Top 10 Badass Historical Women You Probably NEVER Heard Of!

These women might not be household names but they sure made history. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Badass Historical Women you’ve probably never heard of. Daughter of sultans, Noor was born for great things. For this list, we’re looking at women who are famous in their own right for their impressive achievements but that have probably slipped under your radar. If you can’t find a woman who you think should be on this list, be sure to check out our video on the Top 10 Female Warriors in History. She made the best of the war and the war made the best of her. I mean they got a lot from Nancy Wang. Number 10, Katharine McCormick. She’s not the most well known American heiress but her impact on women’s rights is priceless. From her youth, McCormick knew the importance of education and equality. While most of her female peers were discouraged from attending college, she earned a Biology degree from MIT in 1904. She gave money to build a dormitory for women. The first tower in McCormick Hall and eventually she doubled it and it became twice the size. She later became a prominent suffragette and was the first vice president of The League of Women Voters. After her husband died in 1947, McCormick earned a $35 million inheritance, giving her the chance to achieve her lifelong goals. She went on to donate money towards MIT’s first on-site female dorm and funded research that lead to the first birth-control pill. Philanthropist and pioneer, McCormick has helped improve women’s lives throughout America and the world. Number 9, Rosalind Franklin. She replies that she would be of little use in anything but science. While scientist duo Watson and Crick are associated with DNA’s double helix structure, Franklin was also a big part of this influencial discovery. A chemist and x-ray crystallographer, Franklin was a researcher at King’s College in London. In 1952, she and her student took photos of DNA including the pivotal photo 51. The A form gives us far the most detail so first we do the … on the A form. We’ll get to the B form all in good time. Without her knowledge, Franklin’s colleague, Maurice Wilkins showed photo 51 to Watson. Watson and Crick used the x-ray image to support their own research while Franklin’s own research was downplayed. Franklin died of ovarian cancer at only 37 and never lived to see the growing recognition of her work. With awards, buildings, and even a play in her honor, Franklin’s contributions to science will always be remembered. For Rosalind Franklin, the joy of science was in the work itself and it’s ultimate reward, the betterment of human kind. Number 8, Nancy Wake. This tough-as-nail spy started out as a freelance journalist and ended up as a French resistance hero. In the mid-30’s, Wake visited Vienna and saw Nazis assaulting Jews in the streets. From then on, she knew she had to stop them. You do not need to be french to see Hitler for what he is. The man’s insane! When Germany invaded France in 1940, Wake joined the resistance as a courier and guide for allied soldiers and refugees. Trained in England, she strengthened ties between Britain and the resistance. And her efforts led to many guerrilla victories. Yes there were deaths, yes there were tears but love and laughter. She just you know she was a flower that bloomed in wartime. Always on her tail, the Gestapo could never catch the woman they called ‘The White Mouse’. Wake passed away in 2011 at the age of 98 and is one of the most decorated service women of World War II. I stood there and i thought oh that’s dreadful, i couldn’t rip a cat. Number 7, Noor Inayat Khan. Not only was this brave woman a British spy, she was also a Sufi princess. Khan was a children’s author in Paris when the war broke out, and fled to England in 1940. She became a radio operator for British intelligence shortly thereafter and was next sent to Paris to work for the French resistance. To her fellow trainees, Noor was a mystery. A petite woman with a muslim name, a refugee from german occupied France While many members of her network were arrested, Khan continued to work while trying to evade capture. In October 1943, a colleague betrayed her and Khan was in prisoned in Paris by the SS. Even though she faced horrible conditions, Khan defied her captors until the end. It must have been her faith. Only that faith could have carried her through. She was executed at Dachau, Germany in 1944 and has since earned her place among Britain’s wartime heroes. Perfect qualities for a spy with a history of resistance. Her ancestors fought the British but Noor would fight with them. Driven by a hatred of fascism. Number 6, Khutulun. Before the WWE divas, there was Khutulun, a beautiful Mongol princess who happened to love wrestling. Do you wrestle in Venice? Of course. Show me. A descendant of Genghis Khan, she was a skilled warrior who often joined her father in battle. When she wasn’t killing it at the front, she could be found wrestling opponent after opponent. Khutulun could wrestle anyone she wanted and she didn’t just