Boudica was queen of the British Iceni tribe, a Celtic tribe who led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire.
Boudica's husband Prasutagus was ruler of the Iceni tribe. He ruled as a nominally independent ally of Rome and left his kingdom jointly to his daughters and the Roman emperor in his will. However, when he died, his will was ignored and the kingdom was annexed as if conquered. Boudica was flogged, her daughters were raped, and Roman financiers called in their loans.
In AD 60 or 61, while the Roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was leading a campaign on the island of Anglesey off the northwest coast of Wales, Boudica led the Iceni as well as the Trinovantes and others in revolt. They destroyed Camulodunum, which is modern Colchester. Camulodunum was earlier the capital of the Trinovantes, but at that time was a colonia—a settlement for discharged Roman soldiers, as well as the site of a temple to the former Emperor Claudius. Upon hearing the news of the revolt, Suetonius hurried to Londinium (modern London), the twenty-year-old commercial settlement that was the rebels' next target.
The Romans, having concluded that they did not have the numbers to defend the settlement, evacuated and abandoned Londinium. Boudica led 100,000 Iceni, Trinovantes and others to fight the Legio IX Hispana and burned and destroyed Londinium, and Verulamium (modern-day St Albans). An estimated 70,000–80,000 Romans and British were killed in the three cities by those led by Boudica. Suetonius, meanwhile, regrouped his forces in the West Midlands, and despite being heavily outnumbered, defeated the Britons in the Battle of Watling Street.
The crisis caused the Emperor Nero to consider withdrawing all Roman forces from Britain, but Suetonius's eventual victory over Boudica confirmed Roman control of the province. Boudica then either killed herself so she would not be captured, or fell ill and died. The extant sources, Tacitus and Cassius Dio, differ.
Interest in the history of these events was revived during the English Renaissance and led to a resurgence of Boudica's fame during the Victorian era, and Queen Victoria was portrayed as her namesake. Boudica has since remained an important cultural symbol in the United Kingdom. However, the absence of native British literature during the early part of the first millennium means that knowledge of Boudica's rebellion comes solely from the writings of the Romans. ...more