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 Women & Warfare - Part 2

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PostSubject: Women & Warfare - Part 2   Women & Warfare - Part 2 EmptySun Nov 02, 2008 8:43 am

Women & Warfare

Continued from: Women & Warfare - Part 1

(4) Women who actively fought at the head of an armed force, in a paid or “professional” capacity. These women were usually known as “Condottieri” or mercenaries. These Condottieri were renown throughout Italy from the mid-13th Century until the mid-16th Century. Many Condottieri were highly paid and “contracted” for a certain period of time. Their employer frequently changed. And it was not unknown for a Condottieri to acquire land or titles.

  • Onorata Rodiano ~~~~ artist and soldier.
    she “had entered the service of Oldrano Lampugnano as a cavalryman, and that was in the year 1423. She lived then with her name and her clothing changed under various captains and held various military offices.” (Source: Conrado Flameno Storia di Castelleone (1590).

(5) Women who led an armed force in the assertion of inheritance rights, either their own, their husband’s or their children’s rights.
  • Isabella of France, Queen of England ~~~ gathered about her an armed force consisting of mercenaries from Hainault and disaffected English nobles, and landed in England (1326) to overthrown the government and install her son in his father’s stead.

  • Jeanne of Flanders, Countess of Montfort ~~~ she actively fought during the War of Succession in Britanny (1360s).
    “The countess of Montfort was there in full armour, mounted on a swift horse and riding through the town, street by street, urging the people to defend the town well. She made the women of the town, ladies and others, dismantle the carriageways and carry the stones to the battlements for throwing at their enemies. And she had bombards and pots full of quick lime brought to keep the enemy busy.” (Source: Jean Froissart, Chroniques: Livre I, Le manuscrit d'Amiens, Bibliothèque municipale no. 486, ed. George T. Diller, vol. 2 (Geneva, 1992).)

  • Margaret of Anjou, Queen of England ~~~ during the War of the Roses, she fought valiantly to preserve the rights of her husband and then her son to rule as monarchs of England.

(6) Women who went on Crusade, though did not necessarily take an active role in fighting. Whilst their men-folk were actively engaged in the fighting, these women remained on the sidelines, at a safe distance.

[*] Eleanor of Aquitaine

[*] Elvira of Aragon

(7) Women who did actively fought in the Crusades.

In this last category, it is very hard to list any single woman by name. On both the First and People’s Crusades, many women, usually of middle to low birth, did actually fight alongside their male crusading counterparts, as did quite a number of children. It was mostly out of the sheer need to survive.

Women and children would also have been used in the building of barricades or ditches, to aid in the defence of campsites or towns and cities. This was a common sight at Acre in 1291, before the city fell. Moslem chroniclers documented women acting not only in a defensive role but also in an attacking role, their sex only being identified after death.

[*] Margaret of Beverley ~~~ who was present at the siege of Jerusalem 1187
" 'During this seige, which lasted fifteen days, I carried out all', she said, 'of the functions of a soldier that I could. I wore a breastplate like a man; I came and went on the ramparts, with a cauldron on my head for a helmet. Though a woman, I seemed a warrior, I threw the weapon; though filled with fear, I learned to conceal my weakness.' "[/list]

(8) Women who were members of Military Orders. Again, these women may not have been active “soldiers”.

[*] Female Knights Hospitaller

[*] Knights of St. John ~~~ these women were called "soeurs hospitalières" or “sisters of mercy”.
In England, Buckland was the site of a house of Hospitaller sisters from Henry II's reign to 1540. In Aragon, there were Hospitaller convents in Sigena, San Salvador de Isot, Grisén, Alguaire, headed each by a commendatrix. In France they are found in Beaulieu (near Cahors), Martel and Fieux. The only other military order to have convents by 1300 was the order of Santiago, which had admitted married members since its foundation in 1175. and soon women were admitted and organized into convents of the order (late 12th, early 13th c.). The convents were headed by a commendatrix (in Spanish: commendadora) or prioress. There were a total of six in the late 13th century: Santa Eufenia de Cozuelos in northern Castile, San Spiritu de Salamanca, Santos-o-Vello in Portugal, Destriana near Astorga, San Pedro de la Piedra near Lérida, San Vincente de Junqueres. The order of Calatrava also had a convent in San Felices de los Barrios. (Source: Francois Velde’s

[*] Teutonic Knights ~~~ the Teutonic order accepted "consorores" who assumed the habit of the order and lived under its rule; they undertook menial and hospitaller functions.[/list]

As is clear, this is just a basic overview of the role women had to play in warfare throughout history.

There are many more examples, from many other nations that I have not forgotten nor ommitted purposely, but their stories will have to wait for another time.

"For my part, I adhere to the maxim of antiquity: The throne is a glorious sepulchre."
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