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After escaping from a convent, this swashbuckler had the strength to chase her dreams: which were apparently to drink, fight, and womanize.
Khawlah bint al-Azwar
When Byzantine forces captured her brother, this warrior poet donned the outfit of a black knight and went on a bloody rescue mission.
When the Tsar became hellbent on nailing down her gender, this clever gender-nonconforming heroine kept him guessing to the end.
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.
When a neighboring tribe threatened the Yoruba, this queen went undercover as a spy to find their weakness.
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 most-wanted WW2 spy rescued Jews and POWs, blew up Nazi trains, and used an X-rated radio rhyme to identify herself to Britain.
Carolina Maria de Jesus
Brash, funny, and difficult, this mother of three wrote her way out of extreme poverty with her uncompromising look at Brazilian society - and was alternately lauded and berated for it.
This Polish nurse sacrificed her safety, her marriage, her very family to save 2500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust.
When her husband became deathly ill, this pregnant teen took the reins to become America's first female boat commander - all while fighting off a mutiny and keeping her husband alive.