The Women History Forgot

Throughout history, there has been Queen’s and noble women that have ruled alongside men but history rarely tells of the tales of the women warriors who’s influence has spanned the decades. These powerful women showed they are just as capable as men when it comes to leading and fighting.

Queen Boudica

In 43 A.D. the Roman Empire conquered Southern England. As their rule spread, they allowed several tribal kings to keep their land and rule their people. Boudica was married to King Prastugas, the king of the Iceni tribe.

As Boudica had two daughters, there was no heir to rule when Prastugas died. On his death, he left the land and the people to Boudica and his daughters. The Romans did not keep their promise after his death and annexed the kingdom of the Iceni tribe.

Leaving Boudica and her people beat and homeless, Boudica took it upon herself to take revenge for the grievous injustice against her people and her daughters. She gathered other tribes who hated the Romans and launched savage attacks on the Roman cities such as Camulodunum, the capital of Roman Britain.

Her army of 100,000 soldiers killed 80,000 people on their quest for justice, murdering Romans and destroying their cities. Before she could completely destroy the Roman armies, they overpowered her and her army. Shortly after her failure, she supposedly poisoned herself, to evade capture by the Romans. She died in 61 A.D.

Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd

Princess Gwenllian was the youngest daughter of the King of Gwynedd, a large county in North Wales. Her beauty and intelligence caught the eye of Gruffydd ap Rhys, the prince of Deheaubarth, another large county in South Wales at the time. The couple had 4 sons.

After William the Conqueror led the French Norman invasion in 1066, the Welsh lords lost their lands and possessions to the Normans. The repression the Welsh felt led them to rebel and lead an invasion against the Norman armies.

Gwenllian and Gruffydd led many raids against the Normans, stealing their goods and then distributing their wealth among the Welsh people. After the passing of Henry I, the Norman king of England, the Welsh started to revolt.

Sensing the Normans were on the run, Gruffydd and Gwenllian made the fateful decision for Gruffydd to ride north with his men to gather support and the forces of her father based in Gwynedd in the North.

On the 28th February 1136, with her man and her husband away, Gwenllian received news the Normans were planning to ambush her castle. Gwenllian made the decision to fight for her home, so after making sure her two youngest sons were safe, she rallied the support of the local men and her two oldest sons.

She was betrayed in battle by her trusted chieftain, giving away her position to the Normans. A fierce battle followed until Gwenllian fell from her horse and was beheaded on the battlefield while one of her sons’s watched. When her husband and brothers learned of the death of Gwenllian and her two sons at the hands of the Normans, they vowed revenge. Her brave death was the catalyst for the Great Revolt in 1136.

Tomoe Gozen

The legend of the Samurai is known around the World as formidable warriors. However, some of the most skilled Samurai were a group of women called the ‘Onna-Bugeisha’. They were trained to be as deadly as their male counterparts. They used a specially made weapon called a naginata that was designed to suit the women’s smaller stature.

One of the most documented women samurai was Tomoe Gozen. Her skill, strength, and ability were unrivaled by any other warrior. During 1180 and 1185, she led troops to many victories including the Genpei War between two of Japan’s ruling clan’s.  Tomoe won the battle for the Minamoto clan and was named Japan’s first true general by the clan master.

She continued to lead many Samurai’s into battle, being one of few to leave with her life each time. Not much is know about her early life or time of death but what is written is an account of being remembered as one of the world’s greatest women warriors.

Grace O’Malley

Born in the 1530s to the chieftain of a clan on the West coast of Ireland, she was a born leader. Known for her skills in navigating the sea’s and the political world, O’Malley quickly rose to power after he fathers death.

She became Queen of the clan soon after her father’s death. She married twice with each marriage she gained more power and control of land and ships. She led hundreds of men and ships with her remarkable bravery and toughness.

O’Malley and Queen Elizabeth did not see eye to eye when Elizabeth decided to increase control of Ireland in 1558. Elizabeth soon grew tired of O’Malley’s opposition to her rule, so sent a fleet to squash the O’Malley Clan. Grace held her ground though causing Elizabeth’s fleet to retreat just weeks later.

Grace O’Malley soon met her match in Sir Richard Bingham, a naval commander serving under Elizabeth I. He captured one of O’Malley’s sons and killed the oldest of her boys. Her democratic skills came into play when she convinced Bingham to give her an audience with the Queen. She managed to negotiate with the Queen to release her son and return her lands in exchange for helping England fight other enemies abroad.

She was famed for knowing when to fight and when to not, making her one of Ireland’s most formidable women to go up against. A statue of her stands in County Mayo, Ireland to this day. She later died in 1603, the same year as Elizabeth I.