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Medieval British Queens

Women of Power in the Middle Ages


During the Middle Ages, men ruled -- except when women did. Here are a few of the women who were queens or royal consorts, or otherwise ruled in the British isles, sometimes through their husbands, sons, brothers, and grandsons.


(945 - 1000)
Aelfthryth was married to King Edgar the Peaceable and mother of Edward the Martyr and King Aethelred (Ethelred) II the Unready.


(872-879? - 918; Mercia, England)
Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians, daughter of Alfred the Great, won battles with the Danes and even invaded Wales.


(about 985 - 10002; England)
The first wife of Ethelred the Unready, she was the mother of Edmund II Ironside who briefly ruled England in a transitional time.

Anne of Cleves

(September 22, 1515 (?) - July 16, 1557; England)
Fourth wife of Henry VIII, she was not what he expected when he negotiated for her hand in marriage. Her willingness to agree to a divorce and separation led to her peaceful retirement in England.

Berengaria of Navarre

(1163?/1165? - 1230; Queen of England)
Daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre and Blanche of Castile, Berengaria was queen consort of Richard I of England -- Richard the Lionhearted -- Berengaria is the only Queen of England never to set foot on the soil of England. She died childless.

Catherine of Valois

(October 27, 1401 - January 3, 1437; France, England)
Catherine of Valois was the daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother of kings. Her relationship with Owen Tudor was a scandal; one of their descendents was the first Tudor king.

Catherine Parr - Sixth Wife of Henry VIII

Catherine Parr, after a Holbein painting
© Clipart.com
(1512? - September 5 or 7, 1548; England)
Sixth wife of Henry VIII, Catherine Parr was initially reluctant to marry Henry, and by all accounts was a patient, loving, and pious wife to him in his last years of illness, disillusion, and pain. She was an advocate of Protestant reforms.

Cecily Neville

(May 3, 1415 - May 31, 1495; England)
Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, was mother to two kings of England, and wife to a would-be king. She plays a part in the politics of the War of the Roses.

Edith (Eadgyth) of England

(about 910 - 946; England)
Daughter of King Edward the Elder of England, she was married off to the Emperor Otto I as his first wife.

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine marries Louis VII - depicted in the Chronique de St Denis
© Clipart.com
(1122 - 1204; France, England) Eleanor of Aquitaine, queen of France and England through her two marriages and ruler of her own territories by right of birth, was one of the most powerful women of the world in the twelfth century.
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