Meet Queen Boudica: The Celtic Heroine


History rarely speaks about the women who heroically defended their lands or rights. Boudica was one of them, a proud queen to bring her name into our century. Her army killed as many as 70,000 civilians in Londinium, Verulamium, and Camulodunum, rushing to cut throats, hang, burn, and crucify. Who was she? Why was she so angry?

In 43 AD, Roman Emperor Claudius made a full scale invasion of Britain, this being the second since that of Julius Caesar.

Only Claudius’ invasion led to a four hundred year occupation. It is noted that Claudius received the surrender of eleven kings of Britain. One of these kingdoms may have been the Iceni, a tribe that occupied what today constitutes Norfolk, eastern Cambridgeshire, and northern Suffolk.

In 47 AD, according to Roman law, the Iceni were divested of their weapons by the Governor of Britain.

The Iceni were particularly incensed by this treatment. After all, they had submitted to the Romans without a fight and having no arms left them vulnerable. The Iceni and other Celtic tribes to the south rose up in a rebellion which was not successful. But in the end, the Iceni were essentially able to remain a client kingdom of Rome.

It was about this time the leader Prasutagus emerges as King of the Iceni.

By the time of his appearance, he was already married to a woman named Boudica. Prasutagus had always been on good terms with the Roman Empire, but, he died c. AD 59.
In his will, he named his two daughters as the heirs to the kingdom with Boudica to act as their regent. But things didn’t turn out as Prasutagus had planned.

Queen became the captive.

When Prasutagus died the Romans decided to rule the Iceni directly and confiscated the property of the leading tribesmen. They are also said to have stripped and flogged Boudicca and raped her daughters which filled Boudica with full of revenge.

These actions of the Romans exacerbated widespread resentment at Roman rule.

In 60 or 61 AD, while the Roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was leading a campaign in North Wales, the Iceni rebelled. Members of other tribes joined them and eventually saved their queen, Boudica, who led them until the end of this fight.

Boudicca's warriors successfully defeated the Roman Ninth Legion and destroyed the capital of Roman Britain, then at Colchester.

They went on to destroy London and Verulamium (St. Albans). Thousands were killed. It was a big success against the Romans, that frightened the Empire for a while.

However, the lack of maneuverability of the British forces, combined with a lack of open-field tactics to command these numbers, put them at a disadvantage to the Romans, who were skilled at open combat due to their superior equipment and discipline. 

Finally, Boudicca was defeated by a Roman army led by Paulinus. Many Britons were killed and Boudicca is thought to have poisoned herself to avoid capture. The site of the battle, and of Boudicca's death, are unknown.

From the sixteenth century onwards, Boudica would become the charismatic subject for poets, artists, and writers. She remains a symbol of national patriotism to this day as the statue on the Embankment attests.

Bonus: Boudica (2003)

You can check the movie having the same name as the Queen. 

Boudica (2003) / Imdb 5.4

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