The Nine Worthies were nine historical figures chosen by Jean de Longuyon in his Voeux du Paon in the early 14th century as archetypes of chivalry. They are divided into three groups of three. Caxton, in his introduction to the first edition of Mallory's Morte d'Arthur specifically cites the Nine Worthies to place Mallory's work in context.
The three pagan or Ancient worthies were classical figures, the three Jewish or Biblical worthies were mentioned in the Old Testament and the three Christian or "Modern" worthies were more contemporary figures.
While the Nine Worthies were, and have survived, as a fixed list recognized as authoritative, lists of Nine Worthy Women, where they exist, vary one from another.