Whoosh! Issue 28 - January 1998

IAXS project #025
By John Clark Blankenbecklor
Content copyright © 1999 held by author
This edition copyright © 1999 held by WHOOSH
1307 words

Boadicea's Name (01-02)
Birth and Physical Description (03-04)
Marriage (05-06)
The Rebellion (07-08)
Final Battle and Death (09-11)

Boadicea, Queen of the Iceni

Kill the wabbit, kill the waaabbbiit!

Boadicea leading the Iceni to battle.

Boadicea's Name

[1] There is some controversy about this Warrior Queen's name. "Boadicea" is the popular spelling in our times. H. G. Wells uses this spelling in his "Outline Of History", so we shall follow his example. The historian Tacitus gives us the only contemporary spelling of her name, "Boadicca". Sir Winston Churchill endorsed this version as the spelling "relished by the learned".

[2] In the last 10 years or so the name "Boudica" has come into vogue. This spelling is more in line with the ancient Celtic words for victory, i.e. the Old Welsh "bouda". Other variants have been advanced as well. No matter the spelling, this remarkable woman was a leader in every sense of the word. Her countrymen, the Iceni, both men and women alike, followed her. The Romans would regret inciting her wrath.

Birth and Physical Description

[3] Boadicea's birth date is not known but can be roughly determined. That it was a royal birth is known. Tacitus describes her as "generis regii femina", which translates possibly to "a woman of the Royal house" or perhaps: a lady of royal descent". The Greek, Dio Cassius, writing over a hundred years later, calls her "A Briton woman of the royal family". The rebellion she lead against the Romans took place in 60 or 61 CE (there is some slight controversy about the exact year). She had two daughters at the time who had reached puberty and were not married. Assume then they were in their teens, which might place their births in 45 or 46 CE. Allowing Boadicea time to reach puberty herself before giving birth would place her own birth perhaps 15 years earlier, about 30 CE. This would place her at least in her 30's when she led the Iceni to bloody revolution. Of course, she could have been much older than this. Her precise age remains a mystery.

[4] Dio tells us that Boadicea had red hair. He described it as a mass of "the tawniest hair" hanging to her waist. She was very tall, "in appearance almost terrifying" and had a fierce expression. Her voice was described as harsh, a voice destined to demand attention, to be heard above the din of battle.


[5] Tacitus relates the first abortive attempt at revolt by the Iceni in the year 49 or 50 CE. It is this period when mention is first made of King Prasutagus, king by consent and cooperation of the occupying Roman forces. It is believed that by then he was already married to a woman of royal birth named Boadicea. The exact date of her marriage, like so much else, is not known.

[6] Prasutagus' death is known to have been in either 59 or 60 CE, after having been "longa opulentia clarus" (or "long renowned for his wealth") and after a long reign. His wealth he left to his two daughters, and he left the regency to Boadicea in the girls' behalf. The Romans had other ideas about the estate - they took it all. According to Tacitus, "Kingdom and household alike were plundered like prizes of war". The first step in accomplishing this was to humiliate and viciously flog Boadicea in her own home and in front of her family. The brutal rape of her daughters soon followed.

The Rebellion

When you hear my warcry, we'll overrun the crew, tie up the director. The show will be OURS!

Boadicea still leading the Iceni in battle.
This time in color and in a different direction.

[7] There were many causative factors of the revolt. The brutality shown the royal family upon the death of the King was only the proverbial last straw. Tacitus, on the eve of battle, helped Boadicea to inflame her people. In her speech, Tacitus had her allude to the atrocities she and her daughters had suffered. Her initial assault force was 120,000 strong, and the target was Camulodunum (Colchester today). The city was completely destroyed. By the end of the campaign Boadicea's army would number more than 200,000!

[8] Next, Boadicea marched on Londinium. The Roman military commander decided it was expendable and abandoned it and the people. With no defense, Londinium fell in a wholesale slaughter. The city of perhaps 30,000 was engulfed in a firestorm the likes of which were seen in World War II Germany. Throughout this century artifacts from the conflagration have been unearthed during construction and archeological excavations in present day London. A scorched red layer of soil testifies to the intensity of the flames. Verulamium, present day St. Albans, perished in the same way.

Final Battle and Death

[9] Boadicea's final battlefield is not known with any certainty. Warwickshire, home to Birmingham, Coventry, and Stratford-upon-Avon, has the best claim. North of Coventry and west of Birmingham there is a place known as Mancetter (in Roman times, Manduessum). An ancient Roman encampment has been found there which coincides with the dispatch of the Roman XIV Legion to the area. They would have been gone by the time of the final battle, but auxiliary forces used in the fight would still have used the site. Further, the terrain conforms remarkably to the description given by Tacitus.

[10] The Roman forces were encouraged to triumph. If they did not, they knew to expect to be impaled, to look upon their own entrails cut from their bodies, to be spitted on red-hot skewers, and to be melted in boiling water. Not a very nice prospect. The Iceni were poorly equipped and trained, unlike the Romans who had been practicing the art of death for centuries. The Iceni attack was met with legendary Roman efficiency and the blood of 80,000 Iceni soaked the ground, compared with only 400 Roman dead. Boadicea apparently was not among the initial dead, but she died a short time later by her own hand. Tacitus says she took poison, Dio only states she took sick and died. The fate of her two princesses is not known.

[11] If you take the London-Manchester InterCity train, you will pass through the area where this Warrior Queen died. Give a little bow or curtsey to this Great Queen Boadicea, and remember her cause.


For further reading see Antonia Fraser, The Warrior Queens, Knopf, 1989.


John Clark Blankenbecklor John Clark Blankenbecklor
Born and raised in Central Florida, I moved to SC at age 17. I've worked as an ambulance driver, EMT, Paramedic, and registered nurse in the ER and the OR. I'm retired now with a medical disability. I've been married 20 years to the same lady. We have two children, a boy 8, and a girl two and a half months old (see picture). We were fortunate enough to see Lucy Lawless in GREASE on Broadway, and I have autographed photos of both Ms. Lawless and Ms. O'Connor.
Favorite episode: I can't say which episode is my favorite, I like them all. That applies also to my least favorite episode. I just like them all.
Favorite line: There have been so many great lines laid down by the cast that it's hard to say one of them is the best. One that has always stuck with me was delivered by Autolycus (Bruce Campbell) in THE QUEST (37/213). Xena's spirit is inhabiting his body, and they are laying the ground-rules for cohabitation. He says to Xena, "No messing with my limbs or bodily functions unless I say so, got it? ... Nature's calling, how do you want to handle that?"
First episode seen: I think the first episode was RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205) early in the second season. Since then I've caught re-runs of most of the first season's shows. Though I've missed a few, since then I've seen almost all of the shows to date.

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