Women in warfare (1500–1699)

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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 were rare. The following list of prominent women in war and their exploits from about 1500 AD up to about 1700 AD.

Only women active in direct warfare, such as warriors, spies, and women who actively led armies are included in this list.

For women in warfare in what is now the United States during this time period, see Timeline of women in war in the United States, Pre-1945.

Timeline of women in warfare from 1500–1699[edit]





  • Roughly mid to late 1600s: Pashtun poet Nazo Tokhi defends a fortress.[64]
  • 1652: Anne Marie Louise d'Orléans, Duchess of Montpensier, fires the cannons against the army of Turenne during the Fronde.[65]
  • 1652–1653: Anna Jans serves in the Dutch Navy as a man during the war against England.[66]
  • 1652–1653: Johanna/Jannetje Pieters serves in the Dutch Navy as a man, Jan Pietersse, during the war against England.[67]
  • 1652–1653: Adriana La Noy serves as sailor dressed as a man in the Dutch Navy.[68]
  • 1653: Aagt de Tamboer serves in the Dutch navy dressed as a man.[30]
  • 1653: Anna Alders serves in the Dutch navy dressed as a man.[30]
  • 1653: The Princess of Moldavia, Doamna Ecaterina Cercheza, defends the city of Suceava toward the Ottoman siege.[69]
  • 1659: Anne Holck leads the defense of the Danish island of Langeland after the death of her spouse against the Swedes during the Dano-Swedish War (1658–1660).[70]
  • 1659–1665: Willemtge Gerrits serves in the Dutch Marine as a man.[71]
  • 1663: Annetje Barents serves in the Dutch navy dressed as a man under the name Klaas Barents.[30]
  • 1665: Jacoba Jacobs serves in the Dutch Marine as Jacob Jacobs.[72]
  • 1666: Hendrick Albertsz in the Dutch navy is discovered to have been a female dressed as a male.[30]
  • 1667: Engeltje Dirx serves in the Dutch army dressed as a man.[30]
  • 1667: Jacoba Jacobs serves in the Dutch navy dressed as a man.[30]
  • 1670: Alyona, a Russian female ataman rebel, commanded a detachment of about 600 men and participated in the capture of Temnikov.[citation needed]
  • 1672: Annetje Pieters serves in the Dutch navy dressed as a man; the same year, another unnamed female is discovered to have done the same.[30]
  • 1672: Margaretha Sandra, as well as several other women, participate in the defence of the Dutch city of Aardenburg against the French.[32]
  • 1673: Elisabeth Someruell is reputed to have served as Tobias Morello in the Spanish army.[30]
  • 1673: Isabella Clara Gelvinck serves in the Dutch army dressed as a male.[30]
  • 1673: An unnamed female serves in the Dutch army dressed as a male.[30]
  • 1674: An unnamed female serves in the Dutch army dressed as a male.[30]
  • 1674: Francijntje van Lint serves in the Dutch army dressed as a male.[30]
  • 1675: An unnamed female serves in the Dutch army dressed as a male.[30]
  • 1675: An unnamed female serves in the Dutch navy dressed as a male.[30]
  • 1676: Kong Sizhen succeeds her spouse as Chinese Imperial military commander of Guanxi during the rebellion of Wu Sangui.[73]
  • 1676–1691: Geneviève Prémoy serves in the French army dressed as a male.[74]
  • 1677–1689: Reign of Keladi Chennamma. During her reign of 12 years, she repelled the advances of the Mughal Army led by the infamous Aurangzeb from her military base in the kingdom of Keladi located in Sagara, Karnataka India.[75][76]
  • 1677: An unnamed female serves in the Dutch navy dressed as a male.[30]
  • 1679: Lisbetha Olsdotter is put on trial for having served in the Swedish army under the name Mats Ersson.[52]
  • 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.[citation needed]
  • 1684: Catharina Rosenbrock serves in the Dutch army as well as the navy dressed as a male.[30]
  • 1685–1688: Ilona Zrínyi defends the Palanok Castle in Munkács against the Habsburg forces.[citation needed]
  • 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 serves in the Dutch army dressed as a man[77]
  • 1690s: Kit Cavanagh disguises herself as a man in order to fight as a dragoon. She eventually fights openly as a woman.[citation needed]
  • 1690: Anne Chamberlyne, a female tar who disguised herself as man, fights the French at Beachy Head.[78]
  • 1691: Anna Isabella Gonzaga, Duchess of Mantua, defends Mantua against the Spanish as regent during the absence of her spouse.[79]
  • 1691–1696: Marie Magdelaine Mouron serves in the French army dressed as a male.[56]
  • 1694: An unnamed female serves in the Dutch navy dressed as a male.[30]
  • 1696: Joonas Dirckse in the Dutch navy is discovered to be a female dressed as a male.[30]
  • 1696: Mongolian Queen Anu dies saving her husband at the Battle of Zuunmod.[citation needed]
  • Late 17th century: A Finnish female serves in the French, English and Danish army dressed as a male.[30]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

  • 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
  • Dugaw, Dianne. Warrior Women and Popular Balladry: 1650-1850 (Cambridge University Press, 1989)
  • 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
  • Little, Ann. Abraham in Arms: War and Gender in Colonial New England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007)
  • Lynn, John. "Women, Armies, and Warfare in Early Modern Europe" (Cambridge University Press, 2008)
  • McLaughlin, Megan. "The Woman Warrior: Gender, Warfare and Society in Medieval Europe." Women’s Studies (1990) 17: 193-209.
  • Martino-Trutor, Gina Michelle. "Her Extraordinary Sufferings and Services”: Women and War in New England and New France, 1630-1763" PhD Dissertation, U of Minnesota, 2012. online
  • Rediker, Marcus. "Liberty Beneath the Jolly Roger: The Lives of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, Pirates" in In Iron Men, Wooden Women: Gender and Seafaring in the Atlantic World, 1700-1920 ed by Margaret Creighton and Lisa Norling, pp 1-33 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996)
  • Stolterer, Helen. "Figures of Female Militancy in Medieval France," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 16 (1991): 522-549
  • Taufer, Alison. "The Only Good Amazon is a Converted Amazon: The Woman Warrior and Christianity in the Amadís Cycle" in Playing With Gender: A Renaissance Pursuit ed. by Jean R. Brink et al. pp 35–51. (University of Illinois Press, 1991)

External links[edit]