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From Tomoe Gozen to Jeanne Hachette, these 10 badass warrior women have slashed their way into the history books, in this episode of History Countdown.
10 of the Most Badass Warrior Women Ever
In honor of the recent archaeological revelation that half of all Viking warriors were, in fact, women, we've decided to take a stroll down memory lane and check out the fiercest female warriors in TV and movie history. And we're not talking gun-toting Tank Girls, either. This is an ode to brute force &mdash swords, staves, spikes, sweat, and sheer muscle. Here are ten of the most brutally capable women of all time.
10 Badass Warrior Cultures From History
The most powerful Empires, countries, and tribes throughout history have always had skilled warrior cultures. For a lot of people the only way to survive or expand was through military endeavors requiring strong warriors, and large armies. This list includes 10 of the most skilled and badass warrior cultures from history. Although some may not strictly be cultures they were included because of their amazing fighting prowess, and skill at the art of war.
Spartan’s are famous for being some of the most fearsome warriors in history, and one of the most brutal warrior cultures. Although a lot of what people believe about the Spartans is more myth than fact, the spartan’s were raised to be brutal warriors. Spartan children were inspected for defects, or disabilities, and if any where found they were left to die. At the age of 7 surviving children where taken from their families, and began the agoge. This a tough military training program, where they learnt how to fight and hunt among other skills they would need. At age 12 Spartans had to sleep outside, and make their own bed from reeds, and find their own food through scavenging or stealing. Spartans were often beaten as punishment, and if one Spartan was performing poorly he would be shamed into working harder through extreme bullying. Sparta is famous for the battle of Thermopylae where according to the historian Herodotus, Sparta had 5,200 men, and King Xerxes of Persia had 2.5 million soldiers. Even though Sparta was completely outnumbered they are remembered for fight they put up, and killing a significant portion of the enemy army.
Every time someone died in battle, he would be replaced by another soldier quickly. This way the army always had exactly 10,000 soldiers. This gave it the appearance of a constant force that couldn’t be stopped no matter how many you killed. This is how they gained the name Persian Immortals, or 10,000 Immortals. The unit was named by the famous historian Herodotus. He described them as being a heavy infantry, any member who died, fell ill, or injured was immediately replaced. The Immortals were part of the Imperial Guard for the Achaemenid Empire, and helped to Expand the Achaemenid Empire.
The winged hussars were heavily armoured shock cavalry, in the Polish army. They’re significant for the badass wings they had as part of their armour, and the success they had in the field. They started off as light cavalry but eventually became the elite cavalry of the polish army. The winged hussars became their most badass with the reforms of the King of Poland, in the 16 th century. Throughout this time the Hussars evolved, and the King of Poland reorganised the army, and made them into a heavy cavalry. They replaced their wooden shields with metallic body armour, and adopted the heavy lance as their go to weapon. The Hussars were the driving force of many Polish victories, and even helped them defeat much superior forces. Victories where they were outnumbered 5 to 1 have been credited to the Winged Hussars.
The Samurai were medieval warriors from the Island of Japan. They’re known today for their exceptional skill with their iconic sword, the Katana. Samurai are famous now for being loyal, and honourable, but this wasn’t necessarily the case. Samurai could often be cowardly or disloyal. Samurai were loyal to their immediate superiors, but their superiors weren’t always loyal to their masters, and if they switched sides they could take their samurai with them. Samurai were educated as officers in military tactics, and grand strategy. One of the most famous samurai is Hattori Hanzo. Hanzo fought his first battle at the age of 16, and managed to save Tokugawa’s daughters who had been kidnapped, and held in Kaminogo Castle.
The Viking’s were one of the most feared warrior cultures of their time. They travelled across the world to plunder and trade. Part of what made Viking culture so deadly was the belief that their death was predetermined but nothing else was. They believed they would never died before their time, and death couldn’t be avoided. This gave them the courage to fight fearlessly. Beserkers were some of the most terrifying Viking warriors. They were said to be able to use magical powers to heal themselves as they fought which allowed them to fight recklessly. It’s been theorised that these beserkers used drugs to go into a mad frenzy when attacking.
