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Boudica (c. 25-30 AD - c. 60-61 AD)

Boudica was born in the Roman province of Britannia (modern UK). Unsurprisingly, there is a lack of records about her early life. Although Britain had been conquered under the reign of Claudius (43 AD), it was still a wild region containing many warring tribes. In around 48 AD it is believed Boudica became the wife of the Iceni king, Prasutagus, who at the time was an ally of Rome. But when he died, things were going to change...

Dan the Info-man
This is a highly romanticized painting of the British warrior queen - but it has the required dramatic effect!

What's in a name?

"Boudica" isn't the only name the famous queen has gone by. She has also been known as Voadicia, Bunduca, Boadicea, Boudicca, Boudiga and Bodicca!

Boudica is now the currently accepted version of her name.

Boudica - Wikipedia

Boudica's husband, Prasutagus, ruled as a nominally independent ally of Rome and left his kingdom jointly to his daughters and the Roman emperor in his will. However, when he died, his will was ignored, and the kingdom was annexed.

Leading a revolt

The Romans did not honor Prasutagus' will when he died. The famous Roman historian, Tacitus, wrote that Boudica was flogged and her daughters were raped - which may have incited the rebellion. However, it is also believed the Romans called in huge debts and collected these debts in a brutal fashion. The Iceni and their queen were furious; it was time to fight...

Dan the Info-man
This statue is called Boadicea and Her Daughters. It can be found at Westminster Pier, London and was created by Thomas Thornycroft.

Defeating the Romans in battle

The Iceni tribe were based in the eastern region of the province (mostly modern Norfolk and parts of neighboring counties). In 60-61 AD the fight back began in earnest, as the tribes, led by their queen, attacked Camulodunum (Colchester). The city was destroyed. The rebels then advanced to Londinium (London), which had been evacuated. After destroying that city the British warriors did the same thing to Verulamium (St Albans). Three settlements had been devastated by the uprising...

Dan the Info-man
It has been recorded that 70,000-80,000 people were killed in these three cities. No-one was spared, and terrible acts were carried out.

Legio IX Hispana - a cursed legion?

The Battle of Camulodunum has also been called the Massacre of the Ninth Legion. The Roman legion had marched to the city to assist the inhabitants and found themselves vastly outnumbered by the Iceni and Trinovantes warriors. Out of 2,500 Roman soldiers, an estimated 2,000 were killed (500 cavalry escaped). Worse was to come for the legion...sometime in the 2nd century AD records about the legion stopped. Some historians believe the legion was completely annihilated whilst fighting Celts in northern Britain.

Dan the Info-man
Legio IX Hispana (the Spanish Ninth Legion - or "The Lost Legion") now exists in the form of several historical reenactment groups!

The Romans crush the rebellion

Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was the Governor of Britain at the time of the rebellion. He had been fighting in what is now modern Wales when the tribes rose up and destroyed the three settlements. He marched his forces rapidly down the track now known as Watling Street, which ran across the province. His soldiers met the British tribes at some point on the route and defeated a huge force using superior tactics, discipline and training. The revolution was over and Boudica would soon be dead...

Dan the Info-man
Roman forces occupied a gorge forcing the British into a narrow channel. Thousands of warriors were killed by Romans freely throwing javelins at them.

Death and legacy

Boudica does not appear in historical records after the defeat at the Battle of Watling Street. She may have poisoned herself to avoid capture and torture, or she may have died from illness. Her uprising was mostly forgotten for centuries, but now she is remembered as a British icon who dared take on the might of Rome and even made the infamous Emperor Nero consider abandoning the province altogether!

Dan the Info-man
This image is from a 2003 film called Boudica (also known as Warrior Queen), which featured Alex Kingston as the formidable leader.
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