The following post is a deeper discussion of the subject of female combat training and females in combat written to supplement my previous post Myth Debunking: Female Combat Training. One of the purposes of this article is to answer some of the critics of the previous article that sufficient evidence was not supplied for the case that was presented. This previous post created a lot more discussion than I thought it would, though I should have expected it to considering the content. The reader is warned that, unlike the previous indicated article, this one will be of quite some length.
That it is necessary that this sort of article is written in this day and age makes me wonder just how far we have actually proceeded as a species. That such a subject could cause so much division, rather than the acknowledgement of some new sources as a good thing and thus uniting, demonstrates that the unity of the sexes as we might like to have it has not been achieved as yet. This, and the previous article, are designed to empower the reader with knowledge regardless of what gender they identify themselves as. The information is not meant to be divisive even though there are some, who are so guarded about their prejudices, and preconceived ideas of matters past, that will see this information in such a light.
The following article will present evidence of female combat training, and also females in combat situations from some of the earliest periods, and through the Middle Ages, to the Renaissance and up to contemporary times. That females are trained and serve in the current military forces cannot be denied, this is evident in most of the military forces in developed nations. What is also evident is that women have fought in front-line positions in military forces in the modern world, in recent history. There will be a little of this addressed at the end of the discussion. First, evidence of much earlier training and combats.
“women’s lives are generally every bit as threatened in a combat zone; and they counter the stereotype of women as a Madonna to be protected from the plundering enemy” (Hayton-Keeva, 1987:iv)
"Women also participated in gladiatorial contests. Their involvement in these spectacles throughout the 1st century and in the first half of the 2nd century AD is documented in historical writings and rare portrayals in painting and sculpture." (Rea, 2018:16)Gladiator spectacles originally were put on to honour people in death as part of their funerary rights, something which was considered an important ritual. The nature of "the games" changed over time until they became spectacles for the people to come and watch and for people to look in awe at the power of life and death people had over one another. Nero is well-known for his excesses, "'Gladiatrices' first appeared under Nero's reign, a time when female attendance in the arena could be easily observed." (Rea, 2018:16). So in some ways the entrance of female gladiators was for the entertainment of the female attendees. Something which needs to be considered.
Gladiatrices in the arena places females in combat, but there is also evidence that some took on the training. Even though they may have had no intention of entering the arena. Was this for personal protection? Was this for fitness? What can be said is that the training as female gladiators happened.
"Some older, married women also trained as gladiatrices. Juvenal, author of The Satires, describes them as hitting a pole hard enough to dent it and, with their shields in their hands, performing as well as if they were actually inside the arena." (Rea, 2018:16)
|Gladiatrix relief from Halicarnassus|
Boudicea, Queen of the Iceni
“Ever since 60 AD – and probably long before that – when Queen Boadicea challenged the Roman Empire to battle, there have been women warriors.” (Hayton-Keeva, 1987:iv)The image of Boudica is one which is brought to mind alongside Joan of Arc any time the concept of women in combat is brought to mind. What is also brought to mind is the legendary and somewhat mythical nature of both of these women. What needs to be noted is that they were both real and their achievements need recognition as real.
