Celtic Warrior Queens: Boudica of the Iceni

This article was first published on #FolkloreThursday.com, 8th October 2020, titled Celtic Warrior Women: Queen Boudica of the Iceni by zteve t evans.

Queen Boudica

Queen Boudica, ruler of the Iceni people of Britain, was famous for leading a violent uprising against Roman rule. She was married and had two young daughters whose names are unknown. Her husband Prasutagus had ruled as a client-king of Rome and his realm was roughly the area of modern Norfolk. As a client-king he had entered into an alliance with Rome which allowed him to rule and receive Roman patronage in return for recognizing its overall authority and keeping law and order. When he died he left his kingdom jointly to the emperor and his two daughters, perhaps hoping to avoid trouble.  Despite this, his kingdom and property was annexed by Rome and his family maltreated, sowing the seeds of rebellion among the Britons. According to Tacitus, Boudica was beaten with rods, her two young daughters raped, and the estates of the Iceni nobles confiscated. This spurred Boudica to lead a bloody rebellion against the might of Rome.


As a woman, widowed with at least two children, the qualities that people would traditionally call female were plain to see. Yet after the maltreatment inflicted upon her and her young daughters by the Romans, other, less ‘traditionally female’ qualities emerged, transforming her into a powerful, avenging force. Qualities of leadership, intelligence, aggression, courage and assertiveness in a struggle to free her people came to the fore. Such attributes were seen as subversive for women to openly display in a patriarchal society, but were some of the very qualities that the suffragettes were keen to promote as acceptable in women to help and inspire their struggle against the system.

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8 thoughts on “Celtic Warrior Queens: Boudica of the Iceni

  1. Pingback: Celtic Warrior Queens: Boudica of the Iceni — Under the influence! | Die Goldene Landschaft

  2. Pingback: Celtic Warrior Queens: Boudica of the Iceni – Glyn Hnutu-healh: History, Alchemy, and Me

  3. Thanks for sharing this! The figure of Bouduca has always fascinated me. She truly gave the Romans a run for their money and, even though, she didn’t win in the end, she delivered a mighty blow to the Empire, proving it wasn’t as invincible as the Romans believed. It was a hard pill to swallow for such a patriarchal society to be challenged so fiercely by a ”barbarian” and a woman at that.

    At close study, it’s a story both hopeful and tragic, epic in its scope, offering much food for thought regarding both Roman and Celtic culture.

    On a final note, I find it a bit ironic that the warrior-queen who rebelled to throw off the yoke of a tyrannical empire became a symbol of national freedom by another imperialistic power.

    • Yes, I think Elizabeth I and Victoria both sort to identify with her to enhance their status as female defenders of the country but I think Boudica who was a real person, possibly becoming a symbol of imperialism With the Victorians. She is also wrongly equated with Britannia, who was the Roman personification or goddess of the island. Anyway thanks for all you interesting comments and wishing you a lovely New Year!

  4. Reblogged this on Lilaia Moreli – Words Are Sacred and commented:
    In the midst of my study of Celtic history, folkore and mythology for my works of fiction, I’ve come across various intriguing stories and remarkable figures who still are a source of inspiration even to this day.

    One such figure is the warrior Queen Boudica, one of the most powerful and fearless women of the ancient world and of the Celtic tribe of the Iceni specificall, who rebelled against the Roman rule to free her homeland. The following post explores her role as Queen of her tribe, the reasons of her rising against the Romans as well as her legacy in the modern era.

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