Friday, 20 March 2015

Boudicca - "Win the battle or perish, that is what I, a woman, will do!"

"Win the battle or perish,
that is what I,
a woman, will do"
- Boudicca by Tacitus
Boudicca was born in about 25-30 CE in Colchester, South East England. She married King Prasutagus of the Iceni tribe, East Anglia, in 43-45 CE and had two daughters. When the Romans conquered Southern England in 43 CE, they allowed Prasutagus to continue his rule. 

However, after Prasutagus died in 60 CE, the Romans decided to rule the Iceni directly and confiscated the property of the leading tribesmen. They are also believed to have stripped and flogged Boudicca and raped her two daughters. These actions brought resentment to the Roman rule.

In 60 or 61 CE, while the Roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was leading a campaign in North Wales, the Iceni conspired with their neighbours the Trinovantes, among others, to revolt against the Romans. Boudicca was chosen as their leader.

Boudicca was armed with 100,000 men attacked Camulodunum (Colchester) where the Romans had their main centre of rule. Camulodunum was burnt to the ground and leaving no survivors.

The next rebel's assault was on the largest, on Londinium (London), where 25,000 inhabitants were killed and parts of the city were burnt down.

Reports reached Suetonius, who gathered his forces to stop Boudicca in her tracks. Boudicca and her army marched on Verulamium (St. Albans), which was mostly populated with Britons who had accepted Roman rule. The inhabitants were killed as the city was destroyed around them.

"I am fighting for my freedom"
- Boudicca by Dio Cassius
Boudicca's army contained about 230,000 men and the Roman forces of Suetonius was only 10,000 men. The location of the final battle in 61 CE, is unknown, although it is believed that the site is in the West Midlands along the Roman road (Watling Street).

Boudicca's forces may had the numbers but they lacked the organizational, skill and equipment, which all contributed to her defeat. The Roman's lost 400 men and Boudicca lost 80,000.

It is uncertain on how Boudicca died. Tacitus claims she fled back to her tribe where she and her daughters drunk hemlock rather be captured by the Roman forces. However, Dio Cassius claims that the great queen died of illness.

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