Every single woman is strong, I truly believe this. We’re all so different but we all have a connection. The history of human-kind is full of underappreciated and brilliant women. We haven’t had an easy ride. It’s also true that some of us are more privileged than others, but that just means we need to stand together and raise each other up as opposed to hurting one another. When women hate on other women everyone loses, that’s just the way it is.
Today is International Women’s Day, a day of celebration. A time to appreciate ourselves and each other. I wanted to use this opportunity to share some of the many women throughout history that have changed the world in some way and inspired me to do the same.
Boudicca was the Queen of the British Celtic tribe, Iceni. She led an uprising against the Romans who invaded Britain in the year 60/61 AD. The Romans were not kind to her and her family, they were beaten and raped in front of each other. Boudicca managed to convince a few different British tribes to come together against the Romans. In the end, the Britons lost. There are different accounts on what happened to Boudicca, we know she was captured but some say she poisoned herself to avoid torture/execution, and some say she died of an illness. A statue was erected in London of Boudicca and her daughters by Thomas Thornycroft and his son, William.
2. Grace O’Malley
I will never stop talking about Grace O’Malley. Yes, she is an ancestor of mine, and yes, she is my hero. A fearless Irish Pirate, Grace would tax fishermen off the West coast of Ireland. Nothing seemed to faze her. After her first husband died, Grace struck up a romantic fling with a younger sailor. This sailor was then murdered by a rival Irish Clan, the Macahons of Ballyvoy. Grace avenged her lover by invading the Macahon castle of Doona, killing the men that murdered her lover. This brought her the nickname ‘Dark Lady of Doona’.
Grace then married her second husband, and my other ancestor, Richard. During this time her two sons and her brother were kidnapped by Richard Bingham, an English Naval commander, working for Queen Elizabeth I. This guy had been the bane of Grace’s life for many years, and the reason her eldest son was murdered. Grace decided that the only way to get results was to speak to the organ grinder herself. She sailed to England in 1593 for a meeting with the Queen. Grace could not speak English and Elizabeth could not speak Irish Gaelic, so they conversed in Latin. This journey was successful as Elizabeth I agreed to release Grace’s family and remove Richard Bingham from Ireland.
Grace died 10 years later in 1603, possibly in her Rockfleet Castle in Newport Ireland. I know I’m probably biased, but I think she is a pretty cool lady.
3. Elizabeth I
I know she had some beef with my Granny, but that doesn’t take away the fact she was a fierce leader. The daughter of King Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn. She is also a distant relative of mine. Related to Grace O’Malley by marriage and they would’ve never known.
It’s not hard to see that Elizabeth had a pretty tough life. Her Father ordered her Mother to be executed when Elizabeth was only two years old. This caused her to be considered illegitimate. She only became Queen because of her older sister Mary. When Henry died his son, Edward, became king. Edward died when he was very young, only fifteen. Upon his death, he had decided a lovely lady named Jane would become Queen of England. This did not go down well with Mary who thought she had the right to the throne. It’s all very Game of Thrones. Lady Jane Grey was only considered Queen for nine days before Mary’s rebellion caused her execution. Mary’s reign was horrific. She was a Catholic and treated Protestants with no mercy. Mary made Elizabeth Queen of England upon her death but made Elizabeth promise to keep the country Catholic. Elizabeth being the boss she was, did not keep the country Catholic, instead, she turned it Protestant. We’ve been a Protestant nation ever since.
In the 1580s it was clear that England could not avoid a war with Spain. England defeated the Spanish Armada, a Spanish fleet of 130 ships, in 1588. This defeat of such a large enemy under Elizabeth’s reign associated her with one of the best military victories, proving she was not one to mess with.
Elizabeth was known for her virginity. Often known for staying unmarried as a way to focus on running the country. Very admiral. She had no children, so when she died in 1603 James IV of Scotland took over, uniting the nations, becoming King James I of England, Ireland, and Scotland.
4. Dido Belle
I’m not sure many people know about Miss Dido Belle. Dido was the British heiress of the Lindsay family. She was a mixed-race woman born into slavery. Her mother, Maria Belle, was a black slave in the West Indies, and her father, Sir John Lindsay, was a British Naval officer. When her father returned to England in 1765, he brought Dido with him. She was raised by her Great-Uncle, William Murrey, and his wife, Elizabeth. They raised, clothed, and educated her. Her second cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray, was also raised by the couple after her mother died. The two girls grew up together.
William Murray was a politician and judge. He is noted for his reform of English law. William was against the slavery of black people and fought for abolishment. He protected Dido, announcing her as a free woman. When he died he left her a sum of money for the rest of her life, making her an heiress. She was really loved by her family.
Dido married a Frenchman named John Davinier, together they had three children. She lived until she was about forty-three. After her death, John went on to remarry and have further children.
5. Marie Antoinette
Who doesn’t know about the Austrian born French Queen? The last Queen of France. When she was only fourteen, she married the French heir to the throne, Louis-Auguste. Four years later her husband became King Louis XVI of France, making Marie Queen. Marie Antoinette was incredibly unliked among the French people. They viewed her as promiscuous and un-royal-like. She was accused of spending too much money on materialism.
