previous next

Boadice'a

(some MSS. of Tacitus have Boudicea, Boodicia or Voadica, and Dio Cassius calls her Βουνδοΰικα), was the wife of Prasutagus, king of the Iceni, a tribe inhabiting the eastern coast of Britain. Her husband, who died about A. D. 60 or 61, made his two daughters and the emperor Nero the heirs of his private property, hoping thereby to protect his kingdom and his family from the oppression and the rapacity of the Romans stationed in Britain. But these expectations were not realized; for Boadicea, who succeeded him, saw her kingdom and her house robbed and plundered by the Roman soldiers, as if they had been in a country conquered by force of arms. The queen herself was maltreated even with blows, and Romans ravished her two daughters. The most distinguished among the Iceni were deprived of their property, and the relatives of the late king treated as slaves. These outrages were committed by Roman soldiers and veterans under the connivance of their officers, who not only took no measures to stop their proceedings, but Catus Decianus was the most notorious of all by his extortion and avarice. At last, in A. D. 62, Boadicea, a woman of manly spirit and undaunted courage, was roused to revenge. She induced the Iceni to take up arms against their oppressors, and also prevailed upon the Trinobantes and other neighbouring tribes to join them. While the legate Paulinus Suetonius was absent on an expedition to the island of Mona, Camalodunum, a recently established colony of veterans, was attacked by the Britons. The colony solicited the aid of Catus Decianus, who however was unable to send them more than 200 men, and these had not even regular arms. Camalodunum was taken and destroyed by fire, and the soldiers, who took refuge in a temple which formed the arx of the place, were besieged for two days, and then made prisoners. Petilius Cerealis, the legate of the ninth legion, who was advancing to relieve Camalodunum, was met by the Britons, and, after the loss of his infantry, escaped with the cavalry to his fortified camp. Catus Decianus, who in reality bore all the guilt, made his escape to Gaul; but Suetonius Paulinus, who had been informed of what was going on, had returned by this time, and forced his way through the midst of the enemies as far as the colony of Londinium. As soon as he had left it, it was taken by the Britons, and the municipium of Verulamium soon after experienced the same fate: in these places nearly 70,000 Romans and Roman allies were slain with cruel tortures. Suetonius saw that a battle could no longer be deferred. His forces consisted of only about 10,000 men, while those of the Britons under Boadicea are said to have amonnted to 230,000. On the day of the battle, the queen rode in a chariot with her two daughters before her, and commanded her army in person. She harangued her soldiers, reminded them of the wrongs inflicted upon Britain by the Romans, and roused their courage against the common enemy. But the Britons were conquered by the greater military skill and the favourable position of the Romans. About 80,000 Britons are said to have fallen on that day, and the Romans to have lost no more than 400. Boadicea would not survive this irreparable loss, and put an end to her life by poison. Her body was interred with great solemnity by the Britons, who then dispersed. This victory, which Tacitus declares equal to the great victories of ancient times, finally established the Roman dominion in Britain. (Tac. Ann. 14.31-37, Agric. 15,16; D. C. 62.1-12.)

[L.S]

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: