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Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals: 36 Great Women before 1400

Season 1
Step back and view history through the stories of 36 women that changed the world with their ideas, their leadership, and their sacrifices. In unearthing these stories, you'll rediscover the remarkable contributions of women often lost to time and prejudice.
201936 episodes
TV-PG
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Episodes

  1. S1 E1 - Julia Disobeys Emperor Augustus
    June 20, 2019
    33min
    TV-PG
    Begin your exploration of these influential women with Julia, the daughter of Caesar Augustus, whose experiences offer a window into the way many societies of the pre-modern world sought to control morality and enforce gender roles. Her life may have been one of thwarted potential, but her story is integral to understanding what many other women had to overcome to make a mark on history. #History
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  2. S1 E2 - Herodias Has John the Baptist Beheaded
    June 20, 2019
    28min
    TV-PG
    Writers and artists have long portrayed the death of John the Baptist as the whim of the young femme fatale Salome, but the truth is much more complicated. Discover the story of Salome’s mother, the ambitious Herodias, an influential Judean woman whose hunger for power and recognition ultimately left her exiled and forgotten.
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  3. S1 E3 - The Trung Sisters of Vietnam Fight the Han
    June 20, 2019
    30min
    TV-PG
    Turn from the Mediterranean to China under the Han Dynasty, as its imperial expansion threatened the strongly matriarchal culture of Vietnam. Two of the most famous Vietnamese rebels of this era were the Trung sisters, who led tribal armies against the powerful invaders. See how their story has become a touchstone of Vietnamese culture and pride into the 21st century.
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  4. S1 E4 - Boudicca Attacks the Romans
    June 20, 2019
    31min
    TV-PG
    Witness the end of Iron Age Britain and the birth of “Roman Briton” with the valiant but thwarted rebellion led by the Celtic warrior queen, Boudicca. Like many rebels before her, she was motivated by personal tragedy as much as she was driven by the bigger picture of freedom for her people. Her legacy would be revived in the rule of another British queen, Victoria.
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  5. S1 E5 - Poppaea Helps Nero Persecute Christians
    June 20, 2019
    29min
    TV-PG
    Nero may not have truly “fiddled while Rome burned” but his reputation for excess and cruelty is genuine. See how the beautiful Poppaea became the wife of the mad emperor and how her religious sympathies likely influenced his persecution of Christians following a devastating fire. Ultimately, Poppaea’s story is a complex mix of spiritual zeal and vicious cruelty.
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  6. S1 E6 - Plotina Advises Emperor Trajan
    June 20, 2019
    31min
    TV-PG
    The impact of Plotina on the reign of her husband Trajan is both profound and difficult to delineate. Witness how her moral influence, as well as that of other valued women in Trajan’s household, shaped the policies and reputation of one of the “Five Good Emperors” of Rome and how her story demonstrates a particular version of female power in the ancient world.
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  7. S1 E7 - Perpetua Is Martyred in the Arena
    June 20, 2019
    30min
    TV-PG
    Follow the story of Vibia Perpetua, one of the earliest reliably verified Christian martyrs. How did the well-educated daughter of a noble family end up publicly executed in the arena? Trace the seemingly random series of events that led to a tragic death and see how Perpetua’s record of her own experiences became an immensely popular text in the early Christian church.
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  8. S1 E8 - Julia Maesa Controls an Unusual Emperor
    June 20, 2019
    30min
    TV-PG
    After the murder of the despised Roman emperor Caracalla, an unlikely new dynasty was formed by a family of Syrian women. Examine how both utilizing and upending the strict gender roles of ancient Rome allowed Julia Maesa and her family to gain unprecedented (and precarious) power. Their influence was short-lived, but altered the course of the empire, nonetheless.
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  9. S1 E9 - Zenobia Battles the Roman Legions
    June 20, 2019
    29min
    TV-PG
    Travel to the furthest edge of the Roman empire, to the wealthy outpost of Palmyra, where the gradual collapse of the Pax Romana opened the way for rebellion. There, the ambitious, young Queen Zenobia managed to bring substantial parts of the eastern Roman empire under her rule before facing defeat and exile when she attempted to declare her son emperor.
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  10. S1 E10 - Helena Brings Christianity Down to Earth
    June 20, 2019
    29min
    TV-PG
    Meet Helena, a tavern girl in Naissus (modern Serbia) who captured the heart of a powerful Roman soldier and gave birth to a son named Constantine. When Constantine became emperor, his mother influenced his religious policy, creating a foothold for Christianity to become one of the most powerful institutions the world has ever seen.
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  11. S1 E11 - Galla Placidia Supports the Visigoths
    June 20, 2019
    32min
    TV-PG
    The unusual life of the Roman Princess Galla Placidia shows how an odd series of events can lead to astonishing results. After being kidnapped by the Visigoths, Placidia became a political advisor to the king of these “barbarians," and then his wife. Eventually, she would become a powerful empress of Rome and leave a strong mark on the politics, laws, and art of the empire.
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  12. S1 E12 - Hypatia Dies for Intellectual Freedom
    June 20, 2019
    31min
    TV-PG
    Look at the brilliant and controversial scholar, Hypatia, as she lived, taught, and died in Alexandria in the middle of the 5th century. Her role as a public intellectual and philosopher would make her a rare example of respected female scholarship in a male-dominated world, and it would ultimately lead to her murder at the hands of an angry Christian mob.
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  13. S1 E13 - Pulcheria Defends the Virgin Mary
    June 20, 2019
    31min
    TV-PG
    How does a 13-year-old girl become the guiding force of the most powerful empire in the world? Discover how Pulcheria used religion and a very strategic vow of chastity to ensure the success of her family’s dynasty following the death of her parents. Also see how her successful theological defense of the Virgin Mary would shape the Catholic Church for centuries to come.
