History is, by very definition, studies of past events and stories. Yet, history can very much be his story; leaving other tales to be forgotten, pushed to the side and left to fade like old-photos as the years roll on past. We at TopperQ are stepping back in time, throughout our colourful past, to take you on a journey through some of the stories that you may not have heard of, but certainly should have.
1. Princess Charlotte of Wales
Our first stop is into the United Kingdom’s royal household around the turn of the 18th century. Close your eyes and try to picture female royal figures from history, the two most popular that typically come to mind are: Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria. However, a royal tale you may not have heard, but which changed the course of the royal succession, is that of Charlotte of Wales. She was the only child of King George IV, and so, the only living heir at that time. She would have gone on to become queen too if it were not for the quite tragic end to her tale.
To set some historical context for you, if Charlotte had indeed gone on to being Queen, the crown wouldn’t have come to Queen Victoria. And the subsequent Victorian period (we’re confident you’ve heard of that) would have been called something different entirely. Charlotte represented change to her people, and so was greatly supported – unlike both her father and grandfather. She also broke off an engagement which had been arranged by her father simply because the intended wouldn’t welcome her mother in their would-be home.
Sure, you’re thinking this might not sound like much, but consider the time she was in, when a scandal like that might have ruined a woman. Nevertheless, she later married Leopold George Christian Frederick of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield (an impressive name you’ll agree). While their marriage was a happy one, Charlotte died at the age of 21, as a result of childbirth, and the British succession detoured down the path we know of today.
2. Madam Walker, Entrepreneur
Cross the North Atlantic Ocean to the United States where our next historical figure resided in the early 20th century. Sarah Breedlove, also known as Madam C. J. Walker, was an African American who became the world’s most successful entrepreneur of the time. Even more impressive, she was a self-made millionaire, rising to her riches by developing and marketing her own hair and beauty products specifically for African American women.
She slowly learnt her trade, worked her way tirelessly up through the ranks, and all so that her daughter could get an education. During Madam Walker’s era, it was common-place for people to suffer from certain skin conditions: severe dandruff, baldness etc. – a natural entrepreneur she recognised this social need and her life was never the same again. Not only was she an entrepreneur, she later hired thousands of women to work for her company, was a social and political activist, and regularly provided donations to various societies and groups.
3. Edith Cavell, Nurse
Around the same time as Madam Walker, although back in Europe, we move onto our next tale: that of Edith Cavell. Edith was a British nurse during WW1, who saved the lives of soldiers while working in Brussels. What is particularly noteworthy here is that she refused to distinguish between sides. She saw herself as a nurse, and that her duty was to care for whoever needed it.
Unfortunately, though, it was for this very reason that she was arrested, tried by German military court (who had invaded Brussels by this point) and was shot by a firing squad in 1915. Edith’s courageous attitude of caring for the injured, irrespective of nationality, during a time when your very nationality could have you killed is commendable. And for that spirit and bravery, she deserves to be remembered.
4. Bessie Coleman, Pilot
Back over to America once more for our next historical figure: Bessie Coleman. Bessie was an American civil aviator. But that is not all, oh no. She was also the first woman of African American descent and Native American descent to hold a pilot’s licence. Defying in the process so many socially set up boundaries. Bessie had to save up money so she could go to France in order to fulfil her dream of flying. As there were simply no opportunities for an African American, Native American or for a woman around at that time in America. She became a pilot and later a successful air show pilot in the US. Although, unfortunately, she later died in a plane crash in 1926, her inspirational legacy of defying gravity still lives on.
5. Valentina Tereshkova, Astronaut
This whole list so far has thrown up some pretty out of this world women, and from this point we move nicely onto our last historical figure that you may not have heard of, the first female ever to go to outer space: Valentina Tereshkova. After developing an early interest in skydiving, she became the first female cosmonaut after being selected from around 400 applicants in Russia. In 1963, Tereshkova was the first woman in space, and she orbited the earth 48 times, before completing her mission.
During which, she kept a flight log and took many photographs to further develop the scientific understanding. In order to get into space Tereshkova had to endure a gruelling training regime; which consisted of, but was certainly not limited to: rocket theory, spacecrafts engineering and even 120 parachute jumps – but as an already avid fan of skydiving we doubt the last one was that gruelling.
History is home to many awe-inspiring, tear-jerking, but most importantly, educational moments from all over the globe. And while we can’t include every single tale here, trust us, they’re worth a read.
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