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Clare Bennett finds four badass princesses from history...

These real princesses from world history have more character than all the Disney princesses put together...

Not every princess is dressed by bluebirds before lurching around naively until the right guy turns up. Clare Bennett scoured the history books for some real princesses from history to tell your children about. They used their brains, kicked back and kicked arse. Much more like it…

1. Princess Arachidamia

Everybody knows the Spartan army was the most hardcore army of all time (taken from their mothers at seven years old, it took 23 years of training before a Spartan male was qualified to join the army). It wouldn’t have been wise to mess with Spartan women either. When the Greek king Pyrrhus attacked Lacadaemon in the 3rd Century BC, the Spartan council of elders debated whether to send the Spartan women away for their own safety – until their Princess Arachidamia barged in brandishing a sword, announcing in no uncertain terms that the Spartan women would not be going anywhere, thank you – in fact, they would be rolling up their sleeves to help dig the defensive trenches, GET OUT OF THE WAY.

Get the look: Sword, shield, earth on face, hands and clothes from digging.

2. Princess Zhao of Pingyang

Pingyang was not always a princess. She didn’t even marry the title. She earned it. Let us all return to 7th Century China where Pingyang’s father declared war on the Emperor. Awks. Pingyang and her husband had no choice but to flee the capital, but in a very ballsy move, she told her husband to go on ahead without her. After selling everything she owned to help the starving innocents caught up in the war, Pingyang built her own army of 70,000 men, known as the ‘Army of the Lady’ She negotiated with rebel factions, showing great diplomacy/take-no-prisoner vibes when needed, and was an extremely civilised general. Her no raping or pillaging policy was joined by a handing-out-food policy, and she ended up being instrumental in her father’s victory. Awarded the title Princess, she was also recognised as a razor-sharp military strategist and shrewd political delegate, and is the only woman in history to have been buried with full military honours *salutes*.

Get the look: Long robe, black wig, bread to hand to the locals, medals.

3. Princess Elizabeth

OK, so life is pretty low on LOLZ when your raging psycho of a father calls your mother a witch and then executes her. And yet, Princess Elizabeth didn’t let that stop her becoming one of the most legendary, ball-breaking monarchs Britain has ever seen. Fluent in French, Greek, Latin, Spanish and Welsh by the time she was 11, she was also a whizz at the art of double translation (from Latin to English to Latin again) and became the country’s most accomplished child. She translated the whole of The Consolation of Philosophy by the Roman philosopher Boethius, usually something only Cambridge undergraduates wrestled with at the time, and according to her tutor, she would read more Greek in the space of one morning than ‘some prebendary of this church doth read Latin in a whole week’.

Get the look: Bodice, long red wig, books, quill, copy of The Odyssey in original text.

4. Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi

Children, this is the story of a mid-19th century girl who married her prince charming and then became a freedom fighter. After their first born son died aged only four months, Lakshmibai and her husband adopted a baby boy – but when her husband died, the British government rejected the child’s claim to the throne and Lakshmibai was booted out of her home. What they hadn’t counted on was that Lakshmibai had been tutored by her father in the art of war. She could ride elephants and was extremely handy with a sword or crossbow – which came in useful when she took part in an uprising (some say she charged into battle with her son strapped to her back, the horse’s reigns clamped between her teeth and brandishing a sword in either hand) to reclaim her position and land. She eventually met her death on the battlefield, refusing to surrender. Snow White could learn a thing or two from her…

Get the look: Toy elephant for riding, baby to attach to back, arrows to hurl at the enemy.