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Brigantes

The Brigantes was probably the largest tribe in Celtic Britain, though compromising a loose federation rather than a centralised community. They occupied most of modern-day England north of the Mersey and the Humber. Their chief settlement was initially at Isurium and later Eboracum (York). Their queen Cartimandua, who reigned about 50-70AD was responsible for turning the fugitive Caratacus over to the Romans, but the Brigantes were to prove unreliable subjects of Rome for the next 100 years.

Trinovantes

The trinovantes, whose Kings in the pre-Roman period included Addedomus, Tasciovanus and Dumnovellaunus, formed an alliance with Julius Caesar during his invasions of 55-54BC. Caesar protected them against their powerful and aggressive neighbours the Catuvellauni. Fifty years later Roman policy had changed : political entanglements outside the empire were avoided, and Cunobelinus was able to subjugate not only the Trinovantes but also other friends of Rome including the Atrebates.

Catuvellauni

The homeland of the Catuvellauni was modern Hertfordshire. Their King, Cassivellaunus took the lead in resisting the invasion of Julius Caesar. He overcame the customary tribal animosities of Celtic Britain by forming an alliance of neighbouring tribes. His headquarters was Veralamium (St Albans). His successor , Tasciovanus, was recognised as a Roman ‘client-King’ at the same time as Tincommius. Under his son, Cunobelinus, the Catuvellauni became the leading power in Southern Britain before the Roman conquest.

Cunobelinus conquered the Trinovantes early in the first century gaining Camulodunum, the chief centre for continental trade, which became his capital. He took over part of Kent, the Midlands and territory of the Atrebates in Sussex and Hampshire. Coins were minted in Camulodunum and referred to him as rex ‘King’ and he was called ‘King of the Britons’.

Outlying provinces were governed by sons of Cunobelinus or other members of his family. His personal empire ended with his death. His son Togodomnus was killed fighting the Romans. Another son Caratacus who ruled from the Atrebates settlement of Calleva (Silchester), retreated to Wales. Caratacus led the Welsh tribes, the Silures and Ordovices against the Romans until 50 AD when defeated, he retreated to the territory of the Brigantes who betrayed him to Rome. A third son of Cunobelinus, Adminus, ruled in Kent until he fled to Rome in about 40 AD.

Atrebates

This tribe occupied south-central England as well as some of Belgic Gaul. The leader of the Atrebates in Britain from 50 BC was Commius, who fled to Britain after fighting the Romans in Gaul. He also ruled over the neighbouring Regni (who occupied what is now West Sussex) His lands were split up under his sons, Tincommius Eppillus and Verica.

Tincommius adopted a pro-Roman policy and was recognised by the Emperor Augustus as a ‘client-King’ in 15BC. Like his brother Verica, who issued coins bearing a vine leaf motif and ruled the area of Regni, he came under pressure from Cunobelinus (see the Catuvellauni) and eventually fled to Rome.

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