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The Trinovantes And Juluis Casesar Essay

3249 words - 13 pages

The Trinovantes’ earliest interaction with Rome occurs during Julius Caesar’s British campaign in 55 B.C. During his campaign, Caesar’s protection is requested by Mandubracius, the young son of the deceased Trinovantian king, Imanuentius. In his account, Caesar brings the Trinovantes under his protection—only after they agree to his terms—and describes the tribe as “almost the most powerful state of those parts” (Caesar 5.20, De Bello Gallico). It can be inferred from this passage that the Trinovantes were in a less than ideal political situation at the time of their first interaction with Rome. This is presumably because they were without a king and were not the most powerful state in the region.
A tribe known as the Catuvellauni, based out of Hertfordshire, appears to be the most powerful state in the southeastern Britain at the time of Caesar’s conquest. This is likely because their king Cassivellaunus killed the Trinovantian king, Imanuentius, in battle. If the Trinovantes were a strong power in southeastern Britain, as described by Caesar, it would likely take an even more powerful state to defeat them in battle. Additionally, the Catuvellauni were known to be the neighbors and “traditional enemies” of the Trinovantes (Dunnett 8, The Trinovantes). Again, if the Trinovantes were almost the most powerful tribe in southeastern Britain, it is unlikely that the Catuvellauni were not the most powerful state, since they had defeated the Trinovantes in battle. Lastly, Caesar describes the Catuvellauni as his “principal opponent” (Caesar 5.20). This description is important because during Roman conquest, Rome often sought to first eliminate the most powerful tribe in a region, regardless of whether this was through brute force or diplomacy. Thus it is likely that the Catuvellauni were the most powerful state in southeastern Britain at the time of Caesar’s conquest in 54 B.C.
Although most scholars commonly view the Trinovantes as enemies of the Catuvellauni, this was not always the case. Dunnett describes the Trinovantes as Caesar’s “principal allies” and the “traditional enemies” of the Catuvellauni. Thus, according to Dunnett it can be reasonably assumed, that they fought with Caesar against the Catuvellauni during the conquest of 54 B.C. Additionally, Mandubracius’ request for Caesar’s protection, presumes that the Trinovantian people would fight against the Catuvellauni. Furthermore, both sides appeared to benefit from the alliance, as the Trinovantes had lost hegemony to the Catuvellauni and the Romans desired to have a strong ally. Scholar, Barry Cunliffe describes that after Mandubracius was taken under Caesar’s protection, the Trinovantes fought against the Romans. Cunliffe notes that, “as soon as the Roman threat appeared, personal animosities were forgotten [among the Trinovantes] and…Cassivellaunus was elected the over war leader of resistance” (Cunliffe, Iron Age Communities in Britain, 119). From this passage, there is a sense that...

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