Women in Asian and African History

Story posted: Saturday, 21. May 2011 by CPA Media

Pictures From History / Themes / WOMEN IN HISTORY




Women in Asian and African History




 It will come as no surprise that men have dominated Asian and African history just as completely as they have in Europe and the West. Indeed, perhaps even more completely. Take China, for instance ­­– five thousand years of more-or-less continuous civilization but only one female ruler in her own right, Empress Wu Zetian (r. 690-705). Plenty of consorts and concubines, to be sure, and one infamous Empress Dowager (Cixi, r. 1861-1908) who certainly ruled, but did not reign. Taken together, Wu Zetian and Cixi dominated the Dragon Throne for just over sixty years – the other 4,940 years belonging, by and large, to male rulers.


Nor is China that exceptional. Japan has had just eight reigning empresses, six in the semi-legendary Kofun and later Asuka and Nara Periods (c. 250-794 CE), and two in more recent times; Meisho, (r. 1629-43) and Go-Sakuramachi (r. 1762-71). Vietnam has produced some remarkable female warriors, for example the Sisters Hai Ba Trung (40-42 CE) and Trieu Thi Trinh (225-48), as well as the courageous patriot Vo Thi Sau, executed by the French in 1952, at the age of 17. Thailand has its Queen Suriyothai, who died in battle with the Burmese in 1549, and Burma its last queen, Supayalat, deposed by the British in 1885, together with her husband King Thibaw.


The same is true, more or less, for South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. Africa’s record, too, has been very much one of male domination, though mention should be made of Egypt’s Queens Hatshepsut (1508-1458 BCE), Nefertiti (c. 1370-1330 BCE), and Cleopatra (69-30 BCE). Empress Mentewab of Ethiopia (r. 1723-30) exercised considerable power in her own right, as did the three 19th century Merina queens of Madagascar, Ranavalona I (1828-61), Ranavalona II (1868-83) and Ranavalona III (1883-97).


Asian and African women have also made their mark in the arts, as poets, writers and musicians, as well as in politics ­– though in general from behind the throne, as mothers, wives and mistresses. In this, matters are once again not so very different from the West.


This began to change in the 20th and 21st centuries, with the emergence of powerful women like the Soong sisters and Jiang Qing in China – though once again, all rose to positions of power and influence with the help of their husbands. Things have been rather different in South Asia, where a series of powerful women dominated the subcontinent for much of the latter half of the 20th century – Indira Gandhi in India, Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan and Sirimavo Bandaranaike in Sri Lanka, while in Bangladesh the two most influential politicians today, Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina, are both women. Then, of course, there’s Burma’s courageous opposition leader, Aung San Su Kyi, under house arrest for most of the period since 1988, but still very much a force to be reckoned with.


Meanwhile in Africa opposition to colonialism and the liberation movements have produced women such as Mozambique’s Graca Machel – the widow of Samora Machel, now married to Nelson Mandela – Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and the controversial but very influential Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.


In fact, despite a long history of male dominance, Asia and Africa have – of course – produced many gifted, influential and powerful women who have left their mark on history.


Listed below, in alphabetical order, are some of the most significant women in Asian and African History, together with a short appreciation of their lives and contributions. The list is, doubtless, incomplete – please feel free to send us any additions or corrections – but it is a start.


Those names marked with an asterisk are represented in the image archives of Pictures From History and may be found using the Search facility or clicking here: WOMEN IN HISTORY



Amannisahan, Queen [China]: 



Aquino, Corazon [Philippines]:

 (1933-2009) was the 11th President of the Philippines and the first woman to hold that office. Aquino was also the first popularly and democratically elected female president and head of state in Asia. She is best remembered for leading the 1986 People Power Revolution, which toppled the authoritarian regime of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and restored democracy in the Philippines.


Arroyo, Gloria [Philippines]:

(1947- ) is the fourteenth and current president of the Philippines. Arroyo is the country's second female (after Corazon Aquino) and second longest serving (after Ferdinand Marcos) president, she is also the daughter of late former Philippine President Diosdado Macapagal and is of royal blood due to ancestral lineage tracing her to Don Juan Macapagal, a great-grandson of Lakandula the last reigning Raja of Saludung.


