50 Women who Changed the World
1. Sappho -570BC
One of the first published female writers. Much of her poetry has been lost but her immense reputation has remained. Plato referred to Sappho as one of the great 10 poets.
2. Cleopatra 69 -30 BC
The last Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt. Cleopatra sought to defend Egypt from the expanding Roman Empire. In doing so she formed relationships with 2 of Rome’s most powerful leaders Marc Anthony and Julius Caesar. These relationships have been depicted in Romantic terms, although in reality they may have been political alliances.
3. Mary Magdalene 4 BC – 40AD
The historical facts surrounding Mary Magdalene are shrouded in speculation. However accounts from the Gospels and other sources suggest Mary Magdalene was one of Jesus’ most devoted followers. It is said she was a women of “ill repute” but according to the Gospel of Mark and Luke her pure devotion to Christ earned her complete forgiveness. Mary Magdalene stood near Jesus at his crucifixion and was the first to see his resurrection.
4. Boudicca 1st Century AD
Boudicca was an inspirational leader of the Britons. She led several tribes in revolt against the Roman occupation. Initially successful her army of 100,000 sacked Colchester and then London. Her army was eventually completely destroyed in battle by the Romans.
5. Hildegard of Bingen 1098-1179
Mystic, author and composer. Hildegard of Bingen lived a withdrawn life, spending most of her time behind convent walls. However her writings, poetry and music were revelatory for the time period. She was consulted by Popes, Kings and influential people of the time. Her writings and music have influenced people to this day.
6. Eleanor of Aquitaine 1122-1204
The first Queen of France. Two of her sons Richard and John went on to become Kings of England. Educated, beautiful and highly articulate, Eleanor influenced the politics
of western Europe through her alliances and influence over her sons.
7. Joan of Arc 1412-1431
The patron saint of France, Joan of Arc received “heavenly visions” giving her the inspiration to lead the French in revolt against the occupation of the English. An unlikely heroine; at the age of just 17 the diminutive Joan successfully led the French to victory at Orleans. Her later trial and martyrdom on false premises only heightened her mystique. View: Biography Joan of Arc.
8. Mirabai 1498-1565
Born to a privileged Hindu family Mirabai broke with the conventions of society to live the life of a mystic and devotee of Krishna. For her unconventional lifestyle her family tried to kill her, but on each occasion were unsuccessful. Her bhajans and songs helped revitalise Devotional Hinduism in India.
9. St Teresa of Avila 1515-1582
Mystic and poet. St Teresa of Avila lived through the Spanish inquisition but avoided been placed on trial despite her mystical revelations. She helped to reform the tradition of Catholicism and steer the religion away from fanaticism.
10. Catherine de Medici 1519-1589
Born in Florence, Italy Catherine was married to the King of France at the age of 14. On the death of her husband she became Queen mother to her 3 sons. She was involved in interminable political machinations seeking always to increase the power of her favoured sons. This led to the disastrous St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in which up to 50,000 Huguenot’s were killed.
11. Elizabeth I 1533-1603