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The Warrior Queens: The Legends and the Lives of the Women Who Have Led Their Nations in War
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The Warrior Queens: The Legends and the Lives of the Women Who Have Led Their Nations in War (Medieval Women Boxset)

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  2,165 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
In this panoramic work of history, Lady Antonia Fraser looks at women who led armies and empires: Cleopatra, Isabella of Spain, Jinga Mbandi, Margaret Thatcher, Zenobia, and Indira Gandhi, among others.
Paperback, 432 pages
Published April 14th 1990 by Anchor (first published January 1st 1988)
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I finished this book and exhaled loudly while screaming FINALLY! Finally it is over. I am stubborn and when I hit the halfway point, I refused to quit. But, good God, this book is dry. And long. My brain felt like a glazed donut when I read more than 30 pages in a sitting. Maybe I am just not bright enough to appreciate it.

But I'm giving it three stars for a few reasons: 1) I now know about Caterina Sforza taunting soldiers who were about to kill her children by lifting her skirt to show her pre
May 29, 2015 Jessica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I stopped reading this book after 233 pages (about 2/3 finished) because life is too short to read bad books. This is only the second book in the last 8 years I have failed to finish without plans to try again.

The first few chapters are dry analysis of what it means to be a "Warrior Queen", and it doesn't pick up pace until 1/3 of the way into the book. Then it tries to tell the stories of these Warrior Queens with a chapter apiece, but the author insists on comparing everybody to Boadicea (bot
Carol Storm
WARRIOR QUEENS is okay, but Lady Antonia obviously likes the modern queens more than the ancient ones. She spends as much time on parades and pageantry in the 19th century, where "symbolic" warrior queens just bless the troops and appear in very becoming but only sort-of military poses, as she does on actual fighting women in the ancient world, like Boudica of England.

It's also noticeable that with Boudica Lady Antonia plays down the bloody war and butchery and plays up the Roman era that came
Athena Ninlil
An account of all the warrior women who left their mark on history and why some were successful and others weren't. The warrior queens who earned their reputation as fearsome and holy were only because they evoked popular sentiment of unity and religion, and perpetuated the stereotype of the "weak and feeble woman" (Elizabeth) and feminine virtues of chastity, homeliness (Golda Meyer, Louise of Prussia, Queen Tamara of Georgia,etc) and religious fervor (Isabel before she was married and after sh ...more
Susan Abernethy
Jul 30, 2015 Susan Abernethy rated it it was amazing
Link to my review of this book:
Dec 03, 2008 Yasmin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was an okay book but I have to say the author's continous usage of "syndrome" did make one think that there was something wrong with the women! Also a little too much of "warrior" women in the European world and not so much with other countries. I guess in the 80s her research was limited but even so there must have been other women known then like Nurjahan during the Mughual period of India and I can't believe there was only one queen to cite in Africa! And I didn't have that much interest i ...more
Rebecca Grace
Couldn't resist this one, what with all the gender & power issues swirling around Hillary Clinton's bid for President. Also must read anything given a thumbs-up by Margaret Atwood because she is an absolute literary goddess a mon avis... But in the end I felt that Fraser attempted to cover too much ground between the covers of this book. I would have appreciated reading about fewer subject but in greater depth. Also, as a non-Brit, I was not previously familiar with the story of Boadiccea an ...more
Sarah Finch
Mar 13, 2012 Sarah Finch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most intelligent and thoughtful books I have read in a long while. Using Boudica (Boadicea) as her starting point, Antonia Fraser traces a loose chronology of "warrior queens" from Zenobia to Queen Isabella to Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi. The final chapter or two on Margaret Thatcher is particularly insightful. Along the way she discusses how sexuality, maternity, and religion have shaped the conversations surrounding these women for generations, as well as the Appendage Synd ...more
Feb 03, 2009 Tracy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting book but not enough detail for me. I wanted more information on each woman, but at least it gives an overview of several women from history.
Abigail Hartman
I picked up "The Warrior Queens" for two reasons. One, back in January I read another book about female rulers (Helen Castor's She-Wolves) and found it interesting but lacking in some respects, particularly in the writing. Two, I'd read Fraser's Faith and Treason and enjoyed it immensely, which made me willing to read Warrior Queens and see how her thoughts and approach might differ from Castor's.

