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Cartimandua or Cartismandua (ruled c. 43 – 69) was a queen of the Brigantes, a Celtic people in what is now Northern England, in the 1st century. She came to power around the time of the Roman conquest of Britain, and formed a large tribal agglomeration that became loyal to Rome. She is known exclusively from the work of a single Roman historian, Tacitus, though she appears to have been widely influential in early Roman Britain. Her name may contain the Indo-European element *mandw-, "pony".[1]



Although Cartimandua is first mentioned by Tacitus in AD 51, her rule over the Brigantes may have already been established when the emperor Claudius began the organized conquest of Britain in 43: she may have been one of the eleven "kings" who Claudius' triumphal arch says surrendered without a fight.[2] If not, she may have come to power after a revolt of a faction of the Brigantes was defeated by Publius Ostorius Scapula in 48.[3] Of "illustrious birth" according to Tacitus,[4] she probably inherited her power as she appears to have ruled by right rather than through marriage. She and her husband, Venutius, are described by Tacitus as loyal to Rome and "defended by our [Roman] arms". In 51 the British resistance leader Caratacus sought sanctuary with Cartimandua after being defeated by Ostorius Scapula in Wales, but Cartimandua handed him over to the Romans in chains.[5]

Having given Claudius the greatest exhibit of his triumph, Cartimandua was rewarded with great wealth.[4] She later divorced Venutius, replacing him with his armour-bearer, Vellocatus. In 57, although Cartimandua had seized and held his brother and other relatives hostage, Venutius made war against her and then against her Roman protectors. He built alliances outside the Brigantes, and during the governorship of Aulus Didius Gallus (52 - 57) he staged an invasion of the kingdom. The Romans had anticipated this and sent some cohorts to defend their client queen. The fighting was inconclusive until Caesius Nasica arrived with a legion, the IX Hispana, and defeated the rebels. Cartimandua retained the throne thanks to prompt military support from Roman forces.[6]

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