Nobody Can Hold a Candle to These Top 12 Fearsome Female Warriors

Nobody Can Hold a Candle to These Top 12 Fearsome Female Warriors

Khalid Elhassan - December 7, 2017

Throughout most of history, the bloody business of war has typically been considered a male occupation; warfare was a profession overwhelmingly dominated by men. Nonetheless, there are records of women who managed to break into and make a name for themselves in this predominately masculine field. It is said that well-behaved women seldom make history – especially not military history. Some, however, did just that. Their numbers include women who were skilled and ferocious in combat and exhibited degrees of courage and derring-do in the thick of battle that could put their male counterparts to shame. Their ranks also include women who were capable strategists, good generals, and inspirational leaders who commanded armies in battle.

The stories of some of these female warriors are well documented in the historical record, with numerous references in literary sources. While others’ tales had to be pieced from archaeological discoveries and scantier materials. Despite lack of historical record, their stories persevered- just like the heroines. In addition to their roles as fierce fighters, these female fighters were also expected to take on their domestic roles as mothers, daughters, siblings and wives. But they broke the mold. These women, and so many others, were also ferocious warriors who put fear in the hearts of their foes. Joining the thick of battle while wielding swords, spears, bows and firearms, many women in combat terrorized their opponents. Courageously riding or marching at the head of their troops, leading their commands into combat, many of them routed and put opposing armies to flight.

Nobody Can Hold a Candle to These Top 12 Fearsome Female Warriors
Lakshmi Bai, Rani of Jhansi, fighting the British with her son strapped to her back. Postcard News

Following are twelve of history’s most remarkable female warriors:

Nobody Can Hold a Candle to These Top 12 Fearsome Female Warriors
Ahhotep’s bust, jewels, weapons, and award, recovered from a tomb. Temple of Mut

Ahhotep I

Ahhotep I (circa 1560 – 1530 BC) was a warrior queen of the Ancient Egyptian Seventeenth Dynasty, who led armies in combat against the Hyksos – foreign Semitic invaders who had conquered Egypt’s Nile Delta. After her husband was killed fighting the invaders, Ahhotep took over Egypt’s throne and armies as regent during the minority of her son, Ahmose I. As regent, she kept up the pressure against the Hyksos until her son was old enough to take over the fight.

According to a stele recording her deeds during this period: “The king’s wife, the noble lady, who knew everything, assembled Kemet [Egypt]. She looked after what her Sovereign had established. She guarded it. She assembled her fugitives. She brought together her deserters. She pacified her Upper Egyptians. She subdued her rebels, The king´s wife Ahhotep given life. … She is the one who has accomplished the rites and taken care of Egypt… She has looked after her soldiers, she has guarded her, she has brought back her fugitives and collected together her deserters, she has pacified Upper Egypt and expelled her rebels.”

Eventually, Ahhotep’s son came of age, took over the reins of power, drove out the Hyksos, and reunified Egypt. He then went on to found the Eighteenth Dynasty, Ancient Egypt’s most famous and successful. During that dynasty, the Egyptian Empire reached the zenith of its power, stretching from Syria in the north to Nubia in the south, and from Mesopotamia in the west to the Libyan deserts in the west.

While her son was busy in the south warring with Nubians, a cabal of Hyksos-sympathizing rebels attempted to seize the throne. Ahhotep rallied loyal troops, fought them off, and foiled their attempt. For that, she was rewarded with the “Golden Flies of Valor” – Ancient Egypt’s highest military award for courage – which was discovered by archaeologists in a tomb, along with weapons and jewelry, thousands of years later.

Nobody Can Hold a Candle to These Top 12 Fearsome Female Warriors
Fu Hao statue in front of her tomb. Flickr

Fu Hao

Fu Hao (died circa 1200 BC) was one of Chinese history’s most extraordinary women. She was one of the Shang emperor’s numerous wives, but she was so remarkable that she not only became the imperial favorite, but also the leading figure in court and throughout China in her lifetime. In addition to being a wife and mother, she was also a formidable general who led armies into battle, as well as a priestess and a capable politician.

