Brigantes Breakfast – Cartimandua & Other Italian Urban Myths

Remarks to: The Brigantes, the Northern Liverymen, Tuesday, 24 August 2021, The Garden Rooms at Tennants Auctioneers, Leyburn, North Yorkshire by Alderman & Sheriff Professor Michael Mainelli

Tribal Chieftain, Lord Mayor, Your Excellency, Alderman, Masters, Wardens, Distinguished Guest, Local Native Peoples:

Well, we are back at a live livery event at last, and no longer have to utter those immortal words ‘you are on mute’!  The world has endured much these past eighteen months, lost too many loved ones, and desperately seeks a brighter future.  But we are coming out!  As someone remarked last month at the Central Criminal Court, it feels a bit like ‘being let out of prison’.  Coming from London, I know many of you believe that Elisabeth and I will ever only be on day release.

But what a day of release.  Alison and her family’s hospitality, the Royal Lancers, the British Imperial Marching Band, and you wonderful Brigantes.

Perhaps Billy Idol’s most famous song was Rebel Yell.  You may remember – “In the midnight hour, she cried more, more, more”.  I had a slightly different rebel youth.  I spent my high school years in rebel country, in Dixie, in Florida, hearing Lynyrd Skynyrd live in Jacksonville, hanging out with carbines, crocodiles, and cottonmouths.  I hope that I can say, without fear of seeming too much of a Confederate or a Londoner, that I bring you warm tidings from the deep South. 

These are not the warm tidings of climate change or Extinction Rebellion, but of shared goals in livery and regionalism.  As you know, regionalism shows itself most in generosity.  You all know of the Londoner, the Brummy, and two Brigantes at breakfast abroad in China.  The Lancashire Brigante wonders how much is the bill.  The Yorkshire Brigante wonders how much is the bill.  The Brummy wonders how much is his share of the bill.  The Londoner wonders, how do you say thank you in Chinese.  Today, at this wonderful breakfast, I am that Londoner, 谢谢.

Strangely, my very first trip to England was to the north for a Swiss firm over four decades ago.  The trip involved flying to Manchester, hiring a car, and driving to Doncaster to install seismic shotpoint mapping software at the Coal Board.  I remember a particular educational high point – the chip butty.  Having lived in Ireland for a few years I was used to chips with veg, chips with veg such as roast potatoes, sauteed potatoes, or mashed potatoes. But this was too much, are you kidding me, chips with bread?  a chip sandwich?

My later education was not so balanced across the Pennines, as my parents lived in Dore, South Yorkshire for a couple of years in the 1980s, where my sister went to school.  In the 1990s things levelled up a bit as I spent time in Manchester privatising Norweb.  So I know a bit of the topography beyond Watford, just enough to get myself in trouble.

When Elisabeth and I accepted Adrian and Angela’s kind invitation to toast your patron Queen, I told Adrian, “surely we must wrap ourselves in history else we’d be naked in the light of fake news!”.  I duly purchased Nicki Howarth Pollard’s biography, “Cartimandua – Queen of the Brigantes”.  Cartimandua bests her southern rival, Boudica, not least for surviving, but the book had to be long on speculation, due to a dearth of facts.  Cartimandua was born sometime in the early 1st century, and may have ruled this region from perhaps 41AD to 74AD before possibly retiring or disappearing, perchance to Rome – which is a great thing when giving a talk such as this – anything I say might actually be right. 

One fact I did pick up was that Brig, Bridget, and other such forms of address meant a goddess people worshipped, an “Exalted One”.  What I found most surprising came from an unrelated book I read just last week, Peter Schrijver’s “Language Contact And The Origins Of The Germanic Language”, as you do.  The Brigantes left Britain after the Romans crushed them in 74AD and introduced Old Gaelic to Ireland – yes, the other direction, not what you might think.  Interesting archaeological evidence for this comes from Lambay Island off the coast of Dublin, where I took the World Traders as Master.  In the second century Ptolemy mapped the Brigantes in Wexford, Ireland as Nobles.  So your founders in 2014 had thought deeply about uniting the City, the North, the rest of the British Isles, even Rome, by so shrewdly choosing your patron.  You truly are exalted Britons.

As Sheriff, it is a genuine honour to be part of a noble history too, following in the footsteps of Adrian Waddingham.  After you elected me to the Shrievalty in June 2019, I was so excited about the prospect that I turned to my Elisabeth for even more encouragement. ‘Darling, did you ever imagine in your wildest dreams that I would serve as Sheriff of the City of London?’ She responded far too swiftly, ‘Michael, this may be hard to take, but you never ever feature in my wildest dreams!’.

Christopher Hayward and I are the first Sheriffs to serve a second year since 1228.  Over the past 73 weeks, it has been a bit confusing comprehending the differences between an English Sheriff and an American Sheriff.  When I grew up in the States, with the exception of the Lone Ranger, Sheriffs put the mask-wearing bad guys away.  Apparently, we do it differently in England.

