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The life and death of Boudicca

The life and death of Boudicca

“I am fighting as someone like you who has lost their freedom. I am fighting for my bruised body. The gods will grant us the revenge we deserve.”

These are the inspirational words of Boudicca. Boudicca was a fierce and fiery redheaded warrior.

Who was Boudicca?

Boudicca is known as the Warrior Queen of the Iceni People. Her husband, Prasutagus, was the King of Iceni. Iceni, is now known as Norfolk – a small county in East Anglia in England.

Boudicca and Prasutagus were only blessed with two daughters throughout their rein. This meant that when Prasutagus died in 60 CE, he had no male heir. Prasutagus gave his private wealth and fortune to his two daughters and the Roman Emperor, Nero. Prasutagus trusted Nero to protect his family, and his kingdom. Instead, after Prasutagus’ death, the Romans humiliated his family, and took over his territory.

Soon after, Boudicca decided to fight for her husband’s legacy. In 60 CE, Boudicca led the Iceni rebels against the Roman rule. The Romans were hugely outnumbered by the Iceni rebels – rumour has it there were around 230,000 Iceni warriors. The famous battle was named: The Battle of Watling Street.

According to the Roman historian Tacitus, Boudicca and her rebels assassinated 70,000 Roman warriors. Unfortunately, despite their small successes, Boudicca and the Iceni rebels ultimately lost the battle. The Romans had won.

When it comes to the demise of Boudicca, it gets tricky. It is well-known, that Boudicca died soon after her unsuccessful battle with the Romans. But, how did she die?

Rumour has it that Boudicca poisoned herself – an act of suicide to avoid being captured by the Romans who were seeking revenge. However, some historians note that Boudicca’s death was due to shock, or an illness. Either way, she was given a lavish burial by her followers.

Boudicca’s two daughters also survived the battle. Nonetheless, their whereabouts also went unrecorded. There are rumours regarding the daughters also committing suicide, to avoid being held captive by the Roman’s. However, there are also theories surrounding the two girls hiding for the rest of their lives – far from Roman territory, of course.

Boudicca’s legacy made its way through to the 20th century. Her face was featured on many banners, plays, and works of art during the women’s suffrage movement. As a strong warrior that also embodies femininity, Boudicca was looked at as a heroic motivator during the call for gender equality.

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During the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) procession in 1908, the suffragists carried a large banner that commemorated Boudicca (also spelt Boadicea).

Just like how Boudicca was extremely resilient and motivated towards her cause, the suffragists mirrored these behaviour traits towards their protest movement.

In her memory, there is also a statue of Boudicca in Embankment, London. The statue depicts Boudicca holding her sword in the air with pride. She is stood on a cart, being pulled by two horses.

Although Boudicca and the Iceni rebels lost their protest against the Roman rule in 60 CE, Boudicca will forever be remembered for being a female icon, together with her resilience, loyalty, strength motivation, and of course – her red hair!

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