Britannia, by William Camden



Small T THE Country next to the Trinobantes, call’d afterwards East-Anglia, and comprehending the Counties of Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridge, and Huntingdon; was formerly inhabited by the Iceni (miscall’d in some Copies Tigeni, and by Ptolemy yet more corruptly Simeni.) Bounds of the Iceni.Not as if the bounds of these, or any other People of the Britains, could be nicely determin’d. For how can we hope exactly to distinguish them, when our ancient Authors only deliver at large in what quarter of the Nation they were seated, without descending to their particular limits? Besides, most of the barbarous Nations seem (according to their strength at different times) to have had Dominions larger or narrower: Especially, in Britain (where were so many Kings) we cannot imagin, but that they were frequently making encroachments upon one another. All (I think) we can safely conclude, is, that there is scarce a possibility, that the British Divisions should include exactly so many Counties, since the bounds of the Counties were set long after the British times by King Alfred, who no doubt had rather an eye to the convenience of the Kingdom, than the exact limits of the Britains.⌉caesar

I have been a long time of the Opinion, that by a mangling of the name Iceni, the very same people were call’d in Cæsar Cenimagni. To which I was induc’d, as by the affinity of the names Iceni and Cenimagni, so by comparing Cæsar and Tacitus together. For the latter tells us, that the Cenimagni surrender’d themselves to the Romans: now, that the Iceni did so, Tacitus informs us in these words, On their own accord, they came over to our side. But what is of greatest moment in this matter, is, that a Manuscript divides the word Cenimagni, and reads it Ceni, Agni; for which I would willingly put Iceni, Regni, if it might be done without the imputation of too great Liberty. Thus much is certain, that you will never find the Cenimagni in any other part of Britain, if you make them a distinct People from the Regni and Iceni. However, of the name Iceni there are several remains in these parts; such as Ikensworth, ⌈Ikworth,⌉ Ikenthorpe, Ikborrow, Iken, Iksning, Ichlingham, Eike, &c. and that Consular way which led from hence, frequently call’d by the Chorographers of the last Age, Ichenild-streat,Ichenild-streat. as if one should say, the street of the Iceni. What the original of the name should be, I dare not so much as guess; unless one should derive it from the wedgy figure of the Country, as it lies upon the Ocean, in form of a wedge. For the Britains in their language call a wedge, Iken; from which figure a place in Wales by the lake Lhintegid, is call’d Lhan-yken; and in the same sense a little tract in Spain, is nam’d Sphen,Sphen. i.e. a wedge (as Strabo observes;) which yet does not so well answer the figure of a wedge, as this of ours. Maeonians Maeonia

But others alledge, that Ptolemy’s Tables, and modern Observations, have represented it rather under a quadrangular form; and Sir Henry Spelman’s Opinion may seem more probable, that it comes from the famous river Ise; especially if the Britains call that Ichen. For thus (says he) in Asia, the Indians come from the river Indus; in Greece, the Mæonians from Mæonia; in Scythia, the Alani from Alanus; in Germany, the Alsatians from Alsa; in France, the Sequani from Sequana. And so in England, the Derbyshire-inhabitants from Derwent; the Lancastrians from Lan or Lon; the Northumbrians from Humber; and Wiltshire from the Willy. And as for the change of (s) into (c), that may be easily justify’d, if it be true that in British, instead of the Greek (σ) they use (ch); so, Ichen for Greek text; Soch for Greek text; Buch for Greek text, &c.

And as the Iceni may be well deriv’d from Ise, * * Spelman’s this, in all probability, has it’s name from that famous Heathen Goddess Isis. For who knows not, that the Heathens consecrated rivers, as well as woods and mountains, to their Deities, and call’d them after their names? And that Ceres and Proserpine (otherwise call’d Isis) two infernal Goddesses, were worshipped by the Britains, we have Strabo’s Authority. Or if we had not, the accounts which we have left us of their customs, would be sufficient to inform us of their worship. Upon this is grounded their preferring nights to days, as also their computations of days by nights; of months, by moons; and of years, by winters. The remains of it we keep to this day in our seven-night, i. e. seven days; and fortnight, contracted from fourteen-night, i.e. fourteen days.Caesariensis Propraetor

After Britain came to be a branch of the Roman Empire, and was divided into five parts, it is not certain under which branch these Iceni were comprehended. They are generally plac’d under the Flavia Cæsariensis, which seems agreeable enough to that division; but the Noticia of the Western Empire places the Britannia secunda where Ptolemy reckons up the Tribantes and Simeni; which last are, no doubt, the same with the Iceni.⌉

This People (as Tacitus says) was stout and valiant, and after they had cast themselves upon the Protection of the Romans, suffer’d nothing by war till the time of Claudius. But then, Ostorius the Proprætor beginning to fortify the Passes with Castles, and to disarm the Britains, they got into a body and made an insurrection: the effect whereof was this; The Romans broke thorow the Works, within which they had fortify’d themselves, and so they were suppress’d with great slaughter. In this engagement, there happen’d many memorable exploits; and M. Ostorius, the Lieutenant’s son, had the honour of saving a citizen. That war being thus ended, scarce thirteen years after there arose a new Storm, upon this

occasion. Prasutagus,Prasutagus. King of the Iceni (that he might provide for the safety of his People, though with his own private damage) made the Emperor Nero, his heir; taking it for granted (to express my self in Tacitus’s words) that by this testimony of submission and respect, his kingdom and family would be out of danger. But the issue was quite contrary; for his kingdom was wasted by the Centurions, and his house by slaves; as if both had been taken by force of arms.boadicea

