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Cunobelinus - true father of Adminius, Togadumnus and Caratacus Catuvellauni,

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Date: Before 0001 to about 0040
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Cunobelinus: Historical King of the Britons

Cunobelinus was an historical King of the Britons who was born before the Common Era. In addition to documented history, legends have developed around him. A detailed account of his life is presented by Wikipedia. [1]


Cunobeline's name was derived from the Latin Cunobelinus, which in turn was derived from Greek Kynobellinus, Κυνοβελλίνος [1]

His name is a compound made up of cuno- (hound) and Belenos (the god Belenus). [2]


Cunobeline was a king in pre-Roman Britain from the late first century BC until the 40s AD. [1]

He is mentioned in passing by the classical historians Suetonius and Dio Cassius, and many coins bearing his inscription have been found. [1]

He appears to have controlled a substantial portion of south-eastern Britain, and is called "King of the Britons" (Britannorum rex) by Suetonius. [3]

From numismatic evidence Cunobelinus appears to have taken power around the year 9 of the Common Era, minting coins from both Camulodunum (Colchester, capital of the Trinovantes) and Verlamion (later the Roman town of Verulamium, now modern St Albans), capital of the Catuvellauni.

Cunobelinus appears to have maintained quite good relations with the Roman Empire. He used the title Rex (Latin "king") and classical motifs on his coins, and his reign saw an increase in trade with the continent. Archaeology shows an increase in luxury goods imported from the continent, including Italian wine and drinking vessels, olive oil and fish sauces from Hispania, glassware, jewellery and Gallo-Belgic tableware, which from their distribution appear to have entered Britain via the port of Camulodunum. [4]

Cunobelinus continued to expand his territory until his death in about 35, when Caratacus took over from him and the Atrebates recovered some of their territory. [1]

40 Death and Burial

Cunobelinus probably died within a year of 40, [2] certainly before the year 43. [5]David Braund, Ruling Roman Britain: Kings, Queens, Governors and Emperors from Julius Caesar to Agricola (London: Routledge, 1996), p. 99. Cited by Wikipedia. </ref>

His place of burial has been suggested to be the Lexden Tumulus on the outskirts of Colchester; another candidate for occupant is the earlier Trinovantian king Addedomarus. [6]

Sons of Cunobelinus

Cunobelinus had three sons, Adminius, Togodumnus and Caratacus, [1]

  1. Adminius. Adminius, judging by his coins, had control of Kent by this time. Suetonius tells us that in about 40 he was banished from Britain by his father and sought refuge with the emperor Caligula. Caligula treated this as if the entire island had submitted to him and prepared an invasion of Britain. He abandoned it, however, in farcical circumstances by ordering his soldiers to attack the waves and gather seashells as the spoils of victory. [7]
  2. Togodumnus
  3. Caratacus. Caratacus completed the conquest of the Atrebates, and their king, Verica, fled to Rome, providing the new emperor, Claudius, with a pretext for the conquest of Britain. Caratacus and Togodumnus led the initial resistance to the invasion. [1] Dio Cassius tells us that the "Bodunni", a tribe who were tributary to the Catuvellauni, changed sides and supported the Romans. This is probably a misspelling of the Dobunni of Gloucestershire, indicating that Cunobelinus's hegemony extended as far as the West Country. [8]

It is possible, based on epigraphic evidence, that Sallustius Lucullus, Roman governor of Britain in the late 1st century, was his grandson. [9]

Cunobelinus in Legend

Cunobeline appears in British legend as Cynfelyn (Welsh), Kymbelinus (medieval Latin) or Cymbeline, as in the play by William Shakespeare.

1136 Geoffrey of Monmouth

Cunobelinus's memory was preserved in British legend and beyond. In Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae (1136) Cunobelinus appears as Kymbelinus, son of Tenvantius, a powerful warrior who was raised in the courts of Augustus. He was very friendly with the Roman court: his country was equipped with Roman weapons, and all tributes to Rome were paid out of respect, not out of requirement. He had two sons, Guiderius and Arvirargus. Guiderius succeeded him, but died in the early stages of Claudius's invasion, leaving Arvirargus to carry on the fight. [5]

1577 Holinshed's Chronicles

Geoffrey's story was incorporated into Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles in 1577, [10]


William Shakespeare was familiar with Holinshed's work and used the legend there as the starting point for his romance, Cymbeline. However, beyond the name there is virtually nothing in common between the figure of Cymbeline and the historical Cunobelinus. The king, under the influence of his wicked second wife, forbids his daughter Imogen to marry Posthumus Leonatus, a low-born but worthy man, preferring that she marry his boorish stepson Cloten, leading to mistaken identity, jealousy caused by false accusations of infidelity and a war with Rome provoked by the withholding of tribute, again at the instigation of the queen. In the end peace between Britain and Rome is re-established, Cymbeline is reunited with his two sons, Guiderius and Arviragus, who were abducted in childhood by Belarius, a wrongly-banished nobleman. Imogen is reconciled with Posthumus. Cloten and his mother, the evil queen get their just deserts. [11]

