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Watling Street 60 AD – Boudica’s Revolt DOCUMENTARY

Watling Street 60 AD – Boudica’s Revolt DOCUMENTARY

On the very edge of the encroaching Roman
Empire, one woman would say ‘no more’, and stand up to resist the occupation of her
people’s ancestral lands – this was Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni. The most famous of the
Celtic peoples would fight an ultimately doomed rebellion against the Roman Empire and would
go out in a blaze of glory, to be remembered for thousands of years as both a fierce barbarian
and a heroic figure who fought for freedom. Upon the assassination of emperor Caligula
in 41AD, his uncle, Claudius, was unwillingly proclaimed as Emperor by the Praetorian Guard,
due to his Julio-Claudian lineage. Claudius was spared by Caligula due to his various
disabilities and inadequacies; he had a bad stutter, appeared to have been lame and reportedly
had a tendency to drool. Most crucial was his complete lack of military experience and
prestige, due to the fact that he had not been able to serve in the legions in his younger
years. Despite his shortcomings, it turned out that
Claudius was no incompetent fool, and he saw the possible propaganda value of invading
Britannia. In addition to emulating the glorious deeds of Julius Caesar, invading Britannia
would also allow Claudius to gain military legitimacy through conquest.
As the Empire rose, Augustus and Tiberius were both content to collect annual tribute
from the various British tribal allies and clients, but a change in 39AD would rupture
this cozy arrangement. Cunobelin, who was known as the rex brittanicum – a ‘King of
the Britons – died in that year, and his feuding anti-Roman sons began raiding in the lands
of Roman allied tribes. One of these tribes, the Atrebates, was ruled by a man known as
Verica, and he fled to Claudius in exile, giving the excuse the Emperor needed. Under the highly respected former proconsul
of Illyricum, Aulus Plautius, who was accompanied by future giants of the Roman world such as
Vespasian, an army of four legions sailed from Portus Itius. The legions which sailed
from Gaul were Legio II Augusta, IX Hispana, XIV Gemina and XX Valeria Victrix. They landed
in modern Kent soon after. After a few minor skirmishes on the southern
coast, two of Cunobelin’s sons – Togodumnus and Caractacus – met the Romans at the River
Medway, and were decisively defeated in an extended clash. Togodumnus was either killed
in the aftermath, or defected to the Roman cause, while his brother Caractacus would
famously lead a guerilla war against the Romans for another seven years, before being defeated
and captured at the Battle of Caer Caradroc. During the initial Roman invasion, a Brittonic
tribe based in the east of the island, the Iceni, allied with the Romans as a means to
secure protection. They paid tribute to the Empire, but were ruled by their own kings,
who saw the way the wind was blowing. In 60AD, the Iceni king Prasutagus died. In his will,
the Roman Emperor Nero was made co-heir with the king’s two daughters. He did this in
order to safeguard his kingdom and household and to ease them into Roman rule, but this
attempt would end up in failure. The legions marched to seize the entire territory
for Rome. According to Tacitus, Prasutagus’ ‘kingdom and household alike were plundered
like prizes of war’, and Iceni territories were earmarked for annexation into the Roman
province. This compounded the underlying harsh and oppressive conditions of Roman occupation.
We only have Roman accounts of the period, but even these are enough to reveal terrible
misadministration ranging from cruelly negligent to downright criminal. It is possible that
the procurator of Britannia would have been under constant pressure to improve his cash
flow, and the temptation of Iceni riches was too much to pass up on. In addition, the forced
levy of young adolescent warriors into the Roman legions as auxilia was almost universally
detested. Whatever the reasoning, when the king’s widow, Queen Boudicca, protested
against this treatment, she was flogged and her daughters were abused by Roman soldiers. Furious at this humiliation and wishing to
force the Romans off their lands, Boudicca raised her people to war in the year 60 and
the Iceni were quickly joined by their southern neighbors – the Trinovantes. The ‘British
disaster’, as Suetonius called it, had begun. The revolt was properly timed, as this was
especially bad timing for the Romans, because the governor of Britannia as the time, Gaius
Suetonius Paulinus, was away campaigning near modern Anglesey, and could not quickly return.
Iceni troops marched south to the Roman military colonia of Camulodunum – modern day Colchester.
It served as one of the main symbols of Roman domination. Moreover, its garrison – the Twentieth
