Roman Britain (43 - 407 CE) and the Aftermath

"Selection of carvings from
the Castro de Santa Trega" 
<> 16 March 2019.

I. The Roman Invasion of Britain 43 CE

Before the Roman Invasion of Britain, the Bretons were the prominent people of southern Britain and Wales. The Picts were the peoples of the north. But, their world changed in 56 - 55 BCE when Julius Caesar began the expansion of Roman influence over Britain. Caesar's two incursions were a foretaste of what was to come. Although not posting his legions on British soil, Rome and her allies began expanding their hegemony across the British Channel, subsuming the many northern Gaulish tribes and controlling the seas. But, Rome would always need another war of expansion.

The new emperor, Claudius, needed a successful military campaign to gain the support of the Senate and People of Rome [SPQR].

To lead the invasion, [Emperor] Claudius appointed the seasoned general Aulus Plautius. . .Now for the invasion force, Plautius was assigned four legions as well as the usual allotment of cavalry and auxiliaries. In all, some 40,000 men assembled, probably at Boulogne in the shadow of Gaius' lighthouse. . . .

    Moorhead, Sam and David Stuttard, The Romans who Shaped Britain, p. 44, Thomas and Hudson, Ltd, London, 2012.

Initially, Plautius took the 2nd Legion Augusta, 9th Hispania, 14th Gemina, and 20th Valeria along with their cavalry and auxiliaries across the Channel to Britain.
-The IX Legio Hispaņa was most probably formed in central Italy, as they first fought at Asculum during the Social War for total Romanization of Italy (c. 90 BCE).
-This precludes the Legion being composed of Celt-Iberians.
-The Legion was retired in central Italy near where it was initially formed (c. 46 BCE).
-The Legion was recalled from retirement and fought in the many battles after the death of Caesar (44 BCE).
-The Legion was sent to Iberia where they fought in a war of extermination against the Cantabri, our Celtic cousins, in what is now northwestern Spain (29 - 19 BCE).
-That's where the Legion received the nickname "Hispaņa"; as they had been stationed in Spain.
-Later, the Legion was assigned to the Rhine and Pannonia.

The Legion participated in the invasion of Britain (43 CE).
-The Legion was nearly destroyed by Boudica at the Battle of Camulodorum (61 CE).
-With reinforcements from the Rhine, the Legion participated in Agricola's invasion of Caledonia (82 CE).
-Detachments from the Legion are recorded in the Rhine (c. 104 - 120 CE). 

As we, the Lewis family, carry the DNA markers from Gallaecia on the Iberian Peninsula, could our direct Lewis ancestor have been one of the Legionnaires who crossed the Channel with Plautius? Some of my Lewis cousins think so.

II. Conquering Britain

And, the young sons of Cunobelin, king of the Catuvellauni tribe, provided a reason for Rome to intervene in the internal affairs of the Island of Britain.

Yet the necessity for an invasion, or at least the pretext for one, was becoming more and more apparent. By this time, Cunobelin, king of the Catuvellauni tribe was dead. His two sons, Togodumnus and Caratacus, had inherited his kingdom -- but not is diplomatic skills. Keen to assert their independence, they soon swept south and west into the lands of the Atrebates and Regini, tribes that had been well disposed to Rome. (Ibid, p. 42)

According to Dio, the forces of Togodumnus and Caratacus took refuge in swamps and forests. . .hoping to use guerrilla tactics to wear out the Roman army. . .Caught on the wrong foot, the Catuvellaunian warlords may simply have been unable to gather their men in sufficient numbers to meet the Romans head-on. . .Dio tells us that two skirmishes saw off first Caratacus, then Togodumnus, as the men of the Catuvellauni struggled to come together in one united force. . .But just when momentum was in danger of being lost, the Roman high command received a piece of welcome news. Togodumnus was dead. (Ibid, pp. 45-48)

And eight years after he had left the island, Claudius could admire the legend engraved on his new triumphal arch, dedicated:

. . .by the Roman Senate and People [SPQR] because he had received the surrender of eleven British Kings, defeated without loss, and for the first time had brought barbarian peoples from beyond the Ocean under Roman rule. . .

