Have you ever thought that women leading the country would continue to grow in the twenty-first century? Well yesterday, history has done it again; the Church of England consecrated their first female bishop at Canterbury Cathedral.
Rachel Treweek, 52, (formally the Archdeacon of Hackney) became the new Bishop of Gloucester and is now the first woman to run a diocese.
So to celebrate, I am going to counting down my top five inspirational women who’ve made history from each category, from politics to religion. These are based on my own opinion and nothing more. So without further ado, here are my top five.
Nancy, Viscountess Astor (1879 – 1964)
Viscountess Astor was the first to have a seat in the British Parliament. However, she wasn’t English; she was American. Born in Virginia, Viscountess Astor moved to England after divorcing her first husband, Robert Gould Shaw II. Following her marriage to Waldorf Astor, she succeeded to the peerage and was elected in her husband’s stead. Waldorf Astor was already serving Parliament and was an MP for Plymouth Sutton at the time of the election (which was in 1919). Both of the Astors’ stood for the Conservative Party. Viscountess Astor held her seat until her retirement in 1945, one month after the end of the Second World War.
Matilda (1102 – 1167)
If you think the Tudors were the first Royal family who gave England their first female monarch, then you are wrong! Matilda was the first female monarch. The daughter of Henry I, Matilda succeeded to the English throne during a Civil War, where she overthrew England’s previous successor, King Stephen (who was her cousin). However, her reign as Queen didn’t last long. On her coronation day, she was never crowned. The reason was that the city of London rose up against Matilda and her followers. Luckily, one was hurt and everyone (Matilda and her followers) retreated back to Oxford. Her reign lasted a few months and because Matilda never effectively ruled politically and legally, she had been and still is excluded from the list of ruling monarchs in England.
Margaret Hughes (1630 – 1719)
Thought to be the first professional actress in England, Margaret Hughes started her career during the Restoration. Hughes’ first performance was recorded on 8 December 1660; the production was Shakespeare’s Othello, which was performed by Thomas Killigrew’s New King’s Company. Hughes played the role of Desdemona.
Hughes is also famous for her charms. She had many lovers, including Sir Charles Sedley (according to Samuel Pepys), Charles II and Prince Rupert, Duke of Cumberland. It’s also believed that Hughes had two illegitimate children: Arthur and Ruperta, who married Emanuel Scrope Howe.
Amelia Earhart (1897 – ? Reported Missing in 1937)
Amelia Earhart was an American aviation pioneer, author and the first female aviator to fly solo around the Atlantic Ocean.
Earhart decided to learn to fly after she rode a plane at an air show and hasn’t stopped since. However when embarking on a flight around the world, Earhart disappeared over the Pacific Ocean and was never again.
Aemilia (c. 300 – c. 363)
Born in the Roman Empire (now Moselle, France), Aemilia rejected of settling down and marriage so she could start a career as a Gallo-Roman physician. Aemilia practised medicine, and she wrote books on gynecology, and obstetrics and assisted her brother in his own studies.
So there we are – these were my top five women who changed history. Who are you favourites?
That’s all for tonight as I have to wake up really early tomorrow. I hope you all have good evening and don’t forget to celebrate the power of sisterhood. Power to the women!