do it for kicks. If Khutulun won, she’d get 100 horses. If she lost, she’d marry her opponent. Needless to say, Khutulun ended up with a lot of horses. She allegedly married someone she met outside her lucrative hobby and died in 1306. Largely unknown outside of Mongolia until recently, this unbeatable princess wrestled her way into history. Khutulun has grown more fierce with age, and more beautiful. Number 5, Wu Zetain She was the only female emperor to reign in her own right in Chinese history and a polarizing figure to boot. Depending on the sources, Wu Zetian was either a ruthless woman who wasn’t above having her own relatives killed to take the throne or a highly effective leader who improved the lives of commoners. The truth lies somewhere in between. Wu purged a lot of the competition to become Emperor. But also managed to purge corruption, expand the civil service system, and make Buddhism more prominent. Wu Zetain wanted to embed herself into Buddhism, the religion of her empire. She even headed a brand new dynasty for 15 years which ended upon her abdication and death in 705. Despite her controversial reign, or maybe because of it, Wu continues to captivate us, centuries later. Number 4, Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut was one of the most famous female figures of ancient Egypt 1400 years before Cleopatra, another female pharaoh ruled over ancient Egypt. After her husband, Thutmose II, died, Hatshepsut ruled alongside her step-son, Thutmose III, eventually becoming a pharaoh in her own right. Hatshepsut was usually depicted with feminine features along with the King’s false beard to show her power. She needed to relinquish her femininity, don the short kilt worn by kings, put on a false beard, and wear the pharaoh’s crown. Her 20 year reign was mostly peaceful and prosperous. Hatshepsut built many monuments and embarked on a landmark trade expedition to the land of Punt. 20 years after her death, traces of her memory were destroyed with some believing that her step-son, Thutmose III was to blame. You have to use science to be sure that this is true or not. While later research casts doubts on this theory, we’re fortunate that enough has survived from her reign so that Hatshepsut won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Number 3, Ching Shih Mistress Ching This former prostitute became one of the most feared and successful pirates of the south China coast. Her husband, Cheng I, was already known as the commander of the Red Flag Fleet. After he died in 1807, Ching took the helm. By 1810, she oversaw a fleet of up to 80,000 pirates. No small feat. She also set up a strict code-of-conduct to keep them in line unless they wanted to lose their heads. Whether it was Chinese officials, the Portuguese, or the British, nobody could defeat the Red Flag Fleet. When the government offered amnesty to the pirates, Ching retired, keeping her loot, and running a gambling house. By land or sea, Ching was unstoppable. Number 2, Jeanne de Clison aka Lioness of Brittany This Britain noble woman’s third husband was executed for treason during the Hundred Years war. Jeanne then swore revenge on France. She sold her belongings to fund a small army. Fighting on land before becoming a pirate in the English channel. She and her children reached England where Edward III is said to have given her 3 ships. Along with her forces, Jeanne supposedly beheaded French nobles herself, always sparing a few to report to the French king. Sources differ on her pirating days. She was at sea anywhere from 5 months to 13 years but they ended when she married an English military deputy. Well, much of her life is the stuff of legends, her resolve was all too real. Before we unveil our number 1 badass historical woman, here are some honorable mentions. Number 1, the Mirabal Sisters. Well last I heard, women weren’t allowed to study law. Last you heard, your hadn’t heard of Minerva Mirabal These Dominican sisters, Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa fought the brutal dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Through their resistance group, ‘The Movement of The 14th of June’, they issued, and anti-Trujillo pamphlets and planned revolts. Minerva and Maria Teresa were arrested but were freed after the organization of American states intervened. Their freedom was short-lived, however. On November 25th, 1960, the sisters were driving home from visiting Minerva and Maria Teresa’s jailed husbands, when Trujillo’s henchmen beat them to death. Trujillo was assassinated six months later and the Mirabal’s surviving sister, Dedé, dedicated her life to preserving the women’s memory. To commemorate the sisters, November 25th is the international day for the elimination of violence against women. These sisters were not only badass, they are national heroes. Do you agree with our list? Who’s your favorite badass historical woman? For more remarkable Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo. The legend says that this statue actually is modeled on her face. She want to ah make this ah a statement ah of her power.

