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This stubborn empress led her native Ethiopia to do the unthinkable - defeat one of the major European powers in war.
Ludicrously over-accomplished athlete who invented flying ambulances and won the only gold medal ever awarded by the French Academy of Sports for "all sports" - yes, all of them.
100 years before Lawrence of Arabia, this British woman traveled the Middle East by herself, surviving shipwrecks, plagues, and Bedouin attacks in the process.
Christine de Pizan
When her husband unexpectedly died, she rolled up her sleeves and became one of the greatest authors of the age to keep food on the table. She wrote passionate defenses of her gender (and military treatises!) that were centuries ahead of their time.
Jeanne de Clisson
When her husband was unjustly executed, this French noblewoman-turned-pirate became the terror of France.
Sonya Golden Hand
Russia's greatest female thief was so slippery that even once she was re-captured after escaping from a Siberian prison, nobody was totally sure it was her.
Gracia Mendes Nasi
Jewish businesswoman who saved thousands of Jews from the Inquisition by smuggling them out of the country.
This superhero of early Iranian mythology starred in her own stories, and plenty of them.
Marguerite de la Rocque
Stranded by her cruel relative on an abandoned Canadian island (literally named the Isle of Demons), she survived for two years by hunting animals and eventually made it back to France.
This undefeated half-Spaniard fencer was a household name in the 1800s - only to vanish into retirement (and obscurity) when she ran out of people to fight.