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Thursday, 3 December 2015

Giving You an Overlooked Ancient Queen of Roman Britain - Cartimandua of Brigantes.



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 of years with colourful culture, wonderful myths and legends.  
   
The ancient Celtic people gossiped around 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 that historians think is true, somewhere in British history, but know not; from what time 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.

Who knows?


Queen Cartimandua the traitor?

The Brigante queen Cartimandua is often regarded as a traitor by those who read about Roman Britain. It is perhaps unfair because as a young girl she was married to an older man that the history books record as Venutius.

During this period, the Roman Empire invaded Britain because to the south of the Isle, a warrior king known as Caractacus seized an immigrant kingdom of Attribate. These people came from today's Belgic regions of Europe. Julius Ceaser left them lands in Britain after his raid on Britain during the Gaul Campaign.

After almost 100 years the Attribate enjoyed trade into Britain via their kingdom. Caractacus took their land, thinking Rome would have to go through him as the new ruler.

He was mistaken and instead gave Rome an excuse to invade the Isle of Britain. Caractacus kingdom quickly fell before the Roman army but he managed to flee to Kingdoms in today's Wales. The Roman Empire pursued Caractacus but he fled these kingdoms after they fell to Rome too.

When Caractacus stood before Cartimandua, she may have decided he was more trouble than he was worth and could see she and her Brigante had no way of confronting this Roman superpower empire from mainland Europe. Instead she chained Caractacus and handed him to Rome, thus securing client kingdom status for the Brigante and keeping Rome at bay. Perhaps Caractacus was passing through the Brigante trying to escape to Caledonia. (today's Scotland.) Whatever reason for Caractacus entering the Brigante lands, he would bring angry Romans hot on his heels.

This caused a rift between Cartimandua and her older husband Venutius who did not favour friendship with Rome. He was chased out off of the Brigante lands. This left Cartimandua free to rule the Brigante as a client queen supported by Rome. She had Pict enemies to the north and was able to play Rome off against them. She ruled for 26+ years and refused to aid Boudicca and her Iceni rebellion in 61 AD.

Her rule ended in 69 AD when the year of the four emperors caused mayhem among the Roman Empire's legions. Her divorced husband Venutius retook the kingdom, angry that Cartimandua had taken with his young armour bearer named Vellocatus. 

(Some people believe the King Arthur, Lancelot, and Queen Guinevere story come form this time by word of mouth. Then hundreds of years later Christian priests corrupted the story to meet Christian ideals of Britons fighting Angle and Saxon pagans hundreds of years later.) 

Cartimandua was rescued and brought south by Roman soldiers, but her Brigante kingdom could not be saved from occupation by Venutius. She went into exile somewhere within the Roman Empire and faded from history. No one knows what became of her or when she died.

Her divorced husband Venutius would lose the Brigante to the Roman Empire when Vespasian became the fourth emperor of that year, finally bringing stability to the Roman Empire but a brutal war in the Brigante that was sporadic and continuous for decades.



Does the Anti-Heroine Get a Bad Press?

Queen Cartimandua lived during the time of Queen Boudicca - the Iceni Warrior Queen. Cartimandua was queen of the Brigantes and ruled  for 26 plus years. She was more successful then Boudicca yet less famous. This is because she was friends with the Roman Empire. Even in 69 AD during the Year of the Four Emperors - when Cartimandua was overthrown by her divorced husband, she still escaped into exile deep within the Roman Empire. 

In the story of Meeting Boudicca; Cartimandua tells three Roman guards a tale of how she once met Boudicca after she was defeated and before the warrior queen committed suicide. It is a tale of intrigue that Cartimandua relates to her guards before departing Roman Britain to go further into the sanctuary of the mighty empire and drift out of recorded history.


Cartimandua was Queen Before, During and after Queen Boudicca's reign of Terror. Could the queens have ever met?

Ancient Britons fought the Romans for a number of decades from 44 AD to 120 AD. There continued to be tribal unrest in Caledonia (Scotland) but much of the rest of Britain gradually became Romanised. 

For 300 more years Britain became a settled area of the world and when it finally fell apart due to Eastern European migration from today's Russia area; the Roman administration packed up and abandoned the Isle in about 408 AD.

The Isle witnessed a kind of dystopia for some years. The Dark Ages came and there followed many centuries of uncertainty.

It is so strange because the Britons were not the most welcoming of people towards the Romans at first. There were a number of wars in the beginning, but the might of Rome prevailed and Britain prospered under her rule.

In the early decades of Roman rule, Britain was known to have 2 queens. Boudicca of the Iceni (The Warrior Queen) is known for her bloody rebellion. The Warrior Queen’s rampage burnt her name into the history books and she echoes through eternity. She lasted but a year, yet her legacy lingers to this day.

The other queen is Cartimandua of the Brigantes. She is less well known, yet she was more successful in ruling her rebellious Brigante and got on well with Rome.

Historians say that Boudicca fell out with Rome because the Roman Empire would not recognise a woman’s rule. I think this is hogwash because Queen Cartimandua was recognised and supported against her divorced and exiled husband Venutius. Also Cleopatra - Queen of Egypt was another who enjoyed Roman support until she challenged it.

Cartimandua ruled from the year the Romans invaded Briton in 44 AD or close to this time. Her rule ended in 69 AD during the year of the Four Emperors. Her divorced husband came back and usurped her from the Brigante throne, though Cartimandua managed to escape and went into exile and vanished from historical records. No one knows when she died. Although she ruled for around twenty five years, virtually nothing is known of her, save that she got on well with the Roman Empire. This is a great shame because to last so long under such dire conditions says something about this queen.

Many regard her as a traitor because of her friendship with Rome. But some people believe there was more to Cartimandua then this. She must have had some ability and somehow she contained her Brigante from joining Boudicca’s rebellion.

When Boudicca of Iceni lost her final battle against the Roman army, her forces were in the midland area of today’s England. Cartimandua’s boarders would have been close to where Manchester is.

Suppose when Boudicca fled the battle field, after defeat, as some historians believe, she went north to commit suicide. Even if Rome had her rotting corpse they would have displayed it and recorded such an event. It is safe to say the Romans did not find the corpse of the warrior queen. Suppose Boudicca took a poison elixir and was buried in a sacred place? Suppose Cartimandua had some reason to meet the warrior queen in secret? Could the British queens have met?





    
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