As I am still on holiday, and will be for a bit longer (believe me, I bloody needed it), I have pulled in yet another fabulous resource to help me post while I am away. The fabulous and talented Maggie Grover. Please post! This is but post 1 of 2. I promise to begin posting once again come August 15th.
First, I’d like to thank Delilah for inviting me to her blog. She and I go back many years. I won’t reveal how many, for a woman never posts her age, nor the age of her friends. Suffice it to say, I’ve known Delilah since shortly after she first learned to play the pianoforte and she is quite accomplished at it now. It’s truly an honor to post here, as I, too, share her great love of stories as well as her passion to discuss things that most would shy away from. Perhaps this passion stems from both of us being voracious readers and we’ve learned to never underestimate the power of reading, especially the power of reading banned books. It causes you to ask questions. Questions about the story of Adam and Eve. Questions about sex. And, as Delilah put it in her first post, questions about why, even in the earliest forms of writing about history and culture, men controlled women’s sexuality and the telling of their stories. We wanted to know more about HER-story, not HIS-story.
So, my postings will be about women who stood up, spoke up, and made a difference. Or, as a friend of mine calls it, women who have crotch. And, yes, there were plenty of women before our times who had crotch, we just haven’t heard about most of them. As I mainly write historical novels about the people of Great Britain, I’ll tell you the tale of one of their all-time favorite heroines who had uber-crotch. She was Boudica (or Boudicea) by name, warrior+queen+priestess by game. And what a game it was. Limited written sources do exist, and two Roman historians (Dio Cassius and Tacitus) speak of a tall, tawny-haired woman with a fierce aspect. Basically, a woman capable of scaring the pants off the men of the Roman empire – well, not literally, because the Romans wore a garment more like a tunic. Anyway, you get the idea, she made the Romans tremble -- and not in a good way. Tacitus researched his biography of Boudica by reading documents of the time. Dio Cassius interviewed his father-in-law, one of the Romans who had his pants scared off. I think Dio Cassius described the Roman mindset best when he wrote, “Moreover, all this ruin was brought upon the Romans by a woman, a fact which in itself caused them the greatest shame.” What was the ruin? Well, again with Dio Cassius -- a “great shock to the Roman government for rarely in their annals had there been a rebellion of such magnitude and ferocity.”
Rebellion? Led by a woman? But why? How? Well, around 60 CE, Boudica lived near what is now Norfolk, England and was married to an Iceni king, although she most likely was a queen in her own right – some say from the Iceni tribe itself, or possibly even as far away as Ireland. Either way, she was a woman of power, from the upper class, which if you were a Celt, meant you were trained in the art of a warrior, and more than likely, in the spiritual, or druidic arts as well, for the Celts were a people with a rich and complex culture, worthy of a series of their own blog-postings. Which reminds me, Boudica’s story is no less rich, so to do her justice, this will be a two-part posting.
Now, the backstory to her rebellion. Five Romans and one Iceni king (Boudica’s husband) figure in the mix. Three of the men you’ve probably heard of - the other three, probably not. The first was a Roman general who really, really liked being in charge of Rome and its provinces. Think of it – all that power, all that money, and throw in the possibility of being made a god by the people? What upwardly mobile male worth his testosterone wouldn’t like that? So, he asked himself, how can I expand on this? Why, simple -- get more resources for Rome or save Rome from Her enemies. What kind of resources? Iron and tin. And who were her enemies? Well, let’s see, Rome in 55 BCE pretty much included everything bordering the Mediterranean, give or take a few countries like Egypt with her soon-to-be Queen Cleopatra (this is a hint as to who the general was). Said general decides that the most exciting place left was a mysterious island across the channel from what we now call France. The place was inhabited by, as viewed by the Romans, sword-wielding, grove-worshipping barbarians. And, what a coincidence, the barbarian’s land just happened to have iron and tin. This general assured the Roman senate that the resources weren’t what the conflict was really about. He simply wanted to bring the benefits of a Roman way of life to them. The general’s name? Julius Caesar.
It wasn’t really much of an invasion, but it did lay the groundwork for the next one, and Caesar did get a really nice triumphal parade out of it. Jump ahead almost 100 years. Claudius, the fourth Roman emperor, realizes he, too, needs to have a military triumph. Where better? So, off Claudius went to the mysterious island. He invaded, made a slew of treaties with the local Celtic kings he had no intention of keeping, then returned to Rome just in time for his triumphal march. Only thing is, the men he left behind weren’t exactly, shall we say, politically correct? Jump ahead a few years, the cost of living is up, slavery is on the rise, local resources are being plundered and it’s time for a fiddle-playing emperor to come to power. It’s also the time for Boudica’s husband to die…and alas, I'm out of space. The rest of Boudica's story will have to wait until my next post. In the meantime, feel free to post your favorite uber-woman from history and be sure and tell us why.