“The Boudican revolt has been described as ‘the most serious rebellion against Roman rule in any province during the early Principate’ next to the great Batavian (Rhinelander) revolt” (Fraser, 1989:77)
“Boudica led a rebellion of the Iceni and members of other tribes resentful of Roman rule. After defeating the Roman Ninth Legion, the queen’s forces destroyed Camulodunum, then the captain of Roman Britain, and massacred its inhabitants. They went on to give similar treatment to London and Verulamium (modern St. Albans).” (Pruitt, 2016)
“as Tacitus implies and Dio Cassius states, the royal house to which Boudica belonged was that of the Iceni; the tribe she would successfully stir into action.” (Fraser, 1989:59)
“The size and indeed strength of Celtic women was also something on which they [Roman sources] were prone to comment: Diodorus Siculus went further and complimented them on being the equals of their husbands in courage as well.” (Fraser, 1989:59)
|Located on the Thames embankment next to the Houses of Parliament|
Statue by Thomas Thorneycroft
“Tactius’ portrait of the Queen on this occasion, driving round and round the assembled tribes in her chariot, with her daughters in front of her, which has made an indelible impression.” (Fraser, 1989:96)
“In the clash that followed–the exact battle site is unknown, but possibilities range from London to Northamptonshire–the Romans managed to defeat the Britons despite inferior numbers, and Boudica and her daughters apparently killed themselves by taking poison in order to avoid capture.” (Pruitt, 2016)
"Walpurgis"Royal Armouries MS I.33 presents two plates in which four images are presented in which there is a female involved in the combats. She has been identified by the document itself as "Walpurgis". That this manual has been translated, interpreted and used by many members of the Historical European Martial Arts community and that there are still arguments that females were trained in the arts of the sword, at least in this community, remains a mystery. The second of the two plates from the treatise is presented below.
|MS I.33 32v|
The captions which go with the respective images are as follows, for the former, it reads; "Here are the bindings above and below which have often been executed before; hence the verse: "The one who binds and the one who is bound," etc." (Foreng, 2003:147). This simply points out that the actions of the two combatants are a repetition of those which have been presented previously in the treatise and have been repeated here. The latter is the result, "From the abovementioned bindings Walpurgis gets a Shield-Strike, because she was above and the first one ready." (Foreng, 2003:147). The lady combatant, Walpurgis, takes the advantage and makes a strike to the opponent using one of the actions described previously. Clearly she has been trained in the use of the sword and buckler.
"Fight Between a Man and a Woman"While not exactly "trained" combat, it is combat nonetheless, there is evidence presented for combat between males and females presented in the form of judicial duels between men and women. Such an example of one of these types of combats is presented in Talhoffer's treatise of 1467, as presented in Medieval Combat, translated and edited by Mark Rector. This is a judicial duel between a man and his wife.
|(Talhoffer, 2000:Plates 242 and 243)|
Joan of Arc
|Joan of Arc (15th century miniature)|
"Afterward she [Iane Pulzela] tooke armes her selfe, and behaued he selfe in such sorte among the other Captains and men of armes, that in a verye shorte time she was made Captaine generall of the whole armye, and being armed and mounted on a barbed horse, in such sorte as she was not knowne but to be a man, made a sally with all her troupes both horse and foote, and assailing her enemie with an undaunted courage, followed her enterprise with such valour and prudence, that she freed the Cittie of Orleance from the siege, being her selfe shot through the shoulder with an arrow:" (Saviolo, 1595)
Whenever female symbols are held up, especially when fighting is concerned Joan of Arc is mentioned, "Joan of Arc, that symbol of the Middle Ages, had raised the English siege of Orleans with the help of artillery." (Canby, 1965:54). She is seen as a symbol of medieval feminism in part and also Christianity and also, of course a united France. What seems to be missed is that she rode, and fought with the men in the battles that she was in. She did not just take a side-line and watch.
First of all she was a real person, "Joan (Jeanne d'Arc) was born in January of 1412, to Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle Romée, at Domrémy, on the River Meuse in eastern Champagne." (Cummins, 2008:213). One of the arguments that is leveled against this figure is that she was not real, indeed she was real. The evidence for her eventual trial prove that she was real also, which is where the evidence for most of her deeds come from.
"The Maid was the strangest commander these men had ever had. She attacked the prostitutes who followed the army with the flat of her sword, forbade the men to swear, and wore her heavy armor at all times, to the amazement of at least one knight" who stated that she bore the weight of the armour incredibly well (Cummins, 2008:201).
