María Mayor Fernández de Cámara y Pita (Sigrás, 1565–1643), known as María Pita, was a Galician heroine in the defence of Coruña, northern Spain, against an English attack upon the Spanish mainland in 1589.
Defence of Coruña
On the 4th of May 1589, English forces, already in control of the lower city, breached the defences of the old city. Maria Pita was assisting her husband, an army captain manning the defences, when he was killed by a crossbow bolt that struck him in the head. An English soldier with a banner, who was making his way to the highest part of the wall, was killed by Pita. She appeared on the heights of the wall herself, shouting: Quen teña honra, que me siga ("Whoever has honour, follow me!") whereupon the English incursion was driven back by the defenders. The English later abandoned the siege and withdrew to their ships. Other women also participated directly in the defence of Coruña; a surviving record tells of one Inés de Ben receiving treatment for two shots received in the siege. Her heroic deeds were honoured and rewarded by Philip II, who granted her the pension of a military officer, which she received following the death of her husband who was killed during the battle.
María Pita was married four times and had four children.
- The ship María Pita of the Balmis Expedition was named after her in 1803.
- In August 2008, SASEMAR (Sociedad de Salvamento y Seguridad Marítima, Spanish acronym for Sea Rescue and Safety Society) baptized the BS-14 Rescue Ship as María Pita.