Upon this, first his wife Boodicia,Boodicia. otherwise call’d Bunduica, was whip’d, and her daughters ravish’d. And, as if they had had that whole Country bestow’d upon them, there was not a leading man among the Iceni, but was turn’d out of the inheritance of his Ancestors; and even the Royal Family was treated no better than slaves. Upon this ill usage, and the apprehensions of worse (since they were now reduced into the form of a Province,) they take up arms, and inviting the Trinobantes, with such others as were not yet inur’d to slavery, to joyn with them, attempt the recovery of their Liberties by this secret combination; urg’d on by a mortal hatred against the Veterans. From these beginnings, there broke out a most terrible war; and it was farther heighten’d by the avarice of Seneca,Seneca’s usury in Britain. who about that time exacted with the highest oppression * * Quadringenties sestertium.three hundred thousand pounds, which he had scrap’d together by most unjust and oppressive usury. In this war, to give you the whole in short, Boodicia (whom Gildas seems to term a Treacherous Lioness) wife of Prasutagus, slew eighty thousand of the Romans and their Allies, ras’d the Colony of Camalodunum and the† of Verulamium, routed the ninth Legion, and put to flight Catus Decianus the Procurator: but at last, being defeated by Paulinus Suetonius in a set battel, she ended her days with undaunted Courage, by a dose of poyson, as Tacitus will have it; but, according to Dio, after a fit of sickness. When this war was on foot, Xiphilin tells us from Dio,Dio. that the Britains principally worship’d the Goddess Victory under the name of AndatesAndates, or Andraste. (whom a Greek Copy in another place calls Andraste,) and that in the grove consecrated to her, they offer’d Captives, with the highest inhumanity. But yet the Britains at this day do not express VictoryThe Goddess Victory. by any such name; nor do I know what it should mean, unless, as the Latins had their Victoria à vincendo, from conquering; the Sabines, their Vacuna, ab evacuando, from emptying; and the Greeks their Greek text, from refusing to give ground; so the Britains might have their Anarhaith from overthrowing; for by that word they express a fatal overthrow. But this by the by. From that time, no author has one syllable of the Iceni; nor can we gather any thing about them from History, but that the Romans, in the decline of their Empire, set a new Officer to guard their sea-coast,In Kent. and the coasts of some other parts, against the piracies of the Saxons, and stil’d him Count of the Saxon-shore in Britain, as we observ’d before. Propraetor praesides

⌈Whether this people had another of their own name about Worcestershire and Staffordshire (as * * Staffordshire, c.10. sect.2.Dr. Plot has endeavoured to prove) is not our business to enquire, in this place. I must confess, that action of the Proprætor Ostorius (which is mention’d above, as undertaken against those Iceni) seems to have been further westward, than their bounds reach’d. For the next accounts we hear of their army, after they had settled things there, is among the Cangi, i.e. about Cheshire and Denbyshire. The Army was led into the Cangi, says† Annal. l.12. c.32.Tacitus: and, Now they were marched not far from the Sea which is within sight of Ireland.⌉

After the Saxons had settled their Heptarchy, this Province fell to the kingdom of the East-Angles;East-Angles. which, from its easterly situation, they call’d in their own language Saxon: Eastangle-ryc, i.e. the kingdom of the East-Angles. The first King it had, was Uffa; and from him, his successors were for a long time call’d Uff-kines,Uff-kines. who seem to have sometimes ¦ ¦ Beneficiarii.held under the Kings of the Mercians, and sometimes under those of Kent. That line failing in St. Edmund, the Danes over-ran the Country, and for fifty years together harrass’d and afflicted it with all the miseries of war; till at last Edward the elder got the better of them, and added it to his own kingdom of the West-Saxons. From that time, it had its * * Præsides.Deputy-Governours; which honour, about the coming-in of the Normans, was held by one Ralph,Ralph Governour of the East-Angles. born in Little-Britain in France. He was a man of treacherous principles; and, getting together great numbers of people, under pretence of celebrating his marriage, enter’d into a villanous conspiracy against William the Conqueror. But where so many were privy to it, it was in vain to hope for secrecy. So, the whole matter was discover’d, himself was depriv’d of his honour and attainted, and others were beheaded. But a more particular account of those matters belong to Historians: let us prosecute our design, and proceed to Places. What sort of Country this was, learn fromIn the life of St. Edmund. Abbo Floriacensis, who flourish’d in the year of Christ 970. and has thus describ’d it: This part, which is call’d East-angle, as upon other accounts it is very noble, so particularly, because of it’s being water’d almost on all sides. On the South-east and East sides, it is encompass’d by the Ocean; on the north, by large and wet fens, which beginning almost in the heart of the Island, do, by reason of the evenness of the ground, for a hundred miles and more, descend in great rivers into the sea. On the west, the Province is joyn’d to the rest of the Island, and therefore may be enter’d ⌈by land;⌉ but lest it should be molested with frequent incursions of the enemy, it is fortify’d with an † Rech diche, or Devil’s-dike.earthen rampire like a high wall, and with a ditch. The inner parts of it are a pretty rich soil, which is made exceeding pleasant by gardens and groves; and render’d agreeable by it’s convenience for hunting; famous also for pasturage, and abounding with sheep and all sorts of cattle. I do not insist upon its Rivers, as affording plenty of Fish, considering that a tongue of the sea as it were licks it on one side; and on the other, the large fens make a prodigious number of lakes two or three miles over. These fens accommodate great numbers of Monks with their desir’d retirement and solitude; with which being enclos’d, they have no occasion for the privacy of a Wilderness. Thus far Abbo.

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