Monday, 29 April 2013

Childhood Heroes: Boudicca

Time for the second of my childhood heroes series! I'm going to start by sharing a secret with you: I love fierce warrior queens. Cannot get enough of them. So it seems fitting that this weeks hero should be one of the earliest warrior queens I encountered: Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni tribe.

HBIC would be an accurate description

Okay so I think we can all agree that Boudicca is one hell of a woman. Her husband dies, defies the typical practise of leaving the kingdom to the Romans and instead leaves it to Boudicca. The Romans then just essentially ignore this, decide to collect their debts from the clan and in the process flog and rape Boudicca and her daughters. And rather than just bowing down and accepting Roman rule, they decide that they are having none of that. So instead she rises up and leads a rebellion, both as a wronged Queen and a wronged woman. She proved herself to be incredibly strong and intelligent, her downfall being that the army just couldn't win against the advanced battle techniques of the Romans. Depending which source you read she either decided to poison herself rather than be taken prisoner, or she died from illness (I tend to lean towards the first option seeing as Tacitus was actually a contemporary writer etc). 


As a child, we went to lots of battle enactments and one of my most memorable was the recreation of the battle between Boudicca's army and the Romans. In typical childish fashion I always loved history to do with the Celts as I felt connected to them through my ginger hair! Discovering Boudicca was like discovering a goldmine. I think because I discovered her through these means I have never particularly loved the Victorian portrayal of her, like the picture above. I totally get why Queen Victoria would draw upon Boudicca as a namesake, but I feel paintings such as the one above don't capture the way I always viewed her. The woman in the painting looks like she's connecting with images of Britannia, an idea that is fundamentally Roman. A portrayal of Boudicca that resonated better with me was the ITV film. I think I was about 10 when I saw the film and suffice to say it had a big impact! Alex Kingston is one of those actresses that because she was in a childhood favourite film she now has my eternal love (other examples include Heath Ledger for A Knight's Tale, Sophia Myles for Tristain and Isolde and essentially all of the cast of the 1998 mini series of Merlin). Despite the graphic nature of some of the scenes I just loved the film. It made me cry my eyes out and gave me a slight hatred for Nero that has mildly lasted til this day. I haven't watched the film for quite a few years so I can't attest to how good quality it would be now! 

Another awesome lady being an awesome lady ;)

I'm not going to lie, as a child I definitely romanticised the idea of her in my head. In real life, it's not as if the Romans were the devil incarnate whereas the Celts were friendly peace loving care bears. They were brutal in their attacks and took no prisoners. But I do still look on Boudicca as an inspirational woman and one whose strength I still admire.

Are there any historical figures that you guys feel particularly attached to? Let me know in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. I really liked this article... I have a similar love for Boudicca due to surprising some people at Glastonbury Festival (who had a Roman flag) by my in depth knowledge of Boudicca, her use of guerilla warfare and that she failed when attacking the Romans in open field... and mostly I feel I surprised these men for the way knowledge I had of the effectiveness of the Roman short stabbing sword... he he!