Tag Archive | Iceni

Roman British Costuming: General Guidelines for “Boudicca: A Play in Three Acts”

roman-woman

A Roman lady wears a tunic (white), stola (blue), and palla (red).

As a historian, history is my passion.  I love few things better than seeing a period-correct drama where the costumes are accurately rendered.  But what do you do if your budget is small or you are playing scenes from “Boudicca: A Play in Three Acts” or Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar?” What if you don’t have years of expertise researching Roman and Roman-British clothing?

The following is a general guide for productions of “Boudicca: A Play in Three Acts” and for general re-enactment of Roman and Roman-British characters/personae:

 

 

BRITISH CLOTHING

brythonic-brat

The brat is a 2 meter long, 30″ wide heavy wool rectangle that is wrapped or pinned around the body to protect the wearer from the elements. Worn across “Celtic” societies on both the continent and the British islands. The late medieval “kilt” of Scotland evolved from the ancient brat which can be pinned and belted (as above) as desired or simply folded and wrapped around the body in dozens of different ways.

Simple wool tunics.  Men wear shorter tunics with warm, simple-cut trousers. The trousers of upper class warrior men are cropped with hemlines between the knee and an ankle.  Women wear ankle length tunics.  Both sexes wear brats: a heavy and often coarsely woven rectangular shawl folded lengthwise across the body.  The brat may be worn as a shawl, draped and pinned as a cloak, draped and pinned as a surcoat, or simply folded and pinned secure to the upper breast.  Jewellery is abundant and includes decorative broaches.

ROMAN CLOTHING

roman-clothing-1

Men wear knee length tunics called “chitons.”  Over this common men wrap a rectangular cloak similar to a brat that is often pinned securely. High ranking men wear togas over their chitons instead of a cloak.

Women wear a long-sleeved tunic dress covering most of the body.  Over this women wear a stola which is high-waisted and held together at the shoulders by broaches.   The top layer for upper class Roman women is her palla which is wrapped around her in dozens of different ways to cover her head, warm her like a cloak, or even serve as a female version of a toga.

the-roman-palla

The Roman palla and how to wear it.

Roman soldiers wear armour and carry a gladius (a short thrusting sword) at all times.

 

roman-legionaire

Components to a Roman legionnaire’s armour.

Special costuming for “Boudicca: A Play in Three Acts”and for general reenactment of Roman British characters/personae

Act I, Scene I: Prasutagus wears the fine linen/wool that marks him as a member of the upper class with decorative trim along the hem edges of his tunic and brat.  Roman bureaucrat wears a toga marking him as a Roman citizen and aide to the Roman governor.  The broach securing Boudicca’s brat features a raven as a mark of her devotion to Cathubodva.

Act I, Scene II:  Boudicca wears a Roman stola over her Celtic tunic dress.  A palla drapes across her body like a shawl.  Her flaming red hair is now elaborately braided and pinned up matronly.

Act I, Scene III:  Boudicca and Prasutagus wear their finest woollen tunics with embroidered trim along sleeve, hem, and neckline edges. Boudicca’s brat is made of a much finer wool than we saw in Scene I which is soft blue or lavender in colour.  King Prasutagus wears a polished circlet or crown.  Boudicca wears a coronet of spring flowers over her braided hair.  Linet wears a tiara or circlet made of oak leaves and a silver necklace.

Act I, Scene IV: Gaius and Roman Bureaucrat wear togas over their tunics.

Act III, Scene I:  Gaius and Roman Bureaucrat both wear togas over their tunics.

Act III, Scene III:  Gaius wears full battle armour instead of his toga.

 

From Act II, Scene V forward Roman soldiers also carry shields.

History Profile: Queen Boudicca

Date of Birth:  circa 30 CE

Place of Birth:  unknown — likely Gaul

Date of death: 60 or 61 CE — suicide

Spouse: King Prasutagus of the Iceni

Issue: none surviving

Queen Boudicca is the national heroine of England for a reason:  she united rival British tribes and won several military victories against the Romans in a time when that was deemed impossible.

Often depicted as a vengeful warrior out for blood on a personal vendetta, the real Queen Boudicca ruled as her husband’s co-sovereign over the small but technologically advanced and religiously devout Iceni nation.  In 60 or 61 CE King Prasutagus died mysteriously.

Though often assumed to be old age by many, the timing of his death relative to the Roman military campaigns on the Welsh island of Ynys Môn coupled with the terms in Prasutagus’ last will and testament suggest otherwise.  Prasutagus was worth more dead than alive to the Romans, especially as the Romans did not recognize Celtic laws and customs which granted women near complete equality to men.  With his family members all female, the Romans were eager to remove Prasutagus and fully conquer the Iceni.  This suggests to me his death was violent and at Roman hands.

