Boudicca's Rebellion

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Boudicca's Rebellion
Prasutagus, king of the Iceni, long famous for his riches, had written into his will as heir Caesar and his
two daughters thinking by such submissiveness both his kingdom and his house would be far from
injury. This turned out just the opposite, to the extent that his kingdom was plundered by the
centurions and his house by his slaves, just as if it had been captured. To begin with his wife Boudicca
was beaten and his daughters were raped: all the chiefs of the Iceni, as if the Romans had received
the whole region as a gift, were deprived of their ancestral goods, and relatives of the king were
considered among the slaves. Upset by this humiliation and by fear of greater ones to come because
they had been reduced to the status of a province, they took up arms; the Trinobantes were moved
to rebellion and the others who, not yet broken by slavery, had pledged to take back their liberty
through secret conspiracies. The bitterest hate was turned against the veterans; these, recently
settled in the colony of Colchester, were continually driving the Trinobantes from their homes, were
forcibly expelling them from their farmland, were calling them captives or slaves; and the soldiers
were encouraging the arrogance and cruelty of the veterans through their similar lifestyle and hope
for the same licence.
Moreover, the temple built for the Divine Claudius was being regarded as if it was the focal point of
an everlasting domination, and the chosen priests under the guise of religious observance were all
pouring out their own fortunes. Nor did it seem difficult to destroy the colony which was protected
by no defensive walls; this had been too little considered by our leaders, since they had paid
attention to the attractive appearance rather than to practical need.
Now Suetonius had the Fourteenth Legion with a detachment of the Twentieth and auxiliaries from
the neighbouring areas, around then thousand armed men: he prepared to march and join battle. He
chose a place closed off by a narrow defile and at the rear with woods; for he knew that there were
none of the enemy except in front and that it was an open plain without fear of ambush. Therefore
the legionaries were drawn up in close formation with the lightly armed troops stationed around; the
cavalry stood by massed together on the wings. But the forces of the Britons were rushing around
everywhere in groups and bands of cavalry, with as great a number as at no other time and in such a
fired-up state of mind that they also brought their wives with them as witnesses to the victory, and
placed them on wagons which they had put at the edge of the plain.
The battle begins.
And at first the legion, not moving from its position and defended by the narrowness of the place,
after it had used up its javelins on the approaching enemy with a sure aim, burst forwards as if in a
wedge. The auxiliary troops also made an attack; and they cavalry with spears at full stretch broke
through any strong forces in their path. The rest of the Britons turned tail, in a difficult flight because
the surrounding wagons had closed off their escape routes. And the soldiers did not even spare the
women, and the baggage animals also, pierced with missiles, had increased the heap of corpses. On
that day that soldiers won praise that was famous and equal to that for the ancient victories: indeed
there are those who report that 80,000 Britons fell with around 400 of our own soldiers killed and
not many more wounded. Boudicca ended her life through poison.


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