Cartimandua – 43 – 69 – Britain

Britain, England

Cartimandua

Cartimandua lived around the same time as the more famous Celtic queen Boudica, during the second Roman conquest of Britain. While Boudica’s circumstances forced her to fight back against Roman occupation, Cartimandua enjoyed a generally friendly and profitable relationship with Rome.

Map_of_the_Territory_of_the_Brigantes.svg

The territory of the Brigantes

Ruler of the Brigantes tribe in northern England, Cartimandua was queen in her own right (not through her husband or son). She came to power at a very turbulent time for Iron Age Britain, as the Emperor Claudius had invaded in 43. The less developed native Celts had never faced anything like the Roman army and were quickly subdued.

Either Cartimandua’s father or the queen herself chose to co-operate with the Romans rather than revolt. As a result, the Brigantes enjoyed wealth and protection. Among the Britons who did revolt was Caractacus, king of the Catuvellauni tribe. After his resistance was defeated in Wales, Caractacus fled to seek sanctuary from Cartimandua – who promptly handed him over to the Roman’s in chains.

This even further cemented her loyalty to Rome, as Caractacus was bought back to Rome for Claudius’ triumphal parade and Cartimandua was richly rewarded.

Cartimandua (1)

Cartimandua presents Caractacus to the Romans

The queen was married to a man named Venutius, who became a figurehead of the British resistance after the capture of Caractacus. Whether for political or personal reasons, Cartimandua divorced him and quickly remarried his armour-bearer Vollocatus instead. She and Venutius became sworn emenies.

In 57, Cartimandua seized Venutius’ family and held them hostage – but this would not stop him. He built up a resistance army to make war against Cartimandua and the Roman invaders. The Roman army had anticipated this and sent units to assist the queen, enabling her to retain her throne.

However, Venutius simply bided his time. In 69 the Roman empire was in turmoil due to civil war. Taking advantage of this instability, Venutius launched abother attack. This time, there weren’t enough troops to protect Cartimandua, and her only choice was to flee, leaving Venutius to usurp her.

After this episode, Cartimandua disappears from historical record.

The bulk of what we know about Cartimandua comes from the Roman historian Tacitus, who describes her as ‘treacherous’ for handing Caractactus to the Romans, and sexually wanton for divorcing her royal husband in favour of a common soldier.


In fiction:

Daughters of Fire by Barbara Erskine features Cartimandua as a main character.


References:

On Wikipedia:


Image credits:

Map of the Territory of the Brigantes” by England_Celtic_tribes_-_North_and_Midlands.png: self-createdderivative work: Jpb1301 (talk) – England_Celtic_tribes_-_North_and_Midlands.png.

Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

Cartimandua” by Francesco Bartolozzi (publisher/printer; printmaker; Italian; British; Male; 1728 – 1815)

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Mother Lü – d. 18 – Haiqu County, China

Ancient China, China

Mother Lu

Xin Dynasty China was a dangerous place. A feudal state, the ruling classes had almost total power over the working farmers. Not only this, but struggles between the nobility were also common and regions were often at war as men grappled for power.

One such man was Wang Mang, who usurped the imperial throne in year 9. He was not a popular ruler; many of his policies, such as income tax and land redistribution, were seen as attacks on landowners. On top of this, the Yellow River flooded which led to a terrible famine.

Wang’s troubles truly began in 14, when one of his magistrates ordered the execution of Lü Yu, a young civil servant.

Big mistake: for Lü’s mother it was the final straw. Mother Lü (we do not know her personal name) was furious at the murder of her son, and was not the kind of woman who would let it rest.

Mother Lü happened to be exceedingly wealthy – wealthy enough to hire her own army. In a region full of dissatisfied and desperate men, it was not difficult for this lady to amass thousands of recruits and have them armed.

Haiqu County

Haiqu County

Appointing herself General, she marched her troops to the capital and had the magistrate who executed her son beheaded. Having taken her revenge, Mother Lü presented the severed head to her son’s tomb as an offering. She then led her troops out to sea, where they planned to become pirates.

Grief and military life had taken its toll and shortly after these events Mother Lü took ill and died in year 18.

She had been the first Chinese woman to lead a rebellion and her legacy continued. The ripples Mother Lü started soon became waves as her armies expanded and eventually defeated Wang Mang.


References:

Encyclopedia of Slave Resistance and Rebellion, Volume 2 – edited by Junius P. Rodriguez

Women in Early Imperial China Bret Hinsch

On Wikipedia:


Image credits:

ChinaShandongRizhao” by No machine-readable author provided. Plastictv~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims).

Licensed under Public Domain via Commons