Ashrawi, Hanan [Palestine]:

(1946 - ) is a Palestinian Christian legislator, activist, and scholar. She was a protégé and later colleague and close friend of Edward Said. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees in literature in the Department of English at the American University of Beirut. Ashrawi also has a Ph.D. in Medieval and Comparative Literature from the University of Virginia. Ashrawi was an important leader during the First Intifada, served as the official spokesperson for the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East peace process, and has been elected numerous times to the Palestinian Legislative Council. Ashrawi is a member of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's Third Way party. 


 Aung San Suu Kyi [Burma / Myanmar]:

 (1945- ) is a Burmese opposition politician and General Secretary of the National League for Democracy. In the 1990 general election, Suu Kyi was elected Prime Minister as leader of the winning National League for Democracy party, which won 59% of the vote and 394 of 492 seats. She had, however, already been detained under house arrest before the elections. She has remained under house arrest in Myanmar for almost 14 out of the past 20 years. Suu Kyi was the recipient of the Rafto Prize and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1990 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. In 1992 she was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding by the Government of India.


Ban Zhao [China]:

 (45-116CE) was the first female Chinese historian. She was married to a local resident Cao Shishu at the age of fourteen, and was called in the court by the name as Venerable Madame Cao. She was the daughter of the famous historian Ban Biao and younger sister of the general Ban Chao and of historian Ban Gu author of the history of the Western Han, a book known in modern times as the Book of Han. It was said her works could have filled eight volumes.


Bandaranaike, Sirimavo [Sri Lanka]:

(1916-2000) was a Sri Lankan politician and the world's first female head of government. She served as Prime Minister of Ceylon and Sri Lanka three times, 1960-65, 1970-77 and 1994-2000, and was a long-time leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.


Bhutto, Benazir [Pakistan]:

(1953-2007) was a Pakistani politician who chaired the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), a centre-left political party in Pakistan. Bhutto was the first woman elected to lead a Muslim state, having twice been Prime Minister of Pakistan (1988-1990; 1993-1996). She was Pakistan's first and to date only female prime minister. She was the eldest child of former Pakistani prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Nusrat Bhutto, and was the wife of current Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. 


Borte Ujin, Grand Empress [Mongolia]:

(Born c.1162) was the first wife of Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire. Borte became the head of the first Court of Genghis Khan, and Grand Empress of his Empire. Little is known about the details of her early life, but she was betrothed to him at a young age, married at 17, and then kidnapped by a rival tribe. The decision by her husband to rescue her may have been one of the key decisions that started him on his path to conquer the world. She gave birth to four sons and five daughters, who, along with their own descendants, were the key bloodline which further expanded the Mongol Empire.


Cai Wenji [China]:

(born 177), also known as Cai Yan, was a Han Dynasty poet and composer. She was the daughter of Cai Yong, also a musician. She spent part of her life as a prisoner of the Xiongnu tribe. 


Chama Thewi, Queen [Thailand]:

(c.750) First ruler of the Mon kingdom of Hariphunchai (Pali: Haripunjaya). She gave birth to twins, one of whom succeeded her as ruler of Lamphun (i.e. Haripunchai), while the other became ruler of Lampang. A celebrated diplomat and warrior, she defeated the local Lawa king and through a mixtureof charm, guile and intelligence established a kingdom that would last for five centuries. In Lamphun today she has attained semi-divine status, and a statue of her is placed in Nong Dok public park.


Cixi, Empress Dowager [China]:

(Cixi Taihou, 29 November 1835 – 15 November 1908), of the Manchu Yehe Nara Clan, was a powerful and charismatic figure who became the de facto ruler of the Manchu Qing Dynasty  in China for 48 years from 1861 to her death in 1908.


Cleopatra VII [Egypt]:

(69 BC – August 12, 30 BC) was the last person to rule Egypt as an Egyptian pharaoh; after her death, Egypt became a Roman province. She was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Ancient Egypt. Cleopatra originally ruled jointly with her father Ptolemy XII Auletes and later with her brothers, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, whom she also married, but eventually she became sole ruler. As pharaoh, she consummated a liaison with Gaius Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne.


