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12 of the Most Important Tudor Women

12 of the Most Important Tudor Women


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Between 1485 and 1603, England was ruled by members of the Tudor family: Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I.

Despite most women being relegated to serve their husband or father, there were many who wrote humanist texts, built enormous houses, ran vast estates and even ruled as Queen.

Here are 12 of the most important.

1. Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury

A painting considered to be Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury.

Margaret Pole was the niece of Richard III – who Henry VII had slain at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Until her dying day, Margaret asserted her Yorkist allegiance and become a focus for rebellion. She was considered such as threat that Henry VIII ordered her execution in 1541.

2. Elizabeth of York

Elizabeth was the daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, who were leaders of the Yorkist cause. Her brothers were the ‘Princes in the Tower’.

A copy of Hans Holbein the Younger’s lost 1537 Whitehall painting. Henry VII and Elizabeth of York stand behind Henry VIII and Jane Seymour.

The marriage between Elizabeth of York and Henry Tudor marked a union between the Houses of York and Lancaster, and the red and white Tudor rose was born. Elizabeth and Henry had eight children, who, through marriage, became monarchs of England, Scotland and France.

3. Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots

The eldest daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, Margaret was the sister of Henry VIII. She was married to James IV of Scotland from 1503-1513, which united the royal houses of England and Scotland. After her husband’s death, Margaret acted as regent for her son James V, from 1513-1515.

A drawing of Margaret.

4. Catherine of Aragon

Catherine ruled as Queen of England from June 1509 until May 1533. She was the daughter of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon.

At three years old she was betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, who was heir apparent to the English throne. After Arthur’s death, Catherine was married to his younger brother Henry, who grew increasingly frustrated after she failed to deliver a male heir.

Catherine of Aragon.

For six months in 1513, she served as regent of England as Henry was abroad in France. Her rousing speech about emotional courage seemed to be an important factor in the English victory at the Battle of Flodden. She was also a prominent humanist, and counted scholars such as Erasmus of Rotterdam and Thomas More as her friends.

Jessie Childs is an award-winning author and historian. In this fascinating interview, she explores the Catholic predicament in Elizabethan England - an age in which their faith was criminalised, and almost two hundred Catholics were executed. In exposing the tensions masked by the cult of Gloriana, she considers the terrible consequences when politics and religion collide.

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5. Elizabeth Blount

‘Bessie’ Blount was a mistress of Henry VIII. On 15 June 1519, Blount bore the king what he had always craved – a son. Henry Fitzroy, the only illegitimate son of Henry VIII, was later Duke of Richmond and Somerset and Earl of Nottingham.

Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy.

6. Anne Boleyn

The second and perhaps most infamous wife of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536, when she was executed.

Anne Boleyn by Hans Holbein the Younger.

Henry first caught eyes on her when she served Catherine of Aragon as a maid of honour. To accommodate a marriage to Anne and divorce Catherine, Henry had no choice but to leave the Catholic Church and establish the Church of England.

Anne was the mother of Elizabeth I.

7. Catherine Parr

Catherine had four husbands, the third of which was Henry VIII who she outlived by a year. She enjoyed a close relationship with Henry’s three children, taking personal interest in their education and playing an important role in the Third Succession Act, which restored Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession.

Catherine Parr was treated as queen dowager after Henry’s death.

After Henry’s death, Catherine acted as queen dowager and was allowed to keep royal jewels and dresses.

8. Lady Jane Grey

Jane was the great-granddaughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, through their daughter Mary, who became Queen of France.

She was exceptionally well educated in humanist studies, and as a committed Protestant, Edward VI saw her as an ally. In 1553, Edward’s will placed Jane in line to inherit the throne, effectively removing his half-sisters Mary and Elizabeth from the line of succession and ignoring the Third Succession Act.

‘The Execution of Lady Jane Grey’ by Paul Delaroche, 1833.

Jane was proclaimed queen on 10 July 1553 but support quickly waned and the Privy Council abandoned her. Lasting just over a week, she became known as the ‘Nine Days Queen’. Although Mary initially spared her life, she became viewed as a threat to the Crown, and was executed the following year.

9. Mary I

Mary married Phillip II of Spain.

Mary was the eldest child of Henry VIII to survive to adulthood. As the daughter of Catherine of Aragon, she was a staunch Catholic. After expelling Lady Jane Grey to regain her place on the throne, Mary attempted to reverse the English Reformation begun by her father and restore Roman Catholicism.

The executions of Protestants earned her the nickname ‘Bloody Mary’. She was married to Phillip of Spain.

10. Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I in her coronation robes, which were patterned with Tudor roses and trimmed with ermine.

Elizabeth was the final monarch of the Tudor dynasty, ruling from 1558-1603. She depended heavily on a group of advisers led by William Cecil. Together they established a middle way in the religious debates, as Elizabeth became the Supreme Governor of the English Protestant church, but insisted on greater tolerance of English Catholics.

Historian Nicola Tallis comes on the show to talk about the extraordinary Margaret Beaufort: 'Mother of the Tudors' and the ancestor of all subsequent royals.

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Elizabeth never married and she became referred to as the ‘Virgin Queen’. Her 44 year reign was marked by England’s defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 and a flowering of English drama, led by playwrights Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare.

11. Bess of Hardwick

Bess of Hardwick was the most powerful woman in England, after the queen.

Born into a modest background, Bess married four times and acquired an enormous fortune to become the second most important woman in England, after the queen. She is famed for building Hardwick Hall, which gave rise to the rhyme ‘Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall’.

Bess was famed for building Hardwick Hall, which is adorned with her initials.

12. Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary reigned over Scotland from 1542 to 1567. She was the only surviving legitimate child of King James V of Scotland, who died when Mary was six days old. She married Francis, the Dauphin of France, and later her half-cousin, Lord Darnley.

