A change of pace for this week’s Blog Collab and a very interesting one it is too. I’m sure we’ll branch out more in this area as time passes but for now here’s a wee taster.
I don’t want to speak for my wife, but I know last week was a busy one for me (I went out not once, but three times). THREE TIMES! So tackling something bite-sized was quite nice for a change.
I should also share that I received a message from Jill saying she was in the mood to see some men die by the sword, which gives you a glimpse into how her week has gone (hope she doesn’t mind me sharing that, but it tickled me). Needless to say, I’m always up for women in history pushing boundaries and kicking sweet arse, so I was fully in.
To the swords!
Warrior Women: Boudica (TV Series) (2003)
IMDB Synopsis: History of women warriors narrated by Lucy Lawless. Stories include, Grâce O’Malley, Boudica and Lozen.
It’s hard to review a TV show like this but I will try.
I must admit that my heart sunk when the opening credits to episode 5 of this five-part Discovery Channel documentary started, as it looked like Lawless was channeling The Bride via a very poor MS Paint job. The music and voice over I would call typically ‘American’ and reminded me of a show I am obsessed with (Deadly Women). This was neither a bad or good thing, just not something I hear often. (English documentaries about murders and war always seem more subdued, is what I’m trying to say).
It was okay though as it turned out that Lawless has a wonderfully soft Kiwi accent and is a natural in front of the camera as herself. And Xena would never steer me in the wrong direction so I quickly got into this episode, of the rise and fall of Boudica, the Celtic Warrior Queen.
We see here historical reenactments spliced with tidbits from academics and a couple of ‘demonstrations’ from the experts, including a dude who really relished pretending to stab Xena to death with a blunt sword, and a women who whipped up blue face paint (a la
Braveheart) with flowers and a healthy dose of spunk. Xena was game though and painted her entire face, thus cementing herself as true legend and far less squeamish than I.
Boudica, if you didn’t know, was a British Celt and part of a clan called the Iceni. She was married to a man called Prasutagus who made a deal with Claudius the Roman emperor, following the Roman conquest in 43 AD.
This treaty was a happy one for a time, and Boudica and family had no cause for concern as they were left to their own devices for the most part. The Celts, despite their reputation, were not the backward barbarians people thought them to be, and were a big part of the
advanced Iron Age.
Shit hit the fan though, after Pras died. You see, Pras named Claudius as his co-heir alongside one of his daughters in order to broker the original deal. (Big mistake, mate. HUGE!).
While the Celts were forward thinking and had no issue with woman fighting, working and even ruling, the Romans did and so they ignored Pras’ will and wishes, and headed to England to plunder and pillage. It’s here that they made their worst mistake: they flogged Boudica and raped her daughters.
Boudica is portrayed as the first archetypal fiery redhead (I hope this is true) but basically, we’re an angry bunch who can fight dirty when we need to (Too nice my arse!), and Boudica rose up as you would expect to kick the living shit out of the men who had wronged her and her daughters.
She led an army of anti-Roman lovers, made up of the Iceni and other tribes who did not support their bully boy antics. She killed no end of Romans (by the end of her reign between 70,000 – 80,000), caused a whole lot of shit and damage, and even defeated the Romans in London, where the Roman Governor was forced to flee.
It all came to a head in the next battle however, where the Roman’s strategy was just too good, Boudica & Co were beat and the Governor regained control of the province. During this bloodthirsty fight to the death, Boudica lost both her daughters.
Boudica’s end is not known for sure but she did survive the battle. It is thought she either died from an illness (sustained from injury during the fight) or she killed herself. Either way is not fitting for such a Qween if you ask me and it’s a real shame nobody knows the truth. We end the episode with a list of places in England that Boudica is rumoured to be buried, including somewhere between platforms 9 and 10 of King’s Cross Station.
Familiar? It’s rumoured JK was inspired by this and placed the departure point of the Hogwarts Express at King’s Cross Platform 9¾.
This does what it says on the tin but I did enjoy the asides. It was nice to get a feel for the Iron Age, to see blacksmiths and jewellery makers at work, and to learn that this was a somewhat wealthy clan who weren’t backward or uneducated in the slightest.
It was also interested to study the paralell between attitudes towards Celtic women and how they were seen and treated by the Romans, who were just fucking pricks tbh.
I already knew most of the Boudica story, having read a bit and seen adaptations of it on the small screen (and inspiration from it on the big). In fact, the one that sticks most in my mind is the one starring my darling Alex Kingston (what a woman!).
I can’t remember how many liberties they took with the story, or whether they stuck quite close to the truth, but I remember loving it. In fact, Jill, I think we should watch it together some time!
The production values for this doc were quite low but it has heart so I’m not going to be too harsh about them. Technology has moved on a lot since the early noughties anyway.
And finally, perhaps we should have explored a warrior woman we didn’t know anything about, such as Grace O’Malley or the real life Mulan but I was happy to start with the Original Queen B.
My Rating: Seems silly to try and rate this so I won’t, but 5/5 to Boudica for sticking it to the man for so long. One of the first ever riot grrrls whose legend will live on.