P. Suetonius the Romane with a fresh power assalteth the Britains, whose armie consisted as Well of women as men: queene Voadicia incourageth hir souldiers, so dooth Suetonius his warriors, both armies haue a sharpe conflict, the Britains are discomfited and miserablie slaine, the queene dieth, Penius Posthumus hilleth himselfe, the Britains are persecuted with fire, swoord, and famine, the grudge between Cassicianus and Suetonius, whome Polycletus is sent to reconcile, of his traine, and how the Britains repined at him.
The Xiij. Chapter.
IN this meane time there came ouer to the aid of Suetonius, the legion surnamed the 14, and other bands of souldiers and men of warre, to the number of ten thousand in the whole, wherevpon (chieflie bicause vittels began to faile him) he prepared to giue battell to his enimies, and chose out a plot of ground verie strong within straits, and backed with a wood, so that the enimies could not assault his campe but on the front: yet by reason of their great
The Britains were at that time 230000. men, (as Dion writeth.)
multitude and hope of victoria conceiued by their late prosperous successe, the Britains vnder the conduct of quéene Voadicia aduentured to giue battell, hauing their women there to be witnesses of the victorie, whome they placed in charrets at the vttermost side of their field.
Corn. Tacit. li. 15. Dion Cassius.
Voadicia, or Boudicia (for so we find hir written by some copies, and Bonuica also by Dion) hauing hir daughters afore hir, being mounted into a charret, as she passed by the souldiers of ech sundrie countrie, told them "it was a thing accustomed among the Britains to go to the warres vnder the leading of women; but she was not now come foorth as one borne of such noble ancestors as she was descended from, to fight for hir kingdome and riches; but as one of the meaner sort, rather to defend hir lost libertie, and to reuenge hir selfe of the enimie, for their crueltie shewed in scourging hir like a vagabond, and shamefull deflouring of hir daughters: for the licentious lust of the Romans was so farre spred and increased, that they spared neither the bodies of old nor yoong, but were readie most shamefullie to abuse them, hauing whipped hir naked being an aged woman, and forced hir daughters to satisfie their filthie concupiscence: but (saith she) the gods are at hand readie to take iust reuenge.
"The legion that presumed to incounter with vs is slaine and beaten downe. The residue keepe them close within their holds, or else séeke waies how to flee out of the countrie: they shall not be once able so much as to abide the noise and clamor of so manie thousands as we are héere assembled, lesse the force of our great puissance and dreadfull hands. If ye therefore (said she) would wey and consider with your selues your huge numbers of men of warre and the causes why ye haue mooued this warre, ye would surelie determine either in this battell to die with honour, or else to vanquish the enimie by plaine force, for so (quoth she) I being a woman am fullie resolued, as for you men ye maie (if ye list) liue and be brought into bondage."
"Neither did Suetonius ceasse to exhort his people: for though he trusted in their manhood, yet as he had diuided his armie into three battels, so did he make vnto ech of them a seuerall oration, willing them not to feare the shrill and vaine menacing threats of the Britains, sith there was among them more women than men, they hauing no skill in warrelike discipline, and heereto being naked without furniture of armour, would foorthwith giue place when they should féele the sharpe points of the Romans weapons, and the force of them by whom they had so often béene put to flight. In manie legions (saith he) the number is small of them that win the battell. Their glorie therefore should be the more, for that they being a small number should win the fame due to the whole armie, if they would (thronging togither) bestow their weapons fréelie, and with their swoords and targets preasse forward vpon their enimies, continuing the slaughter without regard to the spoile, they might assure themselues when the victorie was once atchiued to haue all at their pleasures."
Such forwardnesse in the souldiers followed vpon this exhortation of the couragious generall, that euerie one prepared himselfe so readilie to doo his dutie, and that with such a shew of skill and experience, that Suetonius hauing conceiued an assured hope of good lucke to follow, caused the trumpets to sound to the battell. The onset was giuen in the straits, greatlie to the aduantage of the Romans, being but a handfull in comparison to their enimies. The fight in the beginning was verie sharpe and cruell, but in the end the Britains being a let one to another (by reason of the narrownesse of the place) were not able to susteine the violent force of the Romans their enimies, so that they were constreind to giue backe, and so being disordered were put to flight, and vtterlie discomfited,
There were slaine of the Britains that day few lesse than 80000 thousand
, as Tacitus
80000. Britains slaine.
writeth. For the straits being stopped with the charrets, staied the flight of the Britains, so as they could not easilie escape: and the Romans were so set on reuenge, that they spared neither man nor woman, so that manie were slaine in the battell, manie amongst the charrets, and a great number at the woods side, which way they made their flight, and manie were taken prisoners. Those that escaped, would haue fought a new battell, but in the meane time Voadicia, or Bonuica deceassed of a naturall infirmitie, as Dion Cassius writeth, but other say that she poisoned hir selfe, and so died, because she would not come into the hands of hir bloodthirstie enimies. There died of the Romans part in this most notable battell 400, and about the like number were grieuouslie hurt and most pitifullie wounded.
Penius Posthumous maister of the campe of the second legion, vnderstanding the prosperous
Penius Posthumus sleieth himselfe.
successe of the other Romane capteins, because he had defrauded his legion of the like glorie, and had refused to obeie the commandements of the generall, contrarie to the vse of warre, slue himselfe.
After this all the Romane armie was brought into the field to make an end of the residue of the warre. And the emperour caused a supplie to be sent out of Germanie being 2000 legionarie souldiers, and 8 bands of aids, with 1000 horssemen, by whose comming the bands of the ninth legion were supplied with legionarie souldiers, and those bands and wings of horssemen were appointed to places where they might winter, and such people of the Britains as were either enimies, or else stood in doubt whether to be friends or enimies in déed, were persecuted with fire and sword.
But nothing more afflicted them than famine, for whilest euerie man gaue himselfe to the warre, and purposed to haue liued vpon the prouision of the Romans and other their enimies, they applied not themselues to tillage, nor to anie husbanding of the ground, and long it was yer they (being a fierce kind of people) fell to embrace peace, by reason that Iulius
Julius Cassicianus procurator.
Cassicianus, who was sent into Britaine as successor to Catus, fell at square with Suetonius, and by his priuat grudge hindered the prosperous successe of publike affaires. He sticked not to write to Rome, that except an other were sent to succéed in the roome that Suetonius did beare, there would be no end of the warres. Herevpon one Polycletus, which sometime had béene a bondman, was sent into Britaine, as a commissioner to surueie the state of the countrie, to reconcile the legat and procurator, & also to pacifie all troubles within the Ile.
The port which Polycletus bare was great, for he was furnished with no small traine that attended vpon him, so that his presence seemed verie dreadfull to the Romans. But the Britains that were not yet pacified, thought great scorne to see such honorable capteins and men of warre as the Romans were, to submit themselues to the order of such a one as had béene a bondslaue.