One of the fiercest warrior cultures were the Aztecs. Aztec society revolved around warfare. Every male citizen would receive basic military training from an early age. The army was mainly commoners and military achievement was the only way for them to move up social class. The Aztecs aimed to subjugate enemy city states through warfare, for resources and territorial expansion, but they also needed to kill in order to provide sacrifices for the gods. Aztecs would put on an unusual type of war, called a Flower War. This was a battle arranged between two parties, so that there would be enough sacrifices for each party. Aztec warriors had unique appearances depending on how many captives they had taken. Taking more captives would earn you better clothes, and decorations. The jaguar warriors were the highest level, you would be given jaguar skin to wear over your body after capturing four people.
The Zulu tribe had a powerful warrior culture. Under the leadership of Shaka, the Impi (Zulu warriors) discarded sandals so they could run faster. Anyone who refused was killed. Shaka hardened the feet of his men by ordering them to stamp on thorny branches until they were flat, and improved their mobility by forcing them to march 50 miles a day. The Zulu were experts at encirclement tactics, partly because the intense training made them much faster than the enemy. Using their increased mobility the Zulu could implement encirclement tactics with ease, which allowed them to quickly surround their enemies on the battlefield. Using these tactics they even managed to stand up to enemy firearms, using shields, and spears.
The Huns were nomads who lived in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central. Their most famous leader was Attila the Hun who started the Hunnic Empire. The Huns couldn’t read or write, so they didn’t keep any records themselves. A Goth in Italy in 551, described the Huns as a savage race, which lived in the swamps. He wrote of how they looked ugly, and even said that there head was just a shapeless lump. He said they were cruel even to their children, and would cut the face of a newborn baby so that before they receive the nourishment of milk they must learn to endure wounds.
The Scythians were a large group of Iranian Eurasian Nomads, who inhabited a large proportion of the central Eurasian steppes from around the 9 th century BC until the 1 st century BC. The Scythians lived in confederated tribes, with one Royal tribe which ruled over all the others. The Scythians were an equestrian (horse riding) people, and were skilled at shooting from horseback. The Scythians were adept at warfare, they lived to fight and drank the blood of their enemies. Interestingly the Scythians used barbed and poisoned arrows on their enemies.
The Mongols were the greatest warrior culture of their time, and lost very few battles in the 13 th century. They often defeated much larger armies using their superior tactics and experience. The Mongols had exceptional tactics, and their most famous leader Genghis Khan is considered by many to be one of the greatest strategists of all time. Where as their opponents would use reckless frontal attacks the Mongols preferred diversionary tactics, and would fix the enemy in place while flanking them (attacking from the side). One of their most successful tactics was the feigned retreat, where a Mongol force would pretend to be defeated in the middle of combat and run away from the enemy. This is a dangerous tactic because a feigned retreat can easily turn into a real one, but the Mongols had perfected it. Using these tactics the Mongols created the largest contiguous empire the world has ever seen.
10 Filipina Warriors And Their Battles That Made Philippine History
During times of war when women were expected to play secondary roles to men, these badass Filipina warriors chose to march to the forefront, engage in battle, and bravely fight for the country's independence and freedom.
1. Gabriela Silang
A daughter of a peasant in Ilocos, Gabriela Silang was forced to wed a wealthy businessman, who died of old age three years into their marriage . Silang&rsquos second husband was rebel leader Diego Silang, who saw her not only as a wife but his &ldquoequal and closest advisor.&rdquo
After the assassination of Diego, none of the rebels wanted to take over. Silang decided to take matters into her own hands and lead the rebellion herself, making her the first female leader of the Philippine Revolution. The revolt became one the longest sustained battles against the Spanish colonizers , with Silang launching guerrilla attacks one after the other, causing the enemies to fear her name .
