For this year’s Women’s History Month I decided to look at women from English history who are seen as troublemakers, either at the time or since. Some may have deserved the title, others not so much. I use the word troublemaker in the sense of someone who has caused a stir and not really followed what was dictated to them.
a person who habitually causes difficulty or problems, especially by inciting others to defy those in authority.Oxford Language
We all know that for most women their roles in history have been on the sidelines, to be mothers, wives, even ‘property’ of first their fathers then their husbands. Due to this view of being the weaker sex and lesser than men any woman who stepped outside of this could be seen as ‘troublesome’.
Many of you will have seen my poll which was running from January until the beginning of March on various females from different categories on who you all think should get your vote. Were these votes for who you thought caused the most trouble or just who your favourite was? In all honesty, I don’t mind how you voted, the final round came down to Anne Boleyn against Boudicca. Boudica won by a landslide.
So what were my categories and who were the women I picked and why? After reading my reasons why not post your comments on whether you agree or disagree, are there other women from English history who you think should have been included? I would love to hear from you.
Some of our female consorts in history have often stepped beyond their role, either overpowering their husbands like Isabella of France, being seen as power-hungry like Elizabeth Woodville or for just being the wrong sex to rule like empress matilda.
From Queens to scandal, probably the most infamous female in Tudor history is Anne Boleyn, seen to have gone too far with her attempt to be queen and upsetting others that they conspired against her and made out she had slept with at least six other men. In the same area is that of Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American socialite who married the future Edward VIII, love or power-hungry? Well for him it was love as he abdicated so he could marry her. Then there is Mary Queen of Scots, accused of having her second husband murdered or at least knowing about it.
Not to stand on the sidelines many women in history have stepped up against their oppressors, like Boudicca, who after being humiliated by the Romans had had enough and stood up to the tyrants, centuries later came the suffrage movement and we women wanted the same rights as men, one of these women was Emily Davidson. So strong were her views that to grab the attention of the King and the news she ran out to grab the king’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913. Tragically the act caused her to suffer a severe head injury and she died. Then there is Edith Cavell, all she wanted was to heal the wounded, no matter the nationality but the German army arrested her and had her executed for treason even though she was an English nurse.
The final category I looked at was persecuted women, those punished for who they were or what they believed in. You had the Pendle witches, 10 women and 2 men were put on trial accused of witchcraft in Lancashire, 1612. Many of the accused came from two families who were healers, which led to allegations of witchcraft against each other. Anne Askew who was burnt at the stake for her beliefs. She was horrendously tortured in the tower for a confession even when at the time it was illegal to do so. The final woman I looked at was Mary Prince, persecuted like thousands of others just because she had a different skin colour. Initially a slave, when mary escaped she had an account of her life written, the first of its kind, which helped pave the way for the Abolition act in 1833.
These women are just examples and by no means the only ones. I look forward to reading more about women from history as part of women’s history month from other blogs.