Most powerful queens in history have shaped the course of history with their strength, leadership qualities, intelligence and passion assisting in prosperity and cultural revolutions.
For nearly all of written history men have held the majority of the top ruling positions. Nevertheless, many fierce women held great power as well. Certainly it’s a small number compared to the number of male rulers, but still, they managed to be the exceptional few.
These powerful women have been overshadowed by men for thousands of years. Now it is high time to honor the most powerful and influential women in history who controlled countries and the outcome of history.
So, without further ado, let’s have a closer look at our list of top 10 most powerful queens in history.
Most Powerful Queens in History #1 | Elizabeth I of England
Let’s starts our list of top 10 most powerful women rulers with Queen Elizabeth. She has numerous nicknames, such as Good Queen Bess, The Virgin Queen, Elizabeth Tudor, Gloriana, The Faerie Queen, Elizabeth of England.
She was undisputedly one of the most remarkable monarchs of England who ruled the country from 1558 to 1603. Truly, 45 years of her reign marked a prosperous epoch in the history of England and the period she reigned was called the Golden age.
Queen Elizabeth Tudor was the first and only unmarried queen that ruled over England. By the way, when she took the throne the country was at its weakest point: economically bankrupt, politically endangered and religiously torn by the greater empires.
Nonetheless, Elizabeth’s determination helped her sail England through the tough times. Notably, she established the Church of England and helped England carry out one of the greatest military victories against Spain.
Furthermore, it was during her era that English literature prospered at its best, headed by such giants as William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe and many others. Long story short, this legendary queen led the country towards peace and stability.
Most Powerful Queens in History #2 | Catherine the Great
Born in Prussia (now Poland) Catherine the Great’s (in Russian Yekaterina Velikaya) original name was Sophie Friederike Auguste. In spite of the fact that her reign was considered to be a golden age for Russia, Catherine herself was a very colorful figure who ruled the country (1762-96) as an absolute despot.
And even though Catherine was, in fact, German, she had thrown herself into becoming more Russian than the Russians. She plotted the downfall of her husband, Peter III who six months after his becoming Tsar, was dead. Eventually, Catherine was happily seated on the throne.
Her reign really proved to be very beneficial for Russia but at the same time, she is one of the most scandalous queens of the history. Catherine the Great had a large number of lovers and as it is said some were even required to choose her next lover when the affair was ended.
But above all, she was a ruler truly dedicated to her adopted country. She intended to make Russia a powerful and flourishing state. She concentrated all her efforts on extending Russian territory and establishing a reign of order and justice.
Most Powerful Queens in History #3 | Marie Antoinette
Next up in our top 10 list is the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette who reigned from 1774 to 1792. This major historical figure is said to be the biggest force in provoking the French Revolution.
She married to Louis XVI of France thus obtaining the title of Queen of France and Navarre. During the early years of her marriage, French people adored her for her incredible beauty and charm. However, the general public sentiments towards her began to change when she was suspected of keeping a relationship with France’s enemies and for her complete lack of concern for the people’s welfare.
But the public’s disapproval of the queen increased and ultimately led to the beginning of the French Revolution. The people were demanding that the monarchy be brought down and the king and his wife be brought to Paris for trial. After the monarchy was dethroned, both the king and the queen were sentenced to death and executed.
Most Powerful Queens in History #4 | Wu Zetian
China’s Only Female Emperor Wu Zetian, also known as Empress Consort Wu, Wu Mei Niang, Mei-Niang, Wu Hou and Wu Zhao, was the only woman in the history of China to rule in her own right. We just couldn’t pass by this empress in our list of top 10 women rulers as her reign was known for its constructiveness, advancement of the arts and emphasis on education.
She was highly educated and at the age of 13, Wu became a concubine in the Imperial court. Soon, she stood out with her enthusiasm and diligence. The Emperor had a horse that could not be tamed and Wu stated that she can do the job and she only needed three things: an iron whip, a hammer and a dagger to kill the animal if even the hammer would not tame it. Fascinating, right?
As soon as the Emperor died custom required that Wu should shave her head and become a nun. Instead, she seduced the emperor’s son and became his second wife, but soon murdered one of them to become the first wife.
Also, she eliminated anyone at court she disliked. Overall, she had done many reforms for China, starting from the public education system to military campaigns. Under her rule, China experienced a wealth and stability it had never known before.
