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Top 5 Greatest Female Warriors In Human History (Photos)

1. Artemisia I, Warrior Queen of Halicarnassus

Artemisia I of Caria was an intelligent and courageous woman, who showed no fear in battles. She was respected by Xerxes I, King of Persia who made her an ally.

Artemisia I of Halicarnassus was born in Halicarnassus, an ancient Greek city in modern-day Bodrum in Turkey, Artemisia was the daughter of Lygdamis of Halicarnassus ( 520–484 BC) and a Cretan mother. Who Artemisia’s mother was, has never been historically documented.

Artemisia came to the throne of Halicarnassus, modern Bodrum in Turkey, upon the death of her unnamed husband. As Halicarnassus lay in Ionia, along the western coast of Turkey, it was under the suzerainty of the Persian Empire. Thus when in 480 BC Xerxes organized his expedition to invade Greece, he called on all his subjects to provide military aid. As the Ionians were descendants of Greek colonists, it is difficult to know how motivated Artemisia may have been, but she provided five ships that she commanded. She had a son of sufficient age to rule and command, but the Greek historian Herodotus says that she led this force because of her "spirit of adventure and manly courage."

Artemisia distinguished herself in the campaign's first major naval action, off the coast of Euboea. As Xerxes' army was forcing the pass at Thermopylae, the Persian fleet was skirmishing with the Greek fleet based at Artemisium. After losing some ships to bad weather and to raids, the Persian fleet closed with the Greeks, and both sides lost heavily. News came of the Spartan defeat at Thermopylae, convincing the Greeks to withdraw their fleet. No details are given of Artemisia's skill during this first encounter, but no one contradicted her when she alluded to it in conference with Xerxes. It was at that conference that Artemisia began to make herself remarkable. Contradicting the advice given Xerxes by his other advisors, Artemisia told him not to attack the Greek fleet. They were too skilled, she argued, and there was no need either for hurry or a naval battle. The Greek fleet would disperse, she argued, as many of the provincial leaders had little desire to fight to save Athens; also, food was becoming scarce and the Greek defense could not last much longer. She advised that if Xerxes threatened targets on land, the Greek forces would disintegrate. Xerxes admired Artemisia's courageous stand, but conceded to the majority and ordered his fleet to pursue the Greek fleet into the narrow channel between the island of Salamis and Attica.

The division among the Greeks almost proved their undoing, as the naval commanders could not agree on a strategy. One of the Athenian commanders, Themistocles, sent a secret message to Xerxes claiming a desire to abandon the squabbling Greeks and join the Persians. Hearing this, Xerxes ordered his ships to attack, and the battle was joined on 20 September 480 все. The offer of Athenian assistance was a ruse to force the battle, and the fight soon justified Artemisia's caution. The narrow waters off Salamis negated the superior numbers of the Persian fleet, and the small and more maneuverable Greek ships soon gained the upper hand.

In the midst of the ensuing Persian confusion, Artemisia stood out. Chased by an Athenian ship, she took the desperate measure of ramming an allied ship. This convinced the pursuers that she was either a Greek commander or had changed sides, so they turned away in search of other targets. This saved her from possible capture or death and at the same time was noticed onshore. Xerxes sat on a golden throne on high ground overlooking the battle; Artemisia's action was pointed out to him, and he assumed that the ship she rammed was Greek. Seeing her success in the midst of his fleet's defeat, he made the famous remark "My men have turned into women, my women into men." Her escape cost Ameinias, the Greek who had been chasing her, 10.

2. Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc, also known as the Maid of Orleans, was born in Domremy, France, on or about January 6, 1412. Her family members were peasants. She took care of the animals on the farm, and she was good at sewing and spinning. Joan never went to school, and she was very religious.

When Joan was about 12 years old, she began to hear voices of different saints: St. Michael the Archangel, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret. St. Michael told her, “Daughter of God, go save France!” She felt it was her divine mission to free her country from the English and to help the dauphin become king. Dauphin is the title of the oldest son of the king of France, the one who should inherit the throne.