Dararasmi, Princess [Thailand]:

(26 August 1873 - 9 December 1933),was Princess of Chiang Mai and of Siam (later Thailand).She was the daughter of King Inthawichayanon of Chiang Mai and Queen Thipkraisorn Rajadevi of Chaing Mai and so she was descendant from the Chiang Mai Royal Family. She became one of the princess consorts of Chulalongkorn, King Rama V of Siam. After King Chulalongkorn’s death she returned to her native Chiang Mai and devoted herself to promoting Northern Thai culture.


Dido, Queen [Tunisia]:

(7th century BC) was, according to ancient Greek and Roman sources, the founder and first Queen of Carthage in modern-day Tunisia. She is best known from the account given by the Roman poet Virgil in his Aeneid. In some sources she is also known as Elissa.



 Gandhi, Indira [India]:

(19 November 1917 – 31 October 1984) was the prime minister of the Republic of India for three consecutive terms from 1966 to 1977 and for a fourth term from 1980 until her assassination in 1984, a total of fifteen years. Born into the politically influential Nehru Family, Gandhi grew up in an intensely political atmosphere. Her grandfather, Motilal Nehru, was a prominent Indian nationalist leader. Her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a pivotal figure in the Indian independence movement and the first Prime Minister of Independent India. She was India's first, and to date only, female prime minister.


Gandhi, Sonya [India]:



Go-Sakuramachi, Empress [Japan]:



Gongci, Empress Dowager [China]:

(1776–1850, came from the Manchu Niuhuru clan. She was the second Empress Consort of the Qing Dynasty Jia Qing Emperor of China, and she was the daughter of Gongala and born in the 41st year of the Qian Long Emperor's reign. 


Hangaku Gozen [Japan]:



Hasina, Sheikh [Bangladesh]:



Hatshepsut, Queen [Egypt]:

(1508 BC - 1458 BC) was the fifth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt. She is generally regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty. Today it is generally recognized that Hatshepsut assumed the position of pharaoh and the length of her reign usually is given as twenty-two years, since she was assigned a reign of twenty-one years and nine months by the third-century B.C. historian, Manetho, who had access to many records that now are lost. Her death is known to have occurred in 1458 BC, which implies that she became pharaoh circa 1479 BC. 


Ho Xuan Huong [Vietnam]:

(1772-1822) was a Vietnamese poet born at the end of the Le Dynasty who grew up in an era of political and social turmoil: the time of the Tây S?n rebellion and the tyrranical rule of Nguyen Anh. She is considered one of Vietnam's greatest poets. A single woman in a Confucian society, her works show her to be independent-minded and resistant to societal norms, through her social-political commentaries and use of sexual humour or expressions. Her poems are usually irreverent, full of double entendres, but extremely erudite.


Huai Furen [China]:

(c. 940 - 976) was a celebrated Chinese poet. She was the favourite consort of Emperor Meng Chang of Later Shu Dynasty (934-965), one of the Ten Kingdoms that China was split up in after the fall of the Tang Dynasty in 907.


Iparhan [China]:

Aka Xiangfei


Jiang Qing [China]:

(March 14, 1914 - May 14, 1991), also rendered Chiang Ch'ing in Wade-Giles Romanization, was  Mao Zedong's last wife and major Chinese Communist Party figure. She married Mao in Yan'an in November 1938, and is sometimes referred to as Madame Mao in Western literature, serving as Communist China's first first lady. Jiang Qing was most well-known for playing a major role in the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) and for forming the radical political alliance known as the ‘Gang of Four’. When Mao died in 1976, Jiang lost the support and justification for her political activities. She was arrested in October 1976 and sentenced to death.  Her sentence was reduced to life imprisonment in 1983, however, and in May 1991 she was released for medical treatment. Before returning to prison, she committed suicide.


