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View Poll Results: Best Ancient Celtic Warlord?
Brennus of the Senones 5 14.29%
Brennus 3 8.57%
Viridomarus 0 0%
Deiotarus 0 0%
Dumnorix 2 5.71%
Cassivellaunus 1 2.86%
Vercingetorix 15 42.86%
Caratacus 4 11.43%
Boudica 4 11.43%
Calgacus 1 2.86%
Voters: 35. You may not vote on this poll

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Old January 19th, 2010, 12:17 PM   #1

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Best Ancient Celtic Warlord?


I have chosen ten of the greatest Celtic chieftains/war leaders known to us from the histories of Rome; all of them are forceful leaders who were fairly powerful and influential in their day, and were known for their strong opposition to the Graeco-Roman world.

Which do you think was best - in terms of their leadership skills, and how much damage they did (or had the potential to do) to their enemies?
  • Brennus of the Senones. In or around 390 BC, this Gaulish warlord crushingly defeated the Army of the Roman Republic at the Battle of Allia, and famously sacked Rome for the first time in her history. Legend says that Brennus took all of Rome's hills except for the Capitoline - which was saved from a night assault by the honking of the Sacred Geese of Jupiter. The Romans allegedly paid Brennus and his men to withdraw.
  • Brennus. This second Brennus led a large Gaulish army drawn from a number of tribes into Greece. He defeated the Greeks in another battle at the Pass of Thermopylae, and sacked the cult center of Delphi. During another battle after the sack of Delphi, Brennus was fatally wounded. His band dispersed with his death, but some of the chieftains that had formerly served under him were invited into Asia Minor by Nikomedes of Bithynia - where they founded the Galatian state. Other descendants of Brennus' Gauls ruled Thrace for a time.
  • Viridomarus. 'The Son of the Rhine', Viridomarus was a powerful Celtic war-leader from Transalpine Gaul. He was apparently a chieftain amongst the Gaesati - a 'mercenary company' that fought alongside the Boii and Insubres against Rome in the late 3rd Century BC. With the deaths of Aneroestes and Concolitanus of the Gaesati at the Battle of Telamon, Viridomarus became the commander of what was left of the band. He was later defeated at the Battle of Clastidium; he was slain in single combat with a Roman and his army annihilated.
  • Deiotarus. The son of Dumnorix, a chieftain of the Tolistoboii, Deiotarus united the Galatian tribes in Asia Minor as a response to Mithridates the Great of Pontus' massacre of the other chieftains. He was later a staunch ally of Pompey the Great, sending allied contingents to serve on the Republican side during the Roman Civil Wars. He also drilled two units of 5000 Galatian warriors to fight like Roman legionaries - at least one of these legions, still bearing his name, existed until the middle of the 2nd Century AD.
  • Dumnorix. Dumnorix was a druid-king of the Aedui tribe in Gaul. Unlike his pro-Roman brother Diviciacus, Dumnorix was bitterly opposed to Julius Caesar and the influence of the Romans. He was taken captive by Caesar shortly before the latter's first assault on Britain in 55 BC. Dumnorix ran away from Caesar, however, and was killed by Roman horsemen. He allegedly died shouting: "I am a free man of a free country!"
  • Cassivellaunus. Cassivellaunus was a warlord of some reknown in Celtic Britain in the 1st Century BC - remembered in Welsh tradition as Casswallon. He led a huge force of British chariots in a guerilla campaign against Caesar's two invasions of Britain. According to legend, his son Nennius/Nynniaw stole Caesar's sword.
  • Vercingetorix. A youthful lord of the Arverni, Vercingetorix instilled both fear and a form of patriotism in his men as he made an effort to unite all the peoples of Gaul against Julius Caesar. He even managed to persuade Caesar's loyal allies, the Aedui, to desert to his cause. Vercingetorix was able to win something of a pyrrhic victory over Caesar at Gergovia, though the latter withdrew in good order. Vercingetorix later surrendered at the Siege of Alesia, not wishing to see more of his countrymen butchered. He spent six years rotting in a Roman dungeon before being strangled during Caesar's 46 BC triumph.
  • Caratacus. The son of the pro-Roman British king Cunobelinus, Caratacus and his brother Togodumnus waged a guerilla campaign against the Roman invaders of Britain. Around 50 AD he was defeated, and betrayed by his ally Cartimandua of the Brigantes. He was taken to Rome to be executed, but his defiant farewell speech allegedly inspired Emperor Claudius to spare his life. Later Welsh tradition calls him Caradog, and claims he brought Christianity to Britain on his return from Rome. Caratacus/Caradog was also the name of one or more Arthurian-era warlords in Britain.
  • Boudica. The famous 'Woman of Victory'. Boudica was the wife of the weak chieftain of the Iceni, Prasutagus, who became a client of Rome. When he died in 60 AD, Roman soldiers pillaged his home, flogged Boudica, and raped their young daughters. Boudica rose a rebellion amongst both her people and the neighboring Trinovantes, and sacked three Roman settlements - including Londinium/London. Brutal and uncompromising, she is said to have sacrificed Roman captives to the Celtic war goddess Andraste, and inflicted horrible tortures on them. Boudica was defeated by the governor Suetonius Paulinus, and is believed to have taken her own life after the battle.
  • Calgacus. This man apparently managed to unite the tribes of Caledonia in opposition to Julius Agricola. He was defeated at the Battle of Mons Graupius in 83 AD, after having given his famous speech about the Romans, who 'made a desert and called it peace!' Calgacus' subsequent fate is unrecorded.
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Old January 19th, 2010, 12:46 PM   #2

