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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. He was sentenced to death as a military prisoner, but made a speech before his execution that caused the Emperor, Claudius to spare him. The legendary Welsh character Caradog ap Bran 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 protégé 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. According to established history, 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. An alternative reading of Dio's history of the invasion suggests that Togodumnus may actually have been acting in support of the Roman troops, against his brother Caratacus, and that he survived the battles of the River Thames, providing the later Roman administration with valued assistance.[4] Dr Miles Russell of Bournemouth University has further suggested that Togodumnus and Tiberius Claudius Togidubnus, postulated resident of the late 1st century AD palace at Fishbourne may well have been one and the same. Claudius was present in August when his legions marched into Camulodunum (Colchester), the capital of the Catuvellauni,[5] but Caratacus survived and carried on the resistance further west.

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