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Boudica (also Boudicca, formerly better known as Boadicea) (d. 60/61) was a queen of the Brythonic Celtic Iceni people of Norfolk in Eastern Britain who led a major uprising of the tribes against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. Upon the death of her husband Prasutagus, the Romans annexed his kingdom and brutally humiliated Boudica and her daughters, spurring her leadership of the revolt.
In 60 or 61, while governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was leading a campaign on the island of Anglesey in north Wales, Boudica led the Iceni, along with the Trinovantes and others, in a rebellion which destroyed the former Trinovantian capital and Roman colonia of Camulodunum (Colchester), and routed the Roman Legio IX Hispana under Quintus Petillius Cerialis. Boudica's army then burned to the ground the twenty-year-old settlement of Londinium (London) and destroyed Verulamium (St Albans), killing an estimated 70,000-80,000 people. Roman emperor Nero briefly considered withdrawing Roman forces from the island, but ultimately Boudica was defeated at the Battle of Watling Street by the heavily outnumbered forces of governor Suetonius.
The chronicles of these events, as recorded by the historians Tacitus<ref>Agricola 14-16; Annals 14:29-39</ref> and Dio Cassius<ref>Roman History 62:1-12</ref>, were rediscovered during the Renaissance and led to a resurgence of Boudica's legendary fame during the Victorian era, when Queen Victoria was portrayed as her "namesake". Boudica has since remained an important cultural symbol in the United Kingdom.
 Boudica's name
Until the late 20th century, Boudica was known as Boadicea, which is probably derived from a mistranscription when a manuscript of Tacitus was copied in the Middle Ages. Her name takes many forms in various manuscripts – Boadicea and Boudicea in Tacitus; Βουδουικα, Βουνδουικα, and Βοδουικα in Dio – but was almost certainly originally Boudicca or Boudica, derived from the Celtic word *bouda, victory (proto-celtic *boudīko "victorious") (cf. Irish bua, Buaidheach, Welsh buddug). The name is attested in inscriptions as "Boudica" in Lusitania, "Boudiga" in Bordeaux and "Bodicca" in Britain.<ref>Graham Webster, Boudica: The British Revolt against Rome AD 60, 1978; Guy de la Bédoyère, The Roman Army in Britain, retrieved 5 July 2005</ref>
Based on later development of Welsh and Irish, Kenneth Jackson concludes that the correct spelling of the name is Boudica, pronounced /bəʊˈdiːka:/, although it is mispronounced by many as /ˈbuːdɪkə/.<ref>Kenneth Jackson, "Queen Boudicca?", Britannia 10, 1979</ref>
Tacitus and Dio agree that Boudica was of royal descent. Dio says that she was "possessed of greater intelligence than often belongs to women", that she was tall, had long red hair down to her hips, a harsh voice and a piercing glare, and habitually wore a large golden necklace (perhaps a torc), a many-coloured tunic and a thick cloak fastened by a brooch.
Her husband, Prasutagus, was the king of Iceni, who inhabited roughly what is now Norfolk. They were initially not part of the territory under direct Roman control, having voluntarily allied themselves to Rome following Claudius's conquest of 43. They were protective of their independence and had revolted in 47 when the then-governor, Publius Ostorius Scapula, threatened to disarm them.<ref>Tacitus, Annals 12:31-32</ref> Prasutagus lived a long life of conspicuous wealth, and, hoping to preserve his line, made the Roman emperor co-heir to his kingdom along with his two daughters.
It was normal Roman practice to allow allied kingdoms their independence only for the lifetime of their client king, who would agree to leave his kingdom to Rome in his will: the provinces of Bithynia<ref>H. H. Scullard, From the Gracchi to Nero, 1982, p. 90</ref> and Galatia<ref>John Morris, Londinium: London in the Roman Empire, 1982, pp. 107-108</ref>, for example, were incorporated into the Empire in just this way. Roman law also allowed inheritance only through the male line. So when Prasutagus died his attempts to preserve his line were ignored and his kingdom was annexed as if it had been conquered. Lands and property were confiscated and nobles treated like slaves. According to Tacitus, Boudica was flogged and her daughters raped. Dio Cassius says that Roman financiers, including Seneca the Younger, chose this point to call in their loans. Tacitus does not mention this, but does single out the procurator, Catus Decianus, for criticism for his "avarice". Prasutagus, it seems, had lived well on borrowed Roman money, and on his death his subjects had become liable for the debt.
