Hey everyone, welcome to today's episode. This episode is a little bit different than some of the others because instead of focusing all my attention on one topic, I'm gonna do a round Robin episode where I focus on three different questions and instead of going on for 40 minutes or an hour, I'm gonna focus about ten or 15 minutes. These questions come from the Dalton's rangers, the members of the history unplug podcast, and I want to focus more time on listener questions, but when I do an entire episode on one question, it's harder to get through it as fast as I like and my backlog grows too large. So this is a way to cut through it a lot faster. Let me know what you think in the Facebook group. If you like this type of format, and if so, and I could do more of them. The three questions I'll answer have to do with, first of all, were women actually warriors or do they serve in combat positions in the ancient world in the medieval world? Second, what were the arguments for and against dropping of the atomic bomb in World War II? And third, talk about the Philadelphia experiment. This is a wonderful conspiracy theory from the 1950s that has to do with cloaking devices like in Star Trek, teleportation, different dimensions, all sorts of pseudoscience, but it's also a good examination of how conspiracy theories come into existence. So with that in mind, let's get into the first question and that has to do with whether women served in actual combat in the ancient world. And this question comes from listener Lynn Fulton. So this is a difficult question. And very briefly, what I'll say is that yes, women could serve in combat roles, but in much more limited and much different ways than what we would probably think of, especially if your basis is recent movies that purport to be historical, like the 2004 King Arthur movie, not the guy Richie one, but the other one with the British actor, what was his name? He was in children of men, so it escapes me at the moment listeners, but I'll get into why all that means. So very briefly, we do have legends and there's historical argument about women. Warriors in the ancient world, one was the shield maidens of Norsemen. These were female warriors from Scandinavia folklore and mythology. Historians disagree about whether shield means existed or not. That's because graves of female settlers containing weapons have been uncovered, but we don't know whether these were weapons that showed that they were warriors or maybe they were family heirlooms. There are some historical attestations in chronicles or legends of the Viking age where women are taking part of warfare. For example, the Byzantine historian John records at women fought in a battle when Kyiv attacked the Byzantines in Bulgaria in 9 71. When the varangians, these aren't the varangian guard, but these are what the Byzantines refer to as Vikings. These were traders that traded along the Volga river valley, they noted that the varangians suffered a devastating defeat in a siege, and the victors were stunned to discover, aren't women among the fallen warriors. And there's no good reason to think that they lied in this account. So we do have some examples there. And there's also plenty of legends like the amazons that herodotus mentions, these are warriors that lived in Ukraine or the Eurasian steppe. And there's also legends that the celts fielded female warriors. So in ancient sources, we do see women appear in warfare as combatants, but there sometimes are combatants, but more often they're not. They're serving in a much different role if they are involved in warfare. Now here's what I mean by that. Women, if they were involved in war in the ancient medieval worlds, they were typically involved in ways that didn't involve physical combat. For example, they would be leaders like Eleanor of Aquitaine, who brought soldiers into the second crusade. She herself wasn't actually involved in combat, but she brought soldiers along with her. She would have put forward battle plans. Another example would be women who acted as figureheads. This would be Joan of Arc. Joan of Arc said that she never killed a man in battle, she would rush forward with a banner and she inspired the troops and her story is incredible. I mean, no question about it. But she wasn't a combatant. And third, many of these accounts of female warriors could be legendary, like shield maidens. There's argument about the graves of women, like I mentioned earlier, because they have shields and because of the swords it shows they were fighters, but we don't know for sure. If they actually were involved in combat, the place where they were most strongly represented and I'm talking about women actually fighting with weapon in hand was typically during a siege. If they were in a city under siege, you do see women here because they typically have no other choice in the ancient and medieval worlds when a city that was under siege fell typically there would be a three day period where there would be a free for all. Men would come in, they would raid and pillage. Women would be raped, women and children would be captured and sold into slavery, many men would be killed or sold in slavery. So what I'll do is talk about how women appear in warfare in the ancient world. And then I'll go over some of these legends, and then I'll give examples and they do exist where female combatants do appear. Now, here's why women aren't involved in combat. In the sourcing here comes from a military history teacher Kevin yu. Really, it comes down to physics. When it comes to physical differences between men and women and I'm talking about gross averages here, if we talk about extremes on the bell curve, it comes down to strength and muscle mass, reach and height, weight and bone density or strength. And all these criteria men are much stronger. They have about 20 times the testosterone. So when you're talking about using weapons on the battlefield, men far more than women will be much, much stronger, and that is decisive until you get into the modern era when you have weapons that are force equalizers. And I mean that with a modern firearm, it doesn't matter whether a man or woman is pulling the trigger. Overall strength doesn't matter as much. Although strength can still matter on the modern day battlefield, when you're looking