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Topic Subject:Faction History: Iceni
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 22 July 2013 08:59 EDT (US)         

Faction History: Iceni



Pre-Roman


Long before Gaius Julius Caesar and his famous X Legion set foot on the rainy islands to the northwest of conquered Gaul, other peoples had crossed to take the lands from the natives and make it their own. Among these were the Pretani, a group of tribes sharing some characteristics of the Gauls whose lands they crossed, but whom most historians today consider a separate people. Pytheus met them and wrote of them, but over time, his Greek “Prettanikç” was corrupted to Britannia, and thus began the long history of the Britons on Britannia.

The Pretani were not a single entity but rather a collection of tribes that fought incessantly- among their own, against the natives, against invaders. The Catuvellauni were one tribe, the Trinovantes another, the Brigantes a third. East of the Catuvellauni, north of the Trinovantes, and southeast of the Brigantes resided the Iceni, in what is now Norfolk. They were considered a strong tribe, though not the strongest- that honor fell to the Trinovantes, who lost strength and thus the honor to the Catuvellauni.

The Iceni were never in the race for the strongest, though they were not to be ignored. Their name came from the ancient word for slime or bog, which coincides with the land upon which they dwelt, but one cannot discount other, less-pleasant meanings of the name. Given that the land they occupied was covered with fens, marshes, and bogs, it seems the definition “Fenlander” the most likely for the name.

Position of power did not seem to matter to the Iceni, whose low lands were subject to flood by ocean and raider alike. Most Iceni settlements were unwalled hamlets on the more easily-defendable higher ground, and also where resources were located, such as flint. The Iceni flourished in their lands, and established some advances. Coins from 10 BC have been uncovered with Iceni markings (they were marked ECEN, an alternative spelling), proving that they used coins and writing before the Romans came.


Rome arrives


The Roman Invasion of 43 AD was a world-shattering for the Britons. The Catuvellauni under Caratacus led the British tribes into several losing battles against the invaders, but he did not lead all tribes. Some, including the Iceni, were very favorable to the Romans. They saw the benefit of being a part of the world-spanning empire, and quickly allied themselves with this new power.

All was not roses under the Romans. In 47 AD the Roman procurator tried to pass a law forbidding the Britons from carrying arms. The Iceni revolted, and were in due course crushed. The old king was thrown out, and a noble named Prasutagus installed in his stead.

The Iceni hit their high point under Prasutagus, who was firmly pro-Roman. Their advancements continued, and their trade flowered. Prasutagus took out loans from Roman financiers to improve his lands, and duly bequeathed half of his lands to Rome, and the other half to his two daughters. And the Iceni thrived, until Prasutagus died.

The Iceni are probably best known from this moment onward. The death of the beloved king was made worse by Roman actions. The procurator, a fool named Catus Decianus, moved into Iceni lands to claim all the property of the dead king for Rome. Roman law at that time forbade female heiresses- even Fulvia, the granddaughter of the beloved and renowned Gracchi could not inherit her family’s wealth without a special law allowing it. Decianus used this to seize all Iceni property, and when the widowed queen Boudicca objected, Decianus had her flogged and the daughters raped by his soldiers.

The Iceni rallied to their queen, who now firmly believed the Iceni were doomed and thus decided to go down fighting in accordance with the warrior spirit. Boudicca swiftly gathered a warhost and descended upon the former capital of the Trinovantes Camulodunon, which now served as the Roman provincial capital Camulodunum.

The Iceni stormed the city and put all to the sword. The Romans responded by sending a legion- the VIIII Hispana from eburacum (York) to quell the uprising. The Iceni chewed it to pieces so badly that even today with evidence a VIIII Hispana perished in Judea a hundred years afterward, some scholars still believe the legion was destroyed by the Iceni and reconstituted later.

Nor did Boudicca stop after the easy victory over the Romans in their capital. Disgruntled tribesmen from all over the east of the island, angry at the Roman ways of dealing with allies and humiliated by the arrogant treatment, flocked to her standards. She moved this horde on to the large Roman settlement at Londinium. That too was stormed and the people put to the sword and the town to the torch. Nothing and nobody of the people who whipped her back and raped her daughters was to survive, and nothing did.

