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Rebellion of the Silures

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 Rebellion of the Silures

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In AD 47 trouble developed on the Roman frontier with the Silures in South Wales; and in response the Romans constructed a fortress beside the Severn, at Kingsholm, Gloucester; from where an invasion of the Silurian territory was launched in 50 AD. 

The Silurian armies were led by Caratacus (British - Caradoc), a Belgic prince, whose homeland lay to the east. Caratacus is believed to have led the British fleet against the Romans in the Channel

Bran, or Brennus, the father of Caradoc, was the son of Llyr, brother of Cynvelin, surnamed llyr Llediaith, from the foreign accent imparted to the pronunciation of his native tongue by his education under Augustus at Rome. During the threatened invasion of Augustus he commanded the British fleet in the Channel. In 36 AD Bran resigned the Silurian crown to Caradoc, and became Arch-Druid to the Silurians. Caradoc had three sons, Cyllin or Cyllinus, Lleyn or Linus, and Cynon, and two daughters, Eurgain and Gladys, or Claudia.


In the Mabinogion story of Branwen allusion is made to 'Caradawg' the son of Bran, - 'Caradawc m. Bran.' When his father travels to Ireland Caradawg is left behind as the leader of the three (or seven) 'Chief Officers' -'cynweissieit' - of Britain

The story of Caratacus and his resistance to the Romans is told in both Dio Cassius, ( LX ), and by Tacitus, ( Annals XII ). The war was by no means one sided; in the words of Tacitus the following years were 'fraught with many disasters to the Roman arms.' 

Finally Caratacus was betrayed to the Romans in AD 52 . His wife and his daughter Gladys also fell into the hands of the Romans. They were all taken as prisoners to Rome. Caradoc took up his residence in the Palatium Britannicum, on the side of the Mons Sacer, converted later by his granddaughter, Claudia Pudentia, into the first Christian church at Rome. By AD 56 the Silurian Royal family were established in Rome.

The family of Bran and Caratacus are mentioned both the triad of the  three royal families that were conducted to prison from the great- great- grandfather to the great-grandchildren, without permitting one of them to escape, and the triad of the three blessed sovereigns of the isle of Britain

The tradition associating Caratacus with the introduction of Christianity to Britain is ancient.

" The strongest case seems to emanate from those works which associate Rufus with Rufus Pudens, the young Roman nobleman who was known to have been a Christian, and was married to the British princess Claucia. He is believed to have served in the Roman army in Britain. Claudia's name was Gladys, daughter of Caractacus. Their home in Rome was the Palatium Brittanicum. Here they lived with their two daughters, St. Pudentia and St. Prassides, and the present church of St. Pudentiana has been erected on the foundation of this early house. With them lived Linus, who became the first Bishop of Rome, and whose name is also recorded as the first bishop in St. Peters."

The captivity of Caratacus didn't end the war. The Silures elected his cousin Arviragus to succeed him and in the words of Tacitus ;- 'In Britain, after the captivity of Caractacus, the Romans were repeatedly conquered and put to the rout by the single state of the Silures alone.' - Tac. Ann., lib. v. c. 28.

It wasn't until 75 AD, during the reign of Vespasian, that the Roman general Frontinus finally completed the subjugation of the Silures. A series of forts were built throughout Silurian territory to ensure continuing obedience.


The Boudiccan Revolt



related pages

The Mabinogion

The Spread of Christianity into Britain




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