"[Joan] took her men out of the city to attack another bastion, St.-Jean-le-Blanc, ... The English were so surprised that they abandoned the bastion immediately, fleeing toward a stronger and far larger fortress, a monastery called Les Augustins. In a wild frenzy of fighting, with Joan alternately shouting to the Lord and weeping, the French gave chase and took Les Augustins as well," (Cummins, 2008:206)
by Lorenzo di Credi
“When Giovanni dei Popolani de’ Medici married Caterina Sforza, the Medici family could now call the Duke of Milan brethren. He would not be her first husband and the road to the Florence court was a long, twisting, and, at times, treacherous journey for the famed Caterina.” (Morin, 2015)
“Caterina Sforza, who ruled Forli and Imola, part of the territory stretching from Ravenna through the Romagna over which the Pope [Alexander VI] claimed overlordship.” (Fraser, 1989:197)
“Caterina was born in 1463 ‘on the wrong side of the bed,’ the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Milan, Galeazzo Maria Sforza, and his feisty mistress, Lucrezia Landriani” (Morin, 2015)
“There, surrounded by artists and writers, Caterina, and her other illegitimate siblings, were raised in the rarefied, tyrannical air of the Milanese court. There she received a Humanist education, the same education as her brothers, perhaps an indication of the fiery woman she was to become. Classic literature and Latin were taught officially. Unofficially, Caterina learned much from her paternal grandmother, Bianca Maria Visconti, who fostered a pride in her warlike ancestors, audaciousness in the use of arms, and the intricacies of government. It is to her credit that Bona of Savoy, Galeazzo’s second wife, treated all of her husband’s children as her own, showering them all with maternal love and care, eventually adopting them all. With this myriad mix of influences, it is little wonder that Caterina’s personal proclivities including hunting (like her father), alchemy, and dancing.” (Morin, 2015)
“Caterina was betrothed to the Pope’s newphew, Girolamo Riario. Accounts differ concerning her usurping her own cousin in this marriage, with disputes as to whether Caterina’s marriage was consummated then, in 1473, or four years later, in 1477, when she reached the required legal age of fourteen.” (Morin, 2015)
“Her earliest soldiering was in 1483 when she defended her husband’s territory of Forli from the Venetian threat. From the first Caterina relished such martial activity as he had once relished hunting;” (Fraser, 1989:197)
“The death of the Pope [Sixtus IV], her husband’s uncle (and fear for the decline in the Riario [her husband’s family’s] cause) found Caterina, riding at the gallop to hold the fortress of Sant’Angelo until it could be handed over to the legal successor of Sixtus.” (Fraser, 1989:197)
“With her husband, Caterina seized control of Castel Sant' Angelo in Rome during the turmoils (1484) - she surrendered 13 days later (Caterina was 7 months pregnant at the time and aged 21).” (d'Outremer, 1998)
“Much is debated as to the true power in this couple, many stating Caterina held the reins rather than her weaker husband, many state she herself believed him to be her inferior. With Girolamo away plundering other parts of Italy, Caterina, from her position in the fortress and with the strength of the her soldiers behind her, held the city in her grip, refusing to loosen her hold until her husband returned and a new pope was elected.” (Morin, 2015)
“Life there was a ruse, Girolamo’s rule a shame, and in April of 1488, after many failed attempts, Girolamo was assassinated by a conspiracy led by the Orsis family. The lordship's palace was sacked and Caterina and her children taken as hostages. The conspirators ordered her, by sword-point, to order the garrison of the castle to surrender it. Using her wiles, she agreed, asking for time for the negotiation. Once back in the palace, she followed through on her own plans, gathering all the forces of the city in defense.” (Morin, 2015)
