Monday, 6 April 2009


[ Due to the fact that many warlords had similar names in Britain and the Continent I have placed all Celts that rebelled against Rome in Blue if they are Britons and Red if Continental Celts]
The Gallic Wars were a series of military campaigns waged by the Roman proconsul Julius Caesar against several Gallic tribes, lasting from 58 BC to 51 BC. The Romans would also raid Britannia and Germania, but these expeditions never developed into full-scale invasions. The Gallic Wars culminated in the decisive Battle of Alesia in 52 BC, in which a complete Roman victory resulted in the expansion of the Roman Republic over the whole of Gaul. The wars paved the way for Caesar's subsequent becoming the sole ruler of the Roman Republic.
Although Caesar portrayed this invasion as being a defensive pre-emptive action, most historians agree that the wars were fought primarily to boost Caesar's political career and to pay off his massive debts. Still, one can not lightly discard the military importance of Gaul for the Romans themselves, who had been attacked several times by native tribes both indigenous to Gaul and further to the north. Conquering Gaul allowed Rome to secure the natural border of the river Rhine.
This military campaign is painstakingly described by Julius Caesar himself in his book Commentarii de Bello Gallico, which still is the most important historical source. This book is also a masterwork of political propaganda, as Caesar was keenly interested in manipulating his readers in Rome.
Political background
In 58 BC, Julius Caesar ended his consulship in Rome, and was heavily indebted. However, being a member of the First Triumvirate — the political alliance composed of himself, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Pompey — he had secured for himself the governorship of two provinces, Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum. As governor of Transalpine Gaul, Metellus Celer, died unexpectedly, this province was also awarded to Caesar. Caesar's governorships were extended to an outstanding five-year period.
Under his direct command Caesar had initially four veteran legions: Legio VII, Legio VIII, Legio IX Hispana, and Legio X. Caesar knew personally most (perhaps even all) of these legions, as he had been governor of Hispania Ulterior in 61 BC and had campaigned successfully with them against the Lusitanians. Caesar also had the legal authority to levy additional legions and auxiliary units as he saw fit.
His ambition was clearly to conquer and to plunder some territories but it is likely that Gaul was not his initial target. It is very likely that he was planning a campaign against the kingdom of Dacia[1] located in the Balkans.
The Gallic tribes on the other hand were quite civilized, wealthy, and totally divided. Many of them had traded with Roman merchants, and had been already influenced by Roman culture. Some of them had even changed their political systems from tribal monarchies into Rome-inspired republics.
The Romans respected and feared the Gallic and the Germanic tribes. In 109 BC, only fifty years before, Italy had been invaded, and saved only after several bloody and costly battles by Gaius Marius. Very recently the Germanic Suebi tribe had migrated into Gaul with their leader Ariovistus. It seemed that the tribes were beginning to move again.
Beginning of the war -
campaign against the Helvetii
By 61 BC, the Helvetii were well on their way in the planning and provisioning for a mass migration under the leadership of Orgetorix. The Helvetii were being menaced by encroachments of their northeastern neighbours, Germanic tribes and Gallic/Celtic rivals among the Sequani.
During this time the Romans in Gallia Narbonensis were also gaining and taking political advantages and fomenting trade disputes.
Via council and parly, the Helvetic chieftain Orgetorix made negotiations with the ambitious Sequani and the Roman dominated Aeduians.
The Sequani were beginning to resent and regret the abundances of unruly Germanic warbands and their huge encampments of dependents. The Aduans were loath to obey the Roman spur any longer than they must and they were keen to revisit their former days at council.
The parly for the trek was successful and Orgetorix was granted passage and with the trek ratified by council an army was called up and provisioned for.
During this process Orgetorix had also succeeded in making a personal alliance with the Sequanii chieftain Casticus and Dumnorix chieftain of the Aduaii. He accomplished this by way of marital arrangements and host exchange of family members. For three whole years the Helvetii planned and prepared themselves. Emissaries were sent out to various Gallic tribes assuring safe passages and alliances.
According to his Gallic rivals these political successes and displays of diplomacy were alleged to be in personal benefit of Orgetorix alone and this was greatly amplified by Roman intrigues and impositions. Again the accord was strained as the Aduans were brought to bay by their 'protective' overlords.
In 58 BC Orgetorix's ambitions were declared a ruse for personal power and this rumor was celebrated among the enemies of the Helvetii, especially those of Roman clientele. This succeeded in causing confusions and fueds among the tribes with much of it based on the merits of Orgetorix versus his vices.
There was an effort to sieze him at council, however he was protected by his retinue and bodyguards.
During the preceding seasons he had called up a sizeable force of arms that is said to have numbered 10,000 men, this in addition to his armed entourage .
Orgetorix was able to foil his capture by his rivals and the councils did labor at length to resolve the confusions and disputes; however Orgetorix was murdered or slain during a dispute within his own encampement.
With many conflicts of interest settled, the Helvetii once again returned to their long planned migration to safer pastures. While the Helvetii were a wealthy and warlike tribe, they were in a weakened condition due to never ending conflicts with Germanic tribes.
The constant destruction of crops and violent raids by the Germanic tribes and the Helvetics' relative distance from what were seen as allied tribes had spurred the long planned for migration. Though their armed formations were both attritted and devided into van guard and rearguard, the number of dependents among he Helvetii were vast in number, indeed the entire population had mobilized for evacuation with their townships and walled cities set afire to cement thier resolve to move; as well to deny there use or habitation by the Germanics.
Caesar dated their departure to the 28th of March, and mentions that they burned all their towns and their villages so as to discourage thoughts among undecided client tribes or enemies to occupy their vacated realm.
The Helvetii retained and armed their client tribes: the Rauraci, the Tulingi, the Latovici, and the Boii from whom they had hired a contingent horseman.
There were two available routes for them: the first one was the difficult and dangerous Pas de l'Ecluse, located between the Jura mountains and the Rhône River. The second one, which was much easier, would lead them to the town of Geneva, where the Lake Geneva flows into the Rhône River. There a bridge allowed passage over the river. These lands belonged to the Allobroges, a tribe which had been subdued by Rome, and these lands were under the control of the Roman republic.
Meanwhile, Caesar was in Rome, and only a single legion was in Transalpine Gaul, the endangered province. As he was informed of these developments, he immediately hurried to Geneva, and besides ordering a levy of several auxiliary units, ordered the destruction of the bridge. The Helvetii sent an embassy under the new leadership of Nammeius and Verucloetius, to negotiate a peaceful passage, promising to do no harm. Caesar, gaining valuable time, stalled the negotiations and his troops fortified their positions behind the river through a sixteen feet high rampart and a parallel running trench lined with ballistas and legionaires which were backed by mercenary archers and slingers; Caesar had also hired and/or conscripted a contingent of Gallic horseman from the Remi.

Map of the Gallic Wars
As the embassy returned, Caesar officially refused their request and warned them that any forceful attempt to cross the river would be opposed. Several attempts were quickly beaten off. The Helvetii turned back and entered negotiations with the Sequani to let them pass in a peaceful manner.
Leaving his single legion under the command of his second-in-command Titus Labienus, Caesar quickly hurried to Cisalpine Gaul. Upon arrival, he took command of the three legions which were in Aquileia and also enrolled two new legions, the Legio XI and the Legio XII. At the head of these five legions, he went the quickest way through the Alps, crossing territories of several hostile tribes and fighting several skirmishes en route.
Meanwhile, the Helvetii had already crossed the territories of the Sequani, and were busy pillaging the lands of the Aedui, Ambarri, and Allobroges. These tribes were unable to oppose them, and as Roman allies asked for Caesar's help. Caesar obliged them and surprised the Helvetii as they were crossing the river Arar (modern Saône River). Three quarters of the Helvetii had already crossed, but one quarter, the Tigurine (a Helvetian clan), was still on the east bank. Three legions, under Caesar's command, surprised and defeated the Tigurine in the Battle of the Arar, inflicting great losses. The remaining Tigurini fled to neighbouring woods.
After the battle, the Romans built a bridge over the Saône to pursue the remaining Helvetii. The Helvetii sent an embassy led by Divico, but the negotiations failed. For a fortnight, the Romans maintained their pursuit until they ran into supply troubles. Apparently Dumnorix was doing everything in his power to delay the supplies. Accordingly, the Romans stopped their pursuit and headed for the Aeduian town of Bibracte. The tables were turned, and the Helvetii began to pursue the Romans, harassing their rear guard. Caesar chose a nearby hill to offer battle and the Roman legions stood to face their enemies.
In the ensuing Battle of Bibracte the legions smashed their opponents, and the defeated Helvetii offered their surrender which Caesar accepted. However, 6,000 men of the Helvetian clan of the Verbigeni fled to avoid capture. Upon Caesar's orders, other Gallic tribes captured and returned these fugitives, who were executed. Those who had surrendered were ordered back to their homeland to rebuild it, and the necessary supplies were organized to feed them, as they were far too useful as a buffer between the Romans and other northern tribes to let them migrate elsewhere. In the captured Helvetian camp a census written in Greek was found and studied: of a grand total of 368,000 Helvetii, of which 92,000 were able-bodied men, only 110,000 survivors were left to return home.
Tribe Population Census
Helvetii 263,000
Tulingi 36,000
Latobrigi 14,000
Rauraci 23,000
Boii 32,000
Total 368,000 Combatants 92,000

