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Medieval and Renaissance Queens, Rulers

Women who ruled in medieval and renaissance times - queens, empresses, and others. Find biographies, etexts, some pictures, and links to even more resources for women rulers around the world.
  1. Tudor Women
  2. Queens, Empresses and Ot...
  3. Medieval and Renaissance...
  4. Elizabeth I (8)
  5. Mary Queen of Scots (9)
  6. Empress Suiko (8)
  7. Byzantine Empresses (7)
  8. Medieval British Queens (67)
  9. Habsburg Queens (11)

Medieval Women Rulers
In the Middle Ages, men ruled -- except when women did. Here are a few of the medieval women who ruled -- in their own right in a few cases, as regents for male relatives in other cases, and sometimes by wielding power and influence through their husbands, sons, brothers, and grandsons.

Powerful Queens of the 12th Century
Three powerful women ruled in the 12th century, each claiming her own right to power, and each plagued by civil unrest.

Saint Adelaide
Adelaide was the second wife of Emperor Otto I, who rescued her from captivity. She ruled as a regent for her grandson Otto III.

Amalasuntha - Queen of the Goths
Regent Queen of the Ostrogoths, her murder became the rationale for Justinian's invasion of Italy and defeat of the Goths. Unfortunately, we have only a few very biased sources for her life, but this profile attempts to read between the lines and come as close as we can to an objective telling of her story.

Amina, Queen of Zazzua
A profile of Amina, Queen of Zazzua, who extended the territory of her people as a warrior queen.

Daughter of Theophano and the Byzantine Emperor Romanus II, and thus sister of the Theophano who married western Emperor Otto II, Anna was married to Vladimir I of Kiev -- and her marriage was the occasion of his conversion, beginning the official conversion of Russia to Christianity.

Berenguela of Castile
Profile of Berenguala, also known as Berengaria, whose short marriage to the king of Leon led to the unification of Leon and Castile.

Blanche of Castile
A profile of Blanche of Castile, ruler of France twice as regent for her son, Saint Louis.

A Visigoth princess, she married a Frankish king, then revenged her murdered sister by starting a 40-year war with a rival kingdom. She fought for her son, grandsons and great-grandson, but was finally defeated and the kingdom lost to the rival family.

Edith (Eadgyth) of 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, 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. This profile highlights her key contributions.

Eleanor, Queen of Castile
Biography of Eleanor, a daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine who married Alfonso VIII of Castile in 1177.

Elizabeth I of England
From your About Guide to Women's History: the life and writings of Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Emma, Queen of Franks
A short profile of Emma, Queen of Franks, accused of poisoning her own son and changing the dynastic future of France.

She worked her way up from servant to mistress to queen consort, and then ruled as her son's regent. She talked her husband into murdering his second wife, but that wife's sister, Brunhilde, queen of the neighboring kingdom, wanted revenge -- and so followed forty years of war. Fredegund is chiefly remembered for her assassinations and other cruelties.

Isabella of France
Wife of Edward II of England, she helped arrange his removal and murder, then ruled with her lover as regent for her son before being banished to a nunnery.

Isabella of Portugal
Queen of Spain, Isabella of Portugal was depressed after the birth of her two children.

Queen Isabella I of Spain
Queen of Castile and Aragon, she ruled equally with her husband, Ferdinand. Her contributions to world history go beyond just financing Columbus.

Margaret of Denmark
Margaret of Denmark biography - a profile of Margaret of Denmark, first medieval queen to rule in Europe, and engineer of the Kalmar Union united the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden under one kingship.

Mary I
Mary I tried to restore Roman Catholicism in England, after her father Henry VIII had declared England's independence from the Pope and Mary's brother moved even closer to Protestantism in his brief reign. For her executions of those who wouldn't go along with her plan, she's known as Bloody Mary in history.

Mary of Burgundy
A biographical sketch of Mary of Burgundy, whose marriage brought the Netherlands to the Habsburg dynasty and whose son brought Spain into the Habsburg sphere.

Mary of Guise
A biography of Mary of Guise, part of the powerful Guise family of France, wife of James V of Scotland, and mother of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Anna Nzinga
A profile of Anna Nzinga, warrior queen in Angola, who led a resistance campaign against against slave trading and the Portuguese.

Olga of Russia
A cruel and revengeful ruler as regent for her son, she was the first Russian saint in the Orthodox Church, for her efforts in converting the nation to Christianity.

Peace of the Ladies (Paix des Dames)
It was called the Peace of the Ladies or Paix des Dames. What was this treaty and why did it get that interesting name?

Sigrid the Haughty
Sigrid the Haughty, Viking princess, is legendary for her religious convictions -- and may be mythical, not historical.

Empress Suiko
Although the legendary rulers of Japan, before written history, were said to be empresses, Suiko is the first empress in recorded history to rule Japan. During her reign, Buddhism was promoted official0y, Chinese and Korean influence increased, and, according to tradition, a 17-article constitution was adopted.

Katherine Swynford
Katherine Swynford was the ancestor of powerful English monarchs. While never herself a queen, she was the ancestress of kings and queens.

Urraca of Leon and Castile
Urraca of Leon and Castile ruled as a sovereign monarch, highly unusual for any medieval monarch and unique for Spain in the medieval period.

Which Tudor Queen Are You? A Women's History Quiz
A fun way to explore Tudor women's history: take the quiz and find out which Tudor queen is most like you.

Women of the 10th Century
A timeline showing notable women of the 10th century. In the middle of the medieval period, a few women contribute their names to the public record. They appear as queens, empresses and consorts of powerful men, or as regents for sons and grandsons -- but occasionally as artists, military leaders, political manipulators and writers.

Two Versions of The Lion in Winter
The Lion in Winter is a literary retelling of the relationship between Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England. Historical facts: Eleanor led their sons

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