16 of History's Most Rebellious Women

Women Revolutionaries
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Boudica, Britain
In the 1st century A.D., a native rebellion shook a backward, remote corner of the Roman Empire: Britain. At its head was an angry woman, Boudica, Queen of the Iceni, a tribe that dwelled in what is now eastern England. The Iceni had been a peaceful folk, content under the Pax Romana. But after Boudica's husband died, an avaricious Roman official annexed her lands and had Boudica publicly flogged and her daughters raped. Not long thereafter, with the Romans distracted on a campaign in Wales, Boudica rose up, leading a coalition of tribes on a revenge mission, surprising Roman garrisons, razing cities to the ground (including ancient London) and slaughtering tens of thousands of Romanized Britons. The uprising prompted some in Rome to consider a full withdrawal from the troublesome island colony, but the better-equipped and trained Roman forces eventually defeated Boudica's rebels. According to some accounts, much like Cleopatra, Boudica took her own life rather than risk capture. She is remembered as one of Britain's original nationalist heroes, a righteous, vengeful mother of the land. In the 19th century, Queen Victoria invoked the spirit of Boudica to characterize her own reign, presiding, at the time, over the world's great superpower. —Ishaan Tharoor

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