Women in post-classical warfare

A variety of roles were played by women in post-classical warfare. James Illston says "the field of medieval gender studies is a growing one, and nowhere is this expansion more evident than the recent increase in studies which address the roles of medieval women in times of war....this change in research has been invaluable". He provides a 20-page bibliography of dozens of recent scholarly books and articles, most of them connected to the crusades.[1] See also Women in the Crusades.


Lady Xian
Gülnar Hatun
Adelaide-Blanche of Anjou
Empress Xiao Yanyan
Matilda of Tuscany
Florine of Burgundy
Moremi Ajasoro
Tomoe Gozen
Hōjō Masako
Hangaku Gozen
Hulagu Khan with Doquz Khatun
Rudrama Devi
Joan I of Navarre
Joanna of Flanders
Isabella of France
Jadwiga of Poland
Philippa of England commands the defenders of Copenhagen (1428)
Joan of Arc
Margaret of Anjou
Jeanne Hachette
Caterina Sforza

5th century

  • 4th–6th century: Possible time period that the legendary woman warrior Hua Mulan may have lived.[2]
  • 5th century: Princess Sela acts as a pirate. The Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus described Sela as a "skilled warrior and experienced in roving."[3][4]
  • 450 – A Moche woman was buried with two ceremonial war clubs and twenty-eight spear throwers. The South American grave is discovered in 2006, and is the first known grave of a Moche woman to contain weapons.[5]
  • 451: Saint Genevieve is credited with averting Attila from Paris by rallying the people in prayer.[6]

6th century

7th century

8th century

9th century

10th century

11th century

12th century

13th century

14th century

15th century

See also


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Further reading


  • De Pauw, Linda Grant. Battle Cries and Lullabies: Women in War from Prehistory to the Present (University of Oklahoma Press, 1998), popular history by a leading scholar
  • Fraser, Antonia. The Warrior Queens (Vintage Books, 1990)


  • Bauer, Susan Wise (2010). The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade (illustrated ed.). W. W. Norton. ISBN 978-0393078176.
  • Blythe, James M. "Women in the Military: Scholastic Arguments and Medieval Images of Female Warriors," History of Political Thought (2001), v.22 pp. 242–69.
  • Edgington, Susan B. and Sarah Lambert, eds. Gendering the Crusades (2002), 13 scholarly articles
  • Hacker, Barton C. "Women and Military Institutions in Early Modern Europe: A Reconnaissance," Signs (1981), v6 pp. 643–71.
  • Hay, David. "Canon Laws Regarding Female Military Commanders up to the Time of Gratian: Some Texts and their Historical Contexts", in A Great Effusion of Blood'? Interpreting Medieval Violence, eds. Mark D. Meyerson, et al. (University of Toronto Press, 2004), pp. 287–313.
  • Hay, David. The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa, 1046-1115 (Manchester University Press, 2008).
  • Hingley, Richard, and Unwin, Christina. Boudica: Iron Age Warrior Queen (2006).
  • Illston, James Michael. 'An Entirely Masculine Activity'? Women and War in the High and Late Middle Ages Reconsidered (MA thesis, University of Canterbury, 2009) full text online, with detailed review of the literature
  • Lourie, E. "Black women warriors in the Muslim army besieging Valencia and the Cid's victory: A problem of interpretation," Traditio, 55 (2000), 181–209
  • McLaughlin, Megan. "The Woman Warrior: Gender, Warfare and Society in Medieval Europe," Women's Studies 17 (1990), pp. 193–209.
  • Maier, C.T. "The roles of women in the crusade movement: a survey" Journal of medieval history (2004). 30#1 pp 61–82
  • Nicholson, Helen. "Women on the Third Crusade," Journal of Medieval History 23 (1997), pp. 335–49.
  • Solterer, Helen. "Figures of Female Militancy in Medieval France," Signs 16 (1991), pp. 522–49.
  • Tuotuo. Liaoshi [History of Liao]. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1974 (or Tuotuo, Liaoshi (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1974))
  • Verbruggen, J.F. "Women in Medieval Armies," Journal of Medieval Military History 4 (2006), pp. 119–36.