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Cunobelinus succeeded Tasciovanus as king of the Catuvellauni around ad 5. His coins identify him as the son of Tasciovanus, but whether this was by birth, adoption, or simply political style is uncertain. What is clear is that he continued Tasciovanus' vigorous expansion of the Catuvellaunian kingdom at the expense of neighbouring tribes. By ad 10 he had overrun the kingdom of the Trinovantes and had moved his own capital from Verulamium (St Albans) to Camulodunum (Colchester), from where he now issued most of his coinage. South of the Thames he encroached on the territory of the Cantiaci, and to the south-west the Atrebates, whilst to the north and the north-east he pushed into the fringes of the Coritanian and Icenian kingdoms. He became the most powerful monarch in Britain and the Roman historian Suetonius described him as ‘Britannorum rex’—king of the Britons. He reigned for more than 35 years, dying only a year or two before the Claudian invasion of ad 43. He sired at least three sons, one of whom, Adminius, he banished for unknown reasons around ad 35. His other known sons, Togodumnus and Caratacus, succeeded him and shared the kingdom between them. Whether, like them, Cunobelinus would have provided Claudius with a pretext for invasion by the expulsion of a Roman ally—Verica of the Atrebates—is open to debate.

Keith Branigan

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Cunobelinus: see Cymbeline.