Thursday, July 29, 2010
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Boudica (also spelled Boudicca), formerly known as Boadicea and known in Welsh as "Buddug" (d. AD 60 or 61) was a queen of a Celtic tribe who led an uprising of the tribes against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire.
Her husband, Prasutagus, was the king of Iceni, people who inhabited roughly what is now Norfolk. They initially were not part of the territory under direct Roman control, having voluntarily allied themselves to Rome following Claudius' conquest of AD 43. They were jealous of their independence and had revolted in AD 47 when the then-governor Publius Ostorius Scapula threatened to disarm them. Prasutagus lived a long life of conspicuous wealth, and, hoping to preserve his line, made the Roman emperor co-heir to his kingdom along with his wife and two daughters.
However, when he died his will was ignored. The kingdom was annexed as if conquered, Boudica was flogged and her daughters 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 in north Wales, Boudica led the Iceni people, along with the Trinovantes and others, in revolt. They destroyed Camulodunum (modern Colchester), formerly the capital of the Trinovantes, but now a colonia (a settlement for discharged Roman soldiers) and the site of a temple to the former emperor Claudius, which was built and maintained at local expense. They also routed a Roman legion, the IX Hispana, sent to relieve the settlement. On hearing the news of the revolt, Suetonius hurried to Londinium (London), the twenty-year-old commercial settlement that was the rebels' next target. Concluding he did not have the numbers to defend it, Suetonius evacuated and abandoned it. It was burnt to the ground, as was Verulamium (St Albans). An estimated 70,000–80,000 people were killed in the three cities (though the figures are suspect). 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 the island, but Suetonius' eventual victory over Boudica secured Roman control of the province. Boudicca then killed herself so she would not be captured, or fell ill and died; Tacitus and Dio differ.*
Tacitus and Dio agree that Boudica was of royal descent. Dio says that she was "possessed of greater intelligence than often belongs to women", that she was tall, had long blonde hair down to her hips, a harsh voice and a piercing glare, and habitually wore a large golden necklace (perhaps a torc), a many-coloured tunic, and a thick cloak fastened by a brooch.
* According to Tacitus, Boudica poisoned herself; Dio says she fell sick and died, and was given a lavish burial.
TOOBNOTE: Although we're featuring Alex Kingston's portrayal today, it will be Sian Phillips' interpretation that will be the official Toobworld version of Boudica. After all, she gave a more detailed performance, thanks to the luxury of a six episode series in which to fully bring the warrior queen to life.
It's just that Alex Kingston's televersion provided more pictures and I just happen to lover her as River Song in 'Doctor Who'......