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Essex Through the Ages
Roman Essex
  The Boudiccan Revolt
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The Boudiccan Revolt

One of the most famous episodes in Romano-British history is the Boudiccan revolt of AD 60. Boudicca became queen of the Iceni tribe, whose territory included Norfolk, on the death of her husband, Prasutagus. Prasutagus had been allied with the Romans and on his death left his estate to be divided between his two daughters and the Roman Emperor, Nero. Nero however was unhappy with this three-way division and revoked the tribeís status as a client of Rome.

The Iceni were treated as a conquered nation by the Emperorís representative, Imperial Procurator Decianus Catus, and when Boudicca complained at their treatment, she was flogged and her daughters raped. She began a rebellion within her own tribe, who were joined by the Trinovantes of Essex and others. They began by attacking Colchester. Some inhabitants took shelter in the Temple of Claudius, but Romans and British alike were killed and the town burnt to the ground, and a legion of soldiers sent to stop the rebels were ambushed and killed. Similar scenes of devastation followed at Londinium (London) and Verulamium (St. Albans).

The rebels were finally defeated in AD 61, in a pitched battle somewhere in the Midlands by a force led by the Roman governor of the province, Suetonius Paulinus, who had been away fighting in North Wales. He had decided to sacrifice the defence of London in favour of the time to pull his men together and choose a site for the battle. Though they were vastly outnumbered, the Romansí superior discipline, tactics and armaments won the day and the Britons were massacred. Boudicca committed suicide by taking poison.