27 Kickass Women From History You Need To Know About NOW

Found on AskReddit.

1. Mata Hari

Mata Hari, an exotic dancer who served as a spy for Germany in WWI.

Nancy Wake Wikimedia Commons
Nancy Wake Wikimedia Commons

2. Nancy ‘The White Mouse’ Wake

She was a British Spec Ops member who during the peak of WWII parachuted into Nazi occupied France and was at one stage, the Gestapo’s most wanted person.

3. Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine was Queen Consort of France during the 1100s, and was renowned for her vivaciousness, her intellect, and for holding her own in court.

Émilie_du_Châtelet Wikimedia Commons
Émilie_du_Châtelet Wikimedia Commons

4. Emilie du Chatelet

As a man, no one is hotter and more inspirational to me than Emilie du Chatelet. She was a scientist who helped developed the modern concept of energy and her theories were on par with Newton, but was sadly forgotten for, yes, being a woman. Not only was she brilliant, but she was wildly charismatic and mischievous – which is probably why Voltaire was so enamoured with her. The link below doesn’t mention it, but she use to bail Voltaire out of jail and together they rigged a lottery. It was truly the best kind of camaraderie; they were occasional lovers, but their real connection was intellectual. Raised in 1710 Paris, she was more concerned with astronomers and scholars than the usual humdrum of ‘lady’ issues such as fashion and gossip. While her mother threatened to send her away to a covenant, her father embraced her wild side and hired tutors to teach Latin, Greek, and mathematics. Using her gift with numbers, she would dominate card games and rather than spend her winning on clothes, she bought more books. That’s just her childhood and you should definitely read more, the link below has a nice overview of her life – though it really doesn’t give enough credit to Voltaire, who really did admire her and respect. [1]

5. Isabella I of Castile

Isabella I of Castile’s rule saw two major accomplishments for Spain, all in a single year.

The completion of reconquista is the first, and most important accomplishment. After hundreds of years of bloody struggle, the Iberia’s last emirate fell. The Emirate of Granada for a long time, resisted the reconquista, but it finally fell in the year 1492.

She also established the Spanish Inquisition, which took care of the mop up work.

1492 was a great year for Spain, as that was also the year Columbus, under Spanish sponsorship discovered the Americas. This was the start of the Spanish empire, a golden age, and Spanish colonialism. We were the first empire to receive the epithet “the empire on which the sun never sets.”

6. Sophie Scholl

Sophie Scholl was a leader of a non-violent resistance group in Munich during WWII.

7. Töregene Khatun

Töregene Khatun was Empress of the Mongol Empire after Genghis Khan and his heir, Ogedai. Perhaps one of the most powerful women of all time, certainly one who ruled over the most vast territory.

8. Elouise P. Cobell

Elouise P. Cobell, who was a member of the Blackfoot Indian Tribe, helped found the first Native American bank ever, the Blackfeet National Bank, became Executive Director of the Native American Community Development Corporation, oh, and she initiated the largest class action suit against the U.S. Government in history.

The case, Cobell v. Salazar is pretty interesting, and illustrates how poorly Native American tribes were treated, even in more”modern” times.

9. Ching Shih

Ching Shih. Chinese pirate circa early 19th century who led one of the largest piracy fleets to ever exist. Challenged and defeated empires such as the British and Portuguese. Went on to retire from her life of piracy very, very, wealthy. Which is very rare in that line of work.

10. Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin – responsible for the x-ray diffraction that led to the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. Her research was used by Watson and Crick without permission and she was never given credit. She died before anyone started to include her in the story.

11. Grace Hopper

Always been a fan of Rear Admiral Grace Hopper.

Computer pioneer. Involved in development of early high level languages. One of very few women to get a US Navy ship named after her. Had a habit of dismantling alarm clocks as a child because she wanted to know how they work.

12. Gertrude Ederle

Gertrude Ederle is a big name in the history of sport. The first woman to swim the English channel, and not only did she do it at age 20 (I think?), but she swam it two hours faster than the fastest man to do it at the time.

True American athlete who lived to be 98 years old!

Tomoe Gozen Wikimedia Commons
Tomoe Gozen Wikimedia Commons

13. Tomoe Gozen

Tomoe Gozen was a Kamakura period onna-bugeisha – a female samurai. “Tomoe was especially beautiful, with white skin, long hair, and charming features. She was also a remarkably strong archer, and as a swordswoman she was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill; she rode unscathed down perilous descents.”

14. Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta Lacks is so often missed by everyone during things like Black History Month even though she was so incredibly important to the world when it came to cancer detection / research..
Seriously read up on her :)

15. Margaret of Anjou

Margaret of Anjou. Married to a paranoid schizophrenic king of England who was more suited to the life of a monk rather than that of a ruler. That’s okay though because Margaret had enough balls for the both of them. She pretty much led the Lancaster faction during the Wars of the Roses, and generally kicked ass throughout.

16. Mae Young

Mae Young: She wrestled in the 40’s to the 80’s and was known to chew cigars, beat up fans that didn’t like women’s wrestling, and during the attitude era when she was going to take a powerbomb off the stage into a table, backstage she told Bubba Ray Dudley to not hold back and if he did she’d knock him out.

Julie D’Aubigny Wikimedia Commons
Julie D’Aubigny Wikimedia Commons

17. Julie D’aubigny

Julie D’aubigny. A bisexual swashbucker/nun/opera singer. Got in a duel with a guy, beat the crap out of him, then seduced him. Liked a girl, when the girls dad found out, he sent her to a convent. Julie dressed up as a nun and burned the convent down (not that I approve) to escape

Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz Wikimedia Commons
Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz Wikimedia Commons

18. Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was the wife of Frederick III. of Prussia during the times of the napoleonic wars tho she died young and did not even live to see Napoleon fall. Napoleon said her to be “the only real man” in Prussia.

19. Ursula Kuczynski

Ursula Kuczynski earned two Orders of the the Red Banner (the Soviet Union’s highest award until the Order of Lenin was established in 1930). She was considered one of the best spies of her time and was even referred to as “Stalin’s best spy.”

Frances Perkins Wikimedia Commons
Frances Perkins Wikimedia Commons

20. Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins, FDR’s Labor Secretary, without whom the Fair Labor Standards Act likely would not have passed. The FLSA mandated a minimum wage and overtime, banned child labor, and instituted workplace safety standards. Perkins got the labor unions organized behind the New Deal, creating a political coalition that would endure for decades. She was arguably as important to the success of FDR’s policies as FDR himself, and yet she’s been largely forgotten by history.

She also instituted policies that encouraged women to enter the civilian workforce during World War II (think Rosie the Riveter), which changed the demographics of working America forever, and contributed significantly to the Allied victory.

21. Hypatia

Hypatia was the daughter of Theon of Alexandricus, and was a famous philosopher and mathematician in ancient Greece. She is credited with at least helping to develop the hydrometer and astrolabe. She somehow became embroiled in a feud over Jewish dancers between Orestes, the Roman governor of Alexandria, and Cyril, the Bishop of Alexandria. This led to her eventually being skinned alive with oyster shells by a mob of angry Christians and dragged through the streets of the city.

22. Saint Genevieve of Paris

Saint Genevieve of Paris. She lived in Paris around 4th century AD, just after Rome split up. There was a war, and she risked her life going to and from Paris to get supplies to the soldiers defending it. A couple of years later, the famous conqueror Atilla the Hun was going to invade Paris and everyone was evacuating. Genevieve convinced everyone to go back to their homes in Paris and pray for peace. Its still unknown why Atilla didn’t invade Paris.

23. Rayna Knyaginya

Rayna Knyaginya, she sew the flag of the Bulgarian April Uprising against the Ottoman Empire and waved it against the Ottoman when the uprising began! Sadly, she got caught, but even after a month of being beaten and eating only bread and water in a prison, she escaped for Moscow of all places and lived a successful life since then. Hell, she even has a peak named after her on Livingston Island!

24. Gertrudis Bocanegra

Gertrudis Bocanegra She fought for the rebels against the Spanish in the mexican independence war. Her husband and son were killed in battle and she continued helping the rebels as a messenger.

When she was sent to help the rebellion retake her natal town, she was betrayed and captured. Even under torture, never gave up the names and locations of the leaders; and when in front of the firing squad, she harangued them and the people watching to join the rebellion.

Mary Edwards Wikimedia Commons
Mary Edwards Walker Wikimedia Commons

25. Mary Edwards Walker

Mary Edwards Walker, the only woman to receive the Medal of Honour. She basically did whatever she pleased, saved anyone she could and was even a POW. She wore top hats and pants even though she kept getting arrested for it, just one bad ass lady.

26. Chiomara

Chiomara was a Celtic princess during the age of the Roman empire. She was captured and raped by a Roman centurion. The centurion tried to salvage some of his honor by ransoming her. While he was counting the gold from the ransom, she nodded to one of her warriors who brought the gold, which apparently meant “chop off his fucking head”. She then carried his head home to her husband in her dress, dropped it at his feet, and proclaimed that only one man who slept with her would live.

27. Malalai Kakar

Malalai Kakar was the first woman to graduate from the Kandahar Police Academy in Afghanistan. Received death threats from the Taliban. Eventually assassinated. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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