Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Twenty years after the Romans had overcome the Iceni Celts on the island of Britain in 43 A.D., the Celtic king died and Queen Boudicca (from the Celtic word for “victory”) -- described by one Roman writer as very tall with fierce eyes and red hair to her knees -- got into an argument with her captors. Ill advisedly, some Roman soldiers, thinking they could teach her a lesson, beat her up and raped her two daughters. So Boudicca (who the Romans called “Boadicea," from which we get the word "bodacious" for brazen) returned the favor.
Amassing a force of warriors to attack and very nearly defeat the Roman army, Boudicca and her troops razed London to the ground and held the Romans at bay for six months -- longer than any other military leader ever -- pillaging the Roman settlements mercilessly for the duration, and leaving, it is said, as many as 70,000 bodies in their wake.
Celtic women always fought side by side with their men anyway, using swords and axes and renowned for their terrifying battle-cries. But in this case, the force was led by a woman, making the whole thing particularly embarrassing for the Romans, who were supposed to be the greatest fighting force in the world at that time. Somebody should have warned them she was an in-your-face woman.