History Podcasts

Boudicca (60/61 C.E.)

Boudicca (60/61 C.E.)

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An animated documentary about the Iceni queen Boudicca and her rebellion against Rome.


Book Review: “Boudicca’s Rebellion AD 60-61: The Britons rise up against Rome” by Nic Field

The story of Boudica, the Celtic Warrior Queen has always intrigued me. She rose in rebellion in the first century against the Roman Empire when they occupied Britain and had some success. I wanted to know more. In searching for sources, I found this book was available. The cover has an almost cartoonish drawing so I was a little dismayed. But I was wrong to be concerned. This is a very thorough account of Boudica’s rebellion with lots of valuable information.

Osprey Publishing specializes in military history books. They advertise that their books are “Accounts of history’s greatest conflicts, detailing the command strategies, tactics and battle experiences of the opposing forces throughout the crucial stages of each campaign.” This is certainly the case with this book. Author Nic Fields has an excellent grasp of the history of the Roman military. He details how the soldiers dressed, how the Roman army was organized, what weapons they used, etc. There are photographs of Roman military re-enactors, illustrating what they looked like. There are photos and explanations of archaeological evidence from the era along with maps and drawings.

Fields tells us about the primary sources: Tacitus and Cassius Dio. He gives thorough analysis of both authors, their accounts of the events and the differences and similarities. He explains how the Celts had no written records so we can only go by the Roman version of events. The sections of the book include opposing commanders, opposing armies, opposing plans, the campaign and the aftermath. I especially liked his detailing of the Celtic forces and the type of chariots they used to fight with and how they employed the chariots during battle.

My favorite section of the book talks about the location of the final battle between the Romans and Boudica’s forces. Tacitus and Dio do not give the actual location. The only thing we know is the battle occurred in the Midlands of Britain. Fields has identified a possible location and gives several photographs. This is really fascinating.

As mentioned, the book is filled with photographs. The illustrations of Peter Dennis are fantastic. He incorporates what we know about the Celts and Boudica herself. Certain items in the illustrations are numbered and there is a legend beneath the picture explaining the historical fact behind what you are seeing. I enjoyed the artist’s imagination very much.

So, I learned a lot about Boudica’s campaign against the Romans and this book made the time period come alive. I also learned about Osprey Publishing and will use them as a resource again for military history. I can highly recommend this book.


Ancient World History

Around 48 c.e., she became the wife of Prasutagus, king of the Iceni (50󈞨 c.e.), a Celtic tribe in modern East Anglia in eastern Britain. Boudicca bore Prasutagus two daughters.

The Iceni were among the tribes that had submitted to Julius Caesar after his invasions of 55 and 54 b.c.e. The Iceni prospered through trade with the Roman Empire between 65 b.c.e. and 61 c.e.


The Romans invaded Britain in 43 c.e. and made Prasutagus a client. In 60 c.e., with Roman forces busy fighting the Druids in Wales, the Iceni rebelled. Claudius, needing a quick popularity boost at home, sent 60,000 troops to Gaul.

The Iceni reaffirmed their submission, and Prasutagus kept his crown. Rome gave him military protection, funding and loans, employment, and education—as well as serfdom, slavery, and subordination.

The daughters’ names are unknown, but they were teens when Prasutagus died in 60 c.e. Boudicca became either queen or regent of the Iceni and guardian of the daughters’ inheritance.

Prasutagus left his daughters half his wealth, enough to cover dowries plus Roman taxes, tributes, and other expenses. He gave half his wealth to Rome to fulfill his client-ruler obligation.

Nero seized all his property because it was illegal to will to others over the emperor. Rome also drove Iceni nobles from their lands, enslaved and plundered, and demanded return of money given for the upkeep of the Iceni court. Boudicca protested.

The Romans took her hostage, stripped her, and “put her to the rods.” Meanwhile, Roman soldiers raped the daughters. Once freed, Boudicca led the Iceni, Trinivantes, and several tribes in a rebellion that lasted several months. The Iceni minted large numbers of silver coins to finance the rising of 60󈞩 c.e.

Boudicca was ruthless. Her army of 100,000 proud and warlike Celts gave no quarter. Men and women together, they had fought the Romans for centuries and earned Roman respect. Reportedly, one Roman legion refused to fight her.