It was traditional for Shang Dynasty emperors to cultivate and cement the allegiance of neighboring tribes by marrying a wife from each, and that is how Fu Hao came to be one of emperor Wu Ding’s 64 wives. Once at court, she exhibited remarkable intelligence, as well as military aptitude, and rose rapidly, becoming the emperor’s favorite wife and his most trusted confidant.

She also rose to command the Shang armies, and led them into battle, defeating and subduing restive tribes, and bringing them into the Chinese fold. One of her earliest victories came against an obstinate tribe that had troubled the Shang for generations. Fu Hao decisively defeated them in a single battle, and ended their menace once and for all.

She led numerous other military campaigns to consolidate Shang rule, and is credited with successfully carrying off the earliest large-scale ambush in Chinese history. She led an army of 13,000 men, which was huge for that era, and the largest ever assembled under anyone Shang general. With that force, Fu Hao successfully expanded and pacified the Shang borders.

She was given her own fiefdom on the Shang border, the better to guard against potential enemy encroachment. She predeceased her husband, who built her a lavish tomb. In the 1970s, archaeologists discovered Fu Hao’s tomb, intact, with a treasure trove of jade and bronze. It also included a wide variety of war artifacts, such as great battle-axes, which were apparently her favorite weapon.

Nobody Can Hold a Candle to These Top 12 Fearsome Female Warriors
‘Tomyris Plunges the Head of the Dead Cyrus Into a Vessel of Blood’, by Rubens. Ancient Origins


Tomyris (flourished 500s BC) was the ruler of the Massagetae, a nomadic confederation that stretched across the Central Asian Steppe from east of the Caspian Sea to the borders of China. A formidable warrior queen, she is credited with defeating Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire, and bringing his brilliant career of uninterrupted conquests to a screeching halt in 530 BC.

According to ancient sources, the Massagetae were Iranian-speaking nomads who led a hardy pastoral life on the Eurasian Steppe. They made their living tending their herds most of the time, interspersed with raids into the surrounding civilized lands bordering the Steppe. Their raiding eventually grew too bothersome for Cyrus the Great, who had recently founded the Persian Empire, and whose realm now encompassed many of the territories being raided.

Cyrus led an army into the Steppe to bring the nomads to heel, and he won an initial victory against a nomad contingent commanded by Tomyris’ son, following a ruse in which Cyrus “forgot” a huge stock of wine in an abandoned camp. The Massagetae captured the wine, and unused to the drink, got themselves rip-roaring drunk. Cyrus then turned around and fell upon the inebriated nomads, killing many, including Tomyris’ son.

Tomyris sent Cyrus a message, challenging him to a second battle, which the overconfident Cyrus accepted. She personally led her army this time, and as described by Herodoutus: “Tomyris mustered all her forces and engaged Cyrus in battle. I consider this to have been the fiercest battle between non-Greeks that there has ever been…. They fought at close quarters for a long time, and neither side would give way, until eventually the Massagetae gained the upper hand. Most of the Persian army was wiped out there, and Cyrus himself died too.”

The Persian army was virtually wiped out. After the battle, Tomyris had Cyrus’ corpse beheaded and crucified. She then threw his severed head into a vessel filled with human blood. According to Herodotus, she is quoted as having addressed Cyrus the Great’s head as it bobbed in the blood: “I warned you that I would quench your thirst for blood, and so I shall“.

Nobody Can Hold a Candle to These Top 12 Fearsome Female Warriors
The Battle of Salamis. Thing Link

Artemisia I of Caria

Artemisia I of Caria (flourished in the 400s BC) was a ruler of Halicarnassus in Caria – a satrapy, or province, of the Persian Empire in southwestern Anatolia. A warrior queen and naval commander, she fought for Persia’s king Xerxes during his invasion of Greece. She was most famous for her role in the naval Battle of Salamis in 480s, which her side lost, but during which she distinguished herself.

She was the daughter of the king of Halicarnassus, who named her after the Greek goddess of the hunt, Artemis. When she grew up, she married the satrap of Caria, and after his death, she assumed the throne of Caria as regent for her underage son. Ancient reports depict her as a courageous and clever commander of men and ships, who was an asset to Xerxes when he decided to invade Greece.

