Thread Rating:
  • 1 Vote(s) - 5 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
Brick 
Ah, this debate has a sort of nostalgic familiarity to it now - like the colour of autumn leaves, or the John Lewis Christmas advert... [Image: biggrin.png]

(11-13-2015, 11:51 AM)John1 Wrote: Maybe this area had some tribal significance as a meeting point? maybe it is a wider landscape of significance as a rallying point?

Maybe. No doubt ancient Britain was covered with 'landscapes of significance'. But why should that help us identify the site of the battle? Paulinus chose the site, for tactical reasons, not Boudica for reasons of native British significance.

Tribal differences and divisions are interesting though. At the risk of once more bringing up things outside the boundaries of the topic, I was reading back through Tacitus's brief account of the 47 Iceni revolt - it seems that several neighouring tribes joined the Romans in fighting the rebellion... Maybe the ones to the west (in the Midlands)?
Reply
I'm not certain it will, but I would have thought that in testing sites the context of each might indicate something. Prior to this debate the world seemed pretty content with Mancetter and Paulerspury as candidates. Neither had a meaningful narrative of the campaign other than marching/parading distance along known Roman Roads, that's a pretty weak set of geographic factors particularly when set against both sites weak correlation with the topographic description.

In pursuing CS I've made headway (for myself, not for you I appreciate) in assessing the location based on rivers and topography and distances from London, all geographic factors.  We now have a set of candidates sites that have ok topography, ok travel distances and some strategic rationales. However I'm just engaging with this particular set of topics on the basis that there may be some strategic observation we could glean from the location of candidate sites within the cultural geography of then British society, ie borders.

I had a chat with Martin Marix Evans a few years back, in passing he mentioned that a coin study around the Nene valley was yielding some interesting theories about the area as a tribal common ground but I don't know more than that. But it strikes me that in assessing individual sites as we are now we should trawl a pretty wide spectrum factors that may have been in play but are quite different in each site case. Except for druids.
Reply
Nathan Ross wrote:

Tribal differences and divisions are interesting though. At the risk of once more bringing up things outside the boundaries of the topic, I was reading back through Tacitus's brief account of the 47 Iceni revolt - it seems that several neighouring tribes joined the Romans in fighting the rebellion... Maybe the ones to the west (in the Midlands)?

An interesting aside which would seem to re-inforce the idea that tribes would band together when necessary to fight the Romans - not only in Britannia but also in Gaul 100 years earlier where Vercingetorix gathered together a huge army made up of various tribes to fight Caesar.

(I've left out the Druids and apologise for being off topic but it is relevant to understand the opposition in this battle)

John wrote:

Does this map throw up any observations for any of the other sites?
   
I do think that boundaries are important in the whole war and the "Chivery Top" site near Tring does have a large portion of "Grims Ditch"  which has been associated as a major tribal boundary possibly to re-inforce the enscarpments running across the country.

Nathan does have a valid point however in that it was Paulinus who chose the battle site for its defensive and strategic attributes, not the Brythons, so tribal boundaries were probably irrelevant to the Romans.   

Deryk
Deryk
Reply
(11-13-2015, 10:20 PM)Theoderic Wrote: Nathan does have a valid point however in that it was Paulinus who chose the battle site for its defensive and strategic attributes, not the Brythons, so tribal boundaries were probably irrelevant to the Romans.

This may not be strictly correct.  Tribal boundaries could have had a bearing on Paulinus' line of withdrawal.  I have argued that his main concern would have been to link up with his reinforcements as quickly as possible but, at the same time, he would have wanted to take a route that did not carry the constant danger of his being attacked by hostile local tribesmen.  My favoured route, as you all know, would be up Watling Street to Verulamium and then along Akeman Street to Tring.  This would have been entirely within the territory of the Catuvellauni, whom he may reasonably have expected to be friendly.  If Verulamium was the tribal centre, as Briggs' map suggests, and had recently been made a municipium, this could indicate that the process of Romanization was well advanced in that tribe.  This can be distinguished from the Trinovantes, who had had the colonia imposed upon them and who had been antagonized by the arrogant behaviour of the veterans settled in the colony.  Indeed, the sacking of Verulamium by Boudica's forces, as well is being an attack on a symbol of Romanization, could also be taken as a warning to the Catuvellauni of what they could expect if they continued to support the 'wrong' side.  In any event, my thought is that Paulinus may have chosen a route of withdrawal (and thus a battle site) that, so far as possible, kept him within the territory of a friendly tribe and that, therefore, tribal boundaries could have been of some relevance to him.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
Reply
(11-14-2015, 06:11 PM)Renatus Wrote: a route of withdrawal (and thus a battle site) that, so far as possible, kept him within the territory of a friendly tribe

I agree - and this would work for the western withdrawal as well, falling back on Cogidubnus's territory.

