He who knows most, doubts most.  — Jerónimo de Carranza

Dedicated to researching historical Spanish fencing and sharing the knowledge with the public.

Fencing History and Tales

Introduction | Literary Allusions | Famous Duels and Duellists | Women and Combat

Women & Combat

  • The Order of the Hacha (or Hatchet)
    "This Order was founded in ca. 1149 by Raymond Berengarius, Count of Barcelona, as a female Order of Knighthood, to honour the women who fought for the liberation of Tortosa in Catalonia. The town was attacked by the Moors and the women helped in their defeat. The Dames admitted to the Order received many privileges and took precedence over men in public assemblies."
    Cardinale, Hyginus Eugene. Orders of Knighthood: Awards and the Holy See. Van Duren: Gerrards Cross, England. 1983. (p. 183)

  • Women and Orders of Knighthood
    "...women were admitted to the Military Order of Santiago as early as 1175. The Order of the glorious St. Mary, founded by Loderigo d'Andalò, a nobleman of Bologna, and approved by Alexander IV in 1261 was the first religious Order of Knighthood to grant the rank of militissa to women. This Order was suppressed by Sixtus V in 1558.

    At the initiative of Catharine Baw in 1441, and ten years later of Elizabeth, Mary and Isabella of the House of Hornes, Orders were founded which were open exclusively to women of noble birth, who received the French title of chevalière (lady knight) or the Latin title equitissa."
    Cardinale, Hyginus Eugene. Orders of Knighthood: Awards and the Holy See. Van Duren: Gerrards Cross, England. 1983. (p. 173-174)

  • Dame Nicolaa, or Nicolla, de la Haye (1150-1230) was the sheriff of Lincolnshire from 1216-1226. She defended her home, Lincoln Castle, against a siege by Longchamps in 1191 and against the French in 1216. She was also considered to be a sheriff loyal to King John during his reign. She was the eldest daughter of Richard de la Haye and had inherited his estates.
    Information from Bradford B. Broughton's Dictionary of Medieval Knighthood and Chivalry: Concepts and Terms. Greenwood Press: New York. 1988. (pp. 89, 493)

  • 1552 Duel between Women: In 1552, 2 women - Isabella da Carazzi and Diambra de Pettinella - fought a duel for a man Fabio de Zeresola in the presence of the Spanish viceroy the Marquis of Vasto and many spectators. In 1636, José o Jusepe Ribera (El Españoleto) painted a representation of this fight in his work "Duelo de mujeres" (Duel of women).
    Information translated and paraphrased from the explanation of the painting "Duelo de mujeres" on ArteHistoria.com.

Other Outstanding Women of the Middle Ages and Renaissance

  • Queen Margarita de Navarra (1492-1549) wrote 72 stories in French in "El Heptameron."