She distinguished herself as a commander and a tactician in the naval battle of Artemisium, which was fought simultaneously with the more famous Battle of Thermopylae. She so discomfited the Greeks during that engagement that they put a sizeable bounty on her head, offering 10,000 drachmas to whoever killed or captured her. The reward went unclaimed.

In the even greater naval Battle of Salamis soon thereafter, Herodotus describes Artemisia as the only commander on the Persian side worthy of mention: “I pass over all the other officers [of the Persians] because there is no need for me to mention them, except for Artemisia, because I find it particularly remarkable that a woman should have taken part in the expedition against Greece. She took over the tyranny after her husband’s death, and although she had a grown-up son and did not have to join the expedition, her manly courage impelled her to do so“.

After the Battle of Salamis, she escorted Xerxes’ sons to safety, after which she fades from history. Legend has it that her end came after she fell madly in love with a man who ignored her, so she blinded him in his sleep. However, her passion continued to burn hot despite his disfigurement. To rid herself of her feelings for him, she decided to leap from a tall rock that reportedly held mystical powers, such that jumping off it would snap the bonds of love. Instead, she fell down and snapped her neck.

Nobody Can Hold a Candle to These Top 12 Fearsome Female Warriors
The Trung sisters. Balladeer’s Blog

The Trung Sisters

The Trung sisters, Trung Nhi and Trung Trac (circa 12 AD – 43 AD), are the national heroines of Vietnam, who led an independence movement and launched an uprising in 40 AD against Chinese domination of their country. They succeeded in breaking the Chinese yoke and establishing an independent Vietnamese state, which they ruled for three years.

Vietnam had been groaning under Chinese domination for about a century by the time the Trung sisters were born. Trung Trac, the older sister, was married to a Vietnamese nobleman who resisted Chinese hegemony, and objected to the ham-handedness of a particularly oppressive Chinese governor. For his troubles, he was executed by the Chinese as a warning to other would-be rebels.

The execution led his widow to rally and organize other Vietnamese nobles to resist the Chinese. With the help of her sister Trung Nhi, Trung Trac launched a rebellion in the Red River Delta, near modern Hanoi, and from there, the revolt quickly spread up and down the long Vietnamese coast. After generations of living under foreign domination, the Vietnamese were ready to rebel, and the uprising became wildly popular.

Unique among armed rebellions, the Trung sisters’ armies were made mostly of women. With those predominately female armies, the rebel siblings seized numerous Chinese forts and citadels, chasing out or defeating their garrisons. Within a few months, Chinese authority in Vietnam was broken, the Chinese had been chased out of the country, and Trung Trac was proclaimed queen.

The sisters led Vietnamese armies against the Chinese, and despite being greatly outnumbered, the siblings managed to keep the invaders out for three years. Eventually, however, the Chinese concentrated an overwhelming force to recapture Vietnam, and in 43 AD, the Trung sisters were finally defeated in battle. Captured, they were decapitated by the Chinese, who then went on to reassert their control over Vietnam.

Although their independent state proved short-lived, the Trung sisters did succeed in planting the seeds of Vietnamese national identity. Conventional wisdom in Vietnam has it that if the Trung sisters had not rebelled and fought against the Chinese, Vietnam would have been wholly absorbed and dissolved into China, and there would be no Vietnamese nation today.

Nobody Can Hold a Candle to These Top 12 Fearsome Female Warriors
Statue of Boudicca and her daughters at Westminster Bridge, in London. Wikimedia


Boudicca (circa 25 – 61 AD) was an ancient British warrior queen of the Iceni tribe, who sparked and led a massive revolt against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. During the uprising, she put London and numerous other Roman towns and settlements to the torch, and her forces killed as many as 70,000 Romans and British collaborators.

She was born into a tribal royal family around 25 AD, and as a young woman married the king of the Iceni tribe. Upon her husband’s death in 60 AD, he left his wealth to his daughters and to the Roman emperor Nero, on the assumption that Nero would return the favor and bestow imperial protection upon his family. Instead, the Romans simply seized all the deceased’s assets, and annexed his kingdom. When Boudicca protested, she was flogged, and her two teenaged daughters were gang-raped by Roman soldiers.