The war against the Suebi
Following this campaign, several Gallic aristocrats of almost every tribe arrived and congratulated Caesar for his victory. They called a Pan-Gallic meeting to discuss certain matters and invited Caesar to it.
In this meeting the deputies complained that because of the struggle between the Aedui and the Arverni, that a large number of Germanic mercenaries had been hired by the latter. These mercenaries who were led by Ariovistus, had betrayed their employers and taken the children of several Gallic aristocrats as hostages. They had won several battles, been heavily reinforced and the whole situation was getting out of control. Caesar intervened in the conflict and soundly defeated Ariovistus at the Battle of Vosges, driving the remaining Germanic forces back across the Rhine.
In 57 BC Caesar once again intervened in an intra-Gallic conflict, marching against the Belgae, who inhabited the area roughly bounded by modern-day Belgium and had recently attacked a tribe allied with Rome. His army suffered a surprise attack in the battle of the Sabis while it was making camp near the river Sambre and came close to being defeated, but was saved by its greater discipline and Caesar's own personal intervention in the fighting. The Belgae suffered heavy losses and eventually surrendered when faced with the destruction of their towns.
Punitive expeditions
The following year, 56 BC, Caesar turned his attention to the tribes of the Atlantic seaboard, notably the Veneti tribe in Armorica (modern Brittany), who had assembled a confederacy of anti-Roman tribes. The Veneti were a seafaring people and had built a sailing fleet in the Gulf of Morbihan, requiring the Romans to build galleys and undertake an unconventional land and sea campaign. Again, Caesar successfully defeated the Gauls, destroying their tribes.
Caesar took his forces across the Rhine in 55 BC in a punitive expedition against the Germans, though the Suebi, against whom the expedition was mounted, were never engaged in battle. That same year, he then crossed the English Channel with two legions on his ships to mount a similar expedition against the Britons. The British adventure nearly ended in disaster when bad weather wrecked much of his fleet and the unfamiliar sight of massed chariots caused confusion among his forces. Caesar did manage to secure a promise of hostages, though only two of them were actually sent. He withdrew but returned in 54 BC with a much larger force that successfully defeated the powerful Catuvellauni and forced them to pay tribute to Rome. The expeditions had little lasting effect, but were great propaganda victories for Caesar, keeping him in the public eye at home.
The campaigns of 55 BC and early 56 BC have caused controversy for many centuries. They were controversial even at the time among Caesar's contemporaries, and especially among his political opponents, who decried them as a costly exercise in personal aggrandizement. In modern times, commentators have been sharply divided between critics of Caesar's nakedly imperialist agenda and defenders of the benefits that the expansion of Roman power subsequently wrought in Gaul.
Consolidation and rebellions
Discontent among the subjugated Gauls prompted a major uprising in the winter of 54–53 BC, when the Eburones of north-eastern Gaul rose in rebellion under their leader Ambiorix. Fifteen Roman cohorts were wiped out at Atuatuca Tungrorum (modern Tongeren in Belgium) and a garrison commanded by Quintus Tullius Cicero narrowly survived after being relieved by Caesar in the nick of time. The rest of 53 BC was occupied with a punitive campaign against the Eburones and their allies, who were said to have been all but exterminated by the Romans.
The uprising was, however, merely the prelude to a much bigger insurrection led by Vercingetorix, chief of the Arverni tribe of central Gaul, who successfully united the Gauls against the Romans. Recognizing that the Romans had an upper hand on the battlefield, due largely to the fact that Gaul had spent the twenty years preceding the Gallic wars fighting various enemies within and outside their domains, he declined to give battle against them and instead fought a "scorched earth" campaign to deprive them of supplies. Caesar hurriedly returned from Italy to take charge of the campaign, pursuing the Gauls and capturing the town of Avaricum (modern city of Bourges) but suffering a costly defeat at Gergovia. He finally cornered and defeated Vercingetorix at Alesia (see Battle of Alesia). This effectively marked the end of the Gallic Wars, although mopping-up actions took place throughout 51 BC. A number of lesser rebellions took place subsequently, but Roman control of Gaul wasn't seriously challenged again until the 2nd century AD.
Strategic analysis
The Roman success in the Gallic Wars was due to a combination of clever politics, effective campaigning and greater military capability than their Gallic opponents. Caesar pursued a policy of "divide and conquer" to pick off his enemies, siding with individual tribes in disputes with their local rivals. He systematically gathered intelligence on the Gallic tribes to identify their characteristics, weaknesses, and divisions, thereby being able to dispose of them in turn.
Many of Caesar's troops were themselves Gallic, so the conflict was not simply a war between Romans and Gauls. Indeed, his army was an extremely cosmopolitan entity. Its core consisted of six (later ten) legions of heavy infantry, supported by the equivalent of two more in later campaigns. He relied on foreign allies for his cavalry and light infantry, recruiting from the Numidians, Cretan, Hispanians, Germanics, and Gaulish tribes. Caesar made very effective use of these forces, using individual units' pride to spur them to greater efforts.
Caesar's Gallic opponents were considerably less capable militarily than the Romans. They could field large armies but suffered from a lack of flexibility and discipline. Gallic warriors were ferocious opponents and were much admired for this by the Romans (see the Dying Gaul), but they lacked discipline in the field. Their tactics were effectively confined to charging their opponents en masse, and their lack of cohesion made them incapable of any sophistication in battle. They also lacked any logistical support and were unable to stay in the field for as long as the Romans.
Conversely it could have also been possible that Gallic defeat was the result of generations of warfare against German invaders who were subdued at great cost of manpower.
The Gallic Wars in literature and culture
The primary historical source for the Gallic Wars is Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico in Latin, which is one of the best surviving examples of unadorned Latin prose. It has consequently been a subject of intense study for Latinists, and is one of the classic prose sources traditionally used as a standard teaching texts in modern Latin education.
The Gallic Wars have become a popular setting in modern historical fiction, especially that of France and Italy. Claude Cueni wrote a semi-historical novel "The Caesar's Druid" about a fictional Celtic druid, servant of Caesar and recorder of Caesar's campaigns. In addition, the comic Astérix is set shortly after the Gallic Wars.
1. That the Balkans were Caesar's original target is argued by several scholars, including: Penguin Classics The conquest of Gaul: "Introduction" chapter 3 "The course of the war", Adrian Goldsworthy, In the Name of Rome, chapter 8 "Caesar in Gaul". It is suggested by the provinces Caesar initially wanted for himself (Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum) and supported by the initial placement of three of his four legions in Aquileia.
The conquest of Gaul, ISBN 0-14-044433-5, by Gaius Julius Caesar, translated by S. A. Handford and revised by Jane F. Gardner
Gilliver, Kate. Caesar's Gallic Wars 58-50 BC. London: Osprey Publishing, 2002. ISBN 0-415-96858-5
Holdsworthy, Adrian. In the name of Rome. ISBN 0-75381-789-6
Holland, Tom. Rubicon. ISBN 0-385-50313-X
Matyszak, Philip. The enemies of Rome. ISBN 0-500-25124-X

Vercingetorix Gold Stater

Vercingetorix (pronounced [werkiŋˈɡetoriks] in Latin, /vɜrsɪn'dʒɛtərɪks/ in English), born around 82 BC, died 46 BC, was chieftain of the Arverni, originating from the Arvernian city of Gergovia and known as the man who led the Gauls in their ultimately unsuccessful war against Roman rule under Julius Caesar. Known primarily through Caesar's accounts, Vercingetorix's revolt is frequently used as a heroic example of Gallic virtue and resolveHaving been appointed governor of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis (modern Provence) in 58 BC, Julius Caesar proceeded to conquer the Gallic tribes beyond over the next few years, maintaining control through a careful divide and rule strategy. He made use of the factionalism among the Gallic elites, favouring certain noblemen over others with political support and Roman luxuries such as wine. Attempts at revolt, such as that of Ambiorix in 54 BC, had secured only local support, but Vercingetorix, whose father, Celtillus, had been put to death by his own countrymen for seeking to rule all of Gaul, managed to unify the Gallic tribes against the Romans and adopted more modern styles of warfare.
The revolt that Vercingetorix came to lead began in early 52 BC while Caesar was raising troops in Cisalpine Gaul. Believing that Caesar would be distracted by the turmoil in Rome following the death of Clodius, the Carnutes, under Cotuatus and Conetodunus, made the first move, slaughtering the Romans who had settled in their territory.
Vercingetorix, a young nobleman of the Arvernian city of Gergovia, roused his dependents to join the revolt, but he and his followers were expelled by the nobles of the city, including Vercingetorix's uncle Gobanitio, because they thought opposing Caesar too great a risk. Undeterred, Vercingetorix raised an army of the poor, took Gergovia and was hailed as king.[1] He made alliances with other tribes, and having been unanimously given supreme command of their armies, imposed his authority through harsh discipline and the taking of hostages. He adopted the policy of retreating to natural fortifications, and undertook an early example of a scorched earth strategy by burning towns to prevent the Roman legions from living off the land.
Vercingetorix and his army won some initial minor engagements with the Romans units led by Caesar and his chief lieutenant Titus Labienus. However, the Romans captured the capital of the Bituriges, Avaricum (Bourges), killing the entire population of 120,000[2]. The next major battle was at Gergovia, where Vercingetorix defeated Caesar, inflicting heavy losses. However, the victory cost Vercingetorix many men, including many noblemen. Due to these losses he retreated and moved to another stronghold, Alesia.
In the Battle of Alesia Caesar built a fortification around the city to besiege it. However, Caesar's army was surrounded by the rest of Gaul, and Vercingetorix had summoned his Gallic allies to attack the besieging Romans, so Caesar built another outer fortification against the expected relief armies (resulting in a doughnut-shaped fortification). The relief came in insufficient numbers: estimates range from 80,000 to 250,000 soldiers. Vercingetorix, the tactical leader, was cut off from them on the inside, and without his guidance the attacks were initially unsuccessful. However, the attacks did reveal a weak point in the fortifications and the combined forces on the inside and the outside almost made a breakthrough. Only when Caesar personally led the last reserves into battle did he finally manage to prevail. This was a decisive battle in the creation of the Roman empire.
According to legend Vercingetorix surrendered in magnificent fashion, allegedly riding his horse out of Alesia and around Caesar's camp before throwing his arms at Caesar's feet, stripping himself of his armor and kneeling to Caesar with a flourish.[3] Caesar provides a first-hand contradiction of this account, describing Vercingetorix's surrender much more modestly.[4] He was imprisoned in the Tullianum in Rome for five years, before being publicly displayed in Caesar's triumph in 46 BC. He was executed after the triumph, probably by strangulation in his prison, as ancient custom would have it.[5]
EtymologyThe etymology of the name Vercingetorix is still contested. The most generally accepted analysis interpretes it as Gaulish ver- ("over, superior" - an etymological cognate of Latin super or Greek hyper),[6] cingeto- ("warrior", related to roots meaning "tread, step, walk", so possibly "infantry"),[7] and rix ("king"), i.e. "great warrior king" or "king of great warriors".[8]
Memorial Vercingétorix

Memorial in Alesia (Alise-Sainte-Rein)Napoleon III erected a seven metre statue of Vercingétorix in 1865, created by the sculptor Aimé Millet, on the supposed site of Alesia. The architect for the memorial was Viollet-le-Duc.[9] The impressive statue still stands. The inscription on the base, written by Viollet-le-Duc, reads (in French« La Gaule unie Formant une seule nation Animée d'un même esprit, Peut défier l'Univers. » Which translates to:
United Gaul Forming a single nation Animated by a common spirit, Can defy the Universe.

There is a statue of Vercingétorix by Bartholdi on Place de Jaude in Clermont-Ferrand .
In France, Vercingétorix is often considered a folk hero.

