While the stories of history’s first female doctors of philosophy are inspiring, they also highlight the galling realities of women’s centuries-long struggle to obtain equal educational opportunities and professional and intellectual respect. Seen as a whole, they have the power to light a fire beneath armchair inspiration and provoke similarly bold and progressive action.

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From Art Nouveau theatrical poster to a Japanese art gallery, a unique serpent bracelet designed by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha for French actress Sarah Bernhardt has coiled its way through more than a century of history – disappearing, reappearing, and intertwining itself with an eclectic group of extraordinary people.

“During her lifetime, [Queen] Margrete held numerous titles. The least important of these were the ones she gained at birth and through marriage. Those she earned demonstrated an unprecedented display of respect and trust independent of her relationship to any man.”

Excerpted from “The Lady King Who United Medieval Scandinavia“.