Celtic Warrior Queens Cartimandua and Boudicca: Guidance for Women Today?

By Mari Ziolkowski

Bouddicca Statue by Thomas Thornycroft, near Westminster Pier, London. Photo by A. BradyCartimandua and Boudicca – two women leaders living in what we now call the British Isles in CE 40 or so – one a Brigante tribal queen, the other a warrior leader of the Iceni.  Both were confronted with the Roman invasion of their homelands.  Both women had to make tough decisions about how best to protect their people.  What do their decisions have to say to women today who continue to find themselves living in a male-dominated society?

Do we surrender to the more powerful oppressor as did Cartimandua, Queen of the Brigantes, to invading Roman legions in CE 43?  What are the costs, and what are the benefits of becoming a ‘client queen’ in a male dominated society?  Are we protected for a time, as was Cartimandua?  If we are ‘good girls’ at work and at home, and don’t make a fuss, is there a pay off in safety for ourselves, or our family? Are our house and job safe, and our families safe because we are a team player?  If we are challenged or attacked at work or in the streets, will the ‘powers that be’ fight for us as the Romans did at least once to save Cartimandua?

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