Back in history, women were considered as inferior to men but there were women who broke that rule. Such women in history were badass because of their power, strength and influence. These tough women aren’t famous as the history has forgotten or there are fewer references towards their popularity. Some of these women are famous only in their country or region. We wanted to make these little-known women famous and popular. Their stories are inspiring and send shocks through the spine. The last one will shock you.
Here is the list of 10 badass women in history who aren’t famous:
10. Mai Bhago, Female Warrior from India
Mai Bhago or Mata Bhag Kaur was a fierce Sikh woman who is a legend to have led 40 Sikh soldiers against the mighty Mughals in 1705. The exceptionally skilled warrior woman is considered as a saint in Sikhism. Apart from the Sikh religion, she isn’t famous but was a real badass. She is the first Sikh woman to take up arms to fight against the oppressors. Due to the Mughal oppression at the siege of Anandpur Sahib, 40 Sikh villagers left Guru Gobind Singh. Mai Bhago brought these villagers back to fight against the Mughals. Under her command, the men managed to force the Mughals back. Unfortunately, none of the men survived the struggle. After seeing the valor and bravery of Mai Bhago, Guru Gobind Singh decided to keep her as his bodyguard.
Today, her hut in Jinvara is a place of worship and knowledge known as Gurdwara Tap Asthan Mai Bhago.
9. Marie Marvingt, Multi-skilled Athlete from France
Marie Marvingt was an incredible overachiever during the WWI. History doesn’t remember her. During a time when females were considered as inferior, Marie Marvingt did a great list of achievements that are more than what some men could achieve. She was born in France in 1875 and later moved to Metz (part of Germany that time). Her father encouraged Marie Marvingt to participate in sports. At the age of 5, she could swim around 4,000 m in a single day. Apart from swimming, she enjoyed many other sports turning her into a great athlete. She won several prizes in the fields of swimming, ballooning, cycling, mountain climbing and many more. She became the first women to climb the French and Swiss Alps. Marie became the first French women to swim the lengths of Seine through Paris in a red costume.
During World War I, she became the first women to fly missions. She would disguise herself as a man and go on combat missions against her enemies. At a time when nursing was important, she was already a qualified surgical nurse. She was the first in the world to become trained and certified in the field of Flight Nursing. Even at the age of 86, she cycled from Nancy to Paris (350+ Km). She was a real badass in history and isn’t remembered worldwide except in her homeland. This amazing woman died at the age of 88.
8. Amanirenas, Warrior Queen From Kingdom of Kush
Amanirenas was a warrior queen from the Meroitic Kingdom of Kush who reigned from 40 BCE to 10 BCE. The Kingdom of Kush was an ancient kingdom around the rivers – Blue Nile, White Nile and Atbarah River. It is now part of the present day Sudan and South Sudan. In the Meroitic language Amanirenas was called by the title kandake (queen or queen mother). During those times, she may have been the most famous kandake for her role in leading the Kushite armies to victory against the mighty Romans.
She fought so fearlessly against the Romans that they never went past Egypt. The first time she won against them by expanding Kush borders and later lost. But, this didn’t stop Amanirenas. She used dangerous and terrifying war tactics to win and terrify the Romans again. Finally, a peace treaty was signed between the kingdoms. The Romans had to consider the Kush to be a difficult opponent to persuade or invade to win. But, today the history doesn’t remember the badass warrior queen anymore. She was described as brave, powerful and blind in one eye.
7. Ahilyabai Holkar, Warrior Queen from India
Queen Ahilyabai Holkar was the warrior Holkar Queen of the Maratha Malwa Kingdom in India. In 1754, her husband died in the battle of Kumbher when Ahilyabai was just 21. Twelve years later her father-in-law died after which Ahilyabai was crowned as the queen of Malwa in 1767. She was highly protective and powerful against her enemies. The queen protected from invaders just one year from being crowned as queen and led her armies personally into battle. The queen was armed with swords and other weapons during the battle.
She was such a badass that the powerful Peshwa was warned by her for associating with the British. She cleared Indore of bandits and dacoits. Ahilyabai Holkar went on to punish his own son. All her acts were tough and fitting. Her 30 years of rule saw a flourishing Indore with lots of development in the fields of architecture, infrastructure and industry. Her kingdom became a main point for literacy, music, art and industrial developments.
Noor Inayak Khan was born to a noble Indian family in Moscow serving for the British Special Operations Executive. She was a badass spy for the British who went deep inside the Nazi Germany by posing as a French girl Jeanne-Marie Regnier. She is considered as a heroine who received the prestigious George Cross award (highest civilian decoration in the UK) posthumously. Noor Inayat Khan was the last surviving female wireless operator after most of the allied operators were caught. She was also the first female wireless operator. She continued to work intact in-spite of many SOE members being arrested.
Noor Inayat Khan’s family had settled near Paris when WWII broke out. When Germany captured France, the family had to flee to London. After which, Noor Inayat Khan volunteered herself for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) to help the allied power. In 1942, she became part of the secret SOE which changed her life forever. Due to her shy, gentle and innocent nature nobody could believe her to be a spy. She was sent to Nazi Germany as a secret agent. She did a badass job there. After being caught, she tried multiple times to escape. Inayat Khan was termed “highly dangerous” and was handcuffed all the time. She fought really hard against the Nazis before dying.