It would also provide further support for a battle site in the south east, where the main pro-Roman tribes were located.
Reply
Renatus wrote:


a route of withdrawal (and thus a battle site) that, so far as possible, kept him within the territory of a friendly tribe

I agree that Paulinus was retreating along Akeman Street to join up with his forces in the West.

My thought is that Paulinus retreated from Londonium, destroyed any crossing and the warehouses after emptying them of food or weapons and took the refugees up to Verulamium, picked up any more refugees (Roman citizens) there, destroyed Verulamium after taking any more food or weapons left and then proceeded along to Akeman Street

I am not convinced that all the Catuvellauni were friendly although Verulamium was an established municipium with its own Roman citizens but this may not have extended to all the tribal members.

I think that Paulinus had to find a place to stand and fight because he was being closely pursued by hostiles after leaving Verulamium, not enough to immediately bring him to battle but enough to cause him death by a thousand cuts of constant small attacks.

Once he had stopped he could create a defendable position.

This allowed the Brythons to regroup and attack later…..


Deryk
Deryk
Reply
(11-20-2015, 06:50 PM)Theoderic Wrote: I think that Paulinus had to find a place to stand and fight because he was being closely pursued by hostiles after leaving Verulamium, not enough to immediately bring him to battle but enough to cause him death by a thousand cuts of constant small attacks.

Once he had stopped he could create a defendable position.




Deryk

Has the concept of a prepared position ever crossed your mind? Generals do not do things in haste or by accident. 

I think Pauliinus knew exactly where he was going and where he wanted to be to exploit his cavalry and restrict the Britons' chariots. A bit like Wellington going over Waterloo and Quatre Bras the year before the major engagement with Napoleon.
Moi Watson

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
Reply
Vindex wrote:
 
I think Pauliinus knew exactly where he was going and where he wanted to be to exploit his cavalry and restrict the Britons' chariots. A bit like Wellington going over Waterloo and Quatre Bras the year before the major engagement with Napoleon.
 
Contemporary sources state the following:
 
.....he was not willing to risk a conflict with the barbarians immediately, as he feared their numbers and their desperation but was inclined to postpone battle to a more convenient season.
 
then
 
….but as he grew short of food and the barbarians pressed relentlessly upon him, he was compelled, contrary to his judgement, to engage them.

I do agree that any Governor would understand the topography of the Province and therefore would know many defendable areas.
 
He must have known the road network and any outstanding features and also dispositions of his own forces and the enemy and their numbers from scouting and intelligence but whether he would have imagined an uprising by the allied or conquered tribes is a moot point.
 
So I think that although he may have known of Chivery Top (which is made up of three extremely high hills with outstanding views of the surrounding country side) especially as his expertise had been associated with mountains and the site was near the only municipium in the Province,  I am not necessarily sure that he originally intended to fight the Brythons here.
 
So many of his plans had to be changed because of a constantly fluid situation and rather than attack the perpetrators of the uprising he was forced to retreat.
 
Having said that, when he was pushed into yet another decision to engage the enemy he would have known the best local place to defend and as we know there were a number of possibilities depending on the route he took.
 
Therefore I would agree that he chose a site that he already knew was best for his cavalry and restricted the Brythons’ chariots.

Deryk
 
        
Deryk
Reply
When/if we find the location..........can I please shout......"ARE WE THERE YET" ?.......Some one say yes......and we have found it.
Oh simplicity, is it not wonderful?
Kevin
Kevin
Reply
A number of points arise from these latest comments.  I agree that a governor should be expected to know his province but I doubt that this needs to have extended to an intimate knowledge of potential battle sites, especially within the parts of the province that were supposed to be pacified.  However, what he would have done, having been forced into withdrawing before an advancing enemy, is to have kept a constant eye open for any site which would have been advantageous to him, should he be compelled to give battle.  It is evident that the site of the final battle was one of his choosing.

I think it unlikely that he would have destroyed Verulamium, if that is what is being suggested.  He would, I am sure, have removed or destroyed any weapons and also, perhaps, stocks of food.  I am in two minds over the food question in both London and in Verulamium.  Would he have left the food warehouses untouched in the hope that collecting the food would delay the rebels' advance and buy him more time to gather his forces or would he have destroyed the stocks, knowing that the rebels would then have to rely on foraging to get their supplies and thus be delayed further?  The latter is perhaps more likely but I remain uncertain.  Whatever his choice, the sources seem to indicate that the rebels moved more quickly than he anticipated.

I am not sure that he was much concerned with gathering refugees.  It seems clear that he was not prepared to be held up by the civilians who chose to accompany his army.  The choice that he gave the inhabitants of London was that they could accompany him as long as they were able to keep up.  He may have given the same choice to the inhabitants of Verulamium or he may have left his London civilians there to fend for themselves, having removed them from the immediate danger.

