Sunday, November 4, 2012

Women at War

Contrary to popular belief, women often engaged in medieval warfare. If the Chatelaine happened to be at home while their husband was away and their castle was besieged, it was routine for her to command the defences.
Here are some examples of notable Medieval femail warriors:
  • 8th century: Shieldmaidens fight at the Battle of Bråvalla on the side of the Danes.
  • 722: Queen Aethelburg of Wessex destroys the town of Taunton.
  • 750: Veborg, as well as many other Shieldmaidens, participate in the Battle of Bråvalla in Sweden.
  • 783: Saxon women throw themselves barebreasted into battle against Charlemagne's forces. Among them is Fastrada, who became Charlemagne's fourth wife.
  • Early 9th century: Cwenthryth fights Wulfred, Archbishop of Canterbury, for control of her abbey estates.
  • 880: Ermengarda defends Vienne.[20]
  • 912-922: Reign of Ethelfleda, ruler of Mercia. She commanded armies, fortified towns, and defeated the Danes. She also defeated the Welsh and forced them to pay tribute to her.
  • Mid 10th century: Queen Thyra of Denmark leads an army against the Germans.
  • 971: The Scandinavian ruler of Kiev attacked the Byzantines in Bulgaria in 971. When the Norsemen had been defeated, the victors discovered shieldmaidens among the fallen warriors.
  • Early 11th century: Freydís Eiríksdóttir, a Viking woman, sails to Vinland with Thorfinn Karlsefni. When she faced hostile natives while pregnant, she exposed her breasts and beat her chest with a sword. This caused the natives to run away.
  • 1040-1090: Sichelgaita of Salerno second wife of Robert Guiscard, Duke of Apulia, accompanies her husband on military campaigns, and regularly puts on full armor and rides into battle at his side. At the Battle of Dyrrhachium (1081) she rallied Robert's troops when they were initially repulsed by the Byzantine army.
  • 1046-1115: Lifetime of Matilda of Tuscany, who conducted wars to defend the papacy.
  • 1071: Richilde, Countess of Mons and Hainaut is captured fighting in the Battle of Cassel.
  • 1072: Urraca of Zamora, Infanta of Castile, defends the city of Zamora against her brother, Sancho II of Castile.
  • 1075: Emma de Guader, Countess of Norfolk defends Norwich castle while it is under siege.
  • 1090: A Norman woman Isabel of Conches rides armed as a knight.
  • 1121:Urraca of Castile fights her half-sister, Theresa, Countess of Portugal when she refuses to surrender the city of Tuy.
  • 1131-1160: Melisende of Jerusalem ruler of the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem is one of the rulers involved in the Second Crusade.
  • 1136: Welsh princess Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd leads an army against the Normans. She is defeated and killed.
  • 1141: Matilda of Boulogne raises an army to continue the fight for the crown of England, after her husband, King Stephen is captured by the Empress Matilda.
  • 1145: Eleanor of Aquitaine accompanies her husband on the Second Crusade.
  • 1172: Alrude Countess of Bertinoro ends a siege of Aucona by leading an army into battle and crushing imperial troops.
  • Late 12th century: Eva MacMurrough conducts battles on behalf of her husband, the Earl of Pembroke.
  • 3rd May 1211. The chatelaine of Lavaur, Gerauda (or Geralda) de Lavaur, was murdered by Catholic Crusaders because of her part in resisting their siege of Lavaur during the Cathar Crusade. Click here to read more about the siege of Lavaur 
  • Mid 13th century: Eleanor of Castile accompanies her husband on his crusade. According to legend, she saves his life by sucking poison from his wound when he was injured.
  • 1264: Eleanor of Provence raises troops in France for her husband during the Baron's War.
  • 1271: Isabella of Aragon dies at Consenza on the way back from the Crusades.
  • 1290: An illustration of a woman named Walpurgis is shown training in sword and buckler techniques
  • 14th century: Jane, Countess of Montfort leads troops into battle. Countess Jeanne de Penthievre is among her antagonists.
  • 1326: Isabella of France invades England with Roger de Mortimer, and overthrows Edward II, replacing him with her son Edward III, with her and de Mortimer acting as regents.
  • 1334: Agnes Dunbar successfully defends her castle against a siege by the Earl of Salisbury.
  • 1335: The Scots defeat a company led by the Count of Namur. Amongst the Count's casualties was a female lancer who had killed her opponent, Richard Shaw, at the same moment that he had killed her. Her gender was only discovered when the bodies were being stripped of their armour at the end of the engagement. "The chronicler Bower seems to have been at least as impressed by the rarity of two mounted soldiers simultaneously transfixing one another with their lances as with the fact that one of them was a woman."
  • 1364-1405: Tamerlane uses female archers to defend baggage trains.
  • 1383: Eleanor of Arborea, ruler of Sardinia, conducts a defensive war against Aragon.
  • 15th century: Maire o Ciaragain leads Irish clans in rebellion.
  • 15th century: Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine, leads an army to rescue her husband from the Duke of Burgundy.
  • 1429: Joan of Arc leads the French army. Yolande of Aragon supports her. Pierronne, a contemporary of hers, also hears voices and fights for the king of France.
  • 1461: Queen Margaret of Anjou defeats the Earl of Warwick in the Wars of the Roses.
  • 1461: Lady Knyvet defends Buckingham Castle at Norfolk against Sir Gilbert of Debenhem
  • 1471: Queen Margaret of Anjou is defeated in battle at Tewksbury.
  • 1472: Onorata Rodiana from Cremona, Italy is mortally wounded in battle. She had disguised herself as a man to become a soldier.
  • June 27, 1472: Jeanne Hachette rips down the flag of the invading Burgundians at Beauvais, inspiring the garrison to win the engagement
Eleanor of Arborea
Isabella of France
Joan of Arc

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