“Caterina acted as regent for her eldest son Ottaviano. Her first act was to punish those who murdered her husband. No one was spared, not even the wives and children of the conspirators or their property. For eight years she ruled and governed all aspects of her position, taxes, building, fostering relations with neighboring courts. She married and was widowed twice more.” (Morin, 2015)
Ana de Mendoza, Princess of Eboli
|Ana de Mendoza, Princess of Eboli|
“I utterly disallow the opinion that one does not attribute nobility unto women but also abridges them from power and ability to ennoble and impart nobility unto others.” (Kirby, 2013:180)
“Women being endowed with both beauty and virtue and seeing that women can learn whatsoever men can, having the full use of reason or else nature (who does never do anything in vain) should have to no purpose given them the gift of understanding. I think they deserve fellowship and communing in honour with men considering nature has bestowed upon them as well as on men a means to attain learning, wisdom and all other virtues active and contemplative.” (Kirby, 2013:180)
"Petrarch writeth, that he knewe a damsell at Pozzuelo called Marie, who borrowing the habit of a yong man, after the fashion men wore apparell there, armed her selfe, and was even the firste that fought with the enemie, and the last that retired:" (Saviolo, 1595)
“Ursina, wife unto Guido chief of the house of Torello, understanding the Venetians had laid siege to Guastella a castle of her husband’s, but he being abroad, armed herself and led a company of men to the defended castle and spoiled many Venetians.” (Kirby, 2013:182)
Catalina de ErausoNot all women were so lucky as Ana to be themselves and triumph. Some had to cross-dress to fit in and stand as men rather than themselves, though as will be noted throughout this discussion this was not an uncommon theme.
“Her father was an officer in the Spanish army, and from an early age Catalina wanted nothing more than to also be a soldier. Of course in the deeply conservative Spanish society of the time, such a thing was unthinkable.” (Conliffe, 2016)
“He got into a fight with a young man at the theatre, and only after Catalina had cut his face and left him scarred did he find out that he was the nephew of his master’s mistress. ... Off he went to manage a store in Trujillo on the coast. The young man and two of his friends decided to come out there after Catalina and teach him a lesson, one he was more than willing to return. One of the friends was killed, and Catalina wound up in jail again. His old master managed to get him released, but he had to move on once more.” (Conliffe, 2016)
“he decided instead to join the army. There was always a demand for soldiers in Chile, as the Mapuche there were one of the few native peoples who had managed to resist Spanish conquest. Catalina headed off to war against them in 1619. It is here that his adventures become a lot better documented, due to the military records,” (Conliffe, 2016)
“Catalina gained a reputation for brutality during his time in the military, though the efficiency he combined it with impressed his superiors. One of those superiors was his brother, Don Miguel de Erauso, who was the secretary of the governor and who didn’t recognise Catalina. After three years Catalina reached the rank of second lieutenant, but also made himself unwelcome in the city due to his temper.” (Conliffe, 2016)
“Back in Concepcion his boredom (and residual battle trauma) led him to drink and gamble to excess, and on one of these debauchs he got into a fight and almost killed a man in a brawl. Rather than face a court martial, he took sanctuary in a church attached to a Franciscan monastery. He wound up staying there for six months until he was asked by another officer to serve as a second in a duel. The duel took place in a dark alley, and when it began Catalina got into a fight with the second of the other participant. Only after he’d killed him did he realise that it was his brother Miguel. ... Filled with guilt and grief, he decided to desert from the army.” (Conliffe, 2016)
