The Viking Queen (1967)

 

 

Director:     Don Chaffey

Starring:     Don Murray (Justinian),  Carita (Salina), Donald Houston (Maelgan), Andrew Keir (Maelgan), Adrienne Corri (Beatrice), Niall MacGinnis (Tiberian), Wilfrid Lawson (King Priam).

Country:    a Hammer Film (British)

 

As one might expect from a Hammer film, this is not a high quality film.  

England is under Roman rule.  Despite this fact, Queen Salina shares the rule of Icena with Justinian, a Roman. Soon the two fall in love.  This, however, is a forbidden love.  The Celtic Druids are opposed to the coupling as well as the Romans. The enemies of the couple start to plot and the pair is caught in the middle.    

Where they got the title "Viking Queen" is curious because the Romans had left Britain by 410 A.D. and the Viking raids did not start until around 800 A.D.  So that's about 400 years between the two historic events. 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie. 

It is the time of the Romans in Briton.  The fighting is over now and most of the 45,000 Roman soldiers want to return home.  In Briton the Druids still hold sway.  A prophesy proclaims that a woman with armor will arise among the people and she will lead the Britons to great victories.  This woman will be known as the Viking Queen. 

King Priam of the Britons of the Icenae Kingdom is dying.  The Roman Governor-General Justinian has to hurry to talk to the king before he dies. They need to have King Priam sign his will which has been approved by the Roman emperor Nero.  The will stipulates that the Kingdom of Icenae will be divided between the Britons and the Romans. 

At the court of King Priam, his three daughters, Beatrice, Talia and Salina, as well as the Druid priest Maelgan, have gathered around the dying man.  The Romans arrive just in time.  They are able to get the king to sign just before he dies.  Before his death, he also appoints Salina as his successor.  The eldest sister Beatrice feels cheated and she is sympathetic to the political ambitions of Maelgan. 

Meanwhile the Briton "blue bandits" attack the Romans.  Salina asks permission from Justinian to hold a public ceremony in which her father's body will be burned on a funeral pyre.  Justinian grants permission, even though it would be a public ceremony.  (The Druid religion is not permitted in Briton.)  But when Justinian learns of the blue bandit attack, he tells Salina that she can not have her public funeral.  But the ceremony goes on anyway.  It is suddenly stopped by Roman troops under Catus.  Salina demands to know under whose authority Catus attacked the ceremony.  Justinian suddenly shows up and asks the same question.  It appears that the second-in-command Octavian authorized the raid.  Salina informs Justinian that the ceremony was a private one, not a public one.  There were only a few people present. 

Justinian finds Octavian and balls him out, but Octavian is not apologetic.  Salina on her chariot shows up at the Roman camp, along with a few men in other chariots.  Justinian wants to drive a chariot.  He races Salina and they both end up in a small stream.  They hug and kiss each other.  Justinian suddenly asks her to marry him. But there is a big problem.  The Druid priest must grant her permission to marry. 

The decision of Maelgan is that Salina may not marry Justinian.  Further, he prophesizes that "This land will run with blood".  When Justinian learns of the rejection, he decides to take his case over the head of the Druid priest to the people.  He raises the taxes on the merchants and lowers them on the poor.  This makes Justinian very popular among the people.  But it also creates a group of enemies, the merchants.  The merchants decide to work with Maelgan.  The merchants use wine, women and song to ally themselves with Octavian and Catus against Justinian and Salina.

Octavian comes up with the idea of starting two rebellions, one small and the other large.  The small one will give Octavian a reason to disappear from camp for awhile.  The large one will draw Justinian away from camp.  Then Octavian can return to camp and take control of the kingdom.  Justinian tells Salina that he will have to leave for at least six weeks to put down the larger rebellion. He says that when he returns they will marry.

While Justinian is away, Octavian runs wild in the kingdom.  After six weeks of this, the residents fear they will lose everything and come to the court of Salina to ask her to take action against Octavian.  But Salina councils peace hoping that any day Justinian will return.

Octavian has the old will burned and a forgery produced.  He then takes this new will to Salina.  The will states that the Romans have complete control of the kingdom.  The Britons declare this an obvious forgery.  Octavian decides to use force to get his way.  The Romans force Salina outside, chain her and then proceed to whip her.  This incites the people.  Among them, Nigel leads the way.  But Nigel and the leader of the merchants are killed, Octavaian  rapes Talia and the Romans put down the uprising.   Octavian then has the court buildings put to the torch.  One of the Britons gets away to tell Justinian what happened. 

Given the outrage committed by the Romans, Salina accepts the prophecy.  She takes up arms against all Romans, including Justinian.  The Britons attack the Romans.  Catus is killed and Octavian is taken captive.  Justinian and his troops arrive.  His emissary asks Salina to make a prisoner exchange: Octavian for Talia's beloved Fergus.  The exchange is made.  Justinian talks with Salina and tells her that if she fights against his trained troops, her people will all be killed.  But Salina refuses to change her mind.

The Britons under Salina attack the Romans under Justinian.  Beatrice and Nigel are killed.  Octavian kills Talia, Fergus kills Octavian, then Fergus is killed.  Salina is captured.  She is about to be killed when Justinian intervenes.  He tells the soldier that she will be taken to Rome to face justice.  Salina tells Justinian that she will not be a slave to the Romans and kills herself with her sword. 

 

I did not expect much from the movie, so I thought it was o.k.  And it gives a chance to consider the role of the Romans in Briton.  And, of course, there were lots of very beautiful women, a signature of the Hammer films.  The use of Viking in the title of the movie is very misleading and unfortunate, but there it is. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

43 A.D.  --  the Romans invade the future Britain. 

54-68   --  the reign of Nero. 

Boudica was the wife of Prasutagus of the Brythonic Celtic Iceni people of Norfolk, eastern Britain.   When her husband died, she and her daughters were humiliated brutally.  Queen Boudica led a major uprising of the tribes against the Romans

60 or 61  --  while Roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was fighting on the island of Anglesey, north Wales, Boudica led her people, the Trinovantes and other tribes in a rebellion.  They destroyed the former Trinovantian capital and the Roman colony of Colchester (Camulodunum).  They also routed the Romans under Quintus Petillius Cerialis; burned the settlement of London; and destroyed St. Albans (Verulamium).  Boudica was defeated at the Battle of Watlilng Street by troops under Roman Governor Suetonius.

60 or 61  --  death of Boudica. 

98-116  --   under Trajan, the Roman Empire reaches its greatest geographical extent in Britain.

200  --  Christianity penetrates Britain.

383  --  Roman legions begin to evacuate Britain. 

409  --  the British revolt. 

410  --  the Roman legions leave Britain. 

 

795  --  first recorded Viking raid on Ireland.

1066  --  Norman invasion of Britain; Battle of Hastings. 

 

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