Their son, James, would become James I of England, uniting the two kingdoms. She was executed by her cousin, Elizabeth I, in 1587 at Fotheringhay Castle.

Mary, Queen of Scots. Her son became James I of England, and James VI of Scotland.


Boudicca (Died c.60 - 61 AD)

She was the rebel queen of the ancient British Celtic Iceni tribe, who led an army against the Romans in AD 60/61, securing her place in the history books as one of Britain’s most iconic rulers. After suffering a public flogging and witnessing the rape of her two daughters, Boudicca raised an army that destroyed Roman strongholds at Colchester, London and St Albans, killing between 70-80,000 people in the process. Eventually, Boudicca’s rebellion was put down and she apparently poisoned herself, along with her two daughters.

Æthelflæd - Lady of the Mercians (c.870 – 918 AD)

The eldest daughter of Alfred the Great, king of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, Æthelflæd helped lead the fight against the Vikings and lay the foundations for England. After her husband passed away, Æthelflæd took over the governing of the kingdom of Mercia, becoming the Lady of the Mercians - a truly remarkable accomplishment given the male-dominated times in which she lived. She went on the offensive against the Vikings and over the coming years played a significant role in the conquest of Danelaw, the Viking kingdom in England.

Anne Boleyn (c.1501/07 – 1536)

The second wife of Henry VIII was a key player in the English reformation – a series of events that saw the Church of England break away from the Roman Catholic Church and the authority of the Pope. Henry wished to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so that he could be free to marry Anne. When Pope Clement VII declined Henry’s wishes, Henry began the separation of the Church of England from Rome. Anne would go on to be Queen of England for three years and give birth to one of the country’s greatest monarchs, Elizabeth I, before being beheaded for treason.

Read more about: Kings and Queens

The Rise and Fall of the Boleyns

Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603) & Catherine Parr (1512 – 1548)

The Virgin Queen is one of Britain’s most successful and popular rulers. The daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn was the last of the monarchs from the house of Tudor. Her reign (known as the Elizabethan era) lasted 44 years, heralding in a period of relative stability and economic prosperity, which gave rise to a golden age in exploration and the arts. She established Protestantism in England and defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588, one of the greatest military victories in English history.

Catherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, played a significant role in Elizabeth’s personal education, shaping the beliefs and convictions of the future Queen. Catherine also helped to influence Henry’s passing of the Third Succession Act in 1543, which restored his daughters into the line of succession. Without Catherine, Elizabeth might never have ascended to the throne.

Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901)

Her reign (known as the Victorian era) lasted 63 years, longer than any of her predecessors and was a period of great change within the UK. Coming to the throne at just 18, Victoria would preside over the political, social, cultural and industrial transformation of the country, along with the expansion of the British Empire. She became the most powerful woman in the world and helped to restore the reputation of the monarchy after it had been tarnished by the extravagance of her uncles.

Elizabeth II (1926 - present)

Like Victoria and Elizabeth I before her, Britain’s current Queen was not expected to rule. When her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated the throne, it thrust Elizabeth’s father George VI to the top spot and placed Elizabeth in the direct line of succession. She ascended to the throne at age 25 and has gone on to become Britain’s longest-lived and longest-serving monarch. Now aged 93, her reign has lasted over 68 years, a period that has witnessed remarkable societal, technological, scientific and political changes.


Hatshepsut

Print Collector / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Long before Cleopatra reigned over Egypt, another woman held the reins of power: Hatshepsut. We know her mainly through the major temple built in her honor, which her successor and stepson defaced to try to erase her reign from memory.


12 Women In History Who Need Biopics Right Now

History is full of unrecognized women. That's not the most startling observation in the world scribes throughout history have begrudged women any space in their important records of Kings And Emperors Doing Things, because ladies were just there to produce heirs and look nice, amiright? However, dig a little deeper — and go hang out in the history section of the bookstore, where every day new books seem to emerge championing some long-sidelined complicated woman, from Queen Victoria's suffragette goddaughter to famous murder victim Kitty Genovese — and you find heroines who are just crying out for attention, publicity, and a Viola Davis or Cate Blanchett-helmed red carpet extravaganza.

Biopics are the new historical vehicle to bring neglected women back to our notice. In the not-too-distant future, America's big screens will be showing biographical films about the likes of legendary Chinese Dowager Empress Cixi (who was such a totalitarian despot she put the emperor under house arrest ), the sweetly eccentric heiress Florence Foster Jenkins (starring Meryl Streep, no less), and Effa Manley, the African American co-owner of the Newark Eagles baseball team in the 1930s and 40s. Overlooked ladies in history are apparently the new Big Thing in film, and I'm pre-booking tickets to everything.

So here's a list of 12 fascinating women in history who seriously need to get Harvey Weinstein behind a story of their lives, like yesterday. Fascinating does not necessarily mean heroic, or politically powerful, or even particularly nice — but they'd all be pretty fantastic dinner party guests, provided you hid the swords.

1. Ida B. Wells

I have no idea why there aren't at least five biopics of this amazing woman out already. Born a slave in Mississippi in 1862, she became basically everything: a civil rights reformer, fearless investigative journalist, and serious badass who took on race hatred head-on by writing openly about America's lynching as a way to control African American people.

She faced death threats, mobs, exclusion by other women's rights activists, and widespread disbelief about the truth of her lynching reports, even when she went around the world lecturing about it. She even refused to give up a spot on a white woman's train car, 71 years before Rosa Park. Are you breathless yet?

