Laskarina Bouboulina, born May 11, 1771, was a Greek naval commander and heroine of the Greek War of Independence in 1821. Her father, a naval captain, had been imprisoned in Constantinople for his role in the Orlof Revolution, which is where Laskarina was born. But after his death, she was raised on the islands of Hydra and Spetses in the Aegean Sea. She took after her father in both her love of the sea and her desire for independence.
Laskarina’s second husband was also a captain and a wealthy ship builder. When he was killed by Algerian pirates in 1811, she took over the business as well as his fortune. In this role, she secretly prepared to support Greek rebel forces, building ships and buying arms and ammunition. On March 13, 1821, she raised a Greek flag on the mast of her ship the Agamemnon and within a month had joined forces with ships from other islands. Together they established a naval blockade and witnessed the fall of Tripolis in September. Having survived the revolt, three years later she was shot and killed during an altercation as a result of a family feud.
Find out what else happened on May 11 in Women’s History.