Legion – had gone west with Paulinus. The hated colonia received word of the incoming
storm and asked the procurator in Londinium, Catus Decianus for help. Rather than marching
to the aid of his countrymen, the procurator sent them a meagre 200 strong force of poorly
equipped slaves, as it is entirely possible that Decianus completely underestimated the
scale of the revolt. While Camulodunum was full of Roman administrative and cultural
buildings, it wasn’t protected by walls. A 2,000 strong segment of the 9th legion hastily
rushed to the rescue of the colony. However, in their haste they were ambushed by Boudicca’s
Iceni forces and almost totally destroyed. Without any substantial relief arriving in
time, the Britons bore down on the city. Men, women and children, were wiped out by hanging,
crucifixion, burning and other cruel means, while the colony’s buildings were burned
to the ground. Survivors of this first wave fled to the great temple of Claudius for protection,
and were shielded for two whole days by the veteran Romans and the small number of reinforcements
sent to the town. Despite their resistance, the Celtic numbers paid off and they burst
into the temple, killing everyone they saw. The destruction of Camulodunum was so total
that archaeologists are able to see a noticeable layer of scorched debris left by the sacking
of the city called the ‘Boudiccan destruction horizon’. In the aftermath, a messenger
reached Paulinus in Wales, informing him of the disaster and prompting him to force march
his troops back to the east, while he rode swiftly with a group of horsemen to appraise
the situation. Londinium was the rebels’ next major target,
a Roman city founded just after the conquests of 43AD, which had grown into a bustling trade
centre populated by merchants, travellers, Roman functionaries and their families. Before
Boudicca’s horde of Brittonic warriors could arrive in Londinium, Paulinus arrived with
his small mounted contingent, and contemplated making a stand to save the town. However,
he quickly realised that without his legions, it was a foolish fight to get into. He instead
decided to abandon Londinium to its fate in order to buy time for his armies to concentrate,
and retreated northwest along the road which would become known as Watling Street.
Soon after Paulinus’ retreat, the same devastation which had scoured Camulodunum now hit Londinium.
The death and destruction was absolute. After slaughtering the population of Londinium,
Boudicca set off in the direction of Verulamium, moving north up Watling street before doing
what she had done to the two other larger cities. The lack of coins in the archaeological
record however, could imply that the inhabitants realised what was coming and managed to escape
with much of their portable wealth – possibly following Paulinus north. Nevertheless, Verulamium
also ended up a blackened wasteland Meanwhile, Paulinus had united with the forces
he could muster, and picked a spot for the coming decisive battle about half-way up Watling
street, attempting to draw Boudicca as far west as possible to allow time for the legionaries
to rest. The field on which the climactic battle would
be fought was a spot surrounded by wooded slopes with a narrow entrance, and protected
in the rear by a primitive forest dense with undergrowth. With the traditional Roman tactic
of using terrain to his advantage, Paulinus knew that in this position, the Romans could
not easily be assailed from the flanks or rear. Where exactly in middle-England the
battle took place is still a matter of debate, and many locations have been put forward,
including the town of Mancetter [man’setter], but it could have been any number of places.
Wherever the eventual conflict took place, Paulinus had around 11,000 soldiers at his
disposal, consisting of roughly 7,000 highly-disciplined legionary heavy infantry, drawn from legio
XIV Gemina and a vexillatio – or a temporarily detached segment – of legio XX. The 4,000
additional troops were six cohorts of auxilia infantry and two alae of cavalry, including
the consistently fearsome Batavians from the Rhine region. Paulinus had attempted to reinforce
his numbers by calling legio II Augusta from the south, but its commander ignored the request.
Forming up in front of their defensive position was, according to Cassius Dio, a horde of
230,000 Celtic screamers. These numbers are highly questionable, but if we divide his
estimate by five the Romans are still outnumbered around five to one. The majority of the rebel
infantry was traditionally ‘barbarian’ in armament, with a combination of long slashing
sword, shield and short thrusting spears. As for armour, it was very rare, and Celtic
warriors probably went into the fray dressed only in a pair of loose woollen trousers.