“Grief-stricken she became an outlaw and con-artist, on one occasion absconding with a dowry paid to her to marry a young woman. She eventually entered into a convent in Lima after confessing her sex to a bishop. On return to Europe in 1624 De Erauso’s story had become public knowledge and she toured Italy as a celebrity. She was so famous that she was reportedly granted special dispensation by Pope Urban VIII to wear men’s clothing.” (Rae, 2015)
English Civil War
"Countess of Portland who at Carisbrooke Castle ‘behaved like a Roman matron’ and rather than surrender ‘declared she herself would fire the first cannon’. Or there was the lioness Lady Mary Winter, wife of Royalist commander Sir John, who declined to give up Lidney House, near Gloucester, to the Parliamentary commander Colonel Massey with some well-tuned words on the subject of her absent husband’s ‘unalterable allegiance to his king and sovereign’.” (Fraser, 1993:183)
“Wives as well as whores proceeded to ‘counterfeit’ their sex and adopt soldiers’ attire. Sometimes they did so purely in order to follow their man. It was often better to be a man’s comrade, however rough the going, ... a soldier’s pay, a soldier’s keep was at least a form of sustenance.” (Fraser, 1993:221)
“Calvanist Lady Ann Cunningham – ‘a notable Virago’ – struck terror not only into the hearts of the English, but also into that of her own son, the Marquess of Hamilton, who did not share her religious convictions. At Berwick on June 5 , she rode with a case of pistols at her saddle, and her ‘dags’ (daggers) at her girdle, the head of her troop of horse. All her attendant women had been obliged to become expert marksmen; the Marquess aroused her special ire.” (Fraser, 1993:224)
Charlotte de la Trémoille, Countess of Derby
“Although the actual military manoeuvers were conducted by Captain Farmer, it is evident that without a woman of the lofty courage – one might add the aristocratic arrogance – of the Countess of Derby, Latham House would have fallen to the enemy almost immediately.” (Fraser, 1993:189)
Between Two Sisters
"We are informed that the younger sister had learnt from her brother, ... how to use a sling with such deadly effect that she could kill the smallest of birds with it." (Baldick, 1965:169). Now, we think that the sling, in general is a weapon which would not do a lot of damage, but with a stone at high velocity in the right place it could cause some serious injury. This skill was known by the elder sister, and when the falling out happened between them, she had to pick her moment.
The story goes that sometime at a ball that the two were attending, which was at a castle, the elder sister made her move, "Pulling her younger sister after her, she led her to a piece of land very close to the castle, took her sword in her hand, and belaboured her severely, so that she received a wound in one arm." (Baldick, 1965:170). There is not a lot of the story to go on. What is known is that the two of them crossed blades and the elder of the two won. The fact that they both owned swords is something to remark about also considering it would not be likely that a person in that age would own one and not know how to use it.
Comtess de Saint-BelmontA French example. The Comtess de Saint-Belmont remained on her estates while her husband was at war. A cavalry officer took up quarters there without permission so she complained to the officer, which he ignored. Next, she sent a letter of challenge to him over it signing it as her husband, which the officer complied with, she turned up dressed as him as well.
"Within a few moments, the countess had disarmed her opponent, after which she reduced him to utter shame and confusion by saying: 'You thought, Monsieur, that you were fighting the Chevalier de Saint-Belmont, but you are mistaken. I am Madame de Saint-Belmont. I return your sword, Monsieur, and politely beg you to pay proper respect to any request made by a lady in future.'" (Baldick, 1965:170)Like the example of the Countess of Derby, the Comtess de Saint-Belmont was defending what was hers. In this particular case the Comtess actually took up the sword and fought the opponent displaying some skill obviously learnt. This creates a pattern of knowledge of ladies in this period with regard to the use of the sword.
