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This pope was largely assumed to be male until she gave birth in the midst of a procession - and largely assumed to be factual until the 13th century.
Let her leprosy go untreated for years to make herself the perfect spy in the Japan-occupied Philippines - soldiers wouldn't touch her, so she could slip right through.
Sor Juana Inés de La Cruz
This brilliant poet rose from illegitimacy and poverty to become one of the luminaries of her age - until she flew too close to the sun.
The first naval admiral of modern times, she protected her country from foreign invaders with aplomb.
Cross-dressing Queen of Thieves who flouted social norms and had plays written about her.
When attacked by Native Americans, this pregnant viking bared her chest, brandished a sword, and took them on by herself. And she won.
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.
When her father died, leaving her lower-class family in debt, this indomitable woman worked tirelessly and became one of history's greatest fossil collectors.
Wallada bint al-Mustakfi
Spirited poetry-spouting princess who lived an audacious life and put her cheating lover on blast with her expert slam poetry.
The greatest leader of the nomadic Tuareg tribe of northern Africa, who put their men in veils and let their…