A prime example of this exception is Isabella d'Este.
After the death of her husband, Isabella ruled Mantua alone. Isabella's father believed in the equality of men and women and so Isabella and her siblings were very well-educated. Isabella died at the age of sixty-four in 1539.
At the age of sixteen, Isabella d'Este was able to speak Greek and Latin as well as play the lute, sing, dance and debate with people much older than her. She was very well-educated and her political talent benefited Mantua while she was ruling. When her husband left, Isabella governed the city on her own, and after he died she took over his whole job. She showed great leadership skills in 1509 when she became Chief of State in Mantua.
At this time she also founded a school for young women where they had to observe a strict code of morals. She was a patron of the Arts and she also set artistic fashions and standards. Isabella collected many paintings and statues. She also wrote over two thousand letters and in these she commented on everything from politics to war. That was the closest that any woman at that time ever got to writing history.
Isabella patronized and promoted the arts. She allowed writers, artists and poets to exchange their ideas in her home. While she was ruling, she set an example for women to break away from the traditional role of what women were supposed to be like. By doing this and many other things she was known as the "First Lady of the Renaissance."
Another exception to this rule was Catherine de Medici.
Catherine de Medici was a major force in French politics, especially during the thirty years of the Roman Catholic-Huguenot wars. She ruled as a regent to her son and when he reached majority in 1563, Catherine dominated him.
Catherine was a Roman Catholic but when trying to create a balance with religions she sometimes agreed with the Huguenots. By doing this she created a policy of peace between the Catholics and the Protestants.
Under her influence, three of Catherine's sons became kings and she also arranged for her daughter to be married to the King of Spain in 1560.
Catherine had a great interest in architecture and she demonstrated this with her authority over the building of the new wing of the Louvre Museum, the construction of the Tuilleries Gardens, and the building of the Chateau Monceau.
Catherine de Medici was a great patron of the arts. In being this she helped the Renaissance flourish.
Isabella d'Este and Catherine de Medici had some female qualities that people of that era believed were necessary, but are also examples of what we call true "Renaissance Women."
2. [http://www.est.gov.bc.ca/equity/ac5.html]. "Catherine de Medici." 1997.
3. Swanson, Charles. "Catherine de Medici." Encyclopedia Britannica, 1768, vol. 2, pp. 954-955.
4. Trager, James. The Women's Chronology. New York, Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1994, pp. 115.
5. Yoder, Carolyn. Introducton To The Renaissance. Peterborough, Cobblestone Pub. Inc., 1994, pp. 16-17.