Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Boudica Research

I am researching all (well more than one at least) of the female names on my project brief. With Boudica being from a time before cameras, or even, as far as a know, oil paint, there are know actual pictures of her from the time. It is all interpretation, and being the British heroine that she was, they are fairly romanticised - nobody wants an ugly heroin.
The main theme seems to be a belted tunic which neatly clings in all the right places - not something I have ever really know tunics to do, mainly being fairly sack-like woolly things.
Wikipedia describes her as having red hair to her waist, a harsh fiery voice, piercing glare, large golden necklace (perhaps a torc: a solid neck bangle), a many coloured tunic, and a thick cloak fastened by a brooch. I'm not really seeing where a corset comes into all this.

Her story is that her husband was the king of the Iceni settlement (now Norfolk), he allied with the Romans during his life because they paid him and it kept the peace. In his will he left Iceni jointly to Boudica and her daughters, and the Romans. I don't think that plan was every going to work. It didn't, the Romans claimed power, and Boudica formed a great army of Anglo-Saxons and fought back against them. There were many battles, but in the end Roman tactics won out, even though they were severely out numbered. Reports differ, but at this point Boudica either killed herself so she wasn't captured, or died of illness.
Boudica is pronounced so as the "bou" part rhymes with the "bow" of "bow and arrow". Though she has been called many different variations, the main other one being Boadicea. Her name literally translated, mean victory.

A section of the speech Boudica gave before her last battle:

"It is not as a woman descended from noble ancestry, but as one of the people that I am avenging lost freedom, my scourged body, the outraged chastity of my daughters. Roman lust has gone so far that not our very persons, nor even age or virginity are left unpolluted."

"But heaven is on the side of the righteous vengeance; a legion which dared to fight has perished; the rest are hiding themselves in their camp, or are thinking anxiously of flight. They will not sustain even the din and the shout of so many thousands, much less our charge and our blows.

"If you weigh well the strength of the armies, and the causes of the war, you will see that in this battle you must conquer or die. This is a woman's resolve. As for the men, they may live and be slaves!"

William Cowper even wrote a poem about her.


[Written 1780. Published 1782.]

WHEN the British warrior queen,
Bleeding from the Roman rods,
Sought, with an indignant mien,
Counsel of her country's gods,

Sage beneath a spreading oak
Sat the Druid, hoary chief;
Ev'ry burning word he spoke
Full of rage, and full of grief.

Princess! if our aged eyes
Weep upon thy matchless wrongs,
'Tis because resentment ties
All the terrors of our tongues.

"Rome shall perish—write that word
In the blood that she has spilt;
Perish, hopeless and abhorr'd,
Deep in ruin as in guilt.

Rome, for empire far renown'd,
Tramples on a thousand states;
Soon her pride shall kiss the ground—
Hark! the Gaul is at her gates!

Other Romans shall arise,
Heedless of a soldier's name;
Sounds, not arms, shall win the prize—
Harmony the path to fame.

Then the progeny that springs
From the forests of our land,
Arm'd with thunder, clad with wings,
Shall a wider world command.

Regions Cæsar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway,
Where his eagles never flew,
None invincible as they.

Such the bard's prophetic words,
Pregnant with celestial fire,
Bending, as he swept the chords
Of his sweet but awful lyre.

She, with all a monarch's pride,
Felt them in her bosom glow;
Rush'd to battle, fought, and died;
Dying, hurl'd them at the foe.

Ruffians, pitiless as proud,
Heav'n awards the vengeance due;
Empire is on us bestow'd,
Shame and ruin wait for you.

I am struggling to think of a way in which I could make this a really stand out project, without veering too far away from historical accuracy, because at the end of the day, even as queen, her clothes would have been fairly simple.
Would I get to make weapons?


  1. Hmmm, I have to say that Boudica doesn't grab me as the right project for you darling! Just not enough corsetry!!!

  2. I have to research all of them, to show I have made an informed decision. I think it is possible to hand in a link to my blog as part of my project work, so I'm trying to summarize the key research for each character they gave me in a blog post.