The mongolian menace unified tribes into a deadly force
Men fought for their right to believe now let us heal the past.
Boudica is magic and even after all the centuries she has a lot to teach us about bravery tenacity and revenge (karma)
by louisa Jen
The year is Ad 30 and Boudica the warrior queen has been born in Comulodun (cholchester). The only real source of information comes from the roman text of two scholars. These are the Roman scholars Tacitus and Cassius Dio who relate the tale of the Celtish Queen Boudica. She was married to king Prasutagus of the Iceni tribe, East Anglia (approx. 43ce) they had 2 daughters. In actual fact no names of the daughters remain or are written. Very little information is left even the word celts is an umbrella word to give name to the many tribes of Britain. Upon Boudica’s husband’s death Boudica becomes queen and after fractious argument with Roman governance, she leads a revolt against roman rule in Britain. Boudica queen of the celts is an inspiration. Some might say where does the warrior queen sit amongst the modern woman. My answer is she is an Emblem of equality and of powerful realignments of self. It is I believe not in the time period that we diminish women but rather we should exult women.
History portrays men as powerful leaders and indeed they were but a woman’s heart can be equally as proud and as powerful as her counter-part. Boudica felt and saw injustice and she did something about it. She backed herself against the might of Rome just as Spartacus did.
She challenged and fought and even the loss and disastrous battle or bad outcome set the tone for resistance. She made her power count she made men look up to her and wonder at her courage. She is a woman, she is a lioness, hear her roar. She led the Iceni and the tribe of the Trinovantes and others into battle at comulodunum. Once a settlement and capital of the trinovantes but was at this time a colonia, settlement for discharged soldiers and site of the temple of the former Emperor Claudius. This was a provocative move against Rome and one that would awaken Rome’s retaliation. The battles were ferocious with 70 to 80000 dead. Both roman and British killed in the three major confrontations of the three settlements led by the Celtish queen. The full horror of battle I think could not be imagined and whether she died of wounds or whether she poisoned herself no one will ever be sure; Tacitus has said she died of ill health after the battle at some time.
Boudica is described as tall and fierce in appearance. Celtish woman often fought in battle with their men and it seem improbable that people would follow her if she was not an imposing figure. I believe she possessed sheer strength of character and the charisma of a queen. To fight so valiantly to excel and never surrender is dazzling to my mind. The courage to take on Rome the strongest army in the world. Let us kneel and pay homage before the queen Boudica of the Celts.
In British folklore a hero is found a woman named Boudica. Men and bards told stories of the brave queen, She who gathered the tribes under one banner for the resistance to Roman rule. One of the earliest writings of Boudica excluding Tacitus and Dio” s Annals) was 6th century “On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain) by a monk Gildas. He demonstrates his knowledge of a female leader he calls her a “treacherous Lioness” who butchered the governors of Britain. Those who had been left to give fuller voice and to give strength to roman rule’. Gildasis referring to Boudica. Polydore vergil introduced Boudica as Voadicea in 1534, Raphael Hollinshed includer boudica in his chronicals (1577) all based on Tacitus and Dio.
Boudica became a light house to freedom. I feel History has given voice to men and I continue to want to give voice to women then and now. She is no less worthy of historical praise than anyone else. Sadly, written word are roman voices of Tacitus and Cassius Dio and all others are based upon these roman texts. The rest are folk lore stories of the celtish peoples. So, I begin in this classical period AD 115-117 annals and the Agricola AD98 both published many years after Boudica’s revolt however Tacitus had an eye witness at his disposal for the retelling of events: it was his father-in-law Gnaeus Julius Agricola who had served in Britain three times as a tribune under Suetonius Paulinus: It was to his account that during Suetonius absence that Tacitus says Britons began to congregate under the authority of Boudica. Cassius Dio’s account, published over a century after Boudica’s death is only known through an epitome written by Xiphilinus. Dio provides a considerable amount of information not found in the work of Tacitus suggesting sources he used were lost long ago. It is generally agreed that Dio based his account on that of tacitus but simplifies the sequences of events. The abuses which Boudica and her daughters suffered at the hand of Rome is not mentioned in Dio account instead he sites three causes to the rebellion.
