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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
"near Stonea" 
well that's one theory, there are bodies at Stonea but the date range could even put them in the 61AD post revolt clean up.
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Nathan wrote:


Yes. It's interesting that all the fighting in Britain we know about (Boudica excepted), following the immediate invasion campaign, seems to have happened in the far west, Wales and the north.

It could be that the peoples of the south-east and Midlands, perhaps due to a closer affinity or cultural connection with the Gauls of the continent, perhaps a more developed social system or economy, found it easier to assimilate to Roman control and live under Roman laws and taxation.

This is a valid point and well made and trading with the Roman Empire always carried taxes which merchants were prepared to pay . It also helped with the Client Kingdoms of course seeing themselves as allies as opposed to a conquered race. 

It was interesting that the Brythonic Royal Quarters near Colchester were left standing and relationships early on seem in the South and East to have been relatively cordial allowing the rest of the country to be conquered over that period.

It seems to have gone downhill once the investors and veterans arrived and the local aristocracy trying to afford priesthoods etc. in  the Roman fashion which beggared some.

Nathan wrote:

The more I think about it, the less inclined I am to see Cerialis's defeat as the result of an ambush. While it would have been possible to ambush a small Roman column by surprise, or cut off a foraging party, Cerialis was advancing into a hostile country and would have been on his guard. Unless he was incompetent (which seems not to have been the case) he would have had scouts all around him keeping him informed of enemy movements. We know from Arrian that the Romans could deploy from line of march to line of battle very quickly - unless the Britons managed to rush upon Cerialis in vast numbers and at great speed, he would have had time to prepare himself for a pitched battle.

I still reflect on Varus and although he was led into a trap by a trusted ally it does show that a large force (three legions) can be ambushed and annihilated however unless the Ninth’s commander was more than just rash I agree that he should have had his scouts deployed and have been ready for the fray so perhaps he was able to give formal battle.


If that was the case it would be a first for the Brythons to win a formal battle against the Romans and it may have been this that gave them the confidence and the extra weapons for the next battle against SP.
Deryk
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(09-16-2016, 05:54 AM)Alecto Wrote: did the Romans really think that they had disarmed the Iceni (as well as some other tribes) ?

Tacitus at least says that was the plan, back in AD47: "Ostorius... prepared to disarm the suspect [peoples] and to overawe the whole district on this side of the Trent and Severn." (Annals, 12.41) This led to the Iceni revolt of that year, but it's hard to imagine that the Romans, having beaten the Iceni, would scale back their demand for disarmament.

What 'disarmament' would mean in this context is hard to judge. Were the Britons compelled to surrender a certain number of spears, or destroy a certain number of chariots? Were the 1st-century equivalent of UN weapons inspectors sent round the villages, probing the forges for traces of weapons-grade iron slag?

If the Iceni tried to re-arm in preparation for their revolt, how long would it have taken them? What access did they have to good quality metal for making blades and armour? Presumably they still had hunting weapons, and agricultural implements they could use (or forge their ploughshares into swords - if they even had iron ploughshares...). But helmets and armour would have been in short supply until after the fall of Colchester.

Did the Britons really have 'chariots' at the last battle, as Dio says? Or were they using light farm carts adapted for war, as the Adamklissi metopes seem to show the Sarmatians or Dacians doing?



(09-16-2016, 11:21 AM)Theoderic Wrote: it would be a first for the Brythons to win a formal battle against the Romans and it may have been this that gave them the confidence and the extra weapons for the next battle

I'm sure it did! However 'formal' the battle was, the defeat of Cerialis combined with the conquest of Colchester would have been a major boost to the rebel cause.

I like to think that, as you've suggested yourself, the Brit.Mus 'Tring helmet' might have been plundered from Colchester by one of the rebels, and later discarded close to the battle site!

*Incidentally, I was reading through T's Agricola and found this interesting snippet, from Calgacus's pre-battle speech: "All the incentives to victory are on our side. The Romans have no wives to kindle their courage; no parents to taunt them with flight; many have either no country or one far away." (Omnia victoriae incitamenta pro nobis sunt: nullae Romanos coniuges accendunt, nulli parentes fugam exprobraturi sunt; aut nulla plerisque patria aut alia est.)

