Episode 103-Boudica (plus Shownotes!)

Rome got more than they bargained for when they crossed this fiery tempered Iceni queen.


  • Prasutagus was Boudica’s husband and leader of the Iceni a Celtic tribe living in what we would now call the United Kingdom and was also an ally of Rome
  • Prasutagus died and in his will, he left part of his “kingdom” to Emperor Nero and part of it to his two daughters
    • Rome discounted Boudica’s claim to the throne because she was a woman
    • Rome seized all of the Iceni lands and the Iceni lost their status as allies and their lands were plundered
    • Romans said that the Iceni owed some money Pasutagus had borrowed immediately plus interest
  • In one historical account, Boudica was flogged and her two daughters raped by the Romans in the other this didn’t happen
  • She then decided that the Romans would pay for the way they’d treated her and her daughters and the plundering of the Iceni lands
  • She is cited as being so charismatic that warring tribes united under her and together they went off to attack the Romans
  • She first attacked Camulodunum (modern day Colchester) she killed the inhabitants and destroyed the settlement
  • Her army (it was more of a mob really) beheaded people, embalmed their heads and put them on their chariots. They then threw the bodies in rivers, people still sometimes find these bodies in rivers,
  • Governor Suetonius, the man who was in charge of this area of settlements, was off trying to stop another rebellion on the island of Mona, and so he couldn’t deal with the Iceni situation
  • Instead, Catus Decianus was in charge
  • He severely underestimated the situation and sent about 200 soldiers to try and squash Boudica’s rebellion, they did not defend Camulodunum
  • The Ninth Roman Legion (about 2,500 men at that point) was sent to defend Camulodunum but on the way there Boudica’s forces attacked them and slaughtered everyone except the cavalry who got away
  • Boudica then decided she wanted to take over Londinium, now London, and Governor Suetonius, back from squashing the other rebellion, arrived to defend the city then realized that there weren’t enough of them to defend the city.
  • Governor Suetonius, being a smart man, realized that if he tried to defend the city he would lose and there wouldn’t be enough men to defend the rest of the roman settlements so he let Boudica take over Londinium
  • Boudica marched on Londinium killed everyone left there and then burned the city to the ground
  • Boudica marched on Verulamium (modern day St. Albans) killed everyone and then burned it to the ground
  • According to the historian Tacitus while Boudica is off destroying Verulamium Suetonius decided to choose to defend the settlements by choosing to attack the Britons (Boudica’s forces) in a position so that there was an empty field with no things to hide around in front of them and thick forest that they wouldn’t be coming from, that way they couldn’t be cornered
    • Boudica’s army came and Governor Suetonius’s forces attacked them with Javelins. Many of the Britons died in this first attack. They tried to flee but they had brought so many supplies and people and animals in carts to set up camp after they won the battle that they were trapped between Suetonius’s forces and their own supplies.
      • The Iceni and the other tribes did not have suitable weapons to defend themselves as most of their weapons had been seized by the Romans when the Romans took over
      • They were pressed so close to each other that they couldn’t even grab their weapons to try and mount an attack
      • It was a massacre with the Romans slowly killing everyone including the women and children waiting in the supply carts.
  • According to the historian Dio Cassius her last speech was, I was whipped by the Romans when they tried to take our lands — and now I am fighting for my freedom. Think how many of us are fighting and why. We must win this battle or die. Let the men live as slaves if they want. I will not.
  • Boudica and her daughter’s deaths are surrounded by mystery she either poisoned herself to avoid being captured or was injured in battle and died
  • We do not know where this battle but it is now referred to as the battle of Watling street
  • Boudica’s uprising killed 80,000 roman citizens
  • Boudica’s uprising did not take back all the Iceni lands but it did do some of the things she wanted it to do
  • She gained revenge for the sacking of her city with the sacking of 3 roman cities and killed 80,000 Romans
  • It later served as an example for the Celts who did not have any major revolts after that one
  • It also showed the Romans that they had to be more respectful of the Celts and when the roman leadership was changed later on they built temples for Celtic gods and let the Celts have their own traditions














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