1. Trưng Sisters
The Trưng sisters (c. 12 – c.43 CE) were Vietnamese military leaders who ruled for three years after rebelling in 40 AD against the first Chinese domination of Vietnam. They are regarded as national heroines of Vietnam. Their names were Trưng Trắc (徵側) and Trưng Nhị (徵貳).
The sisters were born in Jiaozhi, a commandery of the Han dynasty (and in modern Northern Vietnam). The dates of their births are unknown, but Trưng Trắc was older than Trưng Nhị. The exact dates of their deaths are also unknown but both died around 43 AD after a battle against an army led by Ma Yuan.
Statue of the brave sisters.
2. Catherine the Great
was the most renowned and the longest-ruling female leader of Russia, reigning from 1762 until her death in 1796 at the age of 67.
Russia was revitalised under her reign, growing larger and stronger than ever and becoming recognised as one of the great powers of Europe.
3. Elizabeth of Russia
She led the country into the two major European conflicts of her time: the War of Austrian Succession (1740–48) and the Seven Years’ War (1756–63). On the eve of her death Russia spanned almost 16,200,000 square kilometres (6,250,000 sq mi).
The Winter Palace and the Smolny Cathedral in Saint Petersburg are among the chief monuments of her reign. She remains one of the most popular Russian monarchs due to her strong opposition to Prussian policies and her decision not to execute a single person during her reign.
4. Anna of Russia
The three girls were raised in a disciplined and austere manner by their widowed mother, a very stern lady of sterling character.
Born into a family of relatively modest means, Praskovia Saltykova had been an exemplary wife to a mentally challenged man, and expected her daughters to live up to her own high standards of morality and virtue.
Anna grew up within a milieu which cherished womanly virtue and domesticity above all else, and strongly emphasized thrift, charity and religious observances.
5. WU ZETIAN
Like most civilizations, China has been male-dominated throughout much of its history. Until very recently, women were afforded few rights, and direct power was all but totally denied to them. For a woman to attain the rank of Emperor, to become the most powerful person in China, was almost unheard of. Only one person in the entirety of Chinese history was able to do so. That person was Wu Zetian, one of the most remarkable rulers – female or male – the world has ever seen.
6. Concunbine Wu
A shockingly beautiful child, at the age of 13 (in approx. 639 AD) Wu became a concubine of Emperor Taizong. She did not have any children with the Emperor, and at his death in 649 she left the palace to become a Buddhist nun, as was common for childless concubines at the time. That should have been the end of her story. However, Fate was to give her another chance at glory.
Like much of Chinese politics of the day, this gets extremely complicated. Empress Wang, the wife of the current Emperor Gaozong (son of the late Emperor Taizong), was afraid that Gaozong was becoming too infatuated with Consort Xiao. This was indeed a matter of some concern, as consorts had in the past been known to supplant empresses, who were often killed as a result. To divert her husband’s attentions from Consort Xiao, the Empress had Wu – who was still young and beautiful – returned to the palace and reinstated as Consort.
This tactic was a complete success – too complete, in fact, for in a few years she had supplanted both Consort Xiao and Empress Wang in Emperor Gaozong’s affections. Both ladies were killed, and she attained the rank of Empress. Some historians believe that she killed her own infant daughter and framed the Empress for the murder. While this is not proven, subsequent events have suggested that such an act was well within her scope.
7. Empress Consort Wu
As Empress Consort, Wu moved quickly to consolidate her power. Forging alliances with certain powerful officials, she had those who opposed her demoted, exiled, or killed. She was an able advisor to the Emperor, and he delegated more authority to her as time passed. By 660 AD, the Emperor began to suffer from a debilitating illness (which some said was caused from slow poisoning by Wu), and he passed much of the day-to-day management of the Empire to Wu, who was then about thirty-five years old. Wu showed herself to be an able administrator, with sharp wit and extensive knowledge of history and literature. She also showed a remarkable ability to seek out and destroy those who plotted against her as well as those who might someday pose a threat. When Emperor Gaozong died in 683, she was inarguably the most powerful person in China.
8. Dowager Empress Wu
Following Gaozong’s death, Wu’s son Zhongzong became Emperor. He immediately began displaying troubling signs of independence, including appointing officials to important posts without consulting with his mother. This threatened to undermine Wu’s power base, and she took decisive action. Zhongzong was deposed and exiled, and Wu’s youngest son, Ruizong, became Emperor. Taking no chances this time, however, Wu kept the new Emperor in virtual isolation. Having no doubt learned from the unhappy example of his older brother, the titular Emperor kept very quiet and did nothing to offend the Dowager Empress.
9. Emperor Wu
In 690 AD, Wu took the throne herself, her son Ruizong reduced in title to Crown Prince. This caused a certain amount of displeasure among traditionalists, which Wu handled in her usually efficient and brutal manner. She expanded the powers of the secret police, who answered directly to her, and hundreds were exiled, imprisoned or murdered. She held this post for some 15 years, until, at the age of 80 and seriously ill, she was deposed. She died later the same year.
Judgement of History
As a leader, Wu was considered to be an able administrator and shrewd judge of character. She promoted and supported able men, and in return she received their firm loyalty. Generals appointed by her conquered Korea, adding that wealthy land to the Empire. She was quick to destroy any she saw as a threat, and the early years of her reign as Emperor were bloody and repressive, even by Chinese standards. As she grew more secure in her throne, however, she reined in the secret police, and even her enemies grudgingly praised her for her competence and decisiveness.
In short, her rule was benevolent to those who were no challenge to her, and lethal to those who were. All in all, Wu Zetian remains one of the most fascinating rulers in history, and well worth further study.
All of these women were so powerful the schools are not allowed to tech this, to not discourage males and oppress women.