Vercingetorix surrenders to Caesar. Illustration by Alphonse Marie de Neuville from the English 1883 edition of François Guizot's The History of France from the Earliest Times to the Year 1789.
Primary sources
Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico Book 7 Dio Cassius, Roman History 40:33-41, 43:19 Plutarch, Life of Caesar 25-27
Secondary sources
Yonge, Charlotte M. (1864), "The Chief of the Arverni", in Charlotte M. Yonge, A Book of Golden Deeds, London: Blackie & Son, Ltd., n.d. Popular comic strip by Goscinny & Uderzo's Asterix the Gaul.
1. Julius Caesar, Commentaries on the Gallic War Book VII, sect. 4.
2. Numbers of victims or enemy combattants in classical Roman sources are generally not taken at face value by modern historians.
3. Plutarch's Lives, Everyman's Edition, 1910, reprinted 1953, (Dryden translation), vol. ii, page 551. Medieval French Historians are also partly responsible for romanticising Vercingetorix's surrender. Romancing the Past: The Rise of Vernacular Prose Historiography in Thirteenth-Century France, by Gabrielle M. Spiegel, page 143, Berkeley: 1993.
4. Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, Everyman's Edition, 1953 (Trans: John Warrington); Book VII, sect. 89.
5. Birkhan, Die Kelten (1997) p. 238.
9. Statue of Vercingetorix, Art and Architecture, 2006,

Acco was a chief of the Senones in Gaul, who in­duced his countrymen to revolt against Julius Caesar in 53 BC. On the conclusion of the war, and after a conference at Durocortorum, Caesar had Acco tried and convicted on charges of treason. As punishment, he was flogged to death
Aegus and Roscillus were two chiefs of the Allobroges, who had served Julius Caesar with great fidelity in the Gallic Wars, and were treated by him with great distinction. They accompanied him in his campaigns against Pompey, but having been reproved by Caesar on account of depriving the cavalry of its pay and appropriating the booty to themselves, they deserted to Pompey in Greece. Aegus was after­wards killed in an engagement between the cavalry of Caesar and Pompey

Ambiorix was, together with Catuvolcus, prince of the Eburones, leader of a Belgic tribe of north-eastern Gaul (Gallia Belgica), where modern Belgium is located. In the 19th century Ambiorix became a Belgian national hero because of his resistance against Julius Caesar, as written in Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico.
Statue of Ambiorix in Tongeren (a fanciful interpretation, rather than an archaeological reconstruction, of his possible appearanceIn 57 BC Julius Caesar conquered Gaul and also Belgica (modernday Northern France, Belgium and a southern section of The Netherlands to the Rhine River; and the north-western portion of North Rhine-Westfalia, Germany.) There were several tribes in the country who fought against each other regularly. The Eburones were ruled by Ambiorix and Catuvolcus. In 54 BC Caesar's troops urgently needed more food and thereby the local tribes were forced to give up part of their harvest, which had not been good that year. Understandably the starving Eburones were reluctant to do so and Caesar ordered that camps be built near the Eburones' villages. Each centurion was ordered to make sure the food supplies were delivered to the Roman soldiers. This created resentment among the Eburones.
Although Julius Caesar had freed him from paying tribute to the Atuatuci, Ambiorix joined Catuvolcus in the winter of 54 BC in an uprising against the Roman forces under Quintus Titurius Sabinus and Lucius Aurunculeius Cotta.
The Revolt
Ambiorix and his tribesmen attacked and killed several Roman soldiers who were foraging for wood in the nearby vicinity. The survivors fled back to their camp, followed by Ambiorix and his men. There he realised there were too many Romans for his troops to fight and he decided to negotiate with them. Ambiorix explained to the Roman camp leaders, Sabinus and Cotta, that he had no problems with them and in fact, was very happy with them, because now he had no troubles with the other tribes. He warned the Romans that a coalition of other tribes were planning to attack them and would get the support of the German tribes who would cross the Rhine. Ambiorix advised them to relocate to another Roman camp so that they would be stronger to battle these troops. He also promised them he would leave them alone when they made this crossing.
Sabinus and Cotta debated the whole night on what they should do. Sabinus trusted Ambiorix and considered it would be wise to do what he had advised them. Cotta thought it would be better to stay and try to fight back when the attacks would happen. Ultimately, Cotta decided they would stay, but it wouldn't be his fault if they all got killed by doing so. This made the Roman troops very unsure and therefore they decided to leave anyway. The two closest Roman camps were behind hills and in the other option behind a plain near a valley. Sabinus and Cotta chose for the easy solution and crossed the valley. While they crossed the valley Ambiorix and his men attacked them from up the hills and slaughtered them. Sabinus, Cotta and their troops were massacred.
Caesar's revenge
When the Roman Senate heard what happened, Caesar swore to put down all the Belgic tribes. It was very important that the other Roman provinces knew that the almighty Roman republic couldn't be beaten so easily. After all, Ambiorix had killed a whole Roman legion and five cohorts. A Belgic attack on Quintus Cicero (brother of the orator), then stationed with a legion in the Nervii's territory, failed due to the timely appearance of Caesar. The Roman campaigns against the Belgae took a few years, but eventually the Belgae were no match against 50,000 trained Roman soldiers. The tribes were slaughtered or driven out and their fields burned. The Eburones were history from that point. Ambiorix and his men, however, managed to cross the Rhine and disappear without a trace.
Caesar wrote about Ambiorix in his commentary about his battles against the Gauls: "De Bello Gallico". In this text he also wrote the famous line: "Of all the Gauls, the Belgae are the bravest." ("...Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae..."). This sentence has often been misquoted as "Of all the Gauls, the Belgians are the bravest.", while Caesar meant the tribes collected under the name, "Belgae" and not "the Belgians", because Belgium didn't exist until 1830.
Ambiorix remained forgotten until the 19th century. When Belgium became independent in 1830 the national government started searching through their historical archives for persons who could serve as national heroes. In Caesar's "De Bello Gallico" they discovered Ambiorix and his deeds. In 1841 the Belgian poet Joannes Nolet de Brauwere van Steeland wrote a lyrical epic about Ambiorix and on September 5, 1866 a statue of Ambiorix was erected on the Great Market of Tongeren in Belgium. There is no proof he ever lived there, but since Tongeren is Belgium's oldest village, Caesar referenced Atuatuca and Tongeren's original name is Atuatuca Tongorum it was placed there.
Nowadays Ambiorix is one of the most famous characters in Belgian history. Many companies, bars, french fries stands have named themselves after him and in many Belgian comics as Suske en Wiske and Jommeke he once played a guest spot. There was also a short lived comic called Ambionix. Which features a scientist teleporting a Belgae chief, loosely based on Ambiorix, to modern day Belgium.
In the French comic Asterix in the album Asterix in Belgium Asterix, Obelix, Dogmatix and Vitalstatistix go to Belgium because they are angry with Caesar about his remark that the Belgians are the bravest of all the Gauls. The Belgian chief in the album, Beefix, does resemble Ambiorix a bit.
In 2005 Ambiorix was nominated for the title De Grootste Belg (The Greatest Belgian). In the Flemish edition he ended in fourth place. In the Walloon edition he ended in 50th place.
1. Ambionix official home page: Caesar, De Bello Gallico v. 26-51, vi. 29-43, viii. 24;
Dio Cassius xl. 7-11; Florus iii. 10.

Bituitus was a 2nd century BCE king of the Gallic Arverni tribe. The Arverni were a powerful opponent of the Roman Republic during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE under the leadership of Luernios, the father of Bituitus. In 123 BCE, Bituitus was defeated by the Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus Allobrogicus, effectively ending the power of the Arverni. Following his defeat and capture, Bituitus was imprisoned in Alba Fucens. Fabius was awarded the honour of a triumph and given the agnomen Allobrogicus. The triumph included the captive Arvernian king Bituitus in his silver battle armor. From the plunder of the Auvergne, Fabius erected the Fornix Fabianus crossing the Via Sacra.
Brennus (or Brennos) is the name of two Gaulish chieftains famous in ancient history:. The Brennus of the fourth century BC was a chieftain of the Senones, a Gallic tribe originating from the modern areas of France known as Seine-et-Marne, Loiret, and Yonne; in 387 BC, in the Battle of the Allia, he led an army of Cisalpine Gauls in their attack on Rome. The Brennus of the third century BC was one of the leaders of the army of Gauls who invaded Macedon and northern Greece and defeated the assembled Greeks at Thermopylae. EtymologyThe recurrence of the name Brennus make it likely that it was a title rather than a proper name. Indeed, the suffix -us means that it is almost certainly Romanised. The Celtic suffix was -os. Probably meaning "courageous, zealous, intense", it could be etymoloigcally related to the Gaelic name Brian.

Brinno, whose name was said by Tacitus to be that of "a family of rebels". Bran the Blessed, King of Britain in the Mabinogion[1] The personage named "Brennius" in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae who conquers Rome, probably created by that author from the two Brenni of history. A possible recollection of Geoffrey's "Brennius" is the "Englishman" called Brennus whom the Duke of Norfolk told the Imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys about in 1530. In arguing Tudor claims to imperial status, the Duke stated that this man had founded Bristol and conquered Rome.[2]
1. His name may be related, although 'Bran' seems to be derived from the Welsh word for raven rather than brenin.
2. Thomas Healy, Times Literary Supplement 24 June 2005 p 25, reviewing Philip Schwyzer, Literature Nationalism and Memory in Early Modern England and Wales, Cambridge, 2005 John T. Koch, "Brân, Brennos: an instance of Early Gallo-Brittonic history and mythology'", Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 20 (Winter 1990:1-20)
Brinno was leader of the Canninefates when they joined in the Batavian rebellion at the mouth of the Rhine in AD69. According to Tacitus he was:
...a man of a certain stolid bravery and of distinguished birth. His father, after venturing on many acts of hostility, had scorned with impunity the ridiculous expedition of Caligula. His very name, the name of a family of rebels, made him popular. Raised aloft on a shield after the national fashion, and balanced on the shoulders of the bearers, he was chosen general"
By Roman tradition, Britomaris was a warchief leader of the Gallic tribe known as the Senones in 284 BC when he defeated a Roman army under the command of the Consul Lucius Caecilius Metellus Denter. He was presumably defeated the next year by Publius Cornelius Dolabella and taken prisoner. He was executed after Dolabella's triumph, in accordance with Roman custom.

