Boudica I or Boudica the Great was the high queen of the Iceni tribe from c. 59 AD to 110 AD. She is known for her defense against the Roman Empire in 61 AD.
Born to the Iceni tribe at an unknown date, Boudica's life before her revolt is largely shrouded in mystery. It is known that she married Prastagus and produced at least two children through this marriage before becoming queen of the Iceni.
Against the Romans
Boudica's husband, Prasutagus, who had been an ally of Rome until his death, gave his kingdom to his wife and daughters in his will. The Roman Empire, however, had different plans. The tribe was betrayed and officially 'annexed' by the Roman Empire. Boudica and her daughters were taken to Londinium to be raped and flogged. Upset over the numerous violations and atrocities the Romans had committed, Boudica returned to her people to rally them to fight against the Roman Empire. Leading the attack, Boudica was able to keep the Romans out of Iceni lands. Boudica rallied many other tribes, namely the Trinovantes, to defend Iceni during the constant attempted invasions and bring the fight to the Romans.
The attacks began when Boudica and her followers assisted the Trinovantes in a revolt against the Roman Empire. The city of Camulodunon, the once-capital of the Trinovantes tribe and oldest city in Britain, was the first city to be attacked. Now a Roman town, the town was almost completely unfortified, making the raid on Camulodunon easy for the Celtic revolt. The attack lasted for days and resulted in the destruction of the town. The slaves being kept by the soldiers were freed and offered a chance to fight the Romans.
The Ninth Spanish Legion, under the command of General Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, had been called in to quickly exterminate the rebellion. The legion moved in to retake the city and crush the Celtic rebellion, but they were defeated by the Celtic tribes. Much of the legion, including Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, perished in the battle to retake Camulodunon. The Celts moved on to their next target; Londinium.
The march on Londinium followed days later. The city, prepared for an invasion by Boudica's forces, stood at the ready. Unfortunately for the small town, these fortifications were not enough. The Celts overwhelmed the city. Londinium, like Camulodunon before it, was methodically demolished and burned to the ground. It is estimated that over 80,000 people died in the attack, though these numbers are unreliable due to the mixed information from the Romans fleeing the town and the lack of information reported by the Iceni during the raids.
Verularnium fell soon after Londinium. The Celts, under Boudica, continued to relentlessly wipe out resistance and fortifications deployed by the Romans. Due to the death of Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, the Romans were at a loss for what to do. The Romans, stationed near OTL Exeter, met the Celts near Watling Street. The Romans, adept at open combat, had the upper hand. However, due to the poor leadership presented by General Gaius Suetonius Paulinus' replacement, the Celts were able to force the Romans into a retreat.
In late 62 AD, Boudica's forces gained reinforcements from the Trinovantes, Iceni, and many warriors from the Corieltauvi tribe, who had been inspired by the Iceni revolt and led their own revolution against the Romans. The numbers healed as the Celts regrouped to fight troops stationed in Bagendon. The Romans, now cut off from the eastern portion of the territory gained by the Iceni revolt, were forced to attempt to attack the Iceni head-on.
The Romans bolstered their ranks to fight the approaching Iceni off near the city of Durovernum Cantiacorum. The Romans were mistaken in assuming this, as the city of Venta Belgarum was attacked next. The attack split Roman Britain down the middle and separated the Roman forces. Emperor Nero, embarrassed and ashamed at his armies' incompetence, offered peace to the Iceni. Boudica, considering simply pushing on to take the rest of Britain, decided to accept the peace on one condition: the Romans release all British slaves. While the ultimatum was debated upon and almost rejected, Nero accepted. The Iceni tribe enjoyed peace.
Establishing Relations With Other Tribes
Boudica was known not only for her skills in combat, but also for her strong diplomatic skills. During the Roman assault, she was known for convincing other tribes to rally against the Romans. This usually worked and it established strong relations with the other Celtic tribes. Her diplomacy paved the way for the great Celtic kingdoms to rule the area for centuries to come.
Shortly after the Celtic Revolt of 61 AD, the Celtic tribes wished to retain their unity. This wish paved way for the Comhairle, an alliance of Celtic tribes created to prevent the destruction or invasion of any Celtic tribe within the alliance. Due to the influence created by the Iceni tribe, Boudica was unanimously chosen as Comhairleoir, the leader of the Comhairle.
As leader of the Comhairle, Boudica accepted many other tribes into the alliance. When the Vespasian Wall was created, the Comhairle saw it as a blight on the land. Boudica, aged but still willing to fight, led the assault on Vespasian's wall in 80 AD. The assault, costly to both sides, ultimately ended with the Celtics having to cease their assault on the wall and seek forgiveness and offer to pay for the damage. Boudica, injured in the assault, was forced to retire from the battlefield.
Boudica held her lofty position as head of the Comhairle until 101 AD, when she resigned due to degrading mental and physical health brought on by old age and Alenstún's Disease.
Boudica's health continued to decrease after stepping down as the leader of the Comhairle. Unfortunately, she began to forget many things she had done or seen. While most people today would realize that this is Alenstún's Disease (OTL Alzheimer's Disease), most people at the time assumed that she had been possessed. She was restrained and left alone for months, save for attempts at ridding her of the evil spirit. Methods of getting the evil spirit out failed, so they tried a last ditch effort. Rumor has it that they sliced her entire torso open in hopes of getting the evil spirit out. Others dispute this claim, saying she may have died of starvation or Alenstún's Disease. She lived to the age of 79.
LegacyOddly enough, the Iceni tribe refused to remove her from her throne until her death. Her granddaughter, Samára, became the next Queen of the Iceni tribe and the fourth head of the Comhairle. Her children led a long dynasty of rulers and important people in Iceni and other Celtic tribes. The last known direct descendant of Boudica lived until 1066 AD, when the Normans invaded Olmhór.
Ultimately, Boudica is remembered for the defense of Celtic Britain, the survival of the Celtic peoples, and a founding member of Comhairle. Boudica is fondly remembered to this day as a hero despite her bloody means of victory.