While we have no revolvers, we are permitted to wield swords, even inside the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, where Elisabeth and I live with Chris and his wife Alex.  “Hi honey, I’m home, with 18 courts, 400,000 square feet of office, 74 jail cells, and no television.   What do you want to do tonight?”

Post-covid, too much futurology is apocalyptic, when most of human history is a story of progress.  The Victorian historian Macaulay said, “On what principle is it that with nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?”

Your civic team is active.  Our Courts have continued to sit.  With the Lord Mayor we have been running a ‘reopening the City Campaign”, showcasing UK skills, encouraging more international interactions, moving more 24/7, and much else besides. 

On the livery, I feel strongly about our movement, having the privilege of being associated with nine companies, World Traders, Watermen & Lightermen, Furniture Makers, Water Conservators, Marketors, Tax Advisers, International Bankers, Educators, and Management Consultants.

During the past 18 months one big positive change among the City’s 110 livery, four guilds, and 23 ward clubs has been reaching out strongly to members we sometimes innocently overlook, those not within easy commuting distance of London, retirees, students, those overseas.  Each livery seems to be trying to outdo all the others in a wide range of intellectual events – history, architecture, science, crafts, politics, economics, and the environment.  Our City is mentally alive as never before.  Our City boundaries are wider than ever.  Technology is connecting our associations in new and better ways.  My big suggestion post-Covid is that the City should take your Brigantes concept abroad.  We should aim for a global movement of livery, centred on our principles of commerce and honest friendship with all – call it the “Brigantes Internationales”.

On regionalism, the 1957 Royal Commission On Local Government concluded: “Logic has its limits and the position of the City lies outside them”.  More than many know, the City of London has long supported regional determination as the way to get things done.  Logic doesn’t show how a proud group of people in the world’s oldest continuous democracy can produce such a great City.  Logic doesn’t show how increasing regionalism in Britain will help to reinvigorate our great cities, and in turn our nation.  But it will.  Stronger, prouder, local communities will fulfil Macauley’s vision.

The City fully backs our Prime Minister’s levelling up programme between North and South.  So much so that, when I sadly have to leave these beautiful lands for London tonight, you’ll feel that the average IQ of both regions has risen. 

Before closing, I must share my best illustration of a North-South divide, biblical Annie of the Pennines.  Annie was a religiously-minded little girl who loved Bible stories.   One day her teacher asked Annie for her favourite Bible story.  Annie said that she really loved the story about Jonah, who was swallowed by a whale and lived inside the whale for three days before being spat out on a beach somewhere.  “Oh, Annie”, the teacher said, “that is a silly story, how can you possibly believe it?”  Annie said, “well Miss, when I get to heaven I will ask Jonah if it’s true”.  The teacher queried, somewhat insensitively, “but what if Jonah went to hell?”  “Well Miss”, said Annie, “… then you can ask him”.

I know what some of you might like to ask me, so before I sit down I should probably paraphrase Billy Idol, “in the midnight hour, with a rebel yell, they cried less, less, less”.  May I ask everyone to please be upstanding and drink a toast to our patron, the Exalted One, the Noble Queen Cartimandua, her memory,  and her worshippers.  Root and branch may the City of London Liverymen in the North flourish forever.

For some background reading:

Cartimandua –

“Th-th-that’s all, folks!” 

Tacitus – “Four mentions (copied from

THE EVIDENCE OF TACITUS: Roman historian writing in the First Century AD.

The capture of Caratacus – … the wife and daughter of Caratacus were captured, and his brothers too … There is seldom safety for the unfortunate, and Caratacus, seeking the protection of Cartimandua, queen of the Brigantes, was put in chains and delivered up to the conquerors, nine years after the beginning of the war in Britain. (Tacitus, Annals Book XII)

Caratacus’ speech before Emperor Claudius in Rome – This is Caratacus’ plea to Claudius as reported by the Roman author Tacitus. Caratacus had been a powerful and wealthy king and a brave enemy. His reputation had preceded him to Rome and his demeanour during the enforced triumphal parade through the streets of Rome had impressed the crowds. ‘My present situation 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 handed over as a prisoner, neither my fall nor your triumph would have become famous. My punishment would be soon forgotten, whereas, if you save my life, I shall be an everlasting reminder of your mercy.’ (Adapted from Tacitus Annals, Book XII)

Queen Cartimandua and the Brigantes – Cartimandua was ruler over the Brigantes in her own right. After she captured King Caratacus and betrayed him to Claudius Caesar she became even more powerful. Emperor Claudius was pleased with his captive whom he took to Rome to be part of his triumph, and he richly rewarded Cartimandua. She became reckless and grew to hate her husband Venutius. She took his servant Vellocatus to share the throne with her. Her family clan were shocked by this and the Brigantes chose to side with Venutius who hated the Romans. He called on other tribes to help, and with the Brigantes, led an attack on Cartimandua. She asked the Romans to protect her, and after a number of fights they managed to rescue the Queen from danger. Venutius became King of the Brigantes, but the war with the Romans carried on. (Adapted from Tacitus, The Histories Book III)