Most Powerful Queens in History #5 | Queen Rania of Jordan
Proclaimed in 1999 Her Majesty Queen Rania, also known as Rania Al-Yassin, Rania Al Abdullah is the Queen consort (or first lady) of Jordan. In the Arab world, this wonderful woman is a strong progressive female voice and a bold advocate for education, health, and equal rights.
Using her position, she supports many social causes, like the rights of women and children, environmental concerns, and public health. Rania Al Abdullah has founded a variety of charities to agitate for various sectors of society in Jordan. Also, she has been vocal about the significance of cross-cultural dialogue to educate greater understanding, tolerance, and acceptance across the world.
Among all these, she is a leading humanitarian as well and is working towards the foundation of new reforms for education and public health. Being a powerful supporter of cross-cultural talks, a women’s rights promoter, Rania continues to serve as a source of inspiration for social change and world peace.
By the way, in 2011, she was titled as the most beautiful consort of the world by ‘Harpers and Queen’ magazine.
Most Powerful Queens in History #6 | Hatshepsut
One of the most powerful women of all time and ancient ruler of Egypt, Hatshepsut holds the reputation of being the first female Pharaoh of the nation. Nonetheless, she tried to keep the tradition alive by looking of a man, thus making the nation feel that the leader of the kingdom is still a male.
She ruled from 1473 to 1458 BCE but the dates are not certain. During twenty years of her rule (she ruled longer than any other woman in Egyptian history), she introduced a lot of important changes that led to great economic development.
One such significant move that brought an increase in trade was the enhancement of connectivity in different places. She also initiated the construction activities of many monuments and statues that developed the creation of phenomenal masterpieces of architecture throughout the years.
The reign of Hatshepsut is one of the best illustrations to show that a woman’s leadership abilities can be equal and sometimes even surpass the male one.
Most Powerful Queens in History #7 | Mariam-uz-Zamani
The following queen in our top 10 list is Mariam-uz-Zamani, also known as Harkhan Champavati, Haarkha Bai, Jodhabai, Heer Kunwari. She happens to be one of the most fascinating women in the medieval history of India.
She is known to be the third wife of Emperor Akbar who loved Mariam with all his heart. Soon, she became his most loved wife and the first one to adorn the royal property with an heir. Mariam-uz-Zamani was a powerful and willed lady, who oversaw the trades with Europeans and some other countries.
When Mariam died, her son Jahangir built a tomb in her honor in Agra, known as Mariam’s Tomb. Generally speaking, she was a strong woman, who faced many hardships but yet stayed strong supporting her husband and later her son.
By the way, after her death, Mariam-uz-Zamani became a subject of many tales, legends, and poems and continues to be so.
Most Powerful Queens in History #8 | Maria Theresa of Austria
Hapsburg Empress, Maria Theresa, who reigned for 40 years, controlled a large part of Europe, such as Austria, Croatia, Bohemia, Hungary and some parts of Italy.
Astonishing is that she had sixteen children, who also became key political figures, like queens and emperors. A participant in the Enlightenment, the Empress is especially known for her reforms in education (she made it mandatory) and scientific research, establishing an Academy of Science and Literature in Brussels.
Furthermore, Empress Maria Theresa made reforms in commerce and doubled the Austrian military. She brought about numerous economic and political changes to her empire by increasing taxes to guarantee a steady income for the government, particularly for the military.
Her political decisions and reforms were successful in strengthening the state.
Most Powerful Queens in History #9 | Zenobia
Zenobia, the queen of Palmyra (in present-day Syria) dared to conquer several of Rome’s eastern provinces. She is regarded as a woman of impressive abilities and the legend has it that she would march on foot with her troop long distances.
Furthermore, this national hero of Syria could hunt as well as any man and was able to out-drink anyone. Zenobia launched an invasion and conquered Egypt, Anatolia, Lebanon and Roman Judea until finally after heavy fighting Romans defeated them.
Most Powerful Queens in History #10 | Isabella I of Castile
We cannot conclude our list of top 10 powerful women rulers without Isabella I. She is considered to be one of the most influential, yet controversial rulers in Spanish history.
Queen Isabella is best remembered for sponsoring Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the Americas, initiating the Spanish Inquisition, and bringing together the independent Spanish kingdoms into one nation.
She ruled from 1474 up until her death in 1504. Isabella, I was a devout Catholic and believed it was her obligation to make Roman Catholicism the dominant religion of Spain.
She is known in the Catholic Church as “Servant of God Isabella”, the first step towards becoming a Saint. In short, Isabella I contributed a lot to making Spain a World Power.
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