Taking on an Empire: Queen Boudicca


The Iceni Tribe

          During the Late Iron Age, the area of East Anglia was occupied by a tribe of Celts called the Iceni. They could have been considered barbarians by the standards of Rome, which is moderately appropriate, seeing that the definition of a barbarian is someone who is strange and different. There were more sophisticated and larger tribes in Britain. However, the Iceni were especially infamous for their sophisticad methods of minting coins than other tribes. Iceni territories encompassed modern Norfolk and Northern Suffolk. This was a very rurally secluded area at the time, where one would sometimes have to walk for miles to find their closest neighbor.

           In Caesar's report on his second invasion of Britain, the Iceni tribe is first mentioned. Not much is spoken about the tribe but it shows that it was an evident tribe in the history of Rome. The next, more detailed, report is from Tacitus' account of the first rebellion. Tacitus' accounts of the happenings in first century Britain are critical to the history of this area. Without them, much valuable information would be lost. In his accounts, Rome was pushing North and west towards bitter Celtic tribes. The Romans were intending to pursue the possibility of further conquest into the area. They disarmed the Iceni easily. This is probably because the Iceni were so spread out over a large area and did not have the required forces to be an evident defensive power, even though they did have a relatively strong military. Tacitus notes in his recollection of the event:

"We had not defeated this powerful tribe in battle since they had voluntarily become our allies"

Under the leadership of the Iceni, the newly occupied tribes rose up against the Romans. This rebellion lasted from about 49-50 AD. It was a tremendously unsucccesful event but showed nonetheless that the Iceni Tribe was capable of showing courage even in dispair. the Iceni fortunately survived as a quazi-independant body by being a client kingdom to Rome.