Camulogene was an Aulerci elder and leader of the 52 BC coalition of the Seine peoples according to Caesar. He put a scorched earth policy in place, burning Lutetia then trying to ensnare Titus Labienus's troops. He died in the battle of Lutetia. The Rue Camulogène in Paris is named after him.
B.G.:Commentarii de Bello Gallico,
2. Caesar, B.G., VII, 62
(French) Paul Rousseau, Les héros de Paris, Librairie Gédalge, Paris, SD, 310p.

Casticus was a nobleman of the Sequani of eastern Gaul. His father, Catamantaloedes, had previously been the ruler of the tribe, and had been recognised as a "friend" by the Roman Senate.
Ca. 60 BC, Casticus entered into a conspiracy with Orgetorix of the Helvetii and Dumnorix of the Aedui to seize control of their respective tribes and between them rule Gaul. The conspiracy was discovered and put a stop to by the Helvetii.

Cingetorix, meaning "marching king" or "king of warriors", is a Celtic name borne by two chieftains of the 1st century BC, as related by Julius Caesar in his De Bello Gallico:
Cingetorix (Gaul), one of the two chieftains struggling for the supremacy of the Treveri of Gaul.
Cingetorix (Briton), one of the four kings of Kent during Caesar's second expedition to Britain in 54 BC, alongside Segovax, Carvilius and Taximagulus.

Cingetorix (Celtic "marching king" or "king of warriors") was one of the two chieftains struggling for the supremacy of the Treveri of Gaul. Caesar supported him over his more anti-Roman rival Indutiomarus. However Indutiomarus persuaded his people to join the revolt led by Ambiorix of the Eburones in 54 BC, declared Cingetorix a public enemy and confiscated his property. Cingetorix presented himself to Caesar's legate Titus Labienus, who defeated and killed Indutiomarus in a cavalry engagement
Cingetorix "marching king" or "king of warriors") was one of the four kings of Kent
The Cantiaci or Cantii were a Celtic or Belgae people living in Britain before the Roman conquest of Britain, and gave their name to a civitas of Roman Britain.... during Caesar's second expedition to Britain
Diviciacus or Divitiacus of the Aedui is Latinised name of the only druid from Antiquity whose existence is historically attested. He should not be confused with the king of the Suessiones, also called Diviciacus; however coins issued by the latter confirm the spelling (Gaulish written in Greek script), δειοιχυαχοϲ. The name means "avenger" (Delamarre p.145).
His date of birth is not known, but he was an adult during the 60s BC at which time he was a senator of the Aedui and escaped a massacre by the forces of the Sequani, Arverni and Germanic troops under a leader whose Latinised name was Ariovistus (Brunaux, p.282).
He was in favour of alliance with Rome, and in the year 63 BC he went to Rome and spoke before the Senate to ask for military aid; he was a guest of Cicero, who spoke of his knowledge of divination, astronomy and natural philosophy (De Divinatione I xli). Julius Caesar, who knew him well, speaks of him several times in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico and noted his particular skills as a diplomat.
In addition to holding the religious office of druid, he was the Uergobretos (political head or magistrate - see Delamarre p.315)) of the Aedui, one of the most powerful nations in Gaul. In this combination of military and religious office he was similar to Julius Caesar, who was Pontifex Maximus in addition to being a general.
Diviciacus had a brother, Dumnorix, who was strongly anti-Roman. Dumnorix was executed on the orders of Caesar.
Diviciacus had ceased to be Uergobretos by 52 BC, when the election was contested between Convictolitavis and Cotos (Brunaux, p.283). The date Diviciacus's death is not known, but Cicero speaks of him in the present tense in 44 BC.
Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico 1.3, 1.16-20, 1.31-32, 2.5, 2.14-15, 6.12, 7.39 Cicero, De Divinatione 1.41 Brunaux, Jean-Louis (2005) Les Gaulois. Paris, Les Belles Lettres. ISBN 2-251-41028-7
lamarre, X. (2003). Dictionnaire de la Langue Gauloise (2nd ed.). Paris: Editions Errance. ISBN 2877722376
Caesar, writing in the mid-1st century BC, says that he had within living memory been the most powerful king in Gaul, ruling a large portion not only of Gallia Belgica, but also of Britain.[1] His coins give his name (in the ancient Greek alphabet) as δειοιχυαχοϲ.
He should not be confused with his namesake Diviciacus of the Aedui

Dumnorix (given on coins as Dubnoreix) was a chieftain of the Aedui, a Celtic tribe in Gaul in the 1st century B.C. He was strongly against alliance with the Romans, particularly Julius Caesar, who sparred with him on several occasions. He, along with Orgetorix of the Helvetii and Casticus of the Sequani, were said to be conspiring to establish a Gallic triumvirate to replace the existing magistracies of the Gallic peoples shortly before Caesar's governorship. To strengthen the alliance, Orgetorix gave Dumnorix his daughter in marriage. The conspiracy was discovered and put a stop to by the Helvetii.
In 58 BC, the first year of Caesar's governorship, Dumnorix used his influence to persuade the Sequani to allow the Helvetii to migrate through their territory. Caesar opposed this migration militarily, and requested the Aedui, who were allies of Rome, to supply his soldiers with grain, but this was not forthcoming. Liscus, the chief magistrate or Vergobretus of the Aedui, revealed to Caesar that Dumnorix, who was very popular and influential, was responsible for the withholding of the supplies. Caesar also discovered that Dumnorix had been in command of a unit of cavalry, sent to his aid by the Aedui, whose flight had cost him a cavalry engagement. Dumnorix was spared any serious retribution at the request of his brother Diviciacus, who had good relations with Caesar and the Romans. Caesar agreed instead to place Dumnorix under surveillance.
Dumnorix continued to be troublesome, and in 54 BC was one of the Gaulish leaders Caesar proposed to take with him as hostages on his second expedition to Britain, fearing that they might cause trouble in his absence. Dumnorix pleaded his fear of the sea and religious obligations in an attempt to get Caesar to leave him behind. When this failed, he claimed that Caesar intended to have them all killed out of sight of their people. Finally, he attempted to escape from Caesar's camp along with the Aeduan cavalry. Caesar sent the rest of the cavalry after him, and Dumnorix was killed, shouting that he was "a free man and a citizen of a free state". The rest of the Aeduan cavalry returned to Caesar's service.
His name, like other Gaulish language names (Orgetorix, Vercingetorix) contains a -rix suffix which is etymologically related to the Latin rex and German Reich, indicating kingship or rule; it is probably an aristocratic suffix. Dumno- means "world", so that the name can be translated as "king of the world".
Popular Culture
Dumnorix has appeared in the prologue tutorial of the original Rome: Total War, as a Gallic general. Dumnorix has also appeared in several missions of the game PC Praetorians.
Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico 1.3, 1.9, 1.16-20, 5.5-7
Indutiomarus (d. 53 BCE) was a leading aristocrat of the Treveri (the people of the area around present-day Trier) at the time of Caesar's conquest of Gaul. He was the head of the anti-Roman party and political rival of his pro-Roman son-in-law Cingetorix for "supreme power" in the state.
In 54 BCE, Indutiomarus made preparations for war against the Romans and evacuated non-combatants to the Ardennes. However, when Caesar arrived in the territory of the Treviri en route to Britain, Indutiomarus was deserted by many of his leading supporters and sub­mitted to Caesar in the hopes of preserving his position. Caesar accepted his submission, along with 200 hostages including several of Indutiomarus' close family members, but he also took the opportunity to promote Cingetorix to power among the Treveri at Indutiomarus' expense.
Deprived of much of his power, Indu­tiomarus became all the more bitter an enemy of the Romans, and waited for a favourable oppor­tunity to take his revenge. Such an opportunity arrived soon. To ensure adequate food supplies, Caesar had separated his troops into winter quarters dispersed in different parts of Gaul. Indutio­marus encouraged Ambiorix and Cativolcus, chiefs of the Eburones, to attack the Roman legion stationed in their country; he himself soon afterwards marched against Titus Labienus, who was encamped among the Remi, immediately west of the Treveri. Forewarned of Caesar's victory over the Nervii, Indutiomarus withdrew his forces into Treveran country and raised fresh troops. He also spent the winter sending ambassadors to the Germans in search of allies. Other peoples began sending ambassadors to Indutiomarus of their own accord as well – these included the Senones, the Carnutes, the Nervii and the Aduatuci.
Now emboldened, Indutiomarus declared Cingetorix an enemy of the state and confiscated his property. He marched against Labienus again and surrounded the Roman camp. Indutiomarus took to riding around the camp with his cavalry force almost daily, both to reconnoitre and to intimidate the Romans within. Labienus one day sneaked a large contingent of auxiliary cavalry into the Roman camp, and during one of these exercises the auxiliaries surprised the Treveran force with a sudden sally. Indutiomarus himself was killed in the rout while crossing a river. His death was still a source of anger and rebellion as of 51 BCE, when the Treveri remained in the field on the side of Ambiorix.

Liscus was Vergobretus (chief magistrate) of the Aedui of central Gaul in 58 BC. He revealed to Julius Caesar the role of his compatriot Dumnorix in withholding supplies
Orgetorix was the high chief of the Helvetii people who in 61 BC opted via tribal alliance to migrate from Helvetian territory (modern-day Switzerland) to south-western Gaul (modern-day France). He was also party to a clandestined arrangement with Dumnorix of the Aeduii and Casticus of the Sequanii to seize control of their respective tribes by arms and between them rule most of Gaul. The effort came by way of marital exchange and individual alliances among some of the young nobles from all three tribes.
Rivals among the Helvetii discovered Orgetorix's illegal plot and moved to put him on trial, with the penalty of death by burning if found guilty. Assisting his efforts to avoid that fate, Orgetorix had meanwhile acquired a significant personal retinue in addition to having called up an army of more than 10,000 men at arms in addition to their mobilized clients, followers and dependents.
As the Helvetii, Aeduii and Sequanii all strained at their respective councils and halls, amid much stress and lament; Orgetorix was murdered in his encampment.
Feuds now squandered the petty plots and the councils were returned to the existing and emerging matters. A new high chief would be selected following the next Carnea.
The alliances and arrangements the Helvetii had made to move their Capital were long in coming and ratified by all councils and thereby provisioned for with an army. This mass migration involved transport of much if not most of the tribes accumulated royal treasures, much of this accrued over centuries and may have included a portion of spoils from Hellenistic treasures plundered at Delphi as well as treasures taken or collected from defeated enemies or client tribes.
The Helvetii carried a huge treasure in gold and silver and had several strong and splendid retinues of skilled men at arms in addition the relatively robust number of tribal combatants armed with more modest arms, elaborately decorated shields of wicker and hide and spears.
Setting off in 58 BC, the Helvetii were opposed and eventually provoked by Julius Caesar into an uneven battle pitting the massed attack of the Helvetii footman (Helvetii despite their wealth had few cavalry)against the entrenched ballistas and well drilled ranks of Roman legionnaires. Working in tandem with their auxiliary slingers and archers and mercenary germanic and Gallic horseman, the Romans slowed, stopped and eventually broke the Helvetii shield walls and hastily over-ran the large baggage train and all of the Helvetii dependents and treasures.
The Romans under Julius Caesar thereby routed the warrior and armed contingent and massacred what Helvetii dependents they could at the baggage train. Meanwhile Caesar's mercinary horseman (hired from germainic tribes from east of the Rhine) harried and scattered the surviving mass of the population back toward their homeland or those of their related peoples.
Although not entirely wiped out the tribe never recovered and was eventually absorbed as client peoples into larger tribes. A contingent of refugees are said to have made there way to their promised land in lesser numbers, settling near present day Toulon.
Some legends have it that some remnant of the Helvetii went to live among peoples later known as Dacians.
Sedullos (87 BC-52 BC) was a Gaulish chief of the tribe of the Lemovices. He commanded the 10,000 Lemovices that formed part of the relief force led by the Arvernian Vercassivellaunos. This relief force was raised to assist Vercingetorix at the Battle of Alesia. His death and courage are mentioned by Julius Caesar in his Gallic Wars.

