Read Warrior Queens: Boadicea's Chariot Online

Authors: Antonia Fraser

Tags: #History, #General, #Social History, #World

Warrior Queens: Boadicea's Chariot

BOOK: Warrior Queens: Boadicea's Chariot





List of Illustrations

Author’s Note

Part One

1. A Singular Exception
2. Antique Glories
3. The Queen of War
4. Iceni: this Powerful Tribe
5. Ruin by a Woman
6. The Red Layer
7. Eighty Thousand Dead
8. O Zenobia!

Part Two

9. Matilda, Daughter of Peter

10. England’s Domina

11. Lion of the Caucasus

12. Isabella with her Prayers

13. Elizabetha Triumphans

14. Jinga at the Gates

15. Queen versus Monster

16. The Valiant Rani

17. Iron Ladies

18. Unbecoming in a Woman?

Reference Notes



About the Author

By Antonia Fraser


For my eleven granddaughters

Stella, Blanche, Atalanta, Eliza, Honor,
Ana Sofia, Oriana, Phoebe, Miranda, Cecilia and Allegra

To inspire them

List of Illustrations

Thomas Thornycroft’s statue of Boadicea and her daughters (photograph: Sue Lanzon)
depicting Amazons fighting Greeks (Mansell Collection)
Ptolemaic plaque showing Cleopatra (Werner Forman Archive/Schindler Collection, New York)
Engraving of Cleopatra (Mary Evans Picture Library)
Silver coin of Cleopatra (British Museum)
Judith and Holofernes (Ronald Sheridan/Ancient Art and Architecture Collection)
Palmyrene noblewoman (photograph: M. Roumi, by courtesy of the Syrian Ministry of Tourism)
Palmyra today (photograph: M. Roumi, by courtesy of the Syrian Ministry of Tourism)
Engraving of Zenobia (Hulton Picture Library)
Statue of Zenobia as a captive (Hulton Picture Library)
Semiramis (Mansell Collection)
Tomb of Longinus (Colchester and Essex Museum)
Roman sarcophagus showing battle between Romans and Gauls (Mansell/Alinari)
Gold torcs (Ronald Sheridan/Ancient Art and Architecture Collection)
Bronze shield (Werner Forman Archive/British Museum)
Bronze mirror (Werner Forman Archive/British Museum)
Boadicea, from H. E. Marshall’s
Our Island Story
Model of the temple of Claudius, Colchester (Colchester and Essex Museum)
Cast of bronze head of Claudius (Colchester and Essex Museum)
Model of a chariot of Boadicea’s time (National Museum of Wales)
Fragment of Samian bowl burned in the Boudican fire (Museum of London)
Skulls found in the Walbrook river (Museum of London)
The Boudican firing of Londinium, by Richard Sorrell (Museum of London)
The Britons’ last battle against the Romans, by Alan Sorrell (Museum of London)
Boadicea and her ladies, from Holinshed’s
(British Library)
Boadicea, from Thomas Heywood’s
Exemplary Lives
(British Library)
Boadicea, from Aylett Sammes’
Britannia Antiqua Illustrata
(British Library)
‘Boadicea haranguing the Britons’, by H. C. Selous (Mansell Collection)
The Pageant of Great Women
(British Library)
Countess Matilda of Tuscany (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana)
Tomb of Countess Matilda (Mansell Collection)
Countess Matilda at Canossa, by Alfred Cluysenaar (Roger-Viollet)
The Empress Maud (British Library)
Queen Tamara (Mary Evans Picture Library)
Monogram of Queen Tamara
Shota Rustaveli (Novosti Press Agency)
Triumphal entry of Ferdinand and Isabella into Granada (Foto Mas, Barcelona)
Queen Isabella, from the Columbus Monument, Barcelona (Ronald Sheridan/Ancient Art and Architecture Collection)
Medal showing Caterina Sforza (Victoria and Albert Museum)
Queen Isabella, a detail from
The Madonna of the Catholic Kings
(Oronoz, Madrid)
William Rogers’
Eliza, Triumphans
(Weidenfeld and Nicolson Archive)
Joris Hoefnagel (attrib.),
Queen Elizabeth and the Three Goddesses
(reproduced by gracious permission of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II)
Queen Elizabeth I at Tilbury (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich)
Queen Jinga being received by the Portuguese Governor (photograph supplied by the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University)
Queen Jinga receiving Christian baptism (photograph supplied by SOAS, London University)
Queen Jinga venerating her brother’s bones (photograph supplied by SOAS, London University)
Statue of Queen Anne by Rysbrack (photograph: Edwin Smith)
Catherine the Great (Novosti Press Agency)
The Empress Maria Theresa of Austria (Archiv Gerstenberg)
Monument to Maria Theresa in Vienna (Roger-Viollet)
Queen Louise of Prussia, a portrait of Joseph Grassi (Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz)
Queen Louise, King Frederick William III of Prussia and Tsar Alexander I at the tomb of Frederick the Great (Ullstein Bilderdienst)
Napoleon receiving Queen Louise at Tilsit, by N. L. F. Gosse (Ullstein Bilderdienst)
The Trung sisters (print kindly supplied by Dr Ralph Smith)
Trieu Au (Maurice Durand Collection of Vietnamese Art, Yale University Library)
Contemporary painting of the Rani of Jhansi (photograph supplied by the Royal Commonwealth Society)
Site of the massacre at Jhansi (British Library)
Kalighat watercolour of the Rani of Jhansi (Victoria and Albert Museum)
Durga (Victoria and Albert Museum)
Statue of the Rani of Jhansi, Gwalior (photograph: Sophie Baker)
Gwalior fort (reproduced by kind permission of Professor Joyce Lebra-Chapman)
Indira Gandhi (photograph by N. V. Edwards, Camera Press, London)
Cummings cartoon of Mrs Thatcher and other ‘Warrior Queens’ (Express Newspapers)
Golda Meir (Camera Press (Goldman/Setton) London)
Mrs Thatcher with model of Chieftain tank (Press Association)
Queen Elizabeth II at the Trooping of the Colour (Hulton Picture Library)
Cartoon of Mrs Thatcher driving a chariot, by Griffin (Express Newspapers)
Mrs Thatcher with members of her Cabinet (Associated Press)
Cartoon of Mrs Thatcher as Boadicea (Gale of the
Daily Telegraph)

