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3/22/2008

To the Land of Boadicea

Today we fly to England. A theatre tour of London. The students will be on their Easter break. And I will be with them. But there is another purpose for me to be there. There is something else I want to see. A statue. A very special statue. Of a Queen.

She raised an army and almost drove the Romans out of Britain. She was Boadicea and she was Queen of the Iceni, a Celtic clan that lived in the east midlands. They had lived in peaceful cooperation with the Romans; her husband, the King, had treated with the Romans and agreed to cede half his lands to them upon his death, the other half to Boudicea and her daughters. Problem was, it was counter to Roman culture to allow a woman to inherit. So, upon the death of the King, the Romans took what they felt she had no right to; they raped her and her daughters before her people, humiliated her and drove her out. They made one mistake. They didn't kill her.

She raised an army from other clans and routed the garrison at Colchester, razed St. Albans and London. No one knows exactly where the last battle took place, but in exhorting her army of men to higher courage, she told them, 'Win the battle or perish: that is what I, a woman will do; you men can live on in slavery if that's what you want.' They fought bravely, but the Romans had picked the ground on which they fought and the Britons were slaughtered. 80,000 men, women and children were said to have died. She, herself, took poison rather than be captured.

Today, her bronze statue rides high in her chariot, along the banks of the Thames near the Houses of Parliament, in London, the town she destroyed. She lost her battle. The Romans remained in Britain for another 360 years or so. But they never forgot her name. And today, every child in school in Britain knows of Boudicea, knows of her story, her courage and that they, the children of Britain, are made of the same stuff. She is their mother. The spiritual mother of their freedom.

Her story moves me. The thought of what she went through and what she did after her torment fills me with an emotion that brings tears to my eyes and a burning lump to my throat. I don't know why. But somehow, her story has an importance, a meaning to me that makes me cry.

If I see nothing else in London, if I go nowhere else, I will go to her chariot and look into the eyes of Boudicea. I want to feel her power, her strength, stand in awe of her presence. As the Iceni did. As the Romans did. As I must.

6 comments:

Sandy C. said...

Your recount of her story nearly moved me to tears. Just reading your words makes me want to take the journey to see her statue as well. What an amazing woman.

I hope you find your way to her this week. May you and Zach have a wonderful and safe trip to England :)

LceeL said...

Sandy: Thanks. I'm sure we will. I know I will.

Elizabeth said...

That's a pretty powerful story. Boadicea sounds like my kind of gal. I wonder what Britain might be like today had she had won that battle?

Have a safe, fantastic trip!

Marita said...

I'd never heard about Boadicea before. An extraordinarily moving story. Thank you for posting about it.

Nicole said...

Wonderful story.
I deeply admire the Celtic culture.
They had their dark spots too, but still, like you say, something about them moves me.
Say "Hello" to her from me ;)

frog ponds rock... said...

Yay!!! visit her for me as well...

thanks Lou..