Can medieval noble women knights defeat male mobs?


Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
Lower Styria, Slovenia
You guys talk a lot about Lipica (Lipizzaner) horses.

The Lipica stud farm was founded only in 1580 with the first Spanish horses arriving in 1581. I wouldn't call those first horses real Lipicaners, it took another century or two to get the breed to where it is now with bringing in studs from various places.

A Lipicaner is little different from any other horse without the Spanish Riding School. A pretty horse for sure, but no killing mashine on four legs. Even when taken through the Spanish Riding School the horse is not guaranteed to perform splendidly in the battlefield since it is a living animal with its own will and each one has a different temper. It was taught certain tricks though.

These Lipica horses trained in the Spanish Riding School were ment for the Habsburg nobility. Only a small elite would have access to them.

Rethink the likelyhood of such a horse being found in such a scenario. Although since it's fantasy and guessing, the horse might fly as well and shoot lighting from its arse. In that case I wouldn't go near it. Just my 2 cents.


Forum Staff
Aug 2016
Yes, I only brought it up as an example of how a horse might fight - a random kick instead of an aimed kick that disarms an opponent. And only if trained to do so.

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
Now ... the Temple ...

As surprising it can sound, Templars knew female Knights of the Temple. A preceptirx in Catalunya, Ermengarda, commanded the Temple of Rourell.
Her position was no different to that of an abbotess. She had no role in military affairs. The Templars also controlled nunneries but that doesn't mean that the nuns participated in battle. A Templar nunnery was just another asset that generated income for the Order.
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Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
Yes, you're right [a part that today there are women who are knights, I personally know some of them], if we think to late Middle Ages, Jon of Arc has to come to mind.
There is a difference between being given a title and actually being raised and trained as a knight. Joan of Arc was a "knight" only as much as modern people are knights. A modern knighthood grants social status but has no military connotations.
Jul 2018
The evidence of this is that she decided to surrender to Burgundians instead of ordering to her escort to fight with her until the end. A real knight would have taken a well different decision.
Did Joan of Arc take the initiative to surrender? Or fight until the last minute before being captured?

From, it says citation needed:
She agreed to surrender to a pro-Burgundian nobleman named Lionel of Wandomme, a member of Jean de Luxembourg's unit.[citation needed]
Jan 2012
In fact, I am looking for some famous female knights in medieval.

Maximo (or Maximu) Byzantine female leader and champion warrior.

You have to search for the border apelates Roman/ 'Byzantine' heroine called Maximo or Maximu[to some versions of the sources of literature that appears] <the name came from the latin Maximus.

Apelates were border guards of the Roman/byzantine borders. But with the same name appear also some thieves(and many modern sources refer just to this explanation, while this is wrong. Apelatai exist also as imperial guards in Constantinople. ) Τhe word apelauno απελαύνω/expell so means expelatores who also were sent to every inhabited border region and coordinated the evacuation of the civilian population to fortified cities or mountains.

But Byzantine have also established to the borders the so name Acritai , this name means warriors permanently settling down the property and the border.

We have examples of conflicts also between Acritai and Apellatai there was overlapping of activities. (Such overlapping in Byzantine army was nothing new, to the Theme(=PROVINCIAL DISTRICT) of Cibyrrhaeot we have 2 military commanders THE General='strategos' of the theme and the military commander of the IMPERIAL elite corps of Mardaitai at the same Theme.

You have to read the Acritic poem of Digenes Acritas, and the other Acritic and Apelatic songs.
The songs celebrated the exploits of the Akritai, the frontier guards defending the eastern borders of the Byzantine Empire but also the conflicts with Apelatai.
To the Acritic poem of Digenes Acritas, when the hero Digenes Acritas defeats local apelatai , they thought of summoning Maximo who had her own band of Apelatai to help. She ruled a lot of men, but she only got one hundred to cope with Digenis. . Between Maximo (who appears as an Amazon descent to the poem) and Digenis there was a flooded river. Digenis passed it (always threatening to drown as dictated by the epic motif, where the heroes always come close to death by the wet element) and collided with her in a duel where she managed not to kill her but to injure her horse until she to accept her defeat.
Then Maximo reveals the oath he had made, not to be found with a man if he did not win it. Digenis thus undertakes to ... perform the oath of virgin Amazon(distant descent as the poem claims) Maximo, while on the other side of the river was his wife .... (!) Then she removes Maximo and returns to the marital home where he apologizes to his wife. In a variation, regretting his infidelity, he persecuted Maximo and kills her.
In the Russian version(of the poem), Maximo is the candidate bride for the hero. Digenis has learned his future, and knows that if he takes Maximo he will live ten years less than taking the General's daughter. So, here too, he rejects Amazon Maximo standing on the opposite bank.


