Veneti Tribe - Importance
The Veneti tribe were based around present day Brittany.
They dominated cross channel trade, and had developed ships more suitable for use in stormy Channel and Biscay waters than Roman Mediterranean developed ships.
They also dominated Cross-channel trade at the time in Roman conquest of
Gaul. This trade was long established because the remains of
substantial jetties and harbour-works dating to about 250BC have been
discovered on the south coast of Britain. The main entry and exit point for
Veneti cross channel trade was
through Hengistbury Head from Brittany and probably Cherbourg.
Veneti ships were flat bottomed to help them navigate shallow coastal shoal
waters or draw up on shore without being damaged. They were constructed of Oak,
with cross members up to 12in thick fastened with iron bolts as thick as a man's
thumb. Anchors were secured by iron chains rather than rope and sails
comprised rawhide or thin leather. They had high bow and stern and the
height of their sides above water meant Romans had great difficulty in
boarding them during a sea battle. Their sole method of propulsion was by
sail and not oars. The normal Roman tactics during sea battles was to close with the
enemy, board and allow the superior fighting skills of the Roman soldiers to
win the day. The relatively high gunwales of the Veneti ships made this
Veneti strongholds were often established at the end of promontories, which could be supplied from the sea if they were blockaded on the land side by the Romans. Then, if the Romans concentrated sufficient forces to force the land fortifications, the defenders would be evacuated by sea to another stronghold.
So when Caesar moved into northern Gaul the Veneti were not intimidated and obtained support from the maritime Morini tribe near present day Calais, the nearby Menapii tribe and also help from British tribes. This combined force fleet was eventually brought to battle at sea at Quiberon Bay with a fleet said to be 220 strong. During the battle the wind dropped allowing the oar driven Roman ships to gain control of the battle. Using sickles attacked to long poles the Romans were able to cut Veneti rigging, disabling the ships and winning the battle with the superior fighting skills of the Roman Marines.
By the end of the day the Veneti ships had been picked off and the Romans had won another victory and defeated another tribe.
There were three main consequences of this victory.
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This page last edited -
22 December, 2012.
Copyright © Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.