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Re: Best Ancient Celtic Warlord?


I'll plump for Brennus of the Senones for the sheer magnitude of his victory, and what he may have been able to do as regards the course of history. If he went further, took the Capitoline Hill, and didn't tarry over the issue of payment to leave Rome would the advance of the Roman Empire been nipped in the bud then and there? Or at least the shape it took later could have been vastly different perhaps?
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Old January 19th, 2010, 04:38 PM   #3

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Re: Best Ancient Celtic Warlord?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuon View Post
I'll plump for Brennus of the Senones for the sheer magnitude of his victory, and what he may have been able to do as regards the course of history. If he went further, took the Capitoline Hill, and didn't tarry over the issue of payment to leave Rome would the advance of the Roman Empire been nipped in the bud then and there? Or at least the shape it took later could have been vastly different perhaps?
If Brennus could have foreseen whatwould come out of Rome in later generations, I wouldn't doubt that he would have done a much more thorough job....

To Brennus and his men the attack on Rome was probably just a large scale "cattle raid". But it made a great influence on Rome. The crushing defeat at Allia inspired Rome to reform her Army; up until that point the Roman infantry had been a hoplite-like phalanx, but they now adopted more manueverable - and familiar -equipment to cope with the light-armed Gauls.
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Old January 19th, 2010, 05:15 PM   #4

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Re: Best Ancient Celtic Warlord?


I am going with Vercingetorix. I know it isn't that original, but seeing as it took someone the caliber of Caesar to bring him to heel, I am impressed.
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Old January 21st, 2010, 10:02 AM   #5

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Re: Best Ancient Celtic Warlord?


Aw, com'on, is that all you've got?!
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Old January 21st, 2010, 10:52 AM   #6

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Re: Best Ancient Celtic Warlord?


Yes, this thread deserves more attention.
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Old January 21st, 2010, 11:30 AM   #7

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Re: Best Ancient Celtic Warlord?


Well, I can add, that imho, Boudicca and Caratacus were non-factors in the true scheme of things. Brennus could have nipped Rome in the bud, had history fated it so, and Vercingetorix might have forged something real, had it not been for Caesar. The world is full of "what-ifs" though.
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Old January 21st, 2010, 12:10 PM   #8

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Re: Best Ancient Celtic Warlord?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Salah ad-Din View Post
  • Calgacus. This man apparently managed to unite the tribes of Caledonia in opposition to Julius Agricola. He was defeated at the Battle of Mons Graupius in 83 AD, after having given his famous speech about the Romans, who 'made a desert and called it peace!' Calgacus' subsequent fate is unrecorded.
Some very minor picking of nits here if you don't mind...
Calgacus is the Roman form of the name Calgach.
It's questionable whether this battle ever took place in the way Tacitus describes it.
It's generally accepted that he died in battle, but where and when? - Pass.

I voted for the Brennus who sacked Delphi.
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Old January 21st, 2010, 12:15 PM   #9

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Re: Best Ancient Celtic Warlord?


I still have to get that book on the Romans in the Scottish frontier. It is sitting in my Amazon Wish List in the hopes me wife will take the hint for me birtdae.
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Old January 21st, 2010, 12:17 PM   #10

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Re: Best Ancient Celtic Warlord?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chookie View Post
Some very minor picking of nits here if you don't mind...
Calgacus is the Roman form of the name Calgach.
It's questionable whether this battle ever took place in the way Tacitus describes it.
It's generally accepted that he died in battle, but where and when? - Pass.

I voted for the Brennus who sacked Delphi.
I just gave the Latin forms of all of these names since my sources are Roman literature. Most of them would be spelt differently in the original Celtic - e.g. Brennus would be Bran/Bren, Viridomarus would be Viridomar, Caratacus would be Caradog, etc.
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