Romans Part 2
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Part II




Caesar returns

hy Caesar came the following year is again open to question. Was it because he was humiliated by the false victory that he endured the previous year ? Did he see the taming of the British barbarians as some form of moral crusade? Whatever was the reason, he felt he had unfinished business in Britain. Well aware of the mistakes he made the previous year, he came well armed. This time he had 5 legions at his disposal, or about 30 thousand troops. The islanders, seeing this overpowering force, retreated. After a short period of time to take stock, Caesar began his march inland. He had penetrated only 12 miles ( 17 Km ) before a message arrived informing him of a great storm which had yet again destroyed many of his ships. Learning from the previous years exploits, he immediately ordered the surviving ships to be hauled ashore to prevent any further damage. Advancing inland, through what is now the county of Kent, towards London, He destroyed all remains of British stockades to ensure that they could not be used again. Eventually he arrived at Brentford where the British had crossed the River Thames. On Caesar's first visit to the islands, no strong leader of any note was acknowledged. This time things were totally different. A leader named Cassivellaunus is mentioned. The importance of this name is that he is the first recorded named Briton, Cassivellaunus rallied his fighters and waged a mobile war on them. Keeping track of the Roman force with his charioteers, he attacked forward and foraging parties. Unfortunately he was unable to maintain the momentum and the trained Roman soldiers, as in the previous year, were victorious. Over running the fortified camp at Brentford left the Roman legions with the upper hand. The fate of Cassivellaunus is not known. He may have been killed, captured or just retreated into obscurity. Whatever his fate, we do not hear of him again. His last deed must surely have been the negotiation of surrender terms. Surrender usually meant the offering of hostages and tributes of valuable commodities. Happy with the terms on offer, Caesar left the British shores and headed back to Rome to parade the barbarians and receive adulation from the Roman population and Senate.


Indigenous Celtic Tribes

This map shows the areas populated by the indigenous Celtic tribes during the Roman occupation.

Main Celtic Tribes were:

Brigantes = Northumbria .
Iceni = East Anglia .
Ordovices = North Wales .
Silures = South Wales .
Atrebates = Thames Valley .
Dumnonii = Cornwall - Devon .
Belgae = Dorset - Wiltshire .
Regni = Sussex - Hampshire .
Trinovantes = Essex .
Catuvellauni = Midlands .
Dobuni = Severn Valley .
Parisi = Yorkshire .


Peace for a hundred years

ollowing the untimely murder of Julius Caesar, there remained an uneasy peace for the next hundred years or so. Leaving aside the petty tribal squabbles that always occur, Britain was seen as a wealthy trading island. Many links were forged with Europe and a flourishing trade developed, especially in the south. European traders were encouraged and could sail straight up the River Thames and trade directly in London ( or Londinium as the Romans named it ).The Roman and European traders spread to many parts of the country. The natives felt secure that they would not be attacked again, after the treaty Cassivellaunus made with the Romans. The wealth being generated in Britain inevitably reached the Senate in Rome. They considered the only thing lacking was a stable form of government. In the intervening years, Caligula was murdered in A.D.41 only to be succeeded by his uncle Claudius. Claudius was strange character. It is not known if he was a complete fool, or just acted as one, to preserve his own life. He has been accredited as being a scholar and a fool. His power as the Emperor is uncertain. He may have been a puppet controlled by the power base in the Senate. Whatever the truth was, he was carried away in the tide and sanctioned the return to Britain to set up an administration. Claudius was thought of as a bumbling idiot. A conquest such as Britain would increase his stature and gain the respect of his people.


The third Roman Invasion

istory has a way of repeating itself, as Julius Caesar found out on his two forays to Britain. When a third expedition became known to the military, a problem arose in that they were unhappy about leaving Rome again to travel to such a hostile and far away place. Even so, a well equipped and trained force of 20 to 25 thousand men were assembled comprising of 3 or 4 legions. There is a story of an ex slave named Narcissus who addressed the legions on behalf of the commander to drum up support for the expedition. He was taunted with the cry of Io Saturnalia , which was a festival where the slaves don the clothes of their masters. Despite all of this and because of their training and discipline, the force departed for Britain. The Romans eventually landed in Kent as before but somewhat later in the season. At this time, the south of England was ruled by a tribal chief named Cunobelinus ( who was later portrayed in the Shakespeare play, Cymbeline ). Unlike Caesar's invasions, Cunobelinus assumed that Britain was safe from further incursions and had no need to rally a nation-wide fighting force to take the Romans on. He also was getting quite old and had no stomach for a fight. His capital is known today as Colchester. The Romans landed un-opposed. Cunobelinus had two sons named Caractacus and Togodumnus and it was left to them to put up minimal resistance to the advancing Romans in Kent. They were soon captured. The commander of the Roman force was named Plautius. the British, having no defined tactics, fought as Cassivellaunus did, with chariots and horses a hundred years previous. The lack of any battle plan soon led to disaster. Advancing through Kent , Plautius came to a wide river which is now the Medway. The British feeling confident after fording it, camped for the night assuming the Romans would not attempt to cross it straight away. Unknown to the British, a detachment of German conscripts in full armour waded and swam across. They did not battle with the British, but cut the ropes and shackles of their chariots to make them useless and at the same time, mutilated or killed the horses, thus destroying any tactical advantage the Britons may have had. The effect was to cut off their retreat on horseback. On the following day, the British fought the Romans hand to hand and narrowly lost the advantage due to a flank attack. This victory was not how the Romans had planned it. It was too quick, too inglorious. you do not win a country in two days. Claudius was in France at this time, awaiting news of the events taking place across the English Channel. After being informed of the victory, he immediately sailed for England with a large number of reinforcements. Claudius returned to Rome and was awarded the title of Britannicus. This was the end of any major uprising to the Roman occupation. The battle still went on however. The British retreated into the undergrowth and waged counter attacks as the situation presented itself. In the meantime Caractacus escaped from the Roman grasp and fled to Wales where he rallied new forces from the west and north. He was finally betrayed six years later, in A.D. 50, by a northern queen and handed over to Plautius's replacement Ostorius. By this time, his fame had reached Rome. He was immediately transported there with his wife and daughter where he was paraded through the streets like a caged animal. He was finally presented to Emperor Claudius. Here he addressed Claudius.


f to my high birth and distinguished rank I had added the virtues of moderation Rome had held me more as a friend than a captive, and you would have rejected an alliance with a prince descended from illustrious ancestors and governing many nations. The reverse of my fortune to you is glorious, and to me humiliating. I had arms and men and horses; I possessed extraordinary riches; and can it be any wonder that I was unwilling to lose them? Because Rome aspires to universal dominion must men therefore implicitly resign themselves to subjection? I opposed for a long time the progress of your arms, and had I acted otherwise would either you have had the glory of conquest or I of brave resistance? I am now in your power. If you decide to take revenge my fate will soon be forgotten, and you will derive no pleasure from the transaction. Preserve my life, and I shall remain to the latest ages a monument to your clemency.


After hearing this appeal - He was set free.

Romans Part 1

Romans Part 3

Roman Photographs


copyright Glen Ray Crack - Battle - East Sussex - United Kingdom
Submitted 10th January 1998
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