Julie D'Aubigny AKA "La Maupin"
|Mademoiselle Maupin de l'Opéra (1700)|
Publisher Se vend à Paris, chez Trouvain, rue St. Jacques, au grand Monarque
“Julie D'Aubigny was a 17th-century bisexual French opera singer and fencing master who killed or wounded at least ten men in life-or-death duels, performed nightly shows on the biggest and most highly-respected opera stage in the world, and once took the Holy Orders just so that she could sneak into a convent.” (Thompson, 2012)
“This French R. Lee Ermey trained young Julie the same way he trained the King's Squires, and as a young woman she learned the finer points of necessary life skills such as horseback riding, horse maintenance and repair, drinking excessively, gambling, fistfighting, avenging your honor, and stabbing people” (Thompson, 2012)
“By the age of 14 she had become d’Armagnac’s mistress and he found her a husband, the timid Sieur de Maupin, who was promptly dispatched to the provinces to a stimulating job in tax collection.” (Gardiner, 2014)
“she quickly tired of d’Armagnac and ran away with a fencing master called Séranne, with whom she found herself down on her luck, for the first of many times, in Marseille. They earned what they could from giving fencing demonstrations at fairs and in taverns – at one, a man refused to believe she was really a woman because she was simply too good. She took off her blouse and the crowd fell silent. (Gardiner, 2014)
“She began her singing career with the Marseille Opéra, and her early appearances on stage were admired, particularly by one young woman (name unknown) with whom she fell in love. The girl’s family quickly packed her off to a convent in Avignon. Julie followed, entering as a postulate. One night after an elderly nun died, the pair stole the body, placed it in the girl’s cell and set fire to the convent, and escaped.” (Gardiner, 2014)
“The girl was returned to her family eventually, and Julie continued her journey through the countryside, now back in men’s clothes. One day she literally bumped into a young nobleman, Comte d’Albert, who challenged her to a duel, not realising she was female. She beat him, wounded him, nursed him back to health, and in some accounts he is the great romance of her life. At the very least they were lifelong friends.” (Gardiner, 2014)
“Oddly enough, kicking peoples' asses for money eventually led to a completely unrelated job prospect – a career as the star attraction of the Paris Opera. Apparently, while this chick was singing songs to humiliate her enemies in the dueling circle, some powerful record execs were in the audience, and they were so impressed by her melodious contralto voice that they decided she should be doing better shit than stabbing people in the balls for spare change. In the span of a few months, the woman known in Marseilles only as "La Maupin" (meaning "The Mapuin") went from a completely untrained street performer to the lead actress in the world's most respected Opera,” (Thompson, 2012)
“Of course, her fiery temperament in love and combat meant that she slept with or sword-fought with most of the men and women in the opera at various points during her career.” (Thompson, 2012)
“Her career in Paris was interrupted after she attended a court ball in men’s clothes and kissed a young woman on the dance floor, for which insult she was challenged to a duel by three different noblemen. She told each of them she would meet him outside, fought them all at once, and beat them all. But given that Louis had outlawed duels, she had to flee to Brussels, where she became the lover of the Elector of Bavaria.” (Gardiner, 2014)
“La Maupin was pardoned for her duels, this time through the intervention of Monsieur, the King’s brother, and returned to the stage. She performed for the court at Versailles, appeared once again in most major Opéra productions, and introduced the Italian idea of the contralto voice to France. She defended chorus girls against lecherous barons and pompous tenors, became infatuated with the soprano Fanchon Moreau, tried to kill herself, threatened to blow the Duchess of Luxembourg’s brains out, and ended up in court for attacking her landlord.” (Gardiner, 2014)
"the most famous female duellist of the time was the actress Maupin, a performer at the Opera. One of her lovers was the great fencing-master Serane, and he gave her a great many valuable lessons in his art, which she was impatient to put into practice." (Baldick, 1965:171)
Princess Sophia Augusta Frederika of Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg Vs. Princess Christiane Anna of Anhalt-Köthen
While there were several duels involving women in the 18th-century, and several instances where women involved themselves in various conflicts in the same period, serving in military forces the story of the duel between these two princesses stands out a bit more than the rest. This incident occurred sometime in June of 1743.
"Sophia and Christiane were German princesses, second cousins, and still teenagers when they developed a beef that could only be quashed by blood. The insult that drove them to lock swords in Sophia's bedroom when she was 14 and Christiane 17 has been lost to history, and the outcome of the challenge is unknown other than that both parties survived." (Drusus, 2016)
So there was a falling out between the two princesses, over what is not known, but it was serious enough, or seemed so that they would lock themselves in a room with a pair of swords to settle the dispute. To the modern audience a pair of relatively young girls with sharp swords is quite shocking. That the result of the duel seems to have been lost is most interesting, what is more interesting, however is the later identity of one of the duelists.
