Death of Prasutagus and its aftermath
It was normal Roman practice to allow allied kingdoms their independence only for the lifetime of their client king. For example, the provinces of Bithynia and
Galatia, were made part of the Empire in just this way. Also, Roman law allowed inheritance only through the male line.
When Prasutagus died, his will was ignored by the Governor, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, and his kingdom was annexed just as if it had been conquered. To make matters worse, Roman money-lenders called in the debts which Prasutagus had borrowed during his life. The lands and property of the Iceni were confiscated and their nobles treated like slaves.
When Boudica protested, Paulinus had her flogged, and her two daughters raped in public. Tacitus reports:
- "Prasutagus, the late king of the Icenians... by his will he left the whole to his two daughters and the emperor in equal shares, conceiving, by that stroke of policy, that he should provide at once for the tranquility of his kingdom and his family.
- "The event was otherwise. His dominions were ravaged by the
centurions; the slaves pillaged his house, and his effects were seized as lawful plunder. His wife, Boudicca, was disgraced with cruel stripes; her daughters were ravished, and the most illustrious of the Icenians were, by force, deprived of the positions which had been transmitted to them by their ancestors. The whole country was considered as a legacy bequeathed to the plunderers. The relations of the deceased king were reduced to slavery".