I was walking down the hallway behind one of my former students the other day, listening as he talked to his friend about Queen Elizabeth.
(Never mind how excited I was to hear students discussing history in the halls when they could be talking about the Avengers, whether to have McDonald’s or Carls Jr. for lunch, or their friend’s latest Facebook status).
“Queen Elizabeth was important,” he said, “because she was the first great female ruler in history.”
I literally had to bite my tongue.
I almost lambasted this young man with a tirade on history’s amazing female leaders, but decided to save the poor soul what promised to be a very long lecture. (Never say I wouldn’t make a benevolent dictator). Instead, I let him continue on his merry way while expounding on Elizabeth’s many virtues.
However, not launching into a speech then means that you all have to endure it now. (Cue the evil laugh). I’ll make it easy–here’s my top ten list!
(Note: This is my very own non-scientific list, and yes, some of these ladies moved up just because I like them more. So sue me.)
1. Hatshepsut (Ancient Egypt)
2. Theodora (Byzantine Empire)
I’ll be honest–Hatshepsut and Theodora are really a tie, but I’ve loved Hatshepsut since 7th grade so she gets to be #1.
3. Elizabeth I (England)
4. Catherine the Great (Russia)
5. Isabella of Castile (Spain)
6. Sorkhokhtani (Mongolia)
7. Boudicca (England)
8. Wu Zetian (China)
9. Maria Theresa (Austria)
10. Eleanor of Aquitaine (France)
There you have it! And yes, I’m well aware Queen Victoria isn’t on the list, but honestly, she lost points because I already had two Britons on the list. Not to mention she’s only been dead 111 years–I’m an ancient history kind of gal.
Is there anyone I’ve missed? Or anyone you’d move around the ranks? And on a side note, if anyone has any book recommendations (fiction or non) on these women, feel free to leave them in the comments!