Robin Cross’ and Rosalind Miles’ Warrior Women: 3000 Years of Courage and Heroism
By Stella Constance
Robin Cross’ and Rosalind Miles’ Warrior Women: 3000 Years of Courage and Heroism, looks at women from different cultures around the world who have significantly contributed to world history, yet in some cases, have been left out due to political influences that can become ingrained into a culture, even for thousands of years. In those cases, it is the historical documentations found in other cultures that have brought light to what others had tried to erase.
Cross and Miles’ investigations into women’s involvement in changing world history is an overview of epic proportions. Their study includes Ancient Egypt’s Pharaoh Hatshepsut to pre-Christian Europe’s Celtic women warriors such as Queen Boudicca (who was a serious thorn to the Roman Empire), to Queen Elizabeth I who helped create the stronghold and foundation of the British Empire. As such, Queen Elizabeth I created many business partnerships for the Crown, including with privateers such as Francis Drake and John Hawkins, who waged oceanic guerrilla warfare campaigns (aka, for the victims they were seen as “pirates”), while enriching her kingdom’s coffers through agreed upon cuts from the profits of stolen Spanish property taken at sea. Her business and military savvy was what eventually took down the dreaded Spanish Armada that threatened her country.
The authors also explored the details of some other turning points in history: such as the mysteriously tall black knight who furiously fought and rallied the pre-Islamic wavering forces in Mohammed’s early struggles, which was later reluctantly revealed to be the Arab princess, Khawlah. Then travelling to other parts of the world, such as to South China Sea, where Cheng I Sao ruled it, with her independently owned and operated, pirate confederation which consisted of about 1,500 ships of all sizes. She is still considered by many naval historians to have been the most successful pirate in history. While in North America, slavery had no hold on this game changer: Harriet Tubman, a union spy during the American Civil War and supporter of the struggle for women’s suffrage, who escorted many slaves to freedom from the American Deep South to Northern US and Canada. She was known for brandishing a revolver, as she told the faint-hearted who wanted to go back: “you go on or die”. In her own words, she “never lost a passenger” – because the locations and routes used, were never disclosed by anyone.
History continued to be made in North America with Jeanne Holm, who became the first two-star general in the US military. She was followed by many others, including, Grace Hopper, also a member of the US military, later known as “First Lady of Software”. She coined the term “bug”, after pulling a moth out from the shorted circuits of a Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator, while assigned as a lieutenant to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project. Later, she worked on a project with Sperry Corporation that led to the development of COBOL.
A common theme that repeats and connects these many international stories of women’s enormous contributions to the growth of their cultures and/or nations is the respected partnerships they had with the men, as they led them. These various female leaders, some of which became matriarchs, warriors, developers, and inventors, helped elevate their cultural groups to a much higher socio-economic positioning within their regions, and in some cases, world. If there is a moral statement to Cross’ and Miles’ recovery and sharing of history’s missing pieces, it would have to be: when gender partnerships have more value than conflict and power positioning, the sustainability and advancement of a civilization will gain further traction and increased momentum in its stability and prosperity. Warrior Women is an excellent historical reference book, written in an engaging way that takes readers on an exciting journey of discovery of other game changers: women working alongside with the men, who had chosen to work and build history together.