Cassivellaunus

AttestedCassivellaunus in Caesar de Bello Gallico 5,18-23.  In about AD 163 Polyaenus mentioned Cassivellaunus briefly in passing in Stratagemata 23,5.  The name survived into Welsh texts as Caswallawn.

WhereCassivellaunus was a British warlord with territories north of the Thames, probably head of the Catuvellauni tribe, probably based around Wheathamstead and St. Albans.

Name originCassi- has been much discussed, in the light of Latin cassis ‘metal helmet’ and Greek κασσιτερος.  Here, it clearly meant ‘helmet’, even if in a metaphorical sense of ‘warrior’ and in an indigenous language rather than Latin.  Vellaunus ‘commanding’ survived best in Germanic languages, as discussed under Velunia.

Notes:  Many historians argue that Caesar's invasion was opportunistic exploitation of a tribal conflict as Cassivellaunus tried to expand aggressively at the expense of his neighbours.  Bronze gave a competitive advantage in early warfare in the manufacture of helmets before edged weapons.

Standard terms of use:You may copy this text freely, provided you acknowledge its source, recognise that it is liable to human error, and try to offer suggestions for improvement.
Last Edited: 21 June 2017