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  1. The Roman Empire: in the First Century. The Roman Empire. Enemies & Rebels. Boudica & Britain | PBS
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  3. Boudica: Warrior Woman of Roman Britain

The island was a sanctuary for refugees, as well as an important religious center for the Druids, and Paullinus, despite Roman tolerance for native religions, was determined to subdue it. Among them were black-robed women with disheveled hair like Furies, brandishing torches. Close by stood Druids, raising their hands to heaven and screaming dreadful curses.

Boudica Commander Guide, SMASHER of barbarians - Rise of Civilizations

The island was garrisoned and the sacred groves of trees, their altars red with blood, cut down. But, inexplicitly, the camp commander refused and, when Paullinus finally arrived in Londinium, he realized that, with the defeat of Legio IX, there were too few troops to defend it. The town, the most populous in Britain, was abandoned, and those who could not accompany the retreating army left to be slaughtered by the rebels. Nearby Verulamium St. Albans suffered the same fate.

Again, Tacitus describes what happened. By-passing forts and garrisons, they made for where loot was richest and protection weakest.

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Roman and provincial deaths at the places mentioned are estimated at seventy thousand. For the British did not take or sell prisoners, or practice war-time exchanges. In the meantime, Paullinus was marshaling his troops, nearly ten thousand men in all, including auxiliaries from local garrisons, and prepared to confront the enemy at a place that offered the best tactical advantage. He chose a position in front of a defile between surrounding hills, with open ground in front and the protection of a dense wood in the rear.

The battle may have been fought at Mancetter, on Watling Street midway between Mona and Londinium, where there already was a Roman camp. The legionnaires were drawn up tightly in the center, with the auxiliaries on their flanks, and the cavalry on the wings Dio has Paullinus place his men in three separate divisions. Their numbers were unprecedented [Dio puts the figure at ,, which clearly is an exaggeration], and they had confidently brought their wives to see the victory, installing them in carts stationed at the edge of the battlefield.

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The Roman Empire: in the First Century. The Roman Empire. Enemies & Rebels. Boudica & Britain | PBS

With her daughters in front of her, Boudica drove her chariot among the tribes, shouting encouragement, as the assembled Britons, compressed in the defile, struggled to come onto open ground. The Romans waited, hurled their javelins, and then shouldered their way forward in wedge formation, hacking their way through the throng. Dio describes the battle. Then, while their foes were still advancing against them at a walk, the Romans rushed forward at a signal and charged them at full speed, and when the clash came, easily broke through the opposing ranks The British chariots scattered the Roman archers, but then, without the protection of breastplates, were driven back by a volley of arrows.

The shock of the javelins, followed by the charge of the infantry, routed the Britons, whose escape was impeded by the wagons and dead animals in the rear that now blocked their retreat. The battle became a massacre; even the women, says Tacitus, were not spared. According to one report almost eighty thousand Britons fell.


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Our own casualties were about four hundred dead and a slightly larger number of wounded. The Iceni lived in eastern England, near modern-day Norfolk, and were a fiercely independent people who had voluntarily allied themselves with Rome after Emperor Claudius marched through and conquered southern Britain in 43 AD. Now, saying the Iceni were voluntary allies of the Romans is a bit of a stretch, because the relationship between the Iceni and the Romans was neither voluntary nor an alliance. Unfortunately, Prasutagus died in 60 CE, leaving behind Boudica and their two daughters.

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They will deface the sacred and will deflower our virgins. Win the battle or perish, that is what I, a woman, will do. In addition to passing their thrones and wealth to their female heirs, the Iceni people believed in training their women to be badass warriors. The Romans, it seems, had pissed quite a few people off in their quest to conquer-all-the-lands. Boudica was able to raise a large band of Celtic peoples to begin to fight back against their oppressive overlords.

The Romans got word that Boudica was marching on Camulodunum, and were either too arrogant or too stupid to do much of anything about it. The governor was away quashing another uprising in Wales clearly, the Romans were super popular , so he sent a lightly armed force of men in his place to protect the city. Thornycroft first began his statue in the s, when he was struggling to secure commissions. He found himself with an abundance of two things artists thrive on: time and an emotional predicament that lent itself to self-expression.

He worked on the statue for 20 years and when he died in it was still only a plaster model. 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 to represent the town. Audiences from the reign of Elizabeth I onwards have tended to respond positively to Boudica, even to the point of disowning negative portrayals. A case in point is the critical reaction to a play about Boudica produced in Glover, a politician first and a playwright second, was most concerned with getting across his political message: private prejudice had no part to play in public life.

But Glover let slip the subtleties of dramatic composition that critics and audiences most valued. His play was a flop. Irrational mood swings and errors of judgment abound. One might imagine this not playing well with a modern audience, but it fared no better in the s. This was not a comment on the historical Boudica. It was rarely restaged and only after major revisions were made to it was it briefly revived in the first decade of the 19th century.

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.


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In Heroines of History , Mrs O. 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. Boudica could neatly illustrate the dangers of paganism while displaying native pluck and patriotic fervor.

Boudica: Warrior Woman of Roman Britain

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.

Queen Buddug garnered few votes.