Top 10 Badass Female Warriors

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Top 10 Badass Female Warriors


Jamie is the founder of Listverse. He spends his time working on the site, doing research for new lists, and dabbling in perfumery. He is fascinated with all things historic, creepy, and bizarre.

This is a list of the greatest female warriors through history. In order to be selected for this list, the woman has had to be someone who fought in battle herself, not just commanding from a distance, and she had to be real – for this reason people like Hua Mulan are not included as there is a lot of doubt about their historical existence.


960 AD


Gudit (also known as Judit) was a non-Christian queen who ruled D?mt around 960 AD. She laid waste to Axum (the then-Sacred capital of Ethiopia – image above) and its countryside. She destroyed monuments and churches and attempted to wipe out all of the members of the ruling dynasty (descendants of the Queen of Sheba). Her activities are recorded in oral tradition and in various historical records. It is believed that she killed the emperor and took over his throne where she reigned for 40 years. Tales of her violence and history are still told by peasants in the North Ethiopian communities. It is traditionally believed that she sacked and destroyed Debre Damo, the treasury and prison for male relatives of the King of Ethiopia.


Trieu Thi Trinh
225 AD


Trieu Thi Trinh was a Vietnamese warrior from the 3rd century who successfully resisted the occupying forces of the Wu Kingdom during their time in Vietnam. She was born in the Trieu Son district of Thanh Hoa province (now in Northern Vietnam). At the time of her birth, the area was controlled by the Eastern Wu Kingdom, one of China’s three Kingdoms. She was orphaned at a young age and was raised by her brother and his wife as a slave until the age of 20. She escaped from her brother’s home and fled to the jungle where she built up an army of at least 1,000 men and women soldiers. Trieu Trinh managed to liberate an area of Vietnam which she then claimed as her own. By the age of 23 she had defeated at least 30 Wu advances. It was said that she rode in to battle on the back of an elephant whilst wearing golden armor and carrying two swords.


1st Century AD


Boudicca was a Queen of the people of Norfolk who lead an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. Her husband had left his kingdom jointly to his daughters and the Roman Emperor when he died, but the Romans did not acknowledge the joint rule – they simply took full control. It was reported that Boudica was flogged and her daughters raped. She was eventually chosen as the leader of her people and their neighbors to lead an assault on the Romans. Her army had great success in their battles – and in fact completely demolished the city of Camulodunum (Colchester). Tacitus said that the Britons had no desire to take prisoners – they simply slaughtered everyone in their path. Dio said that the noble Roman women were beheaded and had their breasts cut off and sewn to their mouths. Ironically, the great anti-imperialist rebel is now identified with the head of the British Empire, and her statue stands guard over the city she razed to the ground.


Trung Sisters
1st Century AD


The Trung Sisters were Vietnamese military leaders who managed to repel Chinese invasions for over three years. They are regarded as national heroines of Vietnam. They were born during the thousand-year Chinese occupation. After fighting off a small Chinese unit from their village, they assembled an army mostly consisting of women. Within months they had taken back many regions from the Chinese and had liberated Nam Viet. They became Queens of the country and resisted all further attacks from the Chinese for two years. Eventually the Chinese formed a large army to crush the sisters and their army. Legend has it that the Chinese army went in to battle totally naked in order to shame the women soldiers in to defeat. Despite a heroic effort on the part of the sisters, the Chinese overcame their army. To protect their honor and to avoid ridicule at the hands of the Chinese, the two queens committed suicide by drowning themselves in the Hát river.


