Ok…I’ve done a list like this one before. However, there’s a significant difference this time – these women aren’t fictional characters. These women are actual historical figures & didn’t have any stunt doubles.
1. Queen Tomyris of the Massagetae – Massagetae, now eastern Iran – c.550 B.C.
When the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great attempted to invade the Iranic Massagetae of Central Asia, his army was beaten & forced to retreat. Cyrus’ boys then persuaded him to trick the enemy into getting drunk on wine because they were hash smokers & likely to be lightweights when it came to booze. It worked – while the opposing army was shitfaced, the Persians came in & slaughtered them. Tomyris’ son was at the head of the drunken army. When he sobered up, he killed himself. When Tomyris got the news, she sent a message to Cyrus telling him what a rat bastard he was & called him out to another fight. Another battle ensued, which Cyrus did not survive. Tomyris had his body beheaded, then proceeded to mock & insult his severed head. Some kids have really protective mothers.
2. Artemesia I of Caria - Helicarnassus, now southern Turkey - c.480 B.C.
Artemesia warned King Xerxes that going into battle with Greece might be a bad idea, but Xerxes didn’t heed her advice because she’s a girl & his boys suggested that he go ahead & fight. Artemesia said “fuck it” & went ahead into the battle commanding five ships of her own at the Battle of Salamis. When she was down to her last ship, she rammed the ship of King Damasithymus of Calynda, which enabled her to escape. Later, at a council after they had been beaten by the Greeks, Artemesia told everyone, “I told you this was a shitty idea” & told Xerxes to go the fuck back home, which he did.
3. The Trung Sisters – Vietnam – d.42 A.D.
When Trung Trac & Trung Nhi were born to a powerful Vietnamese lord, Vietnam was still under Chinese rule. At the time, Vietnamese women had many rights & privileges, thanks to their mothers. For Chinese women, it was kind of starting to get shitty. Everyone was pretty cool with the situation until around 39 A.D. when the Vietnamese people were starting to feel a bit oppressed. In an effort to shut the Vietnamese up, a Chinese commander raped Trung Trac & killed her husband. The Trung sisters didn’t put up with shit like that, so they got together around 80,000 of their friends & led an attack on the Chinese forces that were occupying their land. The female badassery didn’t stop with the sisters – 36 generals in their army were women, including the Trung sisters’ mother. A friend of the sisters, Phung Thi Chinh, led an army in the resistance despite being pregnant at the time. It’s said that she delivered her baby on the front lines, hoisted it on her back & then kicked some more ass. It’s no surprise that the Trung Sisters still have several temples standing in their honor in their home country, along with an annual national holiday.
4. Boudica – England – d.62 AD
When Boudica’s husband Prasutagus, king of the Iceni, died, he left half of his estate to his wife & two daughters. The other half, he left to Rome, which had ruled over the province peacefully for 17 years. After Prasutagus died, Rome put the kibosh on that shit. They turned on the Iceni, plundering the land & enslaving the people. Prasutagus’ will was ignored, & Rome decided that estates could not be passed down to daughters. To make the situation more insulting, the Romans had Boudica flogged & raped her daughters. Now Boudica was pissed. She united the neighboring Celtic tribes & burned down the temple of the Roman emperor Claudius before carving a nice path of destruction all over Britain. Eventually Boudica’s troops made it into London, where they killed around 10,000 people & left their mark – about 4 metres below the city is a layer of scorched earth known as “The Boudica Destruction Layer”.
5. Queen Mavia – Syria – d.425 A.D.
Queen Mavia led her Arab troops in a rebellion against the Romans. Riding at the head of her army, she led her forces through Palestine, Phoenecia & Egypt. Queen Mavia’s troops repeatedly stomped the enemy before the Romans finally cried “uncle” & a truce was made – a truce in which the Queen laid out all of the conditions. Later on, when the Romans were being attacked by the Goths, they asked Queen Mavia for help. The queen sent them a fleet of her cavalry, which it turns out, didn’t help. It’s possible that the Goths beat them fair & square, or maybe the Romans just never got their groove back after being spanked so badly by a girl. Again.
6. Khawlah Bint al-Kindiyyah – Western Arabia – 7th Century A.D.
Khawlah and her female captains led an Arab army against a Greek invasion of their homeland. It seemed that the Arab army was no match for the Greeks, so naturally, they turned around & ran away in absolute panic. Khawlah and the women captains, Alfra’Bint Ghifar al-Humayriah, Oserrah, and Wafeira managed to talk everyone down. The women talked their men into following them back to the battlefield. Once there, a Greek soldier slapped Khawlah to the Earth & was poised to kill her. However, Wafeira robbed the Greek soldier of his fun by chopping his goddamn head off. Wafeira waved it around a bit, which seemed to cheer up the Arab troops enough to defeat the Greeks. Later on, Khawlah & her woman captains were arrested & relieved of their weapons. Unfortunately for the Greek soldiers, the girls didn’t feel like sticking around, so they beat their way out of captivity with tent poles.
