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Fascinating women in history

  1. Apr 20, 2007 #1
    Who are your favorites? I'm hoping to discover some new ones, but even the most well known ones are welcome. For instance I've got a thing for Joan of Arc. Of all the women in history, she would be the one I'd most like to converse with. But first I'd like to talk about another fascinating woman.

    Theodora (500-548)
    She fascinates me because of her astounding rise from the lowest social stratum to being the wife of the Emperor Justinian. In her own time she was valued for her acute intelligence and perspicacity, with most sources I've read saying she was accepted as an intellectual equal and advisor by Justinian. Her strength of resolve is credited with saving the empire from collapse during one crisis; she kept her head when Justinian and all others lost theirs. She never forgot where she came from and worked to better the lives of the lower class, especially women.

    My opinion: Theodora had street-smarts and street-toughness born of hardship, deprivation and public scorn. Having nowhere and no one else to go to for help, she found within herself the independence, the intelligence, and the indomitable will to survive and to make her life great.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodora_(6th_century)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 20, 2007 #2
    Hypatia, thats where I got the name from.:blushing:

    There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions. On account of the self-possession and ease of manner, which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not unfrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in going to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more.

    Read more about her here!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypatia_of_Alexandria
     
  4. Apr 20, 2007 #3
    Hildegard von Bingen. She was a nun in 12th century Germany and I found about her from her musical works. According, she also wrote treatises and invented an alternative alphabet.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hildegard_von_bingen

    Her music always brings a smile and serenity. As always, I have a public box.net account, login with mavonn@yahoo.com and password is physics. It's the first song.

    Here's a sample from wiki of her stuff.

    Here's a youtube video with a sort of new agey twist to her works.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2007
  5. Apr 21, 2007 #4

    Evo

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    I suppose you have read Procopius' Secret History? If you are interested in Theodora, this is a must read, although he could be said to be a "bit" prejudiced.

    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/procop-anec.html
     
  6. Apr 21, 2007 #5

    wolram

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    Bodica, boy was she some toughie.
     
  7. Apr 21, 2007 #6

    Evo

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    I saw a great documentary on her not too long agao.

    Another great woman - Eleanor of Aquitane. I have tried, I mean really tried to read the book "Eleanor of Aquitane and the four Kings", but it was the most painful thing to read.
     
  8. Apr 21, 2007 #7

    wolram

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    That poor lady, if i recall correctly she did have to suffer some obese males,
    and corruption, but to be in some sort of power at the age of 15? i really think the excesses of the age are gross.
    If i had the time and money i would read all of history, it is so rich, it seems
    to belittle anything of modern times.
     
  9. Apr 21, 2007 #8

    Evo

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    She also ended up being imprisoned by her own husband for 15 years. http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/EofAreturns.html
     
  10. Apr 21, 2007 #9
    I was hoping we would hear from you.:smile: Hypatia is exactly the kind of fascinating woman I had in mind. I would love to have sat in on one of her lectures that she had in her home, an intimate gathering of Alexandria's best and brightest. Wow, that must have been great! In the current issue of Smithsonian magazine is an article about Alexandria from an archaeological perspective. Scant mention is made of Hypatia, but it did give me a better idea of the context in which she lived. To have excelled in a city of such excellence is truly remarkable.
     
  11. Apr 21, 2007 #10
    I had completely forgotten about Hildegard. Thank you for reminding me and for posting the links. I knew of her from her music but I did not know about her literary accomplishments.
    I had trouble with the boxnet and wiki audio files, evidently the fault of my system, but I found another page with many short clips.

    http://www.healingchants.com/hct.html

    The beauty of her music really is indescribable. Contrasting her with modern religious leaders, I find myself more willing to accept her faith as real as I listen to her music. Sitting in a dark room while listening, it's easy to imagine oneself in a smoky, flame-lit cathedral, hearing the pure human voice just as it was heard in the 12th century.
     
  12. Apr 21, 2007 #11

    wolram

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    Yes i think of these (history makers) but they lived their lives screwing
    the peasants, in reality, they were no better than hitler, having no regard
    for their actions, i think it is about time that these people are thought
    of as nasty, not heroes/heroines
     
  13. Apr 21, 2007 #12
    I have shied away from Procopius because so many commentators have described his treatment of Theodora as 'prejudiced' and even 'pornographic.' At first I was trying to avoid being prejudiced by it, but then I kinda fell for Theodora and found myself despising Procopius. That's a confession on my part; I know it's silly. But don't you think that some historical figures have a way of getting into our hearts? We feel for them. And why shouldn't we?
    But I suppose that I really should read it since it's regarded as one of 'the' sources. So I will. Thanks for the link.:smile:
     
  14. Apr 21, 2007 #13
    Boudicca was one bad ass broad! I'd vote for her for president. She could pinch the head off of Hilary, or any other politician for that matter.

    From wiki
    "she was possessed of greater intelligence than often belongs to women, she was tall, had long red hair down to her hips, a harsh voice and a piercing glare, and habitually wore a large golden necklace (perhaps a torc), a many-coloured tunic and a thick cloak fastened by a brooch"

    Sounds like she cut quite the figure! I love a fierce redhead!
    Wolram, do you watch Battlefield Britain? They show it over here on PBS. The episode Boudicca's Revolt was great stuff. That whole series is good.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boudica
     
  15. Apr 22, 2007 #14

    arildno

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    Dearly Missed

    Margareth I of Denmark (1353-1412).
    During her son's minority, she unified under her rule the three Scandinavian countries Denmark, Norway and Sweden:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_I_of_Denmark

    Her legacy, the Kalmar union, lasted about a century.
     
  16. Nov 30, 2007 #15
    Hi, all. I'm new to this forum -- was just looking at fascinating women in History and stumbled across this. I love all the women listed here in the forum, and I've a few to add, if you don't mind. :)

    Artemisia I & II from Halicarnassus -- the first participated with Xerxes in his war against Greece and fought in the Battle of Salamis. The second built the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven wonders of the ancient world. Both fascinating in their own rights. Also Artemisia Gentileschi, a Baroque painter in Italy and England. Her father successfully sued another painter over her rape, and she stuck to her guns even through several weeks of torture. She's also the author of one of my favorite quotes -- "Dum vivo regum esse meum" or "As long as I live I will have control over my being."

    Since someone brought up Hildegard von Bingen, whose music I love and have sung, I thought I'd throw in Julian of Norwich. She was an amazing woman, a mystic in 14th century England who had no formal learning but wrote some beautiful works. I encourage people to check her out.

    Well, there are so many more women I could name, but I'll stop there for now. :) Thanks for letting me ramble!
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2007
  17. Nov 30, 2007 #16

    Evo

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    Hi Heidijr, welcome to the forum!! Great additions to the list, I look forward to more contributions from you.
     
  18. Nov 30, 2007 #17
    Thanks, although I'm not sure you want to encourage me. I'm an Historian, so once I get started, I tend to ramble forever. :)
     
  19. Nov 30, 2007 #18

    turbo

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    Harriet Tubman was one brave lady. She was personally responsible for the escapes of hundreds of slaves and had a large price on her head, though not under her own name. The underground railroad conductor that the slave-owners wanted killed was known only as "Moses" - they did not suspect she was a woman. During the Civil War, she directed a network of black spies.
     
  20. Nov 30, 2007 #19

    Evo

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    Wonderful!! I'd love to see increased activity here. Ramble on! :smile:
     
  21. Nov 30, 2007 #20

    Astronuc

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    Don't stop! Please continue.

    I think women in history are woefully undereported and under-represented.
     
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