It’s been a long time coming, but the inclusion of Evie Frye in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is both encouraging and important.
The Assassin’s Creed series is one that prides itself on revisiting history with a sci-fi twist, evaluating the tumultuous times in humanity’s past and highlighting the powerful figures who fought with the intent of doing good.
Unfortunately, the series has followed down the same path as much of modern day history knowledge and curriculum. Most of the heroes featured are men fighting a man’s war with other manly men.
This is why Evie’s presence in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is significant. Her role as an activist and revolutionary fighting oppression in Industrial-Era London is an act that, while important, is surprisingly uncommon throughout history. Whether through protest, disguise, flagrant refusal of traditional roles, or violence, women have long been fighting both in and out of the shadows for causes they firmly believed in.
Evie may be a fictional character, but her inclusion marks an important step toward crediting the powerful instigators and revolutionaries who didn’t allow others to limit them based on their gender.
To celebrate this, let’s take a look at some of the lesser-known female rebels in history whose fierce–and often violent–actions continue to impact our lives today.
Edith Garrud is the little-known secret weapon of the British women’s suffrage movement. An expert in the art of Japanese jiu jitsu, Edith owned a gym in London with her husband and became the lead jiu jitsu instructor for both the women’s and children’s classes. Eventually, Edith became a teacher to many of the suffragettes, teaching them the same jiu jitsu they used against police during their protests and riots.
Edith’s gym also doubled as a sanctuary for the suffragettes, a place where they would hide while avoiding capture by the police.
Perhaps her most notable involvement is teaching the women who would eventually become the bodyguards of Emmeline Pankhurst, the figurehead of the Women’s Social and Political Union and leader of the suffrage movement.
The daughter of an impoverished aristocrat and sympathizer with the moderate Girondists of the French Revolution era, Charlotte is infamous for the assassination of the Jacobin’s Jean Paul Marat–a journalist who was very outspoken and did not shy from radical views. His views were so radical, in fact, that he is often credited with contributing to the Reign of Terror that plagued France during the revolution.
Marat called for the execution of the Girondists, whose moderate and sympathetic views toward the crown were in stark contrast with his own. In an effort to save lives, Charlotte Corday decided Marat had to die, and that she would be the one to kill him.
Offering to share inside information with him about the operations of the Girondists, Charlotte gained entry into Marat’s home. He saw her while he was treating a debilitating skin condition in the bath tub. Once she was alone with him, Charlotte took out a knife she had been hiding and plunged it into his chest. Marat died soon after, and Corday was executed by the guillotine a few days later.
The Trung Sisters
The widow of a Vietnamese lord, Trung Trac was motivated into rebellion after her husband was assassinated by invading Chinese forces. Alongside her sister Trung Nhi, they marched first on Lien Lau, forcing out the Chinese occupants and reclaiming it for Vietnam.
Throughout their rebellion, the Trung sisters and their allies claimed more than 65 northern citadels before facing defeat and suicide. Their failure, however, is small in comparison to the motivation they gave to the other fighters in Vietnam.
They’re also often pictured riding elephants into battle, which is just about as rock n’ roll as an ancient civilization can get.
Elizabeth ‘Lady Bareknuckles’ Stokes
Her aims were not political in nature, but Elizabeth Stokes’ efforts helped pave the way toward legitimizing women’s professional sports.
Known by the nickname ‘Lady Bareknuckles,’ Stokes was an underground no-holds-barred fighter in Georgian London. Often competing for small sums of money in fights frequently lasting more than twenty minutes, Elizabeth quickly became a well-known figure in the boxing world. She fought other tough women in a variety of matches, using both fists and/or weapons.
Eventually, the crown deemed boxing a “gentleman’s sport,” but Stokes’ insistence on fighting and being taken seriously helped make it possible for female athletes to be respected today.
Lozen of the Apaches
The sister of a famed warrior and leader, Lozen learned how to fight and expertly handle horses at a young age. This eventually led her to swear off traditional female roles in favor of fighting alongside her brother to ward off attacks from both the growing United States and the Mexican settlers with whom they shared borders.
An important figure in the American-Indian Wars, Lozen dedicated years of her life fighting to protect the Apache people and prevent cultural genocide. After her brother’s death, she left and began fighting alongside Geronimo and another highly-skilled female warrior named Dahteste.
Lozen’s actions helped preserve the Apache heritage and speak volumes about her bravery and convictions.