The recalling of loans that were given to Britons by Seneca: Decianus Catus confiscation of money formally loaned to Britains by Emperor Claudius: The romans brought into celt society coins money to trade and to buy so the celts took the loans. Boudicas entreaties gives three different causes for the rebellion: the recalling of loans given to Britains by Seneca: Decianus Catus confiscation of money for emperor Claudius: and Boudicas own entreaties Tacitus depicts Boudica as a victim of roman slavery and licentiousness, her fight which made her a champion of barbarian and British liberty. It is also reason Boudica is narrated as the standard of bravery as a freedwoman rather than just a queen.
Tacitus and Cassius Dio, little is known about her early life; its believed she was born into an elite family in Camulodunum (now Colchester).
Little is known but Boudica became a folk hero for Britain after tacitus writings were unearthed. No real evidence of her fate other than her death after the battle at Watling street road even the exact location is not quite known.
Boudica was no doubt brought up in the celtic culture where tribal fighting was like the viking culture a part of the kingship of the lands. To gain land and to protect the land and your peoples of your tribe. To provide stability and keep the peace albeit through violence if nessecary and of course kings decided guilt for any crime done. Imagine life within the tribal dynamics there is love there is singing dancing, weaving and all the things a living environment entails. To gain land to hold land was the foremost pre-requisite of a king. Into this kind of land came Rome and who saw the people as barbarian to themselves. Rome wanted Land, tribute and slaves. They were cunning for the first moments. The initial treaty made with Boudica’s husband Prasutagus meant he would rule nominally independent of Rome or rather as an ally to Rome. These arrangements lasted until the death of Prasutagus and although a will left all to Boudica and his daughters. Rome did not honour any agreements like any conqueror they had contempt for thr the celtish peoples. The ideas of anything other than conquering Britain fell to violence.
The story sets out to tell of the rape of Boudica’s daughters and her own beating and warriors being killed. This meant Boudica would retaliate. All agreements broken and so war was the outcome.
The roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was campaigning on the island of Mona (modern Anglesey) on the northwest of wales. Boudica led the Revolt and upon hearing this news Suetonius hurried to Londinium (London) settlement 20 years old commercial centre. After he evacuated the settlement Boudica attached the detachment of Legion IX Hispana defeating and burning Londinium and further Verulamium (St Albums). The idea of freedom and liberty ran deep in the celtic mind and Boudica reinforces the idea which is like a seed that grows in the land.
Below is a poem written in 1780 the legend is redeemed by William Cowper.
|BOADICEA: AN ODE|
[Written 1780. Published 1782.] WHEN the British warrior queen,
Bleeding from the Roman rods,
Sought, with an indignant mien,
Counsel of her country’s gods,
Sage beneath a spreading oak
Sat the Druid, hoary chief;
Ev’ry burning word he spoke
Full of rage, and full of grief.
Princess! if our aged eyes
Weep upon thy matchless wrongs,
‘Tis because resentment ties
All the terrors of our tongues.
“Rome shall perish—write that word
In the blood that she has spilt;
Perish, hopeless and abhorr’d,
Deep in ruin as in guilt.
Rome, for empire far renown’d,
Tramples on a thousand states;
Soon her pride shall kiss the ground—
Hark! the Gaul is at her gates!
Other Romans shall arise,
Heedless of a soldier’s name;
Sounds, not arms, shall win the prize—
Harmony the path to fame.
Then the progeny that springs
From the forests of our land,
Arm’d with thunder, clad with wings,
Shall a wider world command.
Regions Cæsar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway,
Where his eagles never flew,
None invincible as they.
Such the bard’s prophetic words,
Pregnant with celestial fire,
Bending, as he swept the chords
Of his sweet but awful lyre.
She, with all a monarch’s pride,
Felt them in her bosom glow;
Rush’d to battle, fought, and died;
Dying, hurl’d them at the foe.
Ruffians, pitiless as proud,
Heav’n awards the vengeance due;
Empire is on us bestow’d,
Shame and ruin wait for you.
he Complete Poetical Works of William Cowper.
H. S. Milford, ed.
London: Henry Frowde, 1905. 310-1.
