1. Tamar of Georgia, 1160-1213
Although born a princess, Tamar of Georgia was recognized by her father, King Georgi III, as one hell of a fierce chick by the time she was eighteen. He announced daughter as the co-ruler of the Kingdom of Georgia in 1178, and after he died, she took over his crown.
She was laughed at. And she did not like being laughed at. Ever.
As was the case anywhere else in the Christian world, there had never been a woman ruling Georgia before. The Church (run by men) was against it, and the Council of Nobles (also, run by men) tried to get her stripped of her authority.
She had the Royal Treasurer, who was the leader of the nobles who wanted her out, thrown into a chamber and tortured. In fact, she ordered a whole bunch of these guys to be beaten and tortured and thrown into dungeons.
Tamar then called in all of the religious leaders to discuss and debate various religious questions so that they could work out their differences like civilized people.
Once she had built up her power-base of noble followers, Queen Tamar married a man named Yuri. But even though he became King Yuri, she claimed herself as “Queen of Kings” and remained the sole power of the throne.
She eventually kicked him to the curb, but Yuri tried to get his revenge by raising an army of Vikings, mercenary Turks, and still-disgruntled Georgian nobles.
Queen Tamar completely demolished them – TWICE.
2. Artemisia of Caria, 5th Century BCE
Artemisia of Caria was the queen of the Anatolian region of Caria. Most of our knowledge about her comes from the Father of History, Herodotus. What we do know about Artemisia was that she was born some time during the 5th century. She was a noted naval commander at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BCE. Every ancient account of Artemisia depicts her as a brave and clever woman who was a valued asset to Xerxes on his expedition to conquer Greece,
She was a rebellious queen, military strategist, and wartime commander. She allied herself with the Persian King Xerxes, and told him he was being a straight up idiot and that his strategy needed to be changed.
But as men do to women, he scoffed at her suggestions, and the Persians suffered devastating defeat at the Battle of Salamis. Still, Artemisia bravely led her fleet.
Herodotus goes on to tell us that Xerxes was pretty interested in taking Artemisia’s advice after that.
3. The Trung Sisters, 1st Century
Vietnam’s most badass set of chicks, the Trung sisters, led the first national uprising against the Chinese, who had conquered them in the year 40 A.D. They lived in a time when Vietnamese women had rights to things that in later centuries were taken away, such as having the right to inherit property through their mother’s line and become political leaders, judges, traders, and warriors.
But when the Chinese took over, Trung Trac and Trung Nhi began experiencing tighter and more vicious controls placed on their fellow Vietnamese citizens by imperial Chinese forces. In the year A.D. 40, To Dinh had Thi Sach, Trung Trac’s husband, put to death.
Bad idea, bro.
The ladies assembled an army of 80,000 people and appointed women as high-ranking generals, which gave them the power to drive the Chinese out of Vietnam.
After their victory, the people proclaimed Trung Trac to be their ruler. She was given the title, “Trung Vuong” or “She-king Trung.”
4. Queen Boudica, 1st Century
In 60 AD, Rome’s power was questioned after its usual strategies for command and control in, Britain, the northernmost edge of the empire, failed horribly. The Iceni tribe lived in the east of the country and was allied with Rome. When Prasutagus, their king, died, he left half his estate to his two daughters and the other half to Nero, in hopes that this would protect his family from any future imperial forces.
But, since the Romans at this time were apparently the worst kind of people, King Prasutagus’ widowed queen, Boudicca, was whipped and her daughters were both raped.
This didn’t exactly sit well with, Boudicca, a woman who wouldn’t stand for having her daughters and herself treated like sh*t, and she waited until the provincial governor, Paulinus, was abroad to plan her revenge.
She then gathered the Iceni and other tribes from the area and raised a bloody rebellion, and it is estimated that they killed around 70,000 Romans and pro-Roman Britons and slaughtered the Roman Ninth Legion.
As she prepared to attack again, Boudicca climbed onto a large mound, claiming, You will conquer the Romans or die trying.
Although this revolt didn’t last too long and the Roman army eventually won, we still think a woman fighting back after she and her daughters were abused is enough to call her a badass warrior in our book.
5. Zenobia, 3rd Century
In 258, Zenobia was noted as being the wife of the king of Palymra, Septimius Odaenathus.
She bought alongside her husband against the Romans, but he was eventually executed. This didn’t stop her from fighting back.
Zenobia took full control of the military and expanded her territory into Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria, and cut off wheat imports to Rome, causing a bread shortage and seriously pissing them off.