The mention of 'wives' (coniuges, again) here - presumably at the battle - may be significant. But notice that the Caledonians appear to have brought their 'parents' along too!
Nathan Ross
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(09-16-2016, 12:56 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote: The mention of 'wives' (coniuges, again) here - presumably at the battle - may be significant. But notice that the Caledonians appear to have brought their 'parents' along too!

And remember that Tacitus states in relation to the Boudican revolt that those of all ages had gone to the war (omni aetate ad bellum versa, Annals 14.38).
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)
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Thank you all for this discussion. Very inspiring, nothing like different points of view! Yes it would have taken time to forge new weapons. ( btw I studied the Llyn Cerrig Bach swords which were very long and very high quality weapons, dated to ca 60 AD - I 'll dig out my report some time) .

@ Renatus: the battle of Culloden was the last known occasion when the Scottish clan leaders recited their lineage before the battle. (Source: Alistair Moffat) Something which could well have happened in 60 AD?

Doesn't Caesar also write somewhere that families came along to a battle and literally boxed the fighting men in so they would not be tempted to run?
One could think of the Spartan mother telling her son to come back with his shield or on it...
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I have been on holiday for a few days and, consequently, not able to engage fully in this discussion. Nevertheless, as always, Nathan has said most of what I would have done. However, I did notice the following just before I went away:

(09-12-2016, 10:14 AM)Alecto Wrote: (Annals) 'Suetonius collected the fourteenth brigade and detachments of the twentieth, together with the nearest available auxiliaries - amounting to nearly ten thousand armed men - and decided to attack without delay. '
(Hunt says: this last part was not true at all. He was sensibly seeking the advantage of a good defensive position, where he could wait for his enemies to come to him on ground of his own choosing').

The passage quoted is from the Penguin translation. The problem with Penguin translations is that they are designed for the general reader and, therefore, often take liberties with the text in the interests of readability. I was warned at school over 50 years ago not to use a Penguin translation as a crib for this very reason. What Tacitus actually says is that Suetonius determined to abandon delay and to fight a battle. What is not clear from the above is whether Hunt is criticising the translation or Tacitus' understanding of the tactical situation. If it is the former, why bother? Why not use a better translation? If it is the latter and he is criticising Tacitus on the basis of a poor translation, one has to wonder about the quality of his scholarship.
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
Thank you. Could you recommend a good translation?  I had the same problem with the Ilias where I use the Murray translation which is quite old but am told it's one of the better ones.

Hunt notes that there is a dash either side of - amounting to nearly ten thousand men - which makes the phrase  ambiguous. It could even mean there were some 10000 auxilliaries in addition to the detachments from the XIVth and XXth?
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Nathan wrote:

If the Iceni tried to re-arm in preparation for their revolt, how long would it have taken them? What access did they have to good quality metal for making blades and armour? Presumably they still had hunting weapons, and agricultural implements they could use (or forge their ploughshares into swords - if they even had iron ploughshares...). But helmets and armour would have been in short supply until after the fall of Colchester.


I don’t think that it is at all unreasonable to think that the Iceni could have re-armed. 

History teaches us that that the clandestine rebuilding of the military happens when treaties are deemed unfair by the beaten, Germany 1918 – 1933 for example.

The Brythons had a thriving trading relationship with the continent so access to required resources may not have been that hard and the Iceni were not poor and were probably not that well monitored being a Client Kingdom under a trusted ally.

It is also not that difficult in an industrial environment of metal making (which they appear to have been highly skilled) not to conceal the making of a sword amongst the more everyday items.

Of course they could have just smuggled them in from Gaul over the years.

Nathan wrote:

I like to think that, as you've suggested yourself, the Brit.Mus 'Tring helmet' might have been plundered from Colchester by one of the rebels, and later discarded close to the battle site!

This is very plausible but would the Brythons have fought in armour or with helmets at all?

It is noticeable that often when the Roman and Brythonic infantry fight,  the Brythons lose and then run away to fight again another day.

Now you would expect the chariots and cavalry of the Brythons to do this against Roman infantry but not the Brythons on foot. So there must be a reason and it is probably because the Roman soldiers were weighted down with armour whereas the Brythons were not.

