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Celtic Britain (реферат)

Who were they? The Iron Age is age of the "Celt” in Britain. Over the 500 or so years leading up to the first Roman invasion a Celtic culture established itself throughout the British Isles. Who were these Celts?

For a start, the concept of a "Celtic” people is a modern and somewhat romantic reinterpretation of history. The "Celts” were warring tribes who certainly wouldn’t have seen themselves as one people at the time.

The "Celts” as we traditionally regard them exist largely in the magnificence of their art and the words of the Romans who fought them. The trouble with the reports of the Romans is that they were a mix of reportage and political propaganda. It was politically expedient for the Celtic peoples to be coloured as barbarians and the Romans as a great civilizing force. And history written by the winners is always suspect.

Where did they come from? What we do know is that the people we call Celts gradually infiltrated Britain over the course of the centuries between about 500 and 100 B.C. there was probably never an organized Celtic invasion; for one thing the Celts were so fragmented and given to fighting themselves that the idea of a concerted invasion would have been ludicrous.

The Celts were a group of peoples loosely tied by similar language, religion, and cultural expression. They were not centrally governed, and quite as happy to fight each other as any non – Celt. They were warrious, living for the glories of battle and plunder. They were also the people who brought iron working to the British Isles.

Hill forts. The time of the " Celtic conversion” of Britain saw a huge growth in the number of hill forts throughout the region. These were often small ditch and bank combinations encircling defensible hilltops. Some are small enough that they were of no practical use for more than an individual family, though over time many larger forts were built. The curious thing is that we don’t know if the hill forts were built by the native Britons to defend themselves from the encroaching Celts, or by the Celts as they moved their way into hostile territory.

Usually these forts contained no source of water, so their use as long term settlements is doubtful, though they may have been useful indeed for withstanding a short term siege. Many of the hill forts were built on top of earlier causeways camps.

Celtic family life. The basic unit of Celtic life was the clan, a sort of extended family. The term "family” is a bit misleading, for by all accounts the Celts practiced a peculiar form of child rearing; they didn’t rear them, they farmed them out. Children were actually raised by foster parents. The foster father was often the brother of the birth – mother.

Clans were bound together very loosely with other lans into tribes, each of which had its own social structure and customs, and possibly its local gods.

Housing. The Celts lived in huts of arched timber with walls of wicker and roofs of thatch. The huts were generally gathered in loose hamlets. In several places each tribe had its own coinage system.

Farming. The Celts were farmers when they weren’t fighting. One of the interesting innovations that they brought to Britain was the iron plough. Earlier ploughs had been awkward affairs, basically a stick with a pointed end harnessed behind two oxen. They were suitable only for ploughing the light upland soils. The heavier iron ploughs constituted an agricultural revolution all by themselves, for they made it possible for the first time to cultivate the rich valley and lowland soils. They came with a price, though. It generally required a team of eight oxen to pull the plough, so to void the difficulty of turning that large a team, Celtic fields tended to be long and narrow, a pattern that can still be seen in some parts of the country today.

The lot of women. Celtic lands were owned communally, and wealth seems to have been based largely on the size of cattle herd owned. The lot of women was a good deal better than in most societies of that time. They were technically equal to men, owned property, and could choose their own husbands. They could also be war leaders, as Boudicca later proved.

Language. There was a written Celtic language, but it developed well into Christian times, so much of Celtic history they relied on oral transmission of culture, primarily through the efforts of bards and poets. These arts were tremendously important to the Celts, and much of what we know of their traditions comes to us today through the old tales and poems that were handed down for generations before eventually being written down.

Druids. Another area where oral traditions were important was in the training of Druids. There has been a lot of nonsense written about Druids, but they were curious lot; a sort of super – class of priests, political advisors, teachers, healers, and arbitrators. They had their own universities, where traditional knowledge was passed on by rote. They had the right to speak ahead of the king in council, and may have held more authority than the king. They acted as ambassadors in time of war, they composed verse and upheld the law. They were a sort of glue holding together Celtic culture.

Religion. From what we know of the Celts from Roman commentators, who are, remember, witnesses with an axe to grind, they held many of their religious ceremonies in woodland groves and near sacred water, such as wells and springs. The Romans speak of human sacrifice as being a part of Celtic religion. One thing we do know, the Celts revered human heads.

Celtic warriors would cut off the heads of their enemies in battle and display them as trophies. They mounted heads in door posts and hung them from them from their belts. This might seem barbaric to us, but to the Celt the seat of spiritual power was the head, so by taking the head of a vanquished foe they were appropriating that power for themselves. It was a kind of bloody religious observance.

