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Fact Or Fiction: Boudica

Most people believe Boudica was a woman who fought for justice and independence over the brutal Romans. But is the story really true?

Boudica was the first iron lady of Britain and one of the most recognised figures in history. As the ancient queen of the Icini tribe, with her flowing red hair and her chariot with deadly blades on its wheels, Boudica has come to symbolise the indomitable spirit of Britain.

It is a brilliant and bloody image but, as Tony discovers, this caricature has blurred the truth of history. She rode a wicker chariot without blades, and we’ve even got her name wrong: her ancient British name was Boudica not Boudicea. But she did live a life that was both raw and violent.

Boudica’s story begins 100 miles away from London in her home land of Norfolk and 2000 years back through time. Her path took her from Norfolk to Colchester, London and on to her final stand in the Midlands, but for most of her life Boudica tried to work with the Romans.

She was a collaborator right up until the point of her husband’s death, when the Romans ignored her husband’s will and seized Icini lands. Upon her protests Boudica was publicly flogged and her two young daughters were taken away and brutally raped by the Romans.

Following this public act of injustice, Boudica sought revenge, burning Colchester and London to the ground and killing thousands of Romans. In her mission to force Roman occupiers out of her country, she used terror tactics, which included Druidic sacrifice, ritual decapitation and mutilating women by impaling them on stakes.

Moments before what was to be her final battle she declared in an address to the assembled tribes that she was fighting as an ordinary woman for her lost freedom, her bruised body and for her outraged daughters and that she would win the battle or perish.

Boudica’s fierceness entranced and terrified both Britons and Romans alike, and has fascinated those who have read her story since.

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