Throughout history, there have been great people whose influence has stood the test of time. These are the absolute 9 most influential women who have ever existed. Chances are you have not heard of all of them before.
In order to make this list the 9 women had to have an impact that to this day influences millions or billions of people around the world. While there are plenty of influential women in history, these 9 remain the most influential because their life’s work continues to change the world.
The absolute 9 most influential women in history are
- Queen Victoria
- Wu Zeitian
- Queen Elizabeth I
- Marie Curie
- Catherine The Great
- Rosalind Franklin
- Lubna of Cordoba
- Ada Lovelace
- Florence Nightingale
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Without further ado, here are the absolute 9 most influential women in history.
1.) Queen Victoria
|Born||24th of May, 1819|
|Died||22nd of January, 1901|
|Famous Quote||“Beware of artists, they mix with all classes of society and are therefore most dangerous”|
|Known For||Increase in British democracy, enlarging the British Empire, reforming British morals.|
|Region of World||British empire, 19th century.|
|Further Reading||The 3 Impacts of Queen Victoria That Made Her Famous|
Nobody today lives life without feeling the influence of Queen Victoria. To this day she remains one of the most influential people in history, in both the West and East.
Queen Victoria lived during what is called the Imperial Era of British Colonization. This was the 19th century(1800-1900).
Under Queen Victoria’s reign, the British successfully started the industrial revolution, expanded the British Empire, and also reformed humanitarian morals.
Today the entire world lives in a post-industrial age because of Queen Victoria pushing to have her Empire advance as fast as possible into the world of machining. This is why historians often call this time period in world history the Victorian Era.
Not only did Queen Victoria expand the British Empire but more importantly she reformed the English moral system along with increasing democratic policies.
Before her reign, the Latin West’s monarchy was seen as backward and archaic. Under Queen Victoria, she strove to lower the power of the monarch worldwide and instill more democratic forms of government in both Britain and the colonies.
Today the reason that over 25% of the land’s surface follows British customs is because of the push by Queen Victoria to instill industry and democratic principles worldwide.
Further, Queen Victoria sought to lead by example and as such instituted a new moral code built around work ethic, religion, and education.
As a result of this people across the world live in democratic societies and follow similar legal and moral codes which push for higher education along with strong familial ties.
2.) Wu Zetian
|Born||17th of February, 624 AD|
|Died||26th of November, 705 AD|
|Famous Quote||“Remember, when one’s aim is to achieve greatness… everyone is expendable.”|
|Known For||Expansion of China territory, reducing corruption, restoring economy.|
|Region Of World||East Asia, China|
|Further Reading||The 3 Impacts of Wu Zetian that Changed History|
When people think of influential women in world history, often they fail to account for the history of the east.
Out of all the Women in the history of China, none is more influential than the 7th-century Tang Empress, Wu Zetian.
Wu Zeitian came to power during a tumultuous time in China’s history. The Tang dynasty was trying to solidify itself while also reducing corruption and building a stronger agrarian economy.
Not only did Wu Zetian solve this but she also drastically expanded Tang territory into Korea and the northeast of China. From this came a massive explosion in Chinese art and literature which set the tone for future dynasties and generations.
Empress Wu also reduced corruption at the court by allowing more commoners to take the government entrance examinations. Her philosophy was set around finding the best person for the job, a tradition that continues up to this day.
Finally, Wu Zeitian also drastically reinvigorated the Tang’s economy by heavily focusing on giving peasants more power over their land and production rights. This dramatically increased the agricultural sector within mainland China and allowed for a massive population explosion over the coming centuries.
Today this explosion in art, commerce, and efficient bureaucracy have impacted billions of people worldwide. As a result, she remains one of the most influential women in history.
3.) Queen Elizabeth I
|Born||September 7th, 1533|
|Died||24th March, 1603|
|Famous Quote||“The past can not be cured.”|
|Known For||Defeating the Spanish Armada, building the United Kingdom, Starting the English Colonies|
|Region Of World||England and North America|
|Further Reading||The 3 Ways Queen Elizabeth Changed The World|
Many people know of Queen Elizabeth as the Virgin Queen due to her never having children or marrying.
However, her influence on the history of the world is often misunderstood. The reason the entire western hemisphere is influenced to a degree by British policies is because of her.
The most important event to have ever happened in Queen Elizabeth’s life was the sinking of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Before this time no European power dared challenge Spain in the Atlantic Ocean.
As a result, Spain had total control over the ‘new world’ of the Americas since nobody could get there without Spanish approval.
