BOADICEA, strictly Boudicca, a British queen in the time of the emperor Nero. Her husband Prasutagus ruled the Icĕni (in what is now Norfolk) as an autonomous prince under Roman suzerainty. On his death (A.D. 61) without male heir, his dominions were annexed, and the annexation was carried out brutally. He had by his will divided his private wealth between his two daughters and Nero, trusting thereby to win imperial favour for his family. Instead, his wife was scourged (doubtless for resisting the annexation), his daughters outraged, his chief tribesmen plundered. The proud, fierce queen and her people rose, and not alone. With them rose half Britain, enraged, for other causes, at Roman rule. Roman taxation and conscription lay heavy on the province; in addition, the Roman government had just revoked financial concessions made a few years earlier, and L. Annaeus Seneca, who combined the parts of a moralist and a money-lender, had abruptly recalled large loans made from his private wealth to British chiefs. A favourable chance for revolt was provided by the absence of the governor-general, Suetonius Paulinus, and most of his troops in North Wales and Anglesey. All south-east Britain joined the movement. Paulinus rushed back without waiting for his troops, but he could do nothing alone. The Britons burnt the Roman municipalities of Verulam and Colchester, the mart of London, and several military posts, massacred "over 70,000" Romans and Britons friendly to Rome, and almost annihilated the Ninth Legion marching from Lincoln to the rescue. At last Paulinus, who seems to have rejoined his army, met the Britons in the field. The site of the battle is unknown. One writer has put it at Chester; others at London, where King's Cross had once a narrow escape of being christened Boadicea's Cross, and actually for many years bore the name of Battle Bridge, in supposed reference to this battle. Probably, however, it was on Watling Street, between London and Chester. In a desperate soldiers' battle Rome regained the province. Boadicea took poison; thousands of Britons fell in the fight or were hunted down in the ensuing guerrilla. Finally, Rome adopted a kindlier policy, and Britain became quiet. But the scantiness of Romano-British remains in Norfolk may be due to the severity with which the Icĕni were crushed.
See Tacitus, Annals, xiv.; Agric. xv.; Dio lxii. The name Boudicca seems to mean in Celtic much the same as Victoria.
(F. J. H.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)