Boudica, Celtic Warrior and Queen: The Feminine in Resistance to Empire
Boudica! Her name means ‘She Who Brings Victory’. In the lands of Britain, formerly the Roman province of Britannia, it is a name to conjure with: the tall, red-haired warrior-woman, Queen of the eastern tribe of horse-breeders who lived in the lands we now call East Anglia, home of Cambridge University.
Two thousand years ago, she drew together the warring tribes of her land into one vast army over a hundred thousand strong and nearly – so very nearly – drove the occupying armies of the Roman Empire back across the Ocean. Over the course of a summer, the tribes of Britannia defeated two of the four Roman legions, only falling at the last hurdle in a single battle that changed the trajectory of British, and arguably European and world imperialization. The resultant Romanization of Britain lasted into the middle of the 5th century CE, and the diminution of the warrior culture led directly to the Anglo-Saxon invasion which segued into the Norman invasion and the feudalisation of Britain.
History is (almost exclusively) written by the winners and, while the history of the British Isles began long, long, long before the Roman invasion and occupation, written history began with Caesar and gained much of its detail, colour and texture with Tacitus. It is from the latter that we hear a suitably Roman story of a wife and mother, raised to vengeance by the mistreatment of her family.
But there is an alternative story that makes sense of her title. It is more intricate and empowering, has its roots going back far further in time, and gives us far more of a sense of the nature of occupation, resistance – and the alternatives to imperialism.
There is an argument that we are in the dying years of the Roman Empire: that the norms and values of a patriarchal, inherently misogynist culture, one that used a standing army to enforce punitive taxation and the commodification of land and labour. The Romans introduced social and spiritual changes that destroyed community and the connection between the people and the gods of the land. All of these factors set in train a two thousand year system of values leading inexorably to the free market neoliberalism that has brought us to the edge of the sixth mass extinction and climate tipping points from which we will not return.
An understanding of this time, of its antecedents and sequelae; of the events leading up to the Boudican Revolt – and an exploration of how the world might have changed had that been successful – is central to our capacity to frame the scale and scope of systemic change that will enable us to craft a generative, connected, confident future.
By the end of the 4 webinars students will have:
- Explored the classical history of the early Roman Empire and its impact on the continent of Europe and thus on global colonisation
- Examined the alternative, tribal-focused view of Britain extending from before the Roman invasion/occupation and extending beyond
- Clarified the disparity between written history and the reality on the ground; including how to read ‘between the lines’ of classical texts
- Reviewed a differing value-set embedded in the indigenous peoples of the Celtic lands that might offer one template on which to build a post-Imperial future
Week 1 • WHAT CAME BEFORE
We explore what we know (and what we might infer) of the tribal life of what became Britannia, and the political ascent of Rome that led to the Roman invasion of Britain in 43CE. We will investigate the sources and the nature of the lenses through which we view history: what is fact? What is plausible? What is projection – and how can we know the difference?
We compare this with the historicity of Christianity, which was arising in the same time frame.
Week 2 • INVASION:
We look at the invasion itself – what detail we know and the players involved on both sides. This leads into an exploration of the two decades of Occupation during which the resistance was active – how did the interplay of collusion and resistance shape the parallel developments in Rome as Claudius gave way to Nero/Seneca.
Week 3 • INSURRECTION:
We explore the lead-up to the insurrection; the impact of the loans made to tribes for whom money was a novelty, and what happened when those loans were recalled. We explore the myths and the probable realities and how we can infer a plausible sequence of events. We look at the opposing military structures and why the legions that fell or prevailed did so.
Week 4 • AFTERMATH, AND RELEVANCE TO OUR TIMES:
We look at the aftermath of the invasion on Britain and how it shaped the imperial future of the world. We explore the possible alternatives and see how the realities of the past might shape the future we choose to craft: what might be want to bring forward, what might we want to leave behind? If we are in the death throes of the Roman Empire, how might that play out?
Requirements for enrolled Degree students to earn 1 Credit:
- Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars – the Chapters on Claudius and Nero
- Tacitus and the Rebellion of Boudica: Jstor: https://www.jstor.org/stable/24591531
- Warwick University concise Boudican Revolt: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/classics/warwickclassicsnetwork/romancoventry/resources/boudica/revolt/
- One of the following:
- Mary Beard: Confronting the Classics – Traditions, Adventures and Innovations
- Mary Beard: SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome
- Webster: Graham: Boudica: The British Revolt Against Rome: AD 60
- Tacitus On Britain and Germany: https://www.itseyeris.com/book/tacitus-on-britain-and-germany
- Manda Scott: ‘What’s in a Name?’ blog: https://mandascott.co.uk/boudica-boudicca-boadicea-whats-in-a-name/
- Manda Scott: Boudica: Dreaming the Eagle – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B003R0KYXI?_bbid=18821135&tag=bookbubemail-21/
- David Graeber and David Wengrow: Unfreezing the ice age: the truth about humanity’s deep past – https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/oct/19/unfreezing-the-ice-age-the-truth-about-humanitys-deep-past
End of course essay describing the impact on your life of studying this material
- For BA students – 6-9 pages in length
- For MA students – 10-15 pages in length
- For PhD students – 20-25 pages in length
The rules guiding our assignment collection and grading process can be found here: Ubiquity University Grading Policy
Born and educated in Scotland, Manda Scott started life as a veterinarian, specialising in anaesthesia and equine neonatal intensive care. She worked in the clinical departments of the Universities of Cambridge and Dublin, at specialist equine practice in Newmarket and at the Animal Health Trust. The shift to a career as a novelist began with crime novels, but it was the move to writing the internationally best-selling Boudica: Dreaming series that allowed her to give up the day job. Soon after publication of the first book, she began teaching contemporary shamanic practice (shamanic dreaming) and has done so ever since. More recently, she gained a Masters in Regenerative Economics from Schumacher College, as a result of which, she set up Accidental Gods as a podcast and membership programme to facilitate the conscious evolution of humanity, in service to the web of life. She lives with her wife on a smallholding on the border between England and Wales and is currently training in veterinary and human homeopathy. (Photo of Manda Scott credited to Faith Tillera)
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