views updated Jun 08 2018

Caratacus, British king and opponent of the Roman invasion. Caratacus was one of several sons of the great British king Cunobelinus and on his father's death around ad 40 he and his brother Togodumnus appear to have divided the Catuvellaunian kingdom between them. Their forces jointly opposed the Roman invasion in ad 43 but Togodumnus died shortly after the battle at the Thames and Caratacus, escaping capture, seems to have fled west. He re-emerged five years later leading the Silures of south-east Wales in their initially successful attempts to repel the Roman conquest of their territory. When the Romans planted legionary fortresses at Kingsholm (Gloucester) and Wroxeter, he withdrew into central Wales and began to organize the Ordovices to oppose the Roman advance. In a pitched battle on well-chosen ground, perhaps near Caersws, his forces fought well but lost. He himself escaped and fled to Brigantia, but he was betrayed and handed over to the Romans by Queen Cartimandua. Taken in chains to Rome, he made a bold and defiant speech before Claudius (imaginatively recorded by Tacitus) which won him and his family a pardon. He spent the rest of his life in exile in Rome.

Keith Branigan


views updated May 21 2018

Caratacus (1st century ad), British chieftain, son of Cymbeline. He took part in the resistance to the Roman invasion of ad 43 and when defeated fled to Yorkshire, where he was handed over to the Romans in ad 51. His Celtic name is Caradoc, and he is also known as Caractacus.