Vercassivellaunos(?-52BC) was a Gaulish commander of the Arverni who led a relief force to assist Vercingetorix at the Battle of Alesia. He was a cousin of Vercingetorix. Sedullos, chief of the Lemovices, joined his force with 10,000 men and was killed at the battle.
Viridomarus (died 222 BC) was a Gaulish military leader who led an army against an army of the Roman Republic at the Battle of Clastidium. The Romans won the battle, and in the process, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, the Roman leader, earned the spolia opima by killing Viridomarus in single combat.

Commius (Commios, Comius, Comnios) was a historical king of the Belgic nation of the Atrebates, initially in Gaul, then in Britain, in the 1st century BC.
When Julius Caesar conquered the Atrebates in Gaul in 57 BC, as recounted in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico, he appointed Commius as king of the tribe. Before Caesar's first expedition to Britain in 55 BC, Commius was sent as Caesar's envoy to persuade the Britons not to resist him, as Caesar believed he would have influence on the island. However he was arrested as soon as he arrived. When the Britons failed to prevent Caesar from landing, Commius was handed over as part of the negotiations. Commius was able to provide a small detachment of cavalry from his tribe to help Caesar defeat further British attacks. During Caesar's second expedition to Britain Commius negotiated the surrender of the British leader Cassivellaunus. He remained Caesar's loyal client through the Gaulish revolts of 54 BC, and in return Caesar allowed the Atrebates to remain independent and exempt from tax, and in addition appointed Commius to rule the Morini
However this loyalty was not to last, as related by Aulus Hirtius in the final book of the De Bello Gallico, written after Caesar's death. While Caesar was in Cisalpine Gaul in the winter of 53, the legate Titus Labienus believed that Commius had been conspiring against the Romans with other Gaulish tribes. Labienus sent a tribune, Gaius Volusenus, and some centurions to summon Commius to a sham meeting at which they would execute him for his treachery, but Commius escaped with a severe head wound. He vowed never again to associate with Romans.
Enemy of Caesar
In 52 BC the Atrebates joined the pan-Gaulish revolt led by Vercingetorix, and Commius was one of the leaders of the army that attempted to relieve Vercingetorix at the Siege of Alesia. After Vercingetorix was defeated Commius joined a revolt by the Bellovaci and persuaded some 500 Germans to support them, but this too was defeated and Commius sought refuge with his German allies.
In 51 BC he returned to his homeland with a small mounted war-band for a campaign of agitation and guerrilla warfare. That winter Mark Antony, a legionary legate at the time, ordered Volusenus to pursue him with cavalry, something Volusenus was more than happy to do. When the two groups of horsemen met Volusenus was victorious, but sustained a spear-wound to the thigh. Commius escaped and sued for peace through intermediaries. He offered hostages and promised he would live where he was told and no longer resist Caesar, on the condition that he never again had to meet a Roman. Antony granted his petition.
A 1st century AD source, Sextus Julius Frontinus's Strategemata, tells how Commius fled to Britain with a group of followers with Caesar in pursuit. When he reached the English Channel the wind was in his favour but the tide was out, leaving the ships stranded on the flats. Commius ordered the sails raised anyway. Caesar, following from a distance, assumed they were afloat and called off the pursuit.
This suggests that the truce negotiated with Antony broke down and hostilities resumed between Commius and Caesar. However John Creighton suggests that Commius was sent to Britain as a condition of his truce with Antony - where better to ensure that he never again met a Roman? - and that Frontinus's anecdote either refers to an escape prior to the truce, or is historically unreliable, perhaps a legend Frontinus heard while governor of Britain (75 to 78 AD). Creighton argues that Commius was in fact set up as a friendly king in Britain by Caesar, and his reputation was rehabilitated by blaming his betrayal on Labienus (who deserted Caesar for Pompey in the civil war of 49 - 45 BC).
Commius's name appears on coins of post-conquest date in Gaul, paired with either Garmanos or Carsicios. This suggests he continued to have some power in Gaul in his absence, perhaps ruling through regents. Alternatively, Garmanos and Carsicios may have been Commius's sons who noted their father's name on their own coins.
King in Britain
By about 30 BC Commius had established himself as king of the Atrebates in Britain, and was issuing coins from Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester). It is possible that Commius and his followers founded this kingdom, although the fact that, when Caesar was unable to bring his cavalry to Britain in 55 BC, Commius was able to provide a small detachment of horsemen from his people, suggests that there were already Atrebates in Britain at this time. Coins marked with his name continued to be issued until about 20 BC, and some have suggested, based on the length of his floruit, that there may have been two kings, father and son, of the same name. However, if Commius was a young man when appointed by Caesar he could very well have lived until 20 BC. Some coins of this period are stamped "COM COMMIOS", which, interpreted as "Commius son of Commius", seem to support the two kings theory.
Three later kings, Tincomarus, Eppillus and Verica, are named on their coins as sons of Commius. From about 25 BC Commius appears to have ruled in collaboration with Tincomarus. After his death Tincomarus appears to have ruled the northern part of the kingdom from Calleva, while Eppillus ruled the southern part from Noviomagus (Chichester). Eppillus became sole ruler ca. AD 7. Verica succeeded him about 15, and ruled until shortly before the Roman conquest of 43.
Popular culture
Commius is a character appearing in the 2001 French movie Vercingétorix.
John Creighton, Coins and power in Late Iron Age Britain, Cambridge University Press, 2000
Philip de Jersey (1996), Celtic Coinage in Britain, Shire Archaeology, 1996
Sheppard Frere, Britannia: a History of Roman Britain, third edition, 1987

Caratacus (Brythonic *Caratācos, Greek Καράτακος; variants Latin Caractacus, Greek Καρτάκης) was a historical British chieftain of the Catuvellauni tribe, who led the British resistance to the Roman conquest. The legendary Welsh character Caradoc and the legendary British king Arvirargus may be based upon Caratacus.
Claudian Invasion
Caratacus is named by Dio Cassius as a son of the Catuvellaunian king Cunobelinus.[1] Based on coin distribution Caratacus appears to have been the protegé of his uncle Epaticcus, who expanded Catuvellaunian power westwards into the territory of the Atrebates.[2] After Epaticcus died ca. 35, the Atrebates, under Verica, regained some of their territory, but it appears Caratacus completed the conquest, as Dio tells us Verica was ousted, fled to Rome and appealed to the emperor Claudius for help. This was the excuse used by Claudius to launch his invasion of Britain in the Summer of 43.
Cunobelinus had died some time before the invasion. Caratacus and his brother Togodumnus led the initial defence of the country against Aulus Plautius's four legions thought to have been around 40,000 men, primarily using guerrilla tactics. They lost much of the south-east after being defeated in two crucial battles on the rivers Medway[3] and Thames. Togodumnus was killed and the Catuvellauni's territories were conquered. Claudius was present in August when his legions marched into Camulodunum, the capital of the Catuvellauni [4], but Caratacus survived and carried on the resistance further west.
Resistance to Rome
We next hear of Caratacus in Tacitus's Annals, leading the Silures and Ordovices of Roman Wales against Plautius' successor as governor, Publius Ostorius Scapula.[5] Finally, in 51, Scapula managed to defeat Caratacus in a set-piece battle somewhere in Ordovician territory (see the Battle of Caer Caradoc), capturing Caratacus' wife and daughter and receiving the surrender of his brothers. Caratacus himself escaped, and fled north to the lands of the Brigantes (modern Yorkshire) where the Brigantian queen, Cartimandua handed him over to the Romans in chains. (This was one of the factors that led to two Brigantian revolts against Cartimandua and her Roman allies, once later in the 50s and once in 69, led by Venutius, who had once been Cartimandua's husband). With the capture of Caratacus, much of southern Britain from the Humber to the Severn was pacified and garrisoned throughout the 50s [6].
Legend places Caratacus' last stand at British Camp in the Malvern Hills, but the description of Tacitus makes this unlikely:
[Caratacus] resorted to the ultimate hazard, adopting a place for battle so that entry, exit, everything would be unfavorable to us and for the better to his own men, with steep mountains all around, and, wherever a gentle access was possible, he strewed rocks in front in the manner of a rampart. And in front too there flowed a stream with an unsure ford, and companies of armed men had taken up position along the defenses.[7] ”
Although the Severn is visible from British Camp, it is nowhere near it, so this battle must have taken place elsewhere. A number of locations have been suggested, including a site near Brampton Bryan.
Captive in Rome
After his capture, Caratacus was sent to Rome as a war prize, presumably to be killed after a triumphal parade. Although a captive, he was allowed to speak to the Roman senate. Tacitus records a version of his speech in which he says that his stubborn resistance made Rome's glory in defeating him all the greater:
Andrew Birrell Caractacus at the Tribunal of Claudius at Rome (1792)

