Boudicca’s Revolt Part 3

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While Boudicca and her allies were slaughtering and burning, Suetonius was busy. He regrouped his army and he called on his own force, the Legio XIV Gemina, and some vexillationes from the XX Valeria Victrix. Although the Legio II Augusta di not come to Suetonius’s call, nevertheless he managed to amass around ten thousand men. Then they marched to meet our army.

Suetonius took a stand somewhere along Watling Street, in a small valley with a wood behind him. He was still heavily outnumberd by Boudicca’s forces, though. Our army, I was told, numbered about 230,000.

Boudicca made a speech from her chariot and fired up her army. She pointed out that the gods were with them because they had already routed one legion, She did not, of course, mention that it was not the full legion.

Well, a number of things were against our army that day. The terrain was narrow, being in a valley, and so we could not put any more men forward at a time than the Romans could. Then, in that valley, our chariots proved to be not very manoeverable.

At first, when we attacked, the Romans threw heavy pila at us. These were a kind of javelin, and they killed thousands of our men, rushing forward to engage battle.

Then they formed a wedge and forced our men back. They were highly disciplined, and our troops were not. We fought as every man for himself and all rushed forward as individuals, with no thought for co-operation with each other.

Then the men were forced back against the wagons where the women and children waited. That was another thing. The Romans did not bring their families to battle.

The long and short of it is that we were defeated, and heavily. Boudicca poisoned herself rather than submit to the Romans, no one knows what happened to her daughers. Perhaps they were taken as slaves, perhaps they, too, committed suicide, or perhaps, just perhaps, they might have escaped.

They say that after this battle, Nero was ready to abandon Britannia. Unfortunately, though, he didn’t. After the uprising, Suetonius started to conduct punitive operations, but Nero feared he would trigger a new uprising so replaced him. He replaced Suetonius with our current governor, Publius Petronius Turpilianus.

So that is where we are today. Under the rule of Rome. They, the Romans, say it’s good. We are at peace. They’ve stopped the inter-tribal wars and brought us what they say is culture. But we had culture before. It was just not the same as the Romans.

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