Boudicca’s forces destroyed Londinium (London), Verulamium (St. Albans), and Camulodunum (Colchester) and killed thousands before the Roman governor, Suetonius Paullinus, crushed the rising. In the final battle the Romans massacred Celtic warriors and camp followers alike. Boudicca took poison. The rebellion killed more than 100,000 people.

After the defeat the Romans relocated the Iceni to Caistor-by-Norwich (also Caistor St. Edmunds) on the river Tas.


Boudicca

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Boudicca, also spelled Boadicea or Boudica, (died 60 or 61 ce ), ancient British queen who in 60 ce led a revolt against Roman rule.

What is Boudicca best known for?

Boudicca is known for being a warrior queen of the Iceni people, who lived in what is now East Anglia, England. In 60–61 CE she led the Iceni and other peoples in a revolt against Roman rule. Although her forces massacred some 70,000 Romans and their supporters, they were ultimately defeated.

How did Boudicca die?

Boudicca died shortly after losing her final battle. She is believed to have died either from taking poison or from shock or illness.

Where is Boudicca buried?

The location of Boudicca’s grave, subject to much speculation, is unknown. Suggested locations include Birdlip in Gloucestershire, Stonehenge, Norfolk, London’s Hampstead area, and somewhere under a train platform at King’s Cross Station in London.

Boudicca’s husband, Prasutagus, was king of the Iceni (in what is now Norfolk) as a client under Roman suzerainty. When Prasutagus died in 60 with no male heir, he left his private wealth to his two daughters and to the emperor Nero, trusting thereby to win imperial protection for his family. Instead, the Romans annexed his kingdom, humiliated his family, and plundered the chief tribesmen. While the provincial governor Suetonius Paulinus was absent in 60 or 61, Boudicca raised a rebellion throughout East Anglia. The insurgents burned Camulodunum (Colchester), Verulamium (St. Albans), the mart of Londinium (London), and several military posts. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, Boudicca’s rebels massacred 70,000 Romans and pro-Roman Britons and cut to pieces the Roman 9th Legion. Paulinus met the Britons at a point thought to be near present-day Fenny Stratford on Watling Street and regained the province in a desperate battle. Upon her loss, Boudicca either took poison or died of shock or illness.

Considered a national heroine of England, Boudicca inspired numerous books and movies.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.


5. Her forces then massacred the famous Ninth Legion

Though the Ninth Legion is best remembered for its later disappearance, in 61 AD it played an active role opposing Boudicca’s revolt.

Upon hearing of the sacking of Camulodonum, the Ninth Legion – stationed at Lindum Colonia (modern day Lincoln) – marched south to come to the aid. It was not to be.

The legion was annihilated. En-route Boudicca and her large army overwhelmed and destroyed almost the entire relief force. No infantrymen were spared: only the Roman commander and his cavalry managed to escape the slaughter.


Boudicca’s Early Years

Little is known about Boudicca's upbringing because the only information about her comes from Roman sources, in particular from Tacitus (56 – 117 AD), a senator and historian of the Roman Empire, and Cassius Dio (155 – 235 AD), a Roman consul and noted historian. However, it is believed that she was born into an elite family in the ancient town of Camulodunum (now Colchester) in around 30 AD, and may have been named after the Celtic goddess of victory, Boudiga.

As an adolescent, Boudicca would have been sent away to another aristocratic family to be trained in the history and customs of the tribe, as well as learning how to fight in battle. Ancient Celtic women served as both warriors and rulers, and girls could be trained to fight with swords and other weapons, just as the boys were.

Celtic women were distinct in the ancient world for the liberty and rights they enjoyed and the position they held in society. Compared to their counterparts in Greek, Roman, and other ancient societies, they were allowed much more freedom of activity and protection under the law.