If the degree of my nobility and fortune had been matched by moderation in success, I would have come to this City as a friend rather than a captive, nor would you have disdained to receive with a treaty of peace one sprung from brilliant ancestors and commanding a great many nations. But my present lot, disfiguring as it is for me, is magnificent for you. I had horses, men, arms, and wealth: what wonder if I was unwilling to lose them? If you wish to command everyone, does it really follow that everyone should accept your slavery? If I were now being handed over as one who had surrendered immediately, neither my fortune nor your glory would have achieved brilliance. It is also true that in my case any reprisal will be followed by oblivion. On the other hand, if you preserve me safe and sound, I shall be an eternal example of your clemency."[8]
He made such an impression that he was pardoned and allowed to live in peace in Rome. After his liberation, according to Dio Cassius, Caratacus was so impressed by the city of Rome that he said "And can you, then, who have got such possessions and so many of them, covet our poor tents?"[9]
Caratacus' name
Caratacus' name appears as both Caratacus and Caractacus in manuscripts of Tacitus, and as Καράτακος and Καρτάκης in manuscripts of Dio. Older reference works tend to favour the spelling "Caractacus", but modern scholars agree, based on historical linguistics and source criticism, that the original Brythonic form was *Caratācos, pronounced /ka.ra.taː'kos/, which gives the attested names Caradog in Welsh and Carthach in Irish.[10]
Medieval Welsh traditionsCaratacus' memory may have been preserved in medieval Welsh tradition. A genealogy in the Welsh Harleian MS 3859 (ca. 1100) includes the generations "Caratauc map Cinbelin map Teuhant", corresponding, via established processes of language change, to "Caratacus, son of Cunobelinus, son of Tasciovanus", preserving the names of the three historical figures in correct relationship.[11]
Caratacus does not appear in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain (1136), although he appears to correspond to Arviragus, the younger son of Kymbelinus, who continues to resist the Roman invasion after the death of his older brother Guiderius.[12] In Welsh versions his name is Gweirydd, son of Cynfelyn, and his brother is called Gwydyr;[13] the name Arviragus is taken from a poem by Juvenal.[14]
Caradog, son of Bran, who appears in medieval Welsh literature, has also been identified with Caratacus, although nothing in the medieval legend corresponds except his name. He appears in the Mabinogion as a son of Bran the Blessed, who is left in charge of Britain while his father makes war in Ireland, but is overthrown by Caswallawn (the historical Cassivellaunus, who lived a century earlier than Caratacus).[15] The Welsh Triads agree that he was Bran's son, and name two sons, Cawrdaf and Eudaf.[16]
Modern traditions
Caradog only began to be identified with Caratacus after the rediscovery of the works of Tacitus, and new material appeared based on this identification. An 18th century tradition, popularised by the Welsh antiquarian and forger Iolo Morganwg, credits Caradog, on his return from imprisonment in Rome, with the introduction of Christianity to Britain. Iolo also makes the legendary king Coel a son of Caradog's son Cyllen.[17]
Another tradition, which has remained popular among British Israelites and others, makes Caratacus already a Christian before he came to Rome, Christianity having been brought to Britain by either Joseph of Arimathea or St. Paul, and identifies a number of early Christians as his relatives.[18]
One is Pomponia Graecina, wife of Aulus Plautius, the conqueror of Britain, who as Tacitus relates, was accused of following a "foreign superstition", generally considered to be Christianity.[19] Tacitus describes her as the "wife of the Plautius who returned from Britain with an ovation", which led John Lingard (1771 – 1851) to conclude, in his History and Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church, that she was British;[20] however, this conclusion is a misinterpretation of what Tacitus wrote. An ovation was a military parade in honour of a victorious general, so the person who "returned from Britain with an ovation" is clearly Plautius, not Pomponia. This has not prevented the error being repeated and disseminated widely.
Another is Claudia Rufina, a historical British woman known to the poet Martial.[21] Martial describes Claudia's marriage to a man named Pudens,[22] almost certainly Aulus Pudens, an Umbrian centurion and friend of the poet who appears regularly in his Epigrams. It has been argued since the 17th century[23] that this pair may be the same as the Claudia and Pudens mentioned as members of the Roman Christian community in 2 Timothy in the New Testament.[24] Some go further, claiming that Claudia was Caratacus' daughter, and that the historical Pope Linus, who is described as the "brother of Claudia" in an early church document, was Caratacus' son. Pudens is identified with St. Pudens, and it is claimed that the basilica of Santa Pudenziana in Rome, and with which St. Pudens is associated, was once called the Palatium Britannicum and was the home of Caratacus and his family.
This theory was popularised in a 1961 book called The Drama of the Lost Disciples by George Jowett, but Jowett did not originate it. He cites renaissance historians such as Archbishop James Ussher, Caesar Baronius and John Hardyng, as well as classical writers like Caesar, Tacitus and Juvenal, although his classical cites at least are wildly inaccurate, many of his assertions are unsourced, and many of his identifications entirely speculative. He also regularly cites St. Paul in Britain, an 1870 book by R. W. Morgan, and advocates other tenets of British Israelism, in particular that the British are descended from the lost tribes of Israel.[25]
Caractacus' Last Battle
Cassius Dio in his 'Roman History' wrote: "Caractacus, a barbarian chieftain who was captured and brought to Rome and later pardoned by Claudius, wandered about the city after his liberation and after beholding its splendour and magnitude he exclaimed: and can you then who have got such possessions and so many of them, still covet our poor huts?"
Background information
Caractacus and his brother Togodomus led the initial British resistance against the Roman invasion, commanded by Aulus Plautius. Caractacus and Togodomus fought together in the opening battles at Medway and Thames. Togodomus was killed in the battle of the Thames and Caractacus fled with his warriors to continue the war in the land of the Silures (South Wales). There he led a successful guerilla war against the Romans.
When the Romans moved considerable forces into Silurian lands he took his warriors north into the land of the Ordivician tribes (North Wales). There, after fighting against the Romans for nine years Caractacus faced the Romans, in his last battle.
Written evidence
The Roman writer, Tacitus provides us with good evidence of the war between the Romans and the Britons; including the British leader Caractacus' last battle. The following quote is taken from Tacitus' Annals.
Caractacus selected a hill fort, to fight a decisive battle with the Romans, where it was both easy for the Britons to move forward to attack the Romans but also to retreat if things did not go well in the battle. At the same time it would be hard for the Romans to attack or retreat. On the more gentle slopes the Britons piled up stones to make a rampart. The British warriors positioned themselves in front of these defences but they were still protected by a river which was in front of them.
The chieftains of the various tribes moved amongst their men encouraging them. Caractacus, darted everywhere, telling his men that this battle would be the beginning of the recovery of their freedom or else of everlasting slavery. He recalled how their ancestors had driven back Julius Caesar, and through their bravery the British were freed from the threat of being ruled by the Roman military and government. While he was speaking, the warriors shouted applause; every warrior swore not to flee from weapons or wounds.
The Roman leader, Ostorius faced a daunting sight: the river and the rampart the British tribesmen had added to it, the hill fort and masses of fighting men everywhere. But his soldiers insisted they had the courage for battle and the prefects and tribunes encouraged this idea. The Romans surveyed the area and worked out the easiest way to attack. Ostorius, led his furious men, and crossed the river without difficulty. When they reached the defences, the British threw their missiles and the Romans suffered the worst casualties. But when the Romans formed the testudo and tore down the stone rampart, it became an equal hand-to-hand fight and the barbarians retreated to higher ground. But the higher ground was not enough to protect the Britons from the soldiers who rushed into attack. The lightly armed Roman soldiers harassed the enemy with missiles, while the heavily-armed soldiers closed in on them, and the Britons were broken, as they had no breast-plates or helmets to protect them. They were killed by the swords and javelins of our legionaries; if they turned around, they faced the sabres and spears of the auxiliaries. It was a glorious victory; the wife and daughter of Caratacus were captured, and his brothers also surrendered.Caractacus, sought the protection of Cartimandua, queen of the Brigantes. However, she put him in chains and surrendered him to the Romans.
1.Dio Cassius, trans Earnest Cary, Roman History 60:19-22
2. John Creighton, Coins and power in Late Iron Age Britain, Cambridge University Press, 2000;
3. Philip de Jersey (1996), Celtic Coinage in Britain, Shire Archaeology
4. see also Battle of the Medway
5. A History of Britain, Richard Dargie (2007), p. 20
6. Tacitus, Annals 12:33-38
7. A History of Britain, Richard Dargie (2007), p. 21
8. Tacitus, The Annals, translated by A. J. Woodman, 2004; see also Church & Brodribb's translation
9. Tacitus, The Annals, translated by A. J. Woodman, 2004; see also Church & Brodribb's translation
10. Dio Cassius, Roman History, Epitome of Book LXI, 33:3c
11. Kenneth H. Jackson, "Queen Boudicca?", Britannia 10 p. 255, 1979
12. Harleian Genealogies 16; The Heirs of Caratacus - Caratacus and his relatives in medieval Welsh genealogies
13. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Britanniae 4.12-16
14. Geoffrey of Monmouth, The History of the Kings of Britain, translated by Lewis Thorpe, 1973;
15. Peter Roberts (trans), The Chronicle of the Kings of Britain, 1811
16. Juvenal, Satires, 4.126-127
17. The Mabinogion: "Branwen, daughter of Llyr"
18. Rachel Bromwich, Trioedd Ynys Prydein, University of Wales Press, 1963; Triads from the Red Book of Hergest and Peniarth MS 54
19. Iolo Morganwg, Triads of Britain 17, 2, 23, 24, 34, 35, 41, 55, 79, 85, 91
20. This article formerly made reference to a passage of Dio Cassius that described Caratacus as a "barbarian Christian". This derived from a transcription error in the version of the Cary translation of Dio online on the Lacus Curtius website, which has now been corrected to read "barbarian chieftain" as per the print edition (Dio 61.33.3c). See also the Foster translation at Project Gutenberg, which also reads "barbarian chieftain".
21. Tacitus, Annals 13:32 20. "We are, indeed, told that history has preserved the names of two British females, Claudia and Pomponia Graecina, both of them Christians, and both living in the first century of our era."
22. Lingard, John, History and Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church, 2nd. ed. Newcastle, Walker, 1810 Vol. I., p1.
23. Martial, Epigrams, XI:53 (ed. & trans. D. R. Shackleton Bailey, Harvard University Press, 1993)
24. Martial, Epigrams IV:13 23. Baronius, Annales Ecclesiastici, Antwerp, 1614;
25. Archbishop James Ussher (1637), British Ecclesiastical Antiquities, Oxford;
26. Cardinal Michael Alford (1663), Annales Ecclesiae Britannicae: Regia Fides, Vol 1;
27. Williams, J. (1848)(Archdeacon), contributor John Abraham, Claudia and Pudens, Herauld
28. 2 Timothy 4:21 - "Eubulus saluteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren."
29. George Jowett, The Drama of the Lost Disciples, Covenant Books, 1961
Further reading
Leonard Cottrell, The Roman Invasion of Britain, Barnes & Noble. New York, 1992 Sheppard Frere, Britannia: a History of Roman Britain, Pimlico, 1991
Togodumnus is known only from Dio Cassius's Roman History, according to which he was a son of Cunobelinus. He probably succeeded his father to the kingship of the Catuvellauni, who were the dominant kingdom in the south-east of Britain at this time. Their territory took in the lands of several other nations, including their neighbours the Trinovantes, and possibly the Dobunni further west.
He had two notable brothers, Adminius and Caratacus. In Cunobelinus's later days Adminius gained control of Kent, but was driven from Britain in 40 AD, seeking refuge with the Roman emperor Caligula. Caligula planned an invasion of Britain in response, but called it off at the last minute.
Based on coin distribution it appears that Caratacus, following in the footsteps of his uncle Epaticcus, completed the conquest of the Atrebates, the main rival to the Catuvellauni, in the early 40s. The Atrebatian king, Verica, fled to Rome and gave the new emperor, Claudius, a pretext to conquer Britain in 43.
According to Dio's account, Togodumnus led the initial resistance to the invasion, but was killed after the battle on the Thames. The Roman commander Aulus Plautius then dug in at the Thames and sent word for Claudius to join him for the final march on the Catuvellaunian capital, Camulodunum (Colchester). Dio says that this was because the resistance became fiercer as the Britons tried to avenge Togodumnus, and Plautius needed the emperor's help to complete the conquest; however, as Claudius was no military man and in the end spent only sixteen days in Britain, it is likely the Britons were already as good as beaten. Leadership passed to Caratacus, who took the fight outside Roman-controlled territory and remained at large until 51.
Togodumnus is nearly contemporary with Tiberius Claudius Cogidubnus (or Togidubnus), a pro-Roman king of the Regnenses in the period after the Roman conquest, who is known from Tacitus's Agricola and an inscription found in Chichester. The similarity of their names has led some, including the distinguished archaeologist Barry Cunliffe, to suggest that they may be one and the same. However the sources do not appear at first glance to support this: according to Dio, Togodumnus was killed in 43, while Tacitus says that Cogidubnus remained loyal to Rome into the later part of the 1st century, and his inscription dates after 79. It is of course not unusual in historical records for two people to have similar names (cf. Dubnovellaunus). As the Chichester inscription supports Tacitus, Cunliffe's interpretation would appear to imply an error in Dio's Roman History or in its transmission.
Adminius, Amminius or Amminus was a son of Cunobelinus, ruler of the Catuvellauni, a tribe of Iron Age Britain. His name can be interpreted as Celtic *ad-mindios, "to be crowned".
Based on coin distribution it appears that, in the early to mid 1st century, Adminius was ruler of the Cantiaci of eastern Kent, a kingdom which presumably fell within his father's sphere of influence. Suetonius tells us he was deposed and exiled by his father c. 39 or 40. Cunobelinus had maintained friendly relations with the Roman Empire, and it has been speculated that the elderly king had lost control to an anti-Roman faction led by his other sons, Togodumnus and Caratacus, who may have been instrumental in forcing Adminius out of power. Alternatively, his fall may have been the result of a revolt of the Cantiaci against Catuvellaunian rule. Adminius fled to continental Europe with a small group of followers and surrendered to the Romans. The emperor at the time, Caligula, presented this relatively minor event as a great victory over the foreign tribes of Britain and even penned an extravagant report which he insisted be read to the Roman senate.
Adminius appears to have persuaded Caligula that Britain was vulnerable to attack and that an invasion would be an even more famous victory for him. It is likely that the capture of the British prince was the germ of Caligula's initiative to launch an invasion of Britain. The invasion never happened, either because of Caligula's famous eccentricity, which Roman historians record led him to order his army to collect seashells from Gaulish beaches as war trophies, or because of a mutiny in the invasion force assembled at Boulogne.
In any case, Rome's refusal to return the fugitive Adminius to his father was one of the contributory factors to growing anti-Roman sentiment in Britain, which necessitated Claudius' successful invasion of that land in 43.
An inscription found in Chichester names a "Lucullus, son of Amminus". Dr. Miles Russell argues from this that Sallustius Lucullus, Roman governor of Britain in the late 1st century, was a son of this prince


