The 5 Greatest Queens in European History

Throughout history there have been tough women who have held on to what was theirs and became immortalised in living memory. Here we examine 5 of the greatest Queens in European history, that have ever lived.

 

5.  Eleanor of Aquitaneeleanor_of_Aquitaine_effigy

Eleanor was a rather magnificent woman. Inheriting her deceased father’s Duchy of Aquitaine and Poitiers, aged just 15, she became an incredibly powerful monarch. Being extremely well educated she took it upon herself to transform Aquitaine into one of the leading intellectual and cultural centres in Medieval Europe.

She is perhaps best known for her role in masterminding trade agreements between Western Europe, Constantinople and the Holy Land. After she had her marriage to Louis VII annulled, she became Queen Consort to Henry II of England. Sadly this did not end well after she and three of her sons backed a revolt against Henry when he had Thomas Becket assassinated. She was imprisoned for 16 years

 

4.  Elizabeth IElizabeth-I

Daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, the Virgin Queen was destined to make history. Unlike her predecessors, Elizabeth never married, meaning that she retained complete power of the monarchy. She was a highly educated woman who, when she came to power, turned the English court into a place for poets, musicians and writers.

Elizabeth is perhaps best known for her defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, after the execution of her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1587, as well as her tolerance for all religions and the rights of her subjects to practise them, despite her turning England into a Protestant country. Elizabeth was an amazing woman and one who history will be hard pushed to forget!

 

3.  Isabella I of Castile

Isabel_la_Católica-2

Isabella became queen when she married Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469. She was joint ruler of Spain, but also governed independently of Ferdinand. A staunch Catholic, she was the driving force behind the creation of the Spanish Inquisition, which resulted in thousands of Jews (and eventually Muslims) being tortured and fleeing the country, uniting Spain in one religion – Roman Catholicism.

Of course Isabella wasn’t all bad, she sponsored Christopher Columbus’ voyage and encouraged scholarship amongst her subjects. Her reign came to an end when she died in 1504.

 

2.  Queen Victoria

Queen_Victoria_1887

 

Queen Victoria was arguably the most powerful woman to have ever reigned so far. She also ruled for the longest time known to date – 63 years! She was the head of the rather impressive British Empire, which stretched across 6 continents and meant that she ruled over some 400 million people.

She was a fair queen and supported many social reforms that went through Parliament, such as abolishment of slavery in all colonies of the British Empire, reducing working hours in textile mills and giving all male householders the right to vote. Her reign came to an end when she died in 1901.

 

1.   Boudica

Queen_Boudica_by_John_Opie

Boudica gets top spot, not because she was a powerful queen who ruled a country or because she introduced life changing reforms. Boudica is at the top spot because of her truly breath-taking assault against the Roman Empire and the impression that she has left in our memories, even 2000 years later. She was Queen of the fierce Iceni tribe with her husband King Prasutagus. When the Romans invaded Britain they offered Prasutagus a deal, he could reign as king in the name of the empire. This relationship broke down when he died and the Romans tried to seize his lands.

Boudica was flogged and her daughters raped, which resulted in her leading an uprising against them. She managed to rally thousands of men from various tribes in a revolt that, for some time, was beginning to push the Romans back. Sadly this didn’t last forever and Boudica and her army were defeated. Instead of allowing herself to be captured it is said that she killed herself with poison. One thing’s for sure, Boudica is nothing short of being an inspiration!

 

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About Cassie Raine

Cassie is a home educating mum-of-two, living in the Kentish countryside. She has a keen interest in history, especially ancient history, literature, myths and legends, theology, environmental issues, self-sufficiency and current affairs. In her spare time she enjoys reading, country walks, knitting and learning new skills. She believes passionately that learning should be a pleasure, never a chore.
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