Boudicca

Died 60/61 AD

Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni, was the wife of Prasutagus, king of the Iron Age Iceni tribe, a British tribe that occupied what is now Norfolk, eastern Cambridgeshire, and northern Suffolk from 1st century BC until 1st century AD.

The Iceni had entered into an alliance with the Romans, paid tribute, and supplied a quota of troops.  They revolted in AD 47 they were deprived of their weapons, in accordance with Roman law. Prasutagus died about AD 60, having made the Roman emperor Nero coheir to his kingdom, together with his two daughters; a common practice to safeguard the future both of his family and land. However Tacitus, a senator and historian of the Roman Empire, (Tacitus, Annals, xiv.31) tells us that his estates were plundered ‘as though the spoils of war’ and his wife Boudicca was flogged and her daughters raped.

Meanwhile, other tribes were suffering at the hands of the Roman colonists and the procurator of Britain, Decianus Catus, called in grants made by Claudius to pro-Roman Britons, deciding that they should be regarded as loans.

The Iceni fought back, attacking Camulodunum (Colchester), Londinium (London) and  Verulamium (St Albans) and massacring a reported 70,000 people. The tribes were finally routed, however, Boudicca was able to slip away, but died soon afterwards by poison (Tacitus) or illness (Dio’s Roman History).

Boudicca almost ended Roman rule in Britain.  Cassius Dio’s describes her as ‘very tall, in appearance most terrifying … [with] a harsh voice, and with a great mass of the tawniest hair [which] fell to her hips’ (lxii.2,3).

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