The Iron Age is when we first find cemeteries of ordinary people’s burials (in hole - in – the- ground graves) as opposed to the elaborate barrows of the elite few that provide our main records of burials in earlier periods.

The Celts at War. The Celts loved war. If one wasn’t happening they’d be sure to start one. They were scrappers from the word go. They arrayed themselves as fiercely as possible, sometimes charging into battle fully naked, dyed blue from head to toe, and screaming like banshees to terrify their enemies.

They took tremendous pride in their appearance in battle, if we can judge by the elaborately embellished weapons and paraphernalia they used. Golden shields and breastplates shared pride of place with ornamented helmets and trumpets.

The Celts were great users of light chariots in warfare. From this chariot, drawn by two hoses, they would throw spears at enemy before dismounting to have a go with heavy slashing swords. They also had a habit of dragging families and baggage along to their battles, forming a great milling mass of encumbrances, which sometimes cost them a victory, as Queen Boudicca would later discover to her dismay.

As mentioned, they beheaded their opponents in battle and it was considered a sign of prowess and social standing to have a goodly number of heads to display.

The main problem with the Celts was that they couldn’t stop fighting among themselves long enough to put up a unified front. Each tribe was out for itself, and in the long run this cost them control of Britain.

The first invasion of Britain. The Celts of Britain had ties to the tribes of Gaul and were quite familiar with the Romans to have know better. Caesar, on the other hand, claimed that Britain’s people had been helping the Gauls in their wars against Rome. Britain was about to be conquered.

At dawn broke Caesar saw that the southern tribes of Britain had massed on the cliffs of Dover to meet them. Caesar sailed on in an attempt to find somewhere to land his troops. They came to a shallow beach whereupon the tribes of the Britain moved onto the beaches and did their best to intimidate the Romans. The ?Roman legionaries refused to go ashore - until a lone standard leapt ashore and was straight away cut down. The rest of the army were shamed into making a bloody landing.

The Britons met the legionaries at the beach with a large force, including chariots (two horses with a driver and warrior), an antiquated fighting method not used by the Roman military. After an initial fight, the Celtic chieftains sought a truce, and handed over hostages, but Caesar had already decided to abandon the invasion.

Bad weather delayed a fleet carrying Roman cavalry. With no cavalry the mobility of Caesar’s troops were seriously obstructed. The Roman legions had to survive in a coastal region, which they found both hostile and with problems to obtain food locally. After repairing most of the three weeks in Britain.

The second invasion. The next yea saw the Romans organize a much larger expedition to Britain, with a total of 800 ship used to transport five legions of 50,000 infantry and 2000 cavalry troops, horses and a large baggage train. They sailed as the year before from Boulogne at night on July 6, 54 BC, and landed unopposed the next day on the beach between Deal and Sandwich.

Upon seeing the large size of the Roman force, the Britons retreated inland to higher ground. Caesar marched with most of his troops and encountered British forces close to Canterbury. The Romans easily broke the resistance, who retreated to a hillfort at Bigbury. After first being blocked the Romans then captured the stronghold.

After the first victory Caesar once again had bad luck. An overnight storm drove most of the Roman ships on shore. The army spent ten days building a land fort to protect and repair the 760 ships left.

During the pause in the invasion the British Celts briefly united under a single commander of the Catuvellauni tribe, a chieftain the Roman called Cassivellaunus. After a hard fight with a British chariot army the Romans eventually drove the British back toward the River Thames.

Stuck by the lack of military success the Celts eventually adapted a scorched – earth guerrilla - warfare by destroying local food source and harass the Roman legions with constant attack by chariots. Then the Celtic unity broke when neighbouring tribes resented the domination of the Catuvellauni tribe, and went over to join Caesar’s side.

From these traitors, the rival tribe of the Trinovantes, Julius Caesar’s learned the location of Cassivellaunus’ secret stronghold, which he attacked with massive forces. A counter – attack on the Roman beach camp at Deal from Cassivellanus’s allies at failed. After a short time the enemy proved unable to resist the violent attack of the Legion, and they rushed out of the fortress on another side. Many of those trying to escape were captured or killed. Chieftain Cassivellanus resigned by the many defeats and devastation of the country. The Celts surrendered. Again.

On the moment of triumph Caesar got the news that Gaul was rebelling. A counter – attack on the Roman beach camp at Deal from Cassivellaunus’s allies at Kent failed after a short time the enemy proved unable to resist the violent attack of the Legion, and they rushed out of the fortress on another side. Many of those trying to escape were captured or killed. Chieftain Cassivellaunus resigned by the many defeats and the devastation of the country. The Celts surrendered. Again.

