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Roman Britain – 2d British Resistance

Why did the British rebel?

By A.D 61, the Romans were in control of southern Britain. Then they faced their most serious problem to date – rebellion.

It began while the Roman governor Paulinus, who was the soldier in charge of Roman Britain, was away in North Wales. He had led the Roman army and got rid of the Druids, the priests of the old Celtic religion.

The trouble started in East Anglia. The Iceni tribe lived there and Prasutagus, the King, was a friend of the Romans. When he died, he left half his kingdom to the Roman emperor, and half to his wife, Queen Boudicca, but the Romans wanted it all. They also wanted extra taxes and they wanted Boudicca to give up her throne.

The Britons marched to Camulodunum (Colchester), the capital of Roman Britain. Boudicca’s warriors attacked the town. They burned the new Roman temple, where Roman soldiers and their families had taken shelter.

Next Boudicca led her army towards Londinium (London). The Romans had made London an important town and port. By now, news of the rebellion had spread. The Roman governor, Paulinus, dashed from Wales to London, but he did not have enough soldiers to fight Boudicca. He left London, taking his soldiers with him. Many people fled the city. The Iceni burned London and killed hundreds of people, both Britons and Romans.

The Outcome of the Rebellion

Boudicca turned to north to attack another Roman town, Verulamium (St Albans). Paulinus was in the Midlands, preparing for battle. He called for more soldiers. Part of the Roman army was at Exeter, but its commander refused to come. Paulinus had to make do with what he could muster – perhaps 10,000 men.

Boudicca may have had ten times more soldiers than the Romans, but the Romans were well trained and a great battle took place. The only reports of it come from Roman writers, such as Tacitus. Tacitus says most of the Britons were killed rather than be captured after the rebellion, Boudicca drank poison to kill herself so the Romans had won.

After Boudicca’s rebellion, people in southern Britain settled down to live under Roman rule. Many Britons enjoyed living in Roman-style towns with baths and shops. Some spoke and wrote in Latin (the Roman language), and wore Roman fashions.

Follow these hyperlinks to learn more:-

  1. BBC Bitesize
  2. BBC History
  3. The School Run

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