Boadicea is a celebrated the war-queen who led an ultimately unsuccessful rebellion against the Roman occupancy of ancient Britain in the first century AD. Our knowledge of Boadicea stems from works of Roman historians, Tacitus and Cassius Dio's. Tactius's Agricola and Annals along with Cassius Dio's Roman History are the three major works that document the violent legacy of Boadicea. The only known description of her is found in Cassius Dio's work:
She was huge of frame, terrifying of aspect, and with a harsh voice. A great mass of bright red hair fell to her knees: She wore a great twisted golden necklace, and a tunic of many colors, over which was a thick mantle, fastened by a brooch. Now she grasped a spear, to strike fear into all who watched her... (Dudley and Webster, 54)
Cassius' illustration of Boadicea portrays an extremely intimidating and powerful woman who could kill just as easily as any man. Indeed, Celtic women (unlike many other women at the time) were trained to fight in the same way as men were.
Boadicea (known as Buddug in Welsh) was born around 30 AD in South East England. Eighteen years later in approximately 48 CE, she married Prasutagus, leader of the British Iceni tribe, located in the modern day country of Norfolk. The tribe was one of sixteen civitates or client kingdoms created by the Romans in Britain. The creation of civitates was the Roman way of governing the Celtic tribes that previously dominated Britain before Roman occupancy. Being a civitate, the Iceni tribe was given semi-independence from the Roman occupiers and Prasutagus was still permitted to rule his citizens. However, the Roman's still imposed high taxes and even slavery upon the Iceni tribe making relations with the Romans hard.
In hope of gaining the favour of the Romans, Prasutagus made the Roman Emperor, Nero co-heir of his the rule with his daughters and wife in his will. This action was not meant as an act of treachery, but rather an attempt to secure the safety of his people. This action was completely unsuccessful. When Prasutagus died in 59/60 CE, the Roman's completely ignored his will and seized the Iceni tribe as if they had conquered it. The Roman action was based upon the fact that Roman law did not allow rule to be passed down to female heirs nor did it allow co-heirs to exist. After a heated dispute regarding whether Iceni remained a civitate, the Roman soldiers publicly flogged Boadicea and raped her daughters. At the same time, the Roman's called in their loans and asserted their dominance over the humiliated Iceni tribe.
Atrocities like this were not only done to the Iceni tribes but other Celtic tribes as well. For example, tribes such the Trinobantes experienced similar abuse at the hands of the Roman Empire. This created an atmosphere of widespread unrest within all of the tribes of ancient Britain.
Now the natural leader of the Iceni tribe, Boadicea was determined to get revenge upon the...