Out of the story of the Queen of the Celts comes the legend and while we are uncertain of all aspects of her life, we are certain of her character. She was brave, she engendered respect from her people and the warriors who fought with her. She stood for the people who equally stood shoulder to shoulder with her against overwhelming odds. The trust of what they believed was right and just allowed the queen to be the charismatic character Boudica. So much so that her story comes to us today from 30 AD. In the 16th century Raphael Holinshed called her Voadicia while Edmond Spencer called her Bunduca a variation used in the Jacobean play Bonduca of 1612. Throughout these ages the Celtish queen is revered for her stance for her defence of her homeland for her island Britain. A noble cause a just cause, for it is in the land we find our ancestors blood and bones past and laid. The land gives value for it is here food is found and, in the forests, live the gods. It is a world born of nature and in the purity of the rivers are the hearts and minds of the Celtish tribes and Britain. So, it was a natural acknowledgement for her tale to quickly become folk law for ever told by the campfire light. The courage of women who fought along with their men and their queen forever etched in our minds.
Statue of Boudica with daughters in her war chariot next to Westminster bridge and the house of parliament in England. Commissioned Prince Albert executed by Thomas Thornycroft 1905
It took 20 years and he died in 1871 it was still a plaster model Thomas’s son john Issac with the help of William bull MP raised funds for a bronze version. Boudica was embraced by Victorian Londoners, despite the fact that one of her most well-known acts was to burn the place to cinders. Similarly, the towns of Colchester and St Albans have embraced her as a local heroine, a status testified to by everything from stained glass windows to car park graffiti, at least in the case of Colchester. St Albans has taken a more, staid approach and is content with telling her story in the local museum, while occasionally using her image.
- Notable Quotes: “If you weigh well the strengths of our armies you will see that in this battle we must conquer or die. This is a woman’s resolve. As for the men, they may live or be slaves.” “I am not fighting for my kingdom and wealth now. I am fighting as an ordinary person for my lost freedom, my bruised body, and my outraged daughters.”
British children all have learnt and know the story of Boudica and the rebellion against the invading Rome. The battle of Watling which she lost was a disaster the trained roman ary with their shields spears and formation training smashed the celts. The spears pierced the chainmail and when up close the shield formation was impenetrable. The arrow formation pushing inti Boudica’s line was deadly. Death and bodies and body pieces lay all about the celts were defeated and Boudica is said to have been seen leaving the battle but nothing is conclusive. Some then assumed her death in battle others assumed she poisoned herself after in fear of roman punishment. She had already suffered at their hands. When her husband King Prasutagus had died and roman authority was being implemented her daughters had been raped and she the queen had been humiliated and the scourging of the proud queen was an indignity she did not forget. At that time Governor Suetonius turned his attention to wales, taking two thirds of the military. Boudica had met with the leaders of the icenti, Trinovanti, cornovii, Durotiges and other tribes. All the tribes had grievances against Rome foor they had all felt the rage of rome eg, the recall of loans by Nero who had replaced the dead Emperor Claudius. Boudica’s story was nearly forgotten until Tacitus work Annals was rediscovered in 1360. Boudica’s story became popular during the reign of queen Elizabeth! st today Boudica is considered a national heroine and a universal symbol of the human desire for freedom and justice. Her life is retold in historical novels and on television and on you tube. The warrior queen remains the nations pride. Roman occupation brought roman settlement and military presence they also attempted to suppress the Celtic religion. There were changes to economics coins were introduced for trade and buying. So loans were given and taxes enforced. Roman rule was encroaching on all the celtish tribes lifestyle and freedoms. Dio’s account leaves out the rape and beating of Boudica and her daughters while tacitus included this in the annals. Boudica rode a war chariot up and down the ranks when fighting, willing her warriors on to victory. When they she was eventually beaten at watling road one can suppose that Boudica poisoned herself to avoid slavery or worse. (Inconclusive) Boudicca’s army had counted on seizing Roman food stores when the tribes abandoned their own fields to wage rebellion. Suetonius however was a general of some skill and he had strategically burned the Roman stores. Famine thus struck the victorious army, greatly weakening it.
