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Women Who Fight

Isabella de Carazzi and Diambra de Pettinella (1552)

Fabio de Zeresola may have been the most sought-after bachelor in 16th-century Naples. At a time when many duels were fought between men for a disputed lady’s favor, two young women—Isabella de Carazzi and Diambra de Pettinella—competed for Zeresola’s affection in a public swordfight. Although the outcome is unknown, the sensational event kept gossips’ tongues wagging for decades to come. In 1636, the Spanish artist Jose de Riberta immortalized the story in his famous painting “Duelo de Mujeres” (“Duel of Women”).


Lady Almeria Braddock and Mrs. Elphinstone (1792)

A certain Mrs. Elphinstone expected no more than a cup of tea when she paid a social call to Lady Almeria Braddock’s London home in 1792. But the visit veered off into decidedly unladylike territory when the hostess, evidently enraged by a casual comment Mrs. Elphinstone made about her age, challenged her guest to a duel in Hyde Park. According to reports, Mrs. Elphinstone fired her pistol first, knocking Lady Braddock’s hat to the ground. The women then took up swords, and Lady Braddock got her revenge by wounding her opponent in the arm. The “Petticoat Duel,” as it came to be known, ended without further incident when Mrs. Elphinstone agreed to write a letter of apology.


Elisa Di Francisca (current)

Widely known for extraordinary postures and movements and the ability to swirl in a very amazing way, Di Francisca is an Italian fencer with a long list of achievements: Olympic champion in 2012, World champion in 2010, three-time European champion, 2010–11 World Cup series winner, along with seven-time World Cup victories to her name. With the Italian team, she was Olympic champion in 2012, five-time World champion and seven-time European champion.


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