What Did the Romans Do For Us?

David Mattingly says it’s time to rethink the current orthodoxy and question whether Roman rule was good for Britain.

A stretch of Hadrian's Wall about 1 mile west of the Roman Fort near HousesteadsDespite an increasingly critical treatment of the reputations of many modern empires (the British empire included), the consensus verdict on the Roman empire remains sur prisingly favourable. It represents a nostalgic bench mark against which modern power continues to be measured – witness Boris Johnson’s 2006 TV series The Dream of Rome or the utterances of politicians on both side of the Atlantic in relation to current world events. But is this reading of the benevolent nature of the Roman empire the right one?

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