To the poem you can find all the full combat equipment of Maximo, and the who she fought etc. > '...She was riding a horse
white as snow, its hoofs dyed scarlet; and she wore a plated cuirass,
and over it a tabard embroidered with pearls, and she carried a
gleaming lance blue and gilded, a sword at her waist and a curved sword at her saddle, a shield of silver with a gilt border, and in shield of silver with a gilt border, and in the center the head of a lion in gold studded with precious stones...'

While the Apelatic (expilator) female leader Maximo loosed that battle, though she fought with the best champion hero.


A 'modern' study to English : Digenes Akrites. Edited with an introduction, translation, and commentary. (1956, Clarendon Press)by John Mavrogordato.

Read a part of the poem translated to English by John Mavrogordato

page 197

And with her the four chiefest of the Reivers,
Old Philopappos, Kinnamos, loannakes,
And the well-tried Leander, great in manliness, 3010
Descending on the lash the river's lip,
Two on each side, Maximo in the middle,
Riding upon a charger white as milk,
Having his mane and tail, forelock and ears
Dyed red, his four hoofs also dyed with red,
Saddle and bridle all picked out with gold,
Her breastplate flashing with its golden hems.
Turning to the old man she asked intently,
"Tell me, Philopappos, who is it has the girl?"
He said, "That is the man", pointing at me. 3020
And then she asked, "Where are the soldiers with him?"
"Lady," he said, "he has no need of helpers,
But trusting in his boundless manliness,
Fares ever alone, making a boast of it."
"You thrice accurst old man," she answered him,
"So me and my people you troubled for one man,
To whom I will cross alone, boasting with God's help
I will bring back his head, not needing you?"
So saying in her rage she rushed to cross.
But I called to her, "Cross not, Maximo: 3030
It is the lot of men to come to women,
So I will come to you, as it is right."
Forthwith pricking my horse on with my spurs,
I charged down to the water, missing the ford;
Full was the river and my horse was swimming.
On the other side this water's overflow
Had made a shallow pool and thick herbage,
Wherein securely standing well prepared
Maximo was watching for my attack.
Of those with her some ran towards the ford, 3040

page 199

And others making ambush lay in wait.
I when I knew my horse was treading ground
Stirred him up sharply, and drawing my sword
With all my soul and skill advanced on Maximo.
She, being well prepared, charged on to meet me,
Gave me a grazing spear-thrust on the breastplate;
And I in no wise hurt cut off the spear-head,
Brandished the sword again, sparing herself
Then swiftly sliced right off her charger's head,
And heavily his body fell to earth. 3050
She springing back and in a grip of fear
Crouched down, and said, "Let me not die, young man;
I erred woman-like, Philopappos told me.'
And I respected,her, hearing her words,
Pitied the wondrous beauty that was hers,
And left her there and turned against the rest.
How I had power on all I shame to say,
My friends, lest you should reckon me a boaster
(For he who tells the tale of his own feats
Is reckoned by his listeners a braggart). 3060
These things I show forth to you not as boasting,
No, by the Giver of power and knowledge to men,
For He alone is provider of good things;
Therefore as things happened shall all be told,
That I may have pardon from you who hear me.
Again I slipped into adultery's pit,
Through my lightheartedness and soul's negligence,
Thereof in measure my discourse shall show;
Even as I tell you thus was it in order.
Maximo then having lost her own horse 3070
Was left there in the grass, as told above,
And charging on the others I joined battle.
Before they had me tried, they would come at me,
But when they saw that all those who had met me
Lay broken on the ground, thrown off their horses,

page 201

And by those works they knew me who I was,
In flight alone they thought to find salvation;
Few of them all were able to escape.
And when the battle ended I turned back,
And suddenly I beheld the four Reivers, 3080
Philopappos, Leander, Kinnamos, loannakes,
Emerging from the copse, coming towards me.
Leander and Kinnamos came facing me,
The old man and the rest rode from behind,
Hoping to kill by catching me between them;
But vain and empty suffered they their plan.
For when I saw those in front urging hard
I charged straight at them, not caring for the others.
Leander came on, for he had not tried me,
Whom when I struck, he fell to earth with his horse. 3090
Seeing him Kinnamos turned from the straight;
The others fastening their swords to shoulder
Charged from the side to get me with their spears.
But quickly swinging round my blade against them
Straightway I sliced the spearheads of them both,
And they were turned to flight pricking their horses,
Not even venturing to look behind them.
Seeing them in that plight, I said laughing,
"Turn round, afraid of one and not ashamed?"
But they the harder made their running off. 3100
I did not chase them, sorry for their downfall—
Pity for those who fled was always mine,
To conquer and not more, to love my enemies—
But I turned back again, pacing at ease,
And coming near to Maximo spoke thus:
"Unmeasured in boasting, trusting in your strength,
Go, gather those who lived to run away,
And do your feats with them, where you have power,
As you have use, and having made good trial,

