10. Mary I of Scotland (1542 – 1587)
Mary I of Scotland, also known as Mary Queen of Scots, was the daughter of King James V and Mary of Guise. Her father died when Mary was six days old. From that moment on Mary ‘ruled’ Scotland. That period – from 1542 to 1567 – was a succession of violent actions. And that was common in her family – with a niece called ‘ Bloody Mary ‘. Her actions, including relationships with bad men, have caused a stir in Scotland. At some point, the noble family stopped supporting the royal family. Mary was sentenced to death: she was beheaded.
9. Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (1926 – )
photo: Joel Rouse/ Ministry of Defense
The fact that Elizabeth II is included in this list is mainly due to the length of her term of office. For a few months – from 9 September 2015 to be precise – she has been known as the longest-reigning monarch in UK history. And that is quite remarkable. When she was born, Elizabeth II was third in line for succession to the throne. There was a good chance that her uncle would precede her. When he wanted to marry his beloved, he renounced all rights. During her time as Queen of the United Kingdom, one notable scandal took place: the mysterious death of her daughter-in-law Diana.
8. Maria Theresa of Austria (1717 – 1780)
Absolute monarchy or absolutism is a form of government in which the monarch has full ruling authority; he is not bound by law, nor is he accountable. Maria Theresa was considered one of the most influential and enlightened monarchs of the absolutist era. If you are familiar with the power that Maria Theresa of Austria possessed, then you know where the term ‘absolute power’ comes from. From 1740 to 1780 she was Archduchess of Austria as well as Queen of Hungary and Bohemia. At the same time, Maria Theresa – as wife of Francis I Stephen – was Empress of the Holy Roman Empire. And, as befits a good mother, she helped her son Joseph II fulfill his role as Emperor of the German Empire.
7. Catherine II of Russia (1729 – 1796)
First and foremost, Catherine II has meant a lot for the modernization of Russia. However, she is best known for her love life. After a failed marriage – in which son Paul was born – she never took the step to the altar again. But she certainly didn’t renounce men. During her reign, Catherine II shared a bed with no fewer than 12 lovers. When she got tired of one, she sent him off to an estate. Another spicy detail: Prince Platon Zubov, her last lover, was 40 years younger than Catherine II.
6. Anne Boleyn of England (1501 – 1536)
As was common at the time, Anne Boleyn, daughter of an earl, spent her childhood at the courts of other empires. She has lived in Austria and France, for example. Back in her native country, she was appointed lady-in-waiting to Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. It soon became clear that Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII were in a relationship. And when Catherine, his wife, was unable to give him male offspring, Henry VIII filed for divorce. Then he married the charming Anne Boleyn. In September 1533 she gave birth to her daughter Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth I of England; over the next three years she had at least three miscarriages; Hendrik was of the opinion that there was a curse on this marriage.
5. Nefertiti of Egypt (1370 – 1330 BC)
What is immediately noticeable – if you look at Nefertiti’s life – is that she was not her husband’s sister. Almost all Egyptian Queens were related to the King. For that reason they were able to usurp the position of Queen. Nefertiti had a lot to offer. Thus it has introduced a new monotheistic religion. According to some historians, Nefertiti wielded more power than her husband. That is to say, she had a vision all her own. And she made good use of her position to put it into action.
4. Victoria of England (1819 – 1901)
In no other country do Kings – rather Queens – reign as long as in the United Kingdom. For example, Victoria of England has been on the throne for 63 years, seven months and two days. Her reign is also known as the Victorian era. Although her political power was reduced to a minimum, she has contributed greatly to the economic progress of her country. This is when the Industrial Revolution took place. And Victoria managed to turn those technological advances into an expansion of the British Empire.
3. Marie Antoinette of France (1755 – 1793)
Marie-Antoinette of France’s roots are in Austria. She was betrothed to King Louis XVI of France. And so she became Queen of that land. The French population was not very fond of Marie-Antoinette. The Queen had very few political interests. She also had a very poor command of the French language. When it became clear that she was mainly spending her royal allowance on diamond-encrusted dresses, Marie-Antoinette couldn’t do more good. There are historians who claim that she was the cause of the fall of the French monarchy.
2. Elizabeth I of England (1533 – 1603)
Elizabeth I of England was also known as the Virgin Queen. During her reign – which lasted about 45 years – she never took the step to the altar. In fact, she has very consciously propagated her virginity. Elizabeth I especially wanted to be known for her intelligence. She also appeared to have the necessary political qualities. Her strategy has worked: Elizabeth I is counted among the greatest heads of state worldwide. The English speak of ‘Good Queen Bess’.
1. Cleopatra VII of Egypt (69 – 30 BC)
Cleopatra VII was the ultimate achievement of a political mastermind with beautiful features. And that combination has brought her a lot. During her relationship with Julius Caesar, for example, she exerted influence on no fewer than two large empires. Her love affairs – including those with Marc Antony – have inspired many writers to write plays, which are still staged today.
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