List of Women Warriors

Here are the notes I had prepared for a panel on women & warriorship that I did ~not~ wind up using.


The Larinum decree under Tiberius banned senators’ daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters, and “any female whose husband or father or grandfather, whether paternal or maternal or brother had ever possessed the right of sitting in the seats reserved for the equites” from training or making paid appearances as gladiators, implying though not confirming that some females did already appear as gladiators.

Boudicca – 1st century, Norfolk – Led an uprising against occupying forces of Roman empire.

Trung Trac & Trung Nhi – 1st century, Vietnam – Commanded 80,000 to repel Chinese forces.

Trieu Thi Trinh – 2nd century, Vietnam – Succeeded in deterring 50 advances from the occupying Wu kingdom of present-day China.

Zenobia – 3rd century, Syria – Defeated Roman Legions under Emperor Claudius.

Artemisia of Caria – 5th century, Persia – Commanded five ships under King Xerxes.

Queen K’Abel “Lady Snake Lord” – 7th century, Guatemala – Mayan. Commanded expansionist military, outranked her husband king K’inich Bahlam

Judit – 10th century, Abyssinia – Conquered Axum, capital of Ethiopia.

Queen Aethelflaed – 10th century, English Midlands – Took over the army and built a chain of fortresses upon her husband’s death, including successful campaign into Wales.

Tomoe Gozen – 12th century, Japan – Samurai. Fought in the Genpei war on the Minamoto side against the Taira.

Fu Hao – 13th century, China – Commanded over 13,000 troops for King Wu Ding of the Shang Dynasty. Served as priestess and General. Earliest recorded large-scale ambush in Chinese history.

Tamar of Georgia – 13th century, Georgia – During her Reign Georgia achieved political, economic and cultural might, annexing Armenian capitals and founding the Empire of Trebizond on the Black Sea.

Joanna of Flanders (“Firey Joan”) – 13th century, France – Raised army to defend her husband’s claim to a region of Brittany.

Princess Khutulun – 14th century, Mongolia – Became her father’s chief military advisor against Kublai Khan in China. Fought off suitors, literally, in hand-to-hand combat.

Joan D’Arc – 15th century, France – Commanded French Army against the English toward the end of the Hundred Years’ War, lifted the siege at Orleans in nine days.

Queen Elizabeth I – 16th century, England – needs no introduction. Defeated Spanish Armada.

Grainne O’Malley – 16th century, Ireland – Sailor, pirate, fought and eventually parlayed with Elizabeth I.

Juana Galan – 19th century, Spain – commanded the other women in her village against Napoleon’s cavalry and turned them out of La Mancha.

Ching Shih – 19th century, Canton – Commanded 300 pirate ships. Terrorized coast, could not be defeated by Portuguese or British navy. Retired at 36 after receiving amnesty from Chinese government.

Laskarina Bouboulina – 19th century, Greece – Supplied Greek Nationalists with supplies against Turks, and commanded an 8-boat fleet against the Ottomans.

Emilia Plater – 19th century, Poland – Joined November Uprising against the Tsar’s rule. Awarded a captaincy in Polish Lithuanian 25th Infantry Regiment.

Wing Chun (and Buddhist nun Ng Mui) – 20th century, China – Founder of Wing Chun style martial arts, derived from Shaolin.

Nancy Wake (“White Mouse”)- 20th century, England – British spy, freelance unit with rank of Captain. Leading figure in the maquis groups of the French Resistance. Most decorated servicewoman of the war, and by 1943, the Gestapo’s most wanted person.

Stephanie Kwolek – 21st century, USA – Chemist, invented Kevlar.

Ann Elizabeth Dunwoody – 21st century, USA – Four-star general in US Army. Deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield/Desert storm. Supported the largest deployment and redeployment of US forces since WWII. Made great efforts to reduce sexual assault in the army. Retired 2012.

Bibi Ayisha, Commander Kaftar (“Commander Dove”) – 21st c. Afghanistan – one of Amad Shah Massoud’s top commanders during the soviet and Taliban wars within Afghanistan. Led a 600-man force as a mujahedeen commander.


7 thoughts on “List of Women Warriors

    1. Setsu Post author

      Some good, some that could be bad but is actually good. Still reflecting… Will post more as my thoughts solidify.

  1. eirewolf

    I really enjoyed the panel, Setsu. I hope you do it again next year! It seems like there is a lot more to be said about it.

    It was great seeing you again!

  2. Pat MacEwen

    This list should turn into a book – there are fascinating stories attached to all of these women. And you might want to add Ching Shih, the Pirate Queen of Taiwan, who commanded 1500 ships and 80,000 pirates at her height.

  3. marfisk

    That’s a wonderful list, and the lovely thing is that it’s not remotely all inclusive even based on those history remembers because it wasn’t possible to wipe them out.
    It would be easy to do a whole conference on just your topic. There are so many aspects to explore, but I did enjoy the elements we got to :).

  4. Pingback: Chronological history of female warriors, military commanders, and duelists | Setsu Uzume

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