2. Harriet Chalmers Adams

Harriet Chalmers Adams was essentially the first woman to professionally wear a pith helmet. She explored everywhere she could think of, despite being alive in a time (1875-1937) when women were supposed to sit still, drink tea and faint at uncouth things. She wrote for National Geographic about huge swathes of the South American countries she explored, and helped found the Society Of Women Geographers. And, when she wasn't doing awesome things like climbing the Andes on horseback, she was the only female journalist let into the trenches during World War I.

3. Hojo Masako

Known as "the nun shogun," Hojo Masako was a hugely powerful figure in the warrior government of Japan. Born in 1156, she took the veil of a nun after her husband the shogun's death, but still managed to maintain a stranglehold over the ridiculously shady workings of Japanese rule. These included possibly conspiring over the death of her unreliable eldest son, the ousting of her father in favor of her brother, and other twists tailor-made for a film epic.

4. Isabella Lucy Bird

Isabella Lucy Bird was a ridiculously rebellious woman. What other daughter of a Victorian clergyman survives a tumor on her spine and promptly decides to travel the world, have a serious romantic affair with Wild Jim Nugent in the Rocky Mountains, and visit everywhere from Vietnam to Hawaii? She had about fourteen lives in one, traveling with British soldiers in Tehran and training as a doctor as an afterthought. She used a ladder gifted to her by Morocco's Sultan to mount her horse, and wrote 18 volumes of observations. A scriptwriter wouldn't even know where to start.

5. Annie Edison Taylor

Annie Edison Taylor wasn't an explorer, or an heiress, or even particularly brave. She was just a woman who decide to do something nobody had ever done before. On her 63rd birthday, October 14 1901, she was the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, in which she'd been packed with her lucky pillow. She did it to make money, but the publicity didn't last, and she died in obscurity — and the barrel was lost after her manager stole it.

6. Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly was arguably the world's first immersion journalist, and she made Tintin look like a complete loser. She did a circumnavigation of the world in 72 days just to see if Jules Verne's 80-day limit could possibly be achieved in real life, but the feat for which she's mostly remembered is her terrifying investigation into the conditions in mental hospitals, "Ten Days In A Mad-House," for which she pretended to be insane and had herself committed.

Almost as a sideline, she married a 73-year-old millionaire at the age of 31, and patented several inventions including the modern milk can. As you do.

7. Hatshepsut

With the release of a blockbuster biography, people are already clamouring for this Egyptian queen's life to be made into a film. Hatshepsut was the outright ruler of Egypt for 22 years in the Eighteenth Dynasty, and she was really good at it, making Egypt peaceful and hugely prosperous.

She built amazing temples to herself everywhere and prevented a civil war, all while having to wear a false beard. After her death, somebody tried to erase all her names and achievements from her buildings, possibly because a woman being king was seen as offensive. It didn't work.

8. Jeanne Bare

Jeanne Bare was a thoroughly enigmatic figure in more ways than one. A French orphan, she was the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by boat, and she did it while dressed as a man — because she was on board as an assistant to her lover, the splendidly named widowed naturalist Philibert Commercon.

The two travelled together happily, botanizing their way through Mauritius, Tahiti, Madagascar and other exotic climes, discovering bougainvillaea along the way. After Commercon's tragic death she married an officer, came back to France, and was given a pension by the government "to this extraordinary woman."

9. Maria Tallchief

I am boggled that Maria Tallchief hasn't had a biopic devoted to her yet — though the 88-year-old prima ballerina only died in 2013. She was America's very first prima ballerina, the star of George Balanchine's famous New York City Ballet, and the first famous Native American ballerina. After hideous discrimination as a child that led her to contract her full name, Tall Chief, into one word, she became a hugely beloved ballet star, but her personal life was dramatic: Balanchine, 21 years older, asked her to marry him when she was 21, but eight years later had the marriage annulled.

10. Alexandra David-Neel

Alexandra David-Neel was another woman who seemed to combine seven or so lives into one. A Belgian aristocrat born in 1868, she trained as a prima donna, wrote an anarchist treatise so alarming that publishers refused to touch it, and travelled repeatedly to India and the surrounding areas, including Tibet, during the period in its history when it was closed to foreigners.

This, to put it in context, was kind of impossible. She befriended (and possibly seduced) the Sikkim Maharajah, and then adopted a young monk, Aphur Yongden, who would be her traveling companion throughout Tibet and Japan. In her memoirs she recounts saving Yongden from a blizzard by hugging him and artificially raising her body temperature through meditation.

11. Empress Theodora

The Byzantine empress Theodora, wife of Justinian I (500AD-548AD), is mostly famous because early historians were pretty convinced that before she was a queen, she'd been a prostitute. If that was true, it was an epic tale of a woman raising herself above circumstances, because Byzantium was ridiculously pious and the Emperor was the head of the church. It's more likely, however, that she was an actress or otherwise low-born, and that her enemies conspired to make her seem hypocritical and lustful with a dark past. Since all evidence points to the fact that she was actually an effective and just leader, this seems incredibly unfair.

12. Annie Londonderry Cohen Kopchovsky

This is the sort of story that would make for an excellent light-hearted Maggie Gyllenhaal flick. Annie "Londonderry" Cohen Kopchovsky was the first woman to cycle around the world, and she did it for a bet — two gentlemen in Boston laid a wager in 1895 over whether a woman could take care of herself. According to her, they gave her 15 months, and despite never riding a bicycle before, she set off.

It's more likely that it was an advertising stunt, since Cohen was also a journalist and was paid to carry placards with pictures of spring water, but she definitely made it around the world in the allotted time. She called herself The New Woman, but her notoriety soon faded, and it's about time she was brought back.