They instead relied on their fearsome physique and individual skill in fighting to gain victory.
Celtic aristocrats and military elites also formed a small force of open-fronted, lightning
fast and nimble chariots. As the rebel force approached Paulinus’
ragtag, half-strength contingent, he arrayed his forces along a narrow defile, with his
legionaries serving as the core strength of his army in the centre, three auxilia cohorts
on each of their flanks, and an alae of cavalry on each wing, anchored by the forests. The
dense forest cover at the sides and behind also meant retreat would be impossible if
the Romans were defeated; it was to be an all or nothing battle.
As the opposing forces readied themselves for the fray, both commanders attempted to
motivate their men. Riding the royal chariot along with her two daughters, the queen is
reported, by the probably inventful Cassius Dio, to have driven through her loose ranks,
shouting to the warriors around her: “Win this battle, or perish! That is what I, a
woman, plan to do. Let the men live in slavery if they will!”.
The comments made on the other side of the battlefield were far more brisk and businesslike,
brushing off the apparent ‘riff-raff’ opposite them. “Ignore the racket made by
these savages!” Paulinus orated to the troops. “They are not soldiers. They are not even
properly equipped! We have beaten them before and when they see our weapons and feel our
spirit, they WILL crack.” With a clamorous din of war cries from both sides, the British
charioteers opened the battle, wheeling up and down the Roman line, throwing insults
and deadly javelins at the Romans in equal measure. After the Romans resisted the missile onslaught
for a while and likely suffered a few losses, the charioteers retreated as the warbands
surged forward. They came in a gargantuan head-on assault, hoping to use the shock factor
of their charge to crash through and break apart the Roman line. However, the Romans’
clever use of terrain now came into effect. As the numerically dominant Celtic horde charged
up the slope, it was naturally funnelled into the increasingly narrow defile, which acted
as a force multiplier – limiting the number of warriors which could engage the Romans
at any one time, and blunting their charge, due to its uphill nature.
Nevertheless, the screaming warriors charged forward and, just before they hit the Roman
line, were showered by a storm of legionary Pila javelins, which would have caused crippling
casualties to lightly armed troops. Then, the Roman formation charged downhill in a
series of offensive wedge formations, aiming to carve deep swathes into the enemy mass.
The legionaries would have smashed the enemy in the face with the metal centre of their
heavy scutum shield, and then thrust with the gladius.
With the impetus of their initial shock charge blunted by the terrain, and the sophisticated
tactics and brutal efficiency of the enemy, the battle turned. Boudicca’s light infantry,
who probably had little experience fighting the kind of heavily armoured and armed troops
Rome fielded, were progressively, slowly but certainly carved into during the course of
the day. British vigor and ferocity were pushed back by Roman endurance and discipline, closer
and closer to the semicircle of wagons behind them.
Catastrophically, women, children and the infirm had accompanied the men to this battle.
However, the wagons inadvertently served as a large net through which the Celts could
not escape quickly enough, and they were massacred. Despite fighting for their own lives and those
of their loved ones, the Romans had no mercy for them. The women, children and even draught
animals were slain by the Roman gladius. We do not know how many perished, but 80,000
Britons were said to have died on the battlefield, at the meagre cost of 400 Romans. Though Boudicca managed to escape on her chariot,
Tacitus tells us that took her own life a few days later, while Cassius Dio says that
illness claimed her. Poenius Postumus, the legio II commander who had refused to assist
Paulinus, committed suicide when he heard news of the victory – clearly aware of the
fate that awaited him for his insubordination. The legion itself was disgraced, and remained
II Augusta for the rest of its days. Conversely, legio XIV Gemina gained the title Martia Victrix
– Martial and Victorious. The rest of the Iceni and Trinovantes were
utterly annihilated by the punitive Paulinus. After this defeat, Britannia would increasingly
be solidified as a Roman province and would only gain its freedom from Rome in the early
fifth century, just before the Western Empire’s final collapse. New videos on Roman history are on the way,
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100 thoughts on “Watling Street 60 AD – Boudica’s Revolt DOCUMENTARY

