4/2/15

Next To The Gentleman-Warrior Stood ... The Lady-Warrior



Don’t look for a Princess in need of saving.
Search for a Queen willing to fight by your side.
Being Caballero
As I continue with my research on how the Warrior-Scholar archetype that later evolved into the concept of the Gentleman, I have come across a rather interesting bit of knowledge I thought I should share. When we think about the warrior class of ancient times, we have visions of sword wielding men who defined themselves by a strict code of conduct, the proto-gentlemen. Yet within all of the available information that speaks of the Gentlemen-Warriors, individual warrior women kept popping up, as heroes and exemplary warriors of their times. These Ladies became regional heroes who fought with or lead armies into battle, not as companions to men, but as their equal. With the cultural idea that it was the men who went into battle while the women stayed home, were these women the exception to the rule?

The reality is that women like Boudicca, Mulan, Rani of Jhansi, and Joan of Arc weren’t the exception. They were the norm! But why do we have the image of the Gentleman-Warrior and not the Lady-Warrior? As 19th century British archeologists and historians set out to write their version of history books, they applied the Victorian ideals of women belonging to the home and men being out in public into these books. This lead to a revisionist version of our history.

If you have any doubts of the validity of the Lady-Warrior, just consider the following. The Greek deities of hunt and of military strategy were both female (Artemis and Athena respectively). The Roman Legionaries didn't pray to Mars, the god of war. Instead they maintained a cult to Disciplina, goddess of education, strategy, and self-restraint. Almost every culture is filled with warrior goddesses, such as Andraste of the Celts, Menhit of the Egyptians, Menrva of the Etruscans, and many more. So with so many goddesses attached to strategy, discipline, honor, and the battle field, how is it possible for there to be no women warriors?

Because there WERE women warriors, ladies of war just as honorable and as passionate as the men they fought with side by side! Recent archeological investigations have found that among the Viking burial grounds, about half of the warriors found were women. This meant that the legends of the Valkyries and Shield Maidens held facts previously dismissed as myths. (This also challenges the idea of Vikings going on rape rampages as a consequence, but that's another story all together.) Similar evidence was found among the burial grounds of Spartan Women, as weapons were also found next to their bodies. Even the legends of the Amazon have had their mythic standing questioned as evidence has lead archielogists to believed them to be warrior who had women among their ranks, originating from the Steppes outside of Pokrovka. 

Within the Bushi class of Japan, there was the Onna-Bugeisha, or what is popularly called women samurai. Their skill with the Naginata was just as legendary as their male counterpart’s skill with the Katana, and just as skilled with the Yumi, the bow. In Europe, the term Dame was actually the female version of Sir, when refering to female Knights. Yes, there were ladies among the Knights of Old, women who followed the same Code of Chivalry that the men did. These Ladies would serve within the same Orders as the men or serve within Orders made up exclusively of women.

These are just a few of the warrior women I have come across, as the list would be too great to include in a single post. The reality is that assuming that during challenging times, women would shelter in place and just watch the men take charge is absurd and pretty small-minded view of the world. Women make up half of humanity and are equal to men in every way, so why would you think it be any different in case of the Warrior Virtues?

PS. If you have any doubt of how fierce a warrior a woman can be, cross one at your own risk.