Class Year


Document Type



The story of Boudica, the Iron Age Celtic queen, has been echoed through multitudes of historical narratives, stories, poems, novels and even movies. Boudica led a rebellious charge against Roman colonists in Ancient Britain, and was eventually defeated. Now she stands as a woman who fought back against one of the most powerful empires in the world, during a time in which women had little to no place in history at all. Contemporary Roman historians Tacitus, born approximately around 56 or 57 C.E., and Dio, born around 150 C.E., both recorded the events of Boudica’s rise and fall, in retrospect to her defeat. These two Classical sources laid the foundation for the development of her history from the Renaissance up until the 21st century. Now, archaeological research in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries has shed light on the truth of Boudica, an event which occurred over a thousand years before, in 60 or 61 C.E. Boudica as a historiographical narrative can show trends in historical authorship since the Classical sources were written. Boudica became a model of the ‘useable past,’ and often was a venue for historians to communicate their own political opinions. It is in this way that she serves an important purpose of showing historiographical trends, but using modern schools of thought does not always provide the full truth in what happened during Boudica’s life. This paper will evaluate Boudica as a useable character in the past, and what that means for historiographical study today through the lens of ancient historiography, gender in history and post-colonialism.

Included in

History Commons