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  14. S1 E14 - Theodora Rises from Dancer to Empress
    June 20, 2019
    30min
    TV-PG
    Witness one of the most dramatic stories of upward mobility in history: the rise of Theodora from prostitution to royalty. As co-ruler with her husband, the emperor Justinian, she led a lavish and influential life, exercising her power to help improve the lives of women who experienced the hardships she had known in her youth.
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  15. S1 E15 - Radegund Founds a Convent
    June 20, 2019
    28min
    TV-PG
    During the brutal Merovingian dynasty, Queen Radegund stands out as an exception to the violence and cruelty of Western Europe after the collapse of Roman power. See how her religious convictions helped her escape her abusive husband and build a convent that would help other women find a place of freedom and safety.
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  16. S1 E16 - Aisha Helps Shape Islam
    June 20, 2019
    29min
    TV-PG
    Aisha bin Abi Bakr was the favorite wife of the prophet Muhammad and she became one of the most influential women in Islam, and also one of the most controversial. Explore the many ways Aisha’s influence and authority helped shape a burgeoning religion that would become one of the largest and most powerful institutions in the world.
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  17. S1 E17 - Wu Zetian Rules China
    June 20, 2019
    32min
    TV-PG
    In all of Chinese history, only one woman ever ruled on her own: Wu Zetian. Trace her rise to power, from her lowly origins as the daughter of a merchant to the head of her own dynasty. Along the way, gain insight into the cutthroat nature of the Chinese imperial court and the ways Wu could be both brilliant and cruel throughout her reign.
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  18. S1 E18 - Kahina Defends North Africa against Muslims
    June 20, 2019
    29min
    TV-PG
    Turn to northwest Africa, where the fierce warrior woman, Kahina, fought to defend the mountain tribes of Maghreb from Muslim incursion. Understand why the struggle between the north African tribes and Islam was not about religion, but rather about preserving independence. Also discover the crucial role of olive trees in this conflict.
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  19. S1 E19 - Dhuoda Chronicles a Carolingian Life
    June 20, 2019
    30min
    TV-PG
    Take a closer look at everyday life and politics in the Middle Ages with the chronicle kept by the Carolingian woman, Dhouda, for her young son. Through her writing, we can gain rare insight into this time of constant warfare and shifting alliances from the perspective of a highly educated woman who stands in for the many women whose voices are lost to time.
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  20. S1 E20 - Elfrida Rules Anglo-Saxon England
    June 20, 2019
    29min
    TV-PG
    The life of Elfrida can serve as a lesson in the difficulties of separating historical fact from rumor. See how the first crowned queen of England was often reduced to the archetype of the “wicked step-mother” when she was so much more than that. Look at her contributions to England in the 10th century and consider the common failings of historical memory.
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  21. S1 E21 - Freydis Journeys to North America
    June 20, 2019
    28min
    TV-PG
    The formidable sister of Leif Eriksson, Freydis Eriksdottir, accompanied her famous brother on two of the six voyages he took from Greenland to North America, making a fortune, and building a reputation for cunning and violence, along the way. Through Freydis, consider the contributions of women to the Viking age that would transform Europe.
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  22. S1 E22 - Lubna of Córdoba Masters Mathematics
    June 20, 2019
    30min
    TV-PG
    See how a woman, Lubna, rose to prominence as the most renowned mathematician of her day in the glittering intellectual capital Cordoba and get a better understanding of women’s education in the Muslim world and beyond. You’ll see that, while Lubna was extraordinary, she was not necessarily unique to her time and place.
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  23. S1 E23 - Lady Murasaki Writes the First Novel
    June 20, 2019
    29min
    TV-PG
    At the height of the Heian period, Japan was breaking away from Chinese influence and developing its own courtly culture, with women emerging as a powerful force in art and literature. Here you will meet Murasaki Shikibu, the woman who wrote the world’s first novel: The Tale of Genji.
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  24. S1 E24 - Anna Brings Christianity to Russia
    June 20, 2019
    28min
    TV-PG
    One strategic political alliance changed the course of history in Eastern Europe. Understand how the marriage of a Byzantine princess and a pagan Scandinavian king brought Christianity to the area that would become Russia and how the marriage would establish a base of power that would be used to legitimize future tsars, generations later.
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  25. S1 E25 - Anna Comnena Writes a Byzantine History
    June 20, 2019
    29min
    TV-PG
    Meet one of the most significant historians of the First Crusade: Anna Comnena. Denied her dream of ruling as empress in Byzantium, the highly educated Anna made a different kind of mark on history by producing one of the most thorough and clear-eyed records of a momentous event that would echo through the ages.
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Show all 36 episodes

Extras

Bonus

Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals: 36 Great Women before 1400
Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals: 36 Great Women before 1400
2minTV-PG
Step back and view history through the stories of 36 women that changed the world with their ideas, their leadership, and their sacrifices. In unearthing these stories, you'll rediscover the remarkable contributions of women often lost to time and prejudice.
Step back and view history through the stories of 36 women that changed the world with their ideas, their leadership, and their sacrifices. In unearthing these stories, you'll rediscover the remarkable contributions of women often lost to time and prejudice.
Step back and view history through the stories of 36 women that changed the world with their ideas, their leadership, and their sacrifices. In unearthing these stories, you'll rediscover the remarkable contributions of women often lost to time and prejudice.

Details

More info

Audio languages
English
Subtitles
English [CC]
Producers
The Great Courses
Starring
Joyce E. Salisbury
Studio
The Great Courses
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