Names of Famous Mothers

Happy Mother’s Day!  I thought it would be a great idea to write a post including some names of some fascinating mothers from history and mythology who were famous and not just because they were wives or mothers to other people (though, that certainly tends to influence what they did).

Gaia (Earth) – mother of Titans, Hekatonkheires (Hundred-handed ones), etc.  She, along with her son Kronos, had her husband Uranus (Sky) castrated because he kept sending their children back into her, stressing Gaia from the physical pressure. 

Empress Matilda

Matilda – The uncrowned queen of England and one-time Holy Roman Empress.  She would have inherited the throne after her brothers and father died but her cousin inherited instead.  After a lengthy civil war she had her son successfully installed as heir.  

Cleopatra – last queen/pharaoh of Egypt.  Bet you didn’t know she had kids!  Her first child was by Julius Caesar and her younger children were by Mark Antony.  Unlike most of her dynasty, she actually spoke Egyptian. 

Rhea “feeding” Kronos

Rheamother of Zeus and his siblings.  This time she was married to Kronos, who started acting up like his father had.  He would eat his children when they were born because he was afraid that he’d be overthrown by one of his children, as prophecy foretold.  As almost always happens in Greek mythology, the prophecy had a way of fulfilling itself.  Rhea tricked her husband into eating a swaddled stone instead of baby Zeus, who grew up and rescued his siblings from dad’s belly.

Dolley Madison

Dolley – Most people probably don’t realize that Dolley Madison had children.  Anyway, she was First Lady of the U.S., saved a portrait of George Washington during the War of 1812, and as I recently read, sent the first personal telegraph?

Eleanor – Eleanor of Aquitaine inherited much of what is now southern France.  Her first marriage to the king of France ended in annulment, at which point she immediately married the king of England.  Decades later this second husband, son of the aforementioned Matilda, imprisoned Eleanor when she aided her younger sons in rebellion against him.  After the king’s death she served as regent to their succeeding child while he fought in the Crusades. 

Ariadne – Mythical Ariadne was married to Dionysus (Greek god of wine) and had children with him, but she’s primarily famous for helping Theseus navigate the Labyrinth to slay the Minotaur. 

Dhuoda Dhuoda wrote something called the Liber Manualis after her son William was sent as a hostage to the court of Charles the Bald in the early 800s.  Dhuoda’s work is the only surviving writing by a lay female writer in the Carolingian era. 

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