Friday, February 24, 2012

Powerful Women Rulers Everyone Should Know

Powerful Women Rulers Everyone Should Know
Queens, Empresses, Pharaohs, Rulers

By Jone Johnson Lewis

"Pharaoh Hatshepsut presenting an offering to the god Horus."(c)
Long before Cleopatra reigned over Egypt, another woman held the reins of power: Hatshepsut. We know her mainly through the major temple built in her honor, which her successor and stepson defaced to try to erase her reign from memory.

Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt
"Lerouisse painting of Anthony and Cleopatra (18th century)."From a public domain image. Modifications © 2006 Jone Johnson Lewis.
Cleopatra was the last Pharaoh of Egypt, and the last of the Ptolemy dynasty of Egyptian rulers. As she tried to keep power for her dynasty, she made famous (or infamous) connections with Roman rulers Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. (Also: Cleopatra Facts)

Empress Theodora
"Empress Theodora"©
Theodora, empress of Byzantium from 527-548, was probably the most influential and powerful woman in the empire's history.

Today's teenagers love to hear there really was a Queen of the Goths. Amalasuntha was 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.

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 officially promoted, Chinese and Korean influence increased, and, according to tradition, a 17-article constitution was adopted.
Olga of Russia
A cruel and revengeful ruler as regent for her son, Olga was named the first Russian saint in the Orthodox Church, for her efforts in converting the nation to Christianity.

Eleanor of Aquitaine
"Eleanor of Aquitaine marries Louis VII - depicted in the Chronique de St Denis"©
Eleanor ruled Aquitaine in her own right, and occasionally served as regent for her husbands (first the King of France then the King of England) or sons (kings of England) were out of the country. Eleanor of Aquitaine certainly had a long and interesting life!

Isabella, Queen of Castile and Aragon (Spain)
"Queen Isabella the Catholic"(c) 2001 Used by permission.
Isabella ruled Castile and Aragon jointly with her husband, Ferdinand. She's famous for supporting Columbus' voyage; she's also credited for her part in expelling the Muslims from Spain, expelling the Jews, instituting the Inquisition in Spain, insisting that the Native Americans be treated as persons, and her patronage of arts and education.

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