Women That Left Their Mark Throughout History
Women That Left Their Mark Throughout History

Women That Left Their Mark Throughout History

Khalid Elhassan - August 4, 2020

Women That Left Their Mark Throughout History
Buccaneers extorting tribute. The Way of the Pirates

6. Gaining a Hubby at Gunpoint

In 1693, Anne Dieu-le-Veut became a widow once more, when her second husband Cherel was killed in bar fight by another buccaneer, Laurens de Graaf. Anne was not about to play the wilting flower grieving widow. Instead, she challenged de Graaf to a duel to avenge her husband. He drew his sword, but when she pulled out a pistol, cocked it, and took aim, de Graaf had second thoughts, and suddenly remembered that chivalry forbids men from fighting women.

De Graaf also proposed to Anne on the spot, supposedly because he thought she was badass and admired her courage. That could well have been true. However, it was also true that she had a cocked pistol aimed at his chest, and the quick thinking romantic gesture might have saved his life. Either way, Anne accepted de Graaf’s proposal.

Women That Left Their Mark Throughout History
Anne Dieu-le-Veut. Agni

5. Challenging Gender Roles and Superstition

Anne Dieu-le-Veut accompanied her new hubby on his buccaneering. Badass through and through, she fought by his side, and shared his work and the command of his ship. Anne differed from other female pirates of the era, in that she made no attempt to conceal her sex. Instead, she went about openly as a woman, notwithstanding the superstition that women aboard ship were bad luck. Instead, her ship’s crew saw her as a kind of mascot and lucky charm.

In 1693, Anne and her husband attacked the English in Jamaica. In retaliation, the English in 1695 attacked Port-de-Paix in Haiti, where Anne dwelt when ashore. The English captured and sacked the town, and took Anne and her children prisoner. They were kept hostage for three years, before they were finally released in 1698. Following her release from captivity, Anne Dieu-le-Veut disappears from the historic record. Unconfirmed stories have her and Laurens de Graaf settling in Mississippi or Alabama, but the last reliable mention of her is her death in 1710.

Women That Left Their Mark Throughout History
Joan of Arc. Wikimedia

4. France’s National Heroine

Joan of Arc, also known as the Maid of Orleans (1412 – 1431), is perhaps history’s most famous badass female warrior of all time. As a teenage girl during the Hundred Years War, she led French armies to victory against rampaging English invaders. 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 conflict.

Joan was born into a peasant family in Lorraine, and was noted for her piety since childhood. In her teens, 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. The French crown was also in dispute between the French Dauphin, or heir to throne, and the English king, Henry IV.

Women That Left Their Mark Throughout History
Joan of Arc at the Siege of Orleans, by Jules Eugene Lenepveu, 1890. Corbis

3. The Badass Teen Warrior

When she was sixteen, Joan of Arc was led by voices and visions to leave home, and travel to join the French 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. Her frail teen girl exterior hid a total badass within. Endowed with remarkable mental and physical courage, Joan led her men in a whirlwind campaign that lifted the siege in nine 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 convinced the Dauphin to crown himself king of France, which he reluctantly did. She was then sent on a variety of military expeditions. 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.

Women That Left Their Mark Throughout History
Execution of Joan of Arc. Catholica

2. That’s Gratitude for You

The Burgundians eventually sold Joan of Arc to the English. Although she had saved France, 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 nineteen year old Maid of Orleans burned to death.

Women That Left Their Mark Throughout History
Saint Joan of Arc. Emaze

1. From Heretic to National Heroine and Saint

Two decades after Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, an inquisitorial court was ordered by a new Pope to reexamine her 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 after she had been executed as a heretic, Joan of Arc 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 the most famous female warrior of all time.

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Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Ancient Origins – Grace O’Malley: The 16th Century Pirate Queen of Ireland

Australian Dictionary of Biography – Armfield, Lillian May (1884-1971)

Black History Heroes – Queen Nana Yaa Asantewaa of West Africa’s Ashanti Empire

Cracked – Badass Women History Class Totally Failed to Mention

Culture Trip – Hai Ba Trung: The Story of Vietnam’s Elephant-Riding Warrior Princesses

Dangerous Women Project – Yaa Asantewaa, Queen Mother of the Ashanti Confederacy

Devi, Mahasweta – The Queen of Jhansi (2000)

Devries, Kelly – Joan of Arc: A Military Leader (2011)

Encyclopedia Britannica – Lakshmi Bai

Female Pirates – Anne Dieu-le-Veut

History Ireland, March/ April 2005, Volume 13 – Grainne Mhaol, Pirate Queen of Connacht: Behind the Legend

New South Wales State Archives & Records – Tilly Devine and the Razor Gang Wars, 1927 – 1931

Pernoud, Regine – Joan of Arc by Herself and Her Witnesses (1982)

Rejected Princesses – Alexandra Boiko: Soviet Tank Girl

Straw, Leigh S. L. – Lillian Armfield: How Australia’s First Female Detective Took on Tilly Devine and the Razor Gangs and Changed the Face of the Force (2018)

Taylor, Keith Weller – The Birth of Vietnam (1983)

University of Notre Dame, Australia – Tackling Sydney’s Organized Crime, Armed With Just a Handbag

War History Online – Queen of Ghana and War For the Golden Stool

Wikipedia – Anne Dieu-le-Veut

Wikipedia – War of the Golden Stool

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