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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
Let's take a step back to my original questions about the wives and wagons. John has, I think, answered the second question: the wives were there simply to witness the battle. Nathan has made the point that they were spectators, rather than participants. The notion that there were women in the ranks of the rebel army, even if only to swell the numbers, is a red herring. Nathan has identified the passage in Tacitus. It is in Suetonius' pre-battle speech to his soldiers and is pure rhetoric. The wording is important: plus illic feminarum quam iuventutis adspici (literally, 'See there more of women than of the warrior'). The use of the genitive plural (feminarum) and genitive singular (iuventutis) is significant. He is referring to the character of the rebel army, not its composition. Moreover, femina can mean, not just 'woman', but an effeminate male. So, what Suetonius is saying, in not particular PC terms, is in effect, 'Look at that lot! They're not soldiers; they're a bunch of poofs! Show 'em a sword and they'll leg it!'

Where did these wives come from? There seem to me to be two possibilities: either they were with the army already or they came over especially from their homelands to see the final showdown. I agree with John that this was not a normal military campaign, in which the men went off to fight and the women stayed at home, but a civil uprising in which all were involved. One scenario that he presents has the women providing logistic support to the fighting men and this seems to me to be the most probable. He is right that a large rebel army and its followers would take some time to assemble but this is not a problem. Suetonius was playing for time for his reinforcements to join him, so the longer the enemy took to assemble the better. However, as Tacitus says, he eventually realised that this was all taking too long and decided to offer battle. If Dio is right that he found the enemy pressing upon him, this amounts to the same thing: the enemy were assembling in such numbers that, if it went on too long, they would become almost impossible to defeat.

Of course,, this amounts to a 'parade' but the alternative is impossible to contemplate. If the wives were to come from their homeland, they would have to be summoned, they would have to assemble somewhere (unless they were to come over in dribs and drabs, at the mercy of any hostile forces they might encounter) and then there would be the journey itself of something like 100 miles from (say) Thetford to Northampton which, depending on the daily distances they could coax out of their oxen, would take between 10 days and three weeks. I'm afraid that I can come to no other conclusion but that the wives were with the army all along.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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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
RE: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand. - by Renatus - 12-02-2018, 01:16 PM

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