Boudicca

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How has Boudicca and Iceni women been portrayed by the Romans?

"She was huge of frame, terrifying of aspect, and with a harsh voice. A great mass of bright red hair fell to her knees: She wore a great twisted golden necklace, and a tunic of many colors, over which was a thick mantle, fastened by a brooch. Now she grasped a spear, to strike fear into all who watched her…" -Dio Cassius.

Two Roman historians, Tacitus and Dio Cassius wrote written accounts of Boudicca. Tacitus was against the Roman imperial system so his perception of Boudicca in his writings gives her a positive light. Dio Cassius was all for the imperial system, therefore his writings portray Boudicca in a savage and brutal way.

Boudicca, meaning “victory”, was Queen of the British Iceni tribe and wife of King Prasutagus, ruler of the Iceni tribe, and mother to 2 daughters. Between 43 and 45 CE Boudicca and Prasutagus were married, although she was not from Iceni marriages were common between the ruling classes. In the Celtic society women had positions of status and authority. Women took leading positions in politics, religion and art, they additionally owned land and if they wished, had rights to choose and divorce their spouse. The Iceni tribe were sheltered by geographic benefits, but their threat from the Romans was noticeable. To try and keep away from conflict with the Romans, King Prasutagus travelled to the city of Camulodunum (known today as Colchester, a town in Essex, England) to be made a client of Rome. This meant Prasutagus would have to follow the Roman governing class, but allowed the Iceni tribe and their society to be left unconstrained.

After Prasutagus’ death, he left his kingdom to be split by his two daughters and the new Roman emperor Nero, thinking that his decision would be one that established peace for his family and his kingdom. Although, Roman law however restricted royal inheritance to be left to daughters, as women were unsuitable to rule a kingdom...
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