The Edinburgh Seven

These seven women were the first such to matriculate at a British university. Studying medicine at Edinburgh, they faced a mammoth task from the start, with elements of the university and, indeed, the wider city against them. Certain male professors whipped up hostility, and, in 1870, matters reached a physical head when the seven turned up for an anatomy exam, only to find their way blocked by a jeering and abusive crowd who threw rubbish and mud at them. They stood their ground in what became known as The Surgeon’s Hall Riot but, despite gaining support from other students and the press (and a certain Charles Darwin), they were eventually told they could not graduate. Their strength and decency under pressure went on to inspire many others, right up to the present day. An example of this is the fact that the Twitter account of the Medical Teaching Organisation of the University of Edinburgh’s Medical School is named after one of the seven, Edith Pechey. The others were Mary Anderson, Emily Bovell, Matilda Chaplin, Helen Evans, Sophia Jex-Blake and Isabel Thorne.


Women in Tudor England

Tudor England witnessed many famous events such as the Spanish Armada, the Reformation and famous individuals such as Henry VII, Henry VIII and Sir Francis Drake. But what had happened to the position women had in English Tudor society? The position of women had remained unchanged for centuries and the time of the Tudors saw little, if any, improvement despite the fact that 1485 to 1603 saw 2 queens. Neither Mary Tudor nor Elizabeth did much to advance the cause of women. Why was this?

For centuries girls had been told and, if educated, that they were inferior. So by the time, they became women, they would have acted as if they were inferior to men. The Church taught this and used the Bible to justify this belief. If men of God said that women were inferior it had to be true…..So two sections of society grew up to believe the same thing. Both men and women believed that women were inferior to men and that this was ordered by God. No change came with the Reformation. The protestant leader John Knox wrote:

“Women in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man.”

Young girls were taught that they had to obey their parents instantly. As a father dominated a household, this basically meant that the girls grew up to instinctively obey men. Even uncles, older brothers and male family friends could expect instant obedience from girls. Girls received no formal education (though very few boys did) but they were taught that their sole function in life was to marry, have children and look after their homes and husbands. Girls were taught that God had commanded them to be obedient to men – be it father or husband.

Girls from a poor home received no education as we would recognise it. They learned skills for life from their mothers. Girls from the homes of the rich received some form of education but it was in things like managing a household, needlework and meal preparation. It was generally believed that teaching girls to read and write was a waste of time. Two of Henry VIII’s wives were barely literate – Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard.

Young ladies from a rich family would have no choice over who their husbands would be. Marriages were frequently arranged so that the families involved would benefit – whether the young lady loved her future husband was effectively irrelevant. In fact, it would not have been unusual for a couple to meet for the first time at their wedding as happened to Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves.

There was no legal age for marriage and many girls aged 14 would have got married at that age. In the homes of the poor, there was almost a rush to marry off daughters as it was believed that once they reached a certain age – about 14 – they would have been seen as being too old for marrying off and therefore a liability at home – one extra mouth to feed and no extra income coming into the house.

Once married, the main function of a wife was to produce a son to continue the family line. This was true for royalty right down to the common peasant. In would not have been unusual for wives to be pregnant every twelve months. In Tudor England, pregnancy and especially childbirth was dangerous for the wife. Death in childbirth was not unusual. One ‘tradition’ at this time was for a wife to prepare a new baby’s nursery but to also make arrangements for the baby should she, the mother, die in childbirth.

The actual act of childbirth was assisted by a ‘midwife’. In fact, this was usually an elderly female relative or female neighbour with no medical knowledge. Complications were frequent and death not unusual in childbirth, but no proper doctors existed in Tudor times to change this. Even if a delivery of a baby was successful, the mother could still fall prey to illness due to the lack of hygiene during childbirth. The most famous Tudor casualty of this was Jane Seymour who died after successfully giving birth to Edward VI. Puerperal fever and post-birth infections were both killers.

The way women dressed was also strictly controlled. Women who were not married could wear their hair loose. Married women had to hide their hair away under a veil and a hood. Queens might wear their hair loose on state occasions but this was only tolerated because they had to wear a crown. Anne Boleyn’s hair was so long that she could sit on it – but despite her forceful nature, even she did what was expected of her and wore her hair in a hood after her marriage to Henry VIII.

As in previous times, a woman’s dress covered nearly everything. Sleeves came down to the wrists and even in summer dresses reached the floor. Corsets were common but a plunging neckline would be considered acceptable. For queens, ceremonial dress could be even of a challenge as their dresses could be beautiful to those looking at them but they were both bulky and weighed a great deal as they were usually encrusted with jewels. Worn on a hot evening at a state occasion, such dresses must have been uncomfortable to wear.

Elizabeth I
who conformed to standards of dress expected for women

The law gave a husband full rights over his wife. She effectively became his property. A wife who committed adultery could expect to be severely punished as Catherine Howard found out. A peer could have his adulterous wife burned at the stake if the king/queen agreed. A wife who killed her husband did not commit murder – she committed the far worse crime of petty treason. This also lead to her being burned at the stake. Wife beating was common and the logic of Tudor England was that the wife would have provoked her husband into beating her and if she had behaved properly, he would not have beaten her. Therefore she herself was responsible for her beating! In theory, a wife could walk away from a marriage – but to what? Who would keep her? Who would employ her? Therefore, women had to stay in a marriage even if it was a brutal one as there was very little else she could do.


London streets

It is hardly surprising that, with so many people flocking to the towns, London was by now the biggest city in Europe with between 130,000 and 150,000 inhabitants. It was a colourful metropolis and contained the best and worst of city life. The streets were filled with alehouses, gambling dens and brothels, and the public was entertained by street performers, playhouses, and spectacles such as bear baiting. London was filthy but intriguing, lively but dangerous. And, in addition to its own poor, the city acted as a magnet for beggars, thieves and tricksters from across the country.