To date, Silang&rsquos name continues to stand for women's power, strength, and bravery. Our country's women-led and pro-women alliance, GABRIELA, is named in her memory . In Ayala Triangle, along the corner of Ayala Avenue and Makati Avenue, stands Gabriela Silang's monument, which depicts the warrior on horseback, wielding a bolo.
2. Teresa Magbanua
Magbanua comes from a prominent family and was able to finish her studies at exclusive girls&rsquo schools in Manila. Her husband was a wealthy farmer who owned vast lands, where Magbanua spent most of her time practicing horseback riding and sharpening her skills with a pistol and rifle .
When the revolt against Spanish colonizers broke out at her province in Iloilo, Magbanua joined the rebel troops with her uncle and two brothers. She became the commander of the Northern Zone . Fighting in several key battles during the Spanish era, Magbanua led her troops of rifle sharpshooters and bolo men to victory at the Battle of Barrio Yoting in Pilar, Capiz .
She continued supporting Filipino rebels against American forces and the Japanese, making her one of the few who fought for the country against three of the Philippines&rsquo main colonizers.
3. Melchora Aquino
Melchora Aquino is best known as "Tandang Sora," the kind-hearted woman who nursed Filipino rebels, the Katipuneros, back to health during the revolution against the Spaniards. This earned her the title of "Mother of the Katipunan."
Her deeds were soon discovered by the Spanish authorities, leading to her capture and arrest. She was interrogated to reveal the whereabouts of the Katipunan, however, she refused to cooperate. As a result, she was deported to Guam and forced to live in exile for six years. She is quoted to have said: &ldquoIf I have nine lives, I would gladly give them up for my country.&rdquo
4. Trinidad Tecson
In her younger years, Trinidad Tecson chose to learn fencing as opposed to sewing and embroidery like other girls her age. Self-dense was important to her. At age 47, she joined the Katipunan and was the first-ever Filipino woman to undergo the &lsquosandugo,&rsquo signing her name with her own blood .
Tecson fought a dozen battles, the most important one being the Battle of Biak na Bato. Together with her husband, they guarded the entry into the fort of Biak na Bato and successfully prevented an attack. This gained her the title, &ldquoMother of Biak na Bato.&rdquo
Tecson was also notorious for seizing firearms and sneaking in food for the troops . When caught, she managed to subdue the guards or escape by pretending to be dead. Tecson also spent her time aiding wounded Filipino soldiers, making her the &ldquoMother of the Philippine Red Cross.&rdquo She continued to fight for the country&rsquos freedom until the American colonization.
5. Josefa Llanes Escoda
Josefa Llanes Escoda was the founder of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines. A teacher, social worker, and activist, she was also a staunch advocate of women's suffrage, fighting for Filipino women's rights to vote. She was trained in social welfare at the New York School of Social Work and earned a master's degree in Sociology from Columbia University .
During World War II, she and her husband spent their time in aid of prisoners, including the afflicted soldiers of the Bataan Death March . It has been said that the couple had also set up a coffee shop, with the primary intent to gather information from the Japanese soldiers , and relay these to local troops. However, they were soon found out and Escoda was captured and executed.
Today, Escoda is commemorated on the one thousand peso bill and has a monument in Ilocos Norte . A Google doodle was also created on her behalf, in celebration of her hundred and 20th birth anniversary.
6. Magdalena Leones
Magdalena Leones was a Filipino spy during World War II. She was studying to become a nun and her family worked closely with American missionaries before the war . After the fall of Corregidor, she and fellow missionaries were imprisoned, where she learned to speak the Japanese language, Nihongo.
After her release, she witnessed the execution of her fellowmen in the hands of the Japanese . Seeing this tragedy led her to join guerrilla forces and save her people. Leones&rsquo knowledge of Nihongo allowed her to play key roles during the war, even going as far as convincing Japanese soldiers to spare the lives of Filipinos evacuees, saying that they just came from a wedding.
She became an intelligence officer for the United States Army Forces in the Philippines-Northern Luzon (USAFIP-NIL). Her former church connections enabled her to work efficiently as a spy, collect information, and deliver medical supplies, among others. At the times she was caught, Leones was able to sweet talk or bribe the Japanese guards and escape. It is said that her calm demeanor, quick wits, and faith were what saved her.