5. Agustina Raimunda María Zaragoza y Domenech de Aragón, Spanish Joan of Arc
Many are aware of the famous and brave Joan of Arc but many do not know the Spanish Joan of Arc – Agustina of Aragón. Agustina of Aragón was a Spanish war heroine who defended Spain during the Peninsular War. She volunteered herself for the Peninsular War first as a civilian and then became professional officer in the Spanish Army. She became the central point for several artworks, poetry, mythology and folklore.
Zaragoza was one of the last cities in the northern Spain to escape from the forces of Napoleon. Then the First Siege of Zaragoza began in 1808 which led to refugees fleeing from the city. This city hasn’t seen war for nearly 450 years. The French army stormed into the city and Agustina saw the falling defenders. The Spanish forces weren’t able to withstand the strong French forces and they fled from their posts. This was an opportunity for Agustina who was nearby. She ran forward, loaded the canon and fired at the advancing large forces at point-blank range showcasing her badass courage. The lone woman at the party inspired the fleeing Spanish forces who rejoined her to assist her. After the struggle, French gave up the siege of Zaragoza. Though, the city surrendered to French, Agustina became an inspiration for those fighting the French.
4. Hurrem Sultan, Haseki Sultan of the Turkish Ottoman Empire
Hurrem Sultan was also known by the name Roxelana was a powerful and influential woman in the Ottoman Empire. She entered the Ottoman Empire as a slave at the age of 15. The Ukrainian slave went on to become the wife of Ottoman Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent and later made her husband to retire of his harem. Due to her intelligence and mesmerizing beauty, she received the attention of Sultan. She became an influential figure in the Ottoman history and set up the Sultanate of Women which was a period of political power for women. Due to her badass interference in the politics of the state, she was considered as a controversial figure in the Ottoman history. She served the state from around 1543 to 1558 until her death. During her tenure, she learnt several things in politics, mastered the Ottoman language, mathematics, alchemy, history, geography, diplomacy and literature.
3. Yaa Asantewaa, Queen of Ashanti Empire from Ghana
Yaa Asantewaa, a little-known yet badass 19th century warrior queen of Ashanti Empire who led the Ashanti war against the British colonialism. She was so powerful that the war itself was named after her. Ashanti Empire was a sophisticated kingdom of the present day Ghana. She is from a farming background who later went on to become the queen mother of the kingdom. Yaa Asantewaa was appointed as the queen mother by her brother – Nana Akwasi Afrane Opese the ruler of Edwesu. During the reign of her brother, the kingdom saw a series of four wars between the people of Ashanti and the British. After the death of her brother, she was in full control of the kingdom.
The British demanded the surrender of the Asante Confederacy including their Golden stool (symbol of the Asante people – throne of the confederacy). This led to an uproar in the empire and Yaa Asantewaa revolted the British by leading an army of 5,000. This was the first time a women was given the role as a war-leader in the history of Asante. The last war against the British by the Asante lasted for the entire 19th century. On Jan 1st 1902, the British were finally able to take control of Asante. Later, Yaa Asantewaa died in exile in Seychelles.
2. Khutulun, the Mongolian Wrestler Princess
Khutulun was the pride of Mongol Horde and the famous daughter of Kaidu. She was the great-great grand-daughter of the powerful Genghis Khan. Khutulun was a strong wrestler princess whose abilities and strength impressed her father so much that she asked her to accompany him in all his military campaigns. At a time when the Mongol empire was under an imminent attack of a civil war, Khutulun was born. Kaidu and Kaidu’s uncle Kublai Khan were fighting against each other which lasted for 30 years. During this entire period, Kaidu depended on his daughter Khutulun and not on any of his 14 sons. One could easily imagine the strength of Khutulun, growing with 14 brothers who had more strength then many men around that time. She was a skilled horse rider, bow shooter and athlete. Above all she had unmatched wrestling abilities.
Her father wanted to get her married. She wanted to marry someone who had the same or more wrestling abilities than her. Nobody could defeat the wrestler princess of the Mongol empire. Khutulun managed to win over 10,000 horses in the wrestling matches instead of a husband. Finally, she managed to settle with someone but history doesn’t have records of whether her husband could really defeat her. She was a real gritty 13th century woman.
1. Emma “Grandma” Gatewood, Extreme Hiker from USA
Emma “Grandma” Gatewood wasn’t a warrior in war, but a real-life fighter. She is an inspiration to women that they can achieve anything in life. Emma Gatewood had a rough marriage life with an abusive husband. She wasn’t happy with her husband right from the marriage and wanted a divorce. Emma was married at the age of 19 and at the age of 58, nearly after 4 decades she finally got her divorce from P.C. Gatewood. She was the mother of 11 children. In 1955, she had read about the Appalachian Trail and wanted to try it. Grandma Gatewood told her grown children that she is going for a walk. Instead of a quick walk, she went for a hike through the Appalachian Trail of 2,168-mile (3,489 km) starting from Mount Oglethorpe in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. She was all alone with a pair of Keds sneakers and a homemade denim knapsack which contained a raincoat, blanket and a shower curtain.
Emma Gatewood became the first woman to hike the Appalachian Trail at the age of 67. The extreme hiker and ultra-light hiking pioneer completed the hike in one season. She repeated the trail again in 1960 at the age of 72 and for the third time in 1963 at the age of 75. She was the oldest female hiker in the world at that time. Emma Gatewood had also hiked over 2,000 miles of the Oregon Trail. People along the trail helped her for the food, shelter and support. The badass grandma’s legacy will continue forever even after her death at the age of 85 in 1973.