|Our Quisling Queen|
|By Jud Evans|
|s a writer/genealogist, Im having a great time digging up my old Brigantian ancestors. (Metaphorically speaking, of course!) My tale is part of British history, and when I say British I mean British. My story deals with a period long before that alien German tribe the English set foot in our fair and pleasant land—God bless their cotton socks! Perhaps youd like to hear about my tribe, or rather confederation of tribes?
Im a Brigantian. Let me tell you of our Quisling Queen, Shining Pony, granddaughter of King Bellnorix. She traitorously deceived us by making a pact of non-aggression with the advancing Romans. History knows her as Cartimandua. Our land of Brigantia and the Brythonic cause was cruelly undermined by this she-adder. This treacherous vixen delivered over to our Roman enemies our great British war-leader, Caractacus, in chains. She not only betrayed our country and our tribal council, but her husband, our mighty Prince Venutius, preferring, instead, the smelly, moth-eaten couch of his servant and shield-bearer, that sly wolf-cur Volocatus. It was she and she alone who manipulated the events that led to the defeat of our nation and the ignominy of Roman vassalage. Cursed by the Chief Druid, I, too, add my own vehement curse on the life of this female Judas! May the holy goddess Briganta cause their false lips to turn black and hang from their faces in a seething offal of foul wriggling maggots!
At the time of Julius Caesars second invasion of Britain in 54 B.C., the leaders of all the British kingdoms had elected the renowned Cassivellaunus, Caractacuss great grandfather, as their generalissimo. 97 years later, it was he, Caractacus, who was the British supremo. It was he, our brave leader, who was handed over to the Roman centurions by our royal witch!
The genealogists among us will know that if all the ancestors of any one of us had been separate living people, then each one of us would be represented by 32,768 persons only 15 generations ago, say about the time of the first Elizabethan age. If we went back to the time of the Norman Conquest, it would be by this number squared, or well over one-thousand-million persons. The first figure is considerably greater than the total population of many an area, within which territorial intermarriage usually occurred in former times, while the second figure is greater than that of the population of the whole world in the 11th century. The fact is that the threads of descent intertwine in a complex fashion and the same helical thread has wound itself round repeatedly into our physical inheritance.
If we step back further down the wrong-way-round telescopic corridors of the generations, we would find that were all Persians, all Chinese, all Indians or Jews. It thus happens that, in any rate in rural areas like where I live in Lancashire, and particularly in the moorlands and uplands of the Lake District, the same gene must have often appeared several times in the ancestry of an individual. Its quite likely that similar genes will have been inherited from both sides of a persons ancestry. In this way, a particular item of physical inheritance, or a bundle of physical characteristics, may come down in whole or in parts along myriad ancestral lines and thus be restrengthened, in spite of hybridisation with other persons carrying different features. So maybe my nose is genuinely Brigantian? Perhaps my son Connors dimple is a gift from the Beaker folk?
I have often wondered why Hollywood has never taken up the dramatic story of our renegade Queen, for the story contains all the elements which are thought essential for a filmic blockbuster. Power, sex, betrayal, historical authenticity and, above all, plenty of action. She vies in sensational scandal with Cleopatra herself! Furthermore, a great expenditure on false-location-shots wouldnt be necessary, for the actual backdrops to the drama are little changed from when these epoch-making events of heroism and infamy took place. Maybe its time I wrote her story at greater length?
Often I have stood on the crest of the site of Cartimanduas southwestern hill-fort palace. The panorama is one of gently rolling hills and sudden grey escarpments. The countryside can be little different from when her false eyes last looked down and watched the departing back of her unsuspecting husband, who accompanied by his life-guards, was off once more for an inspection of a distant garrison. Our land was the largest tribal territory in Britain. Our meandering unguarded borders stretched from the banks of the great River Mersey in the west, to the flat bogs of the eastern shores of the North Sea. No painted Ordovice or posturing shaven Cornovii brave would dare place an unauthorized foot on the hallowed soil of the Brigantian motherland and live to tell the tale! We did allow a lesser tribe—the Parisii—a small enclave in the southeastern corner of our territory, but only because their King had sworn allegiance to our Queen. Our vast territory stretched up to the land of the fierce Pictish warriors. Lesser tribes stood in fear of our Great Shining Pony.
The account of the Brigantian defeat can be read in Tacitus. No British schoolchild is taught about our hero Venutius. Boudicca from the south and her two daughters, yes, but nobody has heard of our northern Quisling Queen and her horse-trader consort. Perhaps its just as well. Perhaps the shame of our defeat and the agony of our betrayal are best left undisturbed under the hard-baked earth of Stanwick with our glorious dead.
But wait! What do I see on yonder darkling hill?