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From Isabel la Católica to Wu Zetian: the 8 most powerful women in history

Empresses, queens, governors, true guerrillas and strategists… These women have managed to change the history of their time and overcome each and every one of the adversities and prejudices that the society of that time placed on them. Authentic revolutionaries who did not hesitate to stand out in a world of men to become great strategists, conciliators, warriors and leaders.

Brave women who would pave the way for many other women and who became authentic precursors of feminism. From Cleopatra to Wu Zetian, passing through Isabella the Catholic, Joan of Arc or Catherine the Great. These are the most powerful women in history.

The most powerful women in history

  • Cleopatra (69 BC – 31 BC): Daughter of Ptolemy XII Auletes and Cleopatra VI, she was in charge of assuming the throne along with her little brother and after the death of her father.

    It was not until the death of her brother Ptolemy his intelligence when it comes to improving the economy and position of the country.

  • Nefertiti (1370 BC – 1330 BC): Great royal wife of Akhenaten, Nefertiti was undoubtedly the most important queen of Egypt. Known for her beauty and for her important political and religious role, Nefertiti was one of the key figures of ancient Egypt.

  • Isabel the Catholic 1451 – 1504): Queen of Castile and wife of Ferdinand of Aragon, Isabella I of Castile was undoubtedly one of the most powerful women. And her merits in ingenuity and her government skills made her one of the most influential women in world history and all this together with the fact that during her reign she was in charge of managing Christopher Columbus’s trips in search of new routes to the Indies, which would end with the discovery of America.

  • Joan of Arc (1412 – 1421): Known for her bravery and fearlessness, Joan of Arc would go down in history as one of the most important military heroines in history. Evidence of this is that at only 17 years of age, Joan of Arc was already leading the French royal army.

    Her death was one of those that shocked France the most, as she was burned alive for heresy at the age of 19. 500 years later she would be canonized and remembered as one of the most powerful women in history and she did not hesitate to oppose the Church of that time.

  • Lady of Cao (400 AD): This is how this woman from the backpack culture is known, discovered in 2006, a key discovery since until then it was only believed that men had been able to hold high positions in ancient Peru. It is also believed that Lady Cao had the status of ruler in the theocratic society of the Chicama River Valley and that she was considered an almost divine character.

  • Catherine the Great (1762 – 1796): Catherine II of Russia, also known as Catherine the Great, was reigning empress of Russia for 34 years until her death. She was the woman in charge of collecting the legacy of Peter I of Russia and enlarging it and opening it to the Black Sea.

    She was considered a revolutionary woman in politics, standing out in the management of government institutions and military organization, in addition to being a key player in all advances related to technology, medicine, art, culture and education.

  • Empress Theodora (500 – 548): This Byzantine empress and wife of Justinian I, stood out for her great popularity and power, becoming the most powerful and influential woman in the Byzantine Empire. In fact, some sources name her as reigning empress alongside Justinian I and as her co-regent.

    A woman also known as a pioneer of feminism, she has been remembered throughout history for her progressive ideas, for being a great conciliator and for being an important saint in the Orthodox Church.

  • Wu Zetian (690 – 705): Empress of China from 690 to 705, Wu Zetian was responsible for briefly interrupting the rule of the Tang Dynasty. This woman was the only sovereign monarch in the entire history of China, who would be elevated to empress after her marriage to Gaozong of Tang.

    But it was not until she was widowed that Wu Zetian obtained absolute power over the empire, proclaiming her own dynasty in the year 690, which she called Zhōu. She is a woman remembered as a great leader and for her great wisdom.

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