December 17

Events in Women’s History

Marie de' Medici c. 1610 by Frans Pourbus the Younger

Marie de’ Medici c. 1610 by Frans Pourbus the Younger (source)

1600 – Marie de’ Medici becomes Queen consort of France and Navarre after marrying Henry IV of France.


Maria I of Portugal c. 1777 by Miguel António do Amaral

Maria I of Portugal c. 1777 by Miguel António do Amaral (source)

1706Émilie du Châtelet, French mathematician, physicist and author, known for her translation and commentary on Newton’s Principia Mathematica, known also as Voltaire’s lover who said that she was “a great man whose only fault was being a woman” (d. 1749)

1734 – Maria I, Queen regnant of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, known as Maria the Pious and considered a good ruler until her mental health began to deteriorate around 1786 (d. 1816)

1760Deborah Sampson Gannett, American woman who disguised herself as a man in order to fight in the American Revolution as Robert Shurtlieff (d. 1827)

1785 – Dorothea Lieven, German noblewoman, wife of Christopher Lieven, Russian Ambassador to London (d. 1857)

1807 – Phoebe Palmer, American evangelist, author, founder of the Holiness movement in the United States and the Higher Life movement in the United Kingdom (d. 1874)

1853 – Harriet Taylor Upton, American suffragist, author, the first woman to be vice-chairman of the Republican National Committee (d. 1945)

1900 – Dame Mary Lucy Cartwright, British mathematician known for her work with dynamical systems and chaos, first woman to receive the Sylvester Medal, to serve on the Council of the Royal Society, and to be President of the London Mathematical Society (d. 1998)

1900 – Katina Paxinou, Greek actress (d. 1973)

1916 – Penelope Fitzgerald, British author and poet (d. 2000)

1929 – Jacqueline Hill, British actress (d. 1993)


Elizabeth Garrett Anderson c. 1900 by Reginald Grenville Eves (source)

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson c. 1900 by Reginald Grenville Eves (source)

1439 – Maria of Trebizond, the last Empress consort of the Byzantine Empire as wife of John VIII Palaiologos (b. ??)

1471Isabel of Portugal, Duchess of Burgundy as third wife of Duke Philip the Good, , served as regent in the absence of her husband, mother of Charles the Bold, the last Valois Duke of Burgundy, represented her husband in trade negotiations (b. 1397)

1663 – Anna Nzinga, African Queen of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms of the Mbundu people in present day Angola, known for her intelligence, brilliant military tactics, and political and diplomatic skill, fought the Portuguese for freedom of her people (b. circa 1583)

1847 – Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma (b. 1791)

1917 – Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, English physician and feminist, the first woman to qualify as a physician and surgeon in Britain. Also, the co-founder of a hospital staffed by women, dean of a British medical school, first woman mayor and magistrate in Britain as Mayor of Aldeburgh. (b. 1836)

1940 – Alicia Boole Stott, Irish mathematician (b. 1860)

1957 – Dorothy L. Sayers, English author (b. 1893)

1981 – Ada Kramm, Norwegian actress (b. 1899)

1987 – Marguerite Yourcenar, Belgian-born French author, first woman elected to the Académie française, winner of Prix Femina and the Erasmus Prize (b. 1903)

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