King Prasutagus

Prasutagus was the king of the Iceni tribe in Norfolk and Suffolk in about AD 45. (1) It is believed that Prasutagus entered into an alliance with the Romans when they submitted to Claudius in about AD 50. (2) Prasutagus married Boudica in about AD 45. Antonia Fraser, the author of The Warrior Queens (1988) points out Bouda was a Celtic word for victory. (3) Prasutagus died in AD 60. (4)

Prasutagus left his kingdom jointly to his two daughters and Nero, the Roman emperor. Nero refused to share power with Prasutagus' daughters and orders were given to the Roman Army to take the kingdom by force. "Kingdom and household alike were plundered by the Roman army. His widow Boudica was flogged and their daughters raped." (5) The Romans believed that they had the right to rape the women of any group that resisted their rule. The property and possessions of all the chief tribal families were seized. (6)

Primary Sources

(1) Malcolm Todd, Prasutagus : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

In the east, the Iceni of present-day Norfolk and Suffolk won early recognition as a tribe allied to Rome and their royal house continued to exercise at least a measure of power. A series of rulers is named on the coinage, none of them mentioned in other sources: Anted, Can Duro, and Saenu. At some date between AD 43 and about AD 50, one Prasutagus (d. AD 59/60) became king and pursued policies which Roman governors found acceptable. The accession of the emperor Nero in AD 54, however, opened a period in which the usefulness of native rulers within the empire was seriously questioned. When Prasutagus died, in either 59 or 60, the alliance between the Iceni and Rome was brought to an abrupt and brutal end. The kingdom was absorbed into the Roman province and grants made to tribal magnates in the reign of Claudius were revoked. Prasutagus had left half his wealth to Nero, the rest to his two daughters. Roman officials and troops now began to treat both the kingdom and the royal patrimony as prizes of war and compounded the injury by flogging the widow of Prasutagus, Boudicca, and violating her daughters. This was savage treatment of an ally and the reaction of the Iceni (and the neighbouring Trinovantes, who had their own grievances) in rising in revolt was predictable.


(1) Malcolm Todd, Prasutagus : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(2) Timothy W. Potter, Boudica : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(3) Antonia Fraser, The Warrior Queens (1988) pages 4

(4) Malcolm Todd, Prasutagus : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(5) Tacitus, Annals of Imperial Rome (c. AD 118)

(6) Graham Webster, Boudica: The British Revolt Against Rome (1978) page 88