at an earlier era with swords with pikes, even with bows and arrows, there are no force equalizer weapons. There are limited exceptions. Some of the smaller compound bows that you would see on the Eurasian steppe don't require as much physical strength as say an English longbow. So that's where you do see some women up here in the ancient world. But for the most part, there are no force equalizer weapons. So that's why women in the ancient world as combatants are very rare. So if you rely on historical dramas, what Hollywood tries to show is that women would appear in combat because they have greater dexterity. So for example, I mentioned that 2004 King Arthur movie, where Keira Knightley is a pictish princess who is fighting the saxons with her bow and arrow and she's just picking off men left and right. This isn't a historical drama, but the recent hobbit movie, the Peter Jackson one, has Evangelion lily's character tutorial who has incredible accuracy with a bow, and she's an elf, so she already has some Supernatural abilities. I'm offended by The Hobbit movie as a Tolkien nerd because it strays so far away from the book. That's what happens when you take a 200 page children's book and bloated it out into a trilogy and try to make it to The Lord of the Rings. Anyway, the point being that in Hollywood that they would show is that what woman might lack in physical strength, they can make up for in incredible dexterity. They are shooting with a bow and arrow if they have a sword. They're using a sword like a rapier and they're getting these chinks and weak points and armor and they're taking out men in that way. Well, here's why that isn't true. So unlike fantasy stories, the medieval longbow is not a good weapon for dexterity. An English longbow would have a draft weight of 80 pounds. It is very difficult to pull that back. This means that you have to lift 80 pounds with one hand to draw the string. And if you think that's easy, just put an 80 pound weight on the ground and pull it up with one arm. Maybe you think that you can do it and it's not that big of a deal. But if you have to shoot for an entire afternoon for a battle that goes on hours and hours, well, it is a bit difficult. And archeologists have found skeletons of longbowmen and they've noticed that the right arm of longbowmen and skeletons is sometimes two to three inches longer than the left arm due to years and years and years of training and muscle build up. So it's similar to trying to do a one arm pull up a mint for afternoon and see how far you get along just by being dexterous. I also should point out there are no purely dexterity based weapons in a world where everyone has armor. This idea that you can hit someone with chinks in the armor, LEGO loss does this in Lord of the Rings with orcs. That's not how medieval armor worked. Okay, if a night is swept off his feet, you could kill him with a dagger. But this doesn't involve being graceful and quickly moving around a battlefield and nailing people with weak points in the armor with a rapier. Battlefields were bloody. They were muddy. They were crowded. And if an piece of armor had an obvious weak point, then a Smith failed in his job completely. And this is a point I've made frequently in this podcast is that on film warfare is almost completely wrongly depicted. They show lots of Malik combat where two sides rush each other and then there's hundreds of individual duels that are happening. Well, what's happening is typically you have two sides that are massed together. This is how the Greek hoplites work, this is how a phalanx worked where you have a wall of men with shields who are practically pushing the other side. In the medieval context, you have a cavalry charge where you have men on horseback in a line of cavalry with their lances ready to attack their enemies or with their spears. Individual Malay combat does happen, but nobody would plan for this because with force and numbers, if you can keep your army organized, that's how you can more effectively defeat an opponent. And better organized armies like Alexander the Great or others can consistently be a much larger force. So being an individual combatant going around with dexterity and poking people in the we point the army in their armor. Nope, doesn't work that way. So the idea that one person who's really good with the sword wouldn't make a difference. And to go to the example of Joan of Arc, I was saying that the reason that she was successful is not because she had any combat skills, but because she was a very inspiring person. She was a concept. She was an idea. She was incredibly courageous. She rushed into battle, but she claimed that she never killed the man in battle and her banner was worth 40 times her sword so that she would run first into battle and draw up some plans and believe that God was on their side and when blessed France to victory is what made her so important to the French army. Not for any combat skills that she had. So women are involved in combat when they have, like I said, weapons that are force equalizers between men and women. And I want to give an example in the 20th century to show you what this does look like where we have women involved in combat in a way that wouldn't happen in the ancient world. And that's the story of ludmilla pavlichenko of World War II. Pavlichenko was a soldier in the Red Army and the Soviet Union in World War II. Pavel chinko was among the first volunteers to enlist for the war cause. And she actually turned down a role as a nurse for a position in the 25th rifle division. Pavel chanco joined the ranks of about 2000 other female snipers who fostering the war. During the war, she quickly established herself as a fierce sniper. In two and a half months of deployment, she notched over a hundred confirmed kills. After a year in May 1942, she'd been promoted twice for a senior sergeant and a lieutenant, and was cited by the southern army council for 257 confirmed kills. So this is what female combatants look like in the modern world. Now I want to mention some of the ways that women were involved in war that didn't involve actual physical combat. First and foremost, noblewoman often led the defense of strategic castles, maybe the husband was with the field army or as widows. They themselves were the holder