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Forum LockedBoudicca's last battle - naive?

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Huscarl View Drop Down
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    Posted: 20-May-2009 at 19:02
As we know, this former Roman collaborator and now vengeful warrior-queen almost battered the Romans out of the island.

But why did she risk the lives of her entire 230,000 army of British warriors & families on just one open plain at what was basically a choosing of the Roman Governor Paulinus, when she could at least have simultaneously tried to outflank the 10,000 enemy through the flanking woods & trackways known only to them?

With her united Iceni/Trinovante army growing by the day into a vast sea of ferocious British warriors and families, she had attacked and wiped out Colchester(home of Roman army veterans)- massacring the marching and unsuspecting IX Hispana legion en route from Lincoln to save a hopelessly undefended London.

Paulinus, with two legions in Wales (having massacred the Anglesey druids) dashed ahead on horseback to London but could only leave the vast civilian city to it's fate. He ordered his two legions to strike camp and march the two weeks from N.Wales towards London, commanding one legion at Exeter to meet him on the Fosse Way (which inexplicably failed to do so, and suffered great shame afterwards).

Turning her army northwards Boudicca hoped to catch Paulinus, wiping out St.Albans on the way.
Somewhere between the current A5 road and the Fosse Way, Paulinus's 10,000 Romans - hedged in between woods and on a hill to their front- waited for Boudicca's c.230,000 warriors, chariots and families advancing on the open plain.

To their war horns, the British charged in typically disorganised but fierce fashion- into the Roman missiles and lethal frontline wedge-formations, and as the latin steamroller drove forward stabbing and crushing warriors underfoot, British wives, children and babies were also butchered as Boudicca's broken men fled in terror, until Paulinus ordered a halt.

Perhaps 80-100,000 Britons lay dead and mutilated. But need it have been so? A Caractacus or a Vercingetorix would probably have devised some cunning scheme to rout the Romans, or at least launched a double-envelop manoeuvre?

Was Boudicca simply battle-naive? Or was she overruled by unnamed Iceni commanders or rival royal factions (Other Prasutagus "wives"?)?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Terri Ann Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2009 at 20:36
Yes, I think they were all naive.  They had never fought against experienced, disciplined soldiers before - the Iceni wouldn't have had a clue how to interpret the Roman's battle formation, let alone counteract it.    No doubt a certain sense of "past caring" might have come into it.   Win or lose against Paulinus, the Romans were never going to walk away and let the Brits go unpunished.  Boudicca's Iceni were finished - I suspect they were all well aware of that.
 
The first onslaught of javelins was enough to scatter the Brits; they didn't stand a chance.   I think it's debatable whether they would have won even if they hadn't trapped themselves with their own wagons.
 
I believe the 230,000 figure for the Brits is now considered to be an over-estimate, although they certainly thoroughly outnumbered the Romans.
 
The Iceni weren't the only Celtic tribe to take the entire family, grandma and all, to war. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Huscarl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2009 at 22:23
Hi Terri

I was wondering about the possible naivety suggestion and Boudicca being overruled perhaps, because it was only 15-18 years before her revolt in 60ad that the 'Celtic' tribes had fought a few ferocious battles against the Claudian Roman invading legions  under the remarkable British warrior chieftain Caractacus (a noble member of the Cassivellauni), and during the next 8 years won a long series of largely successful if brutal large-scale guerilla attacks.

So, well-accustomed to the Roman way of war, many tribal Britons would still be alive by 60-1ad to remember those great campaigns in "England" and "Wales" passed down by elders and druids verbally, or even still young enough to fight in Boudicca's revolt?

Maybe this, and also common folklore passed down tribally ever since 55 & 54bc when Julius Caesar invaded then withdrew, gave the Britons massive hope for success? Their ferocious battle-charge with massed numbers had recently proved successful, after all, and even the great Julius caesar had left these shores, with it being a century before the Romans did return?

It seems to have been a top-level problem, not the warriors at fault? But why the obviously bad geographical acceptance of Paulinus' choice for a battle - without even a feint? Over-confidence? Battle-naivety?




Edited by Huscarl - 20-May-2009 at 22:24
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2009 at 22:32
Perhaps naive....

her daughters were raped, her people despoiled, she gave it her best shot and failed against the most professional military force on the planet at the time.

I disapprove of her army's own despoilment of Londinium and the surrounding area, but she deserves her due for putting up a fight. And she did not die the death of a coward.

It seems the people of Britain so often make their strongest mark under the reigns of women.

R.I.P Boudicca
It is not the challenges a people face which define who they are, but rather the way in which they respond to those challenges.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Chookie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2009 at 22:47
I don't accept the figures given by Tacitus. A pretty good rule of thumb when considering Roman reports is to divide by ten the numbers they attribute to the opposition. No doubt it may have been accurate at times, but in this case archeological evidence suggests that this, as Mons Graupius, wasn't one of those times.

We should never forget that the Roman writers, as all propagandists, sought to put a fone gloss on the activities of the legions............

I'm afraid I can't see your point about Vercingetorix, after all he isolated himself in Alesia, where the Romans could apply their hard-learned seige tchniques. Had he used hit-and-run geurilla tactics, the Romans would have given up, recognising that they could not win - much like Americans in Vietnam perhaps? 
They make a desert and they call it peace
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Huscarl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2009 at 23:37
My point about Vercingetorix was that, until his fateful decision to actually pursue Julius Caesar as he withdrew/regrouped/feinted across Gaul, was that he'd done well as chieftain in resisting the Romans. Ultimately he failed, as did Boudicca and others, but what courage and strength they had shown fighting for their lands?

We often have succeeded under strong women yes -Boudicca, Elizabeth, Victoria, Maggie Thatcher- (let's not forget the failed female leaders too- Matilda[dau of Henry I]; Margaret of Anjou etc) but those occasions are, of course, very heavily outnumbered by male-led campaigns and wars.


Edited by Huscarl - 20-May-2009 at 23:37
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wulfstan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-May-2009 at 21:07
Originally posted by Huscarl Huscarl wrote:

My point about Vercingetorix was that, until his fateful decision to actually pursue Julius Caesar as he withdrew/regrouped/feinted across Gaul, was that he'd done well as chieftain in resisting the Romans. Ultimately he failed, as did Boudicca and others, but what courage and strength they had shown fighting for their lands?

We often have succeeded under strong women yes -Boudicca, Elizabeth, Victoria, Maggie Thatcher- (let's not forget the failed female leaders too- Matilda[dau of Henry I]; Margaret of Anjou etc) but those occasions are, of course, very heavily outnumbered by male-led campaigns and wars.
 
For shame Huscarl, you of all people failed to add to your list of strong female leaders Æthelflaed, Lady of the Mercians. She is not so well known outside of Anglo-Saxon circles, but she was a good strategist and tactician who cooperated successfully with her brother Edward, king of the Anglo-Saxons, in the fight against the Vikings. But then she was Alfred the Great`s daughter.
From Woden sprang all our royal kin.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Huscarl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-May-2009 at 21:17
Indeed, forgive my glaring omission! Shocked A great warrior lady.

I suppose women could also take inspiration from such strong 11thC women as Queens Emma (of Normandy) and Edith (Harold II's sister/ Edward's wife)?
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