This weeks Illustrated Woman in History was submitted by Charlene Eckels. It is featured in the Women’s History Month 2019 zine.
Juana Azurduy de Padilla (Military Leader)
Juana Azurduy de Padilla was born on July 12, 1780 in Potosí, Bolivia to a rich Spaniard father and a mestiza mother. A girl rebel- (she was expelled from her convent when she was 17 years old) -turned revolutionary woman, she and her husband Manuel Ascencio Padilla joined the Chuquisaca Revolution, considered the beginning of their involvement in the Revolutionary Wars of Independence from Spain, in 1805. After a series of defeats, and even being captured temporarily, Juana organized the “Batallón Leales” and participated in the Battle of Ayohuma in November 9, 1813, which triumphed over the Royalist army. A few years later, on March 8, 1816, her forces captured the Cerro de Potosi and she was subsequently promoted as lieutenant colonel. In 1818, she was forced to withdraw her troops to Northern Argentina and continued to fight several battles until she got promoted as commander of the Northern Army in the lands that would later be founded as modern-day Argentina. Juana was so dedicated to the cause that not only did she fight while she was pregnant, but after giving birth she immediately went back into the battlefield with her newborn daughter on her back.
She returned to Bolivia after she retired from her active duties in 1821. When Simón Bolívar went to pay his respects to her, he was upset to discover that she was living in poverty and set up a state pension and promoted her to the rank of colonel. Bolívar famously said that Bolivia should have been named after Juana or her husband instead of him since they were the ones who fought the hardest for liberation. Sadly, in 1857, her pension was taken away by the government of José María Linares, and she died in poverty on May 25, 1862.