The leader of the resistance to Caesar in both of his British campaigns. Cassivellaunus possibly formed the tribe later to become known as the Catuvellauni from a federation of smaller like-minded Belgic tribes living north of the Thames, specifically to counter Caesar. The next identifiable ruler of the Catuvellauni was Tasciovanus who came to power in c.20BC, though whether he was the son or grandson of Cassivellaunus is not known. [It is possible that Cassivellaunus should be translated as ‘Vellaunus of the Cassi’, i.e. his tribe was the Cassi and his name was Vellaunus. It follows that the name given to the amalgamated tribe gathered under his command could mean ‘the Followers1 or Smiters2 of Vellaunus’. 1 Latin caterva crowd, troop, company, flock. 2 Gaelic cath to smite.]
Cassivellaunus was a historical British military leader who led the defence against Julius Caesar’s second expedition to Britain in 54 BC. He led an alliance of tribes against Roman forces, but eventually surrendered after his location was revealed to Julius Caesar by defeated Britons.
Cassivellaunus made an impact on the British consciousness. He appears in British legend as Cassibelanus, one of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s kings of Britain, and in the Mabinogion, the Brut y Brenhinedd and the Welsh Triads as Caswallawn, son of Beli Mawr.