  1. Show notes:
    1. Roman authors Tacitus, Suetonius and Cassius Dio all wrote reports describing these events, but even despite that, the details are extremely scarce.
    2. Although, the final battle of this rebellion is traditionally called "Watling street", and the Roman road described in this video did exist at that time, it wasn't called "Watling street" until the Saxon times.
    3. Consider supporting us on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/KingsandGenerals or Paypal: http://paypal.me/kingsandgenerals

  2. This and many other wars contribute to the Roman finally withdraw from Britain. Greedy governors and generals oppressed and robbed the local tribes, breeding resentment and led to rebellion, which was then crushed at the expense of the state. The governors and generals return to Rome a rich man, while the Army bled and State coffers suffered.

  3. Did they censor the rape of Budicas daughters to avoid Youtube trouble? Budicas daughters were raped FYI not "abused".

  4. You guys should do the story of kushite queen Amanirenas who fought the Roman legions in Egypt and won her borders back aswell as becoming tax exempt from the Roman Empire

  5. Boudicca seems overrated af for the same reason people know Marie Curie more than Maxwell or Paul Dirac.

    Rare minorites in any field, be it military tactics or physics, tend to be overrated and overcelebrated.

  6. “Watling Street” is the most inaccurate and inappropriate name ever devised for this battle. It’s so stupid, I’m sure it was dreamed up by a whig historian. Probably a weiner as well.

  7. Boadicea…….her daughters were raped so she sacrificed her entire tribe just to get some kind of "revenge". Her tribe was wiped out and the Romans hardly noticed. It almost goes without saying that nowadays this self-indulgent fool is regarded as a feminist icon.

  8. The story of Boudica orating about freedom of the common folk needs to be put in the context of routine human sacrifice, and a general contempt for human life that disgusted the roman soldiers.
    The old law was, if the enemy eat your dead, destroy every last one of them.
    I reserve my judgement until I'm in that position.

  9. She didn't "fight for freedom", you idiot. And she had no problem with the Romans occupying Brittan. She fought for revenge.

  10. I would like to see a similar documentary on the Roman/Jewish Wars dating back to Birth of Jesus) – yr 1 to 120 AD (the end of New Testament writings). This documentary would be great help for many trying to understand the New Testament. https://urban-plains.com/impact/the-protesting-priest/

  11. I have read in some documents saying that Romans using soft-pincer javelin. Even their foes managed to equip shields to block javelins or arrows. The Javelin would become “sticked” to shield upon impact. Making the shield too heavy to wield effectively. Thus making them easy prey for Roman legionaries

  12. Always been a bigger fan of Suetonius Paulinus. Not only did he win with a significantly smaller force, but Boudica mass-murdered thousands of innocent Roman settlers. Yeah, the Romans weren't exactly innocent themselves (obviously), but that doesn't justify her merciless slaughter and destruction, especially since it was mostly against innocents who had nothing to do with what was done to the Iceni. So why do people admire her?

  13. And i wish kings and generals was my school teacher, thanks for the great video compilations you have on histroy 🙂

  14. The butcher lies dead, kille by her own hand. a poetic justice of a barbarii that sought to destroy civilization through genocide.

  15. And yet a certain crowd wants to undermine her & frankly any other historical achievements of women. Why I have no idea but iI can make a few educated guesses…

  16. the britons had lived in Britain since the last ice age and were the first homo-sapiens to inhabit the British isles. they are believed to be originally descended from the Vascones of northern Iberia and are the ancestors of the majority of modern white British people. please respond to this comment for evidence and I will GLADLY give it to you. so essentially – THEY ARE NOT CELTIC

  17. I stand with the Romans on this one. What Boudica had done, killing the women and children in those cities, the Romans returned the favor. Had she instead rallied the peoples in those cities and region to her cause, she would have met with greater success. Yes, she had justification against the Romans but I think the inhabitants in those cities are mostly Britons as well and by slaughtering them, she's killing her own base.

