Khawlah bint al-Azwar
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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.
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.
When her brother of this fairytale princess decided to marry her, she warded him off by cutting off her own hands. Then she gave birth to a dog. It got weirder after that.
The first prosthetic limb in human civilization went to this ancient warrior queen. Or did it? The story is more complex than you might think.
Picked to be an impotent figurehead, this savvy intellectual quickly learned how to play politics and modernized the nation to ward off invasion.
The world's fiercest all-female fighting force, and the incredible legend of how they rescued their deposed queen from slavery in Brazil.
The first Japanese woman to go to college didn't have a choice. But the experience changed her - and she changed Japan in return.
The only female emperor of China in history, her ruthless rise to power makes Game of Thrones look like a day at the beach.
When her father decided to marry her, this leather-clad princess embarked on one of the most bonkers Cinderella tales ever told.
Sword-slinging, opera-singing bisexual rock star of the 17th century - who burnt down a convent to romance a nun and had to be pardoned by the king of France TWICE.