, Boudicea, or Bonduca, a renowned British queen of the first century, was the wife of Prasatagus, king of the Iceni (the inhabitants of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridge, and Huntingdonshires), who in order to secure the friendship and protection of Nero to his wife and family, left the emperor and his daughters co-heirs. But as soon as he was dead, the emperor’s officers seized upon his effects in their master’s name. Boadicea, widow of the deceased king, strongly remonstrated against these unjust proceedings but her complaints only exposed her to farther wrongs and injuries, which she resented in such terms, as provoked the officers to treat her in the most barbarous manner; they caused her to be publicly scourged, and her daughters to be ravished.

This story soon spread through the island, and the public indignation was so generally raised, that all, excepting London, agreed to revolt. The Roman historians themselves acknowledge, that the violence and injustice of the emperor’s officers gave the Britons sufficient reason to lay aside their private animosities, and while they aided the queen to revenge her wrongs, to recover their own liberty. Accordingly she put herself at their head, and earnestly exhorted them to take advantage of the absence of the Roman general, then in the isle of Man, by putting these foreign oppressors all to the sword. They readily embraced the proposal and attacking the Romans wherever they found them, massacred all without distinction of age or sex and it is said that seventy thousand perished on this occasion. In the mean time, Suetonius Paulinus, the | Roman general, suddenly returning, marched against the revolted Britons, who had an army of 100,000, or, according to Dio CassiuS, 230,000 men, under the conduct of Boadicea. The tine person of Boadicea, fair and dignified, and her undaunted courage, inspired the most ardent hopes. Paulinus, likewise, was in great perplexity the ninth legion had been defeated by the enemy, and Poenius Posthumus, at the head of a large detachment of the second, refused to join him; so that he had the choice but of two expedients, either to march with his army, not exceeding 10,000, into the open field against his numerous enemies, or shut himself up in some town and wait for them. At first he chose the latter, and remained in London, but soon altered his resolution and instead of retiring from the Br.tons, who were now on the march towards him, he resolved to meet them. The field of battle he pitched upon was a narrow tract of ground, facing a large plain, where they encamped, and his rear was secured by a forest. The Britons traversed the plain in large bodies, exulting in their numbers; and, secure of victory, had brought their wives and children in waggons to be spectators of their actions in the battle, placing them round their entrenchments.

Boadicea, in the mean time, was not idle, but mounting her chariot, with her two daughters, rode up and down, through the several squadrons of her army, whom she addressed to the following effect “That it was not the first time the Britons had been victorious, under the conduct of their queen. That, for her part, she came not there as one descended of royal blood, to fight for empire or riches, but as one of the common people, to avenge the loss of their liberty, and the wrongs of herself and children. That the wickedness of the Romans was come to its height and that the gods had already begun to punish them so that, instead of being able to withstand the attack of a victorious army, the very shouts of so many thousands would put them to flight. That if the Britons would but consider the number of their forces, or the motives of the war, they would resolve to vanquish or die. That it was much better to fall honourably in defence of liberty, than. be again exposed to the outrages of the Romans. Such at least was her resolution as for the men, they might, if they pleased, live and be slaves.” At the end of her | speech she is said to have let loose a hare, which she had concealed, as an omen of victory.

While Boadicea thus laboured to animate her Britons to behave with their wonted bravery, Paulinus was no less assiduous in preparing his troops for the encounter. The Britons expected his soldiers to be daunted at their number, but when they saw them advance with short steps, sword in hand, without discovering any fear, their hearts began to fail them, and they fell into disorder, which continually increased, it not being in the power of their commanders to lead them back to the charge. The Romans observing their consternation, pushed the advantage with great fury, and threw their army into a confusion past the possibility of recovery. They gave no quarter, and 80,000 of the Britons perished. Boadicea herself escaped falling into the hands of the conquerors but, unable to survive the remembrance of this terrible defeat, either fell a victim to despair or poison. This battle was fought in the year 61. 1

1 Biog. Brit. Henry. Hume, &c. Hist, of England.