminius ambushed and slaughtered three Roman legions.
Cappadocia was added to the Roman Empire by the Emperor Tiberius and Mauretania by the Emperor Caligula.
41AD The Emperor Claudius invaded Britain and won a decisive battle at Medway. The Celtic chief Caractacus fled with his band of warriors to seek the assistance of the warlike tribe of the Silures (in today's South Wales).
The Silures were successful in ambushing smaller groups of Roman soldiers and at times they successfully fought larger units. In one battle they defeated a Roman legion and only fled when a relieving legion arrived.
78AD Julius Frontinus, the Roman Governor of Britain finally defeated the Silurians after moving the Second Legion Augustus to Caerleon.
The Emperor Domitian built forts in the German lands between the Rhine and Danube rivers and took the Roman frontier into the Black Forest and Taunus Mountains.
In 79AD Agricola became Governor of Britain and he led the Romans into the mountains of Britain. He immediately defeated the warlike Ordovician tribe of North Wales. The Brigantia tribe of North England & Southern Scotland were his next victims. Finally in 84AD the Romans fought the Caledonian tribes of Scotland and defeated them in the battle of Mons Graupius.
However, fighting on the Danube meant that the Romans had to reduce the number of legions in Britain to three and the Romans withdrew their frontier in the North of Britain.
The Emperor Trajan brought together ten Roman legions to fight the Dacians and after much hard fighting the Romans were victorious. Dacia was Rome's first province beyond the Danube River.
Armenia was made a Roman province in 114AD.
The Emperor Hadrian did not try to conquer new lands but was content to defend the Empires frontiers. He withdrew from Mesopotamia and Armenia.
In Britain his troops built a wall across Northern Britain to protect the Roman frontier from the stubborn Caledonian tribes. In 145AD the frontier in Britain was moved northwards to the Antonine Wall.
In 251AD the Romans found themselves under attack and defeated by the Goths who gained control of the Balkans and then Anatolia. Five years later the Franks and Alemanni from Germany overran Roman Gaul, and raided into Spain and Italy. The Persians conquered Armenia and in 260AD they broke through out to Syria and sacked Antioch.
The Emperor Aurelian (270-275AD) officially abandoned Dacia to the Germanic Goths and Gepids. In Germany the Rhine-Danube triangle was also officially abandoned to the German Alemanni tribe.
The Roman Empire became permanently divided into the Western and Eastern Empires. The Eastern Roman Empire became known as the Byzantium Empire.
In the fourth century AD warrior horsemen from the East called Huns forced some German tribes to move into the Western Roman Empire. Rome itself was sacked by the Visigoths in 410AD. In the same year the Roman Emperor told the British that they would have to organise their own defence without assistance from Roman troops. Throughout much of Britain and Gaul, Roman administrators were expelled and the natives organised their own defence. Some Romans remained to fight the invaders.
Britain was now an easy target and was attacked by Picts from the North and by Irish Celts in the West. In Eastern Britain German mercenaries were employed by the Romano-British leader Vortigen to help defend against invading groups. In return these mercenaries were given the chance to settle in Eastern Britain. However, these foreign mercenaries encouraged other members of their tribes to join in the plunder of Britain and settle in Celtic lands. The new migrants included the Saxons, Jutes and Angles. They formed their own kingdoms in what is now known as England.
In 455 and 493AD an Ostrogothic kingdom was established in Italy and Roman domination was at an end. The Byzantium Empire survived for another thousand years until the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453 AD.
Map of the Roman Empire and Celtic Lands
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800BC The Celts controlled most of central Europe and by 700BC they also conquered the lands of Northern Spain. Over the next hundred years they expanded into the centre of Spain but lost their lands in the North of Spain. The Celts in central Europe become known as Gauls. The Celts may have begun to arrive in Britain around 480BC. They continued their settlement of Britain throughout this time.
410-390BC The Gauls expanded down through the lands, which the river Danube flows, and into the North of Italy. There they conquered the Etruscan people and they defeated the Romans and sacked Rome.