I’ve seen a number of other articles in the past few years talking about women in epic fantasy, and whether it would be historically accurate for women in fantasy novels to be in positions of power, as leaders, or warriors, or pirate queens, or whatever. The short answer is yes, and I’ll leave it to others more qualified than I to provide the supporting evidence.
That said, I don’t care if it’s historically accurate. I would write epic fantasy novels with women in positions in power even if no woman in history had ever held such a position. Why? Because it’s fantasy. In this genre, we make stuff up.
Magic isn’t historically accurate. Dragons aren’t historically accurate. Why should gender roles have to be historically accurate? We write speculative fiction. We speculate. We invent worlds. It’s vastly uncreative to model everything in one’s fantasy world on the real world (plus it’s ignorant, if one believes women in real life history did nothing but cook dinner and make babies).
I write women in all kinds of interesting roles. I write women as assassins, as political leaders, as warriors, as mathematicians. Why? Because I want to. Because I enjoy it. And because as a reader, I enjoy reading this kind of story. Neither I nor any other epic fantasy writes needs more justification than that.