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A.D. History Podcast

Rome Eyes Ireland & Domitian the Despot | 81AD – 90AD Feat. J.J. McCullough

How close did Rome come to invading Ireland? Also, how did Domitian create his Roman despotism? We are joined by guest J.J. McCullough.



For this episode of A.D. History, Paul and Patrick revisit Roman Britain. In so doing, Patrick examines potential Roman ambitions to cross the Irish Sea, as well as the waning ambitions of Rome to not conquer and occupy the area which encompasses modern day Scotland. Furthermore noted educational YouTube creator, contributor to the Washington Post and National Review J.J. McCullough joins this installment as a special guest.

Rome, Ireland and Scotland

Roman Britannia during the volatile “Year of the Four Emperors” and since saw more relative stability than many other provinces of the empire. With most local rebellion quelled south of the modern day Scottish border, the rest of the British isles underwent significant Romanization.

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In essence, much of the desired Roman framework for ruling was operating quite smoothly at this juncture. Indeed, Romanization is a key element to understanding the long term framework of Roman power itself.

Romanization in Roman Britain

Roman power was often predicated on the concept of soft power, best defined as a means of macro influence to other peoples by way of a given entities culture, ideas, and general philosophies of life.

In Roman Britain, the empire saught to incorporate the people’s within its territory – namely the native ruling aristocrats – to pledge their loyalty to Rome in exchange for things like Roman citizenship, a cherished prize.

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In so accepting such an arrangement, those with Roman citizenship could be politically active – voting – in the Roman world. As well as being able to trade with other Romans, entering contracts, and enjoying legally recognized marriages.

Not all who were subject to Roman power were citizens, and to enjoy that status was a major boon for those that possessed it. Though Rome was considered a more hard power undertaking across the Irish Sea.

Rome Sizing Up Ireland

Gnaeus Julius Agricola was Roman governor of Britannia, who is credited for the significant expansion of Rome’s territory in the British Isles. During his tenure, Agricola gave serious consideration to the Roman invasion of Ireland.

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Agricola, tempted by the possibility of taking Ireland, seriously considered crossing the Irish Sea with a unit of 5,000 legionnaires to conquer the emerald isles. Yet ultimately refrained from doing so, given the immense difficulties such an operation would require. In addition to seeing the arithmetic of the cost-benefit analysis in this situation.

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Domitian’s Despotism

Domitian was the youngest son of Vespasian, and younger brother of Titus. Domitian served the pose as Emperor, and the last such member of the Flavian dynasty to do so.

In this segment Paul explores how Domitian – a man never expected to become emperor – blew aside the vestiges of the republican facade in Rome, and transformed its political institutions into a bald-faced despotism. Indeed, it is during this time that many scholars mark the total and unambiguous end to Rome’s republic.

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The A.D. History Podcast explores the last two thousand years of world history in an innovative new way. Join hosts Paul K. DiCostanzo and Patrick Foote as they examine the past two millennia, beginning in 1 AD, and progressing forward ten years every episode until they reach the modern day. Within each ten-year installment, Paul and Patrick aim to share incredibly important, but often overlooked fascinating historic events and figures from around the world in prospective fashion; attempting to see history through the eyes and in the world of those who lived it. By identifying these sometimes lesser known - but in no way less significant aspects of history - the A.D. History Podcast endeavors to take these many disparate threads and weave a fuller, richer tapestry of true world history from 1AD to HD.