Author’s Note

‘That’s the Romans for you – four hundred years of occupying
country’: these indignant words were spoken in 1986 by one who, like myself, was gazing down from an observer’s platform into some archaeological excavations in the City of London. Such robust patriotism, undaunted by the passage of quite a lot of time, reminded me of my earliest involvement with Queen Boadicea, via H. E. Marshall’s inimitable
Our Island Story
, a work enjoyed by me with passion as a child in the 1930s. It was Boadicea the patriotic heroine whose story first thrilled me; I wept for her treatment – and that of her daughters – and wept again, but this time in admiration, for her death.

The word heroine, as opposed to hero, is important in all this: for there is no doubt in my mind that a part – indeed a large part – of Boadicea’s appeal to me then lay in her female sex (the early feminism of those who have brothers close in age should never be underestimated). Half a century later in exploring both the history and the subsequent reputation of Queen Boadicea, those two interwoven themes of her patriotism and her femininity have not seemed to me either irrelevant or outmoded. I suppose therefore I can claim a lifetime’s preoccupation with the subject of Boadicea, even if my early feelings of dislike for the misogynist Romans have waned – just a little.

In recounting the stories of other Warrior Queens, as indeed in investigating that of Boadicea herself, I have obviously been dependent on the works of many scholars and experts in their field, to which detailed acknowledgement is made in the Reference Notes, but I should like to express my deep overall gratitude here. The spelling of proper names in a book crossing
so many civilizations and cultures has obviously constituted a real problem; I have attempted to solve it by choosing that spelling I have judged most intelligible to the English-speaking world at the present date; but I should emphasize that ultimately these various choices have been mine, not those of the experts acknowledged above.

In particular I should like to thank the following: HM the Queen for gracious permission to quote from the Royal Archives at Windsor and Miss Jane Langton, late of the Royal Archives, for her assistance; Dr Chaim Herzog, President of Israel, for conversation on the subject of Golda Meir and permission to quote from material unpublished in this country; Dr Michael Grant for help and encouragement at many stages; Rana Kabbani for stimulating discussions and advice concerning the Arab world in general and Zenobia in particular, and General Moustapha Tlass, the Syrian Minister of Defence; my ‘Georgian’ consultants, the late Sir Charles Johnston (who first called Queen Tamara of Georgia to my attention), Mr Laurence Kelly, Professor Nico Kiasashvili of Tbilisi, and Mrs Katharine (Vivian) Ashton; and Dr Graham Webster and his wife Diana, not only for his help but for their hospitality. Mrs Maria Fairweather provided me with fascinating
information concerning the reputation of Queen Jinga (Nzinga) in modern Angola; lastly the help of Angus Clarke and Daniel Johnson, who acted as my
and my
respectively, translating references to Matilda of Tuscany and Louise of Prussia, was invaluable.

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