Throughout history, very often women have been relegated to second-class status. There was no voice for women in politics and in many instances, not even outside their own house. Even in progressive societies such as Rome, the Greek city-states, and Egypt where a handful of women obtained certain status, for the most part their voice was not official.
The notable exceptions can be easily counted, including but limited to: Cleopatra, Boudicca, Nefertiti, Zenobia of Palmyra, Artemisia of Halicarnassus, Elizabeth I of England, Catherine the Great of Russia, and Catherine de’ Medici of France.
Beyond these notable examples, women have had to, and often successfully, finessed their power behind the scenes. How? Skill, courage, and a touch (or more than) of seduction. Not to mention strategic planning. I’d hazard to say women in history were more skilled because much like Ginger Rogers to Fred Astaire, they had to do it backwards and in heels.
Women used their wits and wiles to obtain what power they could wield. When they did manage to obtain that power, we have examples like Catherine the Great. She was a woman who came from a small German Principality and brilliantly manipulated her way to becoming Empress of all the Russias. Or Catherine de’ Medici. She was the forgotten wife to Henri II of France. His mistress, Diane de Poitiers, held the position Catherine longed for—the true Queen of France and the love of Henri II.
Their story is similar to many women who’ve obtained the status they desired, albeit not quite so grand. And while women are not considered the threat of a similarly placed male rival, they are usually far more formidable.