Understandably incensed, Boudicca launched a revolt in East Anglia, which quickly spread. Disgruntled Britons rallied to her by the tens of thousands, and she led them in a whirlwind campaign of vengeance. Sweeping out of East Anglia, with Boudicca at their head on a war chariot, the rebels annihilated a legionary detachment sent to subdue them. They then went on a rampage, in which they burned modern Colchester, Saint Albans, and London. They also massacred tens of thousands of Romans and Romanized British collaborators, torturing and executing them in a variety of gruesome ways ranging from impalement to flaying, to burning alive, to crucifixion.

Eventually, the Romans rallied, gathered their legions into a powerful force, and marched off to meet Boudicca. When the armies eventually met, the Romans were greatly outnumbered, but they were a disciplined force of professional legionaries facing a poorly trained and organized enemy. Boudicca led her forces in person and charged at the Romans in her war chariot, but discipline and professionalism prevailed, and the Romans won. Defeated, Boudicca committed suicide to deny the Romans the satisfaction of parading her in chains in a triumphal parade.

Nobody Can Hold a Candle to These Top 12 Fearsome Female Warriors
Zenobia in Chains, by Harriet Hosmer. Skip Moss Photography


Zenobia (circa 240 – circa 274) was a third-century Syrian queen who challenged the authority of Rome and took charge of the short-lived Empire of Palmyra from 267 to 272. During that period, via war, conquest, and diplomacy, she came to control and govern a sizeable realm that encompassed most of the Roman Empire’s eastern provinces.

She was born Julia Aurelia Zenobia in Palmyra, a wealthy Syrian city that grew prosperous from its strategic location astride caravan trade routes. She was educated in Latin and Greek, and was fluent in Aramaic and Egyptian. In her youth, she was put in charge of her family’s flocks and crews of shepherds. As a result, she grew accustomed to horseback riding, the outdoors life, and developed endurance and stamina – assets that would come in handy later on in her life.

In her teens, Zenobia was married to Lucius Septimus Odaenathus, Rome’s client ruler of Palmyra. In the mid 200s AD, the Roman Empire was in the grip of a decades-long period of chaos and political instability that came to be known as the Crisis of the Third Century. Taking advantage of that weakness, the newly emergent Persian Sassanid Empire conquered much of the Roman east. Acting at Rome’s behest, Odaenathus fought off the Persians and recovered the Roman east. For his services, Odaenathus was made governor of most of the Roman east, and in 260, he crowned himself king.

In 267, Odaenathus and his eldest son by a previous wife were assassinated, at which point Zenobia stepped up and assumed power as regent on behalf of her underage son. She also crowned herself queen of Palmyra, and surrounded herself at court with intellectuals and philosophers. Unlike her deceased husband, however, Zenobia was not content to remain a Roman client, so she conquered Egypt in 269, seized a significant part of Asia Minor, and declared herself an independent ruler.

She was a remarkable queen, noted for her culture, her intellect, her beauty, and her toughness. It was recorded that she was capable of marching on foot long distances with her soldiers, could hunt as well as any man, and could out-drink anybody. By 270, she had conquered an empire stretching from modern Turkey to Egypt, and from Mesopotamia to the deserts of Libya.

Rome was finally forced to take note, and in 270, a new emperor, Aurelian, finally managed to restore a measure of order to the western Roman empire, and turned his attention to the east. Marching against Zenobia, he defeated her armies at Antioch and Emesa, and besieged her in Palmyra. She attempted to fight her way out and flee, but was eventually captured. She was supposed to march as a trophy in Aurelian’s triumph in Rome, but denied him that satisfaction by starving herself to death in 274 during the trip to Rome.

Nobody Can Hold a Candle to These Top 12 Fearsome Female Warriors
Khawla bint al Azwar. Buffy Mega

Khawla bint Al-Azwar

Khawla bint al Azwar (flourished 600s AD) was a Muslim Arab poet and warrior who accompanied her elder brother during the Islamic conquests of Syria, Palestine, and Jordan. She fought at her brother’s side, and at the head of her own forces in independent command in numerous battles, and became famous for her fighting skill, courage, and toughness.

