I minored in medieval and renaissance studies in college, and as part of that I took a course about women in renaissance culture. One writer who really stood out was Christine de Pizan
, who lived from 1363-1436. She was a phenomenal writer, and campaigned against misogyny and the notion that women hadn't contributed to history. Her Book of the City of Ladies
is one of the great works of the early Renaissance and of feminism.
Another towering medieval figure was Anna Komnene
(pronounced commena) (1083-1153). She was a princess in the Byzantine Empire during the early Crusades. She was possibly the earliest true female historian in European history, and provides incomparable insight into the Byzantine culture, kingdom, and interactions with the crusaders.
For some reason, one of the best ways medieval women could become famous was for them to be mystics, like Hildegarde of Bingen and Margery Kemp. Joan of Arc was as well, of course.
And let's not forget some of the towering female leaders in history (not counting recent ones), like Catherine the Great of Russia and Elizabeth I of England.
By the way, I fully agree with Rosalind Franklin. Watson and Crick stole from her. And unfortunately she died before the Nobel Prize was given out, otherwise she would have no doubt received it.