As we celebrate women this month we cannot skip honoring some women that accomplished greatness through their actions in either leading and ruling, research, art, education, or sports. We will mention women that changed history for Romania or even for the entire world. Some of them acted bravely in a time when women should not be brave, some were loved and some were hated.
Our history has been a history of wars and revolutions, of great kings and rulers. But next to these great rulers there were great women that made decisions that sometimes saved the day.
During the medieval period the Ottoman Empire was conquering and ravaging Europe , including Romania. The Romanian principalities were fighting with the ottomans to keep them out and with the boyars to keep them from stealing and plotting. Lady Chiajna was the granddaughter of one of the bravest Romanian ruler that battled the Turks, Stephan the Great. She married the ruler of the Romanian Country, Mircea the Sheppard, who was known mostly for butchering boyars. After his death she assumed ruling and became her son’s tutor to prepare his to ascend the throne. She kept the Ottomans quiet by sending gifts of treasure and by arranging marriages with her daughters. Despite this she was a great mother, forgiving her daughters mistakes when they would choose another husband than the one they were promised to.
Another great royal woman was none other than Queen Elisabeth of Romania (first photo) (Elisabeth Pauline Ottilie Luise zu Wied) aka. Carmen Silva (her pen name). She was the first queen of Romania, wife of King Carol I, she was a poet, an artist, a goddess of arts. She had only one child, Marioara, who unfortunately died of scarlet fever at the age of 4. The queen was deeply involved in the Independence War in 1877, opening charity hospitals, and strengthening the health system. She would go herself on the front lines and treat wounded soldiers, for which she was called mother of the wounded. Queen Elisabeth was the first noble woman who appreciated the value of the traditional arts, and wore the traditional costume, that was considered until her a peasant fashion. She noticed the touristic potential of Romania and organized campaigns to promote her adoptive country. She had the Orient Express stop in Sinaia train station, where she would great guests and invite them at the Peles and Pelisor Castle, places that today are visited by millions of tourists every year.
The Pelisor Castel was constructed as a wedding gift from Carol I and Elisabeth, to heir couple Ferdinand and Maria. The new queen, Marry of Romania (second photo) shared many of the values of her predecessor, being foreign also (born Maria Alexandra Victoria de Saxa-Coburg, granddaughter of Queen Victoria of Britain), she would fall in love with Romania and her people. She would also be seen wearing the traditional Romanian costumes, especially when staying at the Bran Castle, that she renovated herself. Just like Elisabeth, she would dedicate her time to visiting and opening new hospitals, caring for soldiers during WWI that were wounded or afflicted with cholera, together with her 3 daughters. It is said that she is the one that ruled and not Ferdinand, her husband the king being somewhat of a pushover. Until today the Romanians still love the last queen of Romania.
In history there were other women that were queens in their own way, like Smaranda Braescu (forth photo), aka The Queen of the Air, the first Romanian female pilot, or other women with noble blood that had amazing accomplishments, like Martha Bibescu (third photo), wife of Prince George Bibescu , she was a great artist, poet, politician, the first woman Mason of Romania, and one of the most beautiful woman of her time. She was sister in law of Ana de Noailles, Romanian and French poet, a representative of the Belle Époque, and first woman commander of the Legion of Honor.
There were other women that led in other ways and showed great strength and power, women like Ana Ipatescu , member of the revolutionary faction “The Brotherhood” that had a great influence in the revolution of 1848, or Ecaterina Teodoroiu, a scout who starts of as a nurse on the frontline of WWI until her brother dies in battle and she decides that she has to serve in his place. She was given the command of a platoon as a sub lieutenant, she led many battles to victory, escaped on her own when captured by the Germans, and died bravely at the front of her platoon. Another brave woman was Elisabeta Rizea, an anti-communist revolutionary. She was a peasant who was arrested as enemy of the nation and imprisoned in Pitesti where she was tortured to give up the names and location of other militants. She was burnt, beaten with a shove, starved, hanged by her hair, scalped, electrocuted and raped, but she never said a word. After 12 years she was released. She died in 2003.
There are many women who deserve recognition like Ana Aslan, Romanian geriatrics doctor and researcher who created the Gerovital brand, Elisa Zamfirrescu, the first woman engineer in the world, Sofia Ionescu, first neurosurgeon in the world, Smaranda Gheorghiu first woman to go the North Pole, Marie Curie, first woman to win the Nobel prize and not the forget Nadia Comaneci (fifth photo), the first gymnast to score a perfect 10.
Have a beautiful spring ladies, you deserve it!