18. Zenobia (240-275 AD)
Zenobia was a bold Syrian queen who had the bravery and audacity to butt heads with the Roman Empire. She became the queen of the Palmyrene Empire when her husband, Odaenathus, became king in 260 AD. After her husband was assassinated, she became the de facto ruler of the empire as their son was only 8 years old at the time.
A brilliant strategist, Zenobia launched military attacks that eventually brought many areas of the Roman Empire under her control including a major victory taking Egypt. She was also one of the most accepting rulers, protecting all people, including religious minorities, from persecution. In Syria today, she is still considered a national hero.