Published on October 31, 2007
The invasion of Britain: The invasion of Britain Attempt One! 55 BCE Attempt Two! 54 BCE Attempt Three! 43 CE Attempt One!: Attempt One! The Celts knew that the Romans were coming! Julius Caesar had sent messages to the tribes in Britain in the hope that they would surrender! One Autumn morning two legions (about 10 000 soldiers) boarded 80 ships and left France/Gaul heading for the English/Celtic coast! What did they find?: What did they find? Sailing close the Romans discovered the Celts in full warpaint waiting for them, with their spears and swords and war chariots! The Roman soldiers did not want to jump into the water (there was no port), wade up to the shore and immediately have to start fighting these ‘barbarians’. Caesar wrote:: Caesar wrote: “The man who carried the eagle of the Tenth Legion prayed to the gods and cried out, “Come on lads! Jump if you don’t want to lose your eagle to the enemy.” He then leapt into the water and began wading towards the shore. The others followed, shouting that they must not shame themselves by losing their eagle.” On shore: On shore Once on shore the Romans had to fight hard and long. The Romans had to wade through water and then struggle up the beach. The Celts had the advantage. The Celts had been waiting for them. They had all the beach and the land behind. Veni, vidi, vici!: Veni, vidi, vici! The Romans eventually began to win and the Celts retreated. The Romans could not chase after them though as their horses were still on the boats. The Celts came asking for peace and, on handing over hostages, peace was made within 4 days of landing. Storm at sea!: Storm at sea! However storms damaged the Roman ships with the horses on board, and the ships drawn up on the beach The Romans had not brought enough corn with them to last a long time. The Romans had to send soldiers out to find corn and were attacked by the Celts. The Celtic charioteers: The Celtic charioteers The Celts attacked again with their chariots Caesar wrote: “they drive about in all directions and throw their weapons and ... break the ranks of the enemy with the dread of their horse and the noise of their wheels; and ...leap from their chariots and engage in battle.” Slide9: The Roman army stood firm and forced the Celts to retreat again. Again the Celts asked for peace. Caesar decided to go back to Gaul, before the weather got too bad. The Roman army retreated to the remaining boats and went back to France/Gaul. Attempt Two!: Attempt Two! 6 months later Caesar was back with; Over 800 ships 5 legions (30 000 men) 2 000 cavalry The Celts were nowhere in sight! They were alarmed by the number of ships and had hidden! Veni, vidi, vici (Take 2!): Veni, vidi, vici (Take 2!) Caesar found the Celts’ hiding place and the legions, using the ‘testudo’ formation entered their hiding place and they fled. That night a great storm (!) damaged nearly all the ships and Caesar and his legions had to return. He found that most could be repaired. This took ten days. Action!: Action! The Celts had time to gather under one chief, Cassivellaunus. When Caesar returned to the Celts hiding place they were waiting for them. The Celts again got away, fighting very hard and confusing the Romans. The Romans followed and met the Celts at the Thames. Victory!: Victory! Cassivellaunus retreated and the legions chased after him. The Celts fought a guerilla war for a while, attacking from the woods and then retreating fast. Other Celtic tribes began making peace with Caesar. They told Caesar where Cassivellaunus’ fort was and he attacked. Back to Gaul (again!): Back to Gaul (again!) Cassivelluanus asked for peace. Hostages were handed over to Caesar. Caesar told the Celts what he wanted them to pay the Romans as tribute. Before the Autumn set in, Caesar and his legions sailed back to Gaul (he had never intended to stay). Attempt Three!: Attempt Three! The Romans left Britain alone for nearly one hundred years. The Celts still paid tribute. Many Celts traded in Roman goods. Then the emperor Claudius decided to show the Romans how powerful he was. Slide16: One of the Celtic kings, a friend of Rome, died and his son, Caractacus, seized land from other tribes freidnly to Rome. Claudius sent his general Plautius to England, with 40 000 soldiers, in the summer of 43 CE. In a two day battle they defeated Caractacus. Victory (for good)!: Victory (for good)! The Romans chased the Celts to the Thames and again fought them in battle and won. Caractacus fled. Plautius stopped and waited for Claudius to come to Britain (with elephants). The tribes submitted to Claudius at Colchester (Camulodunum). Triumph!: Triumph! The 9th Legion went north. The 2nd Legion went west. The 14th Legion went to the Midlands. South east Britain became a province of Rome and Claudius returned to Rome. He left behind a temple dedicated to him and a triumphal arch.