. the city acted as a magnet for beggars, thieves and tricksters from across the country.

Steps had been taken by previous monarchs to provide care for those who washed up on London's streets. Edward VI had supplied one of the royal palaces to serve as a house of correction for the poor, known as Bridewell. Here, rather than being punished, vagrants and criminals were given useful tasks to perform as part of their cure. This was an enlightened approach and houses of correction were established in other cities to re-integrate these individuals back into society. Unfortunately, under Mary I, it was more commonly used as a place of punishment. But during Elizabeth's reign, houses of correction once again served a useful purpose in maintaining social order and keeping vagrants off the streets.

The Poor Laws passed during the reign of Elizabeth I played a critical role in the country's welfare. They signalled an important progression from private charity to welfare state, where the care and supervision of the poor was embodied in law and integral to the management of each town. Another sign of their success was that the disorder and disturbance which had been feared by Parliament failed to materialise. But problems remained. There is no doubt that the laws helped the destitute by guaranteeing a minimum level of subsistence, but those who were scraping a living did not qualify for help and continued to struggle. And, as the years wore on and the population continued to increase, the provisions made to care for the poor became stretched to the limit. It is, however, a tribute to their lasting success that two of the Acts, from 1597 and 1601, endured until well into the nineteenth Century.


List of the 20 most important women

1- Mytilene Sappho

"Does the restless heart burn again? / Who do you intend to entangle in soft
Tie of loves? Who does your net avoid, / Miser Sappho?"

(Hymn in honor of Aphrodite)

These stanzas were written by Sappho of Mytilene or Sappho of Lesbos, famous Greek poet who was included in the «nine lyric poets». He lived in the VII / VI centuries BC in Ancient Greece.

Although there is not much information about his life, his poems have been preserved over time. The specialists consider that he was member of the thiasos poetic society.

In his poems he speaks of unrequited love and also of love between women. Sappho founded the House of the Servants of the Muses. In this school women were taught to declaim, flower arrangements and other arts. The only poem that was completely preserved is the Hymn in honor of Aphrodite.

2- Cleopatra

"Cleopatra died at the age of thirty-nine, of which twenty-two had reigned, and had ruled with Antonio more than fourteen."

(Life of Marco Antonio, Plutarch)

Cleopatra was one of the most important rulers of her time, who knew how to use her intelligence and the people around her to gain power. More than once he had to marry his brothers and seduce enemy powers, such as Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.

Thanks to their relations, this one could control the Egyptian policy besides maintaining a peaceful relation with the Romans. Cleopatra knew several languages, plus she had knowledge of mathematics, astronomy, music and other sciences and arts.

In losing her political allies, Cleopatra preferred death, to be imprisoned in Rome. During his reign, Egypt culturally influenced Rome, where the calendar of Canopus (Julian) was adopted and the cult of the Egyptian goddess Isis was practiced.

3- The Trung Sisters

"When the enemy is at the door, the woman goes out to fight."

(Famous vietnamese phrase"giac den nha, dan ba cung danh")

The Trưng sisters, Trưng Trắc (側 側) and Trưng Nhị (貳 貳), are national heroes of the Vietnamese people. They fought against the Chinese invasion in the first century during the Han Dynasty.

These sisters began by liberating their hometown from the Chinese invasion and then continued the struggle and ended up liberating 65 citadels from the Chinese. They resisted the counterattack of China for 3 years and were regents of Nanyue, which became the center of the rebellion.

To this day, the two sisters who rode elephants are considered a symbol of the nation.

4- Empress Wu

"To be declared Empress, Empress Wu strangled her own daughter His willingness to crush his own flesh and blood showed how great his vicious and vile nature was, even though this performance is nothing more than what bad, jealous women could do."

Despite being described as a cruel and soulless monarch, Empress Wu was undoubtedly an exceptional policy. She was named empress and regent in Ancient China and also founded her own dynasty, which she called Zhōu.

It is considered that the harsh criticism of the Chinese chroniclers to its policy is due to the fact that to have been named empress it scandalized the men of the time. This fact violated the rules of Confucius. The Empress supported Buddhism and used religion as a way of legitimizing her mandate. He attacked the Mongol nomads and also introduced new characters to the Chinese alphabet.

5- Lubna

"Among the clerks of the palace are Lubna and Fatima, secretaries of the caliph, well versed in grammar and poetry."

(Margarita Bernis, Spanish-Arab Science)

According to the chronicles of the Arab philosopher Ibn Bashkuwal, Lubna had excellent knowledge of mathematics, grammar, and other sciences. She was one of the most important figures of the palace and served as secretary of the Caliph and copyist.

In addition, it is considered that led during a time the real library of Cordova that counted on more than half million volumes. Together with his colleague Fatima, they worked during the governments of Abderramán III and his successor Alhakén II.

6 - Eleanor of Aquitaine

"It was believed that from that time the Queen would have established her court at Poitiers, surrounded by troubadours, poets, and literati, to reign in her the"courtesy"as patroness of letters and arts."

(Flori, J. Leonor of Aquitaine, The Rebel Queen)

Leonor of Aquitaine was one of the most powerful queens of the Middle Ages. He was monarch of two nations: of France, when marrying with Louis VIII and of England, when marrying with Henry II.

He inherited from his father the region of Aquitaine, one of the largest and most important of the time. It was criticized by the clergy of the time for its little feminine attitudes.

It is considered to have played an important role in the recruitment of men to participate in the Crusades. Her marriage to her first husband was annulled. Then he married his second husband.

He had 10 children, including Ricardo Corazón de León. He was very active politically and supported his children to obtain the throne in France as in England.

7- Joan of Arc

"He said that, since he was thirteen, he had the revelation of Our Lord through a voice that taught him to use it."