… Petillius Cerialis at once struck terror into their hearts by invading the commonwealth of the Brigantes, which is said to be the most numerous tribe of the whole province [Britain]: many battles were fought, sometimes bloody battles, and by permanent conquest or by forays he annexed a large portion of the Brigantes. (Tacitus Agricola xvii.1)

Language Contact and the Origins of the Germanic Languages (Routledge Studies in Linguistics Book 13)

Schrijver, Peter

Citation (Chicago Style): Schrijver, Peter. Language Contact and the Origins of the Germanic Languages (Routledge Studies in Linguistics Book 13). Taylor and Francis, 2013. Kindle edition.

II. The Rise of English

Highlight – 5. The Linguistic Map of Pre-Anglo-Saxon England > Page 52 · Location 1378

local place names would enter the local Latin dialect and undergo Latin sound changes. Finally, as the area switched to (pre-) Old English, typically Old English sound changes would affect the local place names. For example, the Old English river name Bregent, the modern Brent in Middlesex, seems to show that its second-e-, which at an earlier stage was *-a-, had undergone so-called Highland British Celtic final i-affection; that is, the original Celtic name *Brigantī became *Brigentī in Celtic. Subsequently, the name was adopted in Anglo-Saxon and became Old English Bregent. So it would seem that this toponym, which is squarely in the southeastern part of the Lowland Zone, arose in a type of Celtic that, like Highland Celtic, underwent final i-affection (Jackson 1953: 602). This kind of evidence is tricky, however, for Old English underwent a very similar sound change, called i-umlaut, which would have had the same effect (Parsons 2011: 133). So Bregent provides no evidence for the kind of Celtic that was spoken in Middlesex. More problematic is the series Andover, Candover, and Micheldever in Hampshire. These names reflect Old English-defer, which ultimately

Highlight – 8. The Origin of Irish > Page 79 · Location 2027

Ptolemy’s main source was a geography of Marinus of Tyre, who worked earlier in that same century and may himself have used a first-century AD source. Ptolemy’s map of Ireland is our first known source dealing with the island. It mentions names of tribes, towns, rivers, and other geographical features. Some of those names are clearly Celtic: examples are the tribal names Brig-antes (‘ Nobles’), Ouenniknioi (‘ Family Descendants’), and probably also Rhobogdioi (‘ Very Poor’?) and the river names Bououinda (‘ White Cow’) and Ouidoua (‘ Widow’ or ‘Wooded’). 74 The tribal name Manapioi and

Highlight – 8. The Origin of Irish > Page 86 · Location 2211

This is where speculation begins, however well informed. If during the first century British immigrants imported Irish into Ireland, it is quite possible that this movement was connected with the Roman conquest of Britain, which started in AD 43 and intermittently lasted well into the 80s of the first century. The gradual and invariably brutal destruction of British independence may well have persuaded people to seek refuge and new fortunes to the west. In one particular case, archaeological evidence indicates that such a movement had indeed taken place: on Lambay Island, in the Irish Sea near Dublin, a number of inhumation burials have been found which were accompanied by objects that evidently stem from the late first-century kingdom of Brigantia, north of the Humber. 79 Brigantia had been a nominally independent Roman vassal state under Queen Cartimandua until in 74 Roman legions, facing an uprising that had lasted several years, crushed its independence. It may well be that on this occasion Brigantian exiles moved to Lambay Island as well as further afield onto the Irish mainland: Ptolemy records a tribe Brigantes in County Wexford. 80

All this historical backwash is reminiscent of this tale from another lecture (mine) –

“In the early 1990’s, I landed in Venice to visit some relatives.  One of my relatives wanted to visit an exhibition, I Longobardi, the Lombards of Lombard Street fame.  I was perplexed as he exclaimed that all Northern Italians were Longobardi, ‘siamo tutti Longobardi’.  Then I realised that the exhibition was funded to a large degree by the Lega Nord, Italy’s political party for the northern regions that the Northern League terms ‘Padania’.  I imagined this Northern League sitting in a smoke-filled room looking at maps in reverse chronological order seeking a common ancestry.  ‘Bourbons, wrong message, keep going; Papal States, nope, wrong area; keep going; Republic of Venice, nope, incomplete coverage, a bit further; Lombards, hmm, go on some more; Roman Empire, nope, too broad.  Hey go back one!  That’s perfect.  From 568 to 774, look at the coverage, just what we need.  The Lombards fit our member regions exactly.  Let’s promote them for the sake of unity.'”

Jokes not used!

I don’t like country music, but I don’t mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means ‘put down’. Bob Newhart

Great up here that the blue wall voted for Boris.  Before Boris we didn’t even have food banks.