 Boudica's uprising
In 60 or 61, while the current governor, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, was leading a campaign against the island of Anglesey (called Mona by the Romans) in north Wales, which was a refuge for British rebels and a stronghold of the druids, the Iceni conspired with their neighbours the Trinovantes, amongst others, to revolt. Boudica was chosen as their leader. They drew inspiration from the example of Arminius, the prince of the Cherusci who had driven the Romans out of Germany in AD 9, and their own ancestors who had driven Julius Caesar from Britain.<ref>Tacitus, Agricola 15</ref> Dio says that at the outset Boudica employed a form of divination, releasing a hare from the folds of her dress and interpreting the direction it ran, and invoked Andraste, a British goddess of victory. It is perhaps significant that Boudica's own name means "victory" (see above).
The rebels' first target was Camulodunum (Colchester), the former Trinovantian capital and now a Roman colonia. The Roman veterans who had been settled there mistreated the locals, and a temple to the former emperor Claudius had been erected there at local expense, making the city a focus for resentment. Its inhabitants sought reinforcements from the procurator, Catus Decianus, but he sent only two hundred auxiliary troops. Boudica's army fell on the poorly defended city and destroyed it, besieging the last defenders in the temple for two days before it fell. The future governor Quintus Petillius Cerialis, then commanding the Legio IX Hispana, attempted to relieve the city, but his forces were routed. His infantry was wiped out: only the commander and some of his cavalry escaped. Catus Decianus fled to Gaul.
When news of the rebellion reached him, Suetonius hurried along Watling Street through hostile territory to Londinium (London). Londinium was a relatively new town, founded after the conquest of 43, but had grown to be a thriving commercial centre with a population of travellers, traders, and probably Roman officials. Suetonius considered giving battle there, but considering his lack of numbers and chastened by Petillius's defeat, decided to sacrifice the city to save the province. Londinium was abandoned to the rebels, who burnt it down, slaughtering anyone who had not evacuated with Suetonius. Archaeology shows a thick red layer of burnt debris covering coins and pottery dating before 60 within the bounds of the Roman city.<ref>George Patrick Welch, Britannia: The Roman Conquest & Occupation of Britain, 1963, p. 107</ref> Verulamium (St Albans) was next to be destroyed.
In the three cities destroyed, between seventy and eighty thousand people are said to have been killed. Tacitus says the Britons had no interest in taking or selling prisoners, only in slaughter by gibbet, fire or cross. Dio's account gives more prurient detail: that the noblest women were impaled on spikes and had their breasts cut off and sewn to their mouths, "to the accompaniment of sacrifices, banquets, and wanton behaviour" in sacred places, particularly the groves of Andraste.
 Romans rally
- See also: Battle of Watling Street
Suetonius regrouped with the XIV Gemina, some vexillationes (detachments) of the XX Valeria Victrix, and any available auxiliaries. The prefect of Legio II Augusta, Poenius Postumus, ignored the call, but nonetheless the governor was able to call on almost ten thousand men. He took a stand at an unidentified location, probably in the West Midlands somewhere along Watling Street, in a defile with a wood behind him. But his men were heavily outnumbered. Dio says that, even if they were lined up one deep, they would not have extended the length of Boudica's line: by now the rebel forces numbered 230,000.
Boudica exhorted her troops from her chariot, her daughters beside her. The historian Tacitus gives her a short speech in which she presents herself not as an aristocrat avenging her lost wealth, but as an ordinary person, avenging her lost freedom, her battered body and the abused chastity of her daughters. Their cause was just, and the gods were on their side: the one legion that had dared to face them had been destroyed. She, a woman, was resolved to win or die; if the men wanted to live in slavery, that was their choice.
