Friday, 27 December 2013

Bargains before the 'next stages' in my Celtic Fervour Series!


My family Christmas activities and festivities are now over. Having spent a few days away from the keyboard and the internet, I have returned home to find that my Crooked Cat Publisher is being very kind to all the kindle and e-reader owners out there by reducing the ebook prices of my novels for a few more December days across the Amazon network.

If you haven't yet bought my Celtic Fervour series of historical romantic adventures, or my ancestral based mystery thriller that has been nominated for the current section of THE PEOPLE'S BOOK PRIZE, then you need to jump in and buy at seriously low prices to fill your e-reading device for those cold nights in January.

You'll find my Crooked Cat Books available at Amazon UK:


Meanwhile, I'm back to doing another of the things I really love doing and that is re-checking my research notes. My memory is so fickle that retention is quite pathetic, so just one little momentary doubt in my writing sends me to re-read my notes. 

AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN, the second novel in my Celtic Fervour series of historical adventures, launched well on December 16th. The third book of the series - AFTER WHORL: DONNING DOUBLE CLOAKS - is already written and accepted by my publisher (Crooked Cat Publishing) and awaits the editing processes before launching sometime in Spring 2014. However, before embarking on Book 4 of the series I've been rechecking what I can find for the time of AD 73/74 in Britannia.

The adventurous action in AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN culminates at a point when King Venutius of the Brigantes is vanquished. That doesn't mean all Brigantes are ready to lay down their weapons and cow-tow to all Roman dictates. Far from it.

Though written evidence is almost non- existent, and what is available is highly prejudiced in Roman favour (written by Roman and Greek historians), I do not believe that resistance to Roman occupation was dead. The years of Governorship of Quintus Petilius Cerialis Cesius Rufus were busy ones, so busy that recent archaeological evidence appears to be pointing to the fact that he, and his forces, were more active in northern Britain than was thought some decades ago. How many of the Roman forts, signal posts and fortresses can really be attributed to him is difficult to pinpoint but what have I found out about him? Here are some of my notes...

Who was Petilius Cerialis? Why was he important during the Roman conquest of the island the Romans named Britannia? What legacy did he leave in Britannia?

Petilius Cerialis is documented in at least three of the major annals of the Roman historian, Cornelius Tacitus. The history of Celtic Britain is scant as the Celtic peoples believed in the oral tradition. They were unlike the Romans in that they did not leave us written legacies to study. That lack of evidence means studying the era of the 1st century B.C. through to c.  A.D. 450 relies heavily on the records of Roman generals who served in Britannia and the few other Romans who wrote their own histories of the times- Tacitus being one of them, Cassius Dio another. How accurate their records are, biased or not, is conjectural since commanders in the field would most likely have wanted to show up in good light to their superiors when the documentation arrived at high command, and historians like Tacitus wrote their records not from personal memories but from the narrated accounts of other people.
Quintus Petilius Cerialis Cesius Rufus was the Governor of Britannia from A.D.71 to A.D.73/4. At that time Petillius Cerialis was probably around the age of 40, this approximation being based on the fact that to become a praetor one had to be a minimum age of thirty, and a commander of a legion was generally a praetor first.

Before that time, Petilius Cerialis became legate (commander) of the Ninth Legion Hispania (Legio 1X Hispania) in A.D.60, under Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, Governor of Britannia from c. A.D. 58 to 61. This was a time of great instability in the region. The successful revolt of the Iceni-a Celtic tribe of the south east of England-when they sacked Londinium (London) meant Petilius Cerialis had to retreat with his forces to a place further north, now named Peterborough. (Tacitus Annales xiv.32.6). It is assumed that he did not achieve a consulship (cursus honorum), the usual next stage of advancement, since he was being held accountable for the initial success of Queen Boudicca when she led that successful revolt on Londinium. The fact that Queen Bouddica was afterwards publicly humiliated, along with her young daughters, and disappeared presumed a suicide did not matter. The reputation of Petilius Cerialis was perhaps tainted.

Yet Tacitus also makes note that Petilius Cerialis had more success when he served in A.D. 69, in Germany, as the legate of the Fourteenth Legion  (Legio XIV Gemina). Petilius Cerialis was noted as having managed to successfully overcome a revolt of the Batavian peoples. This was during the time of the five emperors- a very unstable time for the Roman Empire when one leader succeeded another as their factions removed the competition, forcibly and purposefully, after the suicide of the Emperor Nero. The role of Petilius Cerialis during this time of upheaval is uncertain, perhaps even suspect in favour of Vespasian, but what is documented is that the fifth emperor of the time, Vespasian, conferred a consulship on Petilius Cerialis in A.D. 70.  Cerialis’s success merited him being sent back to Britannia to suppress the insurgence of Venutius, the former husband of Queen Cartimandua, a Queen of the Brigantes federation of tribes.

Petilius Cerialis is documented as …“having at once struck terror into their hearts by invading the commonwealth of the Brigantes, which is said to be the most numerous tribe of the whole province: many battles were fought, sometimes bloody battles, and by permanent conquest or by forays he annexed a large portion of the Brigantes.” (Tacitus)

Petilius Cerialis is noted as being the Governor of Britannia till around A.D. 74 when he quit Britannia. He, also, had acquired a second consulship around that time, not generally the norm. During the years between A.D. 70/74 he had led some successful campaigns in the north of England, suppressing many Brigantes and other Celtic tribes but he had also signed a number of treaties with unvanquished Brigantes. That negotiation ran along the lines of …if the Celts did not put up any revolts then Cerialis would not make any new surges north.

Petilius Cerialis mainly settled, during these years, at his garrison in Eburacum, also written as Eboracum, (York). This settlement, and subsequently a fine city, became a great legacy to the people of Britain. York to this day has many fine Roman visitor sites which excite the imagination, and is a fabulous city to visit. Yet, Cerialis also made other encampments in the north of England that, in some way, have also survived to the present day. They are also worth a visit.

In the duration of the governorship of Petilius Cerialis another very famous, and important, Roman served in Britannia. Gnaeus Julius Agricola was a commander of the forces in Britain. After the exit of Petilius Cerialis, Agricola took up Governorship of Britain in A.D.77. Agricola broke the existing treaties that had been made with the Brigantes and made surges northwards, all the way into the north east of Scotland.

It was the reading of the treaties formed between Petilius Cerialis and the Brigantes, and the later breaking of the treaties by Agricola that made me want to include them as pat of my plot for my novel, The Beltane Choice.

Research from:
The works of Dio Cassius


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