When the Romans invaded her lands, Boudicca did what any sovereign or co-sovereign would do:  she mounted a defence.  After losing the first battle with the Romans in her own community at which she and her daughters suffered outrageous torture and injury, Boudicca struck back, determined to prevent the Romans from harming her people again.

It worked better than she could have expected.  Other tribes, especially her southern neighbour the Trinovantes joined with her, forming a rare confederation that eventually spread across several tribes.

Boudicca achieved unity from within the boundaries of her free and very individualistic society, proving that liberty and unity can exist when we put aside what divides us and choose to work together.

 

Read more about Boudicca in “Boudicca, Britain’s Queen of the Iceni” in your choice of English, Welsh, Welsh-English, Chinese, and Spanish.  Audio edition narrated by Richard Mann.

Excerpt: Boudicca: Britain’s Queen of the Iceni

Boudicca Chinese coverBoudicca:  Britain's Queen of the IceniBoudicca:  Britian’s Queen of the Iceni is a creative non-fiction biography suitable for young readers exploring the life of one of the ancient world’s greatest heroines.  In 61 CE Boudicca shocked Roman patriarchs by uniting most of the English Celts in what became the last great stand against Roman conquest of the British isles.

Available for kindle in Chinese and English, in paperback (English only), and audio edition narrated by Richard Mann.

In this scene from chapter four, a prayerful Boudicca seeks wisdom from The Morrigan.

———————–

Two years of peace passed.  For the time being, it seemed like the Roman governor was keeping his word.  But with each passing week and month, Alys and Morgan grew more anxious as their dreams became filled with visions of the future.

Boudicca watched them, her heart aching for their pain.  Finally, three days before mid-summer’s day, she and Linet drove her light chariot to a small shrine to the Morrígan in the thick ancient forest to the north of their village.  All day and through most of the night, Boudicca and Linet sat in prayer and vigil, asking the goddess for guidance.

Finally, as dawn broke through the trees and birds woke from their sleep, Linet stood up and put her hand on Boudicca’s shoulder, “Your Highness, we must return.”

“We will not survive what is coming, my friend, though it seem victory will be in our grasp for a time.  War is upon us; the Romans do not see the equality of women as our peoples do.  This governor – Paullinus – does not even consider me queen of the Iceni – only my husband’s personal servant for his bedchamber.  Should anything happen to him, they will come to claim what they feel belongs to them.  The Iceni will become as my people are,” wept Boudicca.

“We do not have to let them take our people; we can fight.  Already we are fighting them in the west.  They would stamp out our faith – but we are not afraid.  We fight them with all we have. The goddess is on our side, Your Highness, as is the morality of our cause:  freedom and equality for all people!  They think that those who lack certain kinds of strength are created and designed to be inferior.  But we know better.  We know we are all one – equals.  Surely our goddesses and gods will fight for us in the great battle.  Camulos, god of war, he shall be our champion!” proclaimed Linet with fire in her eyes.

“Camulos must hate the Romans for taking his city and claiming it as theirs.  He must especially hate this temple to the dead emperor Claudius in his city.  How can he fight for us while the temple still stands, while animals are killed and offered to this Claudius where once our people prayed to him?” asked Boudicca.

“All the more reason for him to support us and help us cleanse his city of Roman stench.  We will re-dedicate it to him – when all of us are free.”

 

Just then a scream echoed in the forest.  Drawing their swords, Linet and Boudicca charged towards the sound.  By the time they reached the source all that could be seen was Prasutagus, his blood spilling into the ground – as if a year-king killed as an offering to the gods for his people.  Prasutagus looked up, his eyes blurring, “Boudicca?”

Boudicca knelt, weeping, the blood from his chest wound soaking her dress, “I am here.”

“A Roman – scout – I – surprised him.” gasped Prasutagus, trying in vain to tell his wife what happened, knowing the moment he died rage would fill her – rage against Rome.

Boudicca kissed him tenderly, “My love, do not leave me!”  Prasutagus kissed her repeatedly, his eyes fixed on hers until they saw no more.  Feeling his spirit leave his body, Boudicca wept, as if her entire life suddenly passed with him – at least for this moment.  Finally, she rose, helping Linet carry him to their chariot.  With a gentle nudge of the reigns the horses turned for home and the sad work ahead.

