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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
#2
Why do you have the Iceni sacking Londinium after Verulamium? It doesn't seem clear from Tacitus that that was their line of attack. If the traditional location in Mancetter is correct, I would think they were pursuing Suetonius Paulinus back up Watling Street, which would mean that they sacked Londinium first, then Verulamium. Tactitus actually mentions the sackings in that order, (although, to be fair, it's not clear that he's being chronological in his references). That's the only scenario that makes sense of Mancetter. The Iceni move on London, Paulinus pulls back up Watling Street past Verulamium, and finally stands at Mancetter. Both Londinium and Verulamium are sacked by the pursuing Britons, who are themselves destroyed when they reach Paulinus.

Such an interpretation could lend itself to a flying column hypothesis (he went back up Watling because that's where the bulk of his forces were), but I don't buy it. It's not clear from Tacitus that Paulinus "collected" the XIV and XX after Londinium (Iam Suetonio quarta decima legio cum vexillariis vicesimanis et <e> proximis auxiliares, decem ferme milia armatorum erant, cum omittere cunctationem et congredi acie parat. ); I assume he had them with him in Londinium. As you say, he does consider making Londinium his seat for the war; that would imply the forces were with him the whole time. Further, it makes little strategic sense to divide your forces in hostile territory and stage the bulk of your forces way back up Watling while you head on down to Londinium and an unknown and dangerous situation. That's not how rebellions are crushed. Morever, Tacitus specifically says he marched with mira constantia ("marvelous steadiness"). I take that as implying a certain battle-ready resolve; this isn't a scouting run.

The real question is from which place could Paulinus best defend the province? His decision to abandon Londinium is explicitly presented as a decision to sacrifice one town for the sake of saving the province. At first blush, it doesn't seem to me like moving into the Midlands is the best way to save the province. Tacitus says that the Iceni bypassed fortified garrisons to fall on soft targets like Verulamium and Londinium. That would lead one to believe that they'd rather pillage than tramp halfway to Whales (with wagons full of their families) to face off with the legions. But I'm not familiar enough with the strategic background to be able to say for sure whether or not moving up Watling would be the best way to save the province. I too would think withdrawing south would make more sense. The legions would then be better able to arrange relief, and the Britons would have to fight the legions if they wanted to be able to drive the coastal citizenry into the sea. Somebody who knows more about the distribution of the Roman presence in 1st-century Britain will have to comment.
David J. Lohnes
Upper School English and Latin
Southside Christian School
Officium nos vocat!
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Messages In This Thread
Re: Calling all armchair generals! - by Ensifer - 03-11-2010, 03:13 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-18-2012, 06:26 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-19-2012, 12:02 AM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-19-2012, 02:50 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-19-2012, 05:40 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-19-2012, 11:26 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-24-2012, 05:11 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-24-2012, 09:42 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-24-2012, 10:10 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-25-2012, 03:11 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-25-2012, 03:25 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-25-2012, 08:36 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-26-2012, 02:57 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-27-2012, 01:50 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 08-05-2012, 02:24 PM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-07-2014, 02:18 PM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-08-2014, 01:50 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-11-2014, 02:03 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-18-2014, 07:54 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-20-2014, 02:37 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-25-2014, 08:29 AM

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