Artemisia I of Caria
5th Century BC


Artemisia I of Caria became the ruler of Ionia as a client of the Persians. She is best remembered for her participation in the Battle of Salamis (image above). She alone counseled the King of Persia (Xerxes) not to meet the Greeks at sea and do battle. Nevertheless he did not heed her advice and she participated in the battle in September 480 BC as the commander of five ships. At one point in the battle the Greeks were close to capturing her trireme when she devised a cunning plan to escape. She had her own ship bear down on another Persian ship causing the Greeks to think that she was fighting on their side. When she sank the ship the Greeks left her alone. Xerxes watching from a nearby hill also assumed that she had defeated an enemy ship and praised her for her bravery. Xerxes was so full of praise for her that he said: “My men have turned into women and my women into men!”. Artemisia tried to convince Xerxes to retreat to Asia Minor against the advice of his other generals. Ultimately the Persians suffered a great defeat.


Fu Hao
1200 BC


Fu Hao was a consort of King Wu Ding of the Shang dynasty. She also (unusually for that time) served as a high priestess and military general. Her tomb (image above) was discovered in Yinxu (the ruins of the Shang Capital, Yin) full intact with her treasures. She is known to modern scholars mainly from inscriptions on Shang dynasty oracle bone artifacts. In the inscriptions she is shown to have lead many military campaigns. The Tu fought again the Shang for many generations until Fu Hao finally defeated them in a single battle. Further campaigns against the neighbouring Yi, Qiang, and Ba were to follow – with the latter being particularly well known as the earliest recorded large scale ambush in Chinese history. With over 13,000 troops, she was the most powerful military leader of her time.


Ahhotep I
16th Century BC


Ahhotep I was such an important figure in the early New Kingdom that she is considered to have been a pivotal figure in the founding of the eighteenth dynasty. She had a long and influential life and ruled as regent after the death of her father. She enabled her two sons (Kamose and Ahmose I) to unite Egypt after the Hyskos occupation. She was instrumental in driving the Hyskos invaders out of Egypt. She lived until the age of ninety and was buried beside Kamose at Thebes.

She is the one who has accomplished the rites and taken care of Egypt… She has looked after her soldiers, she has guarded her, she has brought back her fugitives and collected together her deserters, she has pacified Upper Egypt and expelled her rebels.

Weapons and jewelry found in the tomb of Ahhotep I include an axe depicting Ahmose I striking down a Hyskos soldier, and flies in honor for the queen in her role against the Hyskos. She was considered a warrior Queen and was presented with the Order of Valor. She was honored with a stela, commissioned by Ahmose I in the temple of Amun-Re that praises her military accomplishments.


St Joan of Arc
15th Century AD


Saint Joan of Arc appeared before the Crown Prince of France after receiving visions she claimed were from God telling her to fight to take France back from the English late in the Hundred Years’ War. The uncrowned King Charles VII sent her to the siege at Orléans. She gained great recognition after she was able to lift the siege in only nine days. After several more swift victories, she led Charles VII to his coronation at Rheims. She is the only person ever recorded to have commanded the entire army of a nation at the age of seventeen. Despite sustaining wounds to the neck and head, she continued to lead the country to victory repeatedly. She was tried for heresy in a false court and burnt at the stake. Her trial was declared invalid by the Pope and she was canonized as a saint many years later.


3rd Century AD


Septima Zenobia governed Syria from about 250 to 275 AD. She led her armies on horseback wearing full armor and during Claudius’ reign defeated the Roman legions so decisively that they retreated from much of Asia Minor. Arabia, Armenia and Persia allied themselves with her and she declared herself Queen of Egypt by right of ancestry. Claudius’ successor Aurelian sent his most experienced legions to conquer Zenobia but it took almost 4 years of battles and sieges before her capital city of Palmyra fell and Zenobia along with nine other martial queens of allied provinces were paraded through the streets of Rome in chains. Aurelian exiled Zenobia to Tibur. Her daughters married into influential Roman families and her line continued to be important in Roman politics for almost three centuries. Mavia, was Queen of the Bedouin Saracens from 370 to 380 AD. She led her troops in defeating a Roman army then made a favorable peace and married her daughter to the Roman commander in chief of the eastern Emperor Valens.


