Boudica’s Uprising

The Rise and Fall of an Iceni Queen

A. Grace

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A statue of Boudica and her daughters
14GTR, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

It was 43 AD, and the Roman Empire had set its sights on Britain, beginning its invasion in the south. Many tribes were annexed into the growing empire; However, the Iceni king, Prasutagus, remained independent by forging a political relationship with the Romans. Upon his death, Prasutagus left his kingdom to his two daughters and the Roman Emperor, Nero.

According to Cassius Dio, Prasutagus’s queen, Boudica, never agreed with the Roman occupation. When the conquerers reneged on their alliance and appropriated the Iceni kingdom around 60 AD, taking their property and freedom, Boudica was flogged and humiliated. Her daughters were raped.

Described as a tall and terrifying woman adorned with a gold necklace, Boudica united several tribes into a fearsome army of 120,000 soldiers. First, they took Camulodunum, beheading a bronze statue of Emporer Nero and taking the head as a trophy. Then, they invaded and destroyed the cities of Londinium and Verulamium. Boudica’s forces are said to have killed between 70,000 and 80,000 Romans.

The Empire, overwhelmed by their losses, considered withdrawal from the isles, but this would not come to pass thanks to a key victory by Roman General Suetonius. Suetonius waited with an army for Boudica’s forces along Watling Street, and there, she was faced with crushing defeat. The battle was so brutal that none were spared, be they man, woman, or animal.

It’s unclear what happened to Boudica and her daughters after the Iceni uprising was quashed. While no record of her children remains, contradictory sources attribute Boudica’s death to several causes, including illness, injury, or suicide. Regardless, her bravery and strength have earned her a place in British legend as a celebrated folk hero.

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A. Grace

Grace writes fiction & articles on various topics in the western U.S. She is also a photographer, dog mom, and nature lover! Buy her a coffee: Ko-fi.com/agrace