Caratacus - the first craddock

by Erik Craddock -
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The origins of the name Craddock go back to ancient times. Craddock, Craddick, Cradoc, Caradoc and Caradog are all alternate spellings of the ancient Celtic name Caratacus which meant “Love”. The first bearer of the name in recorded history was a British chieftain of the Catuvellauni tribe in Britain probably near present day Wales. He was the son of the British King Cunobelinus who was killed by the Romans.

Caratacus and his brother Togodumnus faced the Roman invasion of 43 CE but were defeated by the 40,000 Roman troops that landed in Britain lead by Aulus Plautius. Outnumbered and beaten decisively in two battles, in which the second claimed the life of his brother Togodumnus, Caratacus refused to surrender or back down in any way. Instead he changed tactics and began a guerrila war against his enemies. Attacking camps or supply lines at night and picking off any stragglers. He and his followers were able to resist the Romans this way for over 7 years until the constantly reinforced army finally closed in on him. He made his final stand at a location to be remembered as Caer Caradoc.

He gathered his men and selected a hill fort that made it easy to attack but hard for the Romans to retaliate. According to the Roman writer Tacitus:

“Caractacus, darted everywhere, telling his men that this battle would be the beginning of the recovery of their freedom or else of everlasting slavery. He recalled how their ancestors had driven back Julius Caesar, and through their bravery the British were freed from the threat of being ruled by the Roman military and government. While he was speaking, the warriors shouted applause; every warrior swore not to flee from weapons or wounds.”

Unfortunately, the Romans won the day with their superior armor and weapons. Caratacus was forced to flee. He escaped once again from the legions of soldiers intent on killing him. He sought refuge with the Brigantine tribe hoping to get their assistance in continuing the resistance but was betrayed by their Queen Cartimandua. She handed him over to the Romans in chains an action which enraged her people who rebelled against her soon afterwards.

Caratacus was carted off to Rome where typically the fallen leaders of far off enemies would be paraded through the city on their way to be executed. However this time it would be different. Due to his years of success and his brave resistance, Caratacus had become a legend for the people of Rome. The emporer wanted to meet this man who had so successfully fought against the Roman legions with his small guerilla army. Once he gained the audience of the Emperor Claudius, he by all accounts held his head high instead of bowing down as was the custom and spoke the following:

“Had my moderation in prosperity been equal to my noble birth and fortune, I should have entered this city as your friend rather than as your captive; and you would not have disdained to receive, under a treaty of peace, a king descended from illustrious ancestors and ruling many nations. My present lot is as glorious to you as it is degrading to myself. I had men and horses, arms and wealth. What wonder if I parted with them reluctantly? If you Romans choose to lord it over the world, does it follow that the world is to accept slavery? Were I to have been at once delivered up as a prisoner, neither my fall nor your triumph would have become famous. My punishment would be followed by oblivion, whereas, if you save my life, I shall be an everlasting memorial of your clemency.”

Upon hearing this speech, the impressed Emperor pardoned Caratacus along with the rest of his family. They were allowed to live the rest of their lives in Rome to which Caratacus is quoted as saying “And can you, then, who have got such possessions and so many of them, covet our poor huts?“.

Caratacus was one of if not the first monarch to bear the name that has become Craddock but he was not the last and maybe not even the most famous.