The Nine Worthies are historical, scriptural, and legendary warriors who personify the ideals of courage and chivalry as were established in the Middle Ages. They are Joshua, David, Judah Maccabee, Hector, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, King Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of Bouillion. They represented the highest ideals of knightly virtues and can be seen in medieval paintings, architecture, and tapestries. In German they are labeled Neun Gute Heiden, meaning “Nine Good Heroes”. In French they are called Les Neuf Preux, meaning “The Nine Valiants.”
Several centuries later, nine of the “Most Illustrious Ladies of All Ages and Nations” were chosen from scripture, history, and legend to be placed alongside their male counterparts. These ladies are the Roman heroines Lucretia, Veturia, and Virginia, the Jewish champions Esther, Judith, and Jael, and the Catholic saints Helena, Bridget of Sweden, and Elizabeth of Hungary. Two of the Roman women were examples of chastity, their heroic acts being the defense of their own virtue. In contrast, two of the Jewish women, Judith and Jael, were known for assassinating the leaders of Israel’s enemies.