William Blake Visionary Head of Caractacus -contrast increased-1-.jpg
Historical Figure
Nationality: Catuvellauni
Date of Birth: 1st century A.D.
Date of Death: After A.D. 51
Cause of Death: Unknown
Religion: Polytheism
Occupation: Chieftain
Spouse: Name unknown
Children: At least one daughter
Fictional Appearances:
Ruled Britannia
POD: July-August, 1588
Type of Appearance: Character in a play
Nationality: Iceni
Date of Death: AD 61
Cause of Death: Battle
Relatives: Boudicca (sister-in-law)
Hengo (nephew)
Epona and Bonvica (nieces)

Caratacus, also spelled Caractacus, Caradog, Caradoch or Caratach was a first-century chieftain of the Catuvellauni tribe in what is now England. He led a resistance movement against the Romans in AD 50-51.

Caratacus' fighting technique included conventional battlefield warfare (unsuccessful) and guerrilla fighting (successful). After his final defeat (at an unknown location) he fled to the territory of Queen Cartimandua, who captured him and handed him over to the Romans. He was taken to Rome and sentenced to death as a military prisoner, but made a speech before his execution that persuaded the Emperor Claudius to spare him. He lived out the remainder of his life in Italy, and his death is unrecorded.

Caratacus in Ruled Britannia[]

Caratach was a character in William Shakespeare's Boudicca,[1] a play based (very loosely) on a history recounted in the Annals of Tacitus.[2] Caratach, the brother-in-law (also called cousin) of Boudicca and commander of the Iceni army, vainly cautioned the Queen against underestimating the Roman legions and overextending the Iceni.[3] He was ultimately killed by Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, but not before killing Marcus.[4]

In the October 1598 debut of Boudicca, Caratach was played by Richard Burbage.[5]

Literary comment[]

This version of Caratach was created in OTL by John Fletcher (an occasional Shakespeare co-author) for his 1613 play Bonduca (sic). The collusion between Caratach and Boudicca (who are not known to have ever contacted each other) is a blatant historical inaccuracy, as Caratacus was exiled from Britain nearly a decade before the Iceni Revolt. In the afterword of Ruled Britannia, Harry Turtledove acknowledges Fletcher's influence, but in the novel itself he mistakenly attributes Fletcher's inventions to Tacitus.

In Fletcher's play, Caratach survives the play as a prisoner to be sent to Rome, which is historically accurate. An OTL Shakespeare play, Cymbeline, features a character named Guiderius (also called Polydore), who appears to be a loose analog of Caractacus. That play has even less connection to actual history than Fletcher's.


  1. Ruled Britannia, pg. 202.
  2. Inconsistencies (Ruled Britannia)
  3. Ibid., pg. 368.
  4. Ibid., pg. 372-373.
  5. Ibid., pg. 280.
Royal offices
Preceded by
King of the Catuvellauni
AD 43-50
Roman annexation