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Boudicca

 “She was huge of frame, terrifying of aspect and with a harsh voice. A great mass of bright red hair fell to her knees…..”

boadicea3sBoudicca, also called Boadicea, was queen of the Iceni tribe, the Celtic people who inhabited the northern part of East Anglia at the time of the Roman invasion two thousand years ago.

Her husband Prastutagus, the king of the Iceni, had agreed to become a client king of the Roman invaders in return for being left to run his kingdom with only minimal Roman interference. When he died, he made the mistake of leaving half his kingdom to his two daughters and the other half to the Roman emperor – perhaps hoping this would win favour for his family and tribe.

Under Roman law, daughters could not inherit so the Romans decreed that all should pass to the emperor. When Boudicca tried to challenge this she was whipped like a common slave and her daughters were beaten and violated. This enraged Boudicca and the Iceni and thus the revolt which killed thousands and frightened mighty Rome, master of the known world, was begun.

Neighbouring tribes including the Trinovantes had long resented the presence of the Romans and quickly joined the huge army 100,000 strong, gathered together by Boudicca. She led them first to Camulodunum (Colchester) where Romans and their sympathisers were slain in their thousands and then on to Londinium (London) where again there was huge slaughter. It is said the entire Ninth Legion was wiped out. The Romans had not seen the revolt brewing and were anyway concentrating on fighting the Druids on the isle of Mona (Anglesey). They were very nearly defeated and driven out of Britain altogether, rocked by the ferocity of Boudicca and her followers.

The Romans rallied however and fought back. Boudicca’s army might by now have numbered nearly a quarter of a million – but superior Roman discipline and organisation eventually triumphed and an outnumbered Roman army defeated Boudicca in a battle which probably took place somewhere in the Midlands. Rather than being taken by the Romans, it is said Boudicca killed herself and her daughters. The Romans stayed in Britain for another 400 years leaving Britain ready for her next, perhaps better known and better loved hero – Arthur. Arthur may or may not have been real, but Boudicca most certainly was real. Some say she is buried in London under platform 13 of Kings Cross station…. Many say her ghost rides her chariot through Norfolk and Suffolk even now…

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