However, Queen Elizabeth changed that. In 1588 with the help of English privateers, the Spanish Armada of 150 ships and 18,000 sailors was sunk. As a result, the Americas were open for other European colonization attempts.
This is why the image I included of Queen Elizabeth at the top is unique. It was painted after the sinking of the Spanish Armada. Look at where her hand is placed on the globe. It is placed in the Americas.
Without Queen Elizabeth, I western nations in the Americas might not have come to exist. As a result, her influence has impacted billions of people throughout history, landing her firmly on this list.
4.) Marie Curie
|Born||7th of November, 1867|
|Died||4th of July, 1934|
|Famous Quote||“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.”|
|Known For||Discovering radiation|
|Region of World||France, Poland|
|Further Reading||How Marie Curie Changed the World Forever|
Marie Curie remains to this day one of the most influential people throughout history for one major reason…discovering radiation.
Marie Curie was responsible for developing the theory of radioactivity. This theory indicates that everything in the universe expels some degree of energy as it slowly decays.
This was groundbreaking. In the late 19th century Curie discovered a new form of energy, the energy of radiation.
This alone was not enough, however. Curie needed to prove that her theory could be applied to save people across the world.
Marie Curie lived in France during the outbreak of WWI. She wanted to help and as such created mobile x-ray machines called petites Curies or little Curies. These could be moved around the battlefield to help administer aid to the wounded and take x-rays of soldiers.
Further, Marie Curie discovered something amazing. You can sterilize wounds using radiation to kill off bacteria. She called this new theory Radium Emanation and started to provide radium gas from her personal supply to nurses to begin to sterilize the wounds of soldiers.
Today, every single medical examiner in the world uses some form of radiation to either examine or treat serious wounds or illnesses. For example, millions of people worldwide are saved by the use of radiation to help treat the spread of cancer in patients.
As a result of Curie’s discovery and application of Radiation to help billions of people worldwide, she has landed firmly on this list of one of the most influential women in history.
5.) Catherine The Great
|Born||2nd of May, 1729|
|Died||17th of November, 1796|
|Famous Quote||“It is better to inspire a reform than to enforce it.”|
|Known For||Growing size of Russia, funding the arts and reforming government, making Russia one of the leading European nations.|
|Region Of World||Europe/Asia|
|Further Reading||3 Ways Catherine The Great Changed Society|
Catherine the Great worked to transition Russia to a European superpower. Few women in history have had the direct impact that Catherine has had upon the world.
The reign of Catherine the Great was marked as a time of rapid expansion eastward into the Siberian wilds along with a more efficient government state. In 1772 Russia defeated the Ottoman Empire to claim Crimea and eventually Russia created a settlement in Alaska, North America.
Catherine became Empress during the 18th century and worked tirelessly to educate herself and her Empire on the outside world. Because of this Russia became a hub of culture and learning that spread out across the former Soviet Union and today impacts hundreds of millions of people.
In order to do this however Catherine would have to continuously strive to convince the nobles of Russia to support her actions. To do this she enlisted the help of several massive names within 18th-century Europe.
One of her closest friends and inspirations was none other than the legendary French writer Voltaire!
What happened over the course of Catherine’s reign was nothing short of a miracle. Russia became a hub of learning and culture that to this day continues to influence people around the world. This would not have been possible without the efforts of one Empress, Catherine the Great.
Today when you travel throughout eastern Europe you see Catherine’s impact in the art, language, people, and music of Eastern and Western Europe.
As a result of this massive impact, she lands firmly on this list of the most influential women in history.
6.) Rosalind Franklin
|Born||25th of July, 1920|
|Died||16th of April, 1958|
|Famous Quote||“Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.”|
|Known For||Discovering double helix of DNA|
|Region of World||West, U.K, 20th century|
|Further Reading||How Rosalind Franklin Changed The World|
Chances are you have never heard of Rosalind Franklin nor her impact on the history of medicine and biology however you are familiar with her discovery. That is helping to discover the double helix of DNA.
Working with a team of graduate students at the University of King’s College in London she would take pictures of individual strands of DNA using a new form of photography called X-Ray Crystallography.
What she discovered was that DNA was in fact a double helix strand. That this DNA was composed of data that could be manipulated and edited to build a genome.
This discovery was massive. Overnight previously untreatable diseases and illnesses had an avenue for medical personnel to finally begin treatment.
Further, now plants could be genetically modified. Things such as food could now be produced to withstand temperature and prevent disease.
To this day this impact is still being fully felt. However, Rosalind Franklin’s influence has impacted millions of people worldwide.
