Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Isabel Roman: Behind the Power

The first fascinating fact is that Isabel Roman is actually two people (but what a lovely portrait!); the second, I suppose is that I've only met one of them, but she's the one who's they have written this piece for today. Isabel writes historical romances and has the background to do so convincingly -- not to mention the skills to also do so entertainingly. If you'd like a steamy romp through history, I recommend you pick up some of her Dark Desires of the Druids series.

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.


Jack C. Young said...

And let's not forget the Empress Theodosia, Maria Montessori or Mother Teresa, who did so much to aid and shelter the pariahs --as well as the poor of the other castes--in India. Women don't necessarily have to achieve political power to be influential or well remembered.

C. Margery Kempe said...

Good observation, Jack! There are all kinds of ways to be influential. I'm researching for Ada Lovelace Day tomorrow, and the wonder of women through the ages is overwhelming at times. At least the ones rescued from the mists of time. How many more never received credit?

Isabel Roman said...

You're very right, Jack! Unfortunately the majority of women who are remembered in history are the ones who have achieved political power through various means.

Then again, my favorite Abigail Adams didn't necessarily gain political power, but was a stong influence behind the scenes. Just not strong enough to give women the right to vote in the late eighteenth century.

Pity. Imagine what would have happened then!

C. Margery Kempe said...

Now there's a great alternate history novel to write! Thanks for your lovely post, Isabel. Very inspiring.

Todd Mason said...

Good points, Isabel (and nice to converse with you again), though in the non-European traditons, where some of the historical record is not as well-documented, there have been other and even apparently non-exceptional examples.

M. Teresa may not be quite the example we want in this context, as she gathered millions of dollars to fund not so much hospitals nor clinics as bare-bones hospices, not actually promoting health so much as enabling a (better, we could hope) death, which hospices seemingly could and did run on budgets of thousands...while Teresa used her clout, financial and otherwise, to hobnob with the likes of the despot Duvaliers in Haiti and sponsoring and supporting as much of the most reactionary elements of the RC Church as she possibly could. Though that so many chose to see her as an unalloyed saint is an interesting variation on Isaabel's examples...very visibly weilding power, only weilding far more of it than was often cited.

Adele said...

It's not something i've thought about as much as perhaps i should, but something to think about.

Elle Amery said...

Great post -- Elle

Unknown said...

The examples are really endless.

~The other half of Isabel Roman who did help write this blog :)

C. Margery Kempe said...

Thanks, Marisa! I look forward to meeting you, too. I'll correct the post. Thanks for all the great inspiring women.