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Trinovantes. A British tribe and civitas. The Trinovantes are the first British tribe to be mentioned by a Roman author, appearing in Caesar's account of his invasion of 54 bc. Already at this early date, they seem to have been engaged in a power struggle with the neighbouring tribes to the west who were to be forged into the kingdom of the Catuvellauni under Tasciovanus. Caesar took them under his protection, but eventually they succumbed and c. ad 10 were absorbed by Cunobelinus, who moved the Catuvellaunian capital to Camulodunum (Colchester). Thus, at the time of the Claudian conquest, the Trinovantes had no independent existence. However, the inevitable reduction of the huge Catuvellaunian kingdom provided the opportunity for the Trinovantes to be restored as a tribal entity. But the imposition of a Roman colony on their old tribal centre, and the abuses and expense which this brought, created resentments which spilled over at the time of the Boudiccan revolt in ad 60–1. Despite their role in the rebellion, within fifteen years the Trinovantes had been given local self-governing status as a civitas. The seat of their government is uncertain; it may have been Camulodunum but Chelmsford (Caesaromagus) is also a possibility.

Keith Branigan

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