All this is but speculation, but a story is a tale to be told for the person who loves such fables of old and twisted mythical times. It is to be criticized for it is a wild stab in the dark – an alternative idea and a fascination with a queen that ruled for many years but little is known of her.
If I could go back in time; I would love to meet Queen Cartimandua of the Brigantes, because I’m sure there is more to her than the traitorous queen who complied and betrayed her nation.
In Roman Britain, a queen ruled for over 26 years before retiring deeper into the Roman Empire of mainland Europe. Her rule had been maintained from 43AD, during the time of Emperor Claudius, until 69AD just after the death of Emperor Nero and during the year of the four emperors.
Her name was Cartimandua, queen of the Brigantes and virtually nothing is known of her successful reign of power. She kept her divorced chieftain husband at bay, in Caledonia, while re-marrying the nation's arms bearer. Cartimandua has been likened to Queen Guinevere of Arthurian legend.
In Arthurian legend, King Arthur is briefly usurped from his throne, while his trusted friend and subject Lancelot elopes with the queen Guinevere. At the end of the fable, King Arthur overcomes a great foe and Lancelot reappears and fights to his death to gain grace from the mortally wounded King Arthur, who boards a boat to an island of Avalon and so forth.
Queen Guinevere retires to a nunnery, according to the story written in the middle ages by devoted Christian monks, who believe in the religious ideology of one true Christian God who has always been. Pagans of the past had to be more presentable in the new order. Why not Christianise them?
These stories of Arthurian legend were once told by word of mouth and then written by Christianised monks all around Europe. Even when Christian missionaries came to Dark Age Britain to Christianise the Anglo-Saxon pagan tribes, there were Hibernian Christian monks from Iona in Caledonia (today’s Scotland) and Ireland who wrote better Latin prose than the Christian missionaries sent from mainland Europe and Holy Rome. The entire Isles of Britain and Ireland had been a Celtic land for thousands ofyears with colourful culture, wonderful myths and legends.
The ancient Celtic people gossipedaround their fires and listened to bards and druids telling wonderful stories of their many tribes. Even after conquest, the illiterate Roman Britons kept such stories alive by word of mouth long after the druids were said to be vanquished, before Christian monks of Dark Age Britain re-wrote the corrupted fables with intertwined Christian religious dressing. This would be four hundred years later, when the Roman Empire retreated and left Romano Britain to fend for its self with a few Christian scribes who might have refashioned Cartimandua’s spoken story into an Arthurian legend.
The Arthurian myth thathistorians think is true, somewhere in British history, but know not; from whattime period, or where.
Maybe Cartimandua’s small written accounts of traitorous cooperation with Rome was twisted and corrupted by reporters of Roman history, who loved the anti-Roman warrior queen Boudicca. A monumental figure who lived during the same times and captured the imagination of a powerful and very literate enemy. An Iceni queen who resisted Rome and created a furious fable of adventure, death and destruction - culminating in a glorious Roman victory and colossal defeat of a furious legend – a martyr that burnt her way into the history books – a valiant foe who echoes throughout eternity, due to the ancient scribes of a huge, glorious and terrible empire.
As the dust of the great Iceni warrior queen settles upon the written history and reports of the vanquished empire’s great undertakings, what became of Rome’s many friends?
1. What of Cartimandua and her lengthy rule? What of her exiled husband who the Romans called Venutius?
2. Could he have been the Arthur of fabled legend?
3. What of chieftain Venutius’ Arms bearer? The man the Romans called Vellocatus? Could he have been Lancelot du Lac?
4. Could a druid have been Merlin?
5. Could the Brigante stronghold that ruled as a client kingdom for a few decades, keeping the Romans at bay, have been Camelot’s kingdom?
6. After hundreds of years of twisted word of mouth corruption among different British tribes with varied perspectives and eventually Christianised British scribes; perhaps a new version of the Arthurian fable came to be?
In Arthurian Legend we know of a dark and dreadful foe that neighbour’s the Christian land ruled by King Arthur from Camelot. The Christian scribes named this dark foe as pagan Saxons and Arthur’s kingdom falls when he is slain in a final battle. But there are lots of smaller fables that are presented to us, set during Arthur’s reign. We know of his knights and, of course, Sir Lancelot du Lac.
1. Imagine they are not Christian, but old Celtic and druid believing Britons that have been throwing swords into lakes for hundreds of years when their Celtic Chieftains die.
2. Imagine that the dark foe, being held at bay, is not Saxon but Roman and none of this is written by bards, but told in verse around campfires. Cartimandua keeps the Romans at bay by collaborating and alling with a powerful enemy. Rome in return has a buffer zone against Caledonia with a compliant client kingdom.
3. Imagine they have different names in the word of mouth times and Brigante is the kingdom and not Britain.
4. Imagine Camelot is the grand hill fort of Stanwick.
5. Imagine when Arthur is driven out after being cuckold by Lancelot it is Venutius being cuckold by Vellocatus?
6. Imagine instead of a short time in exile, like King Arthur, perhaps it was almost 18 years and Cartimandua (Guinevere) ruled with Vellocatus (Lancelot) at her side.
7. Imagine when the turmoil of the four Roman emperors happened after Nero’s death in Rome. Venutius, in exile, takes opportunity (when the cat is away the mice can play.) He reclaims the land from Cartimandua who escapes into exile under Roman protection instead of a nunnery from Christianised writings.
8. Imagine the final Roman Emperor of the four, Vespasian who finally sends a campaign to bring the Brigante lands under direct Roman control after the political turmoil of emperors is solved and the chore of putting the empire in order begins.
9. Brigante falls to Rome under Venutius, but no one knows what became of him or Vellocatus. Noble Christian scribes could have taken such a tale of anonymity and fashioned such a noble ending.
It is of course all wild speculation, but one may never know. It is, after all, plausible that the real King Arthur was not a Christian king and Queen Guinevere was no Christian queen. It is also plausible that the legend is much older than when Britons began writing.
It is very probable that Cartimandua of Brigantes knew of Boudicca of Iceni and might have been very concerned when the warrior queen appeared to be winning her rebellion against Rome. After all, she relied on Rome and the empire had found her useful too. Boudicca’s defeat must have been a relief to the Brigante queen.
The Brigante queen’s loyalty must have been noted by the empire too. She did not join Boudicca even though she could have. Her divorced husband Venutius wanted to help Caractacus years prior to usurping and exile. If he had gained power during this time instead of eight years later, during the reign of the four emperors; Boudicca might have had a powerful Brigante ally.