Book 1, Chapter 3, 55 BC to 78 AD – Caractacus – Continued
On his return to the capital, imperial projects and events were of such importance and urgency, as to leave no time for the scene of his latest campaign, and after his assassination, successive emperors had quite enough to do in consolidating and strengthening their position. For nearly a century the Britons were undisturbed, and maintained their original independence. During that time, some of them, either for purposes of trade or of pleasure, extended their journeys into Gaul, and even visited Rome, for Strabo speaks of some of the British chiefs having sent ambassadors to cultivate the friendship of Augustus Caesar, and to bring offerings of peace and amity. This emperor several times announced his intention of annexing Britain to the empire, but was prevented by urgent matters of state. The tribute which was exacted by Julius Caesar, appears never to have been paid, or only paid in portions, and with great irregularity, and Augustus contented himself with levying customs and duties on articles of trade between Gaul and ‘Britain, Augustus, as one legacy to his successors, left advice that the country should not be interfered with, and that it would be well not to extend the empire by further conquests, lest internal power should be weakened, advice which Tiberius made the excuse for his lethargic reign. Caligula, the next emperor, among his mad freaks, appeared at the head of an army at Boulogne, and after pretending to conquer and take possession of the ocean by sailing for a short time upon it in his galley, ordered the soldiers to fill their helmets with shells, as the spoils of the ocean, and then led them back, as if in triumph, to Rome.
Among the arts existing in Britain, and which had probably been introduced from Gaul, was that of coining, for numerous coins of British chiefs or sovereigns have been found, bearing Roman inscriptions, though apparently copied from Greek coins. These confirm the statements of tradition as to the names of certain ruling chiefs, and especially of two of the more powerful and numerous tribes. The legends on the coins also indicate that after the departure of the Romans, the natives built and fortified larger towns than had existed in the country prior to the arrival of Julius Caesar. The power, or partial supremacy, which had been enjoyed in his time by Cassivellaunus, was inherited by his son Tasciovanus, who was father of the celebrated Cunobeline, or Cymbeline, as Shakespeare terms him. He lived during the reigns of the emperors Tiberius and Caligula, and was a chief of great power and influence. Yet the tribes over which be ruled were often divided, and rebelled against his authority, and one of his sons, taking part with them on one occasion against him, was banished, and found an asylum at Rome, when he incited Caligula to undertake the fruitless expedition already referred to. Another of Cymbeline’s sons was Caractacus, whose name often occurs in the history of the invasion under the emperor Claudius.
Chapter 3, Julius Caesar
Chapter 3, Caractacus
Policy of Succeeding Emperors
Chapter 3, The Romans Revenge
Categories: Book 1