"It must have been a formative experience for young Sophia. A year later, she converted to the Russian Orthodox religion and was betrothed to the future Peter III of Russia. Her new name was Catherine, and when she ascended the throne of all the Russians, she would be known as Catherine the Great." (Drusus, 2016)
"As ruler, her attitude toward dueling was markedly more tolerant than Peter the Great's had been. He made it a hanging offense, but she reformed the law, making the penalty for dueling a loss of social status. When it came to women's duels, she was even more tolerant: In 1765, she is said to have acted as second in eight different duels. Catherine insisted they only be fought until first blood, however; she disapproved of her court ladies killing each other. (Drusus, 2016)
“As early as 1931, anticipating a global war, the Communist Party had mandated universal military training for boys and girls beginning in elementary school. Thousands of young women learned to handle rifles in a nationwide network of shooting clubs. Some achieved top scores in marksmanship.” (Markowitz, 2018)
“In March, 1942 a Central Women’s School of Sniper Training was established in Vishniaki, a village 8.7 miles outside Moscow. The school recruited women aged 18-26, physically fit, with at least seven years of education.” (Markowitz, 2018)
“Women were thought to make good snipers, because they could endure stress and cold better than men, and they had “more patience” to wait for the perfect shot. A special few achieved recognition and fame.” (Markowitz, 2018)
“hundreds of thousands of Soviet women fought at the front against Nazi Germany on equal terms with men. Some of them were snipers whose phenomenal results helped swing the course of the war.” (Timofeychev, 2017)
|Lyudmila Pavlichenko - 1942|
“In early 1941, Lyudmila Pavlichenko was studying history at Kiev University, but within a year, she had become one of the best snipers of all time, credited with 309 confirmed kills, 36 of which were German snipers.” (Lockie, 2015)
“Like many young people in the Soviet Union at that time, Pavlichenko participated in OSOAVIAKhIM, a paramilitary sporting organization which taught youths weapons skills and etiquette.” (Lockie, 2015)
“Eventually, the Red Army gave her an "audition" by giving her a rifle and showed her two Romanians downrange who were working with the Germans. She shot down the two soldiers with ease, and was then accepted into the Red Army’s 25th Chapayev Rifle Division.” (Lockie, 2015)
“Pavlichenko then shipped out to the battle lines in Greece and Moldova. In very little time she distinguished herself as a fearsome sniper, killing 187 Germans in her first 75 days at war.” (Lockie, 2015)
“Snipers in these battles fought between the enemy lines, often far from their companies. It was extremely dangerous and careful work, as she had to sit perfectly still for hours on end to avoid detection from enemy snipers. After making a name for herself in Odessa and Moldova, Pavlichenko was moved to Crimea to fight in the battle of Sevastopol.” (Lockie, 2015)
“She spent eight months fighting in Stevastopol, where she earned a praise from the Red Army and was promoted. On several occasions she was wounded, but she was only removed from battle after taking shrapnel to the face when her position was bombed by Germans who were desperate to stem the tide of her mounting kill count.” (Lockie, 2015)
“Wounded in June 1942, she was pulled out of combat and sent on a propaganda tour of the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain, becoming the first Soviet citizen welcomed at the White House by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.” (Markowitz, 2018)
“In less than one year, Pavlichenko eliminated 300 enemy soldiers and officers. It is said that some of Germany’s top snipers were sent to take her out, 36 of whom she neutralized. One of her adversaries, according to media reports, was a German sniper with over 400 kills.” (Timofeychev, 2017)
“More typical was the experience of Privates Mariya S. Polivanova and Natalya V. Kovshova, a spotter and sniper team killed in action together near Novgorod on August 14, 1943. Wounded and out of ammunition, they waited until German troops approached their trench, then detonated their grenades.” (Markowitz, 2018)
“Tanya M. Baramzina had been a kindergarten teacher before the war. After the German invasion, she trained to become a sharpshooter while attending nursing school. After scoring 16 kills on the Belorussian Front, she was selected for a parachute raid behind German lines. She killed another 20 Germans before taking charge of caring for the wounded when her unit was surrounded. Captured by the enemy, she was tortured and executed.” (Markowitz, 2018)
“After the war, the combat role of women (except for those glamorous aviators) was gradually written out of Soviet history as the Communist Party promoted more traditional gender roles, emphasizing the sisterly and motherly qualities of female field medics, for example. Research by a new generation of Russian historians, like Anna Krylova, offers some valuable insights for the ongoing debate over “women in combat,” which is too often long on emotion and short on facts.” (Markowitz, 2018)
“Women have been drafted into Israel’s armed force since 1949. Although few have fought on the front, some have asked to serve there. All receive battle training, however, and are instructed in the use of firearms.” (Hayton-Keeva, 1987:v)
Women have been active participants in Israel's military for an extended period of time in fact, "Women were active participants in Israel's 1948 war for independence. At some point during the war it was decided that women would no longer participate in battle but would fulfill other roles." (Katz, 2018). So, it needs to be noted that even though they do not serve in front-line positions currently they have previously. It should also be noted that they are also put through the same training as the male members of the military, just as in any military force. The same is the case for the military services of other nations it is essential just in case the units in which the women serve find themselves in a combat situation.
