Get your fight on

When planning for a dystopian future it’s sensible to look to the past for inspiration (it doesn’t get much bleaker than that, right?). 
Women weren’t always constrained by society from taking part in combat. High born ladies liberated by the death of a spouse or parent sometimes found themselves inheriting an army, or exposed to sword training normally only reserved for male siblings. Others of lower birth cross-dressed and carved careers for themselves living as men. Some were just in the right (if you count it as lucky) place at the right time. 
So I thought to get ourselves motivated for the end-times, savagery, and survival against the odds we ought to check in with some fighting femmes of yesteryear. There are SO MANY examples you can look to, this is just a small selection.

La Maupin – A fiery, flamboyant, cross-dressing bisexual French swordswoman of the 17th C. She killed at least ten men in duels, and was also a star of the Paris opera scene.

Ana de Mendoza de la Cerda – A Spanish aristocrat of the 16th C. Despite losing her eye in a fencing duel she was considered among the most beautiful ladies at court, and was one of the most talented women of her time.

Jeanne D’Arc – Perhaps the most famous of all. A farm girl who led the desperate French to several victories during the hundred years war, she was later burned at the stake by the English as a witch.

Ann Mills – British sailor 18th C. Ann was a daring female dragoon not averse to a spot of head collection.











Bona Lombarda – 15th C Italian peasant turned condottiere. Kidnapped at fifteen by infantry captain Pietro Brunoro, their relationship developed until Lombarda became his lieutenant and constant companion. After many battles, she tirelessly petitioned for his release when he was imprisoned for treason for ten years, after which they eventually married. At the siege of Castello di Pavone, when it had fallen to the Milanese with Brunoro held hostage, it was Lombarda who, armoured from head to toe and armed with sword and shield, led the recapture of the fortress: “She was the reason the fortress was retaken and she was the first to place her foot inside.”

Catalina de Erauso – 17th C Spanish soldier. She left the convent at 15, having never even seen a street, disguised herself as a boy and signed up to become a soldier in Spanish America.  Awarded special dispensation from the pope to continue to dress in men’s clothing after her secret was revealed, Catalina loved a scrap:
I approached him from behind and said, “Ah, Señor Reyes!”
He turned and asked, “What do you want?”
I said, “This is the face you were thinking of cutting up,” and gave him a slash worth ten stitches.
He clutched at the wound with both hands, his friend drew his sword and came at me, and I went at him with my own. We met, I thrust the blade through his left side and down he went.”

Caterina Sforza – A 15th C Italian noblewoman. Skilled with the sword and given to bold gestures in the face of adversity to protect her family. Most notably when her children were held by invading soldiers at swordpoint Caterina lifted her skirts and yelled “I can make more!”
Mary Read and Anne Bonny – these ladies were true ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, getting into all kinds of high jinks. They were hard fighters and fast lovers who managed to evade the gallows even after capture.

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