Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Feminist Icon Or Ferocious Tyrant?

In the first century, the Romans invaded England and crushed the Briton tribes. Most tribes settled into the Roman occupation, except for one, which was led by a woman.

That woman was called Boudica. 

And right before she started her rebellion she: received a public lashing, got stripped from her right to the throne, and was kicked out of her own tribe after she watched her two daughters get raped by Roman soldiers.

All because treating a woman as an equal would be an embarrassment to Rome.

To be clear, the Romans were on ‘friendly’ terms with the Britons. And would respect the local tribes as long as tribute was paid to the emperor.

Boudica now knew that was a lie. Even Briton royalty wasn’t safe from the invaders of the south.

So she planned her revenge.

And searched for other unhappy Britons to ride under her banner.

Once her army was large enough, she picked the largest Roman settlement as her target. And burned it down.

Boudica and her warriors knew no mercy. Those who survived the initial onslaught were tortured and killed.

The Roman defeat echoed through England. And convinced other competing tribes that the Romans could be pushed back into the sea.

Although nothing was quite as convincing as Boudica’s lust for blood. If you didn’t rise up against Rome, Boudica would label you a traitor and lop off your head.

Boudica’s army swelled. And slowly began to march toward London.

Meanwhile the Roman governor, who was slaughtering heretics on the other side of the country, had to stop his campaign to defend the remaining Roman colonies.

But before the governor made it to London, the city had been raised to the ground.

Boudica didn’t want to reinstate a fairer government, she wanted to make the river Thames run red with blood.

Although too late to stop the London massacre, 5000 of Rome’s finest soldiers were on Boudica’s tail. And coming in hot.

But Boudica’s army had grown too large. The Roman Legion was wiped out.

Only after losing another settlement, did the Roman governor finally catch up to Boudica. 

Instead of facing her out in the open, the governor lured her into a trap. A narrow valley that you had to file into.

Despite having the number advantage, Boudica’s men were swarmed from all sides. And crushed without much resistance.

After Boudica led her army to death, she and her daughters killed themselves to avoid capture.

The moral of the story?

Just because a woman is in power, does not mean she cares about equality.  

If we can believe the Roman scholars of the time, Boudica strung up women, cut off their breasts and sowed them to their mouths. Boudica wasn’t a feminist, she was a despot.

P.S. Losing a legion of your finest soldiers to savages is an embarrassment. So although the Romans eventually squashed the rebellion, they had to come up with a story of a merciless warrior to save face. History is often written by the victors—because there are no other survivors to tell the tale—and is more of an art than a truth.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach