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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Sepia Saturday - Warrior Women


Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories  through photographs.


This week's prompt features a somewhat theatrical figure - Boadicea or Britannia?  Though my first reaction was -  is it a character from a Wagnerian opera?  It inspired me to take the theme  Warrior Women.



Here is the famous London statue of BOADiCEA on Westminster Bridge opposite the House of Parliament.  Created by  Victorian sculptor Thomas Thornycroft, it was unveiled in 1902.
Boadicea  was queen of the British Iceni  tribe,  and  c.AD61 she  led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman  Empire  whose governor was then Gaius Suetonius Paulinus. The rebel queen is depicted as a heroic patriot, standing triumphantly in her chariot.

As regular readers of my blog know, I am always keen to promote the history of my local area - the Scottish Borders. 

Here is probably a little known fact - the words of "Rule BRITANNIA"  were written by  Borderer James Thomson(1700-1748), who was born in the village of Ednam, near Kelso, Roxburghshire. He  attended Jedburgh Grammar School and studied divinity at Edinburgh University, before making his home in London.  

 Britannia was an ancient term for Roman Britain and   came to be personified as a goddess, armed with a trident and shield and wearing a helmetIt later became  as an emblem of British imperial power and unity, featured on banknotes and coins.
Thomson's  words of "Rule Britannia were set to music in 1740 by Thomas Arne, and his poem "The Seasons" was used by composer Haydn as the text of his oratorio of that name.
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

When Britain first, at heaven's command,
Arose from out the azure main,
This was the charter of the land,
And Guardian Angels sang this strain:
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves

NT5832 : The Temple of the Muses by Walter Baxter
This circular nine columned gazebo, unveiled in 1817, was  dedicated to James Thomson.  It stands on a mound overlooking the River Tweed at  Dryburgh, near St. Boswells. in the Borders.   For the opening of the temple, poet Robert Burns wrote an “Address to the Shade of Thomson”

The Gallic equivalent of Britannia is MARIANNE, depicted below on a mural at Bastille Metro Station in  Paris. 
Bastille Metro Station in Paris
The Bastille Metro  Station pays homage to French history, notably events of 1789. In the centre of this picture is patriot Marianne, wearing the Revolutionary tricolour cockade in her cap. The origins of Marianne  are obscure, but she became a prominent national symbol in France, a personification of the new Republic, with its principles of Liberty and  Reason.  Statues of Marianne appear across France at civic buildings  and law courts and her image features on French euro notes and postage stamps.
JEAN OF ARC, Maid of Orleons (c.1412- 1431) was born a peasant girl, but became a folk heroine of France and a saint. Claiming divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years War.   She was captured, put on trial] and was burned at the stake for heresy when she was  only 19 years old.
Statue in Paris of Joan of Arc  

The  gilded bronze statue in Paris  was commissioned by the French government following the defeat of the country in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. 

And finally,  I have included this 1960's photograph for two reasons. It is from a student production of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera,   "Iolanthe,  where the Fairy Queen (front right) has taken on the persona of a Wagnerian woman warrior.  Also I cannot helping thinking that the very short brown  tunic of Strephon in the centre is very reminiscent of the tunic worn in this week's photo  prompt.     As a matter of interest I am the "fairy" in the emerald green outfit on the right, behind the Fairy Queen's staff.  
Click HERE to see how other bloggers have taken to the stage
with this week's prompt.  
 ** Image Copyright Walter Baxter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.



  1. I bow to the master! You've set the bar high if anyone cares to find more women warriors than you've included here. Excellent history and personal connection.

  2. I love the ending of your post. That's such a perfect photo to go with your theme this week.
    That statue of Joan of Arc is gorgeous.

  3. I have seen quite a few old cabinet photo portraits of girls and women dressed in costumes similar to those which you and your fellow thespians are wearing, which I now realise might well have been taken after a production of Iolanthe. Thanks, too, for the background stories to and images of Boadicea and Marianne. The tale of Jean d'Arc is, of course, very familiar.

  4. Great stories for warrior women! Congratulations on making the top 50 for Inside History's genie blogs!

  5. What fun. And I love that you have a passion for your local history too.

  6. I didn't realize that Boadicea was a freedom fighter. Makes one of my topics for this prompt all the more relevant.

  7. Interesting that we both have chosen Boadicea/Boudica this week. I learnt about Boadicea at school and it's only recently that I discovered her name was Boudica, A BBC history programme by Dan Snow and his son told me that Boadicea came about from a transciption error around 500years ago. That made me get out my history books where there is confusion also. The British Museum website confirms her name as Boudica and not Buodicea. Your photo of her statue looks better than the one I used.

  8. I am constantly amazed by the creativity and details of Sepians.
    Great post!

  9. What an interesting, fact filled joy featuring our theme perfectly I'd say. Just reading this makes me so much more the wiser. You did an excellent accounting!

  10. A great and fascinating tour around all things Britannia. Thanks.

  11. What fun you must have had in Iolanthe. In our high school we did Mikado and Pinafore over and over. Your costumer is beautiful.

  12. Great post!! You've fully embrace the theme,
    from historical figures to a personal anecdote.
    That last picture seemed like a nice production.

  13. A super post on the iconic warrior women. I suppose in olden days, these historic women were the only heroines that most young girls would know.


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