Given the timing of the inscription on the triumphal arch (AD 51/52), another of the kings well may have been Caratacus. For, having rallied the renegade tribesmen and harried the legions from his fastnesses deep within the mountains of the Ordovices in Wales, Caratacus had eventually met the Roman army in pitched battle, where he was defeated. Fleeing north to the lands of the Brigantes, he had thrown himself on the mercy of their queen, Cartimandua, who had become a client ruler of Rome. She had already nailed her colours to the mast of Rome, and she gave him up to the Romans, a prized prisoner. By now, the name of Caratacus was well known everywhere. He was, after all, at the top of Rome's 'most wanted' list. . . . (Ibid, pp. 61-62)

III. Subjugation of the Bretons

Wherever the Romans went, they brought their version of civilization. If you were a pacified, taxpaying subject, you could potentially earn Roman citizenship. If you rebelled, you faced retribution from the Legion.

In 60 or 61 CE, Decianus Catus, the Procurator of Roman Britain, demanded land, money, and tribute (slaves) from the Icini after the death of their king, Prasutagus; Queen Boudica refused. The kingdom was pillaged. Boudica was lashed, and her daughters were raped. This didn't go over well with the ethnic Bretons. And, insurrection erupted. A rag-tag army of Bretons burned the Roman administrative center at Camulodunum (Colchester), killing all the citizens. The newly reinforced Breton army then marched south to Londinium (London), and burned it to the ground. Their next target was Verulamium (St Albans). Same result.

Roman governor Gaius Seutonius Paulinus turned from his intended destruction of the Druid "fastness" on the Isle of Mona to face Boudica and the Breton Army. Collecting whatever soldiers and auxiliaries available, the Romans headed south. Somewhere along Watling Street, the armies met. And, the disciplined Roman army of only 10,000 exterminated the army of the Bretons, which has been estimated as high as 250,000 fighters. Why?

Celtic warriors, male and female, would continue to rush into the fight without regard to casualties. Believing in reincarnation, for the Celts, casualties were of no consequence. Most times the Celtic force simply overwhelmed their opponents. But when the tactic failed, Celtic casualties were astronomical. So much the better for the Romans. Eliminate the Bretons; eliminate the problem. And, the Romans crossed the Menai Strait to destroy the Druidic stronghold on the Isle of Mona, now Anglesey. Destroy the physical center of the Breton religion; bring the Bretons into the pantheon of Roman religions including the Cult of the Emperor; pacify the populous. Voila!. C'est la Pax Romanum.

By July 122 CE, the many Legions began building Hadrian's Wall to split the Island of Britain in two: Roman Britain in the south and the Caledonii and the wild Picts to the north.

It is entirely in character that with a sweep of his [Hadrian's] stylus, he drew a line 80 miles in length from the Tyne Estuary to the Solway Firth, just north of an existing road, the Stanegate, along which the the wall would be laid out.

    Moorhead, Sam and David Stuttard, The Romans who Shaped Britain, pp. 127 - 128, Thomas and Hudson, Ltd, London, 2012.

And, there were Legionnaire posts in Wales.

IV. The Irish Kingdom of Gwynedd (150 to 470 CE)

Studying History, we first learn about the inhabitants of northern Iberia in the 2nd century BCE from their interaction with Rome and the Roman Legion. The same is true about the tribes of Britain. As the Roman invaders spread across Britain, they encountered more and more of the tribes inhabiting the island. But, those tribes had a history from before the Romans. The question is "When did the Irish arrive in northern Wales?"

As early as the 2nd century AD there may have been an Irish presence in the region as Ptolemy marks the Llyn Peninsula as the Promontory of the Gangani which is also a name he recorded in Ireland. In the late and post-Roman eras, Irish from Leinster are said to have arrived in Ynys Môn (Anglesey) and elsewhere in Northwest Wales, with the name derived from Laigin, or Leinster. The region became known as Venedotia in Latin. The name was initially attributed to a specific Irish colony on Môn [Mona], but broadened to refer to Irish settlers as a whole in north Wales by the 5th century. According to 9th century monk and chronicler Nennius, North Wales was left defenceless by the Roman withdrawal and subject to increasing raids by mauraders from Man and Ireland, a situation which led Cunedda, his sons and their entourage, to migrate in the mid-5th century [c. 450 CE] from Manaw Gododdin (Lothian, in modern Scotland) to settle and defend north Wales against the raiders and bring the region within Romano-British control. . .

Undoubtedly a Brythonic leader of substance established himself in north Wales, and he and his descendants defeated any remaining Irish Gaelic presence and incorporated the settlements into their domain and reoriented the whole of Gwynedd into a Romano-British and "Welsh" outlook. The Welsh of Gwynedd remained conscious of their Romano-British heritage and an affinity with Rome survived long after the Empire retreated from Britain, particularly with the use of Latin in writing and sustaining the Christian religion. . .