Khawla was the daughter of the chief of an Arab tribe, and during her youth, she was taught warrior skills such as swordsmanship and horseback riding, at the side of her brother. She also learned poetry at her sibling’s side, who became a noted poet and warrior. When her brother converted to the then-new religion of Islam, Khawla followed his suit, and adopted the new faith.

She first gained note as a warrior in 634, during the Arab siege of Damascus, when her brother was wounded and taken prisoner by the city’s Byzantine defenders. Khawla donned armor and arms, and covering her face with a shawl to hide her gender, charged the Byzantine rearguard alone. She fought until reinforcements arrived to rescue her brother from captivity.

At the battle of Ajnadayn later that year, her brother was again taken prisoner, and Khawla again rushed to his rescue, covering her face and charging in alone until reinforcements arrived. By the time the Byzantines were beaten, Khawla was drenched in blood. The army’s commander, Khalid ibn al Walid, unaware of her identity or gender, ordered her to remove the shawl from her face. When she finally relented, he ordered her to the rear, but soon changed his mind and put her in command of a mobile column to pursue the fleeing Byzantines.

On another occasion, Khawla was herself captured during a raid on the Muslim camp, and taken prisoner along with other camp women. They were taken to an enemy general’s tent, who divided the captive women among his officers as slaves and concubines. Khawla roused the captives, and seizing tent poles, they fell upon their captors, and during the confusion, she made her escape. To this day, she is remembered as one of the greatest female warriors in the history of Islam, with hardly any sizeable city in the Muslim world that does not have at least one school named after her.

Nobody Can Hold a Candle to These Top 12 Fearsome Female Warriors
Sichelgaita of Salerno and Robert Guiscard. Wikimedia


Sichelgaita of Salerno (circa 1040 – 1090) was a Lombard warrior princess and the hereditary duchess of Apulia in southern Italy. A six-foot Amazon, she met and married Robert Guiscard, a Norman adventurer who turned southern Italy and Sicily into a Norman domain. Armed and armored and going into combat at Guiscard’s side, or leading men into battle on her own, the power couple roiled the Mediterranean world during the second half of the 11th century.

Sichelgaita was born into the ruling family of the Duchy of Salerno. and from an early age, she exhibited a passion for swordsmanship and horseback riding. After her father, the duke, was murdered in a palace coup, she helped her brother regain the duchy, and she regained her place as the duchy’s most privileged woman. Brother and sister then had to deal with encroachment from Normans to their south, who had settled in Italy following a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

In 1058, Sichelgaita met the Normans’ leader, Robert Guiscard, and the two fell passionately in love. Impressed by the six-foot Amazon who went into battle, armed and armored at his side, Guiscard divorced his wife and married Sichelgaita. For the next 18 years, she was Guiscard’s constant companion, on and off the battlefield, helping consolidate his and her family’s hold on southern Italy.

In 1076, clad in shining armor and mounted astride a stallion, Sichelgaita rode up to the walls of Salerno, which was ruled by her own brother, and demanded the city’s submission. When her brother refused, Sichelgaita and Guiscard put the city under siege, and starved him into surrender. She then took command of the city, and sent her brother into exile.

In addition to fighting at her husband’s side, Sichelgaita also led men on her own in independent commands. She and Guiscard attempted to take over the Byzantine Empire by marrying one of their children into the imperial household. A palace coup in Constantinople foiled those plans, however, so the power couple decided to take over Byzantium the hard way, by conquering it.

Sichelgaita’s greatest exploit came during the ensuing war, at the Battle of Durazo on the Albanian coast, in October of 1081. Sichelgaita led an advance force ahead of the main body, which encountered a powerful Byzantine army that offered fierce resistance. Sichelgaita determined to press the attack and keep the Byzantines pinned in place until Guiscard arrived with reinforcements, but her men faltered, and some fled. As described by near contemporaries: “Directly Sichelgaita, Robert’s wife (who was riding at his side and was a second Pallas, if not an Athene) saw these soldiers running away. She looked fiercely after them and in a very powerful voice called out to them in her own language an equivalent to Homer’s words “How far will ye flee? Stand and fight like men!” And when she saw that they continued to run, she grasped a long spear and at full gallop rushed after the fugitives; and on seeing this they recovered themselves and returned to the fight.