Tamar of Georgia
13th Century AD


Tamar (sometimes known as Tamara) was the daughter of the Georgian King Giorgi III. Her father declared her co-ruler and heir apparent to prevent dispute after his death. After the death of her father, Tamar gained a reputation as an outstanding ruler and was dubbed “King of Kings and Queen of Queens” by her people. Her reign saw the bringing to heel of almost every neighboring Muslim state. Tamar played an active military role as the commander of her army. During her reign the kingdom reached the apex of its political, economic and cultural might. In 1201-1203, Georgians took and annexed the Armenian capitals of Ani and Dvin. In 1204, Tamar’s army occupied the city of Kars. In 1204, Tamar helped to found the Empire of Trebizond on the southern shore of the Black Sea (whose capital is now the Turkish city of Trabzon). Queen Tamar died in 1213.

10 Amazing Facts About Ancient Sparta

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10 Amazing Facts About Ancient Sparta


Ancient Sparta was located in a region known as Laconia in the southeastern part of the Peloponnese. Even today, the allure of that prominent Greek city-state still catches our interest and imagination. The simplicity of their way of life, their political stability, their strict education system, and the “production” of the finest Greek warriors were some of the reasons why ancient Sparta was admired by many other Greek cities.

10Brevity And Directness


In addition to their reputation as fine warriors, the Spartans were also known for the brevity and directness of their speech.

Shortly before Philip of Macedon (Alexander’s father) invaded Laconia, he wrote a letter to the Spartans saying, “If I invade Laconia, I will drive you out.” The Spartans wrote a one-word letter back to Philip saying, “If.” (Plutarch, On Talkativeness: 511a). Philip eventually entered Laconia and sent another letter to the Spartans asking whether they would receive him as a friend or a foe. The Spartans replied, “Neither.” (Plutarch, “Sayings of the Spartans”: 233e).

Plutarch wrote that Spartans do not say much, but what they say grabs the listener’s attention and they go straight to business (“Life of Lycurgus”: 19). A lost Greek comedy (we know some fragments of it due to the latter quotations) had a line saying, “Smaller than a letter sent from Sparta.”


9Suppression Of Corruption And Greed


Photo credit: CoinWeek

The pursuit of material wealth and mostly any other activity outside of a military career was discouraged by Spartan law. Iron was the only metal allowed for coinage; gold and silver were forbidden. According to Plutarch (“Life of Lycurgus”: 9), Spartans had their coins made of iron. Therefore, a small value required a great weight and volume of coins.

Transporting a significant amount of value in coins required the use of a team of oxen, and storing it needed a large room. This made bribery and stealing difficult in Sparta. Wealth was not easy to enjoy and almost impossible to hide.

8Suppression Of Laziness


Spartan warriors had to be strong and fit. This was particularly important for young men who were still in the process of becoming fully developed warriors. Aelian (Miscellaneous History: 14.7) recorded that Spartan law required young men to stand naked in public so that their bodies could be inspected.

This was a routine check performed every 10 days, and they were expected to display a healthy and strong physique. Those who had flaccid limbs, excessive body fat, or both were beaten and censured.




Photo credit: Wikia

Xenophon (Constitution of Sparta: 9.4) provides a detailed list of the disastrous consequences that a Spartan soldier could face if he was perceived as a coward.

According to this list, everyone would be ashamed to share a meal with a coward and to wrestle with him in the gymnasium. He would never be picked when choosing teammates for ball games, he had to make way for others in the street, he had to give his seat to younger men, he would not be able to find a woman to marry, and he could be beaten in case he behaved in a manner that would lead others to believe that he was not a coward.

During the famous last stand against the Persians in Thermopylae, a Spartan soldier named Aristodemus was suffering from a disease in the eyes and was too ill to fight. After returning to Sparta, he was known as “the coward Aristodemus.” One year later, Aristodemus fought and died bravely in the Battle of Plataea and regained his honor.

