Claudius Receives Surrender of 11 British Tribes
It must be said at the outset that the date of Claudius accepting the surrender of a long list of British tribal kings at Colchester (Camulodunum) is a best guess, given his arrival in August and departure after a mere 16 days in Britain. But the event merits its squeezed inclusion in our timeline given its significance for the Emperor and the conquered.
Since Julius Caesar’s second invasion in 54BC much of Britain had provided tribute to Rome, its multitude of mini-kingdoms turned to client states. After the assassination of Caligula (who had planned his own invasion of Britain) and the elevation of Claudius as his successor, seemingly by hazard, the new ruler needed a triumph to cement his position and secure the loyalty of the legions. Britain was an obvious choice, not least because of its silver as other sources were running low, and to associate Claudius with Caesar. A plea for help from a displaced chieftain provided an excuse.
Four legions, roughly 20,000 men, landed either at Richborough in modern Kent , or near Southampton , soon defeating the large forces sent against them in a two-day battle. When the path to final victory was clear, Claudius himself arrived with reinforcements including elephants, facilitating the taking of Colchester , capital of the Catuvellauni and it was hoped their leader Caratacus, though the latter escaped to continue the fight for a time. Claudius was able to parade in triumph through what the Romans named Camulodunum, his elephants doubtless an imposing sight. Having accepted the submission of 11 tribal kings at what is now the Gosbecks district of Colchester he was able to return to Rome a conqueror. Most of Britain remained under Roman control for nearly four centuries.
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