Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Caesar's Second Invasion. B.C. 54

Cæsar had hitherto failed to strike terror into the Britons. In the following year he started in July, so as to have many weeks of fine weather before him, taking with him as many as 25,000 foot and 2,000 horse. After effecting a landing he pushed inland to the Kentish Stour, where he defeated the natives and captured one of their stockades. Good soldiers as the Romans were, they were never quite at home on the sea, and Cæsar was recalled to the coast by the news that the waves had dashed to pieces a large number of his ships. As soon as he had repaired the damage he resumed his march. His principal opponent was Cassivelaunus, the chief of the tribe of the Catuvellauni, who had subdued many of the neighbouring tribes, and whose stronghold was a stockade near the modern St. Albans. This chief and his followers harassed the march of the Romans with the rush of their chariots. If Cassivelaunus could have counted upon the continued support of all his warriors, he might perhaps have succeeded in forcing Cæsar to retreat, as the country was covered with wood and difficult to penetrate. Many of the tribes, however, which now served under him longed to free themselves from his rule. First, the Trinobantes and then four other tribes broke away from him and sought the protection of Cæsar. Cæsar, thus encouraged, dashed at his stockade and (p. 012) carried it by storm. Cassivelaunus abandoned the struggle, gave hostages to Cæsar, and promised to pay a yearly tribute. On this Cæsar returned to Gaul. Though the tribute was never paid, he had gained his object. He had sufficiently frightened the British tribes to make it unlikely that they would give him any annoyance in Gaul.

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