Taking on an Empire: Queen Boudicca


King Prasutagus

When Iceni became a client Kingdom of Rome, a new king emerges. It is not exactly known when Prasutagus came to rule, but he probably came about in 49AD in the wake of the rebellion as one capable of leading his people in peace. It is known that Prasutagus had married a young Celtic woman named Boudicca before the rebellion. When Prasutagus took charge, he commanded a tremendous amount of respect from the other local tribes. He ruled an estimated population of tens of thousands Iceni Tribesmen.

Prasutagus' Will

Before his death, Prasutagus had written a will that stated that his two benefactors would each recieve half of the share of his wealthy kingdom. His intentions in dividing his estate and treasure was presumably to placate the emporer and safeguard his families inheritance. However, neither of his intentions succeeded at all. Roman officials ignored the will of the late king completely, and representatives of the Procurator Catus Decianus, chief financial administrator of the British province, seized all of the kings estate and treasure. The Iceni nobility also lost any hereditary estates because the Romans had seized them all. Not only were they stripped of any wealth that they once had, the nobility were also publicly humiliated by the Romans. Tacitus writes:

"Kingdom and household alike were plundered like prizes of war"

The Rape and Flogging of Queen Boudicca and her Daughters

Just like the nobility had been publicly humiliated, an inconceivable punishment had been levied on the royal family themselves. A blow delivered by the procurators representative was on a completely different level of sheer inhumanity and public insult. Boudicca, new queen of the Iceni, was brutally flogged, and her two daughters, princesses, and the benefactors of the kings own will, were raped. Rape is an integral component of society that shows one genders, also in this case, one empires, superiority over another. This makes sense because the Romans were ruthless in their attempts to conquer the Celtic tribes, so it seemed only appropriate to physically conquer the Royal family of their enemies. However this disgusting act was the straw that broke the camel's back for Boudicca and her tribespeople. Not only did she have to take back what was rightfully hers but now she had to get revenge.