Called the &ldquoLioness of Filipino Guerilla Agents,&rdquo Leones became the only Asian to be awarded the United States&rsquos third-highest military decoration, the Silver Star Medal. However, her request to be granted the Philippine equivalent, the Gold Cross, was declined. After the war, she lived quietly in the United States, keeping her war experiences a secret even from her own children.
7. Agueda Kahabagan
Agueda Kahabagan is the only woman listed in the roster of generals in the Philippine Army . Called the "Tagalog Joan of Arc," she fought against the Spanish forces, and is best known for her role in the three-day battle in San Pablo, Laguna. Ready for battle, she arrived dressed in white, riding a horse with a rifle in one hand a bolo in the other, leading her army of rebels .
Kahabagan survived the battles against the Spanish and continued on to fight the Americans. She fought together with General Pio del Pilar in the Southern Tagalog region and was given the title "Generala." She is one of history's unsung heroes, as little has been known of her whereabouts after the war.
8. Nieves Fernandez
Nieves Fernandez was a teacher turned guerrilla leader. She is best known for her special technique in silently killing Japanese soldiers using her bolo . Captain Fernandez, as she was called, knew how to use her knife to attack her enemy to immediate unconsciousness, resulting in a quiet death.
Fernandez was skilled in hand-to-hand combat using the bolo and could make improvised guns using gas pipes, called the 'paltik' or crackshot . She is famous for leading a troop of 110 rebels to victory, where they fought more than 200 Japanese soldiers using only their bolos and makeshift guns. The female captain became such a force to be reckoned with, that the Japanese offered P10,000 for her head .
9. Josefina Guerrero
Josefina Guerrero is known as the leper spy during the Second World War. She contracted leprosy at a time when people used to think it was contagious. This caused her husband to flee, taking with him their daughter.
Devastated, Guerrero thought to spend her remaining years helping her fellowmen and volunteered to become a spy for the Allied Forces in the Philippines during the war. Because the Japanese feared her disease, Guerrero was able to dodge thorough inspections. Her disease worked to her advantage, as she was able to easily obtain information, deliver supply to soldiers, and infiltrate Japanese base camps.
After the war, she was awarded a Medal of Freedom by the U.S. government for saving the lives of many American soldiers.
10. Carmen Rosales
A popular pre-World War II Filipina actress and singer, many may not be aware of Carmen Rosales' other life as a guerrilla warrior. Born Januaria Constantino Keller, she is better known by her stage name, taken after her hometown of Carmen, Rosales.
After the Japanese forces killed her husband, a guerrilla rebel, Rosales decided to continue his fight and join the underground movement. She was a sharpshooter , used a .45, and even disguised herself by wearing a mustache. Rosales' life as a rebel was soon depicted in a film, called Gerilyera, where she would also star in.
4 Maria Gertrudis BocanegraMexican War Of Independence
Born in 1765, Maria came from a wealthy Spanish family living in Michoacan and married a soldier, Lieutenant Pedro Advicula de la Vega. Despite the lack of education available for women in the 18th century, Maria had read many authors of the Enlightenment movement. When the Mexican War of Independence broke out, Maria sided with her native country and helped her husband fight for the Mexican cause.
Maria began by delivering messages for insurgents (a role that became very important in aiding communication during the guerrilla fighting) as well as providing resources and beds for soldiers. While Maria fulfilled this role, her husband and her son both joined the forces of Miguel Costilla and both died during the fighting. Maria was not to be any luckier after being sent to Patzcuaro&mdashone of the heaviest areas of fighting in Mexico&mdashshe was betrayed by informants and taken prisoner.
She remained in prison for the majority of 1817, being tortured for information that would condemn other rebels, but she refused to cooperate. In October, she was found guilty of treason and was executed by firing squad after delivering an inspiring speech.