(Georges Duby, Andrée Duby The processes of Joan of Arc)

The maid of Orleans, Joan of Arc was a heroine Fance, who led the French army in the Battle of Patay and other clashes during the Hundred Years War. Despite her youth, she convinced King Charles VII that it was necessary to expel the English from France.

She was burned alive and judged by the voices she said she heard and because she declared that she had been chosen to lead the French in their struggle. Of course, the decision to burn her at the stake was also influenced by the political situation of the time.

Years after her death she was declared a saint and then Patron Saint of the French people.

8- Catalina de Medici

"Madame, my daughter, I have heard from some who have come from Spain that your ladies do not get along, and that Madame de Vineux wants to intervene at all costs in your affairs, something that I find incredibly bad. "

(Letters of Catalina de Medici, T. 1)

Catherine de Medici had no political influence during the government of her husband, but when he died, she successively handled the affairs of the state during the reigns of her three children: Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III.

Catherine ruled during a time of internal instability due to the religious wars that took place throughout Europe. His entire government was marked by desperate measures to keep his family in power. It is considered that she was the most influential woman of Century XVI. His letters to his children, friends and enemies show his ambition and cold blood when making decisions.

9- Isabel I

"Come live with me and know my love, / and we will try all the pleasures
That the mountains, the valleys and the fields, / and the abrupt summits offer us".

(Christopher Marlowe, The Passionate Pastor of His Love)

Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare are just some of the great representatives of the Elizabethan era. Thanks to the political stability and relative peace between Catholics and Protestants achieved by Queen Elizabeth I, England enjoyed a period of stability and development that allowed them to defeat the Incredible Navy, to discover new territories in the new world, to impose itself as a maritime empire and Expand its economy.

At the end of the reign of Isabel I was also achieved the unification with Scotland. Many historians believe that the Tudor era has been the most fruitful of the country's history.

10- Catalina the Great

"Empress Catherine was German by birth, but she was the daughter of Peter the Great, not of blood but of soul."

(Visarión Belinski, Complete Works Collection)

Catherine the Great continued the legacy of Peter the Great and the course towards the Europeanization of the country. His government stood out for important reforms, in addition to its support for science and art.

Catalina maintained personal correspondence with outstanding personages of the time and was a very illustrated woman who triumphed in governing a country that was not his. It was his turn to face the rebellion of Yemelián Pugachov and the Turks.

The Russian empire extended during its mandate arriving until Crimea. He introduced vaccination and created Lomonosov State University, which to this day continues to be the most important in the country.

11- Mary Wollstonecraft

". if women are not prepared by education to become the companion of man, they will stop the progress of knowledge and virtue, for truth must be shared by all."

(Vindication of the rights of women)

The English philosopher and writer Mary Wollstonecraft was one of the precursors of the feminist movement. His work Vindication of women's rights (1792) deals with educational, political and social issues.

Wollstonecraft defended the need for women to be educated. In his works Reflections on the education of daughters (1787) and Original stories (1788) touches themes common to the time such as etiquette and protocol.

On the other hand, the author touched on issues such as the life of single women, which was a taboo subject in society. The author met many important scientists of the time and also took part in the reflection of the intelligence of the time on the French Revolution, as evidenced by his work Vindication of the rights of man (1790).

12- Jane Austen

"The imagination of a lady goes very fast and jumps from admiration to love and from love to marriage in a moment."

(Pride and Prejudice, Chapter VI)

The works of the writer of the time of the English regency Jane Austen are classics of world literature. In his works as Pride and Prejudice Y Sense and Sensibility , Austen describes Georgian rural society and the role of women in it and in the family.

Jane Austen did not focus on describing global political facts, but rather attempted to describe moral dilemmas and how the character of a person conforms.

His description of small social groups and how they interact represents a microcosm of the life of a common person of the time.

You may be interested in learning more about this author by discovering her Best phrases .

13- Brontë Sisters

"There are millions of beings condemned to a less pleasant fate than mine at that time, and those millions live in silent protest against their fate. No one knows how many rebellions, other than politics, ferment in the minds of the people."

Sisters Bronte, Charlotte, Emily and Anne wrote important works for world literature, such as Jane Eyre , Agnes Gray Y Wuthering Heights . The works of the sisters were based on their experiences.

For example in Jane Eyre , Charlotte denounced the horrors of the school she attended with her brothers and the physical punishments imposed on the book were inspired by their suffering.

The Bronte sisters also addressed issues such as the life and fate of women in their time. The Bronte sisters tried to fend for themselves.

14- Marie Curie

"Science is beautiful and it is by this beauty that we must work on it, and perhaps, one day, a scientific discovery like radium, can come to benefit all mankind.."

(Marie Curie Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech)

This Polish scientist discovered, along with her husband Pierre Curie, radium and polonium and also developed the theory of radioactivity.

Marie Curie began her scientific training in Warsaw clandestinely. During World War I created radiological centers for military use.

Marie Curie was celebrated during her life as many considered that the discovery of the radio would help develop the treatment to cure cancer. He died from exposure to radioactive elements.

15- Valentina Tereshkova

(Words of Valentina Tereshkova before going to space)

Chosen among more than 400 candidates, Valentina Tereshkova made history by being the first woman to travel to space. When it was chosen for the mission, Tereshkova already was engineer and parachutist.

Returning from his trip to space, he continued to prepare and studied space engineering. Although it was planned to send more women into space, it took 19 years for Svetlana Savítskaya to be included in the crew to travel to space.

"The Gaviota"continued to occupy important positions in the Soviet air force and the body of cosmonauts. In addition it was dedicated to the policy occupying positions in the Russian parliament. She is the president of the non-profit foundation"Memory of Generations".