Celtic woman were trained to use swords and other weapons. ( Journeying to the Goddess )


Notable Celts

Boudica and Her Daughters near Westminster Pier, London, commissioned by Prince Albert and executed by Thomas Thornycroft / Photo by A. Brady, Wikimedia Commons
  • Cartimandua, (or Cartismandua, ruled ca. 43 B.C.E. – 69 B.C.E.), was a queen of the Brigante], a Celtic tribe that lived between the rivers Tyne and Humber, that formed a large tribal agglomeration in northern England. She was the only queen in early Roman Britain, identified as regina by Tacitus.
  • Camma, priestess of Brigandu, wife of Sinatos.
  • Boudica, (also spelled Boudicca), and often referred to as Boadicea, outside academic circles, (d. 60/61 B.C.E.) was a queen of the Brythonic Celtic Iceni people of Norfolk in Eastern Roman Britain who led a major but ultimately failed uprising of the tribes against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. (See Battle of Watling Street)
  • Scáthach (Shadowy), a legendary Scottish warrior woman and martial arts teacher who trained the legendary Ulster hero Cúchulainn in the arts of combat. Texts describe her homeland as “Alpi,” which commentators associate with Alba, the Gaelic name of Scotland, and associated with the Isle of Skye, where her residence Dún Scáith (Fort of Shadows) stands.
Vercingetorix surrenders to Caesar. Illustration by Alphonse Marie de Neuville from the English 1883 edition of François Guizot’s The History of France from the Earliest Times to the Year 1789. / Wikimedia Commons

What did Boudicca do to the Romans?

Boudicca (died c.AD 60) However, when Prasutagus died the Romans decided to rule the Iceni directly and confiscated the property of the leading tribesmen. They are also said to have stripped and flogged Boudicca and raped her daughters. These actions exacerbated widespread resentment at Roman rule.

Subsequently, question is, where did Boudicca fight Romans? Watling Street was a strategic factor in the campaign and a suggested location for the final battle site. The decisive battle ending the Boudican Revolt took place in Roman Britain in AD 60 or 61 between an alliance of British peoples led by Boudica and a Roman army led by Gaius Suetonius Paulinus.

Herein, why did Boudicca lose against the Romans?

In conclusion, the reason Boudicca lost against the Romans in her final revolt was due to a simple reason. This was the key reason as to why Boudicca's revolt failed: Boudicca had set herself an unachievable goal and she was never going to come out on top, no matter what the outcome of her final battle was going to be.

Why is Boudicca important?

Boudicca was a British woman from a noble family in the Iceni tribe in southeastern England. She led a revolt against Roman rule in 60 AD (or CE, as it is often called today). She is significant for the results of her rebellion and, to some degree, as a national symbol in England.


  • Over time Boudica’s name has been spelled and pronounced in many different ways. Boudicca and Boadicea are common alternatives.
  • It has been estimated that between 70,000 and 80,000 people were killed in the towns of Colchester, St Albans and London by the rebel forces.
  • If you dig deep in the soil around Colchester you will find a layer of ash which archaeologists call the Boudican Layer, areminder of the destruction of the town 2000 years ago
  • Boudica and her daughters may have taken poison to kill themselves after their defeat.
  • The name Boudica means Victoria or Victory.
  • Boudica is described as being tall with long reddish brown hair and a harsh voice.
  • No one knows exactly where the final battle between Boudicca and the Roman forces took place but it is believed to have taken place somewhere in the Midlands near to Watling Street, the great Roman road.
  • Boudica's story has been linked to the lives of two other female British rulers, Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria. Victoria compared herself to the Iceni queen, and the face of the statue of Boudica which is on Westminster Bridge in London resembles her.
  • Statue of Boudica and her daughters
  • Drawing of an Iceni warrior
  • A map showing the territory of the Iceni and surrounding tribes
  • Reconstruction of an Iron Age roundhouse
  • Gold torcs from Norfolk, possibly part of a hoard of Iceni treasure

Sources

Boudicca’s story is recorded in the texts of two Roman authors, Tacitus and Cassius Dio. Tacitus wrote about Boudicca about 40 years after the event but based his record on the remembrances of his father-in-law Agricola, who was stationed in Britain at the time of the revolt and for many years during the aftermath.

The spelling of Boudicca’s name comes from Tacitus’ account, written in Latin, though many variations have been used over the years.

Cassius Dio (AD 150-235) wrote his history in Greek, and his account of Boudicca was probably based largely on that of Tacitus and other authors. It also only survives in an epitome. Nevertheless, Cassius Dio does provide details not included by Tacitus, such as a description of Boudicca as frighteningly tall with tawny hair that fell to her waist, a harsh voice, fierce eyes, and a terrible expression.

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Watch the video: Boudicca 6061. (November 2021).