The Romans and Queen Boudica

The Romans and Queen Boudica

Queen Boudica and her army gave the Romans a major challenge. In AD 60, Boudica led an uprising against the Romans. Boudica was the queen of the Iceni tribe who lived in what is now East Anglia. What caused this major rebellion?

When Boudica’s husband,Prasutagus, died, he left his territory to the Romans and to his two daughters. By doing this, he had hoped to keep all parties happy that they had got part of his kingdom. When the Romans moved into the kingdom, they looted buildings and took people away to be slaves. Boudica claimed that the Romans flogged her and raped her daughters. This is what caused her to lead a rebellion.

Other tribes in East Anglia joined with the Iceni to fight the Romans. An army of about 30,000 men attacked the Romans but though they had numbers on their side, they were a ramshackle force with no organisation. However, they had one major thing on their side: the Romans were concentrating their efforts on defeating the Druids in Anglesey. There was no sizeable Roman army force in East Anglia. As a result, the Iceni had a clear run to the major Roman city of Colchester (Camulodunum) in Essex. Here they massacred the population of the city. It is said that everybody was killed – men, women and children. Just outside of Colchester, the Iceni and others killed soldiers from the 9th Legion who had tried to stop the rebels. It is thought that 2000 Roman soldiers were killed.

From Colchester, the rebels moved on to London (Londinium). Here a similar pattern of destruction took place. It is thought that 70,000 died here. Suetonius only had a small garrison defending London at this time. He ordered it to leave for its own safety. To him, trained soldiers were more important than civilians. St. Albans (Verulamium) was also attacked.

Suetonius returned with his force via Chester and Wroxeter. The tribe’s people by this time may have been too confident after their victories. Up against a disciplined and well-lead Roman army, they were heavily beaten.

The only written account we have on the rebellion comes from Tacitus, a Roman writer. He claimed that 80,000 Britons were killed in this battle, but this is likely to be an exaggeration. He also wrote that only 400 Roman soldiers were killed which is also highly unlikely. However, historians do accept that it was a major victory for the Romans that once again asserted their authority over the Britons.

What of Boudica? Tacitus claims that Boudica took poison and killed herself rather than face capture.


MLA Citation/Reference

"The Romans and Queen Boudica". HistoryLearningSite.co.uk. 2014. Web.






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