Active warfare throughout history has mainly been a matter for men, but women have also played a role, often a leading one. While women rulers conducting warfare was common, women who participated in active warfare was rare. The following list of prominent women in war and their exploits from about 1500 AD up to about 1750 AD suggests the wider involvement of numerous unnamed women, some of them thrust into positions of leadership by accident of birth or family connection, others from humble origin by force of personality and circumstance.
Only women active in direct warfare, such as warriors, spies, and women who actively led armies are included in this list.
1558: Scotland, Janet Beaton marches at the head of an armed party consisting of two hundred members of her clan to the Kirk of St. Mary of the Lowes in Yarrow, where she knocked down the doors in an attempt to apprehend Sir Peter Cranstoun.
1569: Brita Olofsdotter, widow after soldier Nils Simonsson, serves in the Finnish troup in the Swedish cavalry in Livonia; she is killed in battle, and king John III of Sweden orders for her salary to be paid to her family.
1572: In defence of the city during a siege of Haarlem by Spanish troops, which lasted from December 1572 to 1573, Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer (1526–1588) supplied the Dutch forces with wood. She owned a wood company at Haarlem. Myth says she led a force of women defending the city and ever since "kenau" has been a Dutch expression for a harsh woman.
1572: Maria van Schooten participates in the defense during the siege of Haarlem by Spanish troops, dies and are granted a military funeral: she is believed to have been one of the women who was led by Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer 
1576: Portuguese explorer Pedro de Magalhães de Gandavo reports that some Tupinamba Indian women of northeastern Brazil "give up all the duties of women and imitate men, and follow men’s pursuits as if they were not women. They wear the hair cut in the same way as the men, and go to war with bows and arrows and pursue game, always in company with men; each has a woman to serve her, to whom she says she is married, and they treat each other and speak with each other as man and wife."
17th century: Antónia Rodrigues serves as man in the Portuguese army and is decorated for bravery in the war against the moors.
17th century: A woman serve in the Dutch dragoons sometime between 1642 and 1710: she is found dead after a private duel, and her unnamed skeleton is donated to the University of Rotterdam (founded in 1642), where it is first documented in 1710 as "Aal de Dragonder"
1672: Margaretha Sandra, as well as several other women, participare in the defence of the Dutch city of Aardenburg against the French.
1676: Colonists request that Pamunkey chief Queen Anne furnish warriors to fight in Bacon's Rebellion. She initially refuses on the grounds that her tribe was neglected by the colonists for twenty years, but relents when the colonists promise better treatment for her tribe.
1679: Lisbetha Olsdotter is put on trial for having served in the Swedish army under the name Mats Ersson.
1683: The pirate Anne Dieu-Le-Veut becomes known in the Caribbean Sea as a great fighter, one of the first of many female pirates famed for their fighting-skills.
1688: A coup takes place in Siam. Women drilled in the use of muskets replace the mercenaries and samurai who had served the old government. They are led by a woman named Ma Ying Taphan.
1688: Maria Jacoba de Turenne serve in the Dutch army dressed as a man 
1690s: Kit Cavanagh disguises herself as a man in order to fight as a dragoon. She eventually fights openly as a woman.
1697: New England colonist Hannah Duston is captured by Abenaki Native Americans during a raid. She kills ten of them while they were asleep and escapes with the other prisoners, taking their scalps with her. She is possibly the first woman in the United States to be honored with a statue.
During the Great Northern War, Maria Faxell, the wife of a vicar, defends her village against a Norwegian attack by handing out old weapons to both men and women during her husband's absence.
An unnamed woman serves in the Swedish army in the Great Northern War; after the war, she is seen wearing men's clothing on the streets of Stockholm until the 1740s, were she was known as "The Rider".
1713-1714: Annika Svahn, as well as several other enslaved Finnish women taken captive by the Russians, are forced to participate in the Russian conquest of Swedish Finland on the battle fields during the Greater Wrath dressed in Russian dragoon uniforms.
1715: Two unnamed women are rumored among the soldiers to serve in the Swedish army, one of them a wife of one of the soldiers, who by this point was to have served for a period of four years 
1716: Norwegian Kari Hiran averts the Swedish attempt to conquer Norway by feeding them false information about the size of the Norwgian army.
1716-1718: Hangbe in the Kingdom of Dahomey becomes the regent after her twin brother Akaba is killed. Oral traditions say that when Akaba died, she put on his armour and acted in his place for the rest of war in the Ouémé River valley.
1719: Brita Olsdotter, an old Swedish woman, meets the Russian army, who marches against Linköping after having burnt Norrköping, and makes them turn around and leave after telling them that reinforcements were arriving to assist Linköping.
^Monthly Chronicle of North-country Lore and Legend. Published for the Proprietors of the New Castle Weekly Chronicle by Walter Scott, Newcastle-On-Tyne, and 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row, London. 1888. p. 245.
^ abcdefBorgström Eva(Swedish) : Makalösa kvinnor: könsöverskridare i myt och verklighet (Marvelous women : genderbenders in myth and reality) Alfabeta/Anamma, Stockholm 2002. ISBN 91-501-0191-9 (inb.). Libris 8707902.
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)
Hacker, Barton C. "Women and Military Institutions in Early Modern Europe: A Reconnaissance," Signs (1981), v6 pp. 643-71.
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