16- Golda Meir

"Your Eminence, our people have been waiting for 2000 years. Could you call that a hurry?"

(Golda Meir responds to King Abdullah II of Jordan during the interview in Amman in 1948)

Golda Meir was one of the most influential policies of the twentieth century, as it played a decisive role in establishing the State of Israel and later in its foreign and domestic policy.

During his years in politics, he faced the 7-Day War, Palestinian terrorist attacks, the massacre of the Japanese Red Army and the killing of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games. She was a tough woman who made many difficult decisions. In addition Meir was ambassador and led the Jewish Labor party for many years.

17- Simone de Beauvoir

"The child captures paternal superiority through a feeling of rivalry, while the girl suffers it with impotent admiration."

Simone de Beauvoir led a lifestyle that scandalized many, but despite this, her genius and the depth of her ideas is undeniable. Your book The second sex Is considered one of the basic treatises of feminism.

But his intellectual production was not limited to feminist ideas and social problems, but he devoted himself to the study of existentialist themes, such as the perception of old age in Western society or the perception of the"I".

Next to Jean Paul Sartre , His lover and philosophical companion, founded Modern Times magazine. In his work"The ceremony of goodbye"tells about the life and work of Sartre. De Beauvoir was an icon of literature, feminism and existentialism.

18- Dorothy Hodgkin

"I once wrote a lecture at the University of Manchester called"Moments of discovery"in which he said that there are two moments that are important. This is the moment when you know that you can find the answer and there is the period when you are without sleep before you know what it is. When you already have it and you know what it is, then you can rest easy."

(Dorothy Hodgkin when interviewed by Olivia Cox-Fill)

Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Dorothy Hodgkin was a pioneer in developing the technique to determine the structure of biochemical substances. The result of his years of work was the determination of the structure of insulin. Dorothy developed the technique of crystallography to determine the chemical components.

Thanks to his work, the three-dimensional structure of vitamin B12, cholesterol, suprasterol, lactoglobulin and other chemicals was determined. This discovery was important for the pharmaceutical industry and the development of new medicines.

19- Lisa Meitner

"I have nothing to do with a bomb!"

(Answer from Lise Meitner when invited to participate in the Manhattan project)

Austrian physicist Lisa Meitner was part of the scientific group, led by Otto Hahn, who discovered nuclear fusion. In spite of her important contribution to the research, since it was she who explained the phenomenon of nuclear fusion, her contributions were not recognized by the Nobel Committee, which only highlighted Otto Hahn.

On the other hand, the scientific community recognized its merits by naming a chemical element in its name:"el meitnerio". He also received the Enrico Fermi Award in the United States.

Meitner worked in different universities, such as the University of Stockholm.

20- Indira Gandhi

"To be free, women must feel free, not to rival men, but free in their capacities and personality."

(Speech The True Liberation of Women by Indira Gandhi in New Delhi in 1980)

She was president of her country in difficult times. He had to impose his point of view on a patriarchal society. Among its political achievements is the Independence of Bangladesh, industrialization and centralization of the country. Measures such as censorship of the media and a policy of birth control detracted from popularity.

Indira fought against the separatism and nationalism of the Sikhs in Panyab and in the end was betrayed and killed by her bodyguards who belonged to this ethnic group.

These leaders demonstrated that the contribution of women is invaluable to society. Although many women have not been recognized for their merits, history puts everything in its place.


12 of the Most Important Tudor Women - History

In the wake of the Radio 4 Woman's Hour power list for 2015 let's forget Nicola Sturgeon and Caitlyn Jenner for a moment to consider the female movers and shakers of the Tudor age.

Still considered one of England’s greatest monarchs, history has perhaps glossed over some of the failures of Elizabeth I’s 44 year reign, choosing instead to focus on the triumphs. The defeat of the Spanish Armada was one such victory, indeed because the Catholic world deemed the Protestant Elizabeth a heretic, her reign was characterised by England’s successful defence against a perpetual and very real Spanish threat.

The period saw a great flourishing of culture supported by the Queen, in particular the rise of English drama with playwrights like Shakespeare and her encouragement of the exploration of the New World by figures such as Frances Drake, all helping to establish the English cultural identity that persists to this day.

Unlike her sister Mary, Elizabeth understood the mechanics of power for a woman on the throne and that her potential for marriage allowed her to play one foreign state off against another. To commit herself in marriage, she realised, would mean a compromise of that power, so she remained single at great personal cost and without the ability to produce an heir to continue the hard-won Tudor line.

Elizabeth features prominently in all three of my Tudor novels.

The Tudors would have remained a family of ordinary nobles were it not for the indomitable Margaret Beaufort. As the mother of Henry Tudor (Henry VII), an upstart king, with a tenuous claim to the throne, who won his crown on the battlefield, she understood the importance of establishing the Tudor dynasty as a force to be reckoned with.

A mother and widow by the age of twelve, Margaret Beaufort managed to place herself, through marriage, into a position from which she could pull the strings to eventually see her son crowned. The English throne had been contested for decades, passing between the houses of York and Lancaster in an endless bloody struggle and it was Margaret who managed to broker a marriage between the Lancastrian Henry and Elizabeth of York, thereby uniting the warring houses.

Once Henry VII was on the throne she ran the royal household with a rod of iron, setting down codes of behaviour and helping negotiate illustrious and powerful marriages for her royal grandchildren to create alliances across Europe: the eldest Arthur to Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon Margaret to James IV of Scotland Mary to Louis XII of France and we all know what became of younger brother Henry.

The eldest daughter of Henry VIII with his first wife Catherine of Aragon is remembered as Bloody Mary. This is somewhat unfair as, though it is true 280 people were burned for heresy in her four-year reign, many other monarchs of the period were responsible for equally brutal punishment regimes, indeed her younger sister Elizabeth ordered the execution of no less than 600 in the aftermath of a Catholic uprising in the north of England alone.