However, the unmaneuverability of the British forces, combined with lack of open-field tactics to command these numbers, put them at a disadvantage to the Romans, who were skilled at open combat due to their superior equipment and discipline, and the narrowness of the field meant that Boudica could only put forth as many troops as the Romans could at a given time. First, the Romans stood their ground and used waves of javelins to kill thousands of Britons who were rushing toward the Roman lines. The Roman soldiers, who had now used up their javelins, were then able to engage Boudica's second wave in the open, which made the Roman phalanx potent and difficult to break. As the phalanx advanced in a wedge formation, the Britons attempted to flee, but were impeded by the presence of their own families, whom they had stationed in a ring of wagons at the edge of the battlefield, and were slaughtered.<ref>This is not the first instance of this tactic. The women of the Cimbri, in the Battle of Vercellae against Gaius Marius, were stationed in a line of wagons and acted as a last line of defence (Florus, Epitome of Roman History 1.38; Ariovistus of the Suebi is reported to have done the same thing in his battle against Julius Caesar (Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico 1.51).</ref> Tacitus reports that "according to one report almost eighty thousand Britons fell" compared with only four hundred Romans. According to Tacitus, Boudica poisoned herself; Dio says she fell sick and died, and was given a lavish burial.
Postumus, on hearing of the Roman victory, fell on his sword. Catus Decianus, who had fled to Gaul, was replaced by Gaius Julius Alpinus Classicianus. Suetonius conducted punitive operations, but criticism by Classicianus led to an investigation headed by Nero's freedman Polyclitus. Suetonius was removed as governor, replaced by the more conciliatory Publius Petronius Turpilianus. The historian Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus tells us the crisis had almost persuaded Nero to abandon Britain.<ref>Nero 18, 39-40</ref>
 Location of her defeat
The site of Boudica's final battle is unknown. Legend has it was at Battle Bridge Road, at King's Cross, London, and that Boudica herself is buried under Platform 10 at King's Cross railway station. However, based on Tacitus's account, it is unlikely Suetonius returned to London. Most historians favour a site in the West Midlands. Kevin K. Carroll suggests a site close to High Cross in Leicestershire, on the junction of Watling Street and the Fosse Way, which would have allowed the Legio II Augusta, based at Exeter, to rendezvous with the rest of Suetonius's forces.<ref>Kevin K. Carroll, "The Date of Boudicca's Revolt", Britannia 10, 1979</ref> Manduessedum (Mancetter), near the modern day town of Atherstone in Warwickshire, has also been suggested.<ref>Sheppard Frere, Britannia: A History of Roman Britain, 1987, p. 73</ref> More recently a new discovery of Roman artifacts in Kings Norton close to Metchley Camp has suggested another possibility.<ref>Is Boudicca buried in Birmingham?, BBC, 25 May 2006, retrieved 9 September 2006</ref>
 Historical sources
Tacitus, the most important Roman historian of this period, took a particular interest in Britain as Gnaeus Julius Agricola, his father-in-law and the subject of his first book, served there three times. He was a military tribune under Suetonius Paulinus, which almost certainly gave Tacitus an eyewitness source for Boudica's revolt.
Dio Cassius's sources are less certain. He is generally agreed to have based his account on that of Tacitus, but he simplifies the sequence of events and adds details, such as the calling in of loans, that Tacitus does not mention.
It is generally thought that Gildas, in his 6th century polemic De Excidio Britanniae, alludes to Boudica in his typically oblique fashion as a "treacherous lioness", although his general lack of knowledge about the real history of the Roman conquest of Britain makes this far from certain.<ref>Gildas, The Ruin of Britain 6; Fabio P. Barbieri, History of Britain, 407-597, Book 1, Chapter 2, 2002 (retrieved 5 July 2005)</ref>
 Cultural impact
 History and literature
By the Middle Ages Boudica was forgotten. She makes no appearance in Bede, the Historia Brittonum, the Mabinogion or Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain. But the rediscovery of the works of Tacitus and Dio Cassius during the Renaissance allowed Polydore Virgil to reintroduce her into British history in 1534. However he misinterpreted the "Voadicea" he found in Tacitus and the "Bunduica" in Dio Cassius as two separate women. Boudica's story was included in Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles and inspired Shakespeare's younger contemporaries Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher to write a play, Bonduca, in 1610. William Cowper wrote a popular poem, Boadicea, an ode, in 1782.