It was the Roman cavalry that often sealed the defeat of the Brythons by riding down the fleeing.   

Nathan wrote:

Did the Britons really have 'chariots' at the last battle, as Dio says? Or were they using light farm carts adapted for war, as the Adamklissi metopes seem to show the Sarmatians or Dacians doing?
 
This is a difficult one but some experimental archaeology has been done and is worth reading from this link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/trail/archa...n_02.shtml

Nathan wrote:

*Incidentally, I was reading through T's Agricola and found this interesting snippet, from Calgacus's pre-battle speech: "All the incentives to victory are on our side. The Romans have no wives to kindle their courage; no parents to taunt them with flight; many have either no country or one far away." (Omnia victoriae incitamenta pro nobis sunt: nullae Romanos coniuges accendunt, nulli parentes fugam exprobraturi sunt; aut nulla plerisque patria aut alia est.)

The mention of 'wives' (coniuges, again) here - presumably at the battle - may be significant. But notice that the Caledonians appear to have brought their 'parents' along too!


Again I am not sure of the interpretation here. 

I read it…. not that the wives were on site in this instance (although that specfic reference is made at Boudica’s last battle) but that the Romans were an invading force – it was not their land, they didn’t live here – they were a professional army with no roots in this country and therefore no family interests to protect.
 
Renatus wrote:

And remember that Tacitus states in relation to the Boudican revolt that those of all ages had gone to the war (omni aetate ad bellum versa, Annals 14.38).

You are correct – it is specific BUT this could very well mean that men from boys to the more mature for example 10 years – 55 years and young women. Child soldiers are still used to this day but Roman troops did not consist of these age groups on the whole.

I think that this statement only applies to the final battle.  


I still do not subscribe to the argument that babes, very young children, young girls or the elderly would have gone to war specifically to fight. 

The only time this happens is when a tribal migration is opposed (Julius Caesar) and this does not appear to be that.
Deryk
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(09-18-2016, 09:19 AM)Alecto Wrote: Could you recommend a good translation?

I think that the most widely used translation is the Loeb, although that is not without its problems. For instance, in the passage we have been considering it reads, 'altogether some ten thousand armed men' but there is no word for 'altogether' in the Latin. The older Church & Brodribb translation is available online and is still useful.

(09-18-2016, 09:19 AM)Alecto Wrote: Hunt notes that there is a dash either side of - amounting to nearly ten thousand men - which makes the phrase  ambiguous. It could even mean there were some 10000 auxilliaries in addition to the detachments from the XIVth and XXth?

Again, Hunt has misled himself by relying on the Penguin translation. In the Loeb and Church & Brodribb versions, as well as that in The Latin Library online, the phrase in enclosed in commas. As far as we know, the Romans did not use such punctuation, so any that there is relies upon the interpretation of the individual editor of the text. Accordingly, we have to look at the wording to get the sense and, once again, the Penguin translation is misleading in that it changes the emphasis. What the Latin says is that Suetonius had the Fourteenth Legion with the veterans of the Twentieth and auxiliaries from the nearest (forts), nearly 10,000 armed men. Literally translated, the phrase reads, 'nearly ten thousand of armed men' and I have no doubt that the number applies to the whole force; it would be very odd if Tacitus gave a figure for only part of it.

(09-18-2016, 11:07 AM)Theoderic Wrote: Renatus wrote:

And remember that Tacitus states in relation to the Boudican revolt that those of all ages had gone to the war (omni aetate ad bellum versa, Annals 14.38).

You are correct – it is specific BUT this could very well mean that men from boys to the more mature for example 10 years – 55 years and young women. Child soldiers are still used to this day but Roman troops did not consist of these age groups on the whole.

I think that this statement only applies to the final battle.  


I still do not subscribe to the argument that babes, very young children, young girls or the elderly would have gone to war specifically to fight. 

The only time this happens is when a tribal migration is opposed (Julius Caesar) and this does not appear to be that.

The statement does not relate simply to the final battle. It explains why the rebels suffered hardship during the winter, because they had not planted crops because those of all ages had gone to war.

