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Discuss The View That Consolidation Rather Than Expansion Was The Prime Objective Of Roman Foreign Policy Between 69 And 211 A.D.

1850 words - 7 pages

Discuss the view that consolidation rather than expansion was the prime objective of Roman foreign policy between 69 and 211 A.DFrom studying Roman frontier policy, it seems clear that the image of the Roman army as great conquerors, sweeping through vast areas of the known ancient world, is a view which is probably more typical of the period of Augustus' reign rather then any subsequent long-term expansion policies of any of the later emperors. Indeed, it was Augustus who envisaged an 'imperium sine fine', but it seems that after A.D 69 emperors did want to consolidate and bring the existing empire together rather than extend its frontiers. It is possibly easier to see the retardation in Roman conquest after A.D 69, not as a long-term political strategy, but as the result of individual emperors responding to the specific difficulties and problems which faced them. It was a mixture of economic, political and social factors coupled with the underlying policy of consolidation that brought about the downturn in Roman expansion rather than a coherent effort to extend Roman boundaries.The best way of evaluating the objectives of Roman foreign policy is to examine the infrastructure of the frontier system and assess its significance. One of the main reasons why it is more likely that the Romans followed a consolidatory frontier policy is because of a desire to safeguard the boundaries of the empire. This can be seen from the defensive measures of certain emperors who sought to guard the empire from the threat of invasion. Probably the best example of this is the emperor Hadrian. He took notice of the threats to the empire which had occurred during his predecessor Trajan's reign. His policies were nearly exclusively consolidatory and were on the whole attempts to 'divide the barbarians from us' . Hadrian's greatest legacy was without doubt the wall that bears his name. After the Romans suffered serious defeats at the hands of the northern tribes in Britain, Hadrian built the wall as a defense to guard against invasion. The watchtowers and communication links enabled the Roman army to subdue the tribes and secure the imperial frontier. This policy of 'defense' was repeated by Hadrian in the Rhine and Danube areas where he built similar fortifications and also in North Africa where he was responsible for the 'Fossatum Africae' in Algeria. Hadrian was also involved in the development of frontier communities and economies. Indeed the historian Webster points out that the,"Future security of the empire depended on the strength and loyalty of its frontier peoples and not merely on the garrisons themselves. "The measures used by Hadrian in his frontier policy were clearly only motivated by defensive considerations and the consolidating of the current imperial boundaries rather than any great desire to expand the empire.Hadrian's policies highlight the extent to which pressure on the empire from external opposition should not be overlooked. The fact that Rome...

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