Jind Kaur, Rani [India]:

(1817 - 1863 in) also popularly known as Rani Jindan. She was the youngest wife of Maharajah Ranjit Singh and the mother of the last Sikh Emperor, Maharajah Duleep Singh. In 1845 she became Regent of Punjab for Duleep Singh. She was renowned for her great beauty and personal charm along with her 'characteristic strength of a man' qualities which the British Raj came to mistrust and dislike.


Jingu, Empress [Japan]:



Jito, Empress [Japan]:

 Jito-tenno,  645 – December 22, 702) was the 41st imperial ruler of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. She was the fourth woman to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne. Her reign spanned the years from 686 through 697.


Khaled, Laila [Palestine]:

(1944 - ) is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). She is also a member of the Palestinian National Council. She has been called the ‘poster girl of Palestinian militancy’. Khaled came to public attention for her role in a 1969 hijacking and one of four simultaneous hijackings the following year. She is married to physician Fayez Rashid Hilal, and today lives with their two sons Bader and Bashar in Amman, Jordan.


Lalla Fatma N’Soumer [Algeria]:



Le Chanh [Vietnam]:



Macel, Graca [Mozambique]:



Madikizela-Mandela, Winnie [South Africa]:



Marcos, Imelda [Philippines]:

 (Born July 2, 1929) is the widow of former Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, and is herself an influential political figure in that country. She is sometimes referred to as the ‘Steel Butterfly’ or the ‘Iron Butterfly’.


Mata Hari [Netherlands / Indonesia]:

(7 August 1876 – 15 October 1917) was the stage name of Margaretha Geertruida Zell. In 1895 she married Dutch Colonial Army and moved to Java in the Dutch East Indies. Here studied the Indonesian traditions intensively, joining a local dance company. In 1897, she took the name ‘Mata Hari’, Indonesian for ‘eye of the day’. In 1903 she moved to Paris, where by 1905 she began to win fame as an exotic dancer. She posed as a Java princess of priestly Hindu birth, claiming to have been immersed in the art of sacred Indian dance since childhood. During World War I, however, she was accused of spying for Germany, found guilty and was executed by firing squad at the age of 41. The circumstances surrounding her supposed espionage remain dubious.


Medferiashwork Abebe, Empress [Ethiopia]:



Meir, Golda [Israel]:

(1898 – 8 December 1978), Meir was born Golda Mabovitch in Kiev in the Russian Empire (today’s Ukraine). She migrated to Palestine in 1921 and eventually became the fourth Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel on 17 March 1969 after serving as Minister of Labour and Foreign Minister. Israel's first and the world's third female to hold such an office, she was described as the ‘Iron Lady’ of Israeli politics.


Meisho, Empress [Japan]:



Melchora Aquino de Ramos [Philippines]:



Menen Afsaw, Empress [Ethiopia]:



Mentewab, Empress [Ethiopia]:



Moremi Ajasoro [Nigeria]:



Mumtaz Mahal, Empress [India]:

(1593 - 1631) or ‘beloved ornament of the palace’ was an Empress of India during the Mughal Dynasty. She was born in Agra, India. Her father was the Persian noble Abdul Hasan Asaf Khan, the brother of Empress Nur Jehan (who subsequently became the wife of the emperor Jahangir). She was married at the age of 19 to Prince Khurram, who would later ascend the Peacock Throne as Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan I. She was his third wife, and became his favourite. She died in Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh during the birth of their fourteenth child. Her body remained at Burhanpur for 23 years until a tomb of unsurpassed magnificence was completed. She was then buried in the Taj Mahal in Agra


Nam Phuong, Empress [Vietnam]:

(14 December 1914 – 16 December 1963), Marie-Therese Nguyen Huu Thi Lan, later Imperial Princess Nam Phuong and Empress Nam Phuong was the first and primary wife of Bao D?i, the last king of Annam and last emperor of Vietnam, from 1934 until her death in 1963. She also was the first and only empress consort of the Nguyen Dynasty. 