I did find it both interesting and an easy read; after I'd added it to my Goodreads account I saw a
I barely got to the end of this book - which was surprising as I'm a great fan of Fraser's work ordinarily. However, I found the structure of this book somewhat convoluted and confusing, and it didn't really give the insight I was expecting on key female historical figures.

Fraser has based the book around the history of Iceni Queen Boadicea/Boudica - a fascinating story, however almost half of the book is about her - which is surprising as so little is known of the 1st century AD queen. This mea
May 10, 2010 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. The beginning was terribly slow for me, but once it picked up I couldn't put it down. I think I was thrown off in the beginning because she kept saying that this book was a study of Warrior Queens. The first 3 chapters read like a text book to me. Boring! But once the book started flowing, and each chapter was a different Warrior Queen, I really enjoyed it. It also gave me lots of women to try to find books on and maybe learn even more about these remarkable Warrior Q ...more
I really enjoyed reading this. It examined how the tropes and misogynistic criticisms that were applied to women in power in the past, even the very distant past, are still applied to women in power today. I'd always wanted to know more about Boudica and Fraser used her as a model to compare the other Warrior Queens to, mostly to compare how they were perceived and described, and the situations in which they came to power. She also made sure to note how Boudica herself was perceived, or forgotte ...more
Jun 09, 2009 Luci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good general history of women warrior queens. My only complaint is really Fraser should have clarified her archetypes in the beginning so when she referenced them within the text, it would have been clear.
Feb 27, 2009 Cari rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2009
Simply could not get into this book. I loved Fraser's biography of Marie Antoinette, and the subject matter for Warrior Queens is an instant hook for me. But, as my mother said when she tried to read it, this book reads like a textbook. Such a shame.
Sep 25, 2010 Vicki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very pro female. I enjoyed it very much. It is a nonfiction work describing nearly a dozen warring female leaders globally and throughout history. I checked it out of the ship's library and read it while touring Alaska.
Claire Haeg
Feb 15, 2011 Claire Haeg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Women warriors from Boadicea to Margaret Thatcher. Entertainingly written hiistory of various female rulers in various countries. Boadicea is used to draw feminist themes regarding the difficulty of acting militarily in a feminine way. Well worth the read.

I do like Lady Toni.
Karen Cox
Feb 21, 2014 Karen Cox rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books ever. Fraser is an engaging writer even on dry subjects. In this book, she has some of the most interesting people in history to work with. Read it!
Apr 05, 2011 Lily rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
A look at some brave women in history.
Feb 22, 2017 Anne rated it liked it
She spent 7 chapters on Boudicca (various spellings). It would have been helpful for those chapters if she'd had a map of the pertinent parts of England marked included. Anglophile that I am the names were familiar but I couldn't visualize where they are on a map.
Some of the other chapters would have been helped by a map, too. Particularly on the chapter regarding the woman from India. I don't know where her area is for sure. Northern India maybe?
When it comes to history about people who didn't necessarily write down their stories or legends, it can be very difficult separating myth from fact. But thanks to the diligence of modern historians and accidental discoveries brought about by excavation (or simply someone diving or fishing in the right spot), we can learn a lot about our ancestors. Ms. Fraser is one of those historians, blessed by an avid curiosity, a rigid adherence to facts and the luck attending those various startled civilia ...more
Rather esoteric and scholarly for those who might be more used to a more accessible and popular form of writing about historical figures as has become the prevalent style more recently. To be fair, the title should be more along the lines of "A history of Boudica and the legend of Boadicea (and some subsequent Warrior Queens and how they relate to her)". The title gives the impression of a series of profiles, probably with comparisons drawn, but to have the whole book revolve around one woman's ...more
May 16, 2013 Lani rated it it was ok
I am trying to be a bit better about dropping books that I don't want to finish. I'm a little disappointed in this one since I generally enjoy Antonia Fraser's work.

