I have this life-long thesis that women have always been awesome. History books don’t always talk about us, TV shows don’t always write about us, entire groups of people always try to lessen us with stereotypes, but we’ve been there, public-sphere, private-sphere, wherever, kicking ass and taking names.
Case in point is Chinese pirate queen Zheng Yi Sao. Here’s a bit about her (emphasis in the original):
After just one year leading her pirate hegemony, Zheng Yi Sao had formed one of the largest navies on the planet, with some 17,000 men under her command. Extorted tributes from merchants across the Chinese seas and from the coastal towns between Macau and Canton swelled her treasury to staggering levels, and her power was so great that she became the de facto government of the region. No longer was she merely a pirate; she was an entire political entity.
You can read her bio here.
“Unfortunately, Zheng Yi [Zheng Yi Sao's husband and fellow pirate master] was killed in 1807 after a misunderstanding with a typhoon. Unfortunate for him, but extremely fortunate for Zheng Yi Sao. Refusing to step aside like a good, diligent widow, Zheng Yi Sao took charge of the Red Flag Fleet, convinced her late husband’s First Mate to support her and swiftly set about making herself the most respected and/or feared individual in all the East.”–Bio of Zheng Yi Sao by Joe Doran（杜乔)