The investigation then proceeded into the medieval period, where the argument should have been defeated for any person who had studied the manual MS I.33 with the depiction of "Walpurgis", followed by the canonised Joan of Arc and the formidable Caterina Sforza. Three strong female figures all clearly trained in the combative arts. It was in this period that this discussion started with the four manuscript images that were presented in previous post, and it is here that it could lie, however man more women needed to be spoken of.
There are lady combatants spoken of by Vincentio Saviolo in his Second Book, mostly as justification for what he is writing and the glorification of Queen Elizabeth, but examples are presented by him. Further examples are presented from his period and close after from the English Civil War where ladies defended themselves either directly or as figureheads of their households. Clearly the combative spirit is present in the female of the species as much as it is in the male especially when the home is threatened, but not only.
Men were known to go and seek fame and fortune, but so did women Catalina de Erauso is one of the well-known ones but there are others who dressed in male clothing to hide their sex to follow their men into battle to be by their sides. Some women would even don male clothing to seek out their male halves, travelling far and wide, enlisting in military forces to find them.
Then we have some spectacular examples of women who stayed as women, yet who fought as well. There is the duel between two sisters as one small example. There is the well-known "La Maupin" the opera singer/duellist who lived just as much of her life by the skills of the blade as she did by the skills of her voice. Finally in this group there is Princess Sophia who would argue with a cousin, and who would later become Catherine the Great. A lady with a sword in her hand should never be underestimated.
To cap it all off there have been given two examples from modern times, one from World War II and one from more modern military forces. Russian women snipers were a force to be reckoned with as can be seen by the story of Lyudmila Pavlichenko. They were trained at sniper school just as the men were, sent to battle just as the men were, and often died just as the men did. The Israeli military, while it is probably not popular to talk about at the moment, is a prime example of females in the army. All have the same combat training, and women did previously serve in front lines, and have wanted to again.
Many of these strong female figures which have been presented are not the figures which are shown to people as the prime example of women because they do not present the socially-acceptable image of a woman. To this point there has been created an Internet page for such women who show strong character, but are not seen as the sort of thing that younger girls should be seeing as what to follow, this page is, Rejected Princesses.com. It details the lives of some real strong female characters including some of the ones which have been spoken of above. There is also a page which details women in combat.
Fraser, A. (1993) The Weaker Vessel: Woman’s Lot in seventeenth-century England, Mandarin Paperbacks, London
Katz, M. (2018) "Women in the IDF", Israeli Krav International, http://www.your-krav-maga-expert.com/women-in-idf.html
Morin, D. (2015) “Caterina Sforza Joins the Medici Family”, GoodReads, https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/7693300-caterina-sforza-joins-the-medici-family
Saviolo, V. (1595) His Practise in Two Bookes...