Claudian elephants!

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  anonymous 4 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #15462


    It is commonly presumed that the war elephants which accompanied the Emporer Claudius when he came to Britain in AD 43 to accept the 'surrender' of the Britons were just for show and to impress the natives (who had never seen anything like this before). However in a recent article in BBC history magazine Gillian Howell puts forward another hypothesis that in addition they were to prevent attacks by and to neutralise the British chariots since “their smell was known to drive enemy horses mad”.As far as I am aware no further mention is made of the elephants in the historical record so it seems that they were either not used in battle or that if they they were they were not succesfull in this purpose.

  • #17388


    That's really interesting!  Is there a link available for us to read, or is it print only (and if so, do you know which issue of the magazine the article is located in)?Thanks for sharing that with us!

  • #17389


    I have had a look on the BBC history extra website but there is no reference there. The article which deals with the Hallaton helmet and the Claudian elephants is in the current (April 2012) edition of the magazine which can be obtained in print and digitally on the kindle. 

  • #17390


    Can I recomend the BBC history extra podcast which usually carries interviews with the writers of articles in the BBC history magazine. They are still on March edition but may be Gillian Howells will be on it in April. If I see it I will post details

  • #17391


    There is an interview with Gillian Hovell about her article on the Roman invasion of Britain in the 12th April edition of the BBC history extra podcast. Available to download from itunes

  • #17392


    I'll download it and have a listen to it today. Thanks for the heads up!

  • #17393


    HiWar Elephants would be a huge logistical hassle and consider feeding etc etc so their battle effectiveness against cost is negatable.  They almost certainly would have terrified the Brits and this is clearly the aim.  Also it is a demonstration of power - - 'look at me - I can bring beasts from far afield - - and you think you can fight me?!!'Also in battle they were very good for fighting and breaking tighly packed ranks, ie Greek Phalanx or a Roman formation, but I think for fighting loosly formed formations (ie the Brits) I cannot see the effectiveness - less for scaring the sh*t out of the oponent!I personally think its a statement from the stammering Emporer!Rich

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