7. Raziyya Iltutmish – India – d.1240 A.D.
Raziyya was the first Sultana of Northern India. Her father was a former Turkish slave who became the greatest Sultan of the Mamluk Dynasty in Delhi. Raziyya’s father realized that his two sons were not worthy of the throne, so he named his daughter Raziyya as his successor. Raziyya’s brothers as well as many of the Sultan’s subject called bullshit & started riots in the city. Raziyya led the troops that quelled the riots. Even after this, she still had difficulty in gaining the loyalty of her subjects because she was a woman. Raziyya didn’t wear a veil & instead wore pants, a turban & a sword. Raziyya hunted, held court & led her army into battle. She established schools, libraries & research centers & would only respond to “Sultan”, as opposed to “Sultana”, because it meant “mistress or wife of a Sultan”. Nice.
8. Shagrat al-Durr – Egypt – d.1259 A.D.
Shagrat was actually purchased by a man who would later become Sultan. When her husband was away in Damascus, the French army under Louis IX, King of France attacked Egypt. Shagrat organized a defense & soon after, her husband returned home on a stretcher. It didn’t take too long for him to die, but Shagrat just told people that he was sick & continued to rule in his name. Eventually, the jig was up & her son was named Sultan, but no one liked him, so he was soon murdered, freeing up the throne for Shagrat. Unfortunately, Egypt was under the authority of the Caliphate at Baghdad, who didn’t like a woman running the show, so they sent a man in to run Egypt. It didn’t take long for Shagrat to dominate the new guy. Actually, she was a little devious, but hell – her battle tactics worked.
9. Jeanne d’Arc – France – 1412-1431
Aw, man…everyone already knows this story – peasant girl hears voices, dresses like a boy, leads an army, saves France & gets burned at the stake at 19. If you don’t know this story, then you should come out of the cave & maybe rub a couple of sticks together to see if you can make fire…or, at the very least, put one of the movies that have been made about Joan of Arc in your freaking Netflix queue – there have been several.
10. Grace O’Malley (Granuaile) – Ireland – c.1530-c.1603
When Grace was young, she had no interest any typical “girl things” & instead wanted to go on the boat with her father, who said, “Hell no – your hair’s too long & it’ll get caught in the ropes.” Grace called his bluff & chopped her hair off, which began her seafaring career. Grace would grow to be a pirate, a chieftain, a gambler, a noblewoman, & a mercenary. After her first marriage, Grace commanded 3 ships & about 200 men. During a sea battle with pirates from North Africa, Grace gave birth to one of her sons, while remaining in command of her men, which makes her completely scary as well as an incredible multi-tasker. Eventually, the English started to cramp her style, then became downright unfriendly, holding her sons captive, which led to a meeting between Grace & Elizabeth I. The two women sat around the fire talking about Sex & the City, acting like best friends before eventually stabbing one another in the back.
11. Deborah Sampson – U.S.A. – 1760-1827
Deborah Sampson was the first known American woman to impersonate a man in order to join the army and take part in combat. When she was only 10, she became an indentured servant & became strong like an ox with all of the hard labor that she had to do. Eventually, she strapped her boobs down & enlisted in the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment of the Continental Army at Bellingham as a man named Robert Shurtleff. When she later became wounded in battle, she tried to tend to the wound herself, to prevent her actual gender from being discovered. As a result, her leg never healed properly & after some time, she was found out for impersonating a man, anyway. She was honorably discharged from the army & received a pension of 4 dollars a month.
12. Wang Cong’er – China – 1777-1798
Originally a circus performer, Wang Cong’er led the uprising of the White Lotus sect against the corrupt Qing regime. After her husband was murdered at the hands of the Qing, Wang was determined to get revenge. Using her expertise in Kung Fu & acrobatics, Wang brandished a sword in each hand & led her men into battle against the army of the greatest empire in Asia. With guerrilla war tactics, Wang’s army surprised & beat the Qing repeatedly. In the end she was defeated, but she started a trend & the revolts against imperial China continued on until some guy named Mao Tse-Tung showed up.
13. Lozen – U.S.A., Apache Tribe – c.1840-1890
Lozen was the younger sister of Victorio, leader of the Apache tribe. Lozen went into battle at her brother’s side against the Mexican & U.S. armies back when it was trendy to pay bounty hunters for each Apache scalp that was turned over to the government. It has been said that Lozen could “ride, shoot & fight like a man”. Another account tells of Lozen butchering a longhorn with a knife for food to prevent the gunfire from betraying her location to the army. Later, after the death of her brother Victorio, Lozen joined up with Geronimo, fighting at his side. It is believed that Lozen possessed a sixth sense that helped the Apache to locate the enemy. Witnesses say that when she held out her arms, she could tell where the enemy was located & how many they outnumbered. Unfortunately, when Geronimo made his final surrender, Lozen was dragged off & died in captivity from tuberculosis, which is just fucking wrong.
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