Plutarch added another form of punishment for cowardice. He wrote that cowards had to “go around unkempt, wearing cloaks with patches of dyed cloth, and with one side of their beard shaved.” (“Life of Agesilaus”: 30).



Although Spartan law permitted anyone over age 20 to get married, men had the obligation of living in military housing until age 30. As a result, young married couples were forced to live their marriage as a sort of illegal and secret affair. Many couples would even have children years before they lived under the same roof.

Even during their wedding night, a newly married Spartan couple had to conduct themselves as if they were doing something wrong. A Spartan bride was dressed like a man and left alone on a couch in a dark bedroom. Her husband had to sneak into the room in secret, making sure that nobody noticed his presence.

“This would go on for a long time, and some Spartans even became fathers before seeing their wives in the daylight.” (Plutarch, “Life of Lycurgus”: 15).



Photo credit: Ancient Origins

The Spartans had slaves, known as “helots,” who were occupied as farmers, as house servants, and in most activities that would distract the free Spartan citizens from their military duties. The helots were culturally Greek, reduced to servitude by the Spartans, and with new conquests, their number increased. During the late eighth century and after a long war, the Spartans annexed Messenia (southwest of the Peloponnese) and its inhabitants were reduced to slavery and turned into helots.

Plato (Critias, fragment 37) claimed that Spartans had special locks on their doors because they had little trust of the helots. It is also known that the Spartans had a secret police, the Krypteia, who were responsible for keeping the helots in check. According to Plutarch (“Life of Lycurgus”: 28), the Krypteia would kill any helot found in the countryside during the night, and they wouldkill any helot who looked strong and fit during the day.


4Spartan Kings


Sparta had two kings belonging to different royal dynasties. Although their power was limited, one of them would have the duty of commanding the army in time of war. Spartan kings were descendants of the god Heracles. At least, this is what the official genealogy of the Spartan kings claimed.

The existence of two ruling houses was in direct contradiction with the idea of a common ancestry, which led to an imaginative explanation: During the fifth generation after Heracles, twin sons, Agis and Eurypon, had been born to the king. This was the mythical origin of the ruling families’ names, the Agiads and the Eurypontids.

Herodotus offers a complete genealogical list for the ancestry of Leonidas and Leotychidas, the two Spartan kings around the time of the Persian Wars. (Histories: 7.204.480 for Leonidas and 8.131.2 for Leotychidas).

3The Ephors


Photo credit: Life in Triplicate

The ephors were a branch of Spartan government with no equivalent in the rest of the Greek world. They were elected annually from the pool of male citizens. Their role was to balance and complement the role of the king. They were the supreme civil court and had criminal jurisdiction over the king.

The kings swore to uphold the Spartan constitution, and the ephors swore to uphold the king as long as he kept his oath. When a king went to war, two of the ephors would join him to supervise his actions. During the absence of a king, some of his responsibilities would be delegated to the ephors.

2Spartan Women


Photo credit: Edgar Degas

The role of women in Sparta was different than in the rest of Greece. In general, they had a lot more freedom. They were not secluded like in many other Greek cities, and girls were expected to endure the same physical training as boys.

They also had gymnastics side by side with boys, all naked. They were trained in casting the dart, running, wrestling, and throwing the bar, among other skills. All this was supposed to make women stronger, more flexible, and better equipped to endure the pain of bearing children.

Spartan women had a reputation among other Greeks of being chaste. This admiration coexisted with the fact that if a married woman was childless, the state could order her to see if another man could do a better job in begetting children. Usually, women would accept this initiative. Spartan law was strict about encouraging new children, and there was little or no room for maneuvering in this regard.

1Spartan Army


Photo credit: Realm of History

Spartan citizens were expected to become professional soldiers, a process that began by removing young kids from their homes at age seven. The young Spartans were separated into age groups and lived in military housing.

