Cartimandua – Traitor or Survivor

Whilst a lot of people know about the revolt of the Southern Iceni tribes during the time of Roman occupation of ancient Britain, less people know about an equally influential queen, Cartimandua and a revolution that took place in the vast Northern Kingdom of Brigantia. Cartimandua was the original strong Northern woman. Although many view her as a traitor, others view her as strengthening her Kingdom through allying with a strong Roman force that protected the land and territory from invasions by the Picts.

Cartimandua, Queen of Brigantia (Northern England)

Brigantia took it’s name from the Goddess Brighid, who survives today as the symbol of Britain in the form of Brittania. These lands we live in are steeped in history and it is good to preserve the earliest records of our ancestors. Although many despised the Romans, when they left, Brigantia was suddenly at the mercy of the Picts and Saxons, which changed the face of Brigantia forever. This is a quote from Tacitus: –

“Inspired by these differences between the Roman forces and by the many rumours of civil was that reached them, the britons plucked up courage under the leadership of Venutius, who, in addition to his own natural spirit and hatred of the Roman name, was fired by his personal resentment towards queen Cartimandua. She was ruler over the Brigantes, having the influence that belongs to high birth, and she had later strengthened her power when she was credited with having captured king Caratacus by treachery and so furnished an adornment for the triumph of Claudius Caesar. From this came her wealth and the wanton spirit which success breeds. She grew to despise her husband Venutius, and took as her consort his squire Vellocatus, whom she admitted to share the throne with her. Her house was at once shaken by this scandalous act. Her husband was favoured by the sentiments of all the citizens; the adulterer was supported by the queens passion for him and by her savage spirit. So Venutius, calling in aid from outside and at the same time assisted by a revolt of the Brigantes themselves, put Cartimandua into an extremely dangerous position. Then she asked the Romans for protection, and some of our auxiliary troops, cavalry and infantry, after meeting with indifferent success in a number of engagements, finally succeeded in snatching the queen from danger. The throne was left to Venutius, the war to us.” Tacitus (Histories iii, 45).

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