Comments 100

  • For all the badass women in history, there were some who were absolutely tyrannical.

  • Hmmmm wonder if I will see Bouddicea

    Edit: answer is nope. Shame her story is awesome.

  • Harriet Tubman?!

  • M A R I E
    C U R I E

  • Rosalind Franklin didn't get enough praise, basically Watson and Creek got all the credits of her works.

  • Cut Nyak Dien was a beautiful warrior princess who fought the dutch armies. She was betrayed and captured. The dutch exiled her cuz they’re too afraid shes just gonna start another rebellion. She’s like Katniss Everdeen, but shes from a royal family

  • why is my mom not on this list :p

  • what about the Arabian queen mavia who fought the roman empire and won .

  • Fatima al-Fihri the woman who founded the oldest existing, continually operating and first degree-awarding educational institution in the world, The University of Al Quaraouiyine in Fes, Morocco .

  • You should look for Tomris Khatun the first woman ruler

  • I'm just here for essay ideas

  • What the list you don't have jhasi ki Rani who fought British occupation in India even a new born baby on his back and many Indian women

  • Lioness not leoness!

  • This is funny

  • Kinda wild the trung sisters didn’t get an honorable mention but there’s only so many slots I guess. Great picks

  • Nancy ought to be in modern-day America.

  • It takes a special kind of determined for an individual to wage war on a powerful nation.

    Incidentally, it wasn’t her husband’s execution that enraged her, it was the failure to follow proper court evidentiary procedures. (Typical Bretonne.)

    Her pirating days ended because the French navy blew her flagship (“My Revenge”) out of the water. She and two sons floated for ages until one died of thirst and exposure. Then a fleet of allied Breton ships rescued her and son Oliver.

    After her revenge was satisfied, Oliver forgave the French. He was appointed as the French military leader and became the richest man in France. He was a billionaire in (uninflated) 14th century currency! (Typical Breton.)

  • It’s a breath of fresh air to read those comments: some are so appreciative and the rest give us more information about unheard female heroines, they are so positive.

  • GG go girls!💁🏼‍♀️

  • May I suggest a list of top 10 female composers of all time? It would be very interesting since most of them are widely unknowm.

  • no Indian?

  • I bet most watches are from women.

  • 🤦🏽‍♀️wow one black woman on there and she was in the MENTIONS not the list🙄

  • The sisters were beaten to death??????????? That gave me goosebumps

  • Kenau. Look it up. Like Boudica, but without the military training, just common sence. Thanx to her bravery, the Dutch replic was saved from the Spanish army. She knew they had no chance and still fought bravely. She had more balls then Chuck Norris.

  • Queen Nzinga! Queen from Angola

  • what of jhansi ki rani

  • Queen Margaret of Anjou! Wife of King Henry VI of England, and Joan of Arc's cousin, led a battle to defend the crown from the usurpers of York, when her husband the King was too weak willed to! Hell, Shakespeare made the basis of the historical play Henry VI, part III about her influence

  • There are many prominent women on this list, from many noble specializations. It would've been nice, though, if the list had included a few female philosophers. Seriously, drop in on a library sometime, and browse the philosophy section. There are books by or about Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Voltaire, Machiavelli and such, but books by or about female philosophers are discouragingly sparse.

  • Joan de arc not even made to honorable mentions teenage girl who able to lift entire nations moral.

  • Who is your favorite

  • I can’t wait till Greta thunberg will be on this

  • also make a video of syeda ul hurry.
    she was first female Muslim pirate Queen of Spain.

  • Wemen are the best!!

    Forgot the space after the "e'

  • Where the hell is nakano takeko? She was literally the last female samurai!!!!!!

  • So glad that the Mirabal sisters made the list, in my country the Dominican Rep they are national treasure 😍👏🏻

  • Not a single mention of the Soviet Night Bomber Regiment 588

  • I'm not happy the CORAZON AQUINO is on the list, first president woman from the Philippines who defeated dictator president

  • CHICA DA SILVA powerful Afro Brazilian Slave Queen (1732 – 1796) her story is badass!

