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Sioux Falls Feminists endorse Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals
for giving us an excellent history of the many significant
women of the past before 1400.

Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals
36 Great Women before 1400
Lectures by Professor Joyce E. Salisbury

Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals (2019) - 36 lectures, 18 hours
Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals  at

In Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals: 36 Great Women before 1400, taught by Professor Emerita of Humanistic Studies Joyce E. Salisbury, you will experience another side of history, one that has often been overlooked. In these 36 lectures, women step out from the footnotes and sidebars of traditional history and into the spotlight, illuminating the dark corners of the pre-modern world along the way. From thwarted daughters and ambitious wives to fearless revolutionaries and brilliant philosophers, you will see how women have played diverse roles throughout history and why their influence is so vital to a fuller understanding of the world we live in today. Beginning at the start of the Roman Empire and carrying you through to the end of the Middle Ages, Professor Salisbury will introduce you to dozens of influential women from all across the globe.

As you will see, there are many ways to wield power. Some women worked within the rules and expectations that bound them, using their unique influence as wives and mothers to shape politics, religion, and more. Meanwhile, others defied restrictions imposed on them, occupying places of leadership and power that changed the world. With this course, you will get the unique opportunity to explore their contributions to our history, and see major turning points and ideas through new perspectives.

Rebels and Rulers

From Rome and China to Persia and Byzantium, the world before 1400 saw the foundation and expansion of immense imperial powers. These powers were often hierarchical and rigidly patriarchal, and their presence imposed new systems of religion, tradition, and governance that forever altered the places they touched, often to the detriment of women who had held a certain level of power and respect within tribal communities before their arrival.

Striving to survive under these new conditions, some women took on the mantle of warrior and revolutionary, fighting for the good of their people in times of crisis. Their rebellions often failed in the face of insurmountable odds, yet their power as symbols of freedom (and cautionary tales) has lived on. In the case of the Trung sisters of Vietnam, their unsuccessful attempt to wrest their homeland from the hands of imperial invaders made them symbols of patriotism and resistance that survive in Vietnamese culture to this very day. Another famous rebel leader, the Celtic warrior queen, Boudicca, also ultimately failed in her attempt to defeat Rome. Her legend lives on, however, thanks to a revival led by one of the most powerful female leaders of the modern era, Queen Victoria.

There were those who fought against imperial powers, and then there were those who wielded power within those sprawling empires. Though few have heard her name, some modern scholars believe Sorkhakhtani was one of the most influential women in history, wielding immense authority in the Mongol empire at the height of its power. Plotina, Julia Maesa, Pulcheria, Wu Zetian, and Razia are just a few of the women you will encounter from all over the globe who achieved power, either through their own rule or that of their families. Some were benevolent and some were ruthless—often many of them were both—but they all left a mark on the world.

Saints and Sinners

Everyone loves a hero, but history is not painted in stark contrasts of black and white—and neither are the women whose stories you will uncover. As Professor Salisbury demonstrates, for every Vibia Perpetua or Joan of Arc who was martyred for a cause greater than themselves, there are many others who could certainly be considered selfish, amoral, or even villainous. (And many who were painted as weak or nefarious by historians with their own agendas.) This is one of the many important reasons historians work so hard to uncover the stories of overlooked and forgotten women: to reveal their many complex dimensions as people who were important to history, for both good and ill.

Belles Lettres

Power isn’t always about wealth and political clout. Sometimes, it can come from something as simple as the ability to read and write. For centuries of human history, women were often denied access to literacy and education. Since most would live out their lives as the keepers of hearth and home, education for women was often considered unnecessary—or even morally dangerous. Despite these fears and the limitations they imposed, we know that some women were able to pursue knowledge and deeply influence fields such as religion, history, mathematics, literature, philosophy, and medicine.

Joyce E. Salisbury is Professor Emerita of Humanistic Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She earned her PhD in Medieval History at Rutgers University. Professor Salisbury has written several books about women in ancient history, including the award-winning Perpetua's Passion: Death and Memory of a Young Roman Woman and Encyclopedia of Women in the Ancient World. Professor Salisbury was named Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

36 Lectures - 30 minutes each

1: Julia Disobeys Emperor Augustus 19: Dhuoda Chronicles a Carolingian Life
2: Herodias Has John the Baptist Beheaded 20: Elfrida Rules Anglo-Saxon England
3: The Trung Sisters of Vietnam Fight the Han 21: Freydis Journeys to North America
4: Boudicca Attacks the Romans 22: Lubna of Cordoba Masters Mathematics
5: Poppaea Helps Nero Persecute Christians 23: Lady Murasaki Writes the First Novel
6: Plotina Advises Emperor Trajan 24: Anna Brings Christianity to Russia
7: Perpetua Is Martyred in the Arena 25: Anna Comnena Writes a Byzantine History
8: Julia Maesa Controls an Unusual Emperor 26: Eleanor of Aquitaine Goes on Crusade
9: Zenobia Battles the Roman Legions 27: Marie of Champagne Promotes Romantic Love
10: Helena Brings Christianity Down to Earth 28: Heloise Embraces the New Philosophy
11: Galla Placidia Supports the Visigoths 29: Hildegard Revolutionizes Traditional Medicine
12: Hypatia Dies for Intellectual Freedom 30: Razia Rules Muslim India
13: Pulcheria Defends the Virgin Mary 31: Sorkhakhtani Administers a Mongol Empire
14: Theodora Rises from Dancer to Empress 32: Licoricia Deals with the King of England
15: Radegund Founds a Convent 33: Abutsu Follows the Way of Poetry
16: Aisha Helps Shape Islam 34: Brigitta Speaks to God and the Pope
17: Wu Zetian Rules China 35: Joan of Arc Dies for France
18: Kahina Defends North Africa against Muslims 36: Christine of Pisan Defends Women


Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals
36 Great Women before 1400
Lectures by Professor Joyce E. Salisbury

Sioux Falls Feminists endorse Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals
for giving us an excellent history of the many significant
women of the past before 1400.