Mary, Queen of Scots was the ruler of Scotland till 24 July 1567. After an uprising against her, Mary sought protection from her first cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England. However, the Queen perceived her as a threat and kept Mary in confinement for eighteen and a half years. Ultimately Mary was beheaded for plotting to assassinate the Queen.
The queen of England from 1533 to 1536, Anne Boleyn played an important role in the political and religious upheaval that led to the beginning of the English Reformation. She is widely regarded as the most important and influential queen consort of England. She was charged with adultery, incest, and treason and was executed by beheading in 1536.
Catherine de' Medici was an Italian noblewoman who played a key role in the political affairs of France during the rule of her sons, a period which came to be known as the age of Catherine de' Medici. Catherine is credited with saving the monarchy from deposition during the French Wars of Religion.
Mary I, the queen of England from 1553-1558, is remembered as the ruler who sought to return England to the Catholic Church. She persecuted many Protestants and got nearly 300 of them burned at the stake. Most of them were common citizens. Many also died in prison and hundreds fled the country. This earned her the ignominious nickname ‘Bloody Mary’.
Anne of Cleves was the Queen of England for 6 months in 1540, as the fourth wife of King Henry VIII. Their unconsummated marriage deprived led to the annulment of the marriage, following which she received a settlement and came to be known as the King's Beloved Sister.
Nigerian warrior queen Amina ruled the 16th-century city-state Zazzau at a time when women leaders were hard to come by. Her 34-year-old reign saw her expanding her kingdom and developing trade routes. Some believe she was merely a mythical figure, but remnants of the walls she had built prove otherwise.
Mariam-uz-Zamani, or Jodha Bai, was the wife of Mughal emperor Akbar. She was a Hindu Rajput princess and the daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amber. Mariam’s marriage to Akbar signified her father’s submission to the Mughal emperor. She was symbolic of the gradual rise of multiculturalism in the Mughal era.
The eldest daughter of French king Henry II, Elisabeth of Valois later became the queen consort of Spain by her marriage to Philip II of Spain. Known for her tall stature and grace, she died in childbirth at the tender age of 23 and was mourned in Spain.
Often described as a "dumb blonde," Anne of Denmark, who became the queen of Scotland, England, and Ireland, through her marriage to King James VI and I, was an art connoisseur known for attending extravagant masques. She probably also converted to Catholicism later, going against James’s anti-Catholic stance.
French princess Claude of France, who was the daughter of King Henry II of France, later became the duchess consort of Lorraine by her marriage to Charles III, Duke of Lorraine. She is known to have suffered from a club foot and a hunchback, traits she inherited from her mother, Catherine de' Medici.
Mughal empress and the 20th wife of Emperor Jahangir, Nur Jahan is remembered for her political influence. Though nothing concrete is known about her childhood, it is known that she was initially married to Mughal official Sher Afgan Khan who died in a battle. Jahangir’s reckless lifestyle made her dominate the political scene.
Catherine of Aragon was one of the most popular English royal consorts of all time. A patron of Renaissance humanism, she gained widespread admiration for starting a program for the relief of the poor. A woman who was ahead of her time, Catherine commissioned The Education of a Christian Woman, a controversial book promoting women's right to education.
Nur Jahan was the chief consort of Mughal emperor Jahangir. She reigned as Badshah Begum of the empire from 1620 to 1627. Nur Jahan is often credited with influencing Jahangir's decisions for much of his reign. She is also remembered for her strength and courage and her skills in hunting ferocious tigers. Her life has inspired many books and movies.
Isabella of Portugal was Holy Roman Empress and Queen consort of Italy by her marriage to Emperor Charles V. She also served as the Queen consort of Spain, Queen of the Romans, and Lady of the Netherlands from 1526 to 1539. Due to Emperor Charles V's constant travels, she was the regent of Spain and under her regency Spain was quite prosperous .
An ideal elite Renaissance woman, Bona Sforza was the queen of Poland and the wife of Sigismund I the Old. She is remembered for her fiery resistance to the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I, when he suggested Bona be planted as a Habsburg spy to counter the Jagiellonian dynasty.
Rani Durgavati reigned as the Maharani of the Gond kingdom from 1550 to 1564. She is best remembered for defending her kingdom when it was attacked by Mughal General Asaf Khan. Although she knew that the Mughal army was superior to her army, Rani Durgavati refused to surrender and took her own life in the battlefield when defeat was imminent.
Irina Godunova was a Tsaritsa of Russia who reigned from 1584 to 1598. In 1598, after the death of her husband Feodor I of Russia, Irina Godunova served as de facto autocrat for nine days.
The daughter of Austria’s Archduke Charles II and Mary Anna of Bavaria, Margaret of Austria Queen of Spain, later became the queen of Spain and Portugal by virtue of her marriage to King Philip III of Spain, who was also Philip II of Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia.
The eldest daughter of Portuguese king John III, Maria Manuela was also the first wife of Philip II of Spain, who ruled Spain, Portugal, Naples, and Sicily at various points. She died following a haemorrhage after giving birth to Carlos, Prince of Asturius, also known as Don Carlos.
Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of France, is considered by many as the most attractive member of the Habsburg dynasty. The second daughter of Maria of Spain and Maximilian II of the Holy Roman Empire, she became the queen consort of France by virtue of her marriage to King Charles IX.