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Forum LockedArticle Received: Boudicca: What Do We Really Know?

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    Posted: 14-Nov-2005 at 16:32

Again, a contribution from Natalie. Thank you!

Excerpt | Boudicca: What Do We Really Know?

Cities were sacked and thousands lay dead and "moreover, all this ruin was brought upon the Romans by a woman, a fact which in itself caused them the greatest shame."[1] In 60 and 61 C.E. a woman is reported to have led a rebellion of the Iceni in Roman Britain which ultimately resulted in three Roman cities razed to the ground, thousands of Romans and Britons alike killed and the slaughter of thousands of the Iceni perpetrators in a final battle with Roman soldiers.[2] This woman, whom is credited with this catalog of crimes, is known to history as Boudicca. Boudicca herself is a mysterious figure; her only record of existence lies within the written words of two men. These accounts vary in quality and details, leaving the reader with a limited, scant impression of who this person was.

Primary sources on Boudicca and the revolt are limited. There are only three sources which mention her and the uprising, and two of these are written by the same man, the Roman historian, Tacitus.[3] Dio Cassius is the other Roman historian who wrote of an account of the Iceni queen and the revolt she led.[4] There are several issues which need to be known about these two authors and their work which will be discussed in the opening section. However, these three versions of the revolt and its leader, Boudicca are all we have in written form. The Celts did not write anything down in this period that is available to us today and so no information from them concerning this event is left for historians to pick over. Archeology (including the use of coins) will also be employed in this paper and it seems fitting to include these items under primary sources. Overall, the primary sources are scant and archeology has yielded only so much thus far.

Secondary sources present a problem when one realizes that they rest mainly on the aforementioned primary sources. There are many books which discuss the Celts and some[5] have been used in this paper. Antonia Fraser's The Warrior Queens , is another monograph used but not depended on exclusively. A problem which I found in some of these secondary sources was that the authors drew conclusions about Boudicca based on Celtic law.[6] The problem with this is that the law texts which are used by these authors are either Irish law texts written down mainly by Christian monks between the 7th and 10th centuries or Welsh law which was not committed to writing until about the 12th century.[7] These law texts are centuries removed from the time period of Boudicca and are no doubt tainted by later influences on the island from Christianity, any invading cultures and unknown elements. There may be some evidence of what Celtic customs were like during Boudicca's time that were left in these law texts, but to decipher what exactly they may be is difficult, if not impossible.[8]

Complete Article:
http://www.allempires.com/article/index.php?q=boudicca

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