righteous dames: Boudicca of the Iceni

A note: In response to the deplorable treatment of Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor on Tuesday, January 7th, 2017, I have begun creating #shepersisted images with some historical content based on righteous dames from history. We need to be reminded that we must take our place in history.

In opposition to the nomination of Jeff Sessions as Donald Trump’s attorney general, Sen. Warren read from a letter from Coretta Scott King opposing the nomination of Sessions for federal judgeship.  As Sessions is now a senator from Alabama, Republicans cried foul – citing rules against impugning another senator – and silenced Sen. Warren.

Afterwards, Sen. Lindsey Graham publicly stated:

In response, Sen. Warren tweeted:

“Consider this MY warning: We wont be silent. We will speak out. And we WILL persist”.

And with that, the women’s movement gained a new mantra.

Reflecting on this mantra, I want to remind everyone that righteous dames throughout history have written their own story, and have persisted to create real history and change. I will attempt to gather stories and images of these persistent women here at wildimaginarium.com as part of the righteous dames series. These women changed the world not only for themselves, but for their communities, as they resisted the powers that be.

These dames are RIGHTEOUS!

In this spirit, today’s persistent and righteous dame is:

Boudicca Queen of the Iceni – 60 AD – Great Britain

Boudicca saw her ancestral lands, her husband’s wishes, and the virtue of her daughters, stolen by Roman soldiers. Her resulting resistance to the Roman occupation became the stuff of legend – her vengeful ferocity made the legions shake in their sandals and left no Roman citizen unscathed. Her path through England left nothing but destruction in its wake.

Not much is known about Boudicca until the death of her husband caused her to take arms. Shortly before his death Prasutagus, King of the Iceni, made a deal with the Roman generals: upon his death the united lands of the Iceni would be divided in three equal parts – one for each of his daughters, and one for Rome.  Caesar agreed, and Prasutagus and his chieftains made the plans. This pact would make sure that both his daughters AND his people would not suffer under a Roman yoke should the unthinkable happen.

And then the unthinkable happened, Prasutagus died rather suddenly and the kingdom began to prepare for the kingdom’s inevitable split. The Romans were welcomed to the proceedings, only somewhat begrudgingly, when they arrived to claim the Roman portion. The Romans broke the ancient rules of hospitality and tribal legal proceedings and seem to have caused quite a ruckus at this point. We know this, because this is when we first see mention of Boudicca: the historian Dio Cassius described the queen as possessing the powerful frame of an Amazon with a mane of fiery red hair.

This fiery red-head was about to become famous.

Taking advantage of the lack of a central king, the Romans announced that they would take all of the Iceni lands. Boudicca wouldn’t take the theft lying down; she called on law and precedent as she publicly denounced the authorities. The local authorities decided to make an example of Boudicca – she was publicly flogged and left to die. More horribly, and more even more unforgivably, her young daughters were repeatedly and publicly raped by Roman soldiers.  Not only did this destroy the young girls mentally, but it also stole their sovereignty over the land and insured the end of the royal line of the Iceni.

Her own humiliation meant nothing, her daughters would be avenged. Boudicca rose, like a phoenix, and followed an incredible path of vengeance. She raised an army of the Iceni – they would not stand for this horrifying disrespect. She gained resistance fighters from other tribes, and built an army of 100,000 soldiers. She had an army, and a plan, and she had nothing left to lose.

Her army marched towards Camulodunum (modern day Colchester). Legend holds that as her army marched Boudicca’s scouts would release white rabbits into a village or town as a sign: those that recognized the symbol would gather their families and possessions and leave the village. Those that did not recognize the symbol were Roman, or Roman empathizers, and they would stay. If they stayed, they were killed.

There were no survivors. As the Romans had publicly shamed her and taken her daughter’s virginity, Boudicca felt that all of the laws of battle had been broken. Her army took no prisoners, and left no trace of Roman occupation.

Camulodunum was leveled after her army took the Roman colony. Then she took Londinium (modern London), and burned the settlement to the ground leaving a layer of ash that historians used to date her attack. In Londinium she sent a clear message to Caesar by impaling Roman women and mothers.

She had no time for sublety and she gave exactly NO F$@*S!

Next she took Verulamium (modern day Saint Albans) and did the same thing…just in case they hadn’t paid attention. Or in case they thought she gave any f$@*s. She didn’t.

In fact, she used her female power to enhance her revenge. Dio Cassius wrote,

“All this ruin was brought upon the Romans by a woman, a fact which in itself caused the greatest shame.”

Roman doubled, and redoubled, their forces and queen Boudicca and her army were finally taken by a massive Roman army. Roman forces cornered her forces somewhere in the West Midlands. It is believed that the queen perished here along with an estimated 70 – 80,000 troops. Boudicca died for freedom, and for her people. But very signifigantly, it was for her daughters that she went to battle. Her daughters deserved a free and simple life in their ancestral lands. With the horrifying rape of these young girls, their mother became a general and a leader in the resistance of Roman occupation.

She most likely died in battle, but her reputation will live on in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales as a general and queen worthy of following into battle.

Symbols: rabbits (especially white hares), flames/ fire, and celtic knots

For a great primer on Boudicca check out Doomed Queens: Royal Women Who Met Bad Ends, From Cleopatra to Princess Di by Kris Waldherr
For more badass dames, watch my website at http://www.wildimaginarium.com, and follow @wildimaginarium on facebook, twitter, instagram, and pinterest.

More righteous dames will follow as soon as possible!


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