page 203

Learn from what you have suffered, and do not brag; 3110
For God is ranged against all overweeners."
And she then coming forward to our meeting
Her own hands having joined becomingly,
And decorously bowed her head to earth,
"Noblest of all," she said, "now have I known
Your unimagined strength, and clemency
Which none had ever who of old were brave:
For since you threw me off, you could have killed
But spared me, great and wonderful as brave.
The Lord preserve you, most noble soldier, 3120
My master most wondrous, with your beloved,
Many good years in glory and in health.
For many noble soldiers have I seen,
Far-famous warriors and firm in fight,
But not a mightier in feats of strength
Saw I another ever in all my life."
Then she embraced my feet, and then she kissed
My right hand, gently uttering these words:
"Blessed your father, and your mother who bore you,
And the blessed mother's breasts which nourished you; 3130
For such another man I never saw.
I beg you then my master to fulfil
One more request, that by it you may know
More strictly my experience in war:
Bid me to go away and mount my horse,
And in the morning I will come to this place,
That we may singly fight, none present with us,
And you shall see, good friend, my bravery."
"With joy, O Maximo," I said to her,
"Go where you will, and you shall find me here; 3140
Or rather bring your other reivers too,
And try them all, and find the better men."
Then catching one of the straying horses
Of those who fell with her at the time of the fight,


page 205

I brought it to her telling her to mount.
For when her men had seen me throw the Maid
They had poured round about me keenly like eagles;
Some aimed their sword-cutsquickly at arm's length,
And some with all their might were giving spear-thrusts,
While others tried to pierce me with their javelins. 3150
Who was my helper then? My shield and guardian?
None other only God, great judge and righteous:
For He sent forth assistance from on high,
Kept me unharmed against all expectation;
When I was shut up among so many foes,
From all sides smitten I disdained to fly:
I had good weapons that were strongly made,
With God's will in the fight was kept unwounded;
And all their boldness did not come to much,
But quickly was put out, with God helping; 3160
And with the Saints, the martyred Theodores,
George, and Demetrius, I beat them all.
For spear I did not take to them, nor bow,
But drew my sword and came within arm's length.
As many as I caught, I cut them down,
And the earth took them with no soul in them.
Others who would have fled I overtook them,
And quite unable to stand up to me,
Got off their horses, threw away their arms,
Gave themselves up and ran off terrified. 3170
So from them many horses had remained.
Of which, as said, I gave one then to Maximo.
I crossed the river then, and she went home,
Much thanks, it seemed, acknowledging to me.


page 207

I came into my tent, put off my arms,
Drew on a very thin and wondrous singlet,
And put on a red cap of curly fur,
Changed saddle to a chestnut horsewhite-starred,
His nature excellent for deeds of arms.
I took a sword, a shield, and my blue spear, 3180
And crossed the river; it was eveningnow.
Therefore I shrank from going up to the Girl,
But I sent her her own two chambermaids.
For we had several who waited on us,
Who had their dwelling distant from our tent,
Not all together, but the men apart,
And the women likewise had their own tents.
Crossing Euphrates river, as I said,
In that delightful meadow I lay down,
Resting my horse to pass the night away. 319°
Rising towards dawn, and mounting my horse,
I rode up to the plain, and stood waiting.
And as the daylight was just breaking through,
And the sun shining on the mountain tops,
Maximo appeared in the field alone.
She sat upon a black a noble mare,
Wearing a tabard, all of yellow silk
And green her turban was, sprinkled with gold, *
She bore a shield painted with eagle's wings,
An Arab spear, and girdled with a sword. 3200
To meet with her I moved forward at once,
And when we were come near we both embraced,

*<----while translated from the author as turban, the original word is fakeolitzi= fakeolio


page 209

Greeting each other lovingly,.as was fair.
Then we began the fight, urging our horses,
And cantered up and down some little time,
We gave our spear-thrusts, no one was unhorsed.
We parted then and forthwith drew our swords,
Fell on each other giving stubborn blows;
And I forbore, my friend, from hurting her—
In men it is blamed not only to kill 3210
But even to join battle at all with woman;
She was of those then famed for bravery,
Wherefore was I to fight nowise ashamed—
On her right hand I struck above the fingers;
The sword that she was holding fell to earth,
And quaking seized her and great fearfulness.
I cried out,''Maximo, be not afraid,
I pity you as a woman arid filled with beauty;
But that you know me strictly by my deeds
I will show you forth my strength upon your horse." 3220
Straight a descending sword-cut on the croup
I swung, the horse was severed in the middle,
And half of it fell on one side with her,
The other side the rest was borne to earth.
She started back, grievously terrified,
And in a broken voice "Mercy," she screamed,
"Have mercy on me, lord, I have sorely erred;
Rather let us make friends, if you disdain not.
I am a virgin still by none seduced.
You alone have conquered, you shall win me all; 3230
And have me helpmate too against your foes."
"You die not, Maximo," I said to her,
"But it cannot be for me to make you wife.
I have a lawful wife noble and fair,
Whose love I will never bear to set aside.