8. Nieves Fernandez
Life should have been peaceful for Nieves Fernandez. Up to the age of 35, she had a respectable profession as a school teacher and entrepreneur on Leyte Island in the Philippines. A profile of her in the Lewiston Daily Sun described her as “prim.” She was steered away from that quiet life into one of fire and blood on December 8, 1941 when the Japanese Empire attacked the Philippines. As explained in other TopTenz lists , the Imperial Japanese Army was extremely cruel to many civilian populations, so it was only natural that Fernandez took action after being tortured with cold baths and hunger.
By the time the Allied army had liberated the Philippines in November 1944, Fernandez had assembled a force of 110 guerillas armed with shotguns made from pipes and loaded with nails. They killed an estimated 200 occupying soldiers, with Fernandez in particular demonstrating a knack for cutting throats. There was a 10,000 peso reward placed on her head, but understandably no takers.
8. Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199, reign 1189-1199)
King of England for ten years, Richard I, known as the Lionheart, also ruled Normany, Aquitaine, Gascony, Cyprus, Anjou, Maine, Nantes and Brittany at various times (as Duke, Count, Lord or Overlord according to each area’s preference). He led his own army from the age of sixteen, starting with putting down rebellions for his father and moving on to become the main Christian leader of the Third Crusade (against Saladin, see above). He was a pious hero who lived mainly in his dukedom in Aquitaine, France, using his kingdom merely as a source of money to support his armies, and he is one of the few English kings remembered mostly by a nickname rather than his number!
1 RED SONJA
The fiercest warrior woman in all of comics has to be Red Sonja because she does it all without any superhuman abilities. Creators Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith introduced her in “Conan the Barbarian” #23 in 1973 as an adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s Red Sonya of Rogatino character. The She-Devil with a Sword went on to see great success with only a weapon in her hand and an ability to defeat any man with her own physical abilities.
As a teenager, her family was brutally murdered by a group of mercenaries. In some versions of the story, she gains incredible fighting skills from the goddess Scathach in others, she trains to take her revenge against the killers. On more than one occasion, she has proven to be a superior fighter to even Conan himself. No matter how she does it, Red Sonja remains one of the most intimidating forces in the fantasy and/or comics genre.
Which woman warrior do you think is the fiercest? Let us know in the comments!
11 amazingly badass women in history
We're grateful to be constantly surrounded by powerful, inspirational women in the media—now more than ever. Feminism took over pop culture in 2014, and this year Reese Witherspoon and Emma Watson have brought the topic to the forefront of Hollywood's consciousness. But powerful women have had a major impact on society from the dawn of time, and as we continue to fight for the rights of all women, there's nothing quite looking towards our feminist role models for some necessary encouragement.
In honor of Women's History Month, we've rounded up some of our favorite female badasses from history to show that girl power is a force to be reckoned with. These 11 inspirations all prove that women run the world—whether they're empresses, warrior princesses, pirates, or pianists.
Born in 625 AD, Wu Zetian reign during the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD) as the only female emperor in Chinese history, largely because of Confucian beliefs that discouraged placing women in positions of power. Becoming the favorite concubine for Emperor Tai Tsung as a young teenager, Wu used her cunning skills to climb the ranks to eventually marry Emperor Kao Tsung, and then to obtain more power after he died. She began a campaign to elevate the status of women in society by ordering biographies of famous women to be written and giving other women positions of power in the political system. Eventually, her son removed himself from office in 690 AD so Wu could go on to become one of the best loved and most peaceful emperors in history.
Illustration by Kikuchi Yōsai (1781-1878) Photo via Wikipedia.
Tomoe Gozen, born in 1157, was one of the greatest female Samurai warriors of all time. Though female samurais were not unheard of in Japan at this time, Tomoe's extremely impressive martial arts skills, archery talent, and swordsmanship made her one of the only female warriors whose stories have been recorded in thorough detail in ancient manuscripts. Tomoe fought most notably in the Gempei War and is believed to have singlehandedly killed off a group of enemy soldiers, decapitating their leader after he attempted to pull her off her horse. While Tomoe is thought to have survived the war (unlike her husband), the legends vary: Some say she became a nun for the rest of her life and others believe that she committed seppuku (suicide).
