Book 1, Chapter 3, 55 BC to 78 AD – Julius Caesar – Continued
Cassivellaunus abandoned all idea of fighting, and dismissed the greater part of his forces, retaining only about four thousand men in chariots. With these he watched our march, and, retiring out of our way, lay in wait for us among the wood sand difficult passes. Meanwhile, he cleared the whole country through which our road lay, both of men and cattle, and when our foragers went out to get provisions and waste the country, his knowledge of the ways enabled him to assail them with all his chariots, this caused much danger to our cavalry, and prevented them from going far from the main body. “
No federal bond, however, existed among the different British tribes, and one by one, they made terms of peace with the invaders. The first to do this were the Trinobantes, who occupied that part of the country now known as Essex and Middlesex, and who undertook to furnish the Roman army with a supply of corn, and to leave forty hostages. Their example was followed by tribes whom Caesar designates the Cerimagni, the Segontiaci, the Ancalites, the Bibroci, and others, dwelling in what is now called Suffolk, Hertford, Bedford, Bucks, Berks, Hants. Caesar was informed that the town of Cassivellaunus was not far off, surrounded by woods and marshes, and occupied by a large number of men and cattle. This town is supposed to have been near to the site of St. Alban’s, and on the spot where the flourishing Roman colony of Verulamium afterwards arose. This town, as it was called, appears to have been a fastness in the woods, partly natural, partly artificial, with huts scattered about it, the whole surrounded by a mound or trench, as a place of retreat and of protection. The Roman general marched to this place, and attacked it on two sides. The Britons bravely defended their rampart for a time, but at length gave way, and abandoned it, with all the cattle it contained. Many prisoners were taken in the pursuit.
The British leader, though deserted by most of his allies, and though some of his own people had submitted to the Romans, resolved on making one more effort. By a bold scheme, which promised to be successful, he hoped to cut off the Romans from their sea camp, and even to destroy it. He sent to the four chiefs who ruled in Cantium, or Kent, desiring them to assail the camp, which they did, but the Romans, issuing from their entrenchments, repulsed the attack with great slaughter, and took one of the chiefs prisoner, though not until after a long and fierce conflict. Cassivellaunus, on this, gave up the contest, and sued for peace, which was granted so readily, and on such favourable terms, that one of two things may be suspected, either, that the conquest of Britain was not so easy as the conquest of some other nations had been, or, that Caesar had not attempted the campaign with any serious designs of subjugation, but only for a present occupation, or as a means to the attainment of his personal ends.
Chapter 3, Julius Caesar
Divisions among the British Tribes
Chapter 3, Caractacus
Chapter 3, The Romans Revenge
Categories: Book 1