Jitō – 645 – 703 – Yamato, Japan

Japan

20160730_211517-1-1

Jitō was the third woman to rule Japan as empress regnant.

Her father was Emperor Tenji, who was succeeded by his half-brother Emperor Tenmu. Jitō was married to Tenmu (her uncle) and succeeded him on the throne in 687 at the age of forty two. This was to ensure that their son, Kusakabe-shinnō, could eventually ascend to emperor himself.

Prince Kusabake did indeed follow his mother, but died while still young, leaving his son Karu-no-o who was too young to rule. This meant that Jitō stepped in once more, this time to preserve the throne for her grandson.

Jitō’s total rule was eleven years, in 697 she abdicated in favour of Karu-no-o, who became Emperor Monmu. Jitō retired to a monastery but retained much of her political power and continued to excervcise it behind the scenes as a cloistered ruler.

There are two poems attributed to Empress Jitō, the first of which is:

After the death of the Emperor Temmu

Oh, the autumn foliage

Of the hill of Kamioka!

My good Lord and Sovereign

Would see it in the evening

And ask of it in the morning.

On that very hill from afar

I gaze, wondering

If he sees it to-day,

Or asks of it to-morrow.

Sadness I feel at eve,

And heart-rending grief at morn –

The sleeves of my coarse-cloth robe

Are never for a moment dry.

Composed when the Empress climbed the Thunder Hill

Lo, our great Sovereign, a goddess,

Tarries on the Thunder

In the clouds of heaven!


References:

On Wikipedia:

Rufaida Al-Aslamia رفيدة الأسلمية – th Century – Medina, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

Embroidered portrait of Rufaida Al-Aslamia, head and shoulders. She is staring straight ahead and wearing a blue and white hijab.

Rufaida Al-Aslamia is considered the first Muslim nurse and social worker.

Born in Medina sometime in the 7th century, Rufaida’s family were among the first to have converted to Islam and it is said that she knew the prophet Mohammed personally.

Her father was a physician by trade, and taught his daughter the skills needed to care for the sick and wounded. At a time in history defined by a number of holy wars, Rufaida’s help was invaluable on the battlefield, and she cut her teeth in desert field hospitals.

Rufaida was also an excellent organiser and clearly a charismatic personality – in the highly male dominated field of medicine she was able to flourish and thrive. She trained other women in nursing, and introduced the first documented mobile care units which aimed to stabilise the wounded after battles and prepare them for further procedures.

Rufaida’s team of volunteer nurses were so successful that following one battle Mohammed ensured that she receive the same portion of war booty due to soldier who had fought – one of the earliest examples of equal pay.

In addition to her role in battlefield healthcare, Rufaida was interested in disease and its causes among ordinary people. She is recorded as having personally worked in poor communities encouraging hygiene and attempting to alleviate social problems which led to poor health.


References:

On Wikipedia: