Monday, July 27, 2015

Ten of the Most Badass Women in History

Today I have Eleanor Herman stopping by to discuss some of the most badass women in history in honour of her novel Legacy Of Kings. It's my honour to share this awesome post and I cannot wait for everyone to discover Legacy Of Kings. Be sure to follow Eleanor on Twitter while you wait and be in loop for all the excitement that is to come as the countdown gets even closer to it's release

Ten of the Most Badass Women in History

by Eleanor Herman

Revenge was best served hot by these sensuous, scheming woman who stopped at nothing to achieve their ambitions for absolute power or quench their burning thirst for revenge. This list is a spicy stew of warrior queens, greedy concubines and the hellish fury of women scorned.

1. Queen Olympias of Macedon (375-316 BC) : The Greek Cersei Lannister

Alexander the Great’s mother, Olympias, belonged to an orgiastic snake-worshipping cult and sacrificed puppies to Hekate, goddess of necromancy. She reportedly murdered household servants and slave girls who slept with her husband, King Philip of Macedon, and dropped his baby son with another wife on his head, rendering him an idiot for life. But when Philip married a seventh wife, a noble Macedonian woman called Eurydice, Olympias stormed off to her home country of Epirus in a royal snit, taking her son Alexander with her. Marinating in her own venom, she probably concocted the plot to assassinate her husband. After Philip’s murder, she thundered back to Macedon and killed both Eurydice and Eurydice’s baby son, Caranus, to ensure her own son, Alexander, became king.

When Alexander died at the height of his conquests, his younger brother Arrhideus became King Philip III. Olympias killed him and his wife and a hundred of their followers. Cassander, one of the generals angling to control Macedon, captured Olympias and ordered his men to stab her, but they refused to kill the mother of the idolized Alexander. Relatives of her many victims did the job for them, surrounding her and stoning her to death at the age of fifty-nine.

2. Tomyris, Queen of the Massagetae (Sixth Century BC) and Her Special Cup

Unable to conquer a nomadic tribe called the Massegetae in what is now Ukraine, Persian King Cyrus the Great (576-530 BC) resorted to trickery, abandoning his camp with a rich supply of wine. The Massegetaen troops—who usually got wasted on fermented mares’ milk—went crazy with the wine and fell into a collective drunken stupor. Cyrus’s army attacked, killing or capturing everyone, including the son of Queen Tomyris, and offered to send him back if she would just give Persia everything she owned, including herself as one of his wives. 

Tomyris told him to give back her son and get out of her country or she would give him more blood than he could drink. Her son, meanwhile, managed to get out of his bonds and kill himself for shame.

After a ferocious battle in which the queen—riding at the head of her army—totally kicked Persian butt, Tomyris found Cyruss' body and hacked off the head. Then, holding the head by the hair, she told it, "I warned you that I would quench your thirst for blood, and so I shall,” and jammed it deep into a wineskin filled with human blood. She turned his skull into a goblet from which she drank wine, fermented mares’ milk, or whatever else she damn well pleased.

3. Empress Agrippina of Rome (15-59 AD): a Very Strong Swimmer 

Agrippina’s brother, the crazy emperor Caligula, forced her to sleep with him, and when she plotted against him, he exiled her to an island, decreeing she had to earn her keep by diving deep for sponges. He expected her to starve. But Agrippina was a strong swimmer who could hold her breath forever and actually earned a lot of money sponge diving. After her brother’s murder, she returned to Rome, married a super-rich old guy, and inherited his entire estate a few weeks later when he died after eating something disagreeable. She then married her uncle, Emperor Claudius, whom she poisoned with his favorite dish of mushrooms. 

To keep control over the empire after her son, Emperor Nero, came of age, she slept with him. Nero got so sick of his mother that he arranged for her to travel on a specially designed self-collapsing boat, but all that sponge diving had made her such an awesome swimmer she got to shore. Recuperating in a fisherman’s hut, she sent word to her son to thank the gods—she had survived a terrible accident. In response, Nero sent soldiers with long knives. “Stab me in the womb,” she said, pulling up her robe, “which harbored such a monster.”

4. Boadicca (ca. 26-60 AD): Bring Up the Bodies

When Rome invaded Queen Boadicca’s kingdom in what is now England, whipped the queen and raped her daughters, the warrior woman raised an army of 100,000, which she commanded from her chariot. She burned three Roman cities to the ground—including Londinium—and slaughtered some 80,000 people. Boudicca had the heads of Roman noblewomen impaled on spikes, and had their breasts cut off and sewn to their mouths, "to the accompaniment of sacrifices, banquets, and wanton behavior" in sacred places, according an ancient Roman historian. They smashed the Roman legions that tried to stop them.

But the Romans regrouped and forced Boudicca to fight them in a ravine where her far superior numbers—100,000 men against Rome’s 10,000—were useless as they couldn’t spread out. Rome won, and though Boudicca escaped she either committed suicide or died soon after of a broken heart. In London, people digging foundations for new buildings have found skulls of Boadicca’s victims as recently as 2013.

5. Empress Wu Zutian (624-705 AD): The Chinese Cersei Lannister 

At fourteen, Wu Zutian became a royal concubine in the harem of thirty-nine-year-old Emperor Taizong. When he died, his entire harem was forced into a convent with shaved heads, but Wu bounced back and seduced the new emperor, Gaozong, giving him three sons. She cut off the hands and feet of his wife, drowned her in a vat of wine, and then killed her. 

Wu married the emperor, who almost immediately ate something that disagreed with him and suffered a massive stroke that left him a vegetable. Wu became regent, efficiently running the world’s largest and richest empire. Her secret police force killed anyone who didn’t like her, which was a lot of people, reportedly including two sons, a niece, a sister, four grandchildren, two stepsons and sixteen of their male heirs, and 3,000 families. 

When her husband the royal kumquat died, she became regent for her youngest son before deposing him and claiming the throne for herself. She gleefully ordered the most chauvinistic scholars to write biographies of great Chinese women, and those that refused she buried alive. After half a century of badass queening it, she decided she had had enough, gave the one son she hadn’t killed the throne, and died in her bed a year later at the age of eighty-one. Probably smiling.

6. Marozia (890-937): The Pornacracy of Rome

At fifteen, the Roman noblewoman Marozia become the lover of forty-four-year-old Pope John X and gave birth to his son. When the papal throne became vacant in 914, she used a combination of wealth, threats, and her own personal allure to secure the election of her new lover, John, as Pope John X. For fourteen years she ran the show, making laws, deciding foreign policy, and collecting taxes. The bishop of Cremona called her a "shameless whore who exercised power on the Roman citizenry like a man," and called Rome’s government a “pornocracy.”

When her former lover the pope stopped obeying her orders, she had him arrested and smothered in prison. She chose the next two popes, who were too terrified to balk at her commands, and in 931 she appointed her twenty-one-year-old son with Pope Sergius as the new pontiff, John XI, who did everything Mama said. At her wedding to a third powerful warlord, her son from her first marriage arrested his mother before she even got to eat some wedding cake, while her gallant groom leaped out of a window and escaped. After five years in prison, Marozia died at the age of 47, whether from poison, illness, smothering, or bursting from sheer spite, we do not know.

7. Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) : Crusading Amazon 

In 1148, the pious, dim-witted King Louis VII of France went on Crusade, and his wife Eleanor insisted on coming along so she could dress in battle garb as an ancient Amazon—complete with a silver-plated rocket bra—and gallop across the Hungarian Plains. In the Holy land, she had an affair with her uncle, Raymond of Antioch, and told her husband she was staying with Uncle Raymond and never going back to smelly, muddy France with a sissy husband ruled by filthy priests. Louis would gladly have left her there, but his ministers said it would be really bad PR so he had her dragged by force from her uncle’s palace and tied her kicking and screaming to a horse. 

Back home she finally got her marriage to Louis annulled. At the age of thirty, she married the studly, eighteen-year-old Henry Plantagenet, duke of Normandy, the future Henry II of England, and proceeded to give him eight children.