Boudicca fought one more battle, though at Watling street its precise location is unknown. Boudicca’s army attacked uphill, and, exhausted and hungry, were easily routed by the Romans. Roman troops—numbering just 1,200—defeated Boudicca’s army of 100,000, killing 80,000 while suffering only 400 casualties. As a result of the rebellion, the Romans strengthened their military presence in Britain but also lessened their hard tactics along with their oppressive rule. After the Romans suppressed Boudica’s rebellion, other tribes mounted a few smaller insurrections in the coming years, but none gained the same widespread support or cost as many lives. The Romans would continue to hold Britain, without any further significant trouble, until their withdrawal from the region in 410.
These histories that appeared after tacitus annals were stemming from his father in-law who had been roman governor of Britain and he had witnessed the savagery and the heroism that characterised the celts. The rediscovery of Tacitus annals, brought about a renaissance of history in Europe and these new written works began to trickle into Britain. Essentially during the reign of the Tudor monarchs. These histories caused a stir in the still-fractious nations of Britain: stories of heroic myths. Along with the fantastic tales of wizards and courtly knights popularised by Geoffrey of Monmouth, were swept aside. In their place stood a woman, a celt queen described in William Cowper’s 1782 poem ‘Boadicea an Ode’, as ‘bleeding from the Roman rods’, with vengeance in her eyes and a spear in her hand. Even the speech from Elizabeth 1st to her troops at Tilbury before the possible invasion by the Spanish armada might have been taken from the inspirational Boudica oration to her warriors. poet Jonathan Aske saw a resemblance. In his triumphant ode on the defeat of the Spanish in 1588, he proclaimed Elizabeth as ‘Voada, England’s happie queene’. But what happened after the death of Elizabeth? Some modern historians have argued that Boudica’s reputation suffered a decline during and after the reign of James I and VI. Following her Elizabethan heyday, the return of a man to the throne spelled the end for the celebration of unorthodox women. It is not surprising that Boudica was viewed with suspicion and misogynistic ire on the part of some writers and audiences.
This was true, for example, of the poet John Milton. Milton had little time for the pagan queen in his prose History of Britain, published in the 1670s. Milton dismissed her as a shameless harridan who ought to have kept her sorry tale of assault, rape and humiliation to herself. Sadly, Milton, for all his poetic genius, was an unreconstructed misogynist; his dislike of Boudica stemmed from a distaste for the notion of women in power. As a female chieftain, and a pagan to boot, Boudica represented all that was most horrifying for Milton. But Milton’s view was not typical of his time, or even of the years before. His critical take on Boudica can be contrasted with that of the antiquary and historian Edmund Bolton, a penniless hanger-on to the court of James I and VI. Bolton made his way, with only partial success, by writing for the court and, in 1624, For this denizen of James’ court at least, Boudica was nothing less than a great heroine, even if she had been a poor general. Bolton’s text is full of entertaining antiquarian speculation. It was he who first put forward the notion that Stonehenge was erected by the ancient Britons in memory of the warrior queen. In the 17th century, antiquarians seemed most keen on Boudica. Aylett Sammes, another antiquarian and historian, composed a somewhat tongue-in-cheek tribute to Boudica and her daughters in his illustrated history of Britain, Britannia Antiqua Illustrata, of 1676:
To war, this Queen doth with her Daughters move.
She for her wisdom, followed They for Love,
For what Roman force, Such joined powers could quell;
Before so murdering Charmes whole Legions fell.
Thrice happy Princesses had she rescued so,
Her Daughters honour, and her Countrys too;
But they being ravish’t, made her understand
This harder Beauty to secure, then Land.
Yet her Example teaching them to dye.
Virtue the roome of Honour did supply.
Sammes’ light-hearted verse had a serious point. Boudica and her daughters had been violated by the Romans and fought back as best they could, even if they were doomed to fail. How could three women stand against such a powerful foe?
Since her death, Boudica’s posthumous reputation is never easily characterised. A study of her reputation in British culture reveals no single ‘typical’ view of her, but rather a varied sense of her importance to different individuals and groups. Insofar as we can draw any conclusions about how she has been viewed, it seems clear that people have embraced her as a heroic figure. But we need to be cautious when approaching questions of ‘the past in the past’. Audiences from the reign of Elizabeth I onwards have tended to respond positively to Boudica, even to the point of disowning negativity.
