Imagine your (future) daughters being raped continuously, and you being flogged after your spouse’s death. Would you want to seek revenge? This woman surely did. 3 alternative spellings for 1 woman’s name; meet Boudicca, Britain’s very own Warrior Queen. Having born in 30CE of royal blood in South East England, Boudicca grew up in the British iron age; also known as ‘Celtic Britain’(600BCE - 60CE). Women from the iron age didn’t face much gender inequality. They received adequate respect and rights from their community - which let some of them have multiple social statuses; daughter, wife, mother, warrior, ruler, etc.
When Boudicca turned 7, she was relocated into another family, where she familiarised herself with the traditions, culture and religion of her own descent. Boudicca also attended warrior school where both girls and boys could train together and master combat skills, despite the fact that men still had the final say both politically and domestically.
Shortly after Boudicca returned home at the age of 14, Rome invaded and successfully conquered South Eastern Britain around 43CE. Both Rome and Iceni came up with a mutual peace treaty which allowed Icenians to elect their own King as long as they obey the Roman rules and paid their taxes on time. This allowed Iceni to thrive and gain wealth by engaging in trade with Rome. Boudicca got married to Prasutagus at around 48CE, who was the King of the Iceni tribe in South East England after his older relative Antedios died. They led a relatively wealthy and peaceful life with their two daughters and enjoyed harmony for the next few years, until King Prasutagus’s death in 60CE.
Prior to his death, he prepared a will which would leave half his possessions and assets to Boudicca and his daughters, and the other half to the Rome Empire. Knowing that the will adhere to the Roman laws, King Prasutagus decided on the will with the plan of allowing his family to continue to enjoy the wealth and prestige even after his death.
You’d expect the people to fulfil the final wishes of King Prasutagus with respect to his will right? Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The will King Prasutagus made was completely ignored and the whole kingdom was thrown into chaos. The late King Prasutagus’s family was humiliated publicly, and his daughters sexually violated by the Roman soldiers.
Amongst the chaos, Boudicca and her daughters managed to escape and sought refuge in Thetford forest with other refugees. Boudicca met some of the other tribes who were also seeking refuge and they collectively appointed Boudicca as their leader of the revolt against the Romans.
With the immense support of the Icenians, Trinovantes tribe and many others, Boudicca led the revolt and concurred with the majority that Camulodunum (modern-day Colchester) will be their first target. It was an easy battle as there was only a small army of Roman soldiers protecting Camulodunum. In addition, Camulodunum was an important city for the Romans as the Temple Of Claudius was erected for the worship of Roman emperor Claudius.
Boudicca’s army was ruthless and destroyed everything in their sight. They destroyed Camulodunum within two days, leaving no survivors. Boudicca then continued leading the 100,000 army strong of rebels to Londinium (modern-day London). The plan was to sabotage the Roman trading city as Londinium was the key city for trading activities. The ferocious army torched the whole Londinium and Verulamium (modern-day St Albans), where they showed no mercy and killed everything during the siege.
Boudicca then decided to head north to destroy more Roman cities. Unfortunately, they met the Roman army led by Gaius Suetonius Paulinus along Watling Street. The Roman soldiers were heavily outnumbered by Boudicca’s army, with a close ratio of approximately 1:10. However, the Romans were much more disciplined and were equipped with better weapons and body armour as compared to the rebels. The battle, also known as ‘The Battle of Watling Street’, broke out ending with approximately 80,000 rebel deaths and an estimated loss of only 400 Roman soldiers.
Boudicca and her daughters were thought to have escaped during the battle in order to avoid capture by the Romans and rumoured to have killed themselves.
What Boudicca did that affected history
Boudicca is remembered for her persistent attempts to free herself and her tribe from the Roman empire, which had an enduring impact on many aspects of history.
Firstly, the rebellion was a crucial moment in early British history. As a result, the Romans made certain that their establishments were secured and that the Briton population will never be a threat to them.
Boudicca is a heroine and apparent role model to advocate on feminism and to inspire other women. She left a legacy and is perceived as an exemplary figure of nation opposition. This warrior queen made history as she has achieved major hurdles and fought for her country, her people and most importantly, herself. Although she lost the final battle, she never let the Romans conquer her. Her persistence and determination have served as a crucial cultural symbol.
Boudicca also left a lasting impact with a statue located outside the house of Parliament on Westminster Bridge, London. It serves as some sort of propaganda and hopefully, its legacy will carry forward to the 21st century, giving inspiration to people. She is the first heroine of Britain and will continue to be seen and aspired by many women and perhaps, even men.
What we feel about Boudicca
Overall, we think that Boudicca was a woman filled with rage and anger whilst having a terrifying and intimidating appearance. She was a strong woman who led her rebel army methodically and was able to put up a great fight against the Roman empire in a matter of 1-2 years. As women, we take great pride in Boudicca’s existence because of the willingness to risk her life in fighting for justice and the prejudice against women being warriors/rulers.