Obviously, only those capable of bearing arms would have gone to fight but their families could have accompanied them to provide support. As Nathan has said, in effect, for 'wives' read 'wives and children'. Moreover, if all the fighting men had gone to war, they would have been reluctant to leave their families behind unprotected, where they would have been vulnerable to Roman retaliation or attack by the tribe's traditional enemies. The natural remedy would have been to take them with them. It has been suggested earlier in this thread that the presence of a large number of non-combatants may have been one of the factors that led the inhabitants of Colchester to think that what was approaching was a peaceful tribal movement and nothing to be feared.
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:

Obviously, only those capable of bearing arms would have gone to fight but their families could have accompanied them to provide support. As Nathan has said, in effect, for 'wives' read 'wives and children'. Moreover, if all the fighting men had gone to war, they would have been reluctant to leave their families behind unprotected, where they would have been vulnerable to Roman retaliation or attack by the tribe's traditional enemies. The natural remedy would have been to take them with them. It has been suggested earlier in this thread that the presence of a large number of non-combatants may have been one of the factors that led the inhabitants of Colchester to think that what was approaching was a peaceful tribal movement and nothing to be feared.

Michael, the makeup of the "horde" is sadly an area that we cannot agree on. 

Your comment "but their families could have accompanied them to provide support" perhaps might read their "wives " could have provided them with support which I could agree with.  

In my opinion it is not a natural remedy to take your vulnerable with you to war - even a migration would only be undertaken under severe provocation and the reason for the tribes going to war was to regain their lands - so to leave them just doesn't make any sense. 

Further by leaving their lands with no defence at all would be to defeat the main objective of the war.

I cannot believe that Tacitus wouldn't know the difference between families and wives or a suitable word so to invent a different meaning for "wives" which suddenly includes the whole tribe but I am not a scholar....

I am not sure if we would be allowed to use this thread to try and work out what every general needs to know - what / who was the enemy, their strengths weaknesses, numbers, living structure, grouping etc. not just basing our observations the writings of Tacitus and Dio....
Deryk
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(09-18-2016, 11:07 AM)Theoderic Wrote: the Iceni could have re-armed... the Iceni were not poor and were probably not that well monitored being a Client Kingdom under a trusted ally.

We don't know enough about the Iceni economy or trade links to know how easily they could have rearmed, I think. I don't know of any iron mines in East Anglia - iron was a valuable commodity, and swords in particular were prized items, which is why they were so often given in sacrifice. Any weapons - or metal to make them - would have to have come through Roman-controlled territory. Even by sea - ships at this time probably could not sail directly across to the Iceni coast from the continent.

Before the death of Prasutagus, there was no apparent reason for revolt. After it, the Iceni were being molested by Romans, probably tax assessors and the like, who surely would have reported any overt warlike preparations.

So I don't think we can assume that the Iceni, still less the Trinovantes, were either well armed or well trained and disciplined. The vast majority of their forces would have been a sort of farmers' militia, armed with improvised weapons.


(09-18-2016, 11:07 AM)Theoderic Wrote: would the Brythons have fought in armour or with helmets at all?

They may not have done so traditionally, but I'm sure many of them would have taken and used the arms and armour captured from the Romans after Colchester and Cerialis's defeat. Helmets and good quality swords in particular would have been prized. We might remember the Zulus, after the British defeat at Isandhlwana, picking up and using British rifles!



(09-18-2016, 11:07 AM)Theoderic Wrote: I still do not subscribe to the argument that babes, very young children, young girls or the elderly would have gone to war specifically to fight.

Certainly not! Contrary to the claims of certain gushy TV presentations, it seems unlikely that Icenians of all ages and both sexes were trained to fight. Paulinus told his troops at the last battle 'there are more women than warriors in their number' - so they wouldn't be both.

However, there does seem to be some evidence for native British armies taking non-combatants along with them, rather than leaving them to fend for themselves at home. I don't think we need to assume these were restricted to cart-driving wives!


(09-18-2016, 02:52 PM)Renatus Wrote: The statement does not relate simply to the final battle. It explains why the rebels suffered hardship during the winter, because they had not planted crops because those of all ages had gone to war.

Yes - and if the crop in question was supposed to be planted in the springtime, this means that 'those of all ages' had left home for the initial attack on Colchester, rather than joining the warriors later in the campaign.