Nefertari, Queen [Egypt]:

(1290 - 1254 BCE) was one of the Great Royal Wives (or principal wives) of Ramesses the Great. Nefertari means Beautiful Companion. She is one of the best known Egyptian queens, next to Cleopatra, Nefertiti and Hatshepsut. Her lavishly decorated tomb (QV66) is the largest and most spectacular in the Valley of the Queens. Ramesses also constructed a temple for her at Abu Simbel next to his own colossal monument.


Nefertiti [Egypt]:

 (c. 1370 BC – c. 1330 BC) was the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten . Nefertiti and Akhenaten were known for a religious revolution, in which they started to worship one god only. This was the Sun God Aten. She was made famous by her bust, now in Berlin's Neues Museum. Some scholars believe that Nefertiti ruled briefly after her husband's death and before the accession of Tutankhamun as Smenkhkare, although this identification is a matter of ongoing debate.


Ngo Dinh Nhu, Madam [Vietnam]:



Nur Jahan, Empress [India]:

 (1577–1645) was an Empress of the Mughal Dynasty, of Persian origin whose tomb lies in Lahore, Pakistan. She was the twentieth and favourite wife of Mughal Emperor Jahangir, who was her second husband - and the most famous Empress of the Mughal Empire. The story of the couple's love for each other and the relationship that abided between them is the stuff of legend. She remains historically significant for the sheer amount of imperial authority she wielded - the true power behind the throne, as Jahangir battled serious addictions to alcohol and opium throughout his reign. She is remembered as one of the most powerful women who ruled India with an iron fist. 


Pahlavi, Farah, Empress [Iran]:



Ranavalona I [Madagascar]:

(c. 1782 –1861) was a Merina Queen of Madagascar. After succeeding her husband, Radama I and becoming Queen, she was also known as Ranavalo-Manjaka I.


Ranavalona II [Madagascar]:

(1829 - 1883) was Queen of Madagascar from 1868 to 1883, succeeding Rasoherina.


Ranavalona III [Madagascar]:

(1861 - 1917), also known as Ranavalo Manjaka III, was the last Queen of Imerina, a kingdom which dominated what is now Madagascar, from 1883 to 28 February 1897, when she was deposed by France, who subsequently ruled the island as a colony.


Rasoherina [Madagascar]:

 (1814 – 1868) was Queen of Madagascar from 1863 to 1868, succeeding her assassinated husband Radama II.


Ren Xiaowen [China]:



Roxelana [Turkey]:



She-Dong-Hong-Bei [Benin]:



Sei Shonago [Japan]

(c. 966-1017) was a Japanese author and a court lady who served the Empress Teishi / Empress Sadako around the year 1000 during the middle Heian Period, and is best known as the author of The Pillow Book (makura no soshi). Little is known about her life except what is said in her writings. She was the daughter of Kiyohara no Motosuke, a scholar and famous poet. Her grandfather Kiyohara no Fukayabu was also a well-known poet. They were middle-ranking courtiers and had financial difficulties, since they were never granted a revenue-producing court office.


Shangguan Wan'er [China]:

 (664-21 July 710), was a poet, writer and politician of the Tang Dynasty, as well as an imperial consort of Emperor Zhongzong.


Sirakit, Queen [Thailand]:



Sirleaf, Ellen Johnson [Liberia]:



Soong Ai-ling [China]:

 (Pinyin: Song Ailing, or Eling Soong, June 14, 1890 – October 18, 1973), eldest of the Soong sisters, was the wife and confidante of H. H. Kung, who served in the Republic of China government as minister of industry and commerce (1928–1931), minister of finance (1933–1944), and governor of the Central Bank of China (1933–1945), as well as Premier of the Republic of China from 1 January 1938 – 20 November 1939.


Soong Ch'ing-ling [China]:

(Pinyin: Song Qingling, 27 January 1893 – 29 May 1981), also known as Madame Sun Yat-sen, was one of the three Soong sisters who, along with their husbands, were amongst China's most significant political figures of the early 20th century. She was the Vice Chairman of the People's Republic of China. She was the first non-royal woman to officially become head of state of China, acting as Co-Chairman of the Republic from 1968 until 1972. She again became head of state in 1981, briefly before her death, as President of China. Soong is sometimes regarded as Asia's first female non-monarchial head of state, although her title of Honorary President of the People's Republic of China was purely ceremonial.


