Monday, September 20, 2010

New Kids on the Block

The Romans had a keen sense of class and pride in their family histories. In spite of this, on the whole, there is little evidence that the Romans had much in the way of racial prejudice in the modern sense. Anyone could absorb Roman culture and manners. Rome, as a culture, treated a man on the basis of what he had obtained rather than on the background from which he had come. There were privileges attached to class and legal statue, but this did not "make the man". Broadly, the class system from top to bottom was; senator, equestrian, citizen or no non-citizen, freedman, and slave. I suspect that our JONES family was at first considered "slave", but those of us who managed to survive the first few waves of Roman occupation would be considered "non-citizen" and "freedman". It would become clear fairly early that participation in the Roman way of life was necessary to survive, and this participation required Latin.

The language of law and public administration was Latin. At first Rome organized our island into administrative units called "Britannia, Superior", and "Britannia Inferior". Our JONES tribal land was in "Britannia Superior" and under the military control of the Roman fortress of Deva (now called Chester). The town of "Viroconium Cornoviorum" (Wroxeter) developed at our families' front door. This would be the first "town" that our family would ever see. The XX legion (Twentieth legion) spent a fair amount of time around this area. The legion had a nominal strength of just over 5,000 men. The bulk of the legion was the infantry. This included engineers, architects, masons, clerks, medical staff, and any other needed trades. They built the town of Viroconium (Wroxeter) in our very back yard.

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