Rome fought back, and Aurelian’s forces defeated Zenobia’s. She and her son were sent to Rome as hostages, and it unclear exactly what her fate was.
Regardless, her legend lives on.
6. Tomoe Gozen, 1157-1247
Somewhere in the sausagefest that is Japan’s history, this badass Samurai made her mark. Tomoe carried a bow and long sword, covered herself in armor, and would charge into battlefields on horseback to defeat enemies.
Lord Kiso no Yoshinaka decided to make her his leading commander in the Genpei War.
While at the Battle of Yokotagawara: Tomoe defeated and collected the heads of 7 mounted warriors (okay, this seems nucking futs, but you have to understand that where they were back then, collecting heads was the equivalent to collecting Oscars).
Then, in 1184, at the Battle of Uchide no Hama, Tomoe led 300 of Lord Kiso no Yoshinaka’s forces into a crazy battle against 6,000 Taira cavalry and still managed to come out as one of the only 5 Minamoto survivors.
This chick had some serious survival skill.
She retired, but then came back out to fight one last time. Tomoe rode head on into a pack of 30 mounted Taira warriors, picked the worthiest opponent among them, Onda no Hachiro, and straight up took his head off (maybe there was an empty, dusty space on her mantle of trophies that had been bothering her).
We are really sure what became of her, but we are sure that she’s the most badass Samurai chick in history, even if her desire to collect heads kind of creeps us out.
7. Joan of Arc, 1412-1431
This wouldn’t be a list of Badass Warriors if we didn’t include the famous of them all, Joan of Arc, a French peasant during medeival times.
She began to claim she was experiencing visits from saints and angels at the age of 12. These visions led her to Chinon, where she recognized the disguised French King and proved her military genius and courage to his advisors.
The fight she brought against theinvading British was unlike anything they had ever seen.
She pretty much kicked their asses out of France in a series of brilliant military campaigns. Humiliated at their losses, the British redoubled their efforts and managed to capture Joan, but only by shooting her through the leg and chasing her down.
After seeing the prince crowned King Charles VII, Joan was captured by Anglo-Burgundian forces, tried for witchcraft and heresy and burned at the stake in 1431 at just the age of 19.
By the time she was officially canonized in 1920, she had long been considered one of history’s greatest saints, and her story has earned her the title of one of the most fierce and well-known female warriors in history.
8. Rani Lakshmibai, 1835-1858
Rani Lakshmibai is often referred to as “India’s Joan of Arc,” and, like Joan, this young warrior-maiden came out of nowhere to lead her people in their efforts to skewer Englishmen through the torso with keenly-sharpened metallic objects. No joke. She really knew how to use a sword.
The infamous power-hungry ultra-capitalists, the British East India Company, took over her territory (Jhansi) in the 1850s, and basically tried to pay her off and make her go away.
Since this was not something Lakshmibai was even remotely interested in doing, the Brits decided to use force in 1858.
Little fact about Rani: She had been trained by her father to use axes, swords, while riding on horses trained to jump fire. Again, this warrior chick was no joke.
Unfortunately, the rebels did not have her same experience using artillery, and a few canon shots from the British scared most of her support away. Rani evacuated as many people as she could in the middle of the night, abandoning the village and retreating to link up with another rebel group nearby.
She continued to viciously defended her turf and led her warriors to defeat the Maharaja of Gwalior after he defected from the rebel cause, but was killed in battle during a counter-attack by the British 8th Hussars Regiment.
Rani would become a near-mythical hero among the people of India for her role kicking ass during the 1857 Rebellion. The Indian National Army put together an all-female infantry unit during World War II and, of course, they named it after this badass warrior chick.
9. Jennie Irene Hodgers aka Albert Cashier, 1843-1915
Equal rights are so fun.
Wanting to get herself involved in the Civil War, Jennie Irene Hodges dressed as a man and assumed the name Albert Cashier to serve in the Union Army.
Although regarded by her fellow soldiers as quiet and small for a man, they never actually suspected a woman (ugh, the idea… so preposterous) would actually dress as a man and head into war.
Cashier ended up under the command of Ulysses S. Grant and found herself fighting in 40 notoriously bloody battles… until she was captured.
Oh, do you think she was stopped right there? Nope. She actually managed to steal a gun from the guard and escape back to her unit.
Small though she was, she overpowered her Confederate captors, and continued to fight until 1865.
She didn’t discard her male identity after the war, opting instead to vote and receive a proper pension. Equal rights, FTW.
And yes, both her names are etched on her tombstone.