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Catuvellauni

Catuvellauni. A British tribe and civitas. The Catuvellauni first appear in Roman records in Dio Cassius' account of the Claudian invasion of ad 43, where they led the opposition to the Roman forces. From the information Dio provides, we can trace the tribal kingdom back at least three generations to a king called Tasciovanus by the coins issued by him and his successor Cunobelinus. In fact, it seems likely that the chief called Cassivellaunus who had opposed Caesar in 54 bc had already begun to carve out the Catuvellaunian kingdom. The tribal name means ‘good in battle’, which seems particularly appropriate. By the time of the Claudian invasion, they had not only swallowed up smaller local tribes like the Ancalites, Bibroci, and Cassi but had captured large tracts of territory from the Trinovantes and Atrebates, and were pressing both the Cantiaci and the Iceni. The civitas which the Romans created in the mid-70s reflects this expansion, with its boundaries including Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and Bedfordshire, much of Northamptonshire and parts of Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire as well. The civitas capital was at Verulamium (next to modern St Albans), which had been the original capital of Tasciovanus' kingdom.

Keith Branigan

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