Other evidence support Nennius' claim of a leader who came to north Wales and brought the region a measure of stability, though an Irish Gaelic element remained until the mid-5th century.

    "Kingdom of Gwynedd" <> 9 August 2015.

Rome did not abandon Britain. Upon command of the many Caesars, the Roman Legions did. In 382 CE, Magnus Maximus was proclaimed Emperor by the Legion in Britain. He promptly took the majority of the Legions across the Channel to Gaul to pursue a civil war. With the departure of Magnus Maximus and the Legions to the Continent, a Breton war-chief, Coel Hen, was appointed to command the remaining garrisons to hold back the barbarians of the North.

Following the narrative of the Red-Headed Tribe it would seem a non-sequitur to trace the few survivors of the Roman extermination campaign against the Ordovices to a time when their descendant became the defacto High King of Northern Britain. But, time heals many wounds.
-The Ordovice survivors escaped into southern Scotland, north of Hadrian's Wall.
-Even though there were forts and patrols and even excursions north of the Antonine Wall, the Picts were never subsumed into Roman Britain.
-The lands between the Antonine Wall to the north and Hadrian's Wall to the south were, at times, part of Roman Britain and, at times, the land of the Caledonii barbarians.
-But over the centuries, we, the barbarians, became marginally Romanized.

In 402 CE, the last remaining full legion was recalled to fight Alaric at Pollentia. In 407 CE, the last remaining Roman Legionaries, totaling perhaps as few as 6,000, were recalled to the continent when about one million ethnic Germans crossed the frozen Rhine River and entered Roman Gaul.

    Moorhead, Sam and David Stuttard, The Romans who Shaped Britain, pp. 230 - 237. Thomas and Hudson, Ltd, London, 2012.    

The departure of the dragon standards of the Roman army in AD 407, accompanied as it was by the fast disintegration of the last vestiges of security and order, must have sent Britain into rapid freefall. (Ibid, p. 240)

There are a multitude of stories where the local Roman administrators corresponded with Rome or the current Roman "Augustas" for instructions, expecting the return of their Roman overlords. Overtime, Roman society fell to its knees. And, an ethnic Breton society rose in its place.

V. The Welsh Kingdom of Gwynedd (c. 450 to 1277)

The pedigree for this Lewis family states that we descend from the Kings of Gwynedd who originally came from Yr Hen Ogledd, the "Old North" of Welsh antiquity.

Though Manaw Gododdin was located within the territory of modern Scotland, as a part of Yr Hen Ogledd (English: The Old North) it is also an intrinsic part of Welsh history, as both the Welsh and the Men of the North (Welsh: Gwyr y Gogledd) were self-perceived as a single people, collectively referred to as Cymry. The arrival in Wales of Cunedda of Manaw Gododdin in c. 450 is traditionally considered to be the beginning of the history of modern Wales.

    "Manaw Gododdin" <> 9 August 2015.

The Kings of Wales
Who are also my Welsh Family)


