• Katya Lebeque

Bad-ass warrior princesses that'd totally mess Xena up

Updated: Aug 2, 2018

Bad-ass warrior princesses IRL: Take 2.

Sorry Xena. You're a bit too Caucasian for this list. And un-awesome. Soz.

I think it’s time for another bad-ass women post, Ashlings! Last week, we looked a female bad-asses that weren’t necessarily kung fu-ing Xena chicks but bad-asses in political ways too and also rose from being victims to vengeance Valkyries. See that post here if ya haven’t yet.

This week though, I’m feeling like some Xena in my life – so let’s look at two more bad-ass warrior princesses who were awesome in combat:

Mongols just wanna have fun

The Mongol empire of the legendary Genghis Khan was unique in the ancient world in that it sported many female warriors. What it didn’t have (that many of, despite Genghis’, um, urges) were princesses. And fighting princesses? There’s only one name that stands out above them all.

Khutulun was born of the proudest bloodline of the Mongols – she was Genghis Khan’s great-great-granddaughter – and was said to be “very beautiful, but also so strong and brave that in all her father’s realm there was no man who could outdo her in feats of strength.”

Now that’s quite a claim, but she was super-skilled in battle too. She was not only a devastating cavalrywoman but one of the greatest wrestlers the Mongols had ever seen. Born around 1260 to the ruler of a swathe of what is now western Mongolia and China, she helped her father repel — repeatedly — the invading hordes commanded by the mighty Khublai Khan, who also happened to be her great uncle. She met the famous explorer Marco Polo, and he said that her favorite trick was to seize an enemy soldier and ride off with him “as deftly as a hawk pounces on a bird.”

So, naturally, the Mongol lords wanted to marry off into an advantageous, wealth-making alliance. But Khutulun was having none of it. A persuasive, educated speaker, she declared that she wouldn’t marry any man who couldn't beat her in a wrestling match; those who lost would have to give her their prized horses. It was rumoured that by the time she eventually married super old (in her twenties, but hey, this back when 12 or 13 was considered normal) the woman had 10,000 horses. Wow.

So, after all that, did she eventually get bested by some man in the ring? Did she marry whomever her parents chose for after all that. Hell no. Khutulun eventually chose her husband for herself from among her father’s men and married him without submitting him to the evidently impossible challenge to out-wrestle her.

Rani of terror

The second spot goes to the only woman I know of so badass that she rode into battle with a baby strapped to her back – it can only be: Rani Lakshmibai.

She’s less of a princess and more of a queen (a ‘rani’ is a form of queen) but the warrior part was her alright – she was home-schooled in everything men were with a particular focus on, not embroidery, but horseback riding, target shooting, self-defence and archery.

Lakshmibai (named after the goddess Lakshmi) came into her bad-assery on the coattails of tragedy. After her new born baby son and heir died her husband, that maharaja, declared an adoptive son his heir before himself dying shortly afterward. The British, however, refused to recognise his legitimacy and moved to annex Jhansi with the ‘man of the house’ now dead.

One of many - like, many many - statues in India honouring Rani Lakshmibai

These men clearly didn’t know Rani – a woman reported to have trained with a man-sized sword while on horseback with said horse jumping over firepits. She even had her own litany of all-female bodyguards made up of women at her Jhansi court that she had trained in combat herself. That that, Okuye!

So, when the British arrive to take Jhansi, the place was armoured like a fortress. After bringing the might of the British empire down on the small state, it was still so well defended that an all-out, bloody battle lasted two whole weeks before the English gained the upper hand. And when they did? The Rani, dressed as a men, rode out into combat herself, with her adoptive son strapped to her back, and took down several men with her sword before being killed in combat. This was again an army with automatic guns. So great were her people’s respect for her that they built a funeral pyre for her on the spot as soon as she died, giving her on while the battle was still going on.

Phew, I’m fired up just reading over this! I want to, I dunno, at least learn to ride a horse properly or something… Why don’t we have any Disney movies about these ladies? And whose your favourite? Let me know and have a bad-ass weekend!

© 2018 by Katya Lebeque. All rights reserved.

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