Marcus Vettius Bolanus

Marcus Vettius Bolanus – Governor of Britannia from 69 to 71AD

Trebellius Maximus did not receive the same honour.¹ He had fled Britain to escape the resentment of his army ; Vettius Bolanus, one of the suite of Vitellius, was sent out in his place. Cornelius Tacitus The Histories II.lxv – translated by C.H. Moore (1925)

Sent from the court of Vitellius to govern Britain, he then hesitated from sending reserves to support Vitellius against Vespasian who retained him in service. He conducted various small but successful sorties into the north of Britain, and was reputed to have sent an expedition by sea to the coast of Caledonia.

Nor did Vettius Bolanus either, so long as the civil war continued, distress Britain with discipline; there was the same inaction in the field, the same rioting in camp, except that Bolanus, who was inoffensive and had done nothing to earn hatred, possessed the affection, if not the obedience, of his men.

During his tenura as governor of Britain, Cartimandua the queen of the Brigantes tribe of northern England, deposed her consort Venutius in favour of her armour-bearer Vellocatus. Venutius in revenge fomented the Brigantian revolution and the elderly queen had to be rescued by a force of Batavian horse and foot soldiers sent by Bolanus. A more forceful governor was needed.

Cornelius Tacitus Agricola XVI.v – translated by M. Hutton (1914) “Then she [Cartimandua] asked the Romans for protection, and in fact some companies of our foot and horse, after meeting with indifferent success in a number of engagements, finally succeeded in rescuing the queen from danger. The throne was left to Venutius; the war to us.”

Tacitus Histories III.xlv – translated by C.H. Moore (1925)

Marcus Vettius Bolanus was consul for the year 111AD (a.u.c.864), the junior colleague of Gaius Calpurnius Piso ( Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae – Titvli militares, ILS 2161, CIL VI 222, Roma; also: CIL XII 1840).

Click here for a breakdown of the military campaigns of Marcus Vettius Bolanus