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.
Henry IV of France reigned as the King of France from 2 August 1589 until his death on 14 May 1610. Remembered for his concern about the welfare of the people of France, Henry worked to eliminate corruption, promote agriculture, encourage education, and regularize state finance. The character of Ferdinand in Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost was loosely based on Henry.
Henry VIII, the second monarch of the Tudor dynasty, ruled England from 1509 to 1547. He married six times, leading to differences with the Roman Catholic Church, which prohibited divorce, thus forming the Anglican Church. The "father of the Royal Navy," he was known for his tyranny and extravagance.
Henry VII of England played an important role in popularizing the House of Tudor by becoming the first monarch of the house; he ruled as the king of England from 1485 until his death in 1509. He is credited with several economic, diplomatic, and administrative initiatives.
King James I of England and Ireland was also the king of Scotland as James VI. Son of Mary, Queen of Scots, he believed in royal absolutism. He had major conflicts with the Parliament and its ever-growing powers, which eventually led to revolts against his successor, Charles I.
Charles V served as the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Italy, and King of Germany from 1519 to 1556. From 1516 to 1556, he ruled as the King of Spain. His personal union of the American and European territories was the first collection of kingdoms that were described the empire on which the Sun never sets.
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.
Henry III of France was the King of France from 1574 to 1589. He also served as the Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland from 1573 to 1575. Henry was known for his alleged sexual relationships with men. Although certain reports have claimed that the allegations were false, he is sometimes depicted in popular culture as being effeminate.
Edward VI of England served as the King of England and Ireland from 1547 until his death at the age of 15 in 1553. Edward VI, who took interest in religious matters, allowed Protestantism to be established in England during his reign. His reign also witnessed the introduction of written works that formed the basis for practices of the English Church.
Ferdinand II of Aragon reigned as the King of Aragon from 1479 until his death in 1516. He sponsored Christopher Columbus' first voyage and therefore is credited with playing a key role in the discovery of the New World. He has been depicted in several films, including Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, and Assassin's Creed.
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.
Becoming the King of France at the age 10, Charles IX presided over a kingdom which was torn apart by the Wars of Religion between Protestants and Catholics. The infamous massacre of Huguenot leaders in Paris, instigated by his mother Catherine, left a traumatic effect on the mind of the ruler who succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of 23.
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.
Francis I, son of Charles, Count of Angoulême, was the king of France from 1515 to 1547. He was an art connoisseur and invited Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci to his court. His contribution to the promotion of French language earned him the title Father and Restorer of Letters.
Selim I reigned as the ninth Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Although his reign lasted only eight years, Selim I is credited for the vast expansion of the Ottoman Empire; his conquest of the entire Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt is widely regarded as his best achievement. A hardworking ruler, Selim was one of the most respected emperors of the Empire.
Mary Boleyn was the sister of Anne Boleyn. As a sibling of the English queen consort, Boleyn enjoyed considerable influence during King Henry VIII's reign. Also known for her affairs with Henry VIII and King Francis I of France, Boleyn has been the subject of films, such as The Other Boleyn Girl in which she was portrayed by Scarlett Johansson.
Known as a generous Ottoman monarch, Selim II was the successor of the empire’s longest-reigning sultan, Suleiman I. His reign saw his navy decisively defeated by the Holy League in the Battle of Lepanto before the Ottomans regained control of Tunis from Spain. Selim, who was married to Nurbanu Sultan, was noted for helping his subjects during a severe famine.
Maximilian I was Holy Roman Emperor from 1508 until his death in 1519. The son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, and Eleanor of Portugal, he ruled jointly with his father for the last years of the latter’s reign. During his reign, he expanded the influence of the House of Habsburg and established the Habsburg dynasty in Spain.
Philip III of Spain was the king of Spain from 1598 to 1621. He also reigned over Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia as Philip II. He was the son of Philip II of Spain and Anna of Austria. He was believed to be a weak man, who relied too much on his corrupt chief minister, the Duke of Lerma.
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.
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.