From age seven, Spartans had to endure severe athletic and military training. Plutarch (“Spartan Customs”: 239d) said that Spartans boys were flogged with whips for an entire day on the altar of Artemis and they had to tolerate it, competing with each other to see who was capable of resisting the highest number of strokes.

Their training became even more intense at age 20. By this time, they joined common mess halls. Their skills in the battlefield allowed them to be capable of outmaneuvering any other Greek army. It was no coincidence that Sparta had no need for fortifications during most of its history.

10 Insane Ways Spartan Boys Were Made Into Warriors

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10 Insane Ways Spartan Boys Were Made Into Warriors


The Spartan army was the toughest in the world. Every Spartan man was enlisted, and they were feared around the world. Sparta did away with city walls, believing its men strong enough to make walls useless. It was the only country that Alexander the Great saw and left unconquered—and he never even had the courage to march his men into their land.

Spartan men were warriors because Spartan boys suffered through some absolutely incredible experiences. A child raised in Sparta wasn’t raised by his mother. He was raised by the state, and he was put through an education unlike any other in history.

10Half Of All Spartan Babies Were Left To Die

Spartan Babies 300

Photo credit: Legendary Pictures via WallpaperCave

In Sparta, weak children weren’t given a chance. If they were born weak, ill, or deformed, they were left to die—and that happened a lot.

When a baby was born, the father would carry the newborn to the town’s elders. The elders would examine the child, looking for weaknesses and deformities. If any were found, the father was ordered to leave the child defenseless and alone in a pit called the Apothetae, where it would starve to death.

Even if a child passed inspection, though, there was no guarantee it would live. When the father returned home, the mother would wash the baby in wine as an early epilepsy test. If the child was epileptic, the wine would make it break into a fit . . . and tell the mother that it wasn’t worth raising.

If a baby could survive all this, it was promised a free plot of land, but the odds were pretty low. It’s estimated that about half of all babies born in Sparta died from either neglect or murder.


9Boys Lived In Military Barracks From Age Seven

Agoge 300

Photo credit: Legendary Pictures via

Mothers didn’t get to take care of their children for long. As soon as a boy turned seven, he was considered ready for education, known as the agoge, and he left his parents for the care of a teacher called a “warden.”

Life in the agoge wasn’t easy. The children would be actively encouraged to haze and provoke each other and even to challenge each other to fights. This wasn’t a school where teacher maintained the peace; if two kids were bickering, the warden would goad them into resolving it with their fists.

The warden also carried a whip at all times, and if a boy misbehaved, he would use it to beat him. The beating would be hard, but that wouldn’t be the end of it. If the child’s father found out he was beaten, then he was obliged to beat his child a second time. Anything less was considered spoiling the child.

8They Had To Steal Food To Eat

During the agoge, boys only received the barest necessities. Shoes were considered a luxury, so the boys trained barefoot. Clothing made one weak against the elements, so the boys wore a single, thin cloak. And food made people fat, so the boys were only given the bare minimum they needed to survive.

That didn’t mean that they couldn’t get more. The trainees were encouraged to steal food if they were hungry. The catch was that they weren’t allowed to get caught. If a boy was spotted stealing food, he would be beaten and deprived of rations, but if he was stealthy enough to get away with it, the wardens figured he had earned a second course.


7Starved Trainees Were Ordered To Fight Over Cheese

The Spartans had weird ways to pass the time. They held an annual festival in which cheese would be placed upon an altar to the god Artemis. Starving trainees would then be set loose, fighting each other in a desperate battle tograb as much cheese as they possibly could.

While they fought each other, older men would also be beating them with whips—sometimes even to death. It was the duty of the boys to keep strong faces throughout and to grin as they were beaten and clawed at while they fought for cheese.

To the audience, this was hilarious. Great rows of people would gather to watch the show and would laugh while they watched boys brutally maim each other. The one who left with the most cheese would also be honored with the title of “Bomonike.”

