In the previous chapter, we have discovered four out of 8 Powerful Women in Ancient History. They are the Trung Sisters (from Vietnam), Grace O’Malley (Notorious pirate in Ireland in the 16th century), Boudicca (Celtic Queen waging war against Roman Empire), and Ching Shih (Chinese Pirate Lord). The list is based on the Forbes 2018 World Most Powerful People list. In this part 2, we are to discuss briefly 4 remaining female figures.
Penthesilea Queen of Amazon met her demise in battle
Penthesilea was the Amazonian Queen according to a legend and she was listed among the most powerful women in the Ancient History. Back then, the Amazonian women wanted to dedicated their whole life to become a warrior. And so did Panthesilea. Allegedly, they cut off their breast in order to wield the weapons and use the bow more easily. Penthesilea was not brave in battle with excellent wielding weapon skills but she was also beautiful.
Penthesilea’s reign was during the Trojan War yet she tried to keep her tribe away from war by not intervening. However, Achilles killed the Trojan Prince, Hector who was depicted along Penthesilea as the personification of ideal chivalry. And upon her grief for unintentionally killing her beloved sister, Penthesilea waged war against Achilles and hoped to die a warrior death.
She and her army penetrated through the lines of Greek enemies like lightning. With the burning desire to prove herself as a great warrior and to revenge for Hector’s death, she wanted to kill Achilles. But Achilles was no less powerful than Penthesilea. And Achilles was the one who put an end to the life of Penthesilea.
Jeanne the Lioness of Brittany
In the midst of Hundred Years’ War between England and France was a French woman, Jeanne de Clisson, who took her fleets and crew to hunt down King’s ship to revenge for her husband’s death. For her prowess and ruthlessness, people called her the Lioness of Brittany. Legend had it that every time she attacked King’s men, she would spare two lives and let them run back to inform their King that the Lioness of Brittany had roared once more time.
During her life of being a pirate, she unintentionally allied with English to fight against the French. She continued to work as a pirate until the death of King Phillip VI, her sworn enemy.
For thirty years, she fought as a warrior and a great leader. When her quest for revenge finally came to an end, she gave up on the ocean. It didn’t mean that the Lioness of Brittany was defeated in battle and it wasn’t because the French authorities finally caught her. She found love in a noble man Sir Walter Brentley. Around 1350s, she married for the second time and settled down with her new husband.
Fu Hao the Queen and the General of the Emperor
Fu Hao was the name of a Chinese woman living during the Shang dynasty. She was one of 60 wives of Wu Ding Emperor. With her intelligence and talent, she quickly got her voice in the royal household, becoming one of three important wives of the Emperor though the second position. Legend had it that not only was Fu Hao a great mother but also an excellent warrior who once led more than 13,000 soldiers.
On the inscriptions dating back to her time, it told that Wu Ding Emperor used to instruct her how to conduct rituals and offer sacrifices. This was uncommon in their time and only when the husband trusted his wife so much, he entrusted this type of important rituals to her.
Tomyris Queen of the Massaegetae
Tomyris was among the Powerful Women in Ancient History and the Queen of the Massaegetae to the east of the Caspian Sea. Her reign was around the 6th century BC. But her name became well-known because of the merciless war against the Persian King, Cyrus the Great.
In the beginning, Cyrus the Great gained the upper hand as they destroyed her army and Tomyris’s beloved son. Though Cyrus the Great didn’t directly executed Tomyris’s son, he made the son to commit suicide because of shame.
Some historians believed that the death of her son drove Tomyris insane. She was broken on hearing the news but the queen didn’t allow herself to give up on seeking revenge for her son. She challenged Cyrus the Great. This time, Cyrus thought that the battle was easy and victory was inevitable. Yet, the ferocity of the Tomyris’s army scared off the army of Cyrus.
Cyrus the Great lost in the hand of Tomyris Queen.
Tomyris ordered her warriors to find the corpse of Cyrus and brought it back to her kingdom.
… She took a skin, and, filling it full of human blood, she dipped the head of Cyrus in the gore, saying, as she thus insulted the corpse, “I live and have conquered you in fight, and yet by you am I ruined, for you took my son with guile; but thus I make good my threat, and give you your fill of blood.”