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and wife of Henry VI. She was active and intrepid, a general and a
soldier. Her genius for a long time supported her feeble husband, taught
him to conquer, replaced him upon the throne, twice relieved him from
prison, and though oppressed by fortune and by rebels, she did not
yield, till she had decided in person twelve battles.
The warlike spirit among the women, consistent with ages of barbarism,
when every thing is impetuous because nothing is fixed, and when all
excess is the excess of force, continued in Europe upwards of four
hundred years, showing itself from time to time, and always in the
middle of convulsions, or on the eve of great revolutions.
But there were eras and countries, in which that spirit appeared with
particular lustre. Such were the displays it made in the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries in Hungary, and in the Islands of the Archipelago
and the Mediterranean, when they were invaded by the Turks.
Every thing conspired to animate the women of those countries with an
exalted courage; the prevailing spirit of the foregoing ages; the terror
which the name of the Turks inspired; the still more dreadful
apprehensions of an unknown enemy; the difference of _dress_, which has
a stronger _effect_ than is commonly supposed on the imagination of a
people; the difference of religion, which produced a kind of sacred
horror; the striking difference of manners; and above all, the
confinement of the female sex, which presented to the women of Europe
nothing but the frightful ideas of servitude and a master; the groans of
honor, the tears of beauty in the embrace of barbarism, and the double
tyranny of love and pride!
The contemplation of these objects, accordingly, roused in the hearts of
the women a resolute courage to defend themselves; nay, sometimes even a
courage of enthusiasm, which hurled itself against the enemy.--That
courage, too, was augmented, by the promises of a religion, which
offered eternal happiness in exchange for the sufferings of a moment.
It is not therefore surprising, that when three beautiful women of the
isle of Cyprus were led prisoners to Selim, to be secluded in the
seraglio, one of them, preferring death to such a condition, conceived
the project of setting fire to the magazine; and after having
communicated her design to the rest, put it in execution.
The year following, a city of Cyprus being besieged by the Turks, the
women ran in crowds, mingling themselves with the soldiers, and,
fighting gallantly in the breach, were the means of saving their
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