 

Several days later, war trumpets heralded the arrival of a group of twenty soldiers and five centurions dispatched from the Roman capital of Camulodunum, the once great capital of the Iceni’s southern neighbor, the Trinovantes.  This was a relatively small force for the Romans to send, a sign that the Roman governor expected little trouble enforcing Prasutagus’ will and claiming the Iceni for Rome.  At the head of this group marched Centurion Marcus Vetus, the son of a legionary born among his mother’s Aedui tribe near the Seine River.  As he approached the fortification guarding Boudicca’s village, Boudicca could not help staring at the man who looked far more Aedui than Roman.  Resolutely Boudicca intercepted him, “Who comes to the heart of the Iceni?”

“I, Centurion Marcus Vetus come in the name of Nero and his imperial governor Gaius Suetonius Paullinus.  Your king is dead; your kingdom now belongs to us.”

“No, Centurion.  It belongs in equal measure to my daughters and to Nero. Until our people deem them ready to rule, I rule as queen as is my natural right as Prasutagus’ widow and by the customs of all British people.”

“You are a woman; you have no rights under Roman law.”

“But I do under Iceni law,” countered Boudicca.

“There are no Iceni now, only slaves,” proclaimed Marcus, seizing Boudicca before she could draw her sword.  With the help of another centurion, Marcus bound and gagged the struggling Boudicca and her daughters, forcing them to watch as the remaining soldiers spread across the village.  Every Iceni, armed and ready for the attack within hours of Prasutagus’ death, challenged the soldiers resolutely, creating a great noise.  With the Roman attention entirely on the battle, Linet slipped quietly out of the village in order to raise the alarm across Britannia.

Chinese excerpt: Boudicca 《不列颠女王布迪卡》

Boudicca Chinese cover

《不列颠女王布迪卡》是一种创造性的非小说类传记适合年轻读者探索古代世界最伟大的女主人公之一的生命。在 61 CE 布狄卡在什么成为最后的大立场,反对英伦三岛的罗马人征服团结大多数英语凯尔特人震惊罗马元老。

可以点燃在中国英文印在纸上(只有英文),和音频编辑理查曼叙述。

在这个场景中,从第四章,一个虔诚的布狄卡寻求智慧的摩瑞根。

————————————-

爱西尼人度过了两年和平安稳的时光。至今为止,那个罗马城主似乎一直在

履行着他的诺言。但是时间一天天过去,爱丽丝和摩根越来越焦虑不安,因为她

们的预感越来越强烈,可怕的梦境似乎很快就会成真。

布迪卡看着女儿们,她的心也随着她们所受的煎熬而疼痛。终于,在仲夏节

的三天前,她和莱内特驾着她的轻巧战车驶向了一个供奉着摩莉甘女神的小神殿,

那座神殿坐落于她们村庄北边一片葱郁的古老森林里。布迪卡和莱内特不眠不休

地祈祷了整整一天一夜,祈求女神的指引。

最终,黎明的曙光穿过了厚重的树林,鸟儿也从睡梦中醒来。莱内特站起来,

将手放在布迪卡的肩膀上,“殿下,我们必须回去了。”

“我们没有办法在即将到来的惨剧中存活下来,我亲爱的朋友——虽然现在

的情况似乎是我们取得了短暂的和平,但是我们都知道,属于我们的战争即将到

来。罗马人并不像我们一样平等地对待妇女,那个城主——保利努斯,他甚至从

没将我当做爱西尼的王后看待过——他认为我只是我丈夫寝宫里的一个私人奴

隶罢了。一旦我的丈夫出了什么事,他们就会将所有东西占为己有。爱西尼人会

重蹈我的族人的覆辙。”布迪卡哭泣道。

“我们不会成为他们的奴隶,我们可以反抗,可以战斗。事实上西边的战争

号角已经吹响,他们会践踏我们的信仰,但是我们不会害怕。我们拼尽所有同他

们战斗,女神会帮助我们。殿下,正如我们所尊崇、所追求的目标:人人自由与

平等!他们认为我们这些体质柔弱的女人生来就低人一等,但是我们知道不是这

样的,我们知道我们都是平等的。诸神会帮助我们打赢这一仗,战神卡姆洛斯会

成为我们的战士!”莱内特的眼中似乎燃烧起了熊熊烈焰。

“卡姆洛斯肯定恨罗马人夺走了他的城市并占为己有,他肯定尤其憎恨在他

的城市建立起的供奉死去的克劳迪亚斯皇帝的神殿。然而神殿还在,我们从前向

他祈祷的地方现在也成为了克劳迪亚斯的祭祀场,却什么都没有发生——这样的

卡姆洛斯战神如何能为我们战斗?”布迪卡问。

“所有的这些都将成为他帮助我们清理个充满罗马人恶臭的城市的理由。当

我们会将这座城市重新贡献给他——当我们获得自由的时候。”

这时森林里突然传来一阵尖叫声。莱内特和布迪卡立刻拿起她们的宝剑向声

音传来的方向冲去。当她们抵达声音的发源处时,只看到普拉苏塔古斯躺在地上,

血流了一地。时间像是过了一年那么久——国王被杀害了,为了他的子民,将自

己作为祭品贡献给了神明。普拉苏塔古斯向上看去,他的眼睛已经变得模糊,“布

迪卡?”