6Spartan Food Was Terrible

Spartan Black Broth

Photo via PBS

When Spartans did eat, it wasn’t exactly the meal you’d get at a five-star restaurant. A man from Italy who sat down with a Spartan army and joined in one their meals famously said, “Now I know why the Spartans do not fear death.”

He was talking about “black broth,” a dish made by cooking meat in a mixture of blood, salt, and vinegar. Spartans ate together, with everyone sharing the same food under the same tent, and the black broth was considered the highlight of the meal. It was the only meat they served, and everyone only got a small portion.

The only way to get more meat was to hunt. If a hunter took down a deer, he had to share it, but he was allowed to take a little bit of the venison home for a second course. This was the only time a Spartan could eat at home; anything else was strictly forbidden.

5If Trainees Failed Oral Quizzes, They Were Bitten

When supper was over, an under-master would sit down with the trainees and ask them questions. These questions were sort of like modern essay prompts: They’d be asked questions like, “Who is the best man in the city?” and would be expected to support their answers with reasons.

Their answer had to be clever, well thought-out, and prompt. If it wasn’t, they were punished—in an extremely weird way. According to Plutarch, anyone who gave a weak answer was bit on the thumb.

Life wasn’t much better for the under-master. When the question session was over, the under-master was taken out back and reviewed. If his masters felt he’d been too strict or too kind, he was beaten.


4All Other Forms Of Education Were Banned

Spartan Archery Training

If you were a Spartan, you were a soldier. You weren’t an accountant or a merchant or a farmer; you were just a soldier. Your education made sure you stayed that way.

Spartans were taught to fight, to be tough, and—only as a necessity—to read. Everything else was strictly forbidden from the education system. Extracurricular education was considered a dangerous luxury. Spartan students weren’t allowed to spend their spare moments learning how to add and subtract or contemplating life’s philosophical mysteries.

Soldiers had to obey any order without delay, so traditional education was viewed as something that would make them weaker. If a Spartan soldier was considering a career as a lawyer or the complexities of free will, he wasn’t focusing on fighting and listening to his commander—so he was kept from learning anything else.

3Boys Were Publically Whipped For An Annual Festival

The Spartans had a annual festival they called the “Diamastigosis,” and it was brutal. In this one, the boys were taken in front of a crowd and beaten with a whip until they couldn’t stand it anymore.

It sounds like torture, but for the Spartans, it was a great honor. They would eagerly volunteer to be whipped in front of a crowd, wanting to prove to their city that they could withstand the abuse for longer than any other person.

This was such a novelty to other cultures that, when the Romans found out about it, they started vacationing in Sparta just so they could watch it. By AD 300, the Spartans had even set up a theater and sold tickets, buying into a little commercialism to profit from the Roman Empire.

2They Murdered Slaves For Sport

The Spartans kept Palestinian slaves whom they called “Helots,” and they were absolutely terrible to them. Among the many atrocities committed against them was a ritual called “Crypteia,” meant to strike terror in the slaves and to get boys ready for battle.

Spartan boys would be given daggers and small rations of food and then sent out on a mission to ambush and murder as many helpless slaves as they could. They would hide until night and then jump out and attack Helots walking on highways and working in the fields.

The slaves would be brutally murdered, giving the boys a little practice on the field and reminding the Helots where their place in society really was.

1Spartans Only Got Tombstones If They Died In Combat

If a Spartan died of old age, he wasn’t given any honors. He’d be buried in an unmarked grave, essentially being shamed for living out a full life.

They only way to get a tombstone was to die in combat. If a Spartan died in battle, he’d be buried where his body laid, and, as a special honor, he’d begiven a tombstone with his name and the words “in war” written below it.

Women, who didn’t fight in the wars, could still get tombstones, but only under one circumstance: If a mother died in childbirth, she was given a warrior’s honors. To the Spartans, she had died fighting a battle of her own—and creating more boys to become the soldiers of Sparta.