Boudica (also spelled Boudicca, formerly known as Boadicea, and known in Welsh as "Buddug") (d. AD 60 or 61) was a queen of the Iceni tribe of what is now known as East Anglia in England, who led an uprising of the tribes against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire.
Boudica's husband, Prasutagus, an Icenian king who had ruled as a nominally independent ally of Rome, left his kingdom jointly to his daughters and the Roman Emperor in his will. However, when he died his will was ignored. The kingdom was annexed as if conquered, Boudica was flogged and her daughters raped, and Roman financiers called in their loans.
In AD 60 or 61, while the Roman governor, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, was leading a campaign on the island of Anglesey in north Wales, Boudica led the Iceni, along with the Trinovantes and others, in revolt. They destroyed Camulodunum (Colchester), formerly the capital of the Trinovantes, but now a colonia (a settlement for discharged Roman soldiers) and the site of a temple to the former emperor Claudius, built and maintained at local expense, and routed a Roman legion, the IX Hispana, sent to relieve the settlement.
On hearing the news of the revolt, Suetonius hurried to Londinium (London), the twenty-year-old commercial settlement which was the rebels' next target, but concluding he did not have the numbers to defend it, evacuated and abandoned it. It was burnt to the ground, as was Verulamium (St Albans). An estimated 70,000-80,000 people were killed in the three cities. Suetonius, meanwhile, regrouped his forces in the West Midlands, and despite being heavily outnumbered, defeated Boudica in the Battle of Watling Street. The crisis had led the emperor Nero to consider withdrawing all Roman forces from the island, but Suetonius's eventual victory over Boudica secured Roman control of the province.
The history of these events, as recorded by Tacitus and Cassius Dio, were rediscovered during the Renaissance and led to a resurgence of Boudica's legendary fame during the Victorian era, when Queen Victoria was portrayed as her "namesake". Boudica has since remained an important cultural symbol in the United Kingdom. The absence of native British literature during the early part of the first millennium means that Britain owes its knowledge of Boudica's rebellion to the writings of the Romans.
History Boudica's name
Until the late 20th century, Boudica was known as Boadicea, which is probably derived from a mistranscription when a manuscript of Tacitus was copied in the Middle Ages. Her name takes many forms in various manuscripts–Boadicea and Boudicea in Tacitus; Βουδουικα, Βουνδουικα, and Βοδουικα in Dio–but almost certainly, it was originally Boudicca or Boudica, and is the Proto-Celtic feminine adjective *boudīka, "victorious", derived from the Celtic word *bouda, "victory" (cf. Irish bua (Classical Irish buadh), Buaidheach, Welsh buddugoliaeth). The name is attested in inscriptions as "Boudica" in Lusitania, "Boudiga" in Bordeaux, and "Bodicca" in Britain. Based on later development of Welsh and Irish, Kenneth Jackson concludes that the correct spelling of the name in Brythonic is Boudica, pronounced [bɒʊˈdiːkaː] (the closest English equivalent to the vowel in the first syllable is the ow in "bow-and-arrow"). The modern English pronunciation is IPA: /ˈbuːdɪkə/.Location of modern Norfolk, once inhabited by the Iceni
Tacitus and Dio agree that Boudica was of royal descent. Dio says that she was "possessed of greater intelligence than often belongs to women", that she was tall, had long red hair down to her hips, a harsh voice and a piercing glare, and habitually wore a large golden necklace (perhaps a torc), a many-coloured tunic, and a thick cloak fastened by a brooch.
Her husband, Prasutagus, was the king of Iceni, people who inhabited roughly what is now Norfolk. They initially were not part of the territory under direct Roman control, having voluntarily allied themselves to Rome following Claudius's conquest of AD 43. They were jealous of their independence and had revolted in AD 47 when the then-governor, Publius Ostorius Scapula, threatened to disarm them. Prasutagus lived a long life of conspicuous wealth, and, hoping to preserve his line, made the Roman emperor co-heir to his kingdom along with his wife and two daughters.
It was normal Roman practice to allow allied kingdoms their independence only for the lifetime of their client king, who would agree to leave his kingdom to Rome in his will: the provinces of Bithynia and Galatia, for example, were incorporated into the Empire in just this way. Roman law also allowed inheritance only through the male line. So when Prasutagus died his attempts to preserve his line were ignored and his kingdom was annexed as if it had been conquered. Lands and property were confiscated and nobles treated like slaves. According to Tacitus, Boudica was flogged and her daughters raped. Dio Cassius says that Roman financiers, including Seneca the Younger, chose this time to call in their loans. Tacitus does not mention this, but does single out the procurator, Catus Decianus, for criticism for his "avarice". Prasutagus, it seems, had lived well on borrowed Roman money, and on his death his subjects had become liable for the debt.
Boudica's uprising

Boadicea Haranguing the Britons by John Opie

In AD 60 or 61, while the current governor, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, was leading a campaign against the island of Mona (modern Anglesey) in north Wales, which was a refuge for British rebels and a stronghold of the druids, the Iceni conspired with their neighbours the Trinovantes, amongst others, to revolt. Boudica was chosen as their leader. According to Tacitus, they drew inspiration from the example of Arminius, the prince of the Cherusci who had driven the Romans out of Germany in AD 9, and their own ancestors who had driven Julius Caesar from Britain. Dio says that at the outset Boudica employed a form of divination, releasing a hare from the folds of her dress and interpreting the direction in which it ran, and invoked Andraste, a British goddess of victory. Perhaps it is significant that Boudica's own name means "victory" (A statue of the emperor Claudius, to whom a temple had been raised in Camulodunum by the Romans at British expenseThe rebels' first target was Camulodunum (Colchester), the former Trinovantian capital and now a Roman colonia. The Roman veterans who had been settled there mistreated the locals, and a temple to the former emperor Claudius had been erected there at local expense, making the city a focus for resentment. The Roman inhabitants of the city sought reinforcements from the procurator, Catus Decianus, but he sent only two hundred auxiliary troops. Boudica's army fell on the poorly defended city and destroyed it, besieging the last defenders in the temple for two days before it fell. Archaeologists have shown that the city was methodically demolished. The future governor Quintus Petillius Cerialis, then commanding the Legio IX Hispana, attempted to relieve the city, but suffered an overwhelming defeat. His infantry was wiped out; only the commander and some of his cavalry escaped. Catus Decianus fled to Gaul.
When news of the rebellion reached him, Suetonius hurried along Watling Street through hostile territory to Londinium (London). Londinium was a relatively new town, founded after the conquest of 43 AD, but it had grown to be a thriving commercial centre with a population of travellers, traders, and probably, Roman officials. Suetonius considered giving battle there, but considering his lack of numbers and chastened by Petillius's defeat, decided to sacrifice the city to save the province. Londinium was abandoned to the rebels, who burnt it down, slaughtering anyone who had not evacuated with Suetonius. Archaeology shows a thick red layer of burnt debris covering coins and pottery dating before 60 AD within the bounds of the Roman city. Verulamium (St Albans) was next to be destroyed.
In the three cities destroyed, between seventy and eighty thousand people are said to have been killed. Tacitus says the Britons had no interest in taking or selling prisoners, only in slaughter by gibbet, fire, or cross. Dio's account gives more prurient detail: that the noblest women were impaled on spikes and had their breasts cut off and sewn to their mouths, "to the accompaniment of sacrifices, banquets, and wanton behaviour" in sacred places, particularly the groves of Andraste.
Romans rally

