Chronology Of Key Events
• = historical event
■ = literary event
• Queen Ahmose Nefertari, sister and principal wife of King Ahmose, rules as "god's wife," in a new position created by a law enacted by the King.
C. 1490 B.C.
• Queen Hatshepsut rules as pharaoh, several years after the death of her husband, King Thutmose II.
C. 1360 B.C.
• Queen Nefertiti rules Egypt alongside her husband, pharaoh Akhenaten.
C. 620 B.C.
• Sappho is born on the Isle of Lesbos, Greece.
C. 600 B.C.
■ Sappho organizes and operates a thiasos, an academy for young, unmarried Greek women.
• Spartan women are the most independent women in the world, and are able to own property, pursue an education, and participate in athletics.
C. 550 B.C.
• Sappho dies on the Isle of Lesbos.
C. 100 B.C.
• Roman laws allow a husband: to kill his wife if she is found in the act of adultery, to determine the amount of money his wife is owed in the event of divorce, and to claim his children as property.
• Cleopatra VII Philopator is born in Egypt.
• Marriage of Antony and Cleopatra.
C. 30 B.C.
• Cleopatra VII Philopator commits suicide in Egypt.
• Emperor Augustus decrees the Lex Julia, which penalizes childless Roman citizens, adulterers, and those who marry outside of their social rank or status.
• Hypatia is born in Alexandria, Egypt.
• Hypatia is murdered in Alexandria, Egypt.
• Salians (Germanic Franks living in Gaul) issue a code of laws which prohibit women from inheriting land; the law is used for centuries to prevent women from ruling in France.
• Empress Suiko (554-628) becomes the first woman sovereign of Japan.
• Wu Zetian (624-705) becomes the only female emperor of Imperial China.
• Japanese legal code specifies that in law, ceremony, and practice, Japanese men can be polygamous—having first wives and an unlimited number of "second wives" or concubines—, but women cannot.
• Lady Ise, Japanese court lady, is born. She is considered one of the most accomplished poets of her time and her poems are widely anthologized.
• Hrotsvitha (also Hrotsvit or Roswitha), considered the first German woman poet, is born.
• Lady Ise dies.
■ Publication of the Kagero Nikki (The Gossamer Years), a diary written by an anonymous Japanese courtesan. The realism and confessional quality of the work influence the works of later court diarists.
• Japanese poet Izumi Shikibu, known for her expression of erotic and Buddhist themes, is born. Her body of work includes more than 1,500 waka (31-syllable poems).
■ Sei Shonagon, Japanese court lady, writes Makura no Soshi (The Pillow Book), considered a classic of Japanese literature and the originator of the genre known as zuihitsu ("to follow the brush") that employs a stream-of-consciousness literary style.
■ Murasaki Shikibu writes Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji), considered a masterpiece of classical prose literature in Japan.
• Izumi Shikibu dies.
• Hildegard von Bingen is born in Bermersheim, Germany.
■ Twenty women troubadours—aristocratic poet-composers who write songs dealing with love—write popular love songs in France. About twenty-four of their songs survive, including four written by the famous female troubadour known as the Countess of Dia, or Beatrix.
• Eleanor of Aquitaine is born in Aquitaine, France. Her unconventional life is chronicled for centuries in books and dramatic works.
• Sometime in the twelfth century (some sources say 1122), Marie de France, the earliest known female French writer and author of lais, a collection of twelve verse tales written in octosyllabic rhyming couplets, flourished. She is thought to be the originator of the lay as a poetic form.
■ Marie of Champagne (1145-1198), daughter of King Louis VII of France and Eleanor of Aquitaine, cosponsors "courts of love" to debate points on the proper conduct of knights toward their ladies. Marie encourages Chrétien de Troyes to write
(The entire section is 10,241 words.)