The House of Lewys

The House of Tudor

Eudaf Hen
Gadeon ap Eudaf Hen
1. Coel Hen2 c. 350 - 420 CE
Cornelius Dux Brittanarum, (Duke of the Bretons)
of Gadeon son of Eudaf Hen
(Gwreic Coyl hen oed verch Gadeon m Eudaf hen vchot).
Cunedda of Gwynedd1 b. c. 410 CE
Gwawl furch Coel Hen
2. Ceneu ap Coel b. 450
  3. Maeswig Gloff/ Mar ap Ceneu
  4. Arthwys ap Mar b. 529
  5. Cynfelyn ap Arthwys
  6. Cynwyd Cynwydion
  7. Cadrod (of) Calchfynydd
Others down to Rhodri "the Great" 8. Yspwys of Moel Ysbiddon
  9. Yspwys Mwyntyrch
  Others down to Tudor ap Ednowain 10. Mynan ap Yspwys (the Tudor branch)
    11. Mor ap Mynan
12. Elfyw ap Mor
13. Cynan ap Elfyw, Lord of Clwyd
Rhodri "the Great"3 b. 820 14. Marchudd4 of the 8th Noble Tribe, Lord of Rhos
Others down to Iago ab Idwal ap Meurig
Iago ab Idwal ap Meurig d. 1039 Others down to Ednyfed Fychan ap Cynwrig
(Not a King) Cynan ab Iago (1014 - 1063)
Gruffydd ap Cynan (1055 - 1137)
wife, Angharad ferch Owain ab Edwin of Tegeingl
Owain Gwynedd5 (1100 - Nov 1170)
+wife #1, Gwladys d/o Llywarch
+wife #2, Cristen
d/o Goronwy
xHewyl6 ab Gwynedd d. 1170 &
-Rhodri7 ab Owain Gwynedd (c. 1147 - 1195)
Ionwerth Drwyndwn8 "Broken Nose"
Cynan, bastard son of Owain Gwynedd
Lewelyn9 ap Ionwerth ab Owain Gwynedd
Lewelyn "the Great" (1173 - 1240)
wife, Tangwystl Goch
Gruffydd ap Cynan
Marged who married
Ednowain ap Pyradwen10 of the 15th Tribe
Dafydd ap Llewelyn11 (1215 - 1246) Gruffydd ap Rhys of Deheubarth
wife, Gwenllian furch Gruffydd ap Cynan
Llewelyn ap Gruffydd12 
Llewelyn "the Last" (1223-1282)
King Rys ap Gruffydd of Deheubarth
Ednyfed Fychan ap Cynwrig13 1170 - 1246
wife, Gwenllian d/o King Rys ap Gruffydd of Deheubarth
Gronwy ap Ednyfed 1205 - 1268
Tudor Hen14 d. 1311
Gronwy ap Tudor Hen d. 1331
Lord of Penmynydd
Tudor ap Gronwy d. 1367
Maredudd ap Tudor d. 1406
    Owain ap Maredudd ap Tudor, "Owen Tudor"
wife, Catherine of Valois, (1400 - 1461)


1. Cunedda, progenitor of the royal dynasty of Gwynedd.
2. Coel Hen, progenitor of the Tribe of Lewys.
The wife of Coel Hen was the daughter of Gadeon, son of Eudaf Hen (Gwreic Coyl hen oed verch Gadeon m Eudaf hen vchot).
-The House of Tudor descends from the marriage of Cunedda and Gwawl d/o Coel Hen.
3. Rhodri "the Great," King of Gwynedd, progenitor of the kings of Powys, Ceredigion, and Dyfed.
4. Marchudd ap Cynan, Lord of Rhos, and protector of Rhodri "the Great," King of Gwynedd.
5. Owain Gwynedd, King of Wales, was a member of the House of Aberffraw, the senior branch of the dynasty of Rhodri the Great.
Married (1) Gwladus (Gladys) ferch Llywarch, daughter of Llywarch ap Trahaearn (2) Cristin ferch Goronwy, daughter of Goronwy ab Owain
-Owain's elder brother, Cadwallon, was killed, fighting in Powys in 1132. Thus, the name Cadwallader would also appear in my family.
-The line of Owen Gwynedd descends from Coel Hen, progenitor of the Lewys family.
-And, the Lewis Family of Abernant Bychan descends from Owain Gwynedd through granddaughter Marged d/o Cynan ap Owain Gwynedd. Cousins marry cousins.
6. Hewyl ab Gwynedd was the oldest remaining son of Owain by his 1st wife.
-Began rule in 1170 upon the death of Owain. Deposed by his half-brothers, Rhodri ab Owain and Ionwerth Drwyndwn.
7. Rhodri ab Owain, oldest son of Owain by wife #2, Cristen.
8. Ionwerth Drwyndwn "Broken Nose" s/o Owain Gwynedd.
Married Marared d/o Madog.
-Was removed from the line of succession due to his physical appearance.
9. Lewelyn "the Great," nephew of Rhodri ab Owain.
Ednowain ap Pyradwen of the 15th Tribe. 23rd generation of the family of Coel Hen. Married Marged d/o Cynan ap Owain Gwynedd.
11. Dafydd ap Llewelyn, 2nd son of Lewelyn "the Great."
12. Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, Llewelyn "the Last." Nephew of Dafydd ap Llewelyn.
-Last hereditary Prince of Wales. Submitted to Edward I of England by the Treaty of Aberconway (1277).

13. Ednyfed Fychan, seneschal to Llwelyn "the Great" and Dafydd ap Llwelyn. The House of Tudor descends from the Kings of Wales through Enyfed Fychan's wife, Gwenllian furch "King Rys" of Deheubarth, who descends from Owain Gwynedd and thus Rhodri "the Great," and thus Cumedda, King of Gwynedd.
14. Tudor Hen aka Tudor "the First."



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