Soong Mei-ling [China]:

(Pinyin: Song Meiling; March 5, 1898 – October 23, 2003), also known as Soong May-ling or Madame Chiang Kai-shek, was a First Lady of the Republic of China, the wife of former President Chiang Kai-shek. She was a politician and painter. The youngest and the last surviving of the three Soong sisters, she played a prominent role in the politics of the Republic of China.


Sorghaghtani Beki [Mongolia]:



Supayalat, Queen [Burma / Myanmar]:

(13 December 1859 - 24 November 1925) was the last queen of Burma who reigned in Mandalay (1878-1885). Also known as Hsinbyumashin or Lady of the White Elephant, she married her half-brother, Thibaw, the last king of the Konbaung dynasty, in 1878. Their reign lasted just seven years when Thibaw Min was defeated in the Third Anglo-Burmese War and forced to abdicate in 1885. On 25 November 1885 they were taken away in a covered carriage, leaving Mandalay Palace by the southern gate of the walled city along the streets lined by British soldiers and their wailing subjects, to the River Irrawaddy where a steamboat awaited. Supayalat never lost her composure, and was said to have asked a British soldier by the wayside for a light to smoke a Burmese cheroot. Supayalat returned to Rangoon in 1919. When she died six years later the colonial government declared the day of her funeral a national holiday. Her funeral was held with pomp and ceremony as befitted a Burmese queen 


Suriyothai, Queen [Thailand]:

 (died 1549) Somdet Phra Sri Suriyothai was a royal consort during the 16th century Ayutthaya Kingdom of Siam (Thailand). She is famous for having sacrificed her life in the defence of her country. In 1548 the King of Burma invaded Siam with the intent of sacking the main capital, Ayutthaya. King Maha Chakkraphat led his troops in the defense of the city from atop his war elephant. Even though women were not permitted to take part in battle, Queen Suriyothai disguised herself as a man and rode into battle on her own elephant. During the battle, King Maha Chakkraphat's elephant collapsed and he was in danger of being killed. Queen Suriyothai rode her elephant to defend her husband and was killed by a war scythe.


Taytu Betul, Empress [Ethiopia]:



Thao Sri Sunthon [Thailand]:

(c. 1785) These were royally-conferred titles  was a title awarded to Than Phuying Chan, wife of the then recently deceased governor, and her sister, Khun Mook,  who defended Phuket Province in the late eighteenth century. According to popular record, they repelled a five-week invasion by Burmese in 1785, by dressing up as male soldiers and rallying Siamese troops. Chan and Mook were later honored by King Rama I with the honorific title Thao. The Heroine's Monument honouring them is situated on the main highway between the Phuket International Airport and Phuket town. 


Thao Thep Kasattri [Thailand]:

(c. 1785) These were royally-conferred titles  was a title awarded to Than Phuying Chan, wife of the then recently deceased governor, and her sister, Khun Mook,  who defended Phuket Province in the late eighteenth century. According to popular record, they repelled a five-week invasion by Burmese in 1785, by dressing up as male soldiers and rallying Siamese troops. Chan and Mook were later honored by King Rama I with the honorific title Thao. The Heroine's Monument honouring them is situated on the main highway between the Phuket International Airport and Phuket town. 


Thao Suranaree [Thailand]:

(1771–1852), also known as Lady Mo,  was the wife of the deputy governor of Nakhon Ratchasima at the time of Lao King Anuvong's attack on Siam in 1826. Anuvong's forces seized the town and evacuated the town's inhabitants. Lady Mo is credited as the leader who saved the city by harassing the invading force. Accounts describe her getting the invading soldiers drunk and leading a rebellion of captured prisoners on the route back to Vientiane, resulting in the defeat of the invading forces. The title Thao Suranaree or ‘Brave Lady’ was awarded her by King Rama III in recognition of her courage. 