By the end of the 18th century, the misogynistic views of Milton and the naked instrumentality of playwrights such as Glover, would give way to a multifaceted and complex heroic identity for Boudica. She was celebrated by female authors as a suitable heroine for children and young women, albeit with the caveat that suicide was no fitting death for a Christian lady. In Heroines of History (1854), Mrs O.F. Owens wrote of Boudica’s demise:
Contempt for death, and the reception of it with an exaggerated welcome, formed the grand basis of barbarian virtue; and the woman who fell by her own hand, was formerly an object of applause and example. Now the consolatory doctrine of Christianity teaches us a nobler lesson. The great principle of worldly probation, is the endurance of afflictions, which are ‘but for a moment’, by the exercise of a faith, constant and inviolate, in the unseen.
Boudica could neatly illustrate the dangers of paganism while displaying native pluck and patriotic fervour. Yet there was one aspect of Boudica’s identity that remained ambiguous well into the 20th century: what did it mean for an ancient heroine to be ‘British’? There was a vocal minority in Wales who claimed Boudica as a uniquely Welsh heroine due to the fact that there were no English people in ancient Britain, only Celts. The Celtic Welsh could therefore claim ownership of the Celtic Boudica, or Buddug, as she was known within the growing Celtic nationalist movement. But they faced an uphill struggle in convincing ordinary Welsh men and women of this version of history. When the new Cardiff City Hall was being decorated with statues of Welsh heroes in the early 20th century, the public took a vote on whose likenesses should feature in the ‘Welsh Valhalla’. Queen Buddug garnered few votes. Instead, the Welsh public, when asked to vote for their nation’s exemplary female hero, voted for the hymn writer Ann Griffiths. This choice was simply ignored. To this day it is Buddug and her two daughters who remain the only female figures on display in the Marble Hall.
Boudica has had a storied posthumous life. As her various appropriations show, as with any aspect of culture, history can be both political and personal.
The times of boudica were extreme the land of the celts was more than mere property it had been won by war and held by
aggression and treaty. Lives had been lost and god’s appeased in the forests. The land was everything and so were the lives who hunted and gathered who planted and harvested here in these well managed tough won settlements. Rome like any invading force thought themselves superior and therefore made no apology for the destruction and appropriation of goods land and lives as slave labour. The warrior husband gone it fell to Boudica to challenge or surrender to the mighty legions of Rome. She consulted her people and the co-existing friendly tribes and contractually decided to fight. She was a queen backed into a corner and rather than yield she stood and echoed out of the celtic earth a scream of freedom the reverberates down the centuries of time. 2000 years and here I write of the powerful queen. The trade of friendship and co-existence brought some tribes together and the regard for liberty coincided and rumour brought warriors to the battle for Britain. To relieve the land of roman dominance. This would fail of course but she showed her metal she revealed her truth, her courage, her love she risked her life and that of her people. What other choice subservience or surrender? The choice she made handed the celts some autonomy.
Boudica a woman, a force of arms, a queen.
Martha Vandrei is the author of Queen Boudica and Historical Culture in Britain: An Image of Truth (Oxford, 2018).
“History – Boudicca.” BBC, BBC.
Mark, Joshua J. “Boudicca.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 28 Feb. 2019.
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Boudicca.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 23 Jan. 2017.
The sad thing or happy thing is you cannot put an old head on young shoulders that is to say children learn only what they are told. As we grow we form our own limited opinions and go through realizations that allow us to see our own reality. Someone born in 1960 passes on the morality of 1960 to a child born in 1980 and there by every person has to grow and find that new reality for their own existence and then the cycle again is passed on always from an out dated view. We wake from our illusions with time and then we have to adjust to our new or our own vision leaving behind what is not needed in the present. However some become stuck in yesterdays ideas and yesterdays indoctrinated theory which hinders in the renewal process while attempting to keep a societal equilibrium. History is integral to any study history of the person and the times and ideas that influenced the outcomes. The proper response to any study is to approach it from an empirical direction and and objective stance because you can hardly call anything research if you have preconceived the answer. Bias is a danger to study and so several different perspectives must be sought before any conclusion can be arrived at.. I studied social sciences and so a good portion of my study was research and how to question and perceive results and as history was an equal love I transpose my ideas to historical imperatives and sifting through concepts.