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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.
When this indigenous Brazilian warrior mermaid proved too awesome for her tribe, she just took up residence in the water, and started an aquatic harem of passers-by.
3rd century Rome had a major woman problem. Her name was Zenobia, and she took over a huge chunk of their empire in her brief and tumultuous career as rebel queen.
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.
This Indonesian queen ruled wisely and justly in life, and was deified as the embodiment of all evil after her death. The story of why gets a bit complicated.
Sex worker who became empress of the Byzantine Empire, and used her political power to safeguard her interests, and her…
When she came face-to-face with a great monster, this mother saved her child and herself through bravery, quick thinking, and great culinary skills.
Widowed young queen who led a fearsome rebellion against the British with her child tied to her back.
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.
First her father died. Then her sons. Then her husband. Pregnant, saddled with debt, a failing company, and an overbearing mother, Rebecca Lukens rolled up her sleeves and showed the world what she was made of: iron.