What Caused the Romans to Depart from Britain, and What Was the Legacy of Their Departure? The end of the Roman occupation marked Britain's first Brexit, which occurred about AD 408–409. That was the end of Britain's experience as a part of the Roman Empire. However, the effects of this event were not felt in Britain for many years after the fact; rather, they were experienced by the native populations of Europe and Africa.
When Rome became involved in European affairs, they always had one eye on what was happening in Britannia. If there was trouble between tribes or problems with civil wars within them, then Rome would get drawn into it. Eventually, two powerful generals called Aulus and Publius decided that they wanted to take control away from the Senate and rule themselves. This caused a huge argument between the two sides because the senators didn't want anyone else taking charge of things. In the end, Aulus won out and continued to rule Italy while Publius went back home to Spain. This is how Britain ended up being without a ruler for such a long time.
During this time, different tribes began to arrive in Britain. Some came as allies of the British kings and others came as traders. Over the years, these different groups fought each other for power.
For most of the Roman occupation's final era, Britannia was subject to barbarian invasions and frequently fell under the rule of imperial usurpers and imperial pretenders. After the final Roman retreat from Britain in 410, the local kingdoms are said to have created Sub-Roman Britain. In some areas there is evidence of continued Celtic culture and language influence; in others, of Germanic settlement and identity.
But the Romans never returned to reclaim their province. By 449 they had abandoned all hope of doing so. That year Julius Caesar issued his final will and testament before being murdered in 44 BC. He recommended that Britain be granted to his friend and ally Mark Antony, who was serving as one of the three main candidates for the next emperor position. The will was found after his death and was included in its entirety within the document that revealed him to be our best source for information on ancient Rome.
The recommendation was not accepted and Britain remained with the empire for another 160 years. In the meantime, it became clear that the island could not be held by a single army or government. So in 43 BC the Senate appointed Pompey the Great as governor with the task of restoring order across the island. But this was only a temporary measure until further news from home could be received. Within a few months, however, Pompey was made sole ruler of the Roman world and he chose Boudica, the queen of the Britons, as his wife.
|The Roman invasion and occupation of Britain|
|360sAD||Attacks from Picts, Scots, Franks, Saxons|
|388 – 400AD||Romans begin to leave Britain|
|410||Last Romans leave Britain|