She was badly wounded in the fight, but held part of the battlefield until reinforcements arrived to turn the tide and win the hard-fought engagement. Notwithstanding the victory, the plans for conquering Byzantium had to be discarded because of developments back in Italy, when a conflict broke out between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor.

In 1084, the power couple resumed the attempted conquest of Byzantium. They won some initial victories, including a ferocious naval battle against a combined Venetian-Byzantine, which gained them the islands of Corfu and Cefalonia. Soon thereafter, however, Guiscard took ill and died in 1085, and the campaign in Greece fizzled out. Sichelgaita retired to Salerno, where she died five years later, in 1090.

Nobody Can Hold a Candle to These Top 12 Fearsome Female Warriors
Tomoe Gozen and her commanding general, Minamoto Yoshinaka. Wikimedia

Tomoe Gozen

Tomoe Gozen (circa 1157 – 1247) is perhaps Japan’s most famous female samurai, or onna-bogueisha. A formidable warrior, she was famous for her courage, physical strength, and skill with a variety of weapons. She put those assets to good use on the battlefield, as she fought in the Japanese civil war that led to the creation of that country’s first shogun (military dictator) government – the political system that would govern Japan from the 1180s until 1868.

It was not unusual for women in Japan to receive military training, and for centuries, women of the samurai class were taught swordsmanship, archery, and the use of polearms. It was defensive training, however, for the women to protect themselves and their households in the absence of their menfolk. Tomoe however wanted to test her mettle and training in battle, so she sought an active career as a warrior, and was accepted into the service of a general named Minamoto Yoshinaka.

As described by contemporaries: ” Tomoe was especially beautiful, with white skin, long hair, and charming features. She was also a remarkably strong archer, and as a swordswoman, she was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill; she rode unscathed down perilous descents. Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka sent her out as his first captain, equipped with strong armor, an oversized sword, and a mighty bow; and she performed more deeds of valor than any of his other warriors.

By 1184, Tomoe had become famous because of her fighting skill and exploits. Her greatest exploit came that year, at the battle of Awazu, when she was part of a small force of 300 samurai that was set upon by a far bigger army of around 6000. She fought with extreme courage and skill against overwhelming odds, but eventually, Tomoe’s force was whittled down from 300 to only Tomoe, her commanding general, Yoshinaka, and five other warriors. With the end drawing near, Yoshinaka ordered her to leave the battlefield, as it would be shameful for him to die alongside a woman. Reluctantly, she obeyed, beheading one more enemy warrior on her way out. Thereafter, she fades from history.

Nobody Can Hold a Candle to These Top 12 Fearsome Female Warriors
Joan of Arc. A&E Biography

Joan of Arc

France’s national heroine Joan of Arc, also known as the Maid of Orleans (1412 – 1431), is perhaps the world’s most famous female warrior of all time. As a teenage girl, she led French armies to victory against rampaging English invaders during the Hundred Years War. Fighting at the head of her forces, she won a series of miraculous victories that revived French national spirit, and turned the tide of the war.

Born into a peasant family in Lorraine, Joan was noted for her piety since childhood. As a teenager, she began seeing visions from a variety of saints, directing her to save France from English domination. At the time, France was exhausted, downtrodden and reeling from a series of humiliating defeats at the hands of the English. The French crown was also in dispute between the French Dauphin, or heir to throne, and the English king, Henry IV.

At age 16, Joan left home, and led by voices and visions from the saints, traveled to join the Dauphin. In 1429, she convinced the French heir to give her an army, which she took to relieve French forces besieged by the English at Orleans. Endowed with remarkable mental and physical courage, Joan led her men in a whirlwind campaign that lifted the siege in 9 days, and sent the English fleeing. In so doing, she won a momentous victory that repulsed an English attempt to conquer France.

After the victory at Orleans, Joan of Arc convinced the Dauphin to crown himself king of France, which he reluctantly did. She was then sent on a variety of military expeditions, and in one of them in 1430, she was thrown off her horse and captured by Burgundians. Her captors kept her for several months, while negotiating with the English, who were eager to get their hands on the girl who had caused them so much trouble.