(09-18-2016, 03:33 PM)Theoderic Wrote: the reason for the tribes going to war was to regain their lands

But the Romans had not yet occupied the Iceni lands - they were only preparing to do so. And Colchester was not in Iceni territory anyway. The Iceni could not have believed that by sacking one colony in a neighbouring tribe's land they would 'take their country back' - they would know that they had to defeat the Romans decisively, or face a rapid retribution.

So there would be little reason for anyone to return home after Colchester, and plenty of reason for Boudica and the other leaders to prevent anyone from doing so. Only by keeping together an overwhelmingly large force would they stand a chance of defeating the Romans. The various religious rituals and sacrifices mentioned by Dio may have been a way of binding together the disparate factions of the rebel army under a sort of divine mandate, perhaps.
Nathan Ross
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(09-18-2016, 08:33 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(09-18-2016, 03:33 PM)Theoderic Wrote: the reason for the tribes going to war was to regain their lands

But the Romans had not yet occupied the Iceni lands - they were only preparing to do so. And Colchester was not in Iceni territory anyway. The Iceni could not have believed that by sacking one colony in a neighbouring tribe's land they would 'take their country back' - they would know that they had to defeat the Romans decisively, or face a rapid retribution.

So there would be little reason for anyone to return home after Colchester, and plenty of reason for Boudica and the other leaders to prevent anyone from doing so. Only by keeping together an overwhelmingly large force would they stand a chance of defeating the Romans. The various religious rituals and sacrifices mentioned by Dio may have been a way of binding together the disparate factions of the rebel army under a sort of divine mandate, perhaps.

I have been thinking about this. There was an element of regaining homelands. Tacitus tells us that the Icenian nobles had been dispossessed and that the Trinovantes had been driven from their farms. He also mentions in the Agricola the castella that were overrun in the initial stages of the revolt. I take these to be small fortified posts or fortlets, which may have been an acceptable feature of the arrangements with Prasutagus but which had then become symbols of oppression. That said, however, the revolt involved much more than the simple recovery of homelands; it was a concerted effort to combine the tribes in driving the Romans from Britain once and for all.

This being so, the rebels would have known that they had to maintain constant pressure on the Romans until the task was accomplished and that this might take some time. It is, of course, possible that some wives might have remained at home with the children and that others might have left their children in the care of their grandparents. However, if this were the case, the revolt would have to have achieved its objective before the onset of winter, so that the warriors could return for the winter planting and with sufficient captured provisions to sustain their families until the spring. If they failed to do that, those left behind would starve. On the other hand, if they returned home with the Romans still undefeated, the pressure would be off and the initiative would pass to the Romans. Suetonius would have time to regroup and summon reinforcements from the Continent. Even if they were unable to cross the Channel before the seas closed in November, they would be ready to embark in the spring and Suetonius would then be in a position to lead a massive campaign of retribution.

There was no guarantee that the rebels would have been able achieve their goal within the necessary timeframe. The alternative, therefore, as I see it, is that the rebel army would have had to remain in the field until the Roman forces were finally overcome and that, whatever the hazards, this would have necessitated taking their families with them. Leaving them behind to face possible starvation over the winter was not an option.
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
Nathan wrote:

We don't know enough about the Iceni economy or trade links to know how easily they could have rearmed, I think. I don't know of any iron mines in East Anglia - iron was a valuable commodity, and swords in particular were prized items, which is why they were so often given in sacrifice. Any weapons - or metal to make them - would have to have come through Roman-controlled territory. Even by sea - ships at this time probably could not sail directly across to the Iceni coast from the continent.

Before the death of Prasutagus, there was no apparent reason for revolt. After it, the Iceni were being molested by Romans, probably tax assessors and the like, who surely would have reported any overt warlike preparations.

So I don't think we can assume that the Iceni, still less the Trinovantes, were either well armed or well trained and disciplined. The vast majority of their forces would have been a sort of farmers' militia, armed with improvised weapons.

 
Well one thing we can be sure of is firstly that we don’t know enough, secondly cannot assume and thirdly that the truth will be stranger than the speculation!!!! 

