Anne Thériault’s previous work for The Toast can be found here.
Friends, we need to have a chat about the swaggest English monarch ever.
No, it’s not Elizabeth I, but that’s a good guess. Her swag was deep, but not quite deep enough.
It’s not Victoria either, even though she was a badass didn’t care what people thought, not even when her subjects were pissed about the fact that she was pretty obviously boning her servant John Brown. Not just boning, either – there was romance involved, too. They definitely spooned. Victoria was the big spoon, and no that’s not a fat joke in case you were wondering. Victoria was the big spoon because she was a boss and when there was cuddling going on you’d better believe that she was the cuddler and not the cuddlee.
But even though Victoria was a boss, she was not the boss in the pantheon of Awesome English Queens. That title belongs to one Boudica, queen of the British Iceni, a Brythonic tribe that loved horses and hated the Romans.
I’ll just give you minute while you go look up “Brythonic.” You’re welcome, by the way, for that addition to your vocabulary. Feel free to drop it into conversation whenever you want. Oh, and it looks like all those undergrad Classics courses weren’t such a waste after all, MOM.
And before anyone jumps in to whine about how England wasn’t even England back when Boudica was around and blah blah historical inaccuracy blah, let me just tell you right now that I am not interested. That is some Comic Book Guy-level shit and I don’t have time for it. No, the Jutes and the Angles and the Saxons hadn’t yet invaded in 60 AD, so “Angle-land” as we know it didn’t exist, but it’s the same geographical spot and also I don’t give a fuck. Look in my bag of fucks. There are none there for you. Any fucks that I might have I am keeping for my damn self.
The first thing that you need to know about Boudica is that she was a tall red-head who didn’t take sass from anyone. According to Roman historian and He-Man woman-hater club member Lucius Cassius Dio, she was “possessed of greater intelligence than often belongs to women.” Way to back-hand that compliment, dude. Dio also wrote that she had a harsh voice, a piercing gaze, and wore a giant badass gold torc around her neck. So basically she was EXACTLY HOW A QUEEN SHOULD BE.
Boudica, Queen of the Misandrists. Bow down, sweet little man-hating novices, and pay tribute to your patron saint.
Boudica was obviously always a super swag lady and was a queen by marriage, but she didn’t become ruler of the Iceni until after her husband, Prasutagus, died. Then they had a vote and pretty much all of the Iceni were like HECK YEAH WE WANT BOUDICA TO BE OUR QUEEN. And then the occupying Romans, who had not been invited to the British Tribe Party but decided to crash it anyway, were like, “Sorry? You don’t have a penis?” So they stamped DENIED on her application to rule over her own people, annexed her land and, just for good measure, raped her daughters. Ancient Romans: literally the worst.
When a bunch of British tribes, including the Iceni, decided to revolt against the Romans, they chose Boudica as their leader because the Celts, at least, knew a fucking boss when they saw one. Boudica’s first act as leader was to perform some witchy magic junk because she was basically Stevie Nicks in that one video but cooler. So she hid a rabbit under her skirt, and then invoked invoked Andraste, the British goddess of Getting It Done, and let the rabbit go. This act of divination apparently told Boudica to demolish Colchester, and she was like, “Cool. I’m on it. Thanks, Andraste. Can I call you Andy for short? No? That’s fine, I get it, some people don’t like nicknames.”
After Colchester was smashed flat and an entire Roman legion wiped out, Boudica set her sights on London. Because go big or go home. The Romans, who were literally the worst but still pretty smart, abandoned London to the rebel tribes. So Boudica burnt that shit to the ground. Nothing in the history of burning has been burned the way London was burned that one time. It was burned so hard that archeological digs have uncovered huge red layers of charred debris that correspond with the time when Boudica was figuratively (though I hope also literally) pissing on London as it burned.
Can I pause here a moment to get a hell yeah?
Next the Iceni destroyed St. Albans, bringing the Roman death count to something like eighty thousand. And was Boudica what my mother would refer to as a “gracious winner”? Only if being a gracious winner means taking no prisoners. Only if it means slaughtering every Roman you can find. Only if it means that you impale the Roman noblewomen on spikes and cut off their breasts and then sew their breasts to their mouths.
Oh, and according to Dio, they did all this “to the accompaniment of sacrifices, banquets, and wanton behaviour.”
Heck yeah they did.
Boudica’s final battle came somewhere in the West Midlands, where the Roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus had taken a stand with all the Roman soldiers he could find. Boudica led her people into battle, riding in a huge chariot with her daughters at her side. She told her troops that she would either win or die, and that anyone who didn’t want to be a slave to the Romans was welcome to join her.
Dear readers, I will spare you the details of the brutal downfall of the Greatest Woman Ever. Suffice to say that she did not win.
But we’re not here to talk about Boudica’s defeat. We’re here to celebrate the woman who carved a swathe across Britain that said FUCK THE PATRIARCHY in huge, fiery letters. We’re here to pay tribute to the giant middle finger that the occupied tribes flipped at the occupying force. We’re here to honour the memory of Boudica with our own banquets and wanton behaviour. Boudica died so that you could have banquets and behave wantonly – please do not let her death be in vain.
Say it with me now, my fledgling misandrists: LONG LIVE BOUDICA
May she reign in our hearts forever.