Tiye, Queen [Sudan and Egypt]:

(c. 1398 BC – 1338 BC) was the daughter of Yuya and Tjuyu. She became the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III and matriarch of the Amarna family from which many members of the royal family of Ancient Egypt derived. Tiye wielded a great deal of power during both her husband’s and son’s reigns. Tiye became her husband’s trusted adviser and confidant. Being wise, intelligent, strong, and formidable, she was able to gain the respect of foreign dignitaries. She played an active role in foreign relations and was the first Egyptian queen to have her name recorded on official acts.


Tomoe Gozen [Japan]:



Trieu Thi Trinh [Vietnam]:



Trung Trac and Trung Nhi [Vietnam]:

Hai Ba Trung


Ulanara, Empress [China]:

(1718 - 1766) was the second Empress Consort of the Qing dynasty Qianlong Emperor of China. She was the daughter of General Narbu of the Manchu yellow banner.


Umm Kalthoum [Egypt]:



Vo Thi Sau [Vietnam]:



Wu Zetian, Empress [China]:

 (625–705), personal name Wu Zhao, often referred to as Empress Consort Wu in later times, was the only woman in Chinese history to assume the title of Empress Regnant. As de facto ruler of China first through her husband and her sons from 665 to 690, not unprecedented in Chinese history, she then broke all precedents when she founded her own dynasty in 690, the Zhou, and ruled personally under the name Sacred and Divine Empress Regnant from 690 to 705.


Xiao Cheng Ren, Empress [China]:

(1653 – 1674) Manchu name: Hiyoošungga Unenggi Gosin, was the first Empress Consort of the Kangxi Emperor of the Manchu Qing Dynasty of China. They were married in 1665. Empress Xiao Cheng Ren died at age 20, and was thus considered the most short-lived Empress of the Qing Dynasty. Empress Xiao Cheng Ren came from the Manchu Heseri clan, and therefore was known as Empress Heseri.


Xiao Gong Ren, Empress [China]:

 (1660 - 1723) Manchu name Hiyoosungga Gungnecuke Gosin, also known as Empress Uya, was an Imperial Consort of the Kangxi Emperor and mother of the Yongzheng Emperor. Her father was Lieutenant-Colonel Wei-wu of the Uya clan, of the Manchu yellow banner corps.


Xiao Hui Zhang, Empress [China]:

 (1641 - 1717), Manchu name: Hiyoosungga Fulehun, was the second Empress Consort of the Qing Dynasty Shunzhi Emperor of China. She was of the Mongol Borjigit clan. When in 1653 Shunzhi's first Empress was demoted she was promoted to Consort. One year later she became officially Shunzhi's second Empress. When the Kangxi Emperor ascended the throne, Hui Zhang was made Dowager Empress. She died in 1717 in the Imperial Palace, aged 76.


Xiao Jing Xian, Empress [China]:

 (c.1681 – 1731) Manchu name Hiyoosungga Ginggun Temgetulehe, was of the Manchu Yellow banner Ulanara clan. The Ulanara Empress was the daughter of Fiyanggu and was the first Empress Consort of the Qing Dynasty Yongzheng Emperor of China. Empress Xiao Jing Xian was probably born in the twentieth year of Emperor Kangxi's reign.


Xiao Kang Zhang, Empress [China]:

 (1640 –1663) Manchu name: Hiyoošungga Nesuken, was an Imperial Noble Consort during the Shunzhi reign of the Qing dynasty in China. She was named Empress posthumously because of her son Xuanye, who she bore to the Shunzhi emperor, succeeded to the Qing throne in 1661.


Xiao Ke Min, Empress [China]:

 (13 November 1906 – 20 June 1946), also known as Empress Wan Rong was the last Empress Consort of the Qing Dynasty  in China, and later Empress of Manchukuo (also known as the Manchurian Empire).


Xiao Mu Cheng, Empress [China]:

 (1757 - 1808) was of the Niuhuru clan. She was the first Empress Consort of the Qing Dynasty Daoguang Emperor of China. Niuhuru became the principal wife of the then Prince Mian Ning in 1796. She died in 1808, and when in 1820 Mian Ning ascended the throne as the Daoguang emperor, Niuhuru was posthumously made Empress Xiao Mu Cheng.


