A Hero of Ancient Britain 2

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Our men met the Roman attack with missiles. Many of the Roman soldiers died, but still they pressed forwards. They approached the walls we had set up and then formed their famous testudo. They raised their shields over their heads and those men on the outside held theirs to the side, thus making an impenetrable shield. They advanced in this manner, and our spears and arrows could not penetrate.

They had done their work well, and when they reached our walls, they tore them down. We could do nothing against their testudos. Our missiles just bounced off.

The Romans kept on advancing. They dismantled our walls and soon they were amongst our men. Our men fought bravely, but the Romans had armour and we had none. It was a massacre.

Caradoc’s wife and daughter fell into the Romans’ hands, and his brother surrendered. Caradocs himself managed to escape. He fled to the lands of the Brigantes, hoping to get aid from Cartimandua.

That queen had betrayed her people to the Romans, though. She thought more of herself and her power than her people. When Caradoc arrived in Brigantia, the queen put him in chains and took him to Eberacum where she surrendered him to the Romans.

Caradoc was a famous hero. Even the Romans admired him, to some extent, at least. He had, after all, held out against them for nine years. not a small feat. Because of his fame, the commander in Eberacum sent him to Rome.

Caradoc’s fame had reached even in Rome. Emperor Claudius arranged a great spectacle. He summoned the Praetorian Guard to draw up under arms outside their camp. Then he displayed the royal vassals, ornaments, neck chains and other spoils of war.

Next, Caradoc’s brother, and his wife and daughter were displayed, and finally, Caradoc himself.
When brought before the Emperor, he said, “Had my moderation in prosperity been equal to my noble birth and fortune, I should have entered this city as your friend rather than as your captive; and you would not have disdained to receive, under a treaty of peace, a king descended from illustrious ancestors and ruling many nations. My present lot is as glorious to you as it is degrading to myself. I had men and horses, arms and wealth. What wonder if I parted with them reluctantly? If you Romans choose to lord it over the world, does it follow that the world is to accept slavery? Were I to have been at once delivered up as a prisoner, neither my fall nor your triumph would have become famous. My punishment would be followed by oblivion, whereas, if you save my life, I shall be an everlasting memorial of your clemency.”

This speech impressed Claudius and he granted Caradoc his wife, daughter and brother a pardon. They were all freed from their bonds.

Caractacus died in Rome, a free man.

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