The Empress of Russia for almost 35 years, Catherine the Great was the country's longest-ruling female leader. An ambitious ruler, she rapidly expanded the Russian Empire and is credited with modernizing the country along Western European lines. She supported the ideals of the Enlightenment and the period of her rule—the Catherinian Era—is considered the Golden Age of Russia.
Alexandra Feodorovna, wife of Emperor Nicholas II, was the last Russian tsarina and reigned from 1894 to 1917. She suffered from hemophilia. Alexandra and her entire family were murdered by the Bolshevik revolutionaries. In 2000, the Russian Orthodox Church canonized her as Saint Alexandra the Passion Bearer.
Maria Feodorovna was a Danish princess who married Emperor Alexander III and became Empress of Russia. She was the second daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark and Louise of Hesse-Kassel. She grew up to be a beautiful and charming woman. She was married to Alexander Alexandrovich, the son of Emperor Alexander II and his first wife Maria Alexandrovna.
Catherine I of Russia was the second wife and Empress consort of Peter the Great. She served as the Empress regnant of Russia from 1725 until her death in 1727. The daughter of a peasant, she had an adventurous life as a young woman and eventually married Peter the Great who was taken by her beauty. They had 12 children.
Daughter of Ivan V and niece of Peter I, Anna of Russia did not have much interest in the governance of her kingdom and left it in the hands of her beloved Ernst Johann Biron and her advisors. Her “dark reign” witnessed costly wars such as the Russo-Turkish War.
Alexandra Feodorovna Romanova was the daughter of Frederick William III, King of Prussia, and Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. She had a difficult childhood and lost her mother when she was just 12. She married Nicholas I, who later reigned as Emperor of Russia. The couple had a happy marriage that lasted till Nicholas’ death in 1855.
Born as the youngest daughter of Paul I of Russia, Anna Pavlovna was given in a political marriage to William II of the Netherlands, becoming the Queen Consort when her husband ascended the throne. Never at home in Netherlands, which was more egalitarian than Russia, she always identified herself as a Russian Grand Duchess rather than as a Dutch queen.
The third wife of King Henry I of France, Queen Anne of Keiv ruled France as a coregent of their minor son King Philip I until her controversial second marriage to Count Ralph IV of Valois. Also the founder of Abbey of St. Vincent, Senlis, she signed royal charters in Cyrillic, one of which is held in French National Library.
Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was the daughter of Grand Duke Frederick Francis II. Renowned for her sense of style and attractiveness, Marie was also popular for her sociability and wittiness. Marie was widely recognized and she received honors from several kingdoms and empires, including the Russian Empire.
The first wife of Emperor Peter I of Russia, Eudoxia Lopukhina was chosen by the emperor’s mother as his bride when the emperor was 17. Unfortunately, the marriage ended disastrously, and her husband left her for a mistress. After the emperor’s death, she was imprisoned in a dungeon before being released later.
Apart from being the wife of Prince Alexander of Hesse, Julia, Princess of Battenberg, was also the daughter of German-Polish general Hans Moritz Hauke. Her lack of royal descent was a matter of concern initially, but Alexander eventually married the 6-month pregnant Julia he had fallen in love with.
Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia, largely remembered as one of the granddaughters of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, and as the wife of Friedrich Franz III, the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. A talented tennis player, she had several tennis courts built. She also had an illegitimate child with her secretary.
Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Altenburg was the daughter of Duchess Amelia of Württemberg and Joseph, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg. A high-spirited and conservative personality, Alexandra had an interest in music. Unlike most royal members, Princess Alexandra had a difficult personal life and is credited with bringing up her children almost single-handedly.
Catherine Pavlovna of Russia was the daughter