Xiao Quan Cheng, Empress [China]:

(1808–1840), Born Lady Niuhuru, Xiao Quan Cheng was the third Qing Dynasty Empress Consort of the Daoguang Emperor (1782–1850) of China.


Xiao Xian Rui, Empress [China]:

(1639 – 1660) was the fourth Empress Consort of the Qing Dynasty Shunzhi Emperor of China. She was the daughter of the Minister of Domestic Affair Esho, and was of the Donggo clan. She entered the imperial court at the age 18, and became a favourite of the Shunzhi Emperor. In August of the 13th year of Shunzhi's reign, Donggo was elevated to ‘Consort’, and in December the same year, was again elevated to the ‘Imperial Noble Consort’. She gave birth to a son in 1657 who died before he was a year old. His death had a great impact on both Donggo and Shunzhi, and Donggo soon became ill. She died in 1660, aged 21. 


Xiao Yi Chun, Empress [China]:

( 1727 – 1775) was a scion of the Han Chinese Wei clan. Her clan name was later changed to the Manchu Weigiya clan during the Jiaqing Emperor's reign. Empress Xiao Yi Chun's father was Wei Qing Tai, and she was born during the fifth year of the Yongzheng Emperor's reign.


Xiao Yi Ren, Empress [China]:

 (1609 - 24 August 1689) Manchu name Hiyoosungga Fujurangga Gosin.  Xiao Yi Ren was the third Empress Consort of the Kangxi Emperor. She was of the Tunggiya clan, and was the daughter of the minister of internal defence, Tong Guowei. Also, she was the niece of the Empress Xiao Kang Zhang.


Xiao Zhao Ren, Empress [China]:

(1653 - 1678)  Manchu name Hiyoošungga Genggiyen Gosin, was the second Empress Consort of the Kang Xi Emperor. Her father was Duke Ebilun of the Niohuru clan, and her sister was the Noble Consort Wen Xi. She was initially an Imperial Consort, but in 1677 was elevated to become an Empress Consort. Niuhuru died six months later, aged 25, and was interred into the Jing-Ling Mausoleum together with Empress Xiao Cheng Ren.


Xiao Zhe Yi, Empress [China]:

(1854 – 1875) also known as the Jia Shun Empress, was the Empress Consort of the Tong Zhi Emperor of China. Empress Xiao Zhe Yi came from the Mongol Alute clan, and was considered as one of the most talented and tragic Empresses of the Qing Dynasty. She incurred the enmity and jealousy of the Dowager Empress Cixi and was driven to commit suicide soon after her husband’s premature death.


Xiao Zhuang Wen, Empress [China]:

(1613 - 1688) Manchu name Hiyoošungga Ambalingg? Genggiyenšu, known for most of her life by the title ‘Grand Empress Dowager’, was the consortof Emperor Huang Taiji, the mother of the Shunzhi Emperor and the grandmother of the Kangxi Emperor during the Qing Dynasty in China. She wielded significant influence over the Qing court during the rule of her son and grandson. Known for her wisdom and political ability, Xiaozhuang has become a largely respected figure in Chinese history, strictly in contrast to the despotic reputation of Empress Dowager Cixi. She was a daughter of a prince of Borjigit clan of the Khorchin Mongols, Prince Jaisang, and thus was a descendant of Genghis Khan.


Yaa Asantewaa [Ethiopia]:



Yang Yuhuan [China]:

(719-756), also known as Yang Guifei, was one of the Four Beauties of ancient China. She was the consort of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang for many years. During the Anshi Rebellion, as Emperor Xuanzong was fleeing from the capital Chang'an to Chengdu, she was killed because his guards blamed the rebellion on her powerful cousin Yang Guozhong and the rest of her family.


Zenobia, Queen [Syria]:



Zewditu I, Empress [Ethiopia]:



Zia, Khaleda [Bangladesh]:





Text copyright © Andrew Forbes / CPA Media 2011.

















Category:  World

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