布迪卡哭着跪了下来,任由从他胸前的伤口流出的鲜血染红她的裙子,“我

在这。”

“一个罗马的,侦察兵,我,他没想到我会出现在这里。”普莱修亚斯大口

喘气,想要告诉他的妻子发生了什么事,却无能为力。他知道他一死,愤怒便会

倾覆她——针对罗马的愤怒。

布迪卡温柔地吻他,“亲爱的,我的爱人,不要离开我!”普拉苏塔古斯一遍

又一遍地回吻她,他们一直都专注地看着对方的眼睛,直到有一方再也无法看到。

布迪卡感觉到他的生命逝去的那一刻,悲伤得好像她的整个生命也随之而去了。

最终,布迪卡还是勉力站了起来,和莱内特合力将她的丈夫搬上了战车,指挥着

马慢慢走向家的方向,走向那个悲伤的未来。

几天后,一个二十人士兵小队和五个百夫长带着他们的手下从曾经的爱西尼

人的南边邻国——特里诺万特的首都,现在的罗马首都科尔切斯特出发来到爱西

尼部落。这支队伍对于罗马人而言算是规模比较小的,代表着罗马掌权者希望能

够避免冲突,顺利执行普拉苏塔古斯的遗嘱,取得爱西尼的掌控权的心愿。走在

队伍最前方的是百夫长马库斯·维特斯,他在当地出生,母亲却来自于塞纳河畔

的埃杜维部落。当他来到布迪卡所在的这座军事化防卫的村庄外时,布迪卡不能

自已地盯着这个颇具埃杜维人长相的男人。布迪卡果断拦截他,“来者何人?”

“我,百夫长马库斯·维特斯,代表伟大罗马皇帝尼禄和城主盖乌斯·苏维

托尼乌斯·保里努斯来此。你们的国王已经死去,你们的王国现在属于我们。”

“不,百夫长。我的女儿们和尼禄各自拥有一半。按照英国人的惯例,在我

的子民认为她们具有管理一个国家的能力之前,我,作为王后,作为普拉苏塔古

斯的遗孀,有权接管这个国家。”

“你是个女人,在罗马律法下你没有权利这样做。”

“但在爱西尼法律下我有。”

“现在没有爱西尼了,只有奴隶。”马库斯宣布,并在布迪卡拔出她的宝剑

前抢先将她制住。在其他百夫长的帮助下,马库斯捆住了一直在挣扎的布迪卡和

她的女儿们,并堵住她们的嘴,强迫她们看他们的士兵怎么扫荡整个村庄。每个

爱西尼人都拿起武器,在他们的国王尸骨未寒时毅然决然地反击罗马的入侵,勇

敢地与罗马人战斗,硝烟一片。趁着罗马人的注意力完全被激烈的战争吸引,莱

内特悄悄地逃出村庄向不列颠岛的其他部落示警。

Promo: As Scotland Decides Its Fate Today

Boudicca audio cover

Richard Mann narrates Boudicca:  Britain's Queen of the Iceni for the upcoming audio edition.

Richard Mann narrates Boudicca: Britain’s Queen of the Iceni 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Scotland decides its fate today, I invite you to journey back in time to discover how the Caledonii, Brigantes, and Votadini tribes of Scotland and their dealing with the Roman invasions of Britannia two thousand years ago also helped decide the fate of the British islands ever since.

It’s all part of Boudicca: Britain’s Queen of the Iceni, the must-have creative non-fiction history book and audio book of the year!

In the USA in audio edition at http://tinyurl.com/AudibleBoudicca-USA and in the UK at http://tinyurl.com/UKBoudiccaAudible or on iTunes at http://tinyurl.com/itunesBoudicca-RM. Second grade reading level; audio edition suitable for ages 5+. Download the kindle edition http://viewBook.at/Boudiccakindle and get BOTH the audio and kindle edition for less than $7/£5.

Educators: get a FREE audio copy for your class in exchange for your review. Email peersofbeinan@gmail.com to request your free audio copy from audible narrated by Richard Mann.