I believe that, having left Verulamium, he chose to pause in the vicinity of Tring because it offered a number of strategic advantages, lying at the junction of Akeman Street with the Icknield Way.  His reinforcements could join Akeman Street from the north, west or south and then proceed along it until they could rendezvous with him.  Until then, from that position he could observe the movements of the rebels and react accordingly.  If they went up Watling Street with the intention of joining the Icknield Way and then going east, he could go up the more southerly part of the Icknield Way and cut them off at Dunstable or, if he did not feel strong enough to do that, he could shadow them until his reinforcements caught up with him.  The rebels could only travel as fast as their wagon train would let them and the relatively unencumbered Romans could outpace them at any time.  Alternatively, if the rebels approached along Akeman Street, he could withdraw further west and see what they did on reaching Tring.  If they continued on that route towards the territory of the Dobunni, he could withdraw ahead of them until he met his reinforcements or, if they turned on to the Icknield Way and proceeded south towards the territory of the Atrebates, again he could shadow them until his reinforcements caught up.

We know, of course, that none of these things happened.  Paulinus probably realised that his reinforcements were simply not going to reach him in time, at least not in significant numbers, and that he was unlikely to find a better site to give battle with the limited numbers that he had.  Accordingly, he decided to make his stand there with the results that we know.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
Reply
Renatus wrote:

I think it unlikely that he would have destroyed Verulamium, if that is what is being suggested.

If I suggested that - I meant the warehouses where there is evidence of fire but if there were any defensive features these would have been destroyed similarly to a temporary camp at the end of its use. 

Food would have been of strategic importance and like weapons it would not have been left available to an enemy to gain an advantage.


Renatus wrote:

I am not sure that he was much concerned with gathering refugees.


It is important not to forget that Paulinus was Governor of the Province and not only had a military duty but one of due care for any Roman Citizens in the Province.

There may have been some in Londinium (but it was not dignified by the name of a colony) but the municipium of Verulamium would automatically have had Roman Citizens.  
 
For Paulinus to have abandoned them would have been unforgivable both by his own and Rome's standards so they would have been taken as well which might of slowed him down allowing the charioteers of the Brythons to start harassing his column which is why possibly he stopped at Chivery Top to give battle.

I do agree that strategically it is a brilliant place to control events.

Deryk 
Deryk
Reply
(11-20-2015, 11:44 PM)Theoderic Wrote: It is important not to forget that Paulinus was Governor of the Province and not only had a military duty but one of due care for any Roman Citizens in the Province.

There may have been some in Londinium (but it was not dignified by the name of a colony) but the municipium of Verulamium would automatically have had Roman Citizens.

For Paulinus to have abandoned them would have been unforgivable both by his own and Rome's standards so they would have been taken as well which might of slowed him down allowing the charioteers of the Brythons to start harassing his column which is why possibly he stopped at Chivery Top to give battle.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  No doubt in different circumstances Paulinus would have wanted to save everyone he could but his overwhelming priority was to get himself into a position in which he could defeat the enemy in the field and thereby save the province as a whole.  If he failed in that, everything was lost.  He was quite capable of being ruthless where the situation demanded it, as his attitude to the pleadings of the inhabitants of London, citizens or non-citizens alike, demonstrates.  He was prepared to offer what assistance he could to those able to accompany him but only to the extent that it did not impede him in achieving his primary objective, the defeat of the rebels. There was no room for sentiment.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
Reply
Renatus wrote:

He was prepared to offer what assistance he could to those able to accompany him but only to the extent that it did not impede him in achieving his primary objective, the defeat of the rebels. There was no room for sentiment.

I don't think this was about sentiment but about duty.

As you say he offered people an opportunity within parameters to accompany him for their protection. If they didn't take advantage of his offer that was their decision but as you say he had to be pragmatic.

He had a duty to protect Roman citizens otherwise what was he defending? 

All of the inhabitants of Verulamium had Roman citizenship status whereas only certain people based in Londinium were citizens, so the numbers of Roman citizens who would have wanted to travel with him from Londinium but couldn't, would have been comparatively minimal.

Deryk
Deryk
Reply
Then what are you saying here, please?

The Governor' s duty was to his Emperor; it was also his own reputation first and anything else was a bonus. A legionary general can be blamed for losing his men, the loss of the Province is his responsibility alone.
Moi Watson

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
Reply
Whatever its legal status, London was a thriving commercial and administrative centre.  Accordingly, it is probable that a significant proportion of its population would have been Roman citizens.  By contrast, the inhabitants of a provincial municipium, such as Verulamium, would not have become Roman citizens automatically.  The magistrates and their families would be granted citizenship upon their retirement but, as Verulamium had only recently been granted municipal status, there are unlikely to have been many of these.  Those who were citizens are likely to have been so already.  You have set out Paulinus' position very well:

(11-22-2015, 12:03 AM)Theoderic Wrote: As you say he offered people an opportunity within parameters to accompany him for their protection. If they didn't take advantage of his offer that was their decision but as you say he had to be pragmatic.

I could not have put it better myself.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Armchair Wall walking mcbishop 3 1,909 01-11-2012, 03:22 AM
Last Post: Vindex

Forum Jump: