7 of the Most Influential Queens Throughout History
1. Queen Isabella of Aragon and Castile
With King Ferdinand II of Aragon, Queen Isabella ruled the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon jointly. She encouraged overseas exploration and even sponsored the bid for Christopher Columbus’s journey to the New World. A gentle ruler, she had ordered the freeing of the slaves that Columbus had brought back from his travels.
This queen consort meant to serve as regent for her infant stepson after the king’s death, but she adopted the role of co-ruler of Egypt. Her reign, regarded as a peaceful one, encouraged trade. She set up trading points in Africa and established building programs. Her most famous accomplishment is the temple mortuary Djeser-Djeseru, which was a dedication to the god Amon-re.
Though known for her beauty, Cleopatra possessed many brilliant qualities. The last independent ruler of Egypt, she was able to resolve her realm’s bankruptcy and bring peace to a divided nation. Cleverly, she formed alliances with Caesar for Roman support, then later with Marc Antony for protection. Her actions greatly influenced the Roman empire at the time, as well as a very literate Egypt.
4. Catherine the Great of Russia
After her husband, Peter III, had died, Catherine took the throne as Empress of Russia. She pushed for social and political reforms and put together documents that dictated how the legal system would run. Viewed as a backward society at the time, Russia saw reforms in the arts and education. Catherine sought to provide education through free schooling across Russia and devoted many projects to the arts.
5. Queen Elizabeth I
It was Queen Elizabeth’s rule that was called the Elizabethan Age and took up the latter half of the 16th century. England was a major power in politics, commerce, and arts during her time. As a female queen in a man’s world, she strongly held her own and though she did not possess absolute power, she made critical decisions. She was also known as the Virgin Queen since
6. Queen Victoria
Before Queen Elizabeth II, her ancestor Queen Victoria was the longest reigning monarch in British history. She was crowned at 18 years old, and it was during her time on the throne that Britain made the transition to a constitutional monarchy. Her reign strengthened the role of the monarchy in the British government and built a better reputation than the one forged by her frivolous uncles. She was also the first monarch to make Buckingham Palace her home, and also the first Empress of India, establishing Britain as the most powerful nation in the world. It seemed that she was fated to wear the crown for many years, having dodged at least six serious assassination attempts. These attempts only added to her popularity.
7. Queen Elizabeth II
The present Queen of the United Kingdom is to be credited for modernizing the monarchy. In her early years as a princess, she served in World War II by joining the Auxilliary Territorial Service and worked as a driver and mechanic. She was the first to have a royal ceremony televised (her coronation) and was also the first queen to condone divorce. Though she plays but a small role in enforcing political opinions, she still regularly meets with her prime minister.