You may well be correct regarding the farming militia (the auxilliaries that Caesar talks about) as these crop up throughout history as part of an army but I believe that there was a warrior caste perhaps allowed by the Romans during the reign of Prasatugusfor policing duties, ceremonial guard duties to the aristocracy etc.

The Governor may have been quite happy for them to have weapons as in themselves they were no threat as an army until linked into units and combined with the militia.

Perhaps also the Roman Administration believed that the Iceni and Trinovantes were completely cowed and compliant.

Skills of riding for a Rural Race would have been normal (boys are often used as herders) and perhaps chariots / carts again would have been allowed for transportation.

Previous understanding of battles (the last Iceni experience would have been just over a decade previously) and tactics could have been passed down or indeed the leaders could have still been alive. 

Possibly they discussed the successes of Caractacus and his subsequent capture and perhaps Roman reactions as well and the ongoing war in “Wales.”
 
Nathan wrote:

However, there does seem to be some evidence for native British armies taking non-combatants along with them, rather than leaving them to fend for themselves at home. I don't think we need to assume these were restricted to cart-driving wives!

What evidence is that exactly?

Nathan wrote:

Yes - and if the crop in question was supposed to be planted in the springtime, this means that 'those of all ages' had left home for the initial attack on Colchester, rather than joining the warriors later in the campaign

This whole thing about the wheat is confusing as we have discussed before.

Of everything it seems to me that wheat was a necessity for both the Brythons and the Roman Empire and until the Roman invasion of AD43 the Brythons were a net exporter of wheat.

It is inconceivable that the Brythons would not have planted their crops – it was a matter of life and death.

From what you are indicating, the Brythons would have left to go on the offensive by at the very latest April and possibly March when the crop could be sown, which is really early in the Fighting Season and seems unlikely given the timescales.

Again we cannot make assumptions about when the wheat was sown or whether it was winter wheat or spring wheat.

Tacitus states:  

“Nothing however distressed the enemy so much as famine, for they had been careless about sowing corn, people of every age having gone to the war, while they reckoned on our supplies as their own.”

The statement itself is strange inasmuch as the Brythons would have been able to loot the granaries at Colchester so would have had considerable stores from there alone apart from any other areas that they overran.

Nathan wrote:

But the Romans had not yet occupied the Iceni lands - they were only preparing to do so.
The texts don’t really support that theory.

Contemporary writings state:

“The event was otherwise. His dominions were ravaged by the centurions; the slaves pillaged his house, and his effects were seized as lawful plunder. His wife, Boudicca, was disgraced with cruel stripes; her daughters were ravished, and the most illustrious of the Icenians were, by force, deprived of the positions which had been transmitted to them by their ancestors.”
 
“The whole country was considered as a legacy bequeathed to the plunderers. The relations of the deceased king were reduced to slavery”

According to the texts it seems that the Rome reduced the Iceni aristocracy from allies to slaves in a very short time indeed and it may well have been at this time that small forts were erected that were later to fall into the hands of the Iceni.

The erection and garissoning of the "castella" would have been a military action directly responsible to the Governor, it is on reflection the support of the military was the only way that the Procurator could have implemented the State's authority.    

The Iceni homelands were already a Province before the uprising supported by the Governor who would feel that the new Province was adequately garrisoned .

Nathan wrote:

And Colchester was not in Iceni territory anyway. The Iceni could not have believed that by sacking one colony in a neighbouring tribe's land they would 'take their country back' - they would know that they had to defeat the Romans decisively, or face a rapid retribution.

From my point of view you have hit the nail on the head but I come to a different conclusion:
 
The uprising would not have been possible if Roman forces were not stretched to the limit between garrison duties and running a campaign in the North West. 

As you say retribution would have been swift and Colchester may even have been defended by war hardened troops a few days march away rather than the Procurator’s inadequate force if the country had the force available.

The Brythons had been watching how the Roman Army operated for many years and would know the tactics. When an attack occurred the Roman Army would respond immediately to disperse the insurgents. So hit and run tactics (guerrilla warfare if you will) suited the Brythons.

Colchester was obviously a large city – effectively the thriving capital with its own port at Fingringhoe Wick. Many tens of thousands of people resided there including a large number of ex soldiers and all residents had Roman citizenship.

A few war bands would not have been enough to contain the population so the mobilisation of the farming militia would have been necessary.

