The dresses. The hair. The wit. It's all here in one glorious post, so grab your parasol and mind your P's and Q's; these ladies are the real deal.
Might contain spoilers.
#20 - Queen Victoria, The Young Victoria
Sweet and passionate Victoria leads a sheltered life before becoming queen at the tender age of eighteen. Her sharp intellect and deep concern for the well-being of her people makes her a great queen, even when the pressures of family threaten to overwhelm her. She falls in love with a German prince, giving her the courage to overcome her toxic mother and adviser and instead surround herself with good people. Her courage and tenacity have made her one of England's most famed monarchs to this day.
#19 - Caroline Mathilda, A Royal Affair
Caroline's upbringing groomed her to be the wife of Christian VII, the King of Denmark. Her sweet spirit and gentle ways make her a good queen, even though she's trapped in an unhappy marriage. Her passion for Danish reform sparks a short-lived renaissance, only to be reversed when the king's brother stages a coup and takes the throne. Though her life is short and bittersweet, her impact on history is undeniable.
#18 - Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, The Duchess
Georgiana is full of vivacity and charm, becoming a leading lady in the London scene after her marriage to the Duke of Devonshire. She uses her influence to promote the Whig party, even falling in love with one of its most promising members. Even though she doesn't love her husband, she chooses to stay and mother her children, sacrificing her happiness for theirs.
#17 - Satine, Moulin Rouge
Satine, beautiful and highly desired by all, doesn't believe in love until she meets a penniless English poet. Though their romance blossoms quickly, she sacrifices it to save the Moulin Rouge from bankruptcy. Her love refuses to give up on her and comes back for her, only to hold her in his arms as she dies, eaten away by consumption. Her bravery and tenderness leave a lasting impression on everyone at the Moulin Rouge.
#16 - Denise, The Paradise
Denise starts as a salesgirl in the exquisite Paradise, the store owned by the charming Mr. Moray. Her groundbreaking ideas transform the store and she quickly rises through the ranks. Her vision and flair set her apart and Moray soon falls in love with her, forsaking his fiancee in order to be with her. Her business acumen and eye for beauty make her an authority on all things fashionable.
#15 - Beth March, Little Women
Soft-spoken Beth is the third sister in the classic story by Louisa May Alcott. Her timidity and gentle spirit endear her to everyone she encounters, especially her sister Jo. She lovingly keeps their home clean and bright, and often shares in the struggles her sisters face. When she becomes ill, her family surrounds her with love and peace, mourning her bitterly when she dies.
#14 - Marie Antoinette, Marie Antoinette
Arguably one of the most famous queens in history, Marie Antoinette's joie de vivre is legendary. Her love of parties and all things decadent didn't endear her to the French people, who were starving for lack of bread. But, even at the end, she remained as regal and poised as ever.
#13 - Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility
Marianne is the middle daughter of a family turned out of their home after her father dies. Her vivacity and deep feelings are a constant source of both joy and frustration to her mother and sisters. She falls madly in love with a man, only to be crushed when he deserts her for a richer woman. Her grief and despair results in a frightening illness, but she recovers and realizes her feelings for Colonel Brandon, the dashing older gentleman who always loved her.
#12 - Beatrix Potter, Miss Potter
Beatrix's carefree attitude and silly stories are often mocked, but she never lets her critics get her down. She knows exactly what she wants out of life and isn't afraid to go get it. She finds love and suffers tragedy when her fiance dies, but even so is able to find peace and contentment with her beloved characters.
#11 - Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
Elizabeth finds herself being the voice of reason in a family of silly sisters and an insufferable mother. She prides herself on her judgment of character and is quick to assume the worst of Mr. Darcy, the somber rich gentleman from Derbyshire. Her wit and merry sense of humor continually surprises her more genteel acquaintances and intrigues Mr. Darcy in spite of himself. Together she and Mr. Darcy overcome their prejudices against one another and are able to fall in love.
#10 - Fanny Price, Mansfield Park
Fanny, the impoverished cousin of a wealthy baron, lives in the shadow of wealth her whole life. She has strong opinions, often picking up a quill to write when she cannot make herself heard. Her good sense and kind heart save her from many a trouble and even guide her to her own happy ending.
#9 - Elizabeth of York, The White Queen
Elizabeth falls in love with Edward, the King of England, and marries him in secret. Throughout the course of his reign, Elizabeth proves to be a more than capable queen, doing whatever she must to protect her kingdom and her family. She battles her enemies at court, often outsmarting and humiliating them. Even after the death of her husband, Elizabeth ensures the safety of her son so that he may take his place as king of England.
#8 - Scarlett O'Hara, Gone With the Wind
While Scarlett might be described as selfish and demanding, her determination and intelligence make her a force to be reckoned with. No matter what life throws at her - war, loss, poverty - she finds a way to get by where others give up. She isn't ashamed of who she is and she doesn't apologize for it.
#7 - Anna Karenina, Anna Karenina
After living a life as the wife of a Russian count, Anna falls in love with a cavalry officer named Vronsky. They defy every rule of society by being together, but all they care about is each other. Though Anna begins to become paranoid that Vronsky is cheating on her and takes her own life, she remains true to herself and doesn't allow "the rules" to define her.
#6 - Anne Boleyn, The Tudors
Anne Boleyn becomes the second wife of King Henry VIII after his unprecedented divorce of Catherine of Aragon. Her charm and magnetism draw in many people, and she uses that influence to make things better. She truly loves her husband, even when he accuses her of infidelity and has her imprisoned. Though she eventually loses her life, her impact on the king and England is undeniable.
#5 - Lagertha, Vikings
From farm wife to village chief, there's little that Lagertha cannot do. Her strength and wild spirit are perfectly suited to the rugged Viking lands she calls home. Her prowess in battle is legendary and she easily adapts to the changing times brought about by her husband, Ragnar. Even after experiencing betrayal and heartbreak, she remains strong and fierce, a true picture of the Viking spirit.
#4 - Fantine, Les Miserables
Fantine's love for her daughter Cosette knows no bounds as she sacrifices everything to provide for her - her hair, her teeth, even her body - and sends every penny to the innkeepers who care for her. She attracts the attention of Jean Valjean, entrusting Cosette to his care before she dies. Her death marks a turning point in Valjean's life and shows him how important loving someone really is.
#3 - Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre
Abused and neglected her whole life, Jane finds comfort within her own imagination and spends her free time dreaming up fantastic creatures and ideas. Her unusual perspective draws the attention of Mr. Rochester, her moody employer. She shows him that not everyone cares for wealth and status, instead choosing to see the man beneath and not fearing him. Even after a tumultuous romance and painful separation, Jane finally reunites with her love and swears never to leave him again.
#2 - Violet Crawley, Downton Abbey
Known for her acerbic wit and blunt opinions, Violet is never one to back down from a challenge, even one as exhausting as her cousin Isobel. Her wisdom guides many, while her soft heart hides under a tenacious exterior. No matter what may threaten her loved ones, Violet always finds a way to keep them safe.
#1 - Catherine de Medici, Reign
This ruthless royal has no qualms about getting her hands dirty to achieve her goals, whether that be to keep her children safe or to quash rebellion amongst the nobles. Her quick thinking saves the court many times, and she's always a few moves ahead of her opponents. Her grit and sharp tongue make her both a powerful ally and a dangerous enemy.
From queens to poor country girls, each of these women are proof that you can make a huge difference, no matter if it's to your family, your country, or even the world. Who knows? Maybe someday someone will be making a period piece about you!