Boudicca (circa 25 – 61 AD) was an ancient British warrior queen of the Iceni tribe, who sparked and led a massive revolt against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. During the uprising, she put London and numerous other Roman towns and settlements to the torch, and her forces killed as many as 70,000 Romans and British collaborators.
She was born into a tribal royal family around 25 AD, and as a young woman married the king of the Iceni tribe. Upon her husband’s death in 60 AD, he left his wealth to his daughters and to the Roman emperor Nero, on the assumption that Nero would return the favor and bestow imperial protection upon his family. Instead, the Romans simply seized all the deceased’s assets, and annexed his kingdom. When Boudicca protested, she was flogged, and her two teenaged daughters were gang-raped by Roman soldiers.
Understandably incensed, Boudicca launched a revolt in East Anglia, which quickly spread. Disgruntled Britons rallied to her by the tens of thousands, and she led them in a whirlwind campaign of vengeance. Sweeping out of East Anglia, with Boudicca at their head on a war chariot, the rebels annihilated a legionary detachment sent to subdue them. They then went on a rampage, in which they burned modern Colchester, Saint Albans, and London. They also massacred tens of thousands of Romans and Romanized British collaborators, torturing and executing them in a variety of gruesome ways ranging from impalement to flaying, to burning alive, to crucifixion.
Eventually, the Romans rallied, gathered their legions into a powerful force, and marched off to meet Boudicca. When the armies eventually met, the Romans were greatly outnumbered, but they were a disciplined force of professional legionaries facing a poorly trained and organized enemy. Boudicca led her forces in person and charged at the Romans in her war chariot, but discipline and professionalism prevailed, and the Romans won. Defeated, Boudicca committed suicide to deny the Romans the satisfaction of parading her in chains in a triumphal parade.