My contention is that the Brythons were expecting a swift reaction from the Romans and allowed for it knowing that the nearest troops were in the local forts (that they captured) and the nearest Legion was at Godmanchester or Longthorpe. 

The 9th paid the price in an ambush coming to the rescue of Colchester after it had fallen.

(As an aside you would have thought that the Roman intelligence would have noticed that the Brythons weren’t sowing their corn over territory covering hundreds of square miles or that the land had become completely deserted or that their forts had been captured – if this was a slow moving horde. The more you consider it the more you realise that considerable planning went into this)

As the Brythons would have realised that to rise up, capture forts, destroy a colony and a partial Legion that the Governor would want vengeance and come to get it.

They had a problem. They didn’t know where he would come from or how many men he would have with him or when he would arrive. 

He had a maximum of 35,000 troops to call on and could do what he eventually did, bring a huge army and put the homelands and populations of the Trinovantes and the Iceni to the sword: 

whatever tribes still wavered or were hostile were ravaged with fire and sword.”   

As they would have known that they would not stand a chance in a pitched battle with this number of troops or whilst they were travelling on the road.

Also if they were in one huge horde on the way to London it would have been easier to totally bypass them, and destroy their lands.

Their best bet was to disperse with the plunder from Colchester and to lay ambushes for the incoming Romans and protect their families.   
 
Renatus wrote:

I have been thinking about this. There was an element of regaining homelands. Tacitus tells us that the Icenian nobles had been dispossessed and that the Trinovantes had been driven from their farms. He also mentions in the Agricola the castella that were overrun in the initial stages of the revolt. I take these to be small fortified posts or fortlets, which may have been an acceptable feature of the arrangements with Prasutagus but which had then become symbols of oppression. That said, however, the revolt involved much more than the simple recovery of homelands; it was a concerted effort to combine the tribes in driving the Romans from Britain once and for all.

I agree with this but suspect that the “castella” were the forts imposed upon the Iceni after Boudica had been scourged and her possessions taken by the Roman State.  

Renatus wrote:

This being so, the rebels would have known that they had to maintain constant pressure on the Romans until the task was accomplished and that this might take some time.


It is, of course, possible that some wives might have remained at home with the children and that others might have left their children in the care of their grandparents. However, if this were the case, the revolt would have to have achieved its objective before the onset of winter, so that the warriors could return for the winter planting and with sufficient captured provisions to sustain their families until the spring. If they failed to do that, those left behind would starve.

On the other hand, if they returned home with the Romans still undefeated, the pressure would be off and the initiative would pass to the Romans. Suetonius would have time to regroup and summon reinforcements from the Continent. Even if they were unable to cross the Channel before the seas closed in November, they would be ready to embark in the spring and Suetonius would then be in a position to lead a massive campaign of retribution.

Cannot disagree with this excellent summation.

Renatus wrote:

There was no guarantee that the rebels would have been able achieve their goal within the necessary timeframe. The alternative, therefore, as I see it, is that the rebel army would have had to remain in the field until the Roman forces were finally overcome and that, whatever the hazards, this would have necessitated taking their families with them. Leaving them behind to face possible starvation over the winter was not an option.

 
This is of course a highly plausible option but where were they going to get their grain for an ongoing campaign with over 150,000 people? 

The corn from Colchester is one possibility but this would have only have been enough for around 30,000 people for a limited period and would have required a huge baggage train, London was stripped of supplies by SP and St Albans similarly (even SP was running short of food having had access to the granaries)

The insurgents would never have been able to rely on grain being available to them in other tribe’s lands. (It is said that the mere threat of a Roman army marching through a land and eating its food was enough to cause the surrender before a battle was even needed –no doubt the same devastating effect would be the case with any army living off the land – so the locals were not going to starve themselves).    

As this was the case the safer option for the young and the elderly was to remain at home.

It also begs the question that if that SP’s best option was to hold off to the next season and build up his forces why did he go to London with such a small force (7,500 men? Perhaps less if some were left to protect Verulamium).

As you say SP’s best option would have been to hold off until the next season and then destroy them with a much larger army.

This again supports the argument that he had little information at all about the uprising and I still am puzzled as to why the Romans were so poorly informed even some days after the fall of Colchester. 

