The history of Queen Boudicea (Boadicea or Boudicca) is not directly connected with that of North Yorkshire. That being said it is likely that following Boudicea's rebellion the rebellion of the Brigantes ten years or so later would have been treated seriously and put down with ferocity. Boudicea must also have been know to Queen Cartimandua of the Brigantes whose territory included North Yorkshire.
Battle at Scotch Corner
Queen Boudicea was married to King Prasutagus of the Iceni (located in Norfolk). On his death in 60AD having no mail heir he left his personal wealth to his two daughters and the Emperor Nero hoping by so doing to win imperial protection for his family. His attempt at appeasement failed. The Romans humiliated his family, plundered his household, made slaves of his relatives and annexed the kingdom. Boudicea (according to the annals of Tacitus) was scourged and her daughters "outraged" (we can guess what that means!). All the Iceni chieftains were stripped of their ancestral possessions.
Boudicea was not best pleased. The Roman occupation had not been kind and there were many instances of oppression and subjugation with which the Britons had contended for too long. When the provincial governor Suetonius Paulinus was absent she gave vent to her anger by raising a powerful rebellion throughout East Anglia. The rebels burned Camulodunum (Colchester) which was not well defended, Verulamium, the mart of Londinium (London) and a number of military garrisons. The rebellion was not some minor uprising. By the time it was over according to Tacitus Boadicea had slaughtered 70,000 Romans and their followers including the Ninth Legion led by Petillius Cerialis which was cut to pieces. (Petillius Cerialis crops up again later see the Battle at Scotch Corner)
The rebellion as reported by Tacitus was fierce and merciless:
"For it was not on making prisoners and selling them, or on any of the barter of war, that the enemy was bent, but on slaughter, on the gibbet, the fire and the cross, like men soon about to pay the penalty, and meanwhile snatching at instant vengeance".
Paulinus with the fourteenth legion, the veterans of the twentieth, and auxiliaries from the neighbourhood confronted the Britons in a major battle thought to be near Fenny Stratford on Watling Street.
Boudecia her daughters before her in her chariot roused her troops:
"But now," she said, "it is not as a woman descended from noble ancestry, but as one of the people that I am avenging lost freedom, my scourged body, the outraged chastity of my daughters. Roman lust has gone so far that not our very persons, nor even age or virginity, are left unpolluted. But heaven is on the side of a righteous vengeance; a legion which dared to fight has perished; the rest are hiding themselves in their camp, or are thinking anxiously of flight. They will not sustain even the din and the shout of so many thousands, much less our charge and our blows. If you weigh well the strength of the armies, and the causes of the war, you will see that in this battle you must conquer or die. This is a woman's resolve; as for men, they may live and be slaves."
It was a terrible confrontation but in the end the day was won by the Romans.
"Our soldiers spared not to slay even the women, while the very beasts of burden, transfixed by the missiles, swelled the piles of bodies. Great glory, equal to that of our old victories, was won on that day. Some indeed say that there fell little less than eighty thousand of the Britons, with a loss to our soldiers of about four hundred, and only as many wounded.
Boudicea refused to the last to be a pawn of the Romans and took her own life by poison.
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(Primary information source: Encyclopaedia Britannica and the annals of Tacitus translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb)
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