As other reviews note, this book is very fractured and poorly organized. It is also quite dated and relies on being British? Or at least the first chunk of the book, constantly aluding to a historical heroine I had never heard of, assumes knowledge of Celtic heroines. I won't judge an author for writing to a specific audience, and it
Mar 11, 2010 Danien rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book explores the history, role, and images of several women in history who, while not all were sword-wielding battlefield warrior Amazons, came to positions of great influence and power, some by their great abilities and others by inheritance or association. This includes the popular British Boudica, Queen Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great (Russia), and lesser known ones (at least, outside their own cultural lineage) such as Mathilda of Tuscany, Rani of Jhansi (India), etc.

More interestingl
Oct 22, 2012 Sonya rated it liked it
This was a very dense book which would be good for the scholar and not so much for general audience. Her overall theme is based on an ancient British queen named Boudica, which is unexpected when one reads the title of the book. She digresses a bit in each chapter but does seem to wind the story back to the character she's supposed to be talking about. In general it seems as though there is not a lot of historical fact for many of the characters and therefore, she (the warrior queen) is talked a ...more
K.A. Lentz
Sep 08, 2014 K.A. Lentz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a wonderful reminder that women in history were far from tame--or meek. It's been some years since I read Warrior Queens, however, its message certainly left an impression on me. There are fantastical stories of brave women in antiquity who left their mark on the world; from an African Queen standing tall against the might of Rome to an Indian Noblewoman starting a rebellion against the British Empire, each is a story of unique power and self-determination.

True, a bit dry at times;
May 26, 2014 Kirsten rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was deeply disappointed by this book. The women who are the subjects are fascinating, but Antonia Fraser was so determined to connect them and present a theory of warrior queens that she lost sight of storytelling. The book jumos from one female leader (not all are queens) to the next, providing too little detail to understand the context and circumstances each faced or how each handled their authority. The theory she sacrificed storytelling to is also unsatisfying. I'm unconvinced that all th ...more
Oct 13, 2011 Michaela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Antonia Fraser brings to light lesser known women who've ruled and cleverly ties their story-lines together while trying to tease out the common threads that literally bind them in terms of their ability to rule. Here is an excellent quote from one of the chapters showing how things haven't changed for the better in literally over 600 years: "In 1400 Leonardo Bruno instructed Battista Malatesta that, 'If a woman throws her arms around whilst speaking, or if she increases the volume of her speech ...more
Feb 09, 2017 Kimberly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read this to understand the histories of these women, but the author only focuses on the theories of females in power rather than the actual stories.
Has a serious problem wandering off into unrelated topics in chapters that are meant to be dedicated to certain Warrior Queens, which got reallllllly irritating. If the chapter is about Queen Jinga, I want to read about goddamn Queen Jinga. Giving this two stars instead of one because when she was on a roll, it was gold... she just wasn't often on a roll. I think Fraser does better when she writes straight up biographies, rather than a composite of several different Warrior Queens. Was also not ...more
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Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works, including the biographies Mary, Queen of Scots (a 40th anniversary edition was published in May 2009), Cromwell: Our Chief of Men, King Charles II and The Gunpowder Plot (CWA Non-Fiction Gold Dagger; St Louis Literary Award). She has written five highly praised books which focus on women in history, The Weaker Vessel: Women's ...more
More about Antonia Fraser...

Other Books in the Series

Medieval Women Boxset (6 books)
  • Medieval Women: A Social History of Women in England 450-1500
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Biography
  • Elizabeth I
  • Mary Queen of Scots
  • The Weaker Vessel

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