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Women in History: March 31st


307 AD – Emperor Constantine, after divorcing his first wife Minervina, took Fausta as his wife. This marriage was entered into by Constantine to for political reasons and strengthened his connection with other Roman Tetrarchs. Next to nothing is known about Minervina. Fausta was executed by her husband in an over-heated bath.

1492 – Queen Isabella of Castile issued the Albhambra Degree which made it compulsory for 150,000 Jewish and Muslim subjects to convert to Roman Catholicism or to be driven out of Spain.

Born on this day in…

1360 – Philippa of Lancaster, Queen of Portugal (d. 1415) and wife to King John I. Among the children that she bore were the “Ínclita Geração” or “Illustrious Generation”, five infantes (princes) who were great men. Her father and mother were John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and Blanche, 1st Duchess of Lancaster. Possessing a perfect queenly demeanor, she was pious, kind, and was known to have said, “it would be regarded as an indecent thing for a wife to interfere in her husband’s affairs.” When her brother King Henry IV took the English throne, she spoke out on behalf of those who supported the dethroned Richard II. Her kindness as such that she arranged a marriage between Beatrice, her husband’s illegitimate daughter and the Earl of Arundel.

1425 – Bianca Maria Visconti (d. 1468) was an Italian noblewoman and Duchess of Milan. When her husband, Francesco I Sforza went to war against Venice, she busied herself with the administrative duties of the duchy of Milan in his absences. The Duchess as involved in sundry good works: the building of a hospital such as Ospedale Maggiore and she helped many poor women. When Pope Pius II announced a new Crusade against the Ottoman Turks, she presented him with 300 knights and her husband as a military leader.

1718 – Mariana Victoria of Spain (d. 1781) was a Spanish infanta (princess), Queen of Portugal, and wife to King Joseph I. In her childhood, she was betrothed to King XV of France but it was thought that she was too young and the match did not go forward. Mariana Victoria and her husband had a good marriage, sharing the following interests: hunting, music, opera, and religion.

1823 – Mary Boykin Chesnut (d. 1886) was an authoress from South Carolina who was known for her Civil War diary. Although she existed amongst the Southern planter class, she clandestinely harbored anti-slavery views. Her book, A Diary from Dixie was said to be a “vivid picture of a society in the throes of its life-and-death struggle.”

1934 – Kamala Surayya (d. 2009), known by pen names such as Madhavikutty  and Kamala Das, was an Indian English poet and foremost Malayalam authoress. While in Kerala, she wrote short stories and an autobiography. Under the name of Kamala Das, she wrote poems and an explicit autobiography. She wrote about various topics such as women’s issues, politics, child care, among other pressing topics.

Died on this day in…

1855 – Charlotte Brontë (b. 1816) was an English novelist and poet who as one of the three Brontë Sisters (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne). She was most famous for her Gothic novel, Jane Eyre, a story in which the titular character is a governess in Victorian England. During her life, she wrote under the name Curer Bell as women were stigmatized if they wrote anything other than sentimental romance. Ms. Brontë, much like her sisters, wrote novels that some would considered dark in tone and deep in nature.

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