During my university break, I've had the time to sit and watch some really interesting history documentaries. I came across a three-part mini series whilst doing so, titled "She-Wolves: England's Early Queens" and was very much entranced by the histories of specific women in England's royal history that didn't want to sit back and go with the flow, so to speak. Much of the illustrated portraits I paint draw elements from strong women throughout history, and I was inspired to compile a list of such prominent female figures in history (in my eyes) and dot-point describe why they are important to me and what makes me treasure them for their place in womankind history.
Reasons why I love Sacajawea:
✤ She was a dedicated mother, carrying her little one with her for the entire expedition with Lewis and Clark.
✤ Her influence made up a large part in the success of the expedition, because of her navigational, diplomatic and translating skills.
✤ She had many memorial dedications made to her after her death.
Reasons why I love Pocahontas:
✤ She saved John Smith before he was about to be killed at the hands of her dad, Powhatan (or so the story goes).
✤ Her union with John Rolfe brought peace between the Native Americans and the settlers for eight years.
✤ She was treated like a princess upon her visit to England.
Reasons why I love Nefertiti:
✤ She wasn't just a pretty face, she attain a goddess-like status through her religious power, performing religious duties which other women were excluded from.
✤ She was bad-ass due to the fact that she could fulfill the roles traditionally associated with men in political positions, such slaying enemies and wearing kingly garments.
✤ The children she produced were all girls (six to be exact) - GRRRL POWER!
✤ She was on an equal level to her husband - he was not above her, her portrayal and depiction was special
Reasons why I love Mary Read:
✤ Used pregnancy as a "condition" to escape prison.
✤ Both Read and Bonny impacted popular culture through their explorations of the high seas - the character Angelica in Pirates of the Caribbean owes her existence to these factual characters.
✤ Read could do "manly" things just as well as any man could - fighting, manning the ship, drinking and swearing as any man-pirate did. Both Read and Bonny were supposedly “very profligate, cursing and swearing much, and very ready and willing to do anything on board.”
Reasons why I love Margaret of York:
✤ She had a totally beautiful crown made for her, embellished with pearls, gold, white roses and lover's knots; it is the only surviving Medieval British royal crown.
✤ She was intelligent and capable.
✤ She suffered many personal tragedies, but she still survived and overcame them.
Reasons why I love Margaret of Anjou:
✤ She defended her son's claim to the throne as the rightful heir.
✤ She was active in warfare.
✤ She was strong-willed and ambitious.
✤ Despite dying in poverty and being unsuccessful in her attempts obtain the crown for her son, she still persisted. It is important to note that her persistence allows her to be remembered in history.
Reasons why I love Marie Antoinette:
✤ Despite her extravagant spending habits, she was know for her acts of charity.
✤ She had a good taste for fashion and decor.
✤ Despite her extravagant spending habits, she was know for her acts of charity.
✤ In her final moments of deprivation and humiliation, she remained steadfast, dignified, poised, serene and courageous.
✤ Although this is really fictional, the phrase "let them eat cake" still appeals to me and is something that I seem to use frequently to solve my little life dilemmas.
✤ She had a theatre built for her in 1780 from her love of acting and singing.
✤ he had her own village created for her - Petit Trianon, containing villagers, industry and animals. Sort of like escapism and daydreaming to escape from the reality of life, but on a more literal scale.
Reasons why I love Joan of Arc:
✤ She is the youngest person in history to be able to command the army of a nation. It's an added bonus that she was a woman during a time where women's opinions were of little value. plus she was only 17, so she was pretty much a goddess.
✤ She was dressing as a knight (the role traditionally associated with man-folk) in order to assert herself as a dedicated warrior, to do what she felt was right for France.
✤ She was seriously strong and most likely definitely protected by a higher power - she tried to escape capture at the hands of the English by leaping from a tower, yet she survived the 60 foot fall and was captured. SHE TRIED and that's what matters most - as annoying as this cliche is, if you never take a risk and try you will never know what could happen.
Reasons why I love Isabella of Angoulême:
✤ She was a schemer - calculating and cunning.
✤ She also apparently had a bit of a temper - a feisty woman is always a good woman in my books!
Reasons why I love Hatshepsut:
✤ She was a woman in a man's role and even going so far as to wear the traditional men's headdress and detachable beard, in order to assert her authoritarian position. She meant business.
✤ She was one of the two successful female pharaohs in Ancient Egypt, so clearly she was doing something right to stay in power (she remained in power for fifteen years, quite a long time for that age, really).
✤ Her mortuary temple is the only one of its kind in Ancient Egypt. She was pretty special.
✤ She was intelligent politically and recruited many supporters during her reign.
Reasons why I love Eleanor of Aquitane:
✤ She had a powerful personality.
✤ She led her sons in rebellion against their own father - so she was quite a bad-ass.
✤ She cared about arts and culture - a patron of music (troubadours), chivalry, art - my type of lady.
Reasons why I love Queen Elizabeth (The Virgin Queen):
✤ She wasn't the Virgin Queen for no reason - she produced no offspring and wasn't about to let marriage tie her down! She was a woman that ruled in solidarity and she did it pretty darn well.
✤ She considered herself married to her country of England.
✤ For this speech entirely - "I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king - and of a King of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which, rather than any dishonour should grow by me, I myself will take up arms - I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.
I know already, by your forwardness, that you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the mean my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble and worthy subject; not doubting by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and by your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over the enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people." - Queen Elizabeth I, Spanish Armada Speech, 1588.
Reasons why I love Cleopatra:
✤ She wasn't going to let anything prevent her from becoming supreme ruler over Egypt, and that included members of her family - she was determined.