Welsh Legends

A genealogy preserved in the medieval Welsh manuscript Harleian 3859 contains three generations which read "Caratauc map Cinbelin map Teuhant". This is the equivalent of "Caratacus, son of Cunobelinus, son of Tasciovanus", putting the three historical figures in the correct order, although the wrong historical context, the degree of linguistic change suggesting a long period of oral transmission. The remainder of the genealogy contains the names of a sequence of Roman emperors, and two Welsh mythological figures, Guidgen (Gwydion) and Lou (Lleu). [12]

St. Paul in Britain

Tenuantius, the son of Caswallon, a mild, pacific monarch, had sent his two sons, Cynvelin and Llyr (Lear) to be educated at Rome, whee they were brought up with his nephews in his palace by Augustus himself, who made a rule, as Suetonius informs us, of teaching the younger branches of his family in person. [13]

"Cynvelin subsequently served in the German campaigns under Germanicus. He had now succeeded his father, and received the Roman ambassadors with courtesy, but peremptorily rejected the interference of a foreign potentate in the affairs of the island....." Augustus moved an armed force toward Britain, but was hesitant; Cynvelin took advantage of this reluctance, and arranged a conference with the "imperial friend and tutor of his youth. The result was the triumph of British diplomacy...British nobles again took up their residence at Rome, and were to be seen dedicating their offerings at the shrines of the Capitol. [13]

Cymbeline, or Cynvelin, after a reign of thirty-five years, was succeeded by his eldest son Guiderius (Gwyddyr), his younger, Arviragus (Gweyrydd) receiving the dukedom of Cornwall (Cernyw) which by British laws was a dukedom royal. [13]

Legendary Sons of Cunobelinus

In legend, Cambelinus died after a reign of two years, leaving two sons, Guiderius and Arviragus.

  1. Arviragus is said to be the son of Cunobeline.
  2. Guiderius is said to be Avirargus' brother. Guiderius succeeds his father in the government of the kingdom. He refuses to pay the tribute to the Roman government.[14]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Wikipedia. Cunobeline Cunobeline. Accessed Jan 29, 2018. jhd
  2. 2.0 2.1 Anne Ross, Pagan Celtic Britain: Studies in Iconography and Tradition, Routledge, 1967, p. 340. Cited by Wikipedia.
  3. Encyclopædia Britannica article on Cunobelinus. Cited by Wikipedia.
  4. Keith Branigan (1987), The Catuvellauni, Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd, pp. 10–11. Cited by Wikipedia.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Britanniae 4.11–12. Cited by Wikipedia.
  6. Crummy, Philip (1997) City of Victory; the story of Colchester – Britain's first Roman town. Published by Colchester Archaeological Trust (ISBN 1 897719 04 3). Cited by Wikipedia.
  7. Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Caligula 44.2–47; Dio Cassius, Roman History 59.25 Cited by Wikipedia.
  8. Dio Cassius, Roman History 60.20. Cited by Wikipedia.
  9. Miles Russell (2006), "Roman Britain's Lost Governor", Current Archaeology 204, pp. 630–635; Sallustius Lucullus Archived 2006-09-08 at the Wayback Machine. at Roman=Britain.org. Cited by Wikipedia.
  10. Raphael Holinshed, Chronicles: History of England Vol 3 Ch. 18. Cited by Wikipedia.
  11. William Shakespeare, Cymbeline. Cited by Wikipedia.
  12. Harleian Genealogies 16; The Heirs of Caratacus – Cunobelinus and his relatives in medieval Welsh genealogies. Cited by Wikipedia.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Richard Williams Morgan, St. Paul in Britain: or, The origin of British as Opposed to Papal Christianity. Oxford and London: J. H. and Jas Parker, 1861. Page 93-95
  14. John de Wavrin, 1864, A Collection of the Chronicles and ancient Histories of Great Britain, now called England, translated by Will. Hardy: From Albina to A, Part 688 (Google eBook)

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Why is it that Togadomnus (Cunobelinas-2) and Caratacus Catuvellauni (Catuvellauni-4) have WikiTree ID's whereas Adminius DOES NOT ? Surely Adminius should also have an ID ?

Note that Cunobelinus - the father of the above 3 persons - also has an ID (Space:Cunobelinus) - but it is a Free Space ID. So, How does any one get the 3x sons to show on Cunobelinus' Profile ?

If I am correct in my observations (above) ... WHO IS AUTHORISED TO GET THESE ANOMALIES CORRECTED ?

From: Peter Forder (Forder-167)

posted by Peter Forder
edited by Peter Forder
Peter, when WikiTree was started, anyone could create any person-profiles. Since pre-1500 restrictions were introduced, we only create new person-profiles when there is ample documentation, and the profiles must be created by persons who have obtained pre-1500 certification. Because WikiTree is a relational database, we don't delete old person-profiles because it stresses the computers. So we have existing profiles that we would not create today. As a WikiTree member, you can documented information to this free-space profile, and/or you can create additional free-space profiles for anyone (or anything) you wish. Since you have a line of descent from Cunobelinus to yourself, it could be useful to create a free-space profile for the entire line of descent so that you could add narrative, information and documentation to it.

In addition, Cunobelinus himself lived just Before the Common Era (BCE). WikiTree only allows profiles of persons who were born in the year 1 or later.

posted by Jack Day
edited by Jack Day