This year as we celebrate the centenary of women getting the right to vote we wanted to focus on bringing you some of our fave ass kicking (and we mean this literally) bitches.
None of these babes is backing down from a fight, so let these glorious women empower you and enjoy part 1 of History’s Fiercest Warrior Queens!
Born in the 3rd century Lady Triệu was a Vietnamese warrior who grew up under the regime of the Chinese, her parent died while she was a child, so she lived with her older brother and a total bitch of a sister in law.
One day she decided she’d had enough. So she killed off her sister in law and decided to raise an army to fight off the Chinese. As you do.
She managed to raise an army of some 1,000 soldiers with the plan to fight off the Wu Chinese armies who’d been invading their towns.
Her brother was obviously a little wary of this plan and begged her to reconsider. Her response was thus;
“I only want to ride the wind and walk the waves, slay the big whales of the Eastern sea, clean up frontiers, and save the people from drowning. Why should I imitate others, bow my head, stoop over and be a slave? Why resign myself to menial housework?”
Lady Triệu was said to be a fearsome sight on the battlefield, dressed in bright yellow tunics, and riding into battle on a war elephant!
She beat the Chinese back and reclaimed her territories, BUT the Chinese army eventually took them down because they just couldn’t compete with the sheer number of soldiers they had at their disposal.
Lady Triệu fled and then committed suicide at the age of 23.
Her bravery inspired Vietnam for centuries, where she’s still a well beloved figure of resistance; there’s even streets named after her today.
Tomyris was a ruler of a nomadic people known as the Massagetae, who lived in central Asia waaaaay back in 6th Century BC .
They were known for being fierce warriors and had a cannibalistic rep because they had a ritual that involved them sacrificing and eating one of their elders in a stew!
Now the tribe occupied a sweet spot which would become modern day Iran and this dick King of Persia, Cyrus the Great (eyeroll) really had his eye on their land.
First, he tried proposing to the widowed Tomyris. She told him to do one, so he took it well, and as plan B declared war on the Massagetae.
He captured Tomyris’ son who commanded her armies. Kind of but not really luckily, Tomyris’ son immediately killed himself, so he couldn’t be used as a bargaining chip.
Tomyris was obviously enraged and sent a letter to Cyrus challenging him to a battle, he accepted, convinced he’d have an easy victory…
Tomyris’ armies won and absolutely massacred Cyrus’ forces. Legend has it he was crucified and then beheaded.
Tomyris then took his head and stuffed it into a wineskin full of human blood before declaring
‘”I warned you that I would quench your thirst for blood, and so I shall”
We cannot have a list of warrior queens and not mention Boudicca, the scourge of the Romans.
Boudicca was Queen of a Celtic Inceni tribe (basically the East of England), while her husband was alive he ruled over their domain and had a will drawn up that left his land to be split between the Roman Empire his daughters.
Well, hubby popped his clogs and the Romans basically ignored the will and flogged Boudicca and raped her daughters.
Big fucking mistake.
Boudicca was rightly very pissed off and wanted revenge. She was a well-respected figure and had no trouble raising her tribe and some of the surrounding tribes to join her in a revolt against the Romans.
She gave a speech to her armies before their first assault on her need for revenge;
“It is not as a woman descended from noble ancestry, but as one of the people that I am avenging lost freedom, my scourged body, the outraged chastity of my daughters,”
Her army tore through three major cities of Camulodunum, Verulamium (what’s now St Albans) and Londinium (guess what that one is).
They burned the cities to the ground and smashed their way through Roman and their British allies alike.
It’s estimated Boudicca and her armies killed between 70,000-80,000 Romans and British during her campaign of revenge. But every party must end sometime.
Eventually Boudicca and her armies were defeated at the Battle of Watling Street in 61 CE and then it was rumoured she committed suicide by poison, rather than being captured.
Now Khutulun was born a badass, after all, she was the great grand daughter of history’s bloodiest tyrant Genghis Khan, AKA that bloke who liked putting heads on spikes.
Born into a fearsome Mongol Horde back in 1260, she grew up learning the fighting skills of her tribe (because women were also trained to fight in battle) learning archery, horsemanship and physical combat.
Khutulun’s father, Kaidu, made her the leader of his armies and he trusted her skill and intelligence above his 14 other sons.
I repeat: She beat her 14 brothers to a position at her father’s side.
Her Dad was desperate to marry her off, but Khutulun wasn’t interested.
Our girl K was a seriously gifted wrestler, so to appease her Dad she challenged any potential suitor to a wrestling match asking or 100 horses against her promise to marry the victor. SHE WAS UNDEFEATED!
Apparently she ended up with 10,000 horses and eventually went on to marry a man of her choosing.
Her father wanted Khutulun to take over a head of the tribe when he died but her brothers were not keen on that idea. (boo!!!)
Eventually the tribe went to someone else and Khutulun passed away five years after her father when she was in her late 40s.
She was the last of the Mongol warrior princesses.
Sara Westrop is passionate about making history accessible (and fun!) for everyone. A disabled, queer writer from just outside London, who loves writing about the unsung chapters of history.