Britannia, by William Camden




Small N NEXT the Cattieuchlani; did the People call’d by Cæsar Trinobantes, by Ptolemy and Tacitus Trinoantes, inhabit those parts which have now chang’d their names and are call’d Middlesex and Essex. From whence that old name was deriv’d, I cannot so much as guess, unless it came from the British Tre-nant, implying Towns in a Valley: for this whole Country in a manner, lies in a level all along the Thames. But this is a conjecture which I am not very fond of: Tho’ those People which inhabited Gallovidia in Scotland, lying all low and in a vale, were call’d in British Noantes and Novantes; and the ancient people nam’d Nantuates, liv’d about * * Rheni vallis.
Le Vault, or the Vale of the Rhine, and had their name thence. So that this conjecture is at least as probable as that of others, who out of a spirit of ambition have deriv’d these Trinobantes from Troy, as if one should say Troja nova, or new Troy. And let them enjoy their own Fancies for me. In Cæsar’s time, this was one of the strongest Cities in the whole Kingdom (for such a body of People as liv’d under the same common Laws and Government, he always calls Civitas, or a City, ) and was govern’d by Imanuentius, who was slain by Cassibelin. Upon this, Mandubratius his son fled for his life, went over into Gaul to Cæsar, put himself under his protection, and return’d with him into Britain. At which time, these our Trinobantes desir’d Cæsar by their Ambassadors to espouse the cause of Mandubratius against Cassibelin, and to send him into the City, as Deputy-Governour. This was granted them; upon which they gave forty hostages, and, the first of all the Britains, submitted themselves to Cæsar. This Mandubratius (to observe it by the way) is by Eutropius, Bede, and the more modern Writers, call’d always Androgeus. But how this difference of the name should come, is a mystery to me; unless it be true, what I was told by one very well skill’d both in the History and Language of the Britains, that the name of Androgeus was fix’d upon him on account of his villany and treachery. For the word plainly carries in its meaning something of Villany; and he (in the book call’d Triades) is reckon’d the most villanous of those three traitors to Britain, because he was the first that call’d-in the Romans, and betray’d his Country. After Mandubratius (when civil wars at home drew the Romans from the care of Britain, and so the Kingdom was left to its own Kings and Laws;) it plainly appears, that Cunobilin had the government of these parts. Take here a view of one or two of his Coins, though I have given you both these, and others of his, before.

British Coins

Adminius his Son, when banish’d by his Father, went over with a small body of Men to C. Caligula; to whom he surrender’d himself. This so buoy’d up the young Emperor, that, as if he had conquer’d the whole Island, he sent boasting Letters to Rome; ordering the Messengers over and over, that they should not be deliver’d to the Consuls but in the Temple of Mars, or in a full Senate. After the death of Cunobilin, Aulus Plautius by commission from the Emperor Claudius, made an attempt upon this Country. Togodumnus, one of Cunobilin’s sons, he slew; the other, Caratacus, he conquer’d; and (as it is in the Fasti Capitolini) † † Ovans triumphavit.had a Triumph decreed upon it, with so much splendor and greatness, that (as Suetonius tells us) Claudius himself walk’d side by side with him, both as he went into the Capitol and came out of it. Then the Emperor in person presently transports his forces, and in a few months reduces it into the form of a Province. From that time, the Trinobantes had no more wars; only, under Nero they enter’d into a combination with the Iceni to shake off the Roman yoke: but this Insurrection was quickly suppress’d by Suetonius Paulinus, and (as Tacitus has deliver’d it) not without great slaughter on the side of the Britains. When the Roman Government in this Island came to an end, Vortigern the Britain (as Ninnius tells us) being taken prisoner by the Saxons, gave this Country for his ransom; which, for a long while after, had its Kings, but they were such only as held under the Kings of Kent, or Mercia. Of these, Seberht was the first that embrac’d Christianity in the year 603. And Cuthred was the last of them, who being conquer’d by Egbert in the year 804. left the Kingdom to the West-Saxons. But of these things, I have spoken more largely in another place: Now let us survey the Country it self.

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06