Shota Rustaveli presents his poem to Queen Tamar by Mihály Zichy Photo via Wikipedia.
Just because a woman's wearing a crown doesn't mean she's a queen—or even a princess. With the death of her father, Tamar of Georgia was named king. Born in 1169, Tamar was the first female ruler of Georgia, and helped the kingdom to flourish in its golden age of prosperity and peace. That's not to say she was gentle, though: The country achieved much of its stability due to Tamar's massively successful military ventures. What's more, the ruler divorced her first husband and expelled him from the country despite the rigidity of Christianity during the time. On top of all that, she was even canonized by the Eastern Orthodox Church. No big.
Of all the possible titles for a ruler, "warrior princess" may be the most badass. Born in 1260 as the great-great-granddaughter of Genghis Khan, Khutulun was Mongolian royalty best known for her independent spirit and incredible wrestling abilities, which were recorded in history by Marco Polo. As her father taught her the inner workings of the military and encouraged her political ambitions, he also desired that his daughter should have a husband who truly deserved her. So, not particularly wanting to be married off, Khutulun set forth a challenge—she would marry any man who could beat her in a wrestling match, but any man who she beat would have to give her a horse. She wound up with 10,000 horses.
Born in approximately 1700, Anne Bonny was a legendary Irish-American pirate who abandoned her sailor husband to take up a life plundering the Caribbean. Although women were considered bad luck aboard ships, Bonny did not disguise herself as a man—making her own crew fully aware that she was a woman as well as a complete badass and earning her the respect she deserved. Bonny was eventually joined on sea by Mary Read, a fellow female pirate who had gotten into the business while disguised as a man, making these two the original Thelma and Louise.
Born into slavery in 1797, Sojourner Truth went on to become one of the most pivotal women's rights activists and abolitionists in America. She escaped from slavery with her infant daughter in 1826 and won a court case to free her son from slavery shortly after—challenging the white southern slave owner who had purchased him. Advocating for prison reform, anti-slavery laws, and feminist causes until her death, Truth is best known for her extemporaneous "Ain't I a Woman?" speech at the Ohio Women's Convention in 1851.
The last reigning monarch of the islands of Hawaii, Liliʻuokalani dedicated her time on the throne to protecting the native people of her kingdom and fighting against American annexation. She attempted to pass a new constitution that would help to restore power to native Hawaiians and grant more power to the throne, so that she would be better equipped to support her people in the face of increasing U.S. involvement. She believed in peaceful resistance, valuing the lives of native Hawaiians above all else, and she was forced off the throne in 1898. Despite her loss of political power, Liliʻuokalani helped to curate and preserve Hawaiian culture, even composing music (like the classic Hawaiian song "Aloha Oe") and writing poetry herself.
The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger was born in 1879—a time when Comstock Laws made any form of contraception illegal. After working as a nurse seeing many women die from illegal abortions, Sanger began advocating for birth control as a way for women to prevent pregnancies that were unwanted and potentially health-endangering. Though she was arrested in 1916 for opening America's first birth control clinic, Sanger continued fighting for women's right to birth control, establishing the American Birth Control League in 1921 and advocating for women's rights to their own reproductive health for the rest of her life.
Born in Atlanta in 1910, Mary Lou Williams was one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century, as she composed alongside greats like Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. She made major waves in the development of swing, bebop, and blues styles, and is often regarded as the first woman to be remembered and regarded for her achievements in the history of jazz music. As the first woman to start her own record label, Williams paved the way for women to succeed in all music styles.
If you can't imagine living without your smartphone, there's an Austrian movie star your should seriously thank. Born in 1914, Hedy Lamarr not only made a major impact on the silver screen with her notorious come-hither stare, but also developed radio technology that helped the allies to win World War II. With co-inventor George Anthiel, Lamarr invented a wireless communications system that helped America to electronically send military matters under top security. This major tech development helped lead to the creation of all wireless communication devices we use today—cell phones, fax machines, and more.