How Accurate Is the TV Series Britannia?
The TV series Britannia is a series about the Roman invasion, and eventual conquest, of Britain in 43 BC, which began the long Roman rule of what they called Britannia that lasted until the 5th century AD.
In 43 AD, Emperor Claudius commissioned Aulus Plautius to invade Britain, called Britannia. It was considered a great honor as Julius Caesar himself had failed to successfully invade Britannia after landing their and then leaving back to the European continent. Britannia was seen as a wild land, full of forests and wild people. On the eve of the invasion, Aulus has to contend with mutiny, where he has to execute soldiers to keep the others in line. The Roman fleet sets sail from France (Roman Gaul) to Britannia, landing somewhere in modern-day Kent. Celtic (Druid) tribes rule much of the land, who are at times at war with themselves but have little tolerance for Rome. The Invaders quickly create havoc by slaughtering a village after they land and word spreads of their arrival. A Druid by the name of Divis foresees the invasion and sees them as having been sent by the demon gods, but he is seen as an outsider even among the Druids and is ignored. He runs into Cait, who had escaped the Roman slaughter after the landing. King Pellenor, a Celtic leader of the Cantii tribe, wants to fight the Romans directly, but Kerra, the king's daughter, sees trouble and decides to try to negotiate with the Romans. Aulus sees that the Celts are divided and seeks out the Druids to facilitate the conquest and make important alliances. This is also driven by his soldiers fear of the wildlands and beliefs in the magical powers of the Druids and Celts. Princess Ania, a princess from another Celtic tribe captured by King Pellenor before the Roman arrival, foresees war. Kerra's negotiation with the Romans is discovered, which leads to the Celtic tribe taking her to the Druids to decide her fate. They foresee her as the Queen of the Cantii and she then becomes Queen, with a rival Queen Amena pledging allegiance. Kerra then pursues peace with the Romans, but she sees Cait, who had been pursued by the Romans, and helps her to escape along with her father who was captured. Meanwhile, Queen Antedia, of the Regnii tribe, fight the Cantii tribe. However, the Romans have other ideas. They eventually invade the citadel of the Cantii and defeat both the Cantii and Ragni, taking power in the area and putting Queen Amena as the new ruler, who becomes a puppet of the Romans. Cait, who is captured by a bounty hunter Hella, is not taken to the Romans, as the bounty hunter was instructed, but decides to take her away and escape from the Romans.
Aulus Plautius: He is a historical figure who is known to have successfully invaded Britain in 43 BC. He is shown as a ruthless leader, willing to kill his men to impose discipline and achieve his ambition, while also striking deals with the Britians. He is willing to change tactics and break promises to achieve his goals by making a needed alliance and then changing them to attain his goals. Historically, we know Plautius did conduct a successful campaign in Britannia, fighting off guerilla attacks and fighting formal battles. However, he faced considerable troubles and did have to ask Emperor Claudius for assistance by having a second wave of Roman legions invading some months after the initial invasion. With this, the Romans were able to take Camulodunum, which is modern Colchester, which was capital of the chief Celtic rivals in Britain. He also became the first governor of the conquered province of Britannia.
Kerra: She is shown as a leader among the Cantii, who are also known as the Cantiaci, which gave the name Kent used in modern Britain. The Cantii had known about the Romans from long before and had, in fact, traded with them. Kerra, like many other Celtic women, was shown as a strong leader of her people, but also tried to show wisdom in seeing that fighting Rome directly was not a good tactic for her people. She is eventually betrayed by Plautius and his invading forces. There is no historical account of Kerra, although the personality that made her is based on knowledge of female leaders in Celtic tribes.
Cait: She is shown initially as a young girl who is about to undergo transformation into an adult but the Romans disrupt her initiation ceremony. She is also not a historical figure but the first season suggests she may represent someone like Boudica or other female leaders who did revolt against the Romans.
Queen Antedia: She is Queen of the Ragni, who wants revenge against Kerra (for castrating her son on their wedding day) and the Canti. She sees the Romans as a potential benefit for her, but she learns the hard way that the Romans were only really interested in conquest. Similar to Kerra, we do not know any historical documents about her but she also represents some general figures in Celtic history. The Ragni are also known as the Regnenses and lived in southern England, with the capital having been located in modern-day Chichester.
Veran: Is a leader of the Druids and he claims to have mystical powers as an ancient man. Both the Canti and Ragni respect him and also fear him and the Druids for their magic. The Druids are seen as priests and mystical people, in part this narrative is informed by Roman sources but little is known about them.
Divis: He is a Druid and considered the outcast of society in Britannia. He sees a vision of the invading Romans and he sees himself as the one capable of stopping them by killing the emperor. He helps Cait escape and sees the Romans as the incarnation of the demon god Lokka.
Amena: She is a Cantii queen in waiting who has multiple husbands, including Phaedon and Lindon. She only really wants power for herself and ultimately uses the Romans to achieve her hold on power, albeit as their puppet.
King Pellenor: He is initially the king of the Cantii who is more concerned with the Ragni than the Romans, a fatal judgment. He follows the Druids blindly, even to the point where he flays his own wife alive to appease the gods. He eventually falls from power as Kerra is decreed the new Queen.