Theirs was a tempestuous marriage. Full of spit and vinegar, Eleanor reportedly killed Fair Rosamund, Henry’s favorite mistress, and she certainly sided with her sons when they rebelled against their father. Henry captured her as she galloped off dressed like a man, and locked her up in a tower for fifteen years. When her son Richard the Lionheart became king, he not only let her out of the tower but named her regent when he went off on Crusade. At the unheard-of age of eighty, Eleanor was still bouncing around Europe on diplomatic business. She died at age eighty-two.

8. Shajar al Durr, Sultana of Egypt (ca. 1220-1257): The Egyptian Cersei Lannister

Shajar was a beautiful slave girl bought at the market by Sultan Al Salih Sayub of Egypt, who not only freed her but married her. When French Crusaders attacked Egypt and the gravely ill Sultan died in his tent, Shajar concealed his death, had food brought to him and empty plates taken away, forged his signature on royal decrees, and even led the troops into battle herself, though some people may have wondered about that odd smell coming from the king’s tent. Disheartened, the French returned home. 

When her stepson, a drunken serial rapist, arrived in Cairo to become the new sultan, Shajar had him murdered and claimed the throne for herself.  But the caliph in Baghdad, who ran Egypt, made her general Aybak the sultan, saying women were unfit to rule. Shajar quickly convinced the general to divorce his wife and marry her so they could rule jointly.

The womanizing Aybak unwisely decided to marry again. Naturally, Shajar had him murdered in his bath. The dead sultan’s men arrested Shajar and put her in a tower. But the slave women of Aybak’s discarded first wife dragged her out, beat her to death with their wooden shoes, and threw her nude body off the battlements of Cairo. 

9. Queen Isabella of England (1295-1358), Whose Husband Gave Away Her Silver Cups 

When the French princess Isabella realized her husband, the handsome King Edward II of England, was giving away all her silver cups, jewels, and castles to his boyfriend, Piers Gaveston, she teamed up with angry barons, dragged Piers out of his castle, and chopped off his head. The king soon found himself another lover, Hugh Despenser the Younger, once again foolishly giving his boyfriend everybody’s castles and silver cups, including the queen’s. 

Isabella sailed to France, took a warlord lover, and returned to England with an army. They killed the new boyfriend and imprisoned the king, who died mysteriously soon after. Rumor had it that Isabella and her lover had a red hot poker placed inside a sawed-off cow horn and shoved in a place where the sun don’t shine so the royal body had no marks on it and looked like a natural death.

The two of them ran England until her son, Edward III, became worried that his mother’s lover might do something strange to him with a cow horn, too. At seventeen, he and his friends seized power and had Mortimer executed. His mother retired in great state and wore jewel-encrusted silk gowns until right before she died, when she changed into a nun’s habit to fool God. We don’t know if it worked.

10.  Nzinga Mbande, Warrior Queen of the Mbunda People of Central Africa(1583-1663), Who Never Used the Same Chair Twice 

In 1622, the Portuguese governor asked for a peace conference from the Mbundu people of Central Africa after they resisted his attempts at conquest. The wimpy King Mbande sent his accomplished sister, Nzinga, as his representative. The governor had the only chair in the room and offered Nzinga a mat to sit on, like a servant. But she wasn’t about to accept a position of inferiority. Nzinga snapped her fingers and a maidservant got on all fours. Nzinga sat down on her back. At the end of the meeting, Nzinga reportedly slit the servant’s throat, politely explaining to the governor, “I never use the same chair twice.” He caved in to her demands.

Fed up with her nervous wreck of a brother, it is possible Nzinga poisoned him for being an ineffectual twit, or maybe he killed himself for the same reason. She became regent for his young son, whom she reportedly executed for mouthing off. 

As undisputed queen, at first Nzinga played nice with the Portuguese, and converted to Catholicism to placate them. But when they insisted on taking over her entire country, she launched a thirty-year war against them, allying herself with the Dutch, and kicking their butt in a major battle in 1647 in which the sixty-four-year-old queen personally led the troops along with female warriors. She eventually made peace with the Portuguese and devoted herself to rebuilding her country, which today is known as Angola. She never married, though reportedly enjoyed a harem of hot men into her seventies. The brilliant warrior queen died in bed at the age of eighty.


  1. Might consider Queen Mary I, known as Bloody Mary

  2. I love this thanks Eleanor


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