In May 1428, she went to Robert Baudricourt, who commanded troops for Charles, the Dauphin. She asked for permission to join Charles and his cause. Baudricourt told the kinsman who came with her, “take her home to her father and give her a good whipping.” They returned home, but Joan continued to thear voices urging her to fight. Sometimes she would respond that she was only a poor girl who couldn't ride or fight. Nevertheless, the voices continued.

She returned to Baudricourt and made a prediction that the French would be defeated in a battle near Orleans. This came true, so Baudricourt took her to see the dauphin. She dressed in men’s clothing and cut her hair short so she would not be recognized as they travelled through hostile Burgundian territory. Joan asked Charles for permission to travel with the army and dress as a knight. Armor, horses, swords, a banner, and other items were donated to herand her brothers, Jean and Pierre. Her standard was painted with an image of Christ, and the banner had the name of Jesus.

People at this time were very superstitious. They wanted to make sure Joan was not a sorceress or a heretic. She had to pass an examination by church representatives before she was given the rank of captain and troops to lead. After she passed, Joan began to lead the French. They captured the fortress of Saint Loup on May 4. The next day they took the fortress of Saint Jean le Blanc. On May 7, they besieged Les Tourelles. During the battle, Joan was shot through the neck with an arrow, but she returned to the fight. The French were inspired by her bravery and defeated the English. Next she convinced the commanders that they should take the city of Reims where coronations of French kings were held. Reims was taken on July 16, and the dauphin was crowned King Charles VII on July 17. At the coronation, Joan was given a place of honor next to the king.

The French tried to take Paris on September 8, and Joan's leg was wounded by an arrow. Once again, she continued the fight. In May of 1430, during the Battle of Compiegne, Joan was captured and imprisoned by the Burgundians. She tried to escape several times. Once she jumped sixty feet from the top of her prison tower into the moat. She was knocked unconscious and bruised, but not seriously hurt. She was sold to the English for 10,000 pounds. The English wanted to prove that Joan had used witchcraft to beat them. She was brought to trial for sorcery and heresy. Representatives of the Church wanted her to deny that she had heard the voices of saints and to remove her soldier’s clothes. They said this violated Church rules. Joan refused to do what they wanted.

Charles did not try to rescue her. The authorities promised Joan that she could go to church and confession if she signed a statement of her faults and put on women’s clothes. Joan finally agreed, but they had lied to her, so Joan put her soldier’s clothes back on. For this disobedience to the Church, she was sentenced to death. On May 30, 1431, she was burned at the stake in the marketplace of Rouen. She was nineteen.

In 1456, Pope Callixtus III declared that Joan had been not guilty and condemned the verdict against her. In 1920, the Catholic Church declared Joan to be a saint. She is the patron saint of France and soldiers. Catholics celebrate her feast day on May 30. The French consider her a national heroine.

3. Triệu Thị Trinh

Bà Triệu, or Triệu Thị Trinh, was a Vietnamese warrior and military commander in the 3rd century who fought against the occupying forces of the Chinese Wu Kingdom.

An orphan of noble birth, Triệu grew up among her brother’s family as a slave. At the age of 19 she declared her intention to become a warrior to fight against the Wu, who controlled Vietnam at that time and had purged more than 10,000 people. When her brother tried to prevent her leaving she is famously quoted as rebuking him with the words: “I want to ride the storm, tread the dangerous waves, win back the fatherland and destroy the yoke of slavery. I don’t want to bow down my head, working as a simple housewife.” Triệu was successful in raising an army of around 1000 men and women, which she led north from the Cu-phong District to engage the Chinese in open rebellion. Despite the relatively small size of her army she was successful in defeating the Wu in over 30 separate battles within a period of 2 years. 

While Triệu’s war effort allowed her to carve out her own portion of Vietnam for a time, her success was a humiliation for the Wu, especially as their Confucian beliefs emphasised the natural inferiority of women. In response the Taizu Emperor of Wu sent huge numbers of troops to the Vietnamese frontier. While Triệu’s army held out for several months in the face of this new onslaught, she was ultimately killed in battle in the year 248. Following her death and the consolidation of Chinese rule, Triệu was immortalised in Vietnamese folklore as a supernatural hero, often depicted riding into battle astride an elephant wielding dual golden swords.

