By Webteam - 10th September 2019 6:01am
Colchester, September 10th AD43
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, 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. It was hoped that their leader Caratacus would be captured as well, but 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, having spent a grand total of 16 days in Britain.
Most of Britain remained under Roman control for nearly four centuries.
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