Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. They are currently on vaca/break until mid-August, so I am going rogue with my own theme this week! My Top Ten Tuesday will feature historical women that I like to read and learn more about. This also ties into my new book of the month theme – Heroines! Not all heroines are as godlike as Gal Gadot in her Wonder Woman getup. No, some heroines are just regular people… but with extraordinary wit, power, and drive.
For the purpose of this list, I have stuck with less contemporary selections (we’ll save those for next week!) so please don’t get upset if you don’t see Mother Theresa or another more modern heroine. Also, this is a personal list, and I have discovered I’m mostly inspired by artists and some favorite female rulers… you have been forewarned!
17th Century Novelist, Poet and Playwright – Also known as the first woman to earn a living by her pen! She broke a lot of ground for women writer’s everywhere.
16th Century Venetian Poetess and Courtesan. I love learning about Veronica because even though she earned a living as a courtesan, courtesans had to have some form of entertainment in their skill set – often music related. However hers was in poetry.
16th Century Painter. Sofonisba was trained by Campi and Gatti, which was an important step forward in the art world as she represented a female artist who was officially accepted as an apprentice. That may seem silly today. Nevertheless, she broke ground… but only so far. Women weren’t yet allowed to study anatomy, or other areas that would be important for a young artist. She found ways to make her discontent known through her art, which makes her pretty remarkable to me.
Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots
16th Century Queen of Scotland. And Queen Consort of France, at least for a brief time. She doesn’t need much of an introduction. The more I learn about her, the more deeply I feel her pain. A naturally gifted ruler with a horribly difficult time period in which to rule.
Queen Elizabeth I
16th Century Queen of England. And cousin of Mary Stuart, whom she never met but held in prison until her death. Elizabeth is a marvelous queen, the Virgin Queen, Good Queen Bess… she has many beloved monikers. Elizabeth was an unlikely contender for the throne of England, having been the offspring of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and also being Protestant instead of Catholic. But somehow everything aligned and she rose to power with a reign that lasted many, many years. Also as a ruler with no husband and no heir, she was the last of the ruling Tudor line.
Joan of Arc
15th Century Military Leader during the Hundred Years War. She is a symbol of French unity and nationalism, plus a canonized saint. Okay, so let me say that I am not Catholic. But that does not stop me from being mesmerized by the story of this girl who began life as a peasant and rose to rule an army by convincing others of her faith that she was divinely chosen to lead her people. That takes a lot of confidence and gumption, my friends.
Cleopatra VII Philapator
In the last century BC, Cleopatra served as the last active ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt before it became a part of the Roman Empire. She is both famous and infamous, depending on which side of history you prefer. Either way, she is a fascinating ruler to learn about.
18th Century Empress of Russia, also known as Catherine the Great. Though not particularly known for her political accomplishments, the Russian empire thrived under Catherine’s rule, especially in the arts.
6-7th Century ruler of Japan. You may or may not know that I have a fascination with Japan in general. Empress Suiko was the first of eight women to rule the empire as empress regnant. Aside from the impressive constitutional shifts during her time, it was notable that Buddhism began to thrive during her reign and she also ordered several temples built.
What list wouldn’t be complete without someone from a time long forgotten? Tapputi is mentioned in a cuneiform tablet from about 1200 B.C. She is the first known person use chemistry, to use a still, and was the perfumer of the Royal Palace. So the first known chemist being female and from Mesopotamia? Kind of cool.