All of the tribes Queen Boudicca met with held grudges against the Romans. One of their main gripes was the supposed grants they all received, which were later redefined as ‘loans.’ Together, they formulated a plan to revolt against the Romans and drive their forces out of their land. In this article, you will learn which city the Queen first chose to attack, her methods in battle, and how many battles she came out a victor.
The first attack was against Camulodunum (which is now referred to as Colchester), where Boudicca led close to 100,000 to fight. Since Suetonius and most of the Roman forces were away in Wales, Camulodunum defense was poor. The Romans were easily driven away, along with the Procurator Decianus. Boudicca’s army burned Camulodunum to the ground with the only remnant of the Romans left behind , a temple.
Immediately following their victory, the army turned their attention to the largest city in the British Isles, Londinium (now known as London). It was part of Suetonius’ strategy to abandon this city and with that, Boudicca also burned the city to the ground and took the lives of 25,000 inhabitants who hadn’t fled the region. The level of destruction regarding this site has been proven when archeologists successfully uncovered a layer of burned ash that coincides with this time period. Marching her army to Verulamium (St. Albans), Boudicca destroyed the city and killed a great number of Britons, who had sided with the Romans.
However, Suetonius had a plan. He knew that Boudicca would be counting on seizing Roman food stores to feed and replenish the tribes. To weaken his opponents, he chose to burn Roman stores, which caused famine to spread amongst the Queen’s army. Her cause suffered after this tactical move, which probably led to her and her troops only having one last battle.
While the exact location is unknown, we know that the Queen’s army planned their attacks uphill for this battle, but they were extremely tired and hungry. This made her warriors an easy target for the Romans. Sadly, their exhaustion was so great that Roman troops consisting of only 1,200 men were able to triumph over Boudicca’s army of 100,000. 80,000 of her men were killed in the process. The Romans only loss 400 men in their army.
So, what happened to the Queen after her men were defeated? Her precise fate is unknown. Some believe that she returned to her home territory and drank poison so that she would avoid capture or death by the hands of Romans. In the end, the Romans increased their military presence in Britain and became more lenient with their approach to rule over the people.
The tale of Boudicca was almost a forgotten memory until Tacitus’ work, Annals, was rediscovered in 1360. She was popular once more when compared to Queen Elizabeth I, an English queen who led her army against foreign opponents.