Boudica, Boadicea, Boudicea, Buduica, Buddug (Welsh)
Although Boudicca was not a goddess, she was a strong female warrior figure whose likeness can still be seen around England. She led her people against the invading Romans after an injustice to her family and her people, resulting in a lingering sentiment of British pride which remains today.
Boudicca was wife of Prasutagus, tribal king of the Iceni people of East Anglia. When the Romans invaded England in 43 CE, they allowed some local leaders to continue to rule. Prasutagus remained king, however the Iceni people were subjected to many injustices by the Romans.
When Prasutagus died, he left his kingdom jointly to his wife and two daughters as well as the Roman Emperor, in attempts to maintain good relations. However, this request was ignored. The Romans annexed the land and seized the property of local tribesman. To make up for Iceni debt, Boudicca was publically stripped and flogged while her daughters, thought to be around 12 at the time, were raped.
Instead of cowering with defeat, Boudicca refused to give up her kingdom and accept the brutality of the Romans. Due to the growing anti-Roman sentiment in England, she was able to rouse thousands of Iceni and other tribesman in a joint uprising against Roman rule. Through a series of successful battles, Boudicca and her army was able to destroy several major Roman hubs, including Camulodunum (Colchester), Londinium (London) and Verulamium (St Albans).
The Roman writer Cassius Dio described Boudica as “very tall. Her eyes seemed to stab you. Her voice was harsh and loud. Her thick, reddish-brown hair flung down below her waist. She always wore a great golden torc around her neck and a flowing tartan cloak fastened with a brooch.”
At the time of the London battle, Boudicca’s forces numbered upwards of 100,000. The death toll was great on both sides, with many Romans and Britons losing their lives. The crisis even tempted the Roman Emperor Nero to consider removing all Roman forces from Britain. However, Boudicca’s success was short lived.
Boudicca’s army suffered a brutal defeat by a Roman army led by the Roman Governor Suetonius. The details of Boudicca’s death are uncertain. Some say she poisoned herself to avoid capture by the Romans, while others say she fell ill and died of her wounds.
Boudicca’s legacy was generally forgotten until the England Renaissance, where there was a renewed interest in classical literature. Boudicca, whose name means ‘victory’, was portrayed as a namesake for Queen Victoria. A statue of Boudicca stands outside the House of Parliament in London, ironically, as London was conquered by Boudicca’s anti-imperialist army. Nevertheless, Boudicca has become an important cultural symbol in the United Kingdom and a source of British pride.
© The New Pagan (2014)