Verulanium was next.

The governor at the time, Suetonius Paulinus, was now in a fix. The entire east was in flames, and one of his four precious legions was castrated. He called together his legions to form a proper army to crush this revolt. The XX Legion and the XIV Gemina legions came, but the II Augusta in southwest Britannia refused the call. Some say out of cowardice, others for political reasons. Irregardless, Suetonius had only two legions and the remnants of a third with which to face the growing Iceni warhost. Each victory the queen had increased her strength and stature, while weakening his own.

The Romans marched to meet the warhost, which was marching out searching for the Romans. The two met on Watling Street, a road from Londinium to the port city Deva (Chester) on the west coast. There, Suetonius picked a good piece of ground and moved onto it. The Britons, seeing the Romans trapped and brought to bay at last, moved to engage.

Suetonius formed his legions into wedges, usually an attack formation, but this time one used very well defensively. The Britannic advance- chariots followed by a mass of infantry- was funneled into the spaces between the wedges and there killed by swift stabs to thigh and belly. The Romans held the initial charges, then began their own advance. The wedges were a masterstroke of Suetonius- they pinched the Britons so close together they could not wield their weapons effectively, becoming little more than meat to be stabbed down and trodden upon.

The warhost broke, but the myriad civilians who had come to watch the battle from their wagons blocked any escape. The Roman charge destroyed the warriors, and after them, the civilians too.

Rome was firmly in command of southern and eastern Britannia from that point on until they withdrew in 410 AD.

Post-Boudicca and post-Roman


The Iceni survived the disaster, though were sharply reduced in both population and power. Decianus had fled the revolt, and his replacement Gaius Julius Alpinus Classicianus showed himself to be a far better man for the job. The Iceni quieted, and no further reports of them revolting have been discovered in ancient texts.

The Romans evacuated their forces from Britannia in 410. There is evidence that the Iceni survived this evacuation, though their eventual fate is unknown. It is known that the Angles settled in Iceni land and gave it their own name. The Book of Ely mentions dwellers in the fens and bogs called by the local “Fenlanders”, and that these people did not speak the tongue of the English. Others say the Iceni fled. Genetic examinations lead one to believe the Iceni are still there, hiding in plain sight among those into which they assimilated.

All these wonderfully conflicting fates leave one wondering did these invaders assimilate the locals, drive them fleeing into Briton lands (Wales) as they did other tribes, or did the Iceni withdraw on their own into the fens and marshes of the northern shores, there to exist as people but not a tribe until their origins were covered with the mists of time and forgotten by the mind of man.



Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iceni

http://www.britainexpress.com/History/roman/iceni.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/british_prehistory/iron_01.shtml#sixteen

http://www.oldcity.org.uk/norwich/history/history02.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britons_(Celtic_people)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britannia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norfolk

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_conquest_of_Britain

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Britain

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prasutagus

http://www.geni.com/people/Gaius-Julius-Alpinus-Classicianus/6000000016098974495

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[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 09-10-2013 @ 09:38 AM).]

AuthorReplies:
Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 24 July 2013 01:20 EDT (US)     1 / 6       
Looks good, but Those more qualified than me will need to check the grammar and syntax.

Only one little nib/improvement to ask for:
How about some subheadings? Such as one for Pre-Roman history, another for during the roman occupation and Boudicca's revolt and another for Post-Roman Britannia?

