In ancient times, while men were expected to go out on the battlefields, women were restricted to more traditional roles. However, some women broke these stereotypes and impacted history. In the below text we celebrate 10 such famous female warriors.
Let us take a look at the 10 Famous Female Warriors Who Made Their Mark On History.
1) Fu Hao- A famous female warrior from Ancient China
Fu Hao was a famous female warrior from Ancient China. She was an exceptionally gifted woman who also held the position of the high priestess. She was one of the 64 wives of the Shang King Wu Ding. However, due to her abilities, she rose to become one of his 3 queens. As a high priestess, she oversaw important ceremonies such as sacrifices and oracle seeking.
At the same time, she was also a military commander who led the armies to battle on the king’s behalf. According to records, she allegedly leads an army of 13,000 soldiers to battle against Qiang, the neighbouring kingdom. Making it one of the largest military campaigns at the time. Additionally, she also fought many wars in other regions. She died during the reign of Wu Ding, and after her death, she was deified.
2) Artemisia I of Caria
Named after the Greek goddess Artemis, Artemisia I of Caria was a fierce queen. During the 5th century, she reigned over Halicarnassus, a kingdom that exists in modern-day Turkey. She is best known for her role in the naval battles that took place during the second Persian invasion of Greece. Here she personally commanded 5 ships and distinguished herself as a fearsome warrior.
Additionally, she provided valuable insight and advice to Xerxes, the King of Persia. Due to this, he held her in the highest regard and praised her courage. She is mostly known through the writings of the Greek historian Herodotus of Halicarnassus, who lists her achievements in his account of the Battle of Salamis.
3) Lozen- A famous female Apache warrior
Lozen was a famous female Apache warrior. Along with that she was a prophet and was believed to have the ability to predict the movements of her enemies. Lozen was a protector of her people and due to her tragic and eventful life, she is often called the “Apache Joan of Arc”.
From childhood, she was gifted in archery, horseriding and strategy. And as an adult, she accompanied her brother Victorio in raids against the U.S. government that threatened their lands. After her brother’s death, she went on to fight alongside Geronimo in the last campaign of the Apache Wars. After Geronimo’s final surrender, she was taken into U. S. military custody and spent the rest of her life as a prisoner of war.
4) Trieu Thi Trinh
Trieu Thi Trinh, also called Lady Trieu was a famous Vietnamese female warrior of the 3rd century. At the time, Vietnam was under the oppressive rule of the Chinese. Like her other counterparts, Lady Trieu was strongly opposed to Chinese rule. When she was 19 years old, she made up her mind to fight against the Chinese and formed an army of 1,000. According to myth, her brother advised her against this and asked her to become a housewife instead. To this, she responded:
“I’d like to ride thunderstorms, kill whales in the oceans, drive out the invaders, reconquer the nation, undo the ties of serfdom, and never become the concubine of a man”.
Lady Trieu subsequently led more than 30 successful campaigns against the Chinese. On the battlefield, she cut an impressive figure, carrying two swords and wearing bright yellow clothes while she rode a war elephant.
5) Nakano Takeko- A famous Japanese female warrior of the Aizu Domain
Nakano Takeko was a famous Japanese female warrior of the Aizu Domain. From childhood, she excelled in martial arts and subsequently got trained in wielding a naginata, a traditional Japanese polearm wielded by onna-bugeisha. Takeko’s family were loyal to the ruling Tokugawa Shogunate. Later the Meiji imperial family challenged the Tokugawa clan, resulting in a civil war that came to be known as the Boshin War. Takeko wanted to join the Aizu army as well, but, due to her gender, she was rejected. However, this did not stop her and she went on to form her own army of women warriors known as the Aizu Joshitai.
Subsequently, during the Battle of Aizu, Takeko led her army into battle despite not having the permission to do so. She went on to kill 5 enemy soldiers before being fatally shot in the chest. Rather than let the enemy defile her body as a trophy, she asked her sister to cut off her head and bury her. Takeko was buried beneath a pine tree at the Hōkai-Ji Temple in modern-day Fukushima. Today, in her honour a monument is erected near the grave.
Boudica, a famous female warrior was the wife of Prasutagas, the king of the Iceni tribe. Subsequently, in 43 AD, the Romans conquered most of Southern England. Consequently, many Celtic tribes were forced to submit. However, the Romans allowed Prasutagas to be in power as a forced ally of the Empire. Prasutagas subsequently died without a male heir and in his will jointly left the kingdom to his daughters and the Roman Emperor. However, the Romans ignored his will and took over his kingdom and lands. Additionally, to add further humiliation they publicly flogged Boudica and raped her daughters. The queen then vowed vengeance stating:
“Nothing is safe from Roman arrogance and ego. They will destroy the sacred and will deflower our virgins. Win the battle or die, that is what I, a woman, will do.”
Boudica then went on to lead a rebellion against the Roman Empire. The queen’s forces successfully wiped out the Roman Ninth Legion and destroyed three Roman towns, Camulodinum (Colchester), Verulamium (St. Albans) and Londinium (London). During her rebellion she killed nearly 70,000 Romans, however in the end her army was defeated. To avoid capture, Boudica and her daughters committed suicide.
Zenobia was a remarkable 3rd-century queen of the Palmyrene Empire in Syria. Her husband Odaenathus was instrumental in making Palmyra the supreme power in the Near East. After his death, she became the regent of her son and ruled the kingdom via him. In 269, she launched an invasion and defeated the Roman prefect Tenagino Probus which brought most of the Roman East under her sway.
She also conquered Egypt in the process and assumed the title of queen of Egypt. She then went on to conquer parts of Anatolia (modern Turkey), Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon, taking vital trade routes from the Romans. Subsequently, she clashed with the Romans and after heavy fighting the Romans were victorious. She was captured by Roman Emperor Aurelian who exiled her to Rome where she spent the rest of her life.
8) Tomoe Gozen
Tomoe Gozen was a 12th-century Japanese female warrior who was famous for her exceptional fighting skills. Although it is believed Tomoe Gozen might not have been her real name. Tomoe refers to the pattern on her shoulder pads while Gozen was a title of respect. She learned martial arts from a young age under the shogun Minamoto no Yoshinaka. However, most of her life story is shrouded in fact and myth.
She is believed to have commanded an army of 1,000 men and her weapon of choice was a katana. Additionally, she also participated in the Genpei War (1180–85). Gozen’s last battle was the Battle of Awazu, where after showing exceptional skill, she retired. Although sources vary, it is said she subsequently became a nun.
9) Joan of Arc- One of the most famous female warriors
Undoubtedly one of the most famous female warriors, Joan of Arc was a force to reckon with. Acting under the divine guidance of Archangel Michael, Joan was instrumental in leading the French army in a momentous victory at Orléans. This essentially helped recover France from English domination during the Hundred Years’ War. However, Joan was later captured by the English. Arrested and convicted, she was burned at the stake in 1431.
Even after her death, her influence was strong. The Church subsequently visited her trial in 1456 and declared her innocent. And in 1803, Napoleon Bonaparte declared her as the national symbol of France. Read more about Joan of Arc and other medieval knights here: 10 Legendary Medieval Knights in history
The last on our list of famous female warriors is Khutulun. Popularly known as the wrestler princess, she was a descendant of Genghis Khan. From a young age, she excelled in wrestling, riding horses and archery. In fact, she was such a famed wrestler, that she had a reputation of beating every opponent that she faced. She found the same success on battlefields, where she regularly accompanied her father on his military campaigns.