Martial Nuns

closeup photo of black hilt and brown sword
Photo by Susanne Jutzeler on Pexels.com

The Knights Templar are quite well known, but their counterparts, the numerous crusading battle nuns known as the Martial Nuns, are not, having been effectively “whited-out” of history—probably by jealous scribe monks! But there were armed nuns who accompanied fighting monks in the Crusades in the 1400s. But even nuns who stayed home were often armed—they had to defend their convents by themselves in the aggressively territorial Dark Ages. For example, when the anti-Christian Espartero invaded Spain in his famous siege, the nuns of Seville fought back and won. One nun who took up the pen and the sword wrote of her crusade to Jerusalem at the time of Saladin’s attack on the holy city, “I wore a helmet or at any rate walked on the ramparts wearing on my head a metal dish which did as well as a helmet. Women though I was I had the appearance of a warrior. I slung stones at the enemy. I concealed my fears. It was hot and there was never a moment’s rest. Once a catapulted stone fell near me and I was injured by the fragments.”

This excerpt is from The Book of Awesome Women by Becca Anderson, which is available now through Amazon and Mango Media.