Julius Caesar and his Invasion of Britain - An Introduction for Key Stage 2
Updated: Feb 10
So he Invaded Britain? Twice! He had so much fun he came back for more. Caesar invaded in 55 & 54 BC. This was before he became the ruler of Rome.
Why did he Invade? Partly because Caesar loved invading places. Prior to 55 BC, he had already conquered Gaul (modern-day France), adding a huge amount of land, wealth, and slaves to the Roman Empire in the process. Conquering Britain would provide Caesar with even more prestige and power, it would also prevent the British Tribes from supporting the Gaulish tribes with warriors and weapons.
What happened? The first invasion didn't entirely go to plan. Caesar led eighty transport ships carrying two legions across the channel. They successfully landed and were able to defeat the first tribes who met them in battle. Though embarrassingly for Caesar, when he disembarked from his ship he fell, ending up with a mouthful of sand. Things became even worse when a terrible storm wrecked many ships in the fleet. Despite their initial success in battle, the Romans were forced to fall back. That didn't stop Caesar from declaring the expedition a victory, however.
Caesar returned to Britain the following year with an even bigger and better army. The Romans had learned from many of their mistakes and, after a successful landing (no sand in Caesar's mouth this time!) the legions moved their way up through Kent. The Romans won several battles, though bad weather and the Britain's chariots delayed their progress. Eventually though, Caesar was able to defeat the warrior king of the Catuvellauni tribe, Cassivellaunus.
However, before Caesar could do any more conquering, he heard the news that there was trouble back in Gaul, prompting his army to return and crush the rebellion there. The second invasion of Britain was over.
Why did he leave? Two reasons: Julius Caesar and his army weren't prepared for the weather and there was trouble brewing in other parts of the Empire.
Was the invasion a success? In terms of conquering, the answer is no. Caesar's two invasions were a big fail. But as an expedition? That went pretty well. Caesar gained several British tribes as allies, captured many slaves, got his hands on a whole lot of booty, and ultimately stopped British tribes from supporting the Gauls.
Did he come back? Caesar always wanted to conquer Britain properly, but never got the chance to return before he was assassinated by a group of conspirators on the Ides of March (15th of March, 44 BC)