Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Leadership Qualities of a Warrior Queen

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Leadership Qualities of a Warrior Queen

Article excerpt

Women in Power: A View from History--Against All Odds

Shortly after my arrival in London my friend walked me to points of interest on the Embankment of the Thames River. We happened upon a larger-than-life statue of a woman with spear in hand, accompanied by two young ladies--all three in a chariot--with horses rearing to the obvious urging of the chariot reins and voice of the austere woman. She looked as if she was set to attack Parliament just across the street. My friend answered, "This is Boudica," when I asked for the identity of the robust, immortalized woman in stone. Boudica intrigued me when I found that she helped drive the Romans from Britain in the First Century. Rome dominated the entirety of the known world at this time--Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. And yet this Celtic woman, for a short period of two years, is credited with ridding her island home of one of the greatest conquerors in the history of the world. Boudica was one of the first heroines of Britain's history and a contemporary of the Roman Emperors Claudius and Nero. Her attacks on Roman rule took place in AD 60-61, at the time when Paul was writing his epistles and St. Mark was composing his gospel. (2)

Boudica was an Iceni queen, having married the King of the Iceni tribe; she was reared as a princess of the Trinovantes tribe. These two tribes, along with as many as 21 others, lived in the eastern area of present day England, in the East Anglia pastoral setting of rolling hills and great forests north of London. Lives of the people were spent in small villages in cone-shaped houses made of reeds, sticks, and thatched roofs. (AWA036-DVD-5) (3) As the wife of Iceni King Prasutagus, Queen Boudica lived a privileged life. There was no union or network between the tribes and the many other loosely-formed groups of people in the land. No widespread social organization existed. The Druid religion was the chief form of worship, with fires, incantations, yelling and screeching heard in the sacred forests nearby.

When the Romans first came to the island of present day United Kingdom, they set up a system similar to forced taxation with the kings and warlords of the area. Members of these tribes agreed to work the land, share their wealth of livestock, and give appropriation for their land to the Romans. Tacitus relates:

"The Britons themselves submit to the levy, the tribute and the other charges of Empire with cheerful readiness, provided that there is no abuse. That they bitterly resent: for they are broken in to obedience, not to slavery." (Agricola) (4)

The establishment of a colonia, as described above, was always a part of the imperial Roman decree from Emperor Claudius, when overtaking lands. The plan was to civilize loyal veterans (ex-soldiers) who joined with Rome to ultimately spread and multiply the newly captured area. The Roman settlers drove the Trinovantes/Iceni from their homes and lands and referred to them as slaves or prisoners. Roman land possessors turned a blind eye to the theft or property by other Romans, as they intended to do the same when they had the chance.

Tacitus also relates the Roman governor was a tyrant to the people and the procurator unfairly took their possessions:

"[The Roman] gangs of centurions or slaves, as the case may be, mingle violence and insult. Nothing is any longer safe from their greed and lusts. In war it is the braver who takes the spoil; as things stand with us, it is mostly cowards and shirkers that rob our homes, kidnap our children and conscript our men." (5)

Although not asked for by the Britons, Rome gave the Britons money in the form of loans, with high interest payments demanded on the loans. In an effort for his family to retain wealth and property, the Iceni king left half of his kingdom to Nero and the other half to his 2 daughters. He must have hoped that by doing this, he had provided a peaceful solution to care for his daughters after his death. …

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