Aguline Tatoulian, during the Armenian Genocide, she shaved off her hair and dressed herself up in men’s fatigues in order to protect herself and defend her city of 35,000, which was being raped and pillaged by the Turks. She was shot in her left rib and lived with that bullet for 67 years. She was 1 of 9 women who survived the massacres Hadjin town, Adana Province in 1918. A couple of months after she survived, she wrote and staged a play to raise relief funds for survivors. Before she died in 1985, she requested she not be buried with a Turkish bullet -it sits in a museum in Armenia today.
Shakeh, come from the house of the revolutionary leader Kurko, led a women’s battalion in 1891, decimating Kurdish armed forces that threatened the Armenian settlements. In 1894, She brought military aid around Antioch and was known to smuggle ammunition and artillery, alongside amassing large stores of food to support the revolutionary groups and nearby villages.
June of 1894 saw vicious battles, during which time Shakeh and her women of Shenig adopted the motto of “Freedom or death” as they fought bravely, even while reduced to using rocks and daggers. When the malnourished and fatigued men fell, it was the women who took their places, rolling boulders down the mountains and creating such chaos that the enemy’s numbers dwindled considerably. However, the men required ammunition and resources and the women were left to hold their positions. Unfortunately the situation was dire and while the women fought off the Kurdish and Turkish hordes for over a day, they had a choice to make. Shakeh is known to have stood on top of the mountain and aimed her words to her sisters in arms- “Women of Sassoon! It falls on you to make the choice- Is it better to fall slave to the Kurds, be defiled by the hands of the enemy, forever lost to your own people, or follow my example?” As she said these words, wearing the smile of a proud martyr and holding her son to her breast, Shakeh threw herself into the unending chasm over the cliff. The owmen all followed her example, preferring to die an honourable death than live their lives in misery, slave to Muslim invading forces.
Throughout Armenian history, Sassoon’s women have been at the forefront because of their headstrong, patriotic and unyielding courage. Their love for country and self-determination is fabled, alongside their staunch revolutionary nature. It is nigh impossible to make a slave out of the women of Sassoon, so strong is their spirit to fight against oppression. She will never yield to the enemy, never cry in sorrow, but will grab her rifle and struggle unto death.
When the fedayee Kurken realized this untapped power in the mountains of Sassoon, he quickly organized the women into protective brigades, stationed at each village with a female commander left in charge. When Turkish or Kurdish warriors marched through their lands and dared try to leave destruction and bloodshed in their wake, these women slaughtered the criminal individuals. When they dared try to build military quarters in the region, they were met with the strength of angry women, mothers and sisters and children to those whose graves would be desecrated in the building of such a monstrosity.
The women of Sassoon had no illusions about a freedom obtained without bloodshed, knowing full well that they would need to fight and they would need to win against those whose oppressive hand they had choked for centuries. These women knew that their place was at their husbands’ side on the battlefield, fire in their eyes and weapons in their hands.
Unfortunately, not many of these women are known. However, in the coming days a few of the most prominent will be presented.
Keran (died July 28, 1285) was the wife of Leo II of Armenia. She was the daughter of Prince Hethum of Lampron. Born Anna, she was called Kir Anna (Lady Anna) beginning in 1270. This name was later shortened to Keran, or Guerane.
Many words of praise were made about Queen Keran by her contemporaries. Her son Hethum claimed that “she had a wonderful soul and a beautiful body.” The chronicler and scribe Avetis, described her as “a good friend to her husband in trouble and joy.”
They had fifteen children:
- Hethum II (ruled 1289–1293, 1294–1297, 1299–1307)
- Princess Fimi of Armenia (born c. 1266, date of death unknown)
- Princesse Sybil of Armenia (born c. 1269, date of death unknown)
- Thoros III (ruled 1293–1298)
- Prince Ruben of Armenia (born c. 1272, date of death unknown)
- Princess Zablun of Armenia (born c. 1274, date of death unknown)
- Princess Sybil (or Zabel) of Armenia (born c. 1276, date of death unknown)
- Sempad (ruled 1297–1299)
- Constantine III (ruled 1299)
- Isabelle of Armenia (died c. 1321, date of death unknown), who married Amalric of Tyre
- Princess Theophane of Armenia (born c. 1278, date of death unknown)
- Rita of Armenia, who married Michael IX Palaeologus, co-Emperor of the Byzantine Empire with his father Andronicus II Palaeologus. They were parents to Andronicus III Palaeologus.
- Prince Nerses of Armenia (born c. 1279, date of death unknown)
- Oshin (ruled 1308–1320)
- Prince Alinakh of Armenia (born c. 1283, date of death unknown).
Leon II, queen Guerane, and their five children, 1272
After the birth of her last son, Keran became a nun and entered the Monastery of Drazark, assuming the name of Theophania. She died on July 28, 1285 and was buried in the monastery.