Military campaign in Wales
from The Annals by Tacitus
During the consulship of Lucius Caesennius Paetus and Publius Petronius Turpilianus [60-61 CE], a dreadful calamity befell the army in Britain. Aulus Didius, as has been mentioned, aimed at no extension of territory, content with maintaining the conquests already made. Veranius, who succeeded him, did little more: he made a few incursions into the country of the Silures, and was hindered by death from prosecuting the war with vigour. He had been respected, during his life, for the severity of his manners; in his end, the mark fell off, and his last will discovered the low ambition of a servile flatterer, who, in those moments, could offer incense to Nero, and add, with vain ostentation, that if he lived two years, it was his design to make the whole island obedient to the authority of the prince.
Paulinus Suetonius succeeded to the command; an officer of distinguished merit. To be compared with Corbulo was his ambition. His military talents gave him pretensions, and the voice of the people, who never leave exalted merit without a rival, raised him to the highest eminence. By subduing the mutinous spirit of the Britons he hoped to equal the brilliant success of Corbulo in Armenia. With this view, he resolved to subdue the isle of Mona; a place in habited by a warlike people, and a common refuge for all the discontented Britons. In order to facilitate his approach to a difficult and deceitful shore, he ordered a number of flat-bottomed boats to be constructed. In these he wafted over the infantry, while the cavalry, partly by fording over the shallows, and partly by swimming their horses, advanced to gain a footing on the island.
The Druids at Mona Island
On the opposite shore stood the Britons, close embodied, and prepared for action. Women were seen running through the ranks in wild disorder; their apparel funeral; their hair loose to the wind, in their hands flaming torches, and their whole appearance resembling the frantic rage of the Furies. The Druids were ranged in order, with hands uplifted, invoking the gods, and pouring forth horrible imprecations. The novelty of the fight struck the Romans with awe and terror. They stood in stupid amazement, as if their limbs were benumbed, riveted to one spot, a mark for the enemy. The exhortations of the general diffused new vigour through the ranks, and the men, by mutual reproaches, inflamed each other to deeds of valour. They felt the disgrace of yielding to a troop of women, and a band of fanatic priests; they advanced their standards, and rushed on to the attack with impetuous fury.
The Britons perished in the flames, which they themselves had kindled. The island fell, and a garrison was established to retain it in subjection. The religious groves, dedicated to superstition and barbarous rites, were levelled to the ground. In those recesses, the natives [stained] their altars with the blood of their prisoners, and in the entrails of men explored the will of the gods. While Suetonius was employed in making his arrangements to secure the island, he received intelligence that Britain had revolted, and that the whole province was up in arms.
Causes of Boudicca's revolt
Omens and early Roman setbacks