The second woman in my Women of Valor series is Boudica, the Celtic warrior queen. (Also known as Boudicca, Boadicea or Buddug.) She was suggested to me by my dear friend Ashley Loveland, so I’ll let Ashley’s words tell a bit of Boudica’s story.
“She was the warrior queen of pre-roman England. She was Celtic and her husband was a tribal king – one in a group of tribal kings that ruled England at that time. Her husband tried to pay off the Romans so he could keep his land/not have them invade, however after the king died the Romans broke the deal, invaded, flogged Boudica, and raped their two daughters. Boudica got mad, created an united alliance between all the other tribal kings, and together they wreaked havoc on the Romans. The band of barely iron age kings lead by Boudica, almost kicked the most powerful army in the world at that time off the island.”
Raven – Celtic symbol of vision, power and battle
Boudica was ferocious. She was known for her amazing hair, we think it was probably red, and for her multi colored cloak, both of which stood out on the battlefield. She slaughtered the Romans, men, women and children alike. She led all the other kings into battle as a general and queen. It’s interesting to note that the Brits didn’t seem to have a problem being led by a woman, it was unusual but not unheard of, but the Romans definitely had a problem being defeated by one.
Boudica is an interesting woman to include in this series, because she did some horrible things. When I say she slaughtered men, women and children, I mean she brutally murdered them and strung up their bodies in grotesque postitions. She wiped out entire villages. How do your reconcile admiration for what she did – uniting a divided kingdom and leading a nation into battle against it’s captors – with the fact that she did it so mercilessly? I think that understanding Boudica’s actions requires an understanding of what sparked them.
Starting with basic shapes cut from painted tissue paper
Boudica was fairly content to comply with the Roman rule when they first came in. Even when they taxed the people unfairly and generally ruled them as conquerors would, Boudica didn’t make waves. She seemed willing to keep the status quo as long as her people had food, shelter and were still alive. It wasn’t until the Romans broke the agreement and raped her daughters that she became absolutely outraged. Momma Bear came out and she had way more power than your average Momma Bear. She protected her family and she protected her people. That’s what impresses me most about her. She did what needed to be done to protect her country.
I added bears to the background of my illustrations to suggest Boudica’s Momma Bear tendencies. Ashley later pointed out to me that bears became extinct in England about the same time that Boudica died.
Ashley said Boudica inspired her “because she united an island of warring kingdoms, she lead them, and she used underarmed, under-skilled, rough, simple people and almost beat the most powerful, tactically brilliant army/empire in the world. She used cunning, brilliance, courage, confidence; while being fueled by passion and vision.”
Ultimately Boudica and her band of rag-tag warriors were defeated by the Romans, but she is still a powerful symbol in the United Kingdom today. As Ashley says, “she rocks.”
Learn a little about my Women of Valor series and read about the first one here.