Eleven British Kings

Mentioned on the Triumphal Arch of Emperor Claudius

The Dedicatory Inscription from the Triumphal Arch at Rome

In 52AD the Senate and the People of Rome decreed that a triumphal arch be built in recognition of the victorious campaigns of the emperor Claudius in Britain. The arch was erected in Rome, and the fragmentary remains of the inscription from the pediment of the arch have been recovered. The inscription (CIL VI,920) is a fragmentary dedication consisting of one large piece - just under one-third of the total area - and three minor fragments. The restored text, expansion and translation follows:

REGES BRIT[...] XI D[...]
TI(berio) CLAV[dio Drvsi F(ilio) Cae]SARI
AVGV[sto Germani]CO
PONTIFIC[i Maxim(o) Trib(vnicia) Potes]TAT(e) XI
CO(n)S(vli) V IM[p xxii Cens(ori) Patri Pa]TRIAE
SENATVS PO[pvlvsque] RO[manvs q]VOD
REGES BRIT[annorvm] XI D[evictos sine]
VLLA IACTVR[a in deditionem accepterit]
GENTESQVE B[arbaras trans oceanvm]
PRIMVS INDICI[onem popvli Romani redegerit]
"For Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, son of Drusus, High Priest, holding tribunician power for the eleventh time, Consul for the fifth time, hailed Imperator in the field twenty-two times, Censor, Father of his country. The Senate and the People of Rome [have dedicated this] because he accepted the surrender of eleven British kings, subdued without any losses, the first to reduce barbarian tribes across the Ocean to the rule of the Roman people."
(Burn 1; C.I.L. VI.920)

The Names of the Eleven British Kings

The following table is an attempt to reconstruct the actual names of the eleven British kings mentioned of the triumphal arch of Emperor Claudius. The deductions are based on the histories of Tacitus and Cassius Dio, while the names of the British 'kings' are mostly derived from coinage evidence.

TribePresentLeader at time of InvasionNotes
AtrebatesyesVericaVerica's knowledge of the Atrebatic homelands would have been very helpful and ensured the majority of the south-west to be rapidly annexed. He was possibly made a client of Rome by Claudius. Cogidubnus was possibly a relative of Verica, and numbered among his retinue during his brief sojourn in Rome.
BelgaeprobableunknownIt is reasonable to assume that the majority of the Anglo-Belgic tribes sent ambassadors to Claudius in order to maintain any existing trade links with their Gallo-Belgic counterparts.
BrigantesyesunknownThe Brigantes were very likely granted client status by Claudius during his brief visit, but their leader at the time is unknown. Although it is possible that Cartimandua was granted client status as early as 43AD, is more probably that she and her consort Venutius, were numbered among the retinue of an unnamed Brigantian king, perhaps Cartimandua's father, upon whom the clientship was bestowed.
CantiaciprobableAdminiusHelped in initial assault. Possibly housed in Eccles Villa Estate.
CarvetiinounknownThis tribe, from the extreme north-east of England, was probably not represented.
CatuvellauninoTogodumnus / CaratacusThis tribe was considered conquered! No formal surrender was recorded or required.
CoritaniprobableVolisiosPossibly accompanied by lieutenants; Dumnocoveros, Dumnovellau[nus] and Cartivel[launus]. It is probable that this tribe was deemed to present no serious threat to the Roman advance and were not given any concessions by Claudius.
CornoviipossibleVirocoIt is possible that the Cornovii sent envoys to Claudius, and if so, they were evidently thought to present no threat to the Roman takeover of Britain. No mention is made of this tribe by any Roman historian.
Demetaenot likelyunknownThis tribe were not united under a single leader, were socially backward, and probably had no appreciable diplomatic expertise. It is possible that sections of this tribe either did not know nor care about the Roman invasion of southern Britain; their probable outlook at this time was that the Romans were far away and bothering someone else.
DobunniprobableBodvoc (N), Corio (S)According to Dio, the "Bodunni" surrendered to Aulus Plautius at Durovernum (Canterbury). This tribe are most likely to be equated with the northern half of the Dobunni, ruled by king Bodvoc, who was pro-Roman, and probably made formal representation to Claudius. Corio, the leader of the southern Dobunni, was probably not counted among those present and was later to join Caratacus during the latter's flight to Wales, which took the Catuvellaunian prince through Corio's Gloucestershire domain. It is possible therefore, that the Dobunni tribe may account for two of the kings on the Arch of Claudius.
Dumnoniinot likelyunknownThe Dumnonii and the Durotriges probably did not send envoys to Claudius. These two tribes were probably those mentioned by Suetonius as having been subdued by Vespasian. They were treated with ruthless disregard, possibly because they were known to have been present during earlier armed opposition, and they had not formally capitulated.
Durotrigesnot likelyunknownsee above.
IceniyesAntediosThe Iceni had not joined in the opposition to the Claudian invasion and Plautius did not want to leave heavy military units to defend the borders north of Camulodunum, consequently, Antedios was made a client of Rome. His retinue probably included Aesu[nos] and Saenu[vax] who were later to join or pressure him into the Icenian war of 47AD. Prasutagus and Boudicca were possibly also to be numbered among his retinue, but, as they were given control of the kingdom after the Icenan war they probably did not take active part.
ParisipossibleunknownThis Belgic tribe from the north shores of the Humber were possibly present to give tribute to Claudius in return for his assurance of their continued communication with their tribal combrogi in the region of Paris.
RegnesesprobableCogidumnusThis tribe appears to have been an artifice of the Roman administration, created by an amalgam of belgic peoples inhabiting the region around the south coast, their tribal name possibly stemming from the Latin for 'those ruled'. Judging from the rapid take-over of the Regnenses territory by the Roman military (based on the absence of any marching or temporary camps), it is very likely that the peoples of this area sent representation to Claudius, possibly through the person of Cogidubnus, and subsequently allowed the Romans unopposed, free access through their lands. Cogidubnus possibly joined Vespasian and Legio II in the campaign against the Durotriges and the Dumnonii in the south-west, and if so, it could be for this reason that he was made a client of Rome and given kingship over those peoples he represented.
Siluresnot likelyunknownCaratacus sought refuge with this tribe. He would hardly have done so had the tribe been friendly to Rome.
Trinovantespossible?unknown?Their territory was claimed by the Romans as it had been under Catuvellaunian rule. [This possibly led them to join the revolt in 60AD because they had not yet been given back their own lands by the Romans].
See: The Romans in Britain - An Anthology of Inscriptions by A.R. Burn (Blackwell, Oxford, 1969)