Boudica, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Boudica has been immortalised throughout history as the woman who dared take on the Romans - an act of vengeance on behalf of her daughters, tribe and enslaved country.

Her known life is a rich tapestry of wife, widow, mother, queen and Celtic quasi-Goddess.

But beneath this lies a history both dark and shocking, with fresh archaeological evidence adding new depth and terrifying detail to the worn-out myths.

From the proud warrior tribes of her East Anglian childhood to the battlefields of her defeat, this is a vividly written and evocatively told story, bringing a wealth of new research and insight to bear on one of the key figures in British history and mythology.

From the author of the much-praised Captain Cook comes a major new historical biography; a gripping and enlightening recreation of Boudica, her life, her adversaries, and the turbulent era she bestrode.


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A bit of a mixed bag. This 400 pager is not really a biography of Boudica in the traditional sense of the term. Indeed, little in the way of hard fact is known about the actual events of her life - or rather of the last year or so of her life that we know about from Tacitus and Cassius Dio - so only really enough to fill barely a quarter of the book. The first half of the book covers previous Roman and British history at some length on the basis - understandable to a degree, but stretched here to breaking point at nearly 200 pages - that one needs to understand that earlier history in order to understand Boudica. The last quarter looks at Boudican symbolism in literature and in popular and political culture over the centuries and makes some interesting points, though rather labours the Britannia imagery and constant comparisons to famous females including Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria, Margaret Thatcher and even Princess Diana. Probably the most interesting aspect of the book is the coverage of archaeological finds, what has been extrapolated from them and how this relates or not to what Tacitus and Cassius Dio tell us.

Review by

This book covers almost the same territory as Boudica: Iron Age Warrior Queen and contains several quotes from that author Richard Hingley. The major exception being that Collingridge goes further back in time to Rome and Caesar to study their attitudes toward women in society as a backdrop for her research. Both books look at the classical authors and modern archaeology to tell their tales. Both books conclude we know very little about the woman known as Boudica--including her name, which might have been a title or battle name (it means Victory). Both books spend about half their pages on history and about half on the legend that grew up around Boudica and her image down through the ages in literature, art, drama, and role in politics. However, Collingridge's book is meant as a popular biography. There are no footnotes, attributions are given in the text, and the narrative is in modern accessible language. She does provide a select biography and index. Personally I preferred the Hingley book, but I am doing research and liked the footnotes and attributions. Both books are thorough and well-written. (I think) the casual reader would enjoy either or both.

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