The Greatest Female Royals In European History
The lives and legends of the royals of Europe have fascinated history lovers for centuries. The power, prestige and influence of Europe’s royal families have taken centre stage in so many of the most historic dramas of the twentieth century, as well as earlier periods such as the Renaissance and Middle Ages.
Many of these royal dramas feature the kings and princes of the European nations that evolved over the last millennia – the famous men born into the highest rank and seat of privilege and power. The kings, emperors and tsars of ancient times have left their indelible marks on the hearts and minds of their people, as well as the pages of the history books.
But what of the women who played starring roles in royal legends and victories? Who were the queens and princesses of Europe who left their own impression on history? And who are the more recent royal ladies who have won the hearts of their people, and even the world?
There have been many legendary royal women whose stories have become much-loved tales of inspiration, courage and hope – with the women of history taking their place alongside even the greatest kings and princes of note.
Here are just a few of the greatest female royals in European history – including some legendary ladies from antiquity, and more recent royal icons, as well as some unforgettable regal ladies in-between.
One of the most ancient of great female royals was Queen Boudicca.
Such is her legend and established place in history that she even has a range of names – alternatively known as Boudica, Boadicea or Buddig, in the Welsh language.
Born in around the first century AD, in the lands that would become the United Kingdom, Queen Boudicca has become an icon of British folklore, an emblem of courage and victory.
While this kind of legend was common for men during this period, and indeed for many centuries to follow, the rise of a female to this level of honour and renown was a much rarer attainment.
Boudicca’s bravery in defence of her people against the might of the Roman Empire assured her place in legend, securing her legacy as one of the greatest female royals of European history.
Isabella of France
Queen Isabella was the daughter of the King of France and the Queen of Navarre. With such heritage, it’s not surprising that she went on to make a name for herself in the history of European royalty, though few would have predicted her rise to becoming the She-Wolf of France, as she eventually became known.
Despite her Gallic roots, the drama of Queen Isabella’s life was to be played out largely on the English stage. Her marriage to the English King, Edward II, secured her eminent position in royal history. Yet it was her reputed beauty, intelligence and uncommon ambition that secured her place in legend.
Queen Isabella’s infamy was assured by her endeavours to depose her own husband and position her son on the English throne in his place, installing herself as a powerful Queen Regent until her son came of age. Her story did not ultimately end in victory, however – with a fall from power that included house arrest and exile from court, albeit in substantial luxury. Yet her actions to assert herself in a supreme position of royal power made her a formidable force during her lifetime, and a captivating example of great royal women.
Queen Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I, the 16-century Queen of England and Ireland, is perhaps one of the world’s most historical and legendary great queens.
Elizabeth’s story began as the daughter of the infamous King Henry VIII, the only offspring from his controversial marriage to Anne Boleyn – a union that changed the course of history and religion both in England and throughout Europe.
With such monumental lineage, it’s perhaps not surprising that Elizabeth grew up to make a name for herself in her own right, even beyond the legend and infamy of her mother and father.
Elizabeth I was England’s queen for over four decades – an astonishing achievement in itself during the tumultuous Middle Ages, when monarchs faced continual challenges for the throne, both from within their own countrymen and from abroad.
Yet, her enduring devotion to her people, including those not of her faith, made her a much-loved and popular queen. She was also greatly admired for her courage and willingness to show up in person on the field of battle, dressed in the iconic armour of the warrior queen.
Famously known as the Virgin Queen, choosing never to marry or bear heirs to the throne, Elizabeth I created an alternative legacy in the many places that were named in her honour, particularly the new lands of America that were colonised during her reign, such as the American state of Virginia.
One of the most recent royal women to secure her place in the history books was the Queen of Hearts of the late twentieth century – Princess Diana.
Though not born into royalty, Lady Diana Spencer went on to become one of the most famous royal women in the world after her marriage to Charles, the Prince of Wales, heir to the throne of England.
While her marriage may have begun as a fairytale romance, it was famously an unhappy one, ultimately ending in divorce and scandal, with repercussions that rocked the entire British monarchy.
Yet it is Princess Diana’s great humanitarian works that earned her place in the hearts of so many and her enduring place in the history of great royal women.
The fact that the beautiful and glamorous Princess Diana died so young, and in such dramatic circumstances, ensures her life story will continue to rank among the most fascinating females of royal history.
These notable royal women have fascinated and inspired people from all walks of life for centuries, both during their own lifetimes and for many years, decades or even centuries beyond.
And while they may have played out their captivating dramas within the European nations, such is their legend that their lives, victories and achievements have made them memorable figures of global history – admired and studied by people all around the world.
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