Cassius Dio, the ancient Roman historian, described the ancient Celtic warrior queen Boudica as being “in appearance most terrifying, in the glance of her eye most fierce, and her voice was harsh: a great mass of the tawniest hair fell to her hips; around her neck was a large golden necklace.” Goals, am I right, ladies?
The fiery red-haired Queen Boudica is most famous for her nearly successful military campaign against the Roman Empire as she and her people fought bravely to drive their oppressors out of their ancestral lands. Born into Celtic royalty, Boudica married King Prastagus of the Iceni tribe and served as co-regent, bearing him two daughters. Before the king died in 60 A.D., he named his eldest daughter heir to the throne with Boudica serving as Queen Regent until she came of age. The Romans, however, refused to recognize a female leader as sovereign. In the king’s absence, they enslaved the Iceni people and publicly flogged the queen, and raped her two young daughters. The Romans figured that this would quell any thoughts of rebellion and break the people’s spirits. What they didn’t account for, however, was Queen Boudica’s retribution. Shit was about to get real.
Queen Boudica sprung into action, uniting several neighboring Celtic tribes growing weary of Roman oppression under her leadership. After completely decimating the mighty Roman 9th legion, her troops marched on to the Roman centers of Londinium, Verulamium, and Camulodunum, slaughtering all who stood in opposition (as many as 70,000 Romans by some accounts) and leaving torched ruins in their wake. The burnt remains of Londinium left a charred layer of rubble half a meter thick that can still be traced under much of modern London today. If Boudica taught the Romans anything, it’s that Femme ain’t frail.
Named after the the Celtic goddess of victory Boudiga, the nervy queen lived up to her name. Before riding into battle against the Romans with her troops, she reportedly remarked “We British are used to women commanders in war… But I am not fighting for my kingdom and wealth now. I am fighting as an ordinary person for my lost freedom, my bruised body, and my outraged daughters… You will win this battle, or perish. That is what I, a woman, plan to do! Let the men live in slavery if they will.” *Drops mic*
Just as the totally badass Queen Boudica had Roman Emporer Nero on the cusp of withdrawing Roman troops from Britain indefinitely, Boudica and her forces finally fell at the Battle of Watling Street to the Roman commander Gaius Suetonius Paulinus. Rather than being captured by the enemy, the defiant Boudica carried out her last act of rebellion by poisoning herself before the Romans could imprison her.
Boudica’s legendary defiance serves as an inspiration to any girl or woman faced with insurmountable odds, who must find a way to fight oppression and stand for what is right. As the saying goes: well-behaved women seldom make history.