page 211

Come let us go under the tree's shadow,
And I will teach you all that me concerns."
We came to the trees bordering the river,
And Maximo, when she had washed her hand,
And put a proper ointment on the wound 3240
We ever used to carry in our fighting,
Threw off her tabard, for the heat was great.
Maximo's tunic was like gossamer,
Which as a mirror all her limbs displayed,
And her small paps just peeping from her breast.
My soul was wounded, she was beautiful.
When I dismounted she cried out aloud,
" Hail, master mine," and running up tome,
"I am your slave indeed by war's fortune."
Sweetly she covered my right hand with kisses. 3250
And when the fire of lust in me was kindled
I knew not who I was, I wasall burning.
Then I tried all means to escape from sin,
And I would reason thus myself accusing:
"Demon, why love you all things that are foreign,
With your own well untroubled all set apart?"
While I thus talked, my friends, within myself,
Maximo lighted up my love the more
Shooting upon my hearing sweetest words,
And she was young and fair, lovely and virgin, 3260
Reason was conquered by profane desire;


page 213

Our shame and union being all fulfilled;
Leaving her then and sending her away
I spoke a word that might console perhaps,
"Go, my girl, go in peace, do not forget me."
I mounted on my horse and crossed the river.
She having bathed her maidenhead in water
Tried sorely to constrain me to return.
Then having come back to my own beloved,
I got down from my horse, greedily kissed her
And said, " See you, my soul your own avenger,
And helper the Creator has provided?"
She having in her soul somejealousy
Answered, "For all things I give thanks, my lord;
What stings me is Maximo's daring delay;
What you were doing with her I know not;
But there is surely God knows what is hidden,
And will forgive this sin of yours, my friend;
But see, young man, you do this not again,
Or God shall pay you back, who judges righteousness;
And I have laid up all my hopes in God,
Who will preserve you and will save your soul,
And grant me to enjoy your sweetest beauties
For many years and good, my charming pet."
Yet did I cheat her with persuasive words
Telling Maximo's battle from the start,
* * *
How that I wounded her in the right hand,
* * *
I added that there was much flow of blood
From which nearly chanced Maximo to die,
* * *


page 215

Had I not jumped off quickly and wetted it, 3290
Pitying her as a woman weak by nature:
"I washed her hand well binding up the wound;
Therefore I tarried, O my scented light,
That I should not be blamed for killing a woman."
When I said this the Girl had some relief,
Thinking the truth had been in what I said.
Then having taken the Girl's words to mind,
Myself all boiling over in much rage,
Forthwith I mounted as if for the chase,
And having caught I slew her ruthlessly, 3300
Adulteress, performed the sorry murder;
And so having returned where the Girl was,
When we had spent the whole day in that place,
We both came down the next day to the tent,
For the enjoyment of those meadows there.
After a day of thought and excellent counsel,
On the Euphrates I resolved to dwell,
And build a dwelling bright and marvellous."


ps. perchaps Kirialax or some one else at Historum, knows more or better English translated works of the current subject from Greek Byzantine sources, or can mention to much more English studies about.
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Jan 2010
Atlanta, Georgia USA
Sure. According to Ariosto in Orlando Furioso they could even defeat Muslim knights and lots of other people. Of course, Orlando is fiction, but there were some tough ladies back then, if permitted to wear armor and go out to fight. Unfortunately, most were not.
Same in Tasso's Jerusalem Liberata
Jul 2018
Maximo (or Maximu) Byzantine female leader and champion warrior.
Thank you for your information of female knight.

Is the female warrior Maximo (or Maximu) you mentioned is the "Maximu" in this link ?
As a boy, he goes hunting with his father and kills two bears unarmed, strangling the first to death and breaking the second one's spine. He also tears a hind in half with his bare hands, and slays a lion in the same manner. Like his father, he carries off the daughter of another Byzantine general and then marries her; he kills a dragon; he takes on the so-called apelatai (&#7936;&#960;&#949;&#955;&#940;&#964;&#945;&#953;), a group of bandits, and then defeats their three leaders in single combat. No one, not even the amazingly strong female warrior Maximu, with whom he commits the sin of adultery, can match him. Having defeated all his enemies Digenes builds a luxurious palace by the Euphrates, where he ends his days peacefully.
It's very similar to the reenactment of the Hercules story.

I remember that Hercules defeat Hippolyta (queen of the amazons) and stripped her of the belt.:lol:
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Jan 2010
Atlanta, Georgia USA