Boudica

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Statue of Boudica near Westminster Pier, London, with her two daughters upon a chariot.

Boudica (also spelled Boadicea and Boudicca) (25-62AD) was a queen of the Iceni during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. The Iceni were a Celtic tribe during the Roman occupation of Britain that inhabited the northern part of the area now known as East Anglia .

Prasutagus, King of the Iceni, ruled as a nominally independent ally of Rome following Claudius's conquest of Britain in 43 AD. When he died, he left his kingdom jointly to his wife, two daughters and the Roman Emperor. However, unlike the native Britons, Rome did not recognize female inheritance and annexed the kingdom. Under the orders of the new Roman Governor of Britain, Prasutagus's widow, Boudica was flogged and her daughters raped.

While the Roman governor was distracted by a campaign against rebels on the island of Anglesey in north Wales, Boudica led a revolt of the Iceni along with other native tribes. The Roman cities of Colchester (Camulodunum), St Albans (Verulamium) and Londinium were razed (burnt) so thoroughly that the thick layer of ash left is still clearly visible today. The Roman ninth legion was routed and between 70,000 and 80,000 civilians were said to have been killed.

After her initial successes, the Roman forces rallied against the revolt and engaged with the rebels in the Battle of Watling Street. Despite overwhelming numerical supremacy Boudica's disorganised army was defeated by the Roman's superior tactics. It is said that following the defeat she committed suicide by taking poison[1].

She is usually depicted riding a chariot with scythes attached to its wheels. Tacitus describes her sympathetically, stating that she was terrifying of mien and that she had red hair.

References

  1. [1] Encyclopaedia Romana: Boudica
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