Fiercely Awesome Women: Triệu Thị Trinh

Inspired by Rejected Princesses, I’ve decided to draw a few strips about lesser known women who owned it in their time. (In case you guys have never heard of Rejected Princesses, it is amazing. Do check it out.) For the first post in this new series, I present to you . . . Triệu Thị Trinh.

Sometime around the year 220 AD, when the Chinese army occupied Vietnam, they had the bad luck of encountering Triệu Thị Trinh, aka Lady Triệu. She was said to be 9-ft tall, with breasts 3-ft long (I have no idea why the breasts were mentioned, but the texts I found seem to think that’s important, so there you go, that’s how long her breasts supposedly were). Anyway, the Chinese were trying to “civilize” the native people, and she was having none of it.



And run she did. But only to the countryside, where she set up a base and trained thousands of rebels into an army. When her brother tried to dissuade her, she said: “I’d like to ride storms, kill sharks in the open sea, drive out the aggressors, reconquer the country, undo the ties of serfdom, and never bend my back to be the concubine of whatever man.”


I’m not sure what her beef with sharks was. Nevertheless, her other goals were clear. She wanted to reclaim her country from the Chinese army. And what better way to do that than atop a frikkin’ elephant? As the cherry on top the parfait of awesome that was Lady Trieu, she carried a sword in each hand (a dual-wielder!) into battle.


Needless to say, Lady Trieu wiped the floor with them. The Chinese soldiers said it was easier to fight a tiger than Lady Trieu. No shit. Between a tiger and a woman wielding two swords, riding atop a war elephant, I’d take my chances with the tiger.

The number of battles which Lady Trieu won is uncertain. Some accounts put it at more than 30 victories over the Chinese army. Whatever the exact number was, the small rebel army she trained fought long and hard until they were finally overwhelmed by the enemy in 248. Lady Trieu committed suicide after the defeat.

There are vast differences between the Chinese accounts of the events vs. the Vietnamese accounts. The Chinese hardly mentioned Lady Trieu. I like to think it’s because the general in charge of occupying Vietnam at the time was shitting himself at the thought of telling the Emperor that some local woman was literally stomping all over his army, and so chose to leave Lady Trieu out of his reports. But in her beloved Vietnam, Lady Trieu was (and still is!) hailed as a national hero, with streets named after her and a public holiday in her honor. Because nothing is more fiercely awesome than a dual-wielding woman trampling the opposing forces under her war elephant.

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