Background to the Iceni

Location of the tribe
The Iceni tribe, known in Latin as Icēnī, was a powerful and significant group during the Iron Age and early Roman era in what is now eastern Britain. Their territory primarily encompassed the region that includes the modern-day county of Norfolk, extending into parts of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. This area was characterized by various landscapes, from the dense forests and rich agricultural lands to the unique wetlands of the Fens. The Iceni were bordered by the Corieltauvi to the west, and the Catuvellauni and Trinovantes to the south, which positioned them strategically among other influential tribes of the time.

Background to the tribe
The Iceni are perhaps best known for their fierce resistance against Roman rule, notably under the leadership of Queen Boudica, who led a major revolt against the Roman Empire in AD 60-61. This uprising came after the death of King Prasustagus, Boudica’s husband, who had attempted to secure his kingdom’s independence through a will that bequeathed it jointly to his daughters and the Roman emperor. The Romans, however, disregarded this will, leading to the mistreatment of Boudica and her daughters and sparking the revolt.

Principal towns and settlements in Iceni territory

The heart of Iceni territory was at Venta Icenorum, near present-day Caistor St. Edmund, which served as their capital. This location was a hub of activity and governance for the tribe.

Other settlements
– (Norfolk) – Small settlement on the Peddlar’s Way, east of Thetford.

Caister by Yarmouth – (Norfolk) – A small, walled seaport serving the civitas capital.

Camvorritum – (Lackford, nr. Icklingham, Suffolk) – Posting station.

Durolipons – (Cambridge).

Ixworth – (Suffolk) – Major settlement succeeded an earlier Roman fort.

Narford – (nr. Castle Acre?, Norfolk) – Small settlement on the Icknield Way.

Thetford – (Norfolk) – Major religious centre at an important river-crossing.

Snettisham – (Norfolk) – Small settlement on the Icknield Way, a former Celtic centre and the location of a find of Celtic gold torcs.

Toftrees – (nr. Fakenham, Norfolk) – Small settlement on native pathway between Venta and the Wash.

Venta Icenorum -(Cambridge)

Wilton – (Hockwold cum Wilton, Norfolk) – Small settlement on the Little Ouse, west of Thatcham. There is a rural temple nearby at Hockwold.

Woodcock Hill – (Hockham Heath, Norfolk) – Small settlement or posting station north-east of Thetford.

Some of the Iceni kings and queens

Anted– He ruled during the time of the Roman invasion of 43AD, but did not actually allow his tribe to defend his territory against the Romans. For this, he was rewarded by the Romans by being allowed to stay as ruler of the Iceni in the capacity of a Client King. He produced his first coins marked ‘ANTED’ to record his actions. This possibly incited the Iceni people who were opposed to the rule of a leader who had no powers to govern his own people, and this prompted Antedios to issue coinage inscribed with ‘ECEN’, representing the name of the tribe. There was a fear that the name of ‘Iceni’ would disappear entirely. This seemed not to appease at least two of the Iceni aristocracy, Aesu– and Saenu– who minted their own coins around 45AD.

During the Iceni civil war of 47AD, Anted– was believed to have been killed, and it was the Romans under the governor’s son, Marcus Ostorius, who restored order. To ensure that peace remained within the Iceni, the stern pro-Roman Prasutagus was installed as the new Client King

Aesu– He was a friend of Anted–, and was a co-ruler of the Iceni with Anted– during the invasion of 43AD. He possibly represented a rival faction within the Iceni, who were opposed in principle to the appointment by Rome of a single Client King. This was probably because he would lose all his powers to the favoured Anted–. He issued his own coinage around 45AD, and was joined in this apparent show of defiance by another Iceni leader, Saenu, who also issued coinage during the clientship of Anted in defiance of Roman rule.

In 47AD, this resentment turned to aggression when the Iceni, possibly led by Aesu–, Anted[– and possibly Saenu–, took the opportunity of a change in governorship to rebel against the Romans. All three Icenian nobles probably died during the fighting or were executed on the orders of Marcus Ostorius and Prasutagus was made Client King.

Saenu– He resented the preferential treatment that Anted– was given by Rome and was presumably one of the leading figures during the Icenian civil war of 47AD and was in killed either during the fighting or executed immediately afterwards.

Prasutagus was the husband of the most famous of Celtic British women, Boudica. He was made Client King over the Iceni following the Icenian civil war of 47AD, when the intertribal struggles between Anted–, and the factions of Aesu– and Saenu–, escalated into armed revolt against Rome. His death around 60AD sparked the rebellion led by his wife, Boudica, which was to end with the complete overwhelming of the Iceni.

Boudicca One of two British women to be mentioned by the Romans in their writings. She was the wife of King Prasutagus, who was given the Client Kingship of the Iceni, after the Icenian civil war of 47AD. Following her husbands’ death around 60AD, her kingdom was pillaged by the imperial procurator Decianus Catus, and when she took the matter to a higher Roman authority, she was publicly flogged and her daughters violated. Indignant at her treatment, she instigated a rebellion within her tribe and, joined by the Trinovantes directly to the south, plundered the Romano-British towns of Camulodunum (Colchester), Verulamium (St. Albans) and Londinium (London) before being beaten in a pitched battle with the forces of the governor, Suetonius Paullinus, near Manduessedum in the midlands.

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    The Iceni Background to the Iceni Location of the tribe On the east coast of England where Norfolk now resides. Background to the tribe The Iceni were
    [See the full post at: Iceni]

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