Sirma Voivode - A woman warrior who led a mountain gang while dressed as a man

 Sirma voivode - a warrior who led her own mountain gang, while dressed as a man

Sirma Strezova Krasteva was born in a small village in the Shar mountain, which was terrorized by Albanian outlaws. One day, the outlaws kidnapped her best friend Ruzha to bring her to their leader - Hamza Bei. Fed up with their cruelty, Sirma decided to strike the outlaws back.

She dressed up like a man and joined the Haiduks - a gang of Slavic peasants aiming to protect their villages from assaults. Once there, she not only earned the respect of her comrades, but they also choose her by vote to be their gang leader. Thus, she turned into Sirma voivode (voivode means leader). And she was only 18.

For 24 years her gang roamed the mountain, protecting the defenseless mountain villages and waging war on Hamza Bei and his underlings. With time, Sirma's group reached 72 loyal comrades, and it took a long time until they realized she was a woman.

Living in the mountain wilderness was tough, especially when they had frequent battles to the death with their enemies. Eventually, Sirma and her gang killed Hamza Bei and ended his reign of terror.

After that, Sirma retired and went back to living the domestic life of a housewife. She married Velko Spirov - her second in command, whom she fell in love with in the midst of their dangerous adventure. Sirma lived to the old age of 88 when she was shot dead by the side of the road by an old enemy. 

During that time of history in Eastern Europe, there were lots of Haiduk gangs across the Ottoman Empire. Haiduk literally means "outlaw", that's how the Ottomans called the Slavic mountain gangs and frequently hunted them down and executed them. Most Haiduks were men, but there were also many women among them.

Sirma voivode's story is especially successful because not only did she defeat her enemy, but she could also retire and enjoy the peace she fought for.

About the Author

Reni Stankova

Reni Stankova is a book author, a tired office worker, and a nature lover who enjoys going on mountain treks. She lives in Bulgaria. In her free time, she writes about feisty characters, steamy chemistry, and edge-of-your-seat action scenes. In 2019, she self-published the historical fiction novel Sirma.

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