✤ She was an intelligent woman with plenty of charisma to punch.
✤ She knew how to get want she wanted and that included Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
✤ She was the last ever pharaoh of Egypt before its collapse. The fact that she was a lady pharaoh is an added bonus.
Reasons why I love Boudicca:
✤ She was a fierce warrior lady.
✤ She was a strong ruler and ruled over her Iceni tribe when her husband passed away.
✤ She was defiant until the very end, she committed suicide by poisoning - she wasn't about to let those dastardly Romans take her alive. (though this fact isn't completely set in stone, it's still a good example of her sacrifices for the betterment of her people).
✤ She was almost forgotten from history, but regained fame during the Victorian times as a result of Queen Victoria's want to be associated with a she-warrior so brave and stubborn.
✤ She had poetry written about her by Lord Alfred Tennyson.
Reasons why I love Anne Bonny:
✤ Like Mary Read, she was a bad-ass female pirate during the eighteenth century, when piracy was super trendy.
✤ Read and Bonny were like soul sisters or bosom buddies - kindred spirits that were initially attracted to one another until they reveal they were both women.
✤ She seriously beat-up a would-be rapist; “…once, when a young Fellow would have lain with her, against her Will, she beat him so, that he lay ill of it a considerable Time.” (Johnson, 164). Clearly she wasn't about to do anything she didn't wanted and stood up well for herself. YOU GO GIRLFRIEND.
✤ Also used pregnancy as a "condition" to escape prison.
Reasons why I love Anne Boleyn:
✤ She was a woman that knew what she wanted and would stop at nothing to achieve her goals, so she pretty much got her way in life (despite her untimely ending).
✤ She had style and a flair for fashion - her time in France allowed her to acquire a taste for beautiful and elegant clothing.
✤ Anne wasn't an easy lover - she had a sharp wit and proved to be a challenge for the overtly pompous and spoilt Henry VIII.
Reasons why I love Cecily Neville:
✤ She was dubbed 'Rose of Raby' and 'Proud Cis' because of her pride and temper.
✤ She was a SURVIVOR of her time, outliving her husband as well as eleven of the thirteen children she conceived during her lifetime. In a time where it wasn't easy to live due to the numerous civil wars, plus being a woman, that's no small feat.
Reasons why I love Grace O'Malley:
✤ Another babin' femme pirate - one of the most famous and accomplished female pirate that existed.
✤ She managed to protect her lands of Ireland with keen political know-how and strength of fighting
✤ She loved the sea. She wanted to be a sailor instead of a lady.
✤ Piracy made her rich!
✤ Negotiated with another favourite historical female of mine, Queen Elizabeth I.
✤ She died as a respected and independent noblewoman.
✤ As a child, she frequently accompanied her father on ship expeditions, even saving his life during a pirate attack.
✤ She attained the nickname of "Grainne Mhaol" after trying to board a ship dressed as a boy.
Reasons why I love Isabella of France:
✤ Known as the "she-wolf" of France. That's pretty bad-ass.
✤ Don't mess with Izzy - or she'll hang, draw and quarter you like she did to Hugh Despenser. The younger Despenser suffered a a slightly more humiliating death - dragged through a mock parade whilst food and trash was thrown at him before being executed in a super nasty way, involving beheading and disembowelment. They were awful people so it was totally okay.
✤ She ordered the execution of the English King. Enough said.
✤ She was vengeful. A woman scorned. She took no prisoners
✤ She was well-liked by the general populace - giving to the poor and supporting charitable institution by donating money.
I've also finally got around to watching three films that I have been wanting to see for some time now: Deep End, Moonrise Kingdom and Never Let Me Go. I've read the novel of Never Let Me Go, which I found really heart-rendering and thought-provoking, making different facets of the topic of organ donation come to the forefront. I shed a few tears, so if you're as empathetic and prone to tears like me, then you might have a little weep too. Moonrise Kingdom made me want to ditch normal life and go live in a forest and befriend all the different species of trees and read fantastical books whilst eating freshly cooked fish. I just loved the way the film was shot, the characters and their little quirks and the costumes, also the colouring and lighting - everything seemed so candy-coloured and saccharine sweet, like a fairytale land. Deep End was interesting, the main character's obsession becomes increasingly manifested over the course of the film and leads to a bittersweet, sort of fantasy-becoming-reality ending. I quite liked it, largely for the 60's to early 70's fashion (mini dresses ahoy!) Plus Jane Asher is totally babin'.
Here are the instagram updates this week:
1. Finished my portrait of Boudicca, one of my favourite females EVER.
2. Looking forward to reading Frankie back to back, and eating sweet nectarines before the weather is too cold to again.
3. My Valentine's Day illustration, to celebrate cats and cake and high tea which are infinitely more useful than the day itself.
4. Drawing a deer.
5. So incredibly happy that I found these darling t-bar flat shoes - I have been wanting an all leather comfortable pair of flats for so long now, and these happened to be on sale and the last pair in my size, for $30!
6. Scored these little hairpins as freebies, they have a cute little yellow floral design on them and are just too sweet for words.
I also love this advertisement for Galaxy Chocolate, i know there's been a fair bit of criticism towards it (it can be seen as disrespectful to the deceased and possibly misuse of Audrey's physical representation), but I just love it so much. I suppose it is a little creepy how similar she represents her live, living breathing self as if she were still alive and immortal, but Audrey is immortal and timeless and I think that the carefree essence of the ad complements her spirit and presence, even though it is only a 3D representation of her actual self.