(also Boudicea, Boadiccea, Boadicca...)
Among the Romans, Boudicca, the Killer Queen, was still a name to frighten children. In Londinium you could see the marks where the basilica had burned, and workmen digging foundations as the city grew sometimes found the bones of those who had tried to flee the bloodlust of the Iceni hordes.
-- Marion Zimmer Bradley, in The Forest House.
Celtic Warrior Queen, flaming-haired figure of vengeance, she was born around 30 CE. Boadicea may not be her birth name, but rather one given by history, a variant of Boudigga, the Celtic Goddess of Victory. We know nothing of her early life. She married Prasutagus, king of the Iceni Celts and bore two daughters.
The Iceni Celts of East Anglia had theoretically accepted Roman rule in 53 BCE, after conquest by Julius Caesar's armies. Roman rule had very little influence, however, until Claudius established a more permanent Roman presence in 43 CE. Prasutagus became a client-ruler for the Roman Empire, with the understanding (at least on his part) that his lands and monies would remain within in lineage. He died of illness in 61. The Romans, now under Nero, claimed Iceni hereditary lands, and demanded repayment of funds which had been given to their kingdom. Boadicea resisted; she was publicly flogged and her daughters were raped by Roman soldiers.
These events ignited a rebellion which, while short-lived, would prove one of the greatest military defeats in the history of the Roman Empire. Boadicea's exact role remains unknown. She and her daughters clearly travelled with the armies. Historians dispute whether or not she only raised the rebellion, or actively took part in the fighting. Certainly, contemporary accounts state that some Celtic women fought alongside the men. In any case, she gathered and unified a large army, or a large army was gathered in her name, which included both Iceni and Celtic tribes who had never submitted to Roman rule.
The rebels first attacked Camulodunum (modern Colchester), the Empire's most important site in Britannia, and destroyed it, killing all inhabitants. The Roman Ninth Legion Hispana, led by Petilius Cerialis, marched to defend the site; some miles north of the ruins of Camulodunum they were slaughtered. For two years, her armies rampaged through the country. Whether or not they killed the 70,000 claimed by the Roman historian Tacitus is unknown, but archaeological evidence clearly indicates that Roman cities were razed to the ground, and inhabitants killed indiscriminately.
They headed towards Londinium--modern London-- in 63. As news of the rebellion's success spread, Decianus, procurator of Londinium fled with his entire administration, leaving the city without government. Suetonius and his troops had arrived beforehand, but abandoned London as impossible to defend. The city was destroyed by rebels. They moved on to Verulamium (St. Albans), which was largely abandoned; Boadicea's army destroyed what remained. Suetonius's troops finally confronted the rebels in the West Midlands.
Tacitus claims that Boadicea led the Celts in this final battle. He also presents Boadicea's final speech in his Annals, but his source is unknown, and no modern historian vouches for the authenticity of this stirring piece of rhetoric.
The rebellion was soundly defeated. The final fate of Boadicea is uncertain; it seems unlikely either she or her daughters survived. Had they been taken by the Romans, history would have recorded the fact. Most claim she poisoned herself rather than be taken.
She has been celebrated in art and literature, and predictably, appeared as a song by Enya and a character in Xena, Warrior Princess. A romanticized statue of Queen Boadicea by Thomas Thornycroft was presented to the city of London, England in 1902 and stands near the Houses of Parliament. A popular story has her body buried at Stonehenge, but no evidence supports this claim; another tale, possible but unproven, states that her grave rests beneath Platform 9 of King's Cross Station.
ideath says "i was told by a friend, a british archaeologist, that "boadicea's ash" is a recognised landmark for dating layers in digs in the areas she scourged.
eponymous says Boudicca is also the default female Celt leader in Sid Meier's Civ2.
"Boadicea." Enya: Magic and Melody. http://www.enya.org/stories/story04.htm
"Boadicea: Queen of the Iceni." http://travesti.geophys.mcgill.ca/~olivia/BOUDICA/
Jason Burke. "Dig Uncovers Boadicca's Brutal Streak." The Observer Dec. 3, 2000.
Dio Cassius. Roman History Book LXII.
"Queen Boadicea." The World of Royalty
(this site contains a list of fiction and non-fiction about Boadicea).
Tacitus. The Annals, Book XIV.
Tacitus's account of the Boadicea Rebellion appears in the Athena Review, Volume 1.
S. Wilson. "Queen Boudicca And The Events Leading To The Iceni Rebellion of 60 A.D." http://members.tripod.com/~ancient_history/boad.html