Tacitus states:

"he was naturally inclined to delay, and a man who preferred cautious and well-reasoned plans to chance success."

In fact I think that this is exactly what he was going to do once he was able to assess the situation accurately, which wasn't until he was in London.

This is then supported by Dio:

“However, 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.”

But then his options change as by taking the Roman citizens from London with him he is slowed down by them and then starts to run out of food and is being chased by the Brythons.  

“But as he grew short of food and the barbarians pressed relentlessly upon him, he was compelled, contrary to his judgment, to engage them.”


This then provides us with a dilemma – if the Brythons were catching him how was this a slow moving horde, made up of families?

 
Deryk
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Surely the Brython cavalry would harass the tail end of the Roman troops? Much in the way they apparently had made life difficult for PS when he was on his way to London.

That might be enough to make a stand. As for a suitable place to give battle, scouts and/or spies would have supplied information. The tribes were in the habit of fighting each other, cattle rustling and so on. They would know the lie of the land pretty well, even when it wasn't their own.

I would expect all the tribes who were forced to disarm to have produced new weapons over the 14 years. Or perhaps import them.
Alice
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(09-19-2016, 01:32 PM)Renatus Wrote: He also mentions in the Agricola the castella that were overrun in the initial stages of the revolt. I take these to be small fortified posts or fortlets
(09-21-2016, 09:27 AM)Theoderic Wrote: the “castella” were the forts imposed upon the Iceni

Agricola and Annals seem to be in contradiction here - the latter claims that the rebels avoided the fortified posts. Perhaps the Iceni captured some forts initially, but later avoided them, or something?

There may have been small forts in Iceni country, although there's no evidence for them and I don't think we need to assume they existed. Forts in Trinovantes territory might be more likely: the one at Stanway, just west of Colchester, was apparently built on the old Trinovantes royal oppidum, so they would have been eager to destroy that. Braintree, Chelmsford and perhaps even Great Chesterford could also have been what Tacitus was referring to; the first two would have lain on the probable route between Colchester and London.


(09-21-2016, 09:27 AM)Theoderic Wrote: What evidence is that exactly

I was thinking of the note above about Mons Graupius; I take it to mean that wives and parents were present at that battle to cheer on the warriors!


(09-21-2016, 09:27 AM)Theoderic Wrote: the Brythons would have left to go on the offensive by at the very latest April and possibly March when the crop could be sown, which is really early in the Fighting Season and seems unlikely given the timescales.

Hmm, very true - the crop planting is a headtwister. March/April is too early, as you say - they'd have to wait until Paulinus had at least set off on his Anglesey expedition, which was probably a month later, until they 'left for the war'

If they sowed their crops in March/April, but then didn't come back in August/September to harvest that crop or to plant the winter wheat, they would have no supplies for the winter or any winter wheat crop the following year. This might be the only explanation, although it would still mean that failing to harvest would have been more critical than failing to plant... (unless, of course, crops were only planted in Aug/Sept, grown over the winter and harvested the following year?)


(09-21-2016, 09:27 AM)Theoderic Wrote: “His dominions were ravaged by the centurions...the most illustrious of the Icenians...The relations of the deceased king...” it seems that the Rome reduced the Iceni aristocracy from allies to slaves in a very short time indeed

I don't know if we can read it that way. All the explicit offences were against the king's own property, his family, or the 'most illustrious' of the nobility. This was not large scale colonisation - it was plundering by small groups, no doubt under imperial orders. The 'reduced to being slaves in their own land' implication from T seems like hyperbole!


(09-21-2016, 09:27 AM)Theoderic Wrote: “the barbarians pressed relentlessly upon him...” – if the Brythons were catching him how was this a slow moving horde, made up of families?

Could somebody provide a literal translation of the Greek Dio uses for the phrase 'pressed relentlessly upon him'?

In English it sounds like the rebels were in hot pursuit, but we've seen before how translations (particularly older ones) can be deceptive! Dio could just mean something like 'advanced continually in his direction' or something, with no implication of speed...


(09-21-2016, 01:00 PM)Alecto Wrote: Brython

Et tu, Alecto?  [Image: tongue.png]
Nathan Ross
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