4. Nakano Takeko

Nakano Takeko is the last samurai woman who fought in the history of Japan. She was born in 1847 in the domains of Izu, and she was a descendant of a prestigious samurai family.

His father was an Izu officer, General Nakano Genai, who could see his daughter Takeko from an early age showed skills for war.

Therefore, Takeko was trained since childhood to be a onna bugeisha or martial arts expert, her teacher was Akaoka Daisuke, who later adopted her.

Takeko was also instructed in the history of Japan and literature, so she had a great admiration for Tomoe Gozen, another samurai woman from the time of the Genpei War, who will soon become the heroine of the very young Nakano Takeko.

5. Tomoe Gozen

Tomoe Gozen was a twelfth-century concubine of samurai general Minamoto no Yoshinaka, as well as a rare female samurai warrior, known for her bravery and strength. She is believed to have fought in the Genpei War between the Minamoto and Taira clans. After defeating the Taira, Yoshinaka set his sights on becoming the sole leader of the Minamoto clan. When his cousin Yoritomo learned of this, he sent his brothers Yoshitsune and Noriyori to kill him. Yoshinaka encountered Yoritomo's forces at Awazu, where he made a stand. Yoshinaka and his troops fought bravely, but they were outnumbered and eventually overwhelmed. Yoshinaka instructed Tomoe to flee because he would be ashamed if died with a woman. She complied, but there are numerous different accounts of her actions afterward. Khutulun and four Mongol Warriors rode forward, into an open field, scouting for a Mongol invasion of Japan. In the distance, they heard the sound of horse's hooves. From the other side of field, Tomoe Gozen and four samurai rode in to face them. Khutulun gave the order, and all five Mongol warriors drew back their bows and loosed their arrows. The arrows flew through the sky, one of them punching through the breast plate of one of Tomoe's samurai, while the other hit a second samurai right between the eyes.

Tomoe did not flee, in spite of losing two of her men. She strung an arrow in her yumi and charged forward, followed by all three of her samurai. Tomoe fired her yumi, sending a meter-long arrow into the chest of a Mongol Warrior, impaling him. A Mongol and a samurai charged at each other their horses closing in. The samurai evaded the head of the Mongol's Jida lance and made a slice with his tachi at the Mongol's neck. The blade cleaved through the Mongol's neck, sending his head falling to the ground. The headless Mongol stayed on his horse for several feet before his body too hit the ground. The victorious samurai charged towards Khutulun herself, who spurred her horse on, seeming to flee in terror. But the Mongol was not retreating. Instead, she drew back her bow and pulled the string all the way back to his her before releasing an arrow. The arrow shot through the samurai's breast place, causing him to fall forward off his horse, dead. A Mongol warrior charged at Tomoe herself with his Mongol saber at the ready. Tomoe held her naginata in both hands, balancing on her horse as she made a diagonal slice, beheading her adversary in one fell swoop. Green.png Seconds later however one of Tomoe's samurai fell from behind, killed by a strike from a Mongol warrior's saber. Tomoe charged furiously the two surviving Mongols, slashing through a Mongol with her naginata Green.png, before charging at Khutulun herself. Khutulun raised her bow and loosed an arrow, which went slightly low, missing Tomoe, but striking her horse right between the eyes. Tomoe fell off her horse, but immediately got back up, just in time to see Khutulun charge at her, saber at the ready. Tomoe raised her naginata, and made a rapid slice, which glanced off Khutulun's armor, but nearly decapitated her horse. Tomoe put down her naginata and drew her tachi, ready to finish off her downed opponent.

Tomoe raised her tachi in both hands, making ready to sever Khutulun's head. As Tomoe was about the strike, however, Khutulun leapt from her standing position and tackled Tomoe, putting her experience challenging her suitors to wrestling matches to good use. Khutulun drew her knife and made a downward thrust at Tomoe's face, but hit... only the dirt- Tomoe turned her head at the last moment, avoiding the fatal blow. Tomoe then drew her tanto and thrust it into Khutulun's neck, killing her in a spray of blood. This was a very close match. Tomoe only barely managed to win this battle hands to her slightly better training and better armor and weaponry.

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Artemisia I Greek Halicarnassus Persia Turkey


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