Gracia Mendes Nasi
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The only female emperor of China in history, her ruthless rise to power makes Game of Thrones look like a day at the beach.
Chaste and virtuous woman spends life assuming she's better than her more sex-positive neighbor, and for this haughtiness becomes in…
One half of the odd couple of Crimean nursing - the jolly black businesswoman who swore by folk remedies, in stark contrast to Florence Nightingale's by-the-book Victorian approach to medicine.
Recruited widows, orphans, and prostitutes into an all-woman ninja spy group, the largest in Asia at the time.
Catalina de Erauso
After escaping from a convent, this swashbuckler had the strength to chase her dreams: which were apparently to drink, fight, and womanize.
Headed a squadron of 80,000 pirates, ruled the Chinese seas for two decades, and actually retired happily - but not before extorting a nice pension from the Chinese government.
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.
A phenomenally successful archaeologist who became a fashion icon for wearing men's clothing.
Champion weightlifter, suffragette, mom - this "Lady Hercules" did it all.
This "untouchable" woman ended decades of abuse by starting a bandit gang and avenging the lower castes. After some time in prison, she got out, ran for parliament, and won.