Eleanor of Aquitane. Although she might not have been a dutiful wife she was devoted to education and raised two famous English kings. Richard the Lionheart I and John of lackland( as he was later called)
Hellen Keller shouldn't be praised. Anne Sullivan should.
Another great woman who's name has somewhat faded into obscurity is Emilie du Chatelet. She was a great mathmatician and physicist during a time when women were not expected too and looked down upon for thinking.
It seems like the school systems really fail people when it comes to Hellen Keller. It seems like the average person only knows that she was deaf and blind. This was all I knew practically my entire life until I decided to look deeper a few months ago. I was surprised to learn how much more there was to her. For instance she was a fierce socialist who liked to shake things up. The wikipedia page on her provides a good introduction.
Empress Theodora: from being the daughter of a bear-keeper at the Hippodrome and an acrobat, to being Constantinople's most infamous courtesan, finally to Empress Consort of Justinian.
Eleanor of Aquitaine: Politics, a patron of the arts, traveling, butting heads with her husband....
Anna Comnena: first female historian in the west
Boudicca: an interesting more-myth-than-fact figure in British history
Hatshepsut: Dared to rule Egypt not as a queen but as a king and paid for it
Elizabeth Bathory: warped but interesting nonetheless
Heloise of the Paraclete: tragic medieval woman scholar
Hildegard of Bingen: medieval intellectual nun and composer
Cleopatra: powerful and until recently very misrepresented in history
Zenobia: dared (like a couple of other women on this list) to stand up to Rome
Lady Godiva????? But what do we really *know* about her? I mean, the tale of her riding through the streets of Coventry wearing nothing but her hair comes from a chronicle that was written some 200 years after the supposed events happened. Some people, however, have speculated that she might have ridden, not through Coventry, which more or less hardly existed then(although she apparently founded a church there that eventually became Coventry Cathedral), but through *another* town, stripped of her jewelry and wearing plain clothes and letting her hair flow free. That was "nakedness" in "them days". Or so I'm told.