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Great Women of History

March 8, 2018

Egyptian Enigma by L. J. M. Owen is a remarkable combination of intelligent suspense and intensely readable fun. For starters, the book’s ultimate charm is its light-hearted, banter-esque humour driving the characters and narrative voice. but beneath the page-flicking, simple pleasure of reading is a multilayered story of betrayal, deception and dark mystery. egyptian-enigma

Dr Elizabeth Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth, is back, this time solving the very cold case of the Golden Tomb and what happened to its unknown creator, many years ago. You can read more about it here. 

Words || L. J. M Owen

International Women’s Day is the perfect time to remember the powerful, valiant, courageous women of the past.

Knowing the names and stories of women in history can give us an increased confidence in our own lives: if hundreds of women before us have ruled nations or led armies, it’s easier to believe that we too can successfully lead in business, politics and our communities.

Here’s a list of ten formidable women from history whose names¾and lives¾we should remember this International Women’s Day.

Cyane of Macedonia, c. 330 BCE

Almost everyone has heard of Alexander the Great¾risk taker, empire builder¾but have you heard of his equally daring half-sister, Cyane of Macedon, the real-life warrior princess? A celebrated military commander, Cyane led her armies into battle from the front, slaying many enemy warriors herself, defeating the Illyrian army.

The Tru’ng Sisters of Vietnam, c. 30 CE

The Tru’ng sisters, Trưng Trắc and Trưng Nhị, rose from obscurity to lead their people against a Chinese invasion in the first century, ruling Vietnam for at least three years thereafter and successfully defending their borders against repeated Chinese attacks. They were a strong demonstration of the power of women banding together for a purpose.

Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra (now Syria), c. 250 CE

Zenobia of Palmyra’s strength lay in her ability to strategise. Zenobia established a stable multicultural, multiethnic empire by fostering an environment of cultural pursuits, intellectualism and religious tolerance, while expanding her borders to annex Egypt and much of Rome’s Eastern territories. Planning and executing long-term strategies may require patience, but it can certainly pay off!

Lady K’abel, Wak Kingdom, Mayan Empire, c. 680 CE

The name of this seventh century ruler says it all. It translates as “Lady Snake Lord, Supreme Warrior and Ruler of the Centipede Kingdom”.

Contrary to expectations, although K’abel was a queen with a king (instead of a consort) for a husband, her titles meant that she was the higher authority¾a reversal of the commonly assumed hierarchy where male power dominates.

Tomoe Gozen, Japan, c. 1185 CEelimageo

An audacious samurai warrior, Tomoe was famed for her valour on the battlefield. Her physical strength and combat skills as a swordswoman, rider and archer (step aside, Katniss Everdeen!) meant she was often sent into battle as the first captain by her husband and military commander, Yoshinaka. Her bravery was legendary, as were her martial arts skills, defying the stereotype of the samurai as uniformly male.

Khutulun, Mongolian Empire, c. 1280 CE

Marco Polo described Khutulun as a superb warrior “who could ride into enemy ranks and snatch a captive as easily as a hawk snatches a chicken”. A famed archer, equestrian and wrestler, Khutulun insisted that she would only marry a man who was able to defeat her in wrestling. Legend says the horses she won from betting on the bouts amounted to a herd of more than 10,000. It’s unknown if she ever married…

Rani Velu Nachiyar, India, c. 1780 CE

A rebel Tamil leader, Rani raised a women’s army to defeat the invading British and become ruler of her own kingdom until her death, passing it on to her daughter. Women from one of her regiments volunteered to go to their deaths by entering the British base slathered in accelerant and ghee beneath their clothes to avoid detection, setting themselves on fire, and exploding the British ammunition tents. Not only did Rani strongly influence the women she commanded, she is credited with inventing the suicide bomber, such was her soldiers’ trust in her.

Ching Shih, China, c. 1805 CE

Possibly the most successful swashbuckler ever¾female or male¾Ching Shih cut a swathe through the ranks of her local pirate hierarchy until she ruled it. Ching built her pirate army to a force of at least 20,000, then established a strict code of law to govern her army, and the merchants and villagers who supported them. Disobedience was met with beheading, rapists were executed, and all booty was seized and redistributed across the floating empire and their supporters.

Following the death of her second husband, Ching returned to her home town, opened a tavern and brothel, and died of natural causes at the ripe old age of 69.

Lozen, Apache Warrior, c. 1870 CE

Multiple eye-witness accounts tell us of the exploits of Lozen, a valiant, cunning Apache warrior who strove to defend her people and lands from invading US and Mexican forces. On more than one occasion she rode through a volley of bullets to rescue women and children, and became known for her ability to observe the battle tactics of her enemy and use them to turn the tables.

Queen Liliuokalani, Last Monarch of Hawaii, c. 1900 CE

A number of women on our list fought against imperialism, and the final entry, Queen Liliuokalani, was no exception. As monarch of Hawaii in the early 1890s, she sought to draft a new constitution for her nation which would restore power to her people. Even when the US sent in a force of Marines to overthrow the monarchy and seize its lands, Liliuokalani continued to fight for the rights of her people while in exile.

Grab a copy of Egyptian Enigma by L. J. M Owen here


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