On the moment of triumph Caesar got the news that Gaul was rebelling. With heavy heart he once again had to give up the conquest of Britain and early in September 54 BC returned to Gaul with his whole army. The British were left to their own problems.

The final invasion. Before Rome attacked Britain, the British Celts had no need to neither build tribal coalitions nor seek alliance on the continent, but when Caesar invaded the first glimmering of a national consciousness of a national consciousness come into being.

After Caesar, the focus of trade to and from Britain shifted from southeast, and surrounded by traditional small farms and fortified farmsteads developed into towns that had specialised crafts. Two rival powers dominated the southeast of Britain; the Atrebates and the Catuvellauni.

When the last name of the two blocks was ousted, their ruler actually send out appeals to Rome requesting military assistance!

In AD 43 Emperor Claudius ordered the long – anticipated invasion of Britain. The Roman army landed unopposed at Rutupiae in Kent, and marched north. The command of the invading force was Aulus Plautius, leading an army of four Legions and auxiliary troops, complete with a contingent of war elephants, about 40,000 men – in the attack on Camulodunum, capital of the Catuvellauni tribe. Claudius’ exuse was to satisfy Roman law by restoring the local power of King Verica of the Atrebates.

Claudius himself personally supervised the attack. Celtic Britain most influential and steadfast military leader was a chieftain the Roman called Caratacus of Catuvellauni, and the son of Cunobelinus. He fought bravely but when the Romans captured his stronghold he fled to Wales. Cludius stayed in Britain for about 15 days and when he left he gave the army instructions v to carry on with battle against the Celtic tribes. By AD 50 the tribes of southern Britain were under Roman rule and the Roman army started to move northwards.

The Legions moved over the British land, smashing Celtic hillforts by the numbers. No organized resistance was possible to coordinate due to the petty tribal self – interest and betrayal.

Betray and rebellion. In Wales Caratacus continued the fight against Rome, but with little chance to win. After yet another devastating loss he was desperate to escape. He and his family fled north seek shelter at the Brigantes, the biggest Celtic tribe in the North, in the part of West Yorkshire and much of northern Britain. A pro – Roman queen named Cartimandua ruled the Brigantes, a loose, but large association of clans and tribes. Caratacus begged the queen to protect him and his wife and cildren.

Cartimandua smiled and saw her chance. Secretly, she sent messages to the Roman authorities, which in AD 51 captured Caratacus and his family. Archaeologists have found large quantities of Roman roof tile at Stanwick and it is possible that, as part of her agreement with the Roman authorities Cartimandua was having a house built there in Roman rather than British style. Cartimandua’s pro- Roman relationship probably benefited both sides: the Romans helped Cartimandua to keep control over opposing factions among her people, while the Romans had a buffer state between them and more hostile tribes further to the north.

Caratacus was taken to Rome where Claudius actually spared his lie. Tacticus records the chieftain as saying in his defense: "If you want to rule the world, does it follow that everyone else welcomes enslavement? "

Cartimandua’s had golden years. She was the living representative of the goddess of sovereignty, Brigantia. Suddenly she divorced her husband Venutius, which she could since it was from her family that the right to rule the tribe came. Venutius himself was thought to have been a ruler of some northern tribes in his own right. In stead she re – married a man half her own age, a teenager called Vellocatus, who was, to add further insult, Venutius’ own armour – bearer.

However this was no simple divorce for, by this action, her new husband became king.

King and queen. Cartimandua’s rule ended in AD 69. Emperor Nero had died and a struggle broke out among the powerful men of Roman Empire to decide who would be his successor. Troops were taken away from Britain to fight abroad. Venutius, who had previously fought for the Romans, saw his chance and gathered his own warriors and foes among other members of his family as hostages in an attempt to prevent him from moving against her.

With an army Venutius struck against the queen. The civil war between the Celtic tribe continued for a time until Venutius gained the upper hand and Cartimandua herself was only saved from capture by a unit of Roman soldiers. Venutius became king of the Brigantes, and ruled it brieflyas an independent kingdom.

Roman intervention saved Cartimandua but in the end her actions gave the Romans an excuse to conquer Brigantia. The Romans could not tolerate the long Brigantian border in the hands of a hostile king.

A few later Venutius was defeated by the Roman governor Petilius Cerialis. What happened to Cartimandua is not know, except that she never regain her former power and her role in history was over. The Brigantes and the rest of northern Britain were finally conquered and absorbed into the Roman Empire.

Celtic Britain was doomed. Then, suddenly another ruler raised a new and more serious teat toward the Romans. This leader was also - against all odds - also a woman, but her story was different. Her name was Boudicca. She was not pro - Roman. She hated them and she had good reasons to be furious.

Реферат на тему: Celtic Britain (реферат)

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