5 Of The Most Badass Warrior Women In History

For a long time, history has been dominated by the male heroes and warriors, with the women often being relegated to the back seat. So now we shine the spotlight on the female warriors..

Here we pay tribute to 5 of the toughest and most badass warrior women in history.


5.  Artemisia of Halicarnassus/Artemisia I of Caria

The Battle of Salamis- Artemisia commanded five ships

The Battle of Salamis, where Artemisia commanded 5 ships

Best known, perhaps, for her part in the Battle of Salamis, Artemisia was unusual in that she was the only woman to become a commander in King Xerses’ Persian army.

Xerses was hell-bent on conquering Greece. He wanted to attack the Greek fleet at Salamis, against the advice of Artemisia, who advised him to organise a land-sea offensive against Corinth and the Greek trimemes that were there. He ignored her advice and suffered a major defeat at Salamis.

Artemisia took part in the assault on Salamis, commanding five ships of her own. She managed to escape with her life and Xerses rewarded her loyalty to him.


4.  Queen Zenobia of Palmyra


Queen Zenobia’s Last Look Upon Palmyra,
by Herbert Schmalz

When her husband, King Septimus Odaenathus, died, Zenobia became the Queen of Palmyra and in true Boudica style, she decided to have a go at kicking the Romans out of her region.

Just two years after her husband’s death, Zenobia had successfully conquered Egypt and chased the Romans out. It is said that the battle was bloody and it earned Zenobia the title of “Warrior Queen”. Sadly, however, her victory wasn’t to last and in 274 AD she was captured by Aurelian and taken to Rome.

She is perhaps best-known for the fact that she was marched through Rome, in Aurelian’s Triumph parade, whilst wearing golden chains. It is believed that she eventually settled in Rome and married a senator.


3.  The Trung Sisters

Trung Sisters in battle

Trung Sisters riding into battle atop some elephants

When we look at many of these warrior women, there often appears to be a pattern. The Trung Sisters are no different. They were born into a powerful Vietnamese family during the time of the Chinese Han Dynasty’s occupation of Vietnam.

In 39 AD, one of the sisters, Trung Trac, was raped and her husband killed by a Chinese commander attempting to exert his authority, which in turn led to the sisters leading a revolt against the insurgents. They managed to muster a huge army, counting many women as their generals and led a fierce, bloody battle against the Chinese, driving them out of Vietnam.

When it was over Trung Trac became queen of Northern Vietnam, with her sister by her side as her advisor. Even today there are celebrations held in honour of these two sisters and their heroic deeds.


2.  The Amazons

Battle of the Amazons - Rubin

Battle of the Amazons by Rubens

Ok, ok! We know that the Amazons are more than one person and they are supposedly just a myth, but it seems that there is archaelogical evidence to suggest that they did in fact exist!

The mythological Greek Amazons that we know so much about, were a fierce tribe who had little to do with men – short of killing or mating with them. But it seems that in other parts of the world Amazon-like women have existed.

There has been evidence gathered that puts these women in places like Germany, Russia and even Mongolia, they might not have been quite as scary as Herodotus’ Amazons, but they were definitely tough, they had to be in order to defend their homes when their men were away. Let’s big it up for Amazonian women!


1. Tomoe GozenTomoe Gozen

Samurai warrior, Tomoe Gozen, is credited with our top spot. She was beautiful, strong and deadly, and this is why she is here. Legend says that whenever her master, Yoshinaka, went into battle he would send her out first, armed with her bow and her sword.

According to The Tale of Heike “…she performed more deeds of valour than any of his other warriors.” It has been suggested that Tomoe never really existed and there have been various versions of her story, however there is a grave that is known to belong to another of Yoshinaka’s female captains and the name engraved is Yamabuki Gozen.

So perhaps this is really Tomoe and “Tomoe” was in fact her nickname…


Read about the top 5 men warriors here, and tell us about your favourite ‘lady’ warriors in the comments below…

About Cassie Raine

Cassie is a home educating mum-of-two, living in the Kentish countryside. She has a keen interest in history, especially ancient history, literature, myths and legends, theology, environmental issues, self-sufficiency and current affairs. In her spare time she enjoys reading, country walks, knitting and learning new skills. She believes passionately that learning should be a pleasure, never a chore.
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