When looking at famous historical figures, it’s very common to immediately think of crucial male figures like Julius Caesar, Napoleon III, George Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr., the list goes on. There are many figures that are ignored throughout history, however, and these are typically women. The people in power are the ones who write history, and given historical context and social standards, women are often ignored when different events are documented. As a history major, I have become significantly more aware of this reality, and that is why I will be focusing on different female figures throughout history that are both crucial and, quite frankly, badass, throughout my blog.
Sitting in my history class about medieval Britain, my attention was drawn to a portion of our lecture that focused on the way different chieftains cooperated with the Romans around 50 AD. We learned about the way Prasutagus, the ruler of the Iceni people, agreed to leave the land he controlled to the Roman Empire, his wife, and his children once he passed away. What actually happened, however, was the Roman Empire took the land and abused his wife, Boudicca, and her children. This led to the strongest rebellion against rule that the Roman Empire experienced during their time in Britain, and was led by Boudicca.
The fact that this was the strongest rebellion that the Roman Empire encountered highlights two ideas. The first is that the Roman Empire was not expecting Britain to be as advanced when they invaded, and the second is that Boudicca felt truly wronged and manipulated by the Roman invaders, prompting her uprising. When the Romans invaded, they were expecting a primitive people in Britain and looked down upon the Celts because they practiced body art, which was typically associated with primal cultures. Body art, in the form of tattoos and paint, was typically used to intimidate opponents during battle and display social rank. Even though the Romans thought their culture was primitive, they were much more advanced than they initially let on. They domesticated livestock, had advanced societal structures with social hierarchy, and had an impressive military structure, which was definitely not something the Romans expected. This underestimation of the Celts was a crucial part of the reason the Roman Empire struggled with the uprising, but another factor was that Boudicca was determined to rebel once she was abused by the Romans. Boudicca rallied the Iceni people, which were then joined by other tribes in the region, defeated the Roman Ninth Legion, and also took the Roman Britain capital at the time, Colchester. The Romans were unprepared and did not have enough troops, given the fact that they relied on physical structures like walls to deter invasion instead of manpower, so this uprising led by Boudicca was relatively successful. It was successful in the beginning, until Boudicca was defeated by the Roman army and committed suicide in order to avoid capture.
Boudicca was a very important historical figure, but sadly, her influence in the history of Britain is often overlooked. She was a woman who was wronged, and she followed her beliefs and rose up against the entire Roman Empire when that was uncommon for anybody to do, let alone a woman. I chose to begin my blog posts writing about her because not only was she a prominent female figure who defied the standards of her time period, but she is also a very early example of this occurring. All throughout history female contributions have been overlooked, and Boudicca from 50 AD is a prime example of a badass female figure we should all care about.