of the position of the castle. One example is Nikola of Lincoln, who held Lincoln castle against an invading army, led by prince Louis of France, who could be relieved by the loyalist forces under William Marshall. Austin hernan wrote a book called the woman who saved England about this episode. There are also queens who travel with their armies, they rode horses, they wore protective armor. So Eleanor of Aquitaine, rode in with the army during the second crusade. Isabella of France, queen of Elizabeth, had ceremonial armor as well, so you can see examples like this. And women were involved as volunteers as well. I mentioned that they contributed to the defense of cities under siege and women brought water and food to defenders, sometimes under enemy fire, many were killed in this way. They stoked the fires under the pots of boiling oil and tar that were dumped on men trying to storm the castle or trying to climb the walls with siege engines. Sometimes they fired weapons against attackers. During the ten day siege of Jerusalem in 1187 during the crusades, they were practically no fighting men left in the city because the knights had marched out of the city out to their defeat at the battle of hattin, so the burden of defense fell to women, who, with their children, outnumbered fighting men by 50 to one. They couldn't hold it eventually the city surrendered to Saladin in 1187, but that they held on as long as they did is really impressive. Now, just a litany of other examples of women who are combatants in the ancient world. I mentioned shield maidens, there is a substantial number of bulgur women who fought at the battle of pliska in 8 11. There's a 6th century Anglo Saxon grave where a woman was buried with a dagger and a shield, which may mean that she was a warrior, although maybe they were family heirlooms, were not exactly sure. There were plenty of cases of noble women, commanding troops, like Isabella of Castile, who led her army, Matilda of Tuscany, led a rebellion against Henry the fourth of Germany, Olga of Kyiv, led a campaign that destroyed a rival tribe. Now a couple final things I mentioned, I should look into the legend of the amazons. The speculation that the idea of Amazon's, there is a kernel of reality here of what herodotus describes as these all female warriors. It could be based on archeological findings from burials that point to the possibility of scythian or samar Tian women that may have participated in battle. So this has led to scholars to suggest that the Amazonian legend in Greek mythology may have been inspired by real warrior women. According to the historian David Anthony, about 20% of scythian samar Tian warrior graves in what's modern day Ukraine and then the lower Volga contained women dressed for battle. And they're just similar to how men dressed, a phenomenon that probably inspired the Greek tales about the amazons. Russian archeologist Vera kovalevskaya, she points out that when scythian men were away fighting or hunting, nomadic women would have to be able to defend themselves and their animals and their pasture grounds. So during the time when the skip the ends, advance into Asia and achieve near total control in the near east, there was a period of about 30 years when the men would have been away on campaigns frequently for long periods of time. And during this time, the women would only be able to only the women would be there to defend themselves. And this could have been the origin of the idea that amazons were this all female tribe. And they made it once a year with their neighbors. So this might not be too different from the idea of women in the frontier territories in the United States in the west before these western states achieve statehood, where some women would be able to inherit property from their husbands and be ranch owners and have property rights that would far exceed the rights given to women back east. Women had the vote in these territories way before women in the east did, and they were warriors if we can call them that by necessity because men weren't around to do what they needed to do. Other examples of these types of tribal groups that have a tradition of female combatants are the celts or celts. They were known to have women fighting with them. Now, not all Celtic groups did this, but they weren't a unified culture by any means. They were at a very diverse group of people. So they shouldn't be generalized. The name one famous example, the iceni tribe, often have women warriors, and the most famous female warrior was boat to see it. She was the queen of the iceni at where I Kenny, depending on how you want to pronounce the word stemming from the time when Latin was a predominant language in the hard sea was used there. And she was a tough fighter and known right. When her husband dies, she was the only heir to the kingdom so she took power. The Romans who had control over the ice and wouldn't allow her to have sovereignty. They ransacked her kingdom, they tortured her and they raped her daughter. But bought a seat then organized one of the largest revolts in Ancient Rome. She was able to get the support of neighboring tribes, and she gathered a 100,000 men. She was able to win the battle after battle against the Romans, but she couldn't hold it out against them permanently. She eventually lost against the Romans and it's believed she died of illness, shock or committed suicide. So we're not sure. All right, so that's just the overview out there of how women were involved in combat in the ancient world. Typically, if they were involved, they were leaders, they commanded men, they were inspirational figures like Joan of Arc, sometimes the evidence is shaky like shield maidens, but we do have examples of women in specific situations, especially when they make use of weapons that make them force equalizers like short compound bows like what we found on the Eurasian steppe. The so called Amazon women in the modern era weapons make force equalization much more likely, but for the most part, female warriors are mostly exceptional cases because you're just dealing with a raw physics where females, when you look at gross percentages, don't have as much strength as men do, and that's what ancient warfare was based on in combat and that is strength. So that's all for that short question.