Mary’s route to the throne was not straightforward and she was compelled to raise an army to overthrow her young cousin Lady Jane Grey, who had been named as her brother Edward VI’s successor. Staunchly papist, Mary dragged England back to Catholicism kicking and screaming, re-establishing papal power and marrying her cousin Philip of Spain. Unfortunately this marriage was the source of much anxiety as the English worried about becoming an annex of Spain. An uprising ensued but Mary stood her ground and quelled the rebels gaining the respect of her people.

But Mary’s Spanish marriage caused England to join in Spain’s European war, which ultimately led to the loss of Calais (the last English territory on the continent) and her lack of an heir meant that when she died she had no choice but to pass the crown to her popular Protestant sister, thwarting her hopes of a Catholic England.

Mary Tudor and her reign are explored in Sisters of Treason.

Catherine of Aragon is remembered primarily for the humiliation of her divorce from Henry VIII in favour of Anne Boleyn and miserable end in a damp castle separated from those she loved. But that is a mere fragment of her story. As Henry’s queen for more than twenty years, and with her illustrious family ruling over most of Europe, she was the most powerful woman in England, prompting Thomas Cromwell to say of her ‘if not for her sex, she could have defied all the heroes of history,’ and this from an enemy.

She promoted education for women and relief for the poor and during Henry’s French campaign she was made Regent of England, raising an army to fight the invading Scots, who thought with the King away they would find an easy victory in England. This was not to be, James IV was killed at Flodden Field and the pregnant Catherine, who had ridden north in armour to encourage her troops, sent a piece of the Scottish King’s bloody coat to her husband in France to mark her triumph.

Katherine Parr is not an obvious choice for the Tudor power list as she is remembered as the wife who managed to survive marriage to Henry VIII by being meek, uncontroversial and managing to outlive him.

This was far from the case: Katherine used her position as queen to forward her reformist political agenda in a volatile, polarised court. Her Catholic enemies tried to bring her down but failed miserably as she managed to stay a step ahead of them causing them to topple in her stead. At a time when women were supposed to be seen and not heard, she was one of the first women to publish in the English language, penning two widely read books, one a highly dangerous political text that might have seen her follow her predecessors to the block.

Like Catherine of Aragon, Katherine Parr was the only other of Henry’s queens to hold the position of Regent of England, while Henry was campaigning in France, a role she performed with aplomb, managing the politically divided council and ensuring the safety of the realm. It was Katherine who encouraged Henry to reinstate his outcast daughters to the succession, thus playing an important role in the eventual half-century of female rule in England, and played a pivotal role in the education of the young Elizabeth Tudor.

Katherine Parr is the focus of Queen’s Gambit.

Bess of Hardwick is the only woman on the Tudor power list without a direct connection by blood or marriage to the monarchy, but as an ordinary woman born into a family of minor gentry who eventually became the Countess of Shrewsbury, amassed great wealth and land and oversaw the building of some of the great Elizabethan houses such as Chatsworth and Hardwick Hall, she deserves a mention.

Some might dismiss Bess as a canny gold-digger but this is far from the case. In the period as a woman if you didn’t manage to elevate your family through marriage you were deemed a failure, so Bess’s marital mountaineering was more about clever negotiation than seductive pulchritude. Her final marriage contract with George Talbot the Earl of Shrewsbury, one of the primary nobles in the land, was cleverly constructed to include the marriage of her son and daughter, from an earlier union, to Shrewsbury’s son and daughter, meaning that her children and their progeny would also become part of the illustrious Talbot line.

Shrewsbury managed his money badly and lost a fortune as Elizabeth’s jailor to Mary Queen of Scots, who he was impelled to house, with her vast queen’s entourage, for nearly twenty years. Bess in the meantime shored her fortune up, cultivating powerful friends, building houses and accumulating land in Derbyshire. But her ambitions were greater and she managed to marry one of her daughters to Charles Stuart, the grandson of Margaret Tudor, meaning that the daughter of that union, Arbella Stuart, was a strong contender for the English throne after Elizabeth. Bess’s hopes of becoming the queen’s grandmother were, however, dashed when Elizabeth handed the crown to Arbella’s cousin James VI of Scotland.

Arbella is to be the protagonist of my next novel.

An less obvious candidate for the power list as she's a little known figure, but as a prominent and well-connected woman who forwarded the ambitions of her family at court, was involved in risky secret espionage with the Scottish Court on the matter of the Stuart succession and lived openly in an adulterous relationship, having several children with her lover, a very bold move for a woman of the period, she deserves her place.

The One Good Ming

Amongst the cruelty, there was one Ming emperor that limited his philandering and was never documented as being cruel to the members of his palace. Hongzi, ninth Ming emperor and father of Zhengde, saw the kind of life that came from multiple marriages, thousands of concubines, and cruelty towards all. His father, Emperor Chenghua, was obsessed with pornography and neglected his throne allowing eunuchs to wield immense power. Hongzhi’s mother, a consort named Lady Ji, was murdered at the hands of the child-less favourite concubine, Lady Wan, out of jealousy over Chenghua being named Hongzhi’s heir. Prior to this Lady Wan had murdered as many of the Emperor’s children as she could find, often killing the mothers as well in an attempt to gain favour for her never-to-be-born son. As such, Chenghua saw the damage that could come from having too many concubines and giving them power and prominence within the imperial house. As such, he only has two empresses, one after the other, and there is no documentation to suggest that he was as violent, torturous, or evil as any of the other Ming Emperors.


Watch the video: The Most Important Tudor Watch - Tudor Black Bay 79220R (May 2022).