  • Where's the Chinese Empress 😍😍😍😍

  • You forgot Jadwiga of Poland!

  • Sophie Scholl

  • What about St Joan of arc and Sacagawea??!!!

  • No I don't agree with your list. You failed to mention a few hundred women Queens of Africa,.

  • The Mirabal Sisters! ¡Las Mariposas! ¡SI SE PUEDE!

  • Khutulun 🙌🙌

  • This is a great list but having read a few books recently I would humbly recommend:

    Lady Elizabeth Craven-An 18th century noblewoman who successfully divorced her first husband. She was also a playwright, travel writer, and wrote various essays criticizing the treatment of women.

    Alouette Richer and Marthe Cnockeart -While Mata Hari is well known, her fellow WWI female spies are less discussed. Alouette was an aviator who acted as a double agent working for the French and revealed information on German troops in Spain. Marthe was a nurse and courier who delivered information in her native Belgium.

    Anne of Cleves and Katherine Parr-While most people talk about Henry VIII's first two wives, Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn and sometimes refer to wife #3 Jane Seymour. The stories of his later wives aren't nearly as well known. Anne of Cleves had a tremendous settlement during her divorce from Henry even receiving an honorary distinction as "The King's Sister" and used her status as a single independent woman to contribute to charity and aid others who were at Henry's mercy. It was even said that when Henry considered putting Wife #5 Katherine Howard away before he had her executed, he asked Anne if she would remarry him. Anne turned him down citing a previous impediment but also believed that she enjoyed her hard-earned independence too much.

    Katherine Parr was among the most scholarly of Henry's wives. She had two books published during her queenship and one afterwards, becoming the first Queen of England to have books published under her own name. She also defended various people who were arrested because Henry's regulations such as Protestant leader, Anne Askew.

    Marguerite Harrison-She was a spy before and during WWI for the Americans. She spied in Russia and Germany and was imprisoned three times.
    She was also one of the first female documentary filmmakers by directing and filming, Grass, a documentary about the nomadic Bakhtiari people.

  • What about jansi ki rani lakshmi bai. chand bibi, razya sultan

  • Where's Hedy Lamarr

  • My biology teacher did not let us leave her class without know about Rosalind Franklin

  • You should have mentioned the 17th Century French swordswoman/actor Julie d'Aubigny, who was openly bisexual, beat several men in duels and even burned down a goddamn convent to rescue her girlfriend. If that's not badass, nothing is.

  • here on international men's day…

  • I always tell people about Admiral Hazard. She did a lot to open the way for women in the military, and she did it her way.

  • Damn this is fucking badass

  • What about queen Nzinga from Angola who resisted from Portuguese rule.

  • You guys forgot eleanor roosevelt

  • Mirabal Sisters stood out for me!! 🙂
    They're real fighters for life!! 🙂

  • There's a great book called Child of the Morning about Hatshepsut. Though take it with a grain of salt – information about her has changed since the book was written. For example, it's unlikely she & Semet were lovers, and she was actually on good terms with her nephew who ruled after her. The whole name stricken event came later, and was not done by his command.

  • This makes me not to give up on my dreams as a woman☺

  • where is Maria Skłodowska-Curie on this list? Only women who won two Nobels in 1903 and 1911 in two diferent areas of science phisic and chemistry. In this time women couldnt wote but she achive what man couldn't, I'm proud she is Polish 😁

  • I’m disappointed that sayyida al hurra isn’t here

  • Anothers badass women: Lyudmila Pavlichenko and Hedy Lamarr!

  • you don't have Rani of Jhansi in your list!! recommend to read about her

    That’s all I can say.

  • Why Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi (India) is not on the list ?😡


  • I know the English language is super confusing, so I don't blame you for saying women wrong, but for future reference, the word is pronounced "WIH-men". Darn this language!

  • They forgot Nancy Palosi

  • You never know they might become a Servant in FGO


  • We just learned about Rosalind Franklin in biology lol

  • Hatshepsut

  • Nope. For me the most badass woman in history is…Martha Christina Tiahahu, a Moluccan fighter and National Heroine of Indonesia

  • Mojo is not credible . U guys don't even conduct this stuff on an international scale where is Rani Lakshmi Bai

  • Well you don't know about India's Rani Laxmi baii plzz do little more studies u will love to know about her

  • Mentions Wu Zetian, but doesn't use the actress that portrays her the thumbnail, instead portraying one of her main "adversaries" in the series…

  • I’m curious about what the honorable mentions did.

  • Boudicca, Joan of arc, cleopatra, Amelia earhart and most lesbians

  • Who was the girl in the clickbait photo?

  • The actress on the title card of this video is portraying "Consort Xiao Shufei 蕭淑妃". She wasn't exactly historically popular, considering she was the Consort to Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty. When Consort Wu(Empress Wu Zetian 則天順聖皇后) became Empress, she had Consort Xiao and the deposed Empress(Empress Wang 王皇后) put to death in the most horrific and painful way ever.

  • Wow Yaa asantwaa of Ghana made the list.🇬🇭🇬🇭🇬🇭

  • You left out Josephine Baker. She was with the US OSS during WW II. She was so famous, the Waffen-SS Military Intelligence (SD), the GEheime STAat POlizei (GeStaPo or Secret State Police), & the Abwehr never suspected her !!
    You also left out Jeanne D' Arc of France. The other woman was a traitor.

  • You can add every ottoman sultan like hurrem sultan. I really like badass womans 😂

  • Rani Lakshmibai, Queen of Jhansi in India, is also inspirational. She fought to protect her kingdom from the British who wanted to annex it. You can find many more names of brave and great women all over the world. Women have always been overshadowed or pushed into the dark by historians in the past. Finally we can now set the score and provide recognition to those who deserve it.

  • What about St Olga of Kiev, the badass patron saint of Kievan Rus

  • Wu Zetian was my all time favourite historical figure.

  • I think Olympe de Gouge should also be on this list. She was amazig and totally badass

  • What about Queen Kristina Of Sweden?

  • Y'all ever going to do a list on Assyrians/Babylonians/Akkadians or Sumerians. 8000+ years of history, I'm sure you guys could do a little something

  • What about Nelly melba

  • Catherine of Aragon winning a battle against Scots while Henry viii was fighting in France

  • The most B A of all time is missing, Ms. Harriet Tubman????

  • Want another badass woman? Look up Grace O'Malley, she defied Queen Elizabeth I in the 1500's. She was a female Cheftain in her own right. What a woman…

  • i think my mother should be on this list.

  • Are there movies about all of these woman? I'd love to see them.

  • YESSS las hermanas Mirabal!!!! it's a great movie and I recommend it to watch! it's called The Time of The Butterflies

  • >:D
    I'm doing Mirabal Sisters for a project yay

  • this is a even more badass woman. 1513-29 Joint Ruler Queen Burecca of The Maldive Islands
    Also known as Buraki Rani those days young Princesses were educated in the martial arts as much as young princes, and she out-shone her younger brother and sister out on the field and in the schoolroom. She had expected to succeed her grandfather to the throne. However several years after Siri Bavana Sooja died, it was her brother who came to the throne as King Siri Ananda Sultan Ali V (1512 -13). There were several other reigns in between. Very soon Burecca quarreled with her brother, fled the Maldives, and traveled east to the Kingdom of Aceh (known to the Maldivians as Asey Cara) on the island of Sumatra. There she completed her education and perfected her martial arts before returning home to depose her brother. Her fleet entered Malé harbour in the dead of night. Burecca fought a duel with her brother on the square inside the royal palace complex, several hours before dawn that morning. She slew her brother King Siri Ananda and ascended the throne to rule jointly with her husband King Siri Dhammaru Bavana (Sultan Mohamed the Black). It was Siri Dhammaru Bavana's third accession to the throne. Burecca, in spite of her ambitions, unlike several other women who occupied the throne, did not take the title of Rehendi or Sultana. Instead she took the title of Ranin or Queen Consort.

  • Hurrem sultan!

  • Rosalind Franklin Played a Important Role in Science .

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