Julius Caesar’s Invasion (55 BC & 54BC)

Julius Caesar led two legions across the channel and arrived on the south coast of Britain in August 55 BC. However, the tidal waters at Deal made it impossible to beach his ships and his army was forced to wade ashore in full armour, leaving them in no state to meet the local warriors who were waiting for them.

The Romans survived but victory eluded both sides because the Britons used guerrilla tactics and avoided a pitched battle of the kind that the Roman army was accustomed to.

When the weather worsened and the Roman fleet was virtually destroyed in a storm, Caesar retreated and limped home having underestimated the resistance he would meet. He returned the following year, 54 BC, for a face-saving expedition, this time with more soldiers and the addition of cavalry to counter the Britons’ devastating, whirling war chariots.

Shocked, the Britons buried their differences and united together under Cassivellaunus, the king of the Catuvellauni tribe. However tribal enmities proved too ingrained though and Cassivellaunus was betrayed: Caesar extracted tribute and eventually returned triumphant to Rome, but he never came back to Britain.

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