Boudicca Statue by Thomas Thornycroft, standing near Westminster Pier, London

Suetonius regrouped with the XIV Gemina, some vexillationes (detachments) of the XX Valeria Victrix, and any available auxiliaries. The prefect of Legio II Augusta, Poenius Postumus, ignored the call, but nonetheless the governor was able to call on almost ten thousand men. He took a stand at an unidentified location, probably in the West Midlands somewhere along the Roman road now known as Watling Street, in a defile with a wood behind him. But his men were heavily outnumbered. Dio says that, even if they were lined up one deep, they would not have extended the length of Boudica's line: by now the rebel forces numbered 230,000. However, this number should be treated with scepticism: Dio's account is known only from a late epitome, and ancient sources commonly exaggerate enemy numbers.
Boudica exhorted her troops from her chariot, her daughters beside her. Tacitus gives her a short speech in which she presents herself not as an aristocrat avenging her lost wealth, but as an ordinary person, avenging her lost freedom, her battered body, and the abused chastity of her daughters. Their cause was just, and the deities were on their side; the one legion that had dared to face them had been destroyed. She, a woman, was resolved to win or die; if the men wanted to live in slavery, that was their choice.
However, the lack of maneuverability of the British forces, combined with lack of open-field tactics to command these numbers, put them at a disadvantage to the Romans, who were skilled at open combat due to their superior equipment and discipline, and the narrowness of the field meant that Boudica could only put forth as many troops as the Romans could at a given time.
First, the Romans stood their ground and used volleys of pila (heavy javelins) to kill thousands of Britons who were rushing toward the Roman lines. The Roman soldiers, who had now used up their pila, were then able to engage Boudica's second wave in the open. As the Romans advanced in a wedge formation, the Britons attempted to flee, but were impeded by the presence of their own families, whom they had stationed in a ring of wagons at the edge of the battlefield, and were slaughtered. This is not the first instance of this tactic. The women of the Cimbri, in the Battle of Vercellae against Gaius Marius, were stationed in a line of wagons and acted as a last line of defence; Ariovistus of the Suebi is reported to have done the same thing in his battle against Julius Caesar. Tacitus reports that "according to one report almost eighty thousand Britons fell" compared with only four hundred Romans. According to Tacitus, Boudica poisoned herself; Dio says she fell sick and died, and was given a lavish burial.
Postumus, on hearing of the Roman victory, fell on his sword. Catus Decianus, who had fled to Gaul, was replaced by Gaius Julius Alpinus Classicianus. Suetonius conducted punitive operations, but criticism by Classicianus led to an investigation headed by Nero's freedman Polyclitus. Fearing Suetonius' actions would provoke further rebellion, Nero replaced the governor with the more conciliatory Publius Petronius Turpilianus. The historian Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus tells us the crisis had almost persuaded Nero to abandon Britain.
Location of her defeat
The location of Boudica's defeat is unknown. Most historians favour a site in the West Midlands, somewhere along the Roman road now known as Watling Street. Kevin K. Carroll suggests a site close to High Cross in Leicestershire, on the junction of Watling Street and the Fosse Way, which would have allowed the Legio II Augusta, based at Exeter, to rendezvous with the rest of Suetonius's forces, had they not failed to do so. Manduessedum (Mancetter), near the modern day town of Atherstone in Warwickshire, has also been suggested. More recently a new discovery of Roman artifacts in Kings Norton close to Metchley Camp has suggested another possibility.
Historical sources
Tacitus, the most important Roman historian of this period, took a particular interest in Britain as Gnaeus Julius Agricola, his father-in-law and the subject of his first book, served there three times. Agricola was a military tribune under Suetonius Paulinus, which almost certainly gave Tacitus an eyewitness source for Boudica's revolt. Cassius Dio's account is only known from an epitome, and his sources are uncertain. He is generally agreed to have based his account on that of Tacitus, but he simplifies the sequence of events and adds details, such as the calling in of loans, that Tacitus does not mention.
It is possible that Gildas, in his 6th century polemic De Excidio Britanniae, alludes to Boudica in his typically oblique fashion as a "treacherous lioness", although his general lack of knowledge about the real history of the Roman conquest of Britain makes this far from certain.
History and literature
By the Middle Ages Boudica was forgotten. She makes no appearance in Bede's work, the Historia Brittonum, the Mabinogion or Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain. But the rediscovery of the works of Tacitus during the Renaissance allowed Polydore Virgil to reintroduce her into British history as "Voadicea" in 1534.
Raphael Holinshed also included her story in his Chronicles (1577), based on Tacitus and Dio, and inspired Shakespeare's younger contemporaries Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher to write a play, Bonduca, in 1610.
William Cowper wrote a popular poem, Boadicea, an ode, in 1782.
It was in the Victorian era that Boudica's fame took on legendary proportions as Queen Victoria was seen to be Boudica's "namesake". Victoria's Poet Laureate, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, wrote a poem, Boadicea, and several ships were named after her. A great bronze statue of Boudica with her daughters in her war chariot (furnished with scythes after the Persian fashion) was commissioned by Prince Albert and executed by Thomas Thornycroft. It was completed in 1905 and stands next to Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament, with the following lines from Cowper's poem, referring to the British Empire:Regions Caesar never knew
"Thy posterity shall sway."
Ironically, the great anti-imperialist
rebel was now identified with the head of the British Empire, and her statue stood guard over the city she razed to the ground.
In more recent times, Boudica has been the subject of numerous documentaries, including some by Discovery Channel, History International Channel, and the BBC.
Boudica has been the subject of two feature films, the 1928 film Boadicea, where she was portrayed by Phyllis Neilson-Terry, and 2003's Boudica (Warrior Queen in the USA), a UK TV film written by Andrew Davies and starring Alex Kingston as Boudica.
A new film is planned for release in 2010 entitled Warrior, written by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, directed by Gavin O'Connor, and produced by Mel Gibson.
She has also been the subject of a 1978 British TV series, Warrior Queen, starring Sian Phillips as Boudica.
Jennifer Ward-Lealand portrayed Boudica in an episode of Xena - Warrior Princess entitled "The Deliverer" in 1997.
Boudica's story is the subject of several novels, including books by Rosemary Sutcliff, Pauline Gedge, Manda Scott, Alan Gold, Diana L. Paxson, David Wishart, George Shipway, and J. F. Broxholme (a pseudonym of Duncan Kyle). She plays a central role in the first part of G. A. Henty's novel Beric the Briton.
The viewpoint characters of Ian Watson's novel "Oracle" is an eyewitness to her defeat. She has also appeared in several comic book series, including the Sláine, which featured two runs, entitled "Demon Killer" and "Queen of Witches" giving a free interpretation of Boudica's story.
Other comic appearances include Witchblade and From Hell.
Additionally, in the alternate history novel "Ruled Britannia" by Harry Turtledove, Boudicca is the subject of a play written by William Shakespeare to incite the people of Britain to revolt against Spanish conquerors.
Henry Purcell's last major work, composed in 1695, was music for play entitled "Bonduca, or the British Heroine" (Z. 574). Selections include "To Arms", "Britons, Strike Home" and "O lead me to some peaceful gloom".
Boudica has also been the primary subject of songs by Irish singer/songwriter Enya, Dutch soprano Petra Berger, Scottish singer/songwriter Steve McDonald, English metal band Bal-Sagoth, Faith and the Muse and Dreams in the Witching House.
She has also been mentioned in The Libertines' song The Good Old Days.
Other cultural references
There have been scattered reports that the restless spirit of Boudica has been seen in the county of Lincolnshire. These reports, dating back to the mid-19th century, claim Boudica rides her chariot, heading for some unknown destination, and many a traveller and motorist have claimed to have seen her.
There is also a long-lived urban myth that she is buried under Platform 10 of King's Cross railway station in London. This originates from the village of Battle Bridge (previously on the station's site), which was said to be the site of her last battle, suicide and burial. This is now accepted as a fiction and a hoax, whose origins can be traced back to Lewis Spence's book 'Boadicea - Warrior Queen of the Britons (1937) or earlier. It is now thought that Battle Bridge was a corruption of 'Broad Ford Bridge'. Other such legends place her burial on Parliament Hill, Hampstead or in Suffolk.
In 2003, an LTR retrotransposon from the genome of the human blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni was named Boudica.
She appeared as a World Leader in Civilization II as Boadicea, and in Civilization IV's expansion Beyond the Sword, Boudica is added as a leader of the Celtic Civilization, along with Brennus.
In the BBC sitcom The Vicar of Dibley the title character is named Boadicea Geraldine Granger.
On her 1987 debut album, the Irish singer Enya performs the song "Boadicea".
Various female politicians, including former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark have been called Boadicea.
Further reading
Guy de la Bédoyère, 'Bleeding from the Roman Rods: Boudica' in Defying Rome. The Rebels of Roman Britain, Tempus, Stroud, 2003
Vanessa Collingridge; Boudica, Ebury, London, 2004
Richard Hingley & Christina Unwin, Boudica: Iron Age Warrior Queen, 2004
Manfred Böckl: Die letzte Königin der Kelten. (The last Queen of the Celts). Novel telling the life of the Iceni-Queen Boadicea in German language. (Rights: Aufbau Verlag, Berlin, Germany, 2005.)
Joseph E. Roesch, Boudica, Queen of The Iceni (London, Robert Hale Ltd, 2006).


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  2. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

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  3. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.