What‘s a Female Knight Called? A Dame

Unlike their male counterparts known as "Knights", female warriors of honor have historically been known as Dames. This prestige title conveys equal respect and noble status as the male honorific "Sir".

But it wasn‘t always so. Women were barred for centuries from holding any knightly distinctions. So how did we get Dame as the title and when did extraordinary females start entering the knightly orders?

As a passionate gamer and content creator, I wanted to uncover this rich history of woman warriors. Because their real-world heroics set the stage for the digital female fighters we know and love today in our favorite RPGs, MOBAs and action titles.

The Exceptional Military Exploits of History‘s Earliest Warrior Queens

Women leading armies into ferocious battles can be traced far back in recorded history. But societal sexism prevented them from ever holding the rank of knight for their magnificent achievements.

Take the famed Joan of Arc. Her brilliant military mind and battle valor fueled 15th century France to triumph against England during the Hundred Year‘s War. Yet she died at the stake without any proper accolades.

Other early warrior queens like pagan Boudicca or Christian Blanche of Castile defended their lands against constant invasions. But their order of battle and tactical prowess went without knightly merit.

My favorite from antiquity is Zenobia – the 3rd century queen of Palmyra (Syria) who carved out an empire by personally leading her armies to defeat the Romans multiple times before finally being captured.

Renowned Early Female Military LeadersCenturyGreatest Victories
Boudicca1stdefeating Roman legions
Zenobia3rdconquering Egypt & Asia Minor
Blanche of Castile13thprotecting France from England
Joan of Arc15thlifting the Siege of Orleans

These beyond-brave women deserved every bit of valor and admiration heaped onto the great knights of lore like Lancelot or Gawain.

Yet for centuries, female warriors had no equivalent system of merit or societal stature. They remained outliers challenging the gender barriers of their day.

All that changed at the start of the 20th century.

The Introduction of Dames – Early 20th Century Onwards

The year 1917 marked a major milestone.

This was when the British monarchy officially introduced the title of Dame for worthy females. An exact match to the "Sir" bestowed upon notable men.

Newly appointed Dame Commander Edith Lyttelton of England has the impressive honor of being the first-ever woman knighted on par with her male peers.

As a prolific writer and activist for women‘s education access, she absolutely deserved the overdue distinction. Her edict threw open the doors of chivalric recognition to generations of remarkable women that followed.

But it wasn‘t just pioneering educators, authors and scientists entering the scene. Female military heroes also started getting their equal seat at the table.

Noor Inayat Khan‘s work organizing French resistance spies forced Nazi capture in 1944, making her the only Indian-origin woman of World War II to earn the esteemed Dame Commander designation.

Pretty awe-inspiring when a ground-breaking Dame keeps such valorous company alongside history‘s OG warriors like:

  • Boudica
  • Zenobia
  • Joan of Arc

It makes you wonder – when will gaming open up more roles for player-controlled female knights and warriors?

Gaming Still Playing Catch-Up Representing Lady Warriors & Knights

Gaming design continues making strides on the character diversity and inclusiveness front. But playing as a powerful sword-slashing heroine leading armies still seems restricted to only a handful of titles.

However, the art form continually inches towards fairer depictions.

Feminist frequency analysis reveals female playable main characters shot up to roughly 18% in 2019 – nearly double the dismal counts of previous decades dominated by tropey damsels in distress.

In terms of character class archetypes, mages and rogues top out as the most prevalent lady adventurer roles. But 2021 marked a 60% surge for women depicted as warriors or knights compared to the year prior according to Polygon‘s report.

So developers clearly recognize the importance of letting gamers step into the battle boots of a badass female fighter.

Especially with military women entering dangerous war zones in real-life at rates never before seen. Konami‘s beloved Metal Gear Solid series conveyed this growing reality by progressively featuring more elite task force heroes like The Boss or Quiet.

However mainstream fantasy titles seem hesitant to shift their heavily male-centric power balances. Kings and male nobles overwhelmingly dominate the political hierarchies across pillar franchises from Elder Scrolls to Dragon Age.

But indie ventures like GreedFall or Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord stand ready to shake up the status quo. Their emphasis on player agency lets you carve out destinies as unstoppable women warriors essence of Boudica and Joan of Arc.

Hopefully AAA developers follow their lead. Because those chainmail bikinis and exclusionary boy‘s clubs have overstayed their welcome!

The Ceremonial Pomp and Circumstance of Becoming a Dame

We‘ve covered a lot regarding the awe-inspiring real women whose valor catalyzed the Dame distinction into existence.

As well as the gradual shift by game creators to let players champion their own lady knights inside expansive open worlds.

But what does the actual dubbing ceremony look like for a distinguished woman deemed worthy of a damehood in her majesty’s court?

Well it remains pretty formal and steeped in medieval legacy…

The honored female kneels gently on an embroidered pillow or stool before Queen Elizabeth in regalia holding a bejeweled sword. Surrounded by honored members of the holy order bestowing the title, her highness then light taps each of the woman‘s shoulders to officially confirm her status as defender the realm on par with mighty Excalibur-wielding men of myth.

It’s quite the elegant and visual display of nobility for remarkable women. And calls to mind visions of daring sword-brandishing heroines from fantasy fictions and RPG titles of every era.

So while games still work towards letting players fully immerse as female knights thwarting evil kings, saving helpless peasants from dragons or even ruling their own queendoms – we inch ever closer.

And that in a nutshell is the heritage and significance behind Dames – the respected designation rightfully bestowed on today‘s most significant military leaders, cutting-edge researchers and cultural icons furthering societal progress.

These women carry forth the valor, glory and chivalric ideals espoused by history’s earliest warrior queens. And their real-world barrier breaking continues opening new avenues for playable heroines in games!

What‘s your take? Are developers doing enough elevating females to equals with their legendary male counterparts? I‘d love to hear thoughts from my fellow gamers and content creators!

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