  18. If a tiny roman army could resist an army of 25000 plus barbarians imagine what the U.S military is going to do to the dehydrated mod thats going to storm area 51

  19. Search the history of Dihya (Queen) the real berbère
    Roi➳ berbère ➳ Numidia ➳ Algeria

    Cavalerie Numide ➳They helped Hannibal to conquer Rome

    230 _ 207 av. J.-C. Gaïa

    215 _ 203 av. J.-C. Syphax

    203- 202 av. J.-C. Vermina

    202 – 148 av. J.-C. Massinissa

    148 – 118 av. J.-C. Micipsa

    148 – 145 av. J.-C. Gulussa

    148 – 140 av. J.-C. Mastanabal

    118 – 117 av. J.-C. Hiempsal Ier

    118 – 112 av. J.-C. Adherbal

    118 – 105 av. J.-C. Jugurtha

    105 – 88 av. J.-C. Gauda

    84 – 82 av. J.-C. Hiarbas

    88 – 60 av. J.-C. Hiempsal II

    60 – 46 av. J.-C. Juba Ier

    25 – 23 ap. J.-C. Juba II

    17 – 24 ap. J.-C. Tacfarinas

    La Reine Mauri people

    300-400.J.C. La Reine Tin Hinan

    Royaume d'Altava

    578-690.J.C. Kusaila (Caecilius)

    688-703. Dihya (Kahina)

    c. 1830 – c. 1863 Lalla Fatma N'Soumer

  20. Legio 2's commander didn't go to Suetonius aid because he hoped that Boudica would defeat him, Suetonius, and become leader of all Roman forces in Britannia.

  21. Awesome. The only thing left out was that twice the Boadicea forces stormed the Romans only to be met by at least 10,000 pilums from the troops in the back line (akin to artillery). Nevertheless, this was a great presentation.

  22. Once both the Roman and Britannic forces were down hill, the chariots and the second battle line should have gone around and flanked the Roman forces, overwhelming the left and right contingent with a series of skirmishes and forcing them to fight from two directions at once. Once the enemy on the sides were dealt with, the remaining troops should have encircled the center line and trapped them. It was a mistake for the Celts to assume that they could deal with the Roman line with a frontal assault by relying on sheer manpower and numerical superiority.

  23. all the battles won by Roman legions
    and they still ultimately lose to Immigration.

    America's fate will be no different
    if we don't form our own legions.

  24. She fought for the freedom of her people but slaughtered them because they weren’t under her banner? Prettty messed up

  25. There certainly some bias, She fought for freedom? Yet she murder not only Soldiers but many many innocents people, it doesn't speak to me freedom. It is telling me she wants to re conquer the entire region under her rules using bad behavior of earlier Roman who just took control as her excuses to fight for freedom.

  26. 1800’s Britain:
    Made Boudicca a legend to help inspire Girls and young Women to excel.
    A mythological being, almost. Who strength and bravery matched that of any Man that ever lived.
    Literally a dozen statues of her riding chariots gloriously into Battle as a figure of pride, resistance and fury against an oppressive adversary.

    2019 British Feminists:
    British life in the 1800’s was incredibly misogynistic and cruel for Women…


  27. Lol why is she famous? she just burned down 3 undefended cities And then was defeated by an enemy at least 5 times smaller cause her only tactics was to scream and charge uphill without formation

  28. It has to be remembered that the people in Gaul at the time and Britannia, were the same people/race and part of the large Celtic civilisation.
    They had regular contact, this was proven. And the Celts of Britannia knew what had happened to their brethren in Gaul, and were aware of the Romans, especially as Julius Caesar had already executed a scouting operation on the Islands. One has to understand that before the Romans became powerful, there was a large Celtic Empire (so called Hallstatt culture) stretching from Britannia to Southern Germania and even to Greece (the people we know as Germans actually "immigrated" to Germania by descending the Rhine from Jutland at some point in history). This Empire was linguistically mutually intelligible and the peoples very well understood when the Romans conquered all of Gaul. This is also the reason that Germans and Celts regularly allied for raids on the Romans, when before they were enemies. They saw the Romans as a common threat. Though some German tribes preferred to ally with the Romans (romanised Germans).

  29. roman points at barbarian
    Do they hurt?
    other roman
    Worse they hurt your feeling
    naked man screaming
    Roman holds his chest

  30. In trying to emulate Caesar, who else would one turn but good old IX Legion, though I'm guessing no one else ever led them up a hill against a fortified village in person again.

  31. that last battle was pretty dumb… if i were boudica, i would have hunkered down in london and let the romans come to me.

