In honor of International Women’s Day, I present Momadona Dias, who ruled the county of Portugal first jointly with her husband then, after his death, on her own. She was the most powerful woman in northwest Iberian Peninsula during the 19th century.
During her reign, she founded the Mosteiro of São Mamede in Vimaranes. To protect the monastery from Viking raids, she had the Castle of Guimarães built. Vimaranes eventually became Guimarães and the castle became, a century and a half later, the birthplace of the Kingdom of Portugal.
In the statue pictured below, Mumadona Dias holds a cross in her right hand and what appears to be the Castle of Guimarães in her left. I love how Portugal honors their heroes- men and women- with beautiful works of art that are not displayed in museums but in public where everyone can enjoy the art and remember their history.