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 25 July 2013 14:46 EDT (US)     2 / 6       
Looks good... maybe link to my fuller account of the rebellion specifically, and/or to my history of early Roman Britain? /shameless plug
Long before Gaius Julius Caesar and his famous X Legion set foot on the rainy islands to the northwest of conquered Gaul, another people had crossed to take the lands from the natives and make it their own. These were the Pretani, a group of tribes sharing some characteristics of the Gauls whose lands they crossed, but whom most historians today consider a separate people. Pytheus met them, but in his writings, he misspelled Pretani to Britannia, and thus began the long history of the Britons on Britannia.
Archaeologists are undecided whether the Iron Age Britons should be seen as basically the first people who returned to Britain after the Ice Age and/or that plus Neolithic settlers. But by Caesar's time, he tells them the inlanders considered themselves to be "natives". Unfortunately this clashes a little with your folkwandering epic... Also, it is not Pytheas who first misspelled "Britannia"; Pytheas almost certainly spelled it "Prettanikē". Britannia may be the original Latin form, perhaps originally introduced by word of mouth from Gaulish-speakers. At any rate it seems to be an originally Latin misspelling.
south of the Brigantes resided the Iceni, in what is now Norfolk
It's hard to describe Norfolk as being south of anywhere. If you want to use the Brigantes as an example, which seems eminently reasonable, perhaps use "southeast"...?
whose low lands were subject to flood by ocean and raider alike.
Little evidence for raids in the Iron Age, although it's far from impossible. I like the turn of phrase but for a history article I think accuracy must take precedence over poetry.
The Romans evacuated their forces from Britannia in or around 410 AD. There is evidence that the Iceni survived to see this evacuation, though their eventual fate is unknown. It is known that the Angles settled in Iceni land, leaving one wondering did these invaders assimilate the locals, drive them fleeing into Briton lands (Wales) as they did other tribes, or did the Iceni withdraw into the fens and marshes of the northern shores, there to exist as people but not a people until their origins were covered with the mists of time and forgotten by the mind of man?
The predominating trend among British archaeologist is not to imagine the Romano-British tribes were substantially displaced by the invasions of the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Franks and Frisians. The "invaders" at first lacked organisation; they began to farm peripheral land and mixed freely with the local populace, each copying the other's cultural habits at first but over time the Germanic customs becoming the clear winner; by the late sixth century, new regional identities began to form, and by the late seventh, new origin stories had to be spun for them. The descendants of the Iceni dwell still in the lowlands of East Anglia. It is alsorecorded in the Book of Ely that even in the 11th century there were people who dwelt in the Cambridgeshire Fens who did not speak the English tongue... these people were counted among the Gyrwas, meaning "Fenlanders" in the Old English tongue.

Apart from this population continuity stuff, it would also be good to have more on the pre-Roman Iceni. Here are some points:

  • "Iceni" comes from an Ancient British word *iχ(s) meaning "slime, riverbed, bog" etc (compare the name of the river Itchen in Hampshire), turned into an adjective. It's very tempting to interpret as a reference to the local geography, hence "Fenlanders".
  • We have no idea how old the name/political entity is. It's earliest recording is by Tacitus, post-43. One must remember we are dealing with prehistory. Pottery styles are reliably interpreted as an ethnic/social marker. There is strong continuity from the middle to the late Iron Age in pottery style in Iceni lands... probable continuation of political entity/tribal identity.
  • There are very few hillforts in this part of the country. (Hillforts were mostly built 400-200 BCE.) The Iceni lived mostly in unwalled hamlets and villages; like the people of that time who lived in what were to become the lands of the Catuvellauni and Trinovantes; but unlike the people south of the Thames, where there are many hillforts (although they basically go out of use after 150-100 BCE). It appears from this that in the Middle Iron Age the tribe of Norfolk/Suffolk were fairly decentralised.

    Sources: memory

    • EDORIX •
    ~ ancient briton ~

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    (dis ma house)

    [This message has been edited by Lord Eddie (edited 07-26-2013 @ 11:50 AM).]

  • Terikel Grayhair
    Imperator
    (id: Terikel706)
    posted 26 July 2013 09:13 EDT (US)     3 / 6       
    Thanks.

    I am a bit tied up for the moment, but will definitely try to work some of this stuff in.

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    Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
    Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
    Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
    Terikel Grayhair
    Imperator
    (id: Terikel706)
    posted 10 September 2013 09:38 EDT (US)     4 / 6       
    Updated.

    |||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
    |||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
    |||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
    Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
    Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
    Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
    EnemyofJupitor
    HG Alumnus Superbus
    posted 10 September 2013 12:54 EDT (US)     5 / 6       
    Shall I wait a couple of days to upload these two to the Rome II site?

    And I shall go Softly into the Night Taking my Dreams As will You
    Terikel Grayhair
    Imperator
    (id: Terikel706)
    posted 11 September 2013 04:09 EDT (US)     6 / 6       
    The Two-Day Rule is hereby invoked.

    |||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
    |||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
    |||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
    Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
    Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
    Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
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