  32. The Brits must have failed to make use of their more intelligent people in assessing the tactical situation. Boudicca was clearly not too bright, and more concerned with her own privileges than the lives of the multitude she convinced to follow her. Some of them must have seen all too well that they would pay with their lives for the stupidity of the leadership that contributed nothing of value to the effort. Boudicca is nonetheless traditionally viewed with sympathy, a paragon of desperate feminine bravery even, but almost any strategy would have been better than this disorganized stampede into the jaws of death to please only one selfish drama queen😆. On the other hand this was their idea of warfare, consisting of individual but uncoordinated toughness and ability. A primitive rabble, ripe for exploitation by the more sophisticated Romans, who sneered at their onset from lands end to John a groats, if that’s how they say it.

  33. If she had half a brain then she would have known she could not defeat a Roman army on the battlefield, Hit & run tactics would have been successful , why make her some sort of national hero when military speaking she was a idiot & like any typical woman didn't take the advice of her male experienced warriors

  34. Wasn't it Caractucus who was captured and sent to Rome where he made a great speach that saved his life and he ended up living in Rome for the rest of his life?

  35. I agree with a lot of the comments about Boudica being overrated but i think her popularity and historical status comes from the idea she represented and what she tried to do, not what she did, like Vercingetorix she fought a few small battles and then got her ass kicked and that was it but after a while when nationalism and loving your nations history and culture became really popular in the 19th and 20th centuries they exploded in popularity not because they accomplished great feats or were renown for their brilliance but because they stroke the ego's of the countries that now call their areas home now and give people something to be proud of, a sort of representation of what the people see them selves as, weather it be ferocity, determination, etc.

  36. The real slap in the face here is that Catus Decianus, the one who instigated this whole thing to begin with, never got any comeuppance. When he learned that Boudica was coming (and justifiably upset), he just ran away, first to Londinum and then further to Gaul. After that, he disappears from the records entirely, so we never know what became of him in the end.

  37. So Boudica just nonchalantly fled the field, leaving the Roman legionnaires to slaughter the women and children instead of going down fighting?

  38. now i know why anglia is, of far, the less populated region of united kingdom, with only 1 city with 100k pop

  39. There was constant internal guerilla warfare though until the Britons finally broke free. Evidence for which is scattered but there. The fact that as time went on less and less roman goods were found in roman settlements, and more and more roman goods were either found melted down into native objects in the non Romanized or less Romanized strongholds north and west. Or in hidden hoards in what would have been desolate areas at the time. It brings to mind what happened in Ireland with the Viking longphorts, with Gaelic warbands consistently raiding the Viking settlers and there allies. Also as some later examples are the roman sources admitting continued native resistance in the areas of the brigantes and around the wall. Also with welsh hill tribes still living in hill forts supposedly after the romans banned there construction and use. The fact that roman authors hint at some level of contact and coordination between native southerners and massive pictish campaigns in the south and at the very least near constant inspiring acts of resistance by the predominately native bacaudae revolts in gaul. which might have created a feedback loop between these and supposed native revolts in Britain. How much contact there actually was between gallic bacaudae groups and Brythonic rebel groups is not known for now, but Zosimus states that the Britons were inspired by the success of the bacaudae revolts in what is now Brittany enough to somehow extirpate all of Britain's roman magistrates and declare home rule in 410 AD.

  40. Boudica should have sieged the Romans where they stood, cutting off their supply of water and food, making their army very weak from dehydration and lack of food as their supplies ran out. She could have ordered her army to build barricades changing the battlefield to her advantage, knowing there is only one way for the Romans to move – forward. They were cornered and had no chance of escape. She could have built a wall and sealed the Romans into a prison of their own making and built catapults to bombard the Romans. Instead, she snatched epic defeat out the jaws of victory. She could have easily defeated the Romans had she used her brain.

  41. You forgot to mention Boudica tricked the other tribes who was not willing to go to war with mighty Roman army at first espically not for
    Boudica daughters who was sexually assualted but she made plane to tick them to join her cause by using a pagan ritrual that involves a bird to assume that divine intervention would help them against Romans but really its one of the biggest cons of all time.

  42. Imagine how different British history would have been if Cartumandia had supported Cartacus and Boudica instead of being a Traitor, That said she staved off the inevitable for her People till the AD70s

  43. she had no military backgound that's why she had no experience in leading her troops to victory..no tactics at all..her orders were charged and fight to death..no matter what

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