One of the best quotes that demonstrates how important Rosalind Franklin is to the world was stated by John Bell, professor of Medicine at Oxford.
As a result of her discovery impacting billions of people, she lands firmly on this list of the most influential women in history.
7.) Lubna of Cordoba
|Born||10th century AD|
|Died||10th century AD (rumored 984 AD)|
|Famous For||Preserving knowledge of the west, Mixing Arabic knowledge with Latin.|
|Region of world||10th-century Arabic Spain (Al-Andalus)|
|Further Reading||How Lubna of Cordoba Changed History|
During the ‘dark ages’ in Europe a majority of knowledge was thought to be lost to oblivion. This however was not the case as one woman in the Islamic city of Cordoba tirelessly worked to preserve over 500,000 books of knowledge from both the Arabic world and the Latin West.
Lubna of Cordoba was born a slave but through her prowess and keep intellect she rose up in An-Andalus Spain to eventually become the Sultan’s private secretary.
She was tasked with creating the Arabic library of Medina Azahara. Scholars from around the Arabic world would travel to the Sultan’s palace to share in the knowledge that Lubna of Cordoba had gathered.
On top of Arabic knowledge, she preserved thousands of books from the ancient Romans and Greeks. Today we can thank Lubna of Cordoba for preserving some of the greatest philosophers and mathematicians the world has ever known.
It was from this library in Cordoba that knowledge would eventually flow back into the Latin west to jumpstart what would be called the Renaissance in Italy during the 15th century.
Without her, it’s doubtful that the Renaissance would have had the peak that it had. As a result, she is considered by many to be one of the most influential women who have ever lived. However, most people don’t know of her impact outside of Arabic historians.
8.) Ada Lovelace
|Born||10th of December, 1815|
|Died||27th of November, 1852|
|Famous Quote||“Your best and wisest refuge from all troubles is in your science”|
|Known For||First computer programmer|
|Region of World||England, 19th century|
|Further Reading||3 Impacts From The Worlds First Programmer|
Long before the 20th-century computer programmers existed a woman who created computer programs on primitive counting machines.
Her name was Ada Lovelace and she created the world’s first computer program to easily calculate advanced math equations on Charles Babbage’s early computer prototype.
From an early age, Ada Lovelace was known for her ability to easily perform calculations and her highly inquisitive mind. Her contemporaries immediately noticed her ability and supported her by sending her to meet great minds like hers.
In June of 1833, Ada met Charles Babbage and saw his new machine, the Difference Engine. A machine that could easily perform advanced calculations.
However, Ada would take it one step further by creating a list of commands to enter into the machine to easily perform even more advanced calculations. This was the first software program.
Due to this, she was given the nickname the “Enchantress of Numbers.”
Today everything people interact with has computer programs built into it to some degree. You reading this page is an example of a computer program built around math.
As such Ada Lovelace has impacted Billions of people worldwide. Few people today don’t interact with computers and as such, she lands firmly on this list.
9.) Florence Nightingale
|Born||12th of May, 1820|
|Died||13th of August, 1910|
|Famous Quote||“Never give nor take an excuse.”|
|Known For||Creating modern nursing|
|Region of World||West, England/U.K|
|Further Reading||3 Accomplishments of the Worlds First Nurse|
Before Florence Nightingale nursing was practiced as a religious practice. For many people, effective medical treatment remained out of touch.
Florence Nightingale changed that forever.
Being born in England during the 19th century Florence Nightingale would come to see the horrors of war firsthand when she served as a nurse for the British during the Crimean war.
Noting that more soldiers died from illness and infection than direct combat Florence Nightingale made it her mission to save as many people as possible.
She forced Britain to send people to build a proper hospital where she and a handpicked selection of volunteer nurses could work to save soldiers.
Further, she cataloged and collected data on mortality rates across the Crimean war. From this, she perfected certain types of treatments and started to be able to diagnose patients easier.
This was the first instance of medical data analysis to help patients. Today all doctors and nurses in the world have to study Florence’s charts and learn how to implement data analysis to help save people.
Upon returning home Florence would create the world’s first nursing school to teach proper practices to medical personnel across the world.
As a result, Florence Nightingale has impacted billions of people worldwide across the world due to her advances in nursing and the medical field.
Since she has this massive impact she lands firmly on this list of the absolute 9 most influential women of all time.
There you have it; an entire article that goes over the 9 most influential women in history.
This handpicked list includes articles I have written on each of the above women and their impact. If you want to know more about their influence and life go check them out.
If you like content like this then feel free to share it around the internet and subscribe to the free newsletter. Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet.
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Until next time,