It was in the Victorian era that Boudica's fame took on legendary proportions. Queen Victoria was seen as her "namesake". Victoria's Poet Laureate, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, wrote a poem, Boadicea, and ships were named after her. A great bronze statue of Boudica in her war chariot (furnished with scythes after Persian fashion), together with her daughters, was commissioned by Prince Albert and executed by Thomas Thornycroft. It was completed in 1905 and stands next to Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament, with the following lines from Cowper's poem, referring to the British Empire:
- Regions Caesar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway.
Ironically, the great anti-imperialist rebel was now identified with the head of the British Empire.<ref>Graham Webster, Boudica: The British Revolt against Rome AD 60, 1978</ref>
Boudica's story is the subject of several novels:
- J. F. Broxholme (a pseudonym of Duncan Kyle), The War Queen (1967, ISBN 0-09-001160-0)
- Rosemary Sutcliff, Song for a Dark Queen, a 1978 historical novel for children,
- Manda Scott's series of novels, Dreaming the Eagle (2003), Dreaming the Bull (2004), Dreaming the Hound (2005) and Dreaming the Serpent Spear (2006)
- Joyce Doré's Hemlock, (2002, ISBN 1-898030-19-7)in which Boudica and her two daughters are taken to Rome, before Nero, who makes her drink hemlock. Doré claims to be a psychic and to have based the book on her conversations with the historical characters.
- Alan Gold's Warrior Queen (2005)
Boudica is referred to in other works of fiction, including:
- In Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (1847), Mr. Rochester asks Jane if the wedding carriage will be suitable to make the future Lady Rochester look like Queen Boadicea.
- The Harry Turtledove novel, Ruled Britannia, features a world where the Spanish Armada succeeded in taking over England. Ten years after the fact, Shakespeare is recruited by a band of rebels to write a play that would stir the English to rebel against Spain. The subject of the play is Boudica.
- In Alice Borchardt's Tales of Guinevere series, Guinevere is a direct descendent, on her mother's side, of Boudica.
 Films and television
Boudica has been the subject of two feature films, 1928's Boadicea, starring Phyllis Nielson-Terry, and 2003's Boudica (Warrior Queen in the USA), a UK TV film written by Andrew Davies and starring Alex Kingston as Boudica. A new film is planned for release in 2008 entitled Warrior, written by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, directed by Gavin O'Connor, and produced by Mel Gibson.<ref>Boadicea (1928), Boudica (2003), and Warrior (2008) at imdb.com</ref> A British TV series, Warrior Queen, was made by Thames Television in 1978 starring Sian Phillips as Boudica and Nigel Hawthorne as Catus Decianus.
Boudica was a character in an episode of the third season of Xena: Warrior Princess, called The Deliverer, where she was played by Jennifer Ward-Lealand. She was mentioned during the NCIS episode "Bloodbath". In the BBC sitcom The Vicar of Dibley, the first name of the main character, Geraldine Granger, is revealed to be Boadicea (Geraldine is her middle name).
In the 1980s children's television show Alvin and the Chipmunks there is a character called Boudikat, who appears in the episode "Romancing Miss Stone" from the third season. Boudikat is an aggressive feline creature, who constantly gets in the way of David Seville's attempts to Romance Miss Stone, with hilarious consequences. According to Roland Rivron, a leading expert on 80's cartoons, the Boudikat and thus Boudica were the inspiration not only for the legendary ThunderCats but also the jovial Bagpuss.
Boudica and her revolt have been the subject of numerous documentaries, including:
- Warrior Women episode 5, Discovery Channel, hosted by Lucy Lawless
- History Bites: "Xena's Evil Sister".
- Warrior Queen Boudica (2006), History Channel
- Battlefield Britain (2004) BBC
The Sláine series in the British comic 2000 AD included two runs, entitled "Demon Killer" and "Queen of Witches" (1993-1994), written by Pat Mills and illustrated by Glenn Fabry and Dermot Power, which featured a free interpretation of Boudica's story.
The 1990's comic book series Witchblade saw Boudicca as one of the original wielders of the Witchblade.
