When the Romans
in AD 43, their most implacable enemy
was Caractacus, the chief
of the Catuvellauni tribe
Caractacus was the overlord of all the tribes of south-eastern Britain. When the Roman army
landed, led by Plautius, Caractacus gathered his warriors
and headed south to meet them. The two armies met on the banks of the River
After two days of ferocious fighting, the Britons were forced to retreat. Caractacus turned to fight at the Thames
, but was again beaten. His kingdom
was conquered by Rome
, but Caractacus was not.
He moved westwards with a warband of picked Catuvellauni warriors. For the next four years Caractacus launched numerous raids
on Roman Britain. By AD 47 Caractacus had gathered a sizeable force and had gained the loyalty
of the western tribes. He launced them in a major attack on the Romans. The new Governor
, Ostorius, only managed to push Caractacus back with difficulty.
The next year, Ostorius launched a Roman attack, only to fail when faced by a fresh attack by Caractacus' Britons.
The strong charismatic leadership of Caractacus held the free
tribes of Britons together while his careful planning launced them on a series of successful attacks which the Romans could barely withstand.
In AD 51, Caractacus was betrayed to the Romans by the queen
of the Brigantes tribe. He was taken to Rome in chains and paraded through the streets by the Emperor Claudius
. His capture was a great victory and the Romans were determined to make the most of it. The last word though belonged to Caractacus. Gazing at the mighty temples
of Rome he asked the Emperor: "Why, when you have all this, did you want my poor hut