Eventually, Joan was sold to the English, and although she had saved her country, she was now abandoned by her countrymen to fend for herself. The English and their French collaborators accused her of heresy and witchcraft and locked her in a dark and filthy cell pending her trial. Manacled to her bed with chains, she was incessantly harassed by her inquisitors at all hours of day and night in an effort to break her will and spirit. She adamantly refused to confess to wrongdoing, and her accusers were unable to prove either heresy or witchcraft. In frustration, they turned their attention to the way in which she had dressed in male attire on the field of battle. Claiming that such cross-dressing violated biblical injunctions, they convicted her. On May 30th, 1431, she was taken on a cart to her site of execution in Rouen, where the 19-year-old Maid of Orleans burned to death.

Two decades after her death, an inquisitorial court was ordered by a new Pope, to reexamine Joan of Arc’s trial. The new court debunked all the charges against her, cleared her posthumously, and declared her a martyr. In 1803, Napoleon Bonaparte made her a national symbol of France. Five centuries later, she was beatified in 1909, then canonized as a Saint by the Catholic Church in 1920. Today, Saint Joan of Arc is one of the patron saints of France, and perhaps the most famous female warrior of all time.

Nobody Can Hold a Candle to These Top 12 Fearsome Female Warriors
Lakshmi Bai, Rani of Jhansi. Wiki Voyage

Lakshmi Bai

Lakshmi Bai, also known as the Rani of Jhansi (circa 1830 – 1858), was the rani, or queen, of the Indian princely state of Jhansi in northern India. She is best known as a leader of the Indian Mutiny against British rule in 1857-1858, during which she personally led troops and fought in the line of battle. Her exploits made her an Indian national heroine, a symbol of resistance to British rule, and a martyr for independence.

Born and raised in an upper-caste Brahman family, Lakshmi had an unusual upbringing for a girl of her class. Brought up among boys in a prince’s household, she was taught and became proficient in martial arts such as swordsmanship, shooting, and horseback riding. Upon coming of age, she was married to the maharaja, or princely ruler, of Jhansi.

The couple did not have children, but her husband adopted a child as his heir. Upon her husband’s death, the British employed legal chicanery, refused to recognize the adopted child as heir to Jhansi, and annexed that state to the territory of the East India Company. When informed of this, Lakshmi vowed “I shall not surrender my Jhansi!“, which became her war cry in the subsequent rebellion.

In 1857, Indian troops in British service mutinied, and their rebellion quickly spread throughout northern India. Lakshmi was declared regent of Jhansi, and governed on behalf of the underage heir. She raised troops and joined the rebels, and disgruntled natives from across Indian flocked to her standard to offer their support and fight under her command.

She led her forces in a series of successful engagements that asserted her command and consolidated her rule. Eventually, the British sent an army to recapture Jhansi. When they demanded her surrender, she responded with a proclamation stating: “We fight for independence. In the words of Lord Krishna, we will if we are victorious, enjoy the fruits of victory, if defeated and killed on the field of battle, we shall surely earn eternal glory and salvation.”

The British surrounded Jhansi, and a fierce battle ensued, during which Lakshmi Bai led her troops in offering stiff resistance. British heavy artillery eventually reduced her fortifications and breached the city walls. When Jhansi was about to fall, Lakshmi led a small force in a ferocious attack that cut its way to safety, fighting through the British siege lines with her child strapped to her back. She escaped, reached other rebel forces, and resumed the fight. She was finally killed in battle on June 17th, 1858, in an engagement against British cavalry.


Sources For Further Reading:

OZY – When A Warrior Queen Took Down An Emperor

Medium – Battle of Salamis that Ended the Xerxes’ Ambitions in Greece

ThoughtCo – Biography of Artemisia I, Warrior Queen of Halicarnassus

Factinate – Lethal Facts About Artemisia I Of Caria, The Pirate Queen Of Ancient Greece

The National News – The Rich Tales Of Women Who Went To War

ThoughtCo – Who Were the Trung Sisters of Ancient Vietnam?

Ancient Origins – Tomoe Gozen – A Fearsome Japanese Female Warrior Of The 12th Century

The Guardian – The Burning Mystery Of Joan Of Arc

New York Times – Overlooked No More: Rani of Jhansi, India’s Warrior Queen Who Fought the British