Shangguan Wan’er

The most popular portrayal of the medieval period is of grand knights fighting on horses or (mostly white-washed) European populations suffering from the plague. But this depiction glosses over some of the most interesting people – and regions – of this...

Empress Wu Zetian

Empress Wu Zetian went from concubine to the only female ruling Empress of China in seventh century C.E. Unusually, Wu Zetian’s father encouraged his daughter to learn to pursue an education. She learned to read and write. She also learnt to play music, write...

Hua Mulan

Hua Mulan is a legendary female Chinese warrior made famous by the “Ballad of Mulan.” We don’t know exactly when Mulan lived, as our main source is this Chinese ballad. However, we think she lived during the Northern Wei dynasty, which lasted from...

Tomoe Gozen

Tomoe Gozen was an extraordinary and rare female Japanese warrior who fought in offensive battles. Tomoe Gozen lived during a period of great instability in Japan. The Genpei War had laid waste to the country and the age of the samurai had begun. We do not know...

Taira no Tokuko

Taira no Tokuko was adopted by the Emperor of Japan, Go-Shirakawa, in 1171 at the age of 17. A year later she married the Emperor’s fourth son, Takakura. This arranged marriage brought  their two fathers-in-law together to support each other. Takakura and...

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