Queen Boadicea, or Boudica, is one of Britain’s greatest heroines. A statue of her stands on the Embankment, by Westminster Bridge, opposite the Houses of Parliament. She is remembered for her challenge to the dominance of the Romans nearly 2000 years ago. Boadicea is her Latin name although another variation is Buduica. Her Celtic name is Boudicca and she was given a name by the Greek born Roman historian Dio Cassius that roughly translates to ‘triumph’ in English. Much of what we know of Boadicea is legend. It is recorded that following the death of her husband, King Prasutagus of the Iceni tribe of East Anglia in AD 59 or AD 60, Roman rule became increasingly repressive which resulted in Boadicea leading an avenging army that stormed and destroyed Roman Colchester (Camulodunum)and killed all its inhabitants. Her forces then intercepted a Roman relief force and destroyed all its infantry before sweeping westward across Essex to burn and sack an undefended London (Londinium). Shortly afterwards Roman St Albans (Verulamium) suffered the same fate. Boadicea’s then moved her army northwards. However, by this time they were over confident and undisciplined and fell into a carefully laid trap set by the Roman Commander Suetonius Paulinus. The Britons were annihilated and the revolt quashed. To avoid capture, Queen Boadicea is believed to have killed herself by taking poison.
However it should be noted that all the recordings of Boadicea’s revolt have come from two sources. Both are Roman and both written years after the revolt. There are no ‘British’ records of the insurrection, only those based on the Roman chronicler Publius (or Gaius) Tacitus and the Greek Roman Historian Dio Cassius.
Thus all the ‘facts’ on Queen Boadicea have come from the ‘other’ side and were written in Latin or Greek. It was literally a case of the ‘victors writing the history’ after the event. Yet much of the romance and myth that surrounds Queen Boadicea was created by the Victorians well over 1,800 years after the revolt took place.
There are many unanswered question too.
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Also check out our short video, BOUDICA’S LAMENT,
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