María la Bailadora - Soldier at Lepanto
The naval Battle of Lepanto took place on October 7,1571. The Catholic states of the Holy League fought against Ottoman Empire and secured a decisive victory.
Fighting bravely among the Spanish soldiers was a woman: María la Bailadora (”the dancer”). María had wanted to follow her lover and had thus joined the soldiers dressed as man. A report of the battle tells that she was particularly skilled with an arquebus. Encountering an enemy at close quarters, she stabbed and killed him.
As a reward for her bravery, her name was inscribed in the official register of the soldiers, thus allowing her to earn a pay.
María’s story reminds of another Spanish woman, Ana María de Soto (fl.1793-1798) who enlisted in the marine infantry in 1793. She fought in naval battles, served for several years, was promoted to sergeant, but was discharged when her sex was revealed after a medical examination.
Claramunt Soto Alex (ed.), Lepanto. La mar roja de sangre
Fields Nic, Lepanto 1571: Christian and Muslim Fleets Battle for Control of the Mediterranean
Parente Rodriguez Gonzalo, «Una mujer en la Infantería de marina del XVIII»