Saturday, 17 October 2015

Women Warriors - Catharina Margaretha Linck

Poor Catharina - remembered more for the manner of her death than her years of military service in various armies.
Her mistake, after years of living as a man, was to marry a young woman, also called Catharina Margaretha, but whose maiden name was Muhlhahn. For this offence, she was sentenced to death by beheading in 1721, by the Prussian King, Frederick William. The court document of the case is the only documentary evidence of her life, but it includes information about her former life. From 1705 to 1708 (when she deserted) she served in the armed forces of Hanover, escaping hanging for desertion by revealing her sex. Later she joined the Prussian army, being dismissed when her superiors got a letter from the doctor who had examined her - and proved her to be female - for the Hanover army. She went on to join a Polish garrison and then the army of Hesse, deserting both times, and with spells of working in the cloth trade in between.
The court involved King Frederick because they were having difficulty in determining a suitable punishment for Linck, partly because there was nothing to cover the situation of two women having sex in the Bible.
Catherina Muhlhahn was sentenced to imprisonment, as she had originally believed that her husband was male.
In Catharina Linck's testimony, while preparing herself for death, she says: "Even were I to be done away with, those like me would remain."

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