Another great Alternate History Story of Boudica, Queen of the Icini.
My daughter asked me these questions the other day; “grandmother, how can you tell such a good story? Where do you start from?” How did we become free? My simple answer was, “from the beginning, dear, from the beginning.” This is why I must go back and explain what really happened and how we became a united people.
My name is Heanua, though some call me Outofthinair. I am the youngest daughter of the great Icini Queen, Boudica, and this is, truly, more her story than mine.
Fifty years ago, in the year our enemies identify as 814 from the founding of their city of Rome, and others say 61AD, my mother, named Breacah, lead a rebellion against our foreign occupiers, the Romans. The Romans invaded our land in force in 43AD, under their Emperor named Claudius. We tried to live peacefully alongside the invaders, but their treatment of the people became so brutal and harsh, separation and freedom became the only choice.
The final act of brutality that set fire and produced the rebellion, was the savage whipping of our mother Breacah and the rape of me and my sister Lannosea. Boudica gathered together the surrounding tribes, the Catuvellauni, the Trinovantes, Atrebates, the Coritani, and others, and set out to force the Romans off our sacred land. She took up the title of - Boudica, meaning Favored Leader in our language.
They destroyed and burned the Roman settlement of Camulodunum. The Roman commander Quintus Petillus Cerialis, commanding the 9th Legion, attempted to relieve the city, but suffered an overwhelming defeat. His infantry was wiped out—only the commander and some of his cavalry escaped. The army continued on to defeat the Romans at Londinium and Verulamium, killing over 80,000 of the hated enemy. It was discovered that the Roman Governor, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, was leading an assault against the sacred isle of Anglesey to destroy the Druid priest. Boudica lead her army west with many other tribes joining her, even the feared Silures, Ordovices and Dumnoni tribes joined in our effort.
When news of the rebellion reached him, Suetonius hurried along through hostile territory to Londinium. Suetonius considered giving battle there, but considering his lack of numbers and well aware of Petillius's defeat, decided to sacrifice the city to save the province. Suetonious amassed a force, the 14th Legion, some detachments of the 20th Valeria and remnants of the 9th Hispana Legion. The Prefect of the 2nd Legion, Poenius Postumus, was ordered to join Suetonius, but he ignored the order. Counting auxiliaries, the Romans had around 10,300 trained soldiers available.
Our army, now consisting of over 100,000 fighting men and women, met the enemy to the west in the lands of the Catuvellauni, and the battle for freedom was fought. The Romans, although vastly outnumbered, falsely thought that since many of our warriors were women, that their victory was assured. Unfortunately for them, Boudica had studied the Roman way of war and realized that to attack the Romans head on in their position with their flanks protected, was inviting disaster.
Boudica selected thirty thousand warriors to hold the Romans in position while she sent twenty thousand more, under cover, to each flank of the Romans. With perfect timing, after releasing a hare which ran towards the enemy, (a favorable omen) she launched the attack.
At first the Romans stood their ground and used volleys of pila, javelins, to kill hundreds of our warriors who got too close to the Roman lines. The Romans started to advance in a wedge formation to push our warriors back. In her battle plan, Boudica had ordered the warriors to fall back and not engage the armored Romans, but to take their time.
The eager Romans took the bait and continued to advance until they were well into the open grass plain with their flanks exposed on both sides. Suddenly, Boudica gave the signal, and our hidden warriors on both flanks rose from their position in the woods and high grass and assaulted the Romans from the rear and flanks. At the same time, we assaulted them from the front in wave after wave of attacks. At first, the Romans formed their Cohorts into defensive squares, but the sheer number of our brave warriors continued to assault until all their standards were captured.
Boudica silently crossed the battlefield, herself coated in enemy blood, and offered terms of surrender to Governor Paulinus. The Romans were to leave the isle of Britannia and never return. All Roman civilians and settlements were to be disbanded and returned to the continent.
Paulinus accepted her terms and the few remaining Roman soldiers, less than a cohort, were given free passage to return to the docks in Londinium and organize the Roman departure. The Roman Emperor Nero, accepted the terms of the treaty, he wanted to get his legions out of Britannia and use them elsewhere, and we had proven to be such a nuisance to the empire, he said; “good riddance to bad rubbish.”
Our war for freedom was won, and the tribes united. It was very difficult at first to form a tribal union, but we were all well aware of the Roman threat a few miles from our shores, we finally formed one. Even the stubborn Caledones and Venicones to the far north finally joined. Our council fought for a long time over what to call our united tribes, but when stubbornness held, we finally decided on the name that our enemy had called us, Britannia.
We have had peaceful trade relations with the Roman Empire over these past decades. The only time we came close to conflict was when their Emperor Vespasian, a onetime Legate of the 2nd Legion in Rome's early days to conquer our land, thought seriously about trying to bring Britannia back into the Empire. His plans were discarded on his death in 69AD and his son Titus became Emperor.
Our self-defense force was reorganized and patterned after the Roman Military model. We learned much from why the Roman military machine was so successful and organized ourselves to copy them. The Roman Emperor, Trajan, who was declared as Optimus Princeps, “the Best Ruler” by the Roman Senate, was so impressed by how much we had advanced militarily, socially, and economically, he offered a military and trade alliance, which we accepted in 110 AD.
That, my daughter, is how we won our freedom and independence from the greatest Empire on earth.
HISTORIAL NOTE: When the Goths under Alaric sacked Rome in 410, AD, marking the decline of the Roman Empire, Britannia was safe. No one had the power or audacity to attack a well-organized, prosperous, and democratic republic (No Kings or royalty in Britannia after 212AD. Britannia adapted a government based on a combination of the Roman and Greek Republics with Senators and Representatives). After Rome finally passed into history, Britannia became the most powerful nation on earth. Her navies ruled the seas and she planted many colonies around the globe. She continues to be the envy of all struggling nations and fights for liberty and justice for everyone.
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