Let's begin our look with two great ancient rulers, Hatshepsut of Egypt and Wu Zetian of China.
Hatshepsut -Pharaoh of Egypt, 1479-1458 B.C.
It was uncommon for women to assume rule in ancient Egypt. Hatshepsut was not, however, a common woman. She claimed her father intended for her to be pharaoh after his death. The Oracle of Amun confirmed it, which was good enough for the folks of Ancient Egypt. Her peaceful reign included the promotion of the arts. Thutmose III, one of the world's early misogynists, attempted to erase Hatshepsut from Egyptian records because he felt it impossible for a woman to reign well. Hieroglyphics and twentieth-century discoveries thwarted his efforts.
Wu Zetian - Empress of China, 690 - 705 A.D.
Wu Zetian joined the Imperial Court at the age of 13, used manipulation and violence over a period of several years to eliminate her enemies, and married the emperor in 655. When her husband died, she continued her political prowess and outfoxed the emperor's sons to gain control of the throne. She challenged traditional Confucian beliefs which taught that women were inferior. In 690 she declared herself emperor. Her rule was marked by agricultural advances, which included elaborate irrigation systems, the compilation of farming manuals, and reducing agricultural taxes. She was forced to resign in 705 A.D. at the age of 82. She died a short time later.