*Before I start this post I want to acknowledge the tragic events happening in the world right now regarding Covid-19. I know that a lot of people are struggling to keep going, it’s tough. I have been ill therefore self-isolating for the past couple weeks or so, but I’m one of the lucky ones. People are dying around the world and the best thing we can do to prevent this is to stay home. Please stop making any unnecessary trips, visiting people, hanging out in social situations. And please, wash your hands. I really hope that everyone is being safe and looking out for one another. *
So, we all know that women haven’t exactly had an easy ride. We are often seen as weaker and more disposable – like objects. Throughout history, women have been undermined and stolen from. We have been mocked, hurt and killed. It’s hard being a woman, even today! Millions of women have been disregarded in history, so I came up with a small list of some of the women I believe deserved better – although I could name many more.
1. Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII of England. We all know how this one ends, but did she deserve it? No. Not at all. Henry was a selfish, evil man who threw tantrums the minute he couldn’t get exactly what he wanted. I mean, through the evidence we can tell that he actually probably did really love Anne, but that didn’t stop him decapitating her, did it?
Anne was beheaded at the Tower of London on May 19th, 1536. We know that Henry brought in a swordsman to carry out her execution because using a sword was quicker and less messy, how thoughtful of him. Henry’s reason for killing his wife was that she flirted with other men, all the while he was sleeping with her sister! I guess you can do what you want when you’re the king.
The two shared a daughter, Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth I), who was only two when her mother died. After her mother’s death, Elizabeth was considered illegitimate. Elizabeth didn’t have a great life either, all because of her father’s selfishness.
2. Lady Jane Grey
After Henry VIII, his son Edward VI became the King of England at the age of ten. When he was fifteen, the young King died. But who should succeed the throne? Edward thought that his cousin, Jane Grey, should become the ruling monarch, much to the disgust of his half-sister, Mary.
Jane is often forgotten as Queen of England because she only ‘ruled’ for nine days before Mary’s revolution led to her downfall. Because she never had a coronation, she isn’t considered a proper monarch. Therefore you’ll often see Mary I as Edward’s successor.
She was kept prisoner at the Tower of London for about four months. Mary I initially spared her life, but Jane’s father joined a rebellion against Mary. This caused Jane to be considered a threat. Lady Jane Grey and her husband, Lord Guilford Dudley, were executed on February 12th, 1554, charged with high treason.
3. Catherine Howard
Another of Henry VIII’s victims, I mean wives. This time his fifth wife. The young Catherine Howard. She was brought into the household of Anne of Cleves, Henry’s fourth wife. Here she caught the eye of the King himself.
At the age of around nineteen, she married the King; he was forty-nine! Just over a year later, in 1541, Catherine was stripped of her Queenship and imprisoned in the Syon Abbey in Middlesex. She was accused of adultery with her Cousin Thomas Culpeper. She consistently denied the accusation, maintaining that Thomas had raped her. This meant nothing to Henry who ordered her execution.
Catherine was so young and had absolutely no business marrying Henry, but like I said before, what Henry wants he gets. They had such different personalities; she was carefree and young, yet Henry was a big bully who was always grumpy. It’s quite obvious they are not a match made in heaven. She absolutely deserved better than being beheaded.
I’ve spoken about Boudicca before in my post all about strong women, but she gets an honourable mention here too.
We don’t know when she was born, but we do know that it was somewhere around 60-61 AD. She was the Queen of the British Celtic Iceni tribe. We know she put up with a lot at the hands of the Romans during the Roman invasion of Britain. They attacked her tribe, flogged her and raped her two daughters in front of her. This only made her mad.
Boudicca brought British tribes together to take down the Romans. She led the fight which resulted in many many deaths, Roman and Celtic. A fearless leader who fought right until the very end. No one knows exactly what happened to her, there are conflicting reports. One says she killed herself by drinking poison to avoid capture, and another says she died of illness. Either way, she was a warrior who just wanted to live her life.
The second woman Pharoh of Egypt, and the fifth Pharoh overall. Although it was considered that she was only co-consort of Eqypt, opinions on this have changed making it seem like she became the true Pharoh of Egypt. Hatshepsut was considered great. She brought peace among the Egyptians. She also re-established the trade routes which brought wealth to the Eighth-dynasty. Not only did she bring wealth, but she was also known as one of the most prolific builders of Egypt, creating numerous buildings. Her buildings we so good that her successors often tried to claim them.
Hatshepsut was very successful and ruled for a long time, about twenty years. In 2007 a Mummy was found in Hatshepsut’s temple and was identified as the King herself! They identified her by a tooth fragment found in a jar with her body. Medical evidence has discovered that she likely had diabetes and also bone cancer, which probably caused her death.
Since her death, she has been forgotten. Attempts were made to remove her from history, by her own son! Her name was removed from stone, her accomplishments were claimed by others, and her statues removed. No one really knows why she was almost removed from history, but the thought of self-promotion during this time could be a huge factor.
After everything she did, she deserved so much more than what she got.
6. Josephine Baker
I adore Josephine. Not only a wonderful dancer, singer, and performer but also a clever and kind woman. Born in America but made famous mainly in France, she had to fight her way to the top. As an African-American woman, she was at the bottom in America. But in France, she became a star.
Born as Freda Josephine MacDonald in 1906. Her mother was adopted and her father is thought to be vaudeville drummer, Eric Carson yet there is evidence that suggests this is wrong. Even Josephine didn’t believe this. Her foster son Jean-Claude Baker did a lot of research into her birth but was unable to come to a conclusive answer as to who her real father was. Josephine believed that her real Dad was white, but her Mother carried that secret all the way to the grave.
Josephine Baker starred in three films: the silent film Siren of the Tropics (1927), Zouzou (1934) and Princesse Tam Tam (1935). She was also an incredible dancer with her unique style. She caught the eye of many men and women. She was considered ‘exotic’. But during World War II she took on a new role – a spy! Baker worked for the French military intelligence spying on the German troops. Her fame allowed her to meet and hang out with high ranking people, all the time she was collecting information on them.
Throughout her life Josephine adopted twelve children, having none of her own. She did suffer some pretty bad miscarriages, one resulting in a hysterectomy. After the war, she managed to get back into performing and traveled back to America. In the 50s she lost all credibility after criticising a club about the discrimination of black patrons. This caused Josephine to fall on hard times. She lost all of her money and her home. If it wasn’t for her friend’s things could’ve ended much worse. Josephine was also a prominent civil rights activist and stood for black rights all the way until her death.
In April 1975 Josephine performed for the last time in Paris in front of a star-studded audience including Mick Jagger, Liza Minnelli, and Diana Ross. Celebrating fifty years in show business. Four days later Josephine was found lying peacefully in her bed surrounded by glowing reviews of her performance. She died later on in hospital after suffering from a cerebral hemorrhage, she was sixty-eight.
Happy Mother’s day out there to all the wonderful mums and a continued happy women’s history month!