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Boudiccan Revolt

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Back to the rebellion of the Silures


In AD59-60 the Roman military governor of Britain, Suetonius Paulinus, led two legions across North Wales and massacred the druidic sanctuary on Anglesey. At around the same time the Romans decided to annex the kingdom of the Iceni on the death of it's ruler, Prasutagus. Brutality against his widow, queen Boudicca, incited the whole region to rise in revolt, soon to be joined by the neighbouring tribes, the Trinovantes and others.

The Roman historian Dio Cassius, writing a century after the events, describes Boudicca as, "tall, terrible to look in and gifted with a powerful voice. A flood of bright red hair ran down to her knees: she wore a golden torque made up of ornate pieces; a multi coloured robe; and over it, a thick cloak held together by a brooch. She took up a long spear to cause dread in all who set eyes on her."

Under Boudicca's leadership Colchester was sacked and the inhabitants put to the sword and then a relieving force from the IXth Legion was wiped out. Verulanium (St.Albans) and then London were burnt and their inhabitants massacred.



On receiving news of the revolt of the Iceni  "Suetonius made the bold decision to hasten from Wales to London ahead of his main troops. But when neither his own legions arrived nor the Second Legion which he had summoned from the Southwest [Exeter], he had to abandon both London and St. Albans to Boudicca's fury. Suetonius withdrew along Watling Street, and then stood and fought, although heavily outnumbered and deserted by the Second legion, whose commander had disobeyed the order to come to the rescue." from 'Roman Britain, Outpost of Empire.'


Suetonius' Romans soundly defeated Boudicca's Britons at an unknown location on Watling Street with great slaughter. Boudicca survived the battle but her subsequent fate is unknown. Suetonius ravaged the tribal lands mercilessly.

After the suppression of the revolt the camp prefect of the II Augusta apparently killed himself in shame. His name; Poenius Postumus. No one has ever offered a satisfactory reason for the failure of the Legio II Augusta to obey a direct order, or, in view of the potential consequences of its failure to respond, why no sanctions were taken against this legion. Other legions were disbanded in disgrace for much less. 

The Jewish revolt



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