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Boudica : British sympathy for Roman imperial progress evaporated when officials began asset-stripping the country.

Based on ‘Roman History’ Book LXII by Cassius Dio (155–235), and ‘Annals’ Book XIV by Cornelius Tacitus, written in about AD 109.

These events follow on from The Battle of Ynys Mon.

In AD 60, corrupt Roman officialdom pushed the dowager queen of the Iceni, in what is now Norfolk, too far. But Britain’s military Governor, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, was far away in Anglesey (dealing, as he supposed, with the last British resistance) when he learnt of it.

WHEN Prasutagus, King of the Iceni and a good friend of Rome, died in AD 60, Catus Decianus, Procurator of Britain, confiscated his lands in lieu (he said) of debts, kicking off a fire sale that saw Roman army veterans from Camulodunum help themselves to the treasures of his palace, raping his daughters and flogging his widow, Queen Boudica.*

In a fury of vengeance, Boudica raised a revolt. Standing tall in her chariot, with her mass of waist-length red hair and colourful robes, she fell on Camulodunum, flattened the town, and crushed the Ninth Legion, before moving on to Londinium and Verulamium.

There her rebels slew and mutilated the inhabitants in an orgy of blood-letting dedicated to Andraste, goddess of victory.

Paulinus raced back from Anglesey, and despite being outnumbered, defeated Boudica somewhere along Watling Street.

The embittered queen died in mysterious circumstances; but both Paulinus and Decianus were relieved of their responsibilities, and Rome’s policy in Britain subsequently became more humble.

* Camulodunum is now Colchester; other placenames in this story include Londinium (London) and Verulamium (St Albans). Watling Street is a Roman road leading diagonally across England from London to Shropshire.

Based on ‘Roman History’ Book LXII by Cassius Dio (155–235), and ‘Annals’ Book XIV by Cornelius Tacitus, written in about AD 109.

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Classical History (25) Roman Britain (4) History (405)

Picture: © Carole Raddato, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC-BY-SA 2.0. View original
The statue of Boudica (or Budica, Boudicca, or Boadicea in the Victorian era) near Westminster Bridge in London. Boudica’s revolt is a reminder of how quickly civilisation collapses into bloody chaos when vanity and entitlement takes hold of people in positions of power.
Based on an account by Cornelius Tacitus
(AD 56-117)

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