Decisive Roman victory
* End of Boudica's revolt * Roman rule secured
COMMANDERS AND LEADERS
10,000 Dio claims 230,000; Plus women, children and non-combatants
CASUALTIES AND LOSSES
* v * t * e
Roman invasion and occupation of Britain
* Caesar\'s invasions (55–54 BC)
* Conquest of Britain (43–76 AD)
* Medway * Capture of Camulodunon * Caer Caradoc * Menai
* Boudica\'s uprising (60–61 AD)
* Scotch Corner (71 AD)
* Mons Graupius (83 AD)
Siege of Burnswark (140 AD)
* Caledonia (208–210 AD)
Carausian Revolt (286–296 AD)
* Usurpation of
Magnentius (350–353 AD)
Carausius II (354–358 AD)
Great Conspiracy (367–368 AD)
* Usurpation of
The BATTLE OF WATLING STREET took place in Roman-occupied Britain in
AD 60 or 61 between an alliance of indigenous British peoples led by
Boudica and a
Roman army led by
Gaius Suetonius Paulinus
Historians are dependent on Roman sources for accounts of the battle.
The precise location is not known, but most historians place it
* 1 Background
* 2 Battle
* 2.1 Location
* 3 Aftermath * 4 References * 5 External links
In AD 43, Rome invaded south-eastern Britain. The conquest was
gradual. While some kingdoms were defeated militarily and occupied,
others remained nominally independent as allies of the
One such people was the
Roman Governor of Britain ,
Gaius Suetonius Paulinus
Boudica and her army headed for
While Boudica's army continued their assault in
As their armies deployed, the commanders would have sought to motivate their soldiers. Tacitus, who wrote of the battle more than fifty years later, claims to relate Boudica's speech to her followers:
"'But now,' she said, '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 a 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 men, they may live and be slaves.'"
Although the Britons gathered in considerable force, they are said to
have been poorly equipped, as the
"Ignore the racket made by these savages. There are more women than men in their ranks. They are not soldiers—they're not even properly equipped. We've beaten them before and when they see our weapons and feel our spirit, they'll crack. Stick together. Throw the javelins, then push forward: knock them down with your shields and finish them off with your swords. Forget about plunder. Just win and you'll have everything."
Although Tacitus, like many historians of his day, was given to invent stirring speeches for such occasions, Suetonius's speech here is unusually blunt and practical. Tacitus's father-in-law, the future governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola , was on Suetonius's staff at the time and may have reported it fairly accurately.
Boudica led her army forward across the plain and into the narrowing field in a massive frontal attack. As they advanced, they were channeled into a tightly packed mass. When the Romans had exhausted their missiles, they rushed out in a wedge-like column. The Romans, with a clear advantage in armour, weapons, and discipline, had a decisive advantage in the close quarters fighting against the tightly packed Britons. The Roman cavalry, lances extended, then entered the battle. As the Britons' losses increased, the Britons tried to retreat, but their flight was blocked by the ring of wagons and the Britons were massacred. The Romans killed not only the warriors but also the women, children, and even pack animals. Tacitus relates a rumour that 80,000 Britons fell for the loss of only 400 Romans. However the figures quoted for the campaign in the ancient sources are regarded by modern historians as extravagant.
Boudica is said by Tacitus to have poisoned herself; Cassius Dio says Boudica fell ill and died and was given a lavish burial. Poenius Postumus , prefect of the 2nd legion, which had failed to join the battle, having robbed his men of a share of the glory, committed suicide by falling on his sword.
The site of the battle is not given by either historian, although
Tacitus gives a brief description. A wide variety of sites, all
consistent with an army attacking from the area of London toward the
Roman forces concentrating from the direction of Cornwall and Wales,
has been suggested. One legend places it at Battle Bridge Road in
King\'s Cross, London , although from reading
Tacitus it is unlikely
Most historians favour a site in the Midlands, probably along the
Roman road of
Watling Street between
In March 2010 evidence was published suggesting the site may be
Church Stowe , Northamptonshire. The Kennet valley, close
More recently a suggestion has been made that the battlefield was on
the A5 just south of
It is said that the emperor
The defeat of Boudica ensured Roman rule in southern Britain; however, northern Britain remained volatile. In AD 69 Venutius , a Brigantes noble would lead another less well documented revolt, initially as a tribal rivalry but soon becoming anti-Roman.
* ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History 62.8.2
* ^ Webster, Graham (1978).
Boudica the British revolt against
Rome, AD 60. London: Routledge. ISBN 0415226066 .
* ^ A B C Bulst, Christoph M. (October 1961). "The Revolt of Queen
Boudicca in A.D. 60". Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte. 10
JSTOR 4434717 .
Cassius Dio , Roman History 19-22
Tacitus , Agricola 14
Tacitus Annals 14.31
* ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History 62.2
* ^ Tacitus, Annals 14.29-39, Agricola 14-16; Cassius Dio, Roman
* ^ Tacitus, Annals 14.31-32
* ^ Tacitus, Annals 14.33
* ^ A B Tacitus, Annals 14.34
* ^ A B C D E Tacitus, Annals 14.37
* ^ A B Tacitus, Annals 14.32
* ^ Tacitus, Annals
Florus , Epitome of Roman History 1.38;