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The Trinovantes (also known as the Trinobates) were one of the Celtic people known as Celtic Britons, or Insular Celts, who migrated to pre-Roman Britain from the Belgic tribes of northeastern Gaul. Some scholars suggest that their name was derived from the word for "Newcomers", others that their name means 'The Vigorous People'. They occupied the northern side of the Thames estuary and were bordered to the north by the Iceni, to the west by the Catuvellauni and to the east by the North Sea. This area comprises the present day counties of Essex and most of southern Suffolk.
Unfortunately, the Celts did not leave written records. Their history was passed from generation to generation through memorized oral traditions; thus, we have very few written sources to draw from. The first mention of the Trinovantes in history was in Caesar's records of his second invasion (54 BC) where they are the first of the tribes to be mentioned.
The Trinovantes disappeared from history after Boudica's failed revolt in 61 AD.
The Trinovantes produced their own coins, used cups and plates, cremated their dead, and fought battles from chariots; which identifies them with the Aylesford-Swarling culture.
Known Rulers of the Trinovantes
There is no complete list of the Trinovantes rulers due to the absence of Celtic written records.
Rulers of the Trinovantes From Until Ruler's Name Comments circa 60 BC circa 54 BC Inamnuetoutos circa 54 BC circa 50 BC Mandubracius circa 25 BC circa 5 BC Addedomaros circa 25 BC circa 10 AD Dubnovellaunus circa 8 AD circa 41 AD Cunobelinus also ruler of the Catuvellauni and Cantici circa 40 AD circa 43 AD Togodumnus circa 35 AD circa 43 AD Agr circa 35 AD circa 43 AD Dubn circa 50 AD Arviragus possibly a mythical ruler
Timeline of Events
55-54 BCE: Julius Caesar regards the Trinovantes as the strongest tribe in the region. The Trinovantes appear to have been one of only two tribes to obey Caesar's command to send him tribute and hostages after his departure. Manuscripts of Caesar's Gallic War refers to the king of the Trinovantes as Imanuentius.
c. 5 AD: Dumnovellaunos, the King, apparently travels to Rome. He was a son of Addedomaros (or Addedumaros). He was also king of the Cantii (15 BC-5 AD). Claimed the title as High King of Briton.
5 AD: Diras is known from coin evidence. It is possible he was a successor to Dumnovellaunos (it's not known whether he was legitimate or a usurper), but scholars can't even be sure whether he is of the Trinovantes or the Catuvellauni. He is known from a horde of coin uncovered in Kent in 2006.
c. 9 AD: It appears that after the Romans are defeated in 9 AD by Germanic tribes in the Teutoberg Forest of Saxony, the Trinovantes are defeated by the Catuvellauni and become a subject state to the them.
c. 9 AD-43 AD: Cunobelinus or Cunobelin, sometimes Cymbeline. Ruler of the Catuvellauni becomes High King in 10 AD through conquest while the Roman empire is distracted in Germany. His expansion of territory ultimately resulted in the Roman conquest of 43 AD. At this point the Trinovantes independence is lost. Cunobelinus had at least three sons. Togodumnus (possibly the eldest), rules the Catuvellauni, but not necessarily the Trinovantes. Another son, Adminius of the Cantii, is expelled around 39 AD or 40 AD, and is not known to return; the basis for the expulsion may relate to a power-grab by Togodumnus and another brother, Caratacus.
43 AD: The Romans conquer the Catuvellauni and the Trinovantes under Governor Aulus Plautius and Emperor Claudius himself. The Romans then disperse the tribes and their lands are lost to them. The capital Camulodunum (modern Colchester) becomes the Roman capital until AD 61 when the capital is moved to London. Colchester held the only known example in Britain of a Roman circus used for chariot racing which was uncovered in 2005.
60 AD: Remnants of the Trinovantes participated in Boudicca's revolt, but after the revolt history loses track of them.
- Geoffrey of Monmouth, The History of the Kings of Britain. 3rd Edition. Lewis Thorpe, translator. London: The Folio Society, 2012.
- Mike Ashley. British Kings & Queens, A Brief History of the British Kings & Queens, New York, NY: Carroll & Graff Publishers, 2002.
- Ashley, Mike,British Kings & Queens: The Complete Biographical Encyclopedia of the Kings & Queens of Great Britain. New York, NY: Barnes & Nobles Books, 2000
- David Williamson, History of the Kings & Queens of England, New York, New York: Barnes & Noble Books by special arrangement with Konecky & Konecky, 2003; Copyright, National Portrait Gallery 1998
- British Broadcasting Co. (BBC), British Pre- History
- Martin J Dougherty, A Dark History: Celts, London, England: Amber Books Ltd, 2015
- Dr Ian Barnes, The Historical Atlas of the Celtic World, New York, NY: Chartwell Books, Inc, 2012
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