Boudicca, queen of the Iceni
Boudica (victory in Celtic, also Boadicea or Boudicca, † 61) was a Celtic queen of the Iceni who was best known as the leader of the rebellion against the Romans in the year 61. What is known about her is from texts by Dio Cassius and Tacitus.
Very little is known about Boudica herself. During the rebellion, she had underage daughters, which may say something about her age. She only rebelled after a scandalous treatment by the Romans. Her army was brutal: all prisoners were killed in revenge for what had been done to the British.
According to the Roman writer Cassius Dio, Boudica was tall, her appearance impressive, the look in her eyes savage and her voice rough.
In 60 or 61, Prasutagus died without a male heir. In his will he left 2/3 of his belongings to Nero the emperor of Rome. However, he left 1/3 of his belongings to his two young daughters, which was prohibited by Roman law. According to the Romans, on the death of a vassal king, all his property was lost to the emperor. The Romans reacted excessively. Immediately after the death of Prasutagus, Decianus Catus and his men went to the palace of the Iceni and all property of Prasutagus was claimed. Prasutagus' wife Boudicca and their daughters were not spared either. After her protest was declared illegal, Boudicca was whipped in public, in front of her subjects. Her daughters were raped by Roman soldiers for their rebellious behaviour against Roman rule.
Because of the atrocities and fearing that this would never end, Boudicca decided to rebel. By then there were already some minor rebellions of British tribes against the Romans. Soon, a coalition between Iceni and other tribes All of South East Britain would have stepped in to support an army of 100,000 men.
After Boudicca's initial successes, a final battle followed in the West Midlands. The Romans - certainly no more than 10,000 in number - were confronted in the Battle between Boudicca and Paulinus by a typical British force, according to Roman texts 200,000 strong: the soldiers had painted themselves blue and wore British tartans. Many fighters fought naked, as was the tradition. The Roman soldiers were challenged with a lot of drum sound and shouting. However, Boudicca seems to have been tired and injured by then.
The Iceni, by far the majority and sure of a victory over the Romans, had invited family and friends to witness their victory. Despite displaying their bravado, number and confidence in victory, the Iceni and their allies proved no match for Suetonius. The Romans were superior in tactical terms. Boudicca was defeated and committed suicide by taking poison, according to Tacitus. However, that is not certain, because Cassius Dio mentions that she died from illness.
The Romans defeated the Iceni army, but a large part of the British managed to escape. Family and friends of the British fighters were also killed. The Iceni had to pay heavily for their rebellion: many lost their lives and their land was thoroughly destroyed. The rebellion ended. The domination of the Romans in southern Great Britain was inescapable.
Boedicca is a rewarding subject for miniature designers. A militant queen clearly appeals to the imagination. She can be found as a figure in all shapes and sizes. From plastic toy figure to 28mm wargame miniature. M&H recently released a 70mm flat figure.