During the time of Marie Antoinette and her husband’s reign, the French Revolution really took over. This was the downfall of the royal couple. The french over-threw the monarchy resulting in the abolishment of the monarchy in September 1792. King Louis was executed on January 21st, 1793. Two days after her trail started, Marie Antoinette was executed on October 16th, 1793, by guillotine. RIP you lavish legend.
6. Georgiana Cavendish
What can I say about Georgiana that I haven’t already said in my post dedicated to her? Georgiana was born Georgiana Spencer in 1757. When she was seventeen she married William Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire, making her the Duchess of Devonshire. Willliam was an emotionally reserved man who would often have affairs. He even had an affair with Georgiana’s best friend, Lady Elizabeth Foster.
Georgiana used her platform to promote equality. She was very interested in politics and was an avid supporter of the Whig party. Everyone loved her, she had a kind nature. She was even thought to have had romantic relationships with other women, which we love.
If you want to know more about this lovely lady then you should check out my other post, linked up there.
7. Anne Lister
Did everyone watch Gentleman Jack? What a show. Finally some lesbian representation about love and not just for the male gaze. Anne Lister was an English landowner. She kept a diary of her life, sometimes written in code so no one could read her secrets. It wasn’t until recently that her diary was decoded and published.
Anne travelled the world learning of its wonders. She was very bright and loved to learn new things. This was unusual for a woman at the time, but Anne Lister enjoyed testing the boundaries of societal norms.
Often considered the ‘the first modern lesbian’, it wasn’t really a secret that Anne loved women. She fell in love a few times, but the last time was with Ann Walker. The two ended up getting ‘married’ in 1834 and stayed together until Lister’s death in 1840.
8. Marilyn Monroe
Now, who doesn’t know about the blonde bombshell, Marilyn Monroe? An icon of the 20th Century still idolised to this day. Born Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1st, 1926. She was an actress, model and singer from Los Angeles. Featuring in over thirty films, she became an overnight star. She often played the ‘dumb blonde’ role, but she was actually really clever and wanted to move away from these roles.
Marilyn had a really troubled life. She grew up in foster homes and was married at the age of sixteen. It’s quite clear that she was often used when she was alive. She suffered from mental health issues, we now know it as bipolar. Marilyn had a very famous affair with the president of the United States, John. F. Kennedy, and infamously performed for him at his birthday.
On August 4th, 1962, Marilyn was found dead in her bed after overdosing. Many people believe that her death was caused by the US Government because of her affair with JFK. There are some suspicious things about her death that I have to admit don’t really make sense. I suggest looking into the reports of her death and watching documentaries if you want to know more. She was deeply loved by many and remains a staple of popular culture who we will remember eternally.
9. Audrey Hepburn
Another hero of mine. Audrey Hepburn was born in Brussels, Belgium on May 4th, 1929. During World War II, Audrey moved to The Netherlands with her mother and half-brothers because they hoped that The Netherlands would stay neutral just like WWI. Wrong. The Germans invaded The Netherlands in 1940. After 1942, Audrey moved to a town called Velp. Here she would dance to raise money for the Dutch Resistance.
After D-Day life got worse for Audrey. In 1944 the Dutch famine came about. The Germans blocked supply routes leading to a major lack of food. Audrey suffered because of this. She had anaemia and suffered from malnutrition. Her family ended up eating tulip bulbs just to stay alive.
Obviously, Audrey came out of this trauma to become one of the worlds biggest stars. Another huge influence on popular culture. Playing iconic roles from Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. An avid humanitarian throughout her life, she became a UNICEF ambassador. She was for all people up until the day she died.
A living legend. Queen Bey. One of the greatest performers this world has ever seen, and probably will ever see. I don’t need to say much about this icon because we all know everything there is to know about the Houston born singer.
Starting out in the girl-group, Destiny’s Child, Beyonce has had an incredibly successful career. She has three beautiful children and more money than I can even begin to imagine. She has a comfy life. I just hope that Beyonce goes on for many, many years to come.
11. Meghan Markle
I love Meghan Markle. I wanted to write about her because she does not receive the respect and love she deserves. The way that the media and her own family have treated her over the past few years has been disgusting. She is a respectable, kind and generous human who just wants to live her life with her family.
Meghan is an American actress who married the British Prince Harry in 2018. They had their first son, Archie, together in 2019. As the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the couple travelled the world together on their royal duties. An avid humanitarian before becoming a princess, this wasn’t worlds away from her previous life. Upon marrying Prince Harry, Meghan had to give up everything. She moved to England, quit acting, left her family and friends, and had to sit there whilst the British media ripped her to shreds. The shit that Meghan goes through is beyond belief, something no one should go through.
At the beginning of 2020, Meghan and Harry announced that they would be stepping back from the royal family. A huge shock to the British public, but I’m not sure what they were expecting. Harry’s own mother, Diana, was a victim of the media which resulted in her death in 1997. Harry has done nothing but love and protect Meghan, trying to prevent the same fate for her. The couple now lives in Canada. It seems like Meghan will go back to acting and I can’t wait. I adore her for the massive middle finger she metaphorically presented Britain. Nothing but respect for MY Queen.
I know that history is bursting with amazing women, but this is a short list of some of my favourites. Happy International Women’s day my lovely ladies.