In Alan Moore's major work "From Hell", firstly printed on 1999, there is also a short reference to the history of Boudicca.
The Irish singer/songwriter Enya produced a song called "Boadicea" on her 1992 album The Celts. This track was first sampled by Scarface as the intro to his 1993 release The World is Yours. Later, it was most famously sampled by the rap group The Fugees for their single "Ready or Not" (from 1996's The Score), and most recently by Mario Winans (featuring Sean "P. Diddy" Combs) on his song "I Don't Wanna Know" (2004). The track was also used in the soundtrack of the film Sleepwalkers.
Scottish singer/songwriter Steve McDonald composed a biographical song called "Boadicea" on his 1997 album Stone of Destiny, detailing her life and tragic death.<ref>Stone of Destiny lyrics from Official Steve McDonald Fanlisting</ref> British rock band The Libertines refer to "Queen Boadicea" in their song "The Good Old Days", indicating a belief that her spirit still lives on in Britons today.<ref>The Libertines, "The Good Old Days" lyrics</ref> The British metal band Bal-Sagoth have written a song entitled "Blood Slakes the Sand at the Circus Maximus" (found on the band's album Battle Magic) which features an Iceni Warrior of Boudica's uprising being captured and brought back to Rome. Her name (always spelled "Boudicca") returns in the song "When Rides the Scion of the Storms" of the same album.<ref>Bal-Sagoth, "Blood Slakes the Sand at the Circus Maximus" lyrics, "When Rides the Scion of the Storms lyrics</ref>
Faith and the Muse produced a song, "Boudiccea" for their most recent album, Burning Season. The song suggests that Boudiccea may have committed suicide by falling on her sword.<ref>Boudiccea lyrics from the Faith and the Muse Site</ref>
 Other cultural references
There have been scattered reports that the restless spirit of Boudica has been seen in the county of Lincolnshire. These reports, dating back to the mid-19th century, claim Boudica rides her chariot, heading for some unknown destination, and many a traveller and motorist have claimed to have seen her. There has been some debate as to how long this has been going on. Some say that the queen's restless spirit has been appearing since her death, while other suggest that the revival of interest in Boudica's story in the 19th century might have summoned her spirit back to our world. As with all reports of ghostly activity, it is up to the individual to decide whether they are true or not.<ref>Dan Asfar, Haunted Highways: Ghost Stories and Strange Tales, 2003</ref>
In 2003, an LTR retrotransposon from the genome of the human blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni was named Boudicca.<ref>Copeland CS, Brindley PJ, Heyers O, Michael SF, Johnston DA, Williams DL, Ivens AC, Kalinna BH, "Boudicca, a retrovirus-like long terminal repeat retrotransposon from the genome of the human blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni". Journal of Virology 2003 Jun;77(11):6153-66; Copeland CS, Heyers O, Kalinna BH, Bachmair A, Stadler PF, Hofacker IL, Brindley PJ, "Structural and evolutionary analysis of the transcribed sequence of Boudicca, a Schistosoma mansoni retrotransposon". Gene 2004;329:103-114.</ref>
In 2005 Boudicca and the Belgic revolt was added to the board game Britannia after twenty years, having been omitted from the original edition. The Boudica spelling had been suggested during development, but traditionalism prevailed.
In 2006, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines announced their newest ship, entering service in early 2006, would be named Boudicca.
Indian queen Rani Lakshmibai is sometimes referred to as the Boudica of India.
Book 9 in Tom Clancy's Net Force Explorers series, Private Lives, features a character named Bodicea, who claims that her mother named her after the legendary queen.
 Further reading
- Vanessa Collingridge; Boudica, Ebury, London, 2004
- Richard Hingley & Christina Unwin, Boudica: Iron age Warrior Queen, 2004
 External links
- James Grout: Boudica, part of the Encyclopædia Romana
- Trying to Rule Britannia; BBC; 6 August 2004
- Iceni at Roman-Britain.org
- Iceni at Romans in Britain
- Boadicea may have had her chips on site of McDonald's by Nick Britten
- PBS Boudica / Warrior Queen websiteca:Budicca
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