Women in History III: Boadicea – Warrior Queen

Boadicea, Queen of Iceni. Roman period. ©Ancient Art & Architecture Collection Ltd.

Boadicea, Queen of Iceni. Roman period.
©Ancient Art & Architecture Collection Ltd.

While Sappho represents the expression of female desire, Boadicea has become a symbol of woman as warrior. Hailing from Norfolk, she was the wife of Prasutagus, King of the Iceni tribe in Roman occupied Britain. Prasutagus accepted an alliance with Rome after the invasion of Claudius in AD43. When her husband died without male heir, Boadicea was sadistically persecuted and her kingdom abused by the Roman forces. As a response she led a revolt that was extensive and, for a while, successful, with the invasion of places including Colchester and Londonium, before eventually succumbing to the imperial forces of Rome.
As with Sappho there is also considerable mystery around the iconic figure of Boadicea. As Miranda Aldhouse-Green points out in Boudica Britannia (Pearson Education Ltd, 2006) there is enduring uncertainty about how the warrior queen’s name is spelt. Nevertheless, she has remained a potent figure for appropriation at different points in history including the Victorians (the association with Queen Victoria was greatly strengthened, as Aldhouse-Green tells us, because the name Boudica also means Victory). Despite the mysteries surrounding the warrior queen there is significant evidence, including the writing of Roman Tacitus, cited by Aldhouse-Green to show that the people of Boadicea’s time were already familiar with commanding female leaders.


先週は、古代ギリシャ時代から女性の感情や欲望を詩歌に表現し活躍したサッフォーを、今週はローマ帝国支配下のイギリスで女性戦士として、果敢にローマからの侵略軍に立ち向かったブーディカをご紹介します。ノーフォーク地域を治めていた、ケルト人イケニ族のプラスタグス王の妻で、王の死後男性の後継者がなく、ローマ帝国の侵略軍はこの機に乗じてブーディカを迫害、王国の人々は屈辱を受けることになりました。これに反し彼女は大規模な反乱を起こし、現在のコルチェスターをはじめ、各地のローマ帝国植民地を次々に攻略し、さらにロンディニウム(現在のロンドン)に侵入するなど力強い戦いぶりを展開します。しかし最終的にはブーディカはローマ帝国に屈することになってしまいます。
サッフォーのようにその生涯が謎の多いブーディカですが、ビクトリア朝を含め歴史を通じて彼女は強い影響力を持った人物となりました。ちなみにブーディカとはヴィクトリー、勝利の意味を表すと言われています。