Queen Boadicea: The Victorious Warrior of Britain

A woman who “possessed [ ] greater intelligence than often belongs to women”, as described by the Roman historian Cassius Dio, Boadicea was the Queen of the British tribe Iceni who led an uprising against forces of the Roman Empire.  Boadicea was an incredibly fierce, strong, and courageous woman of her time.  Her acts as well as her appearance captured this essence about her, for she was  very tall. Her eyes seemed to stab you. Her voice was harsh and loud. Her thick, reddish-brown hair flung down below her waist. She always wore a great golden torc around her neck and a flowing tartan cloak fastened with a brooch,” claimed Dio.  Her name fit her perfectly, as it meant “victory” or “victorious.”

Boadicea was born into a royal family around 26 A.D.  Her husband was King Prasutagus, ruler of the Iceni tribe, which is now Norfolk, England.  He ruled the Iceni tribe under the sovereignty of the Romans.  Upon Prasutagus’ death in the year 59, Rome seized all of his property as well as the property of other Iceni tribe members.  During Rome’s take over of the tribe, they publicly flogged the king’s wife, Boadicea, and raped his two daughters.  Infuriated by this, Boadicea moved the people of Iceni along with other neighboring tribes such as the Trinovantes, who experienced similar maltreatment from the Roman Empire, and led a revolt in 60 A.D.

Boadicea gathered a force of 120,000 people and marched to the Roman City of Camulodunum, present day Colchester, and completely destroyed the city.  Their next target was the city of Londinium, which they also left in burnt ruins.  Following the destruction of Londinium, Rome’s governor Suetonius assembled an army of 10,000 against Boadicea and her army.  The final battle of the uprising took place in the Midlands of England where Boadicea’s army was finally defeated.  Although her army outnumbered Suetonius’s army, the Romans were far more equipped, skilled, and experienced.  80,000 Iceni were slaughtered during the battle, as opposed to the 400 Romans.  While Boadicea did not die in battle, it is believed that she soon after took her life by poisoning herself rather than being taken alive by the Romans.

Although Boadicea may have not won the battle, she is still greatly honored in British folk history.  In 1902, a bronze statue of her riding in her chariot was placed on the Thames embankment next to the House of Parliament in the Roman capital of Britain, Londinium.

It is really fascinating to have learned about a female warrior in history.  How often do we hear of female warriors who have led battles in history? Very rarely or never.  Boadicea was truly an extraordinary woman who took the initiative to fight against injustice and did not let her sex stand in her way.  More women of her kind need to be honored and spoken about.

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