Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
This paper examines the rebellion of Boudicca, the queen of the Iceni tribe, during the Roman Empire’s occupation of Britannia in 60 AD. The study shows that had Boudicca not changed her winning strategy in one key battle, she could have forced the Roman Empire to withdraw their presence from Britannia, at least until it was prudent to invade again. This paper analyzes the few extant historical accounts available on Boudicca, namely those of the Roman historians Tacitus and Cassius Dio, to explore the effectiveness of tactics on both sides of the rebellion. The sources reveal that Boudicca enjoyed initial success against the Roman army, which she greatly outnumbered, due to the Roman authority underestimating both her ability in combat and the consequences a defeat would bring. However, she soon became overconfident in her actions, allowing her to fall into a trap where her numbers and other advantages she previously enjoyed no longer mattered. The study will also argue that in the aftermath of the rebellion, Emperor Nero tasked the current Roman governor of Britannia to begin reprisals against most of Britannia and then create a scapegoat out of him by recalling him from his position. This was carefully done to show Britons that the Romans could be harsh but they could be kind as well, which created a sense of loyalty to the Roman Empire that survived for centuries. There would never again be another British rebellion against the Roman presence in Britannia, ensuring cooperation between the two civilizations. Through Rome’s helping hand, ensured by Britons no longer seeking independence through violent insurrections, strides were made to connect the area with the greater world. The start of urbanization and the founding of strategically-planned trading cities, such as Londinium, had a profound effect on Britannia and it could not have become so powerful in the future without these developments. In addition, the unification of tribes ended common conflicts and the stability achieved through this allowed Britons to focus more on other pursuits and modern trades. Boudicca’s rebellion would therefore have had a great effect on the course of modern history if she were to successfully drive the Romans out and cause a regression back to the original customs and traditions. The fact that the Roman Empire was able to stop her and pacify Britannia so they would no longer reject their authority therefore is important to the study of any modern history through the powerful influence that Britannia later had on global affairs.
Cohen, Daniel, "Boudicca's Rebellion Against the Roman Empire in 60 AD" (2016). Honors Theses. 135.