Happy mother’s day 2006 : top 20 dates in women’s history

May 14th, 2006 | By | Category: Entertainment

What can you say about Mother’s Day 2006 that hasn’t been said already? You can review some key dates from James Trager’s intriguing mid-1990s publication, The Women’s Chronology, showing the progressive rise of the better half of humanity, from ancient times to the present.

2640 BCE. Silk manufacture is pioneered by the wife of the Chinese emperor Huang Ti.

1760 BCE. Laws promulgated by the sixth Mesopotamian king Hammurabi provide that husbands may spare their adulterous wives from execution.

850 BCE. Ahab, king of Israel, is killed fighting the Syrians at Ramoth Gilead. His widow, Jezebel, serves a regent for her son Jehoram and will be the power behind the throne until her death in 842 BCE.

610 BCE. The Greek poet Sappho flourishes on the island of Lesbos, where she has founded a boarding school for well-bred young women.

337 BCE. Alexander the Great, who has conquered the Persians, has 90 lieutenants marry daughters of the Persian nobility. He himself marries Roxana, the daughter of a Scythian chief, in Samarkand.

47 BCE. Cleopatra, queen of de Nile, “charms Julius Caesar into spending three months with her in Egypt.”

61. Boadicea, queen of the Iceni in ancient Britain, gathers an army that slaughters the Roman imperial garrison near present-day Colchester.

300. The Kama Sutra, by the Indian sage Vatsayan Mallagana of Benares, draws on the “Hindu religious philosophy that sexuality is basic to human life,” and prospective Indian brides are urged to read it before marriage.

697. The empress Jito, who has established the foundation of Japanese law, abdicates in favour of her grandson, who will reign until 707 as the emperor Momu.

963. The dissolute Byzantine emperor, Romanus II, dies at age 25, probably of poison administered by his wife Theophano.

1236. Delhi’s sultan Iltutmish dies and is succeeded by his daughter Razyia, who becomes the first woman to head a Muslim state. She will reign until 1240.

1492. Castille’s Queen Isabella, who has pawned her jewels to raise the money, finances Christopher Columbus on his epic “first known European landing in the Western Hemisphere since early in the 11th century.”

1558. Henry VIII’s daughter Elizabeth becomes Queen Elizabeth I on November 17, and “England’s glorious Elizabethan age begins.”

1677. Christianized Mohawk religious leader Kateri Tekakwitha takes her first communion. She will soon move to the mission of St. Francis Xavier near Montreal. After her death in 1680, “devotion to Lily of the Mohawks will spread among the French and Indians of the area, and miracles will be credited to her intervention.”

1762. The widow of Russian Czar Peter III, Sophia-Augusta of Anhalt-Zerbst, who has changed her name to Catherine, succeeds to his throne. She will reign as the benevolent despot of Russia, Catherine the Great, until 1796.

1832. The Female Anti-Slavery Society of Salem, Mass. is founded by free women of color who include Mary A. and Dorothy C. Battys, Charlotte Bell, and Eleanor C. Harvey.

1876. “Mrs. Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound” is patented by a US housewife in her late 50s. It is “18 percent alcohol,” and will become a best-selling “cure for women’s complaints’.”

1910. The “Canadian-born beauty Mary Pickford (originally Gladys Smith)” appears in D.W. Griffiths’ film Ramona. She will go on to become the first “America’s sweetheart” in the movies.

1939. Filipino women gain the right to vote on the same basis as men.

1992. Betty Boothroyd, 62, “a onetime dancer and a Labour member of Parliament since 1973,” becomes the first woman speaker of the British House of Commons.

Much, much, much more could no doubt be said. But for the moment it is perhaps enough just to say Happy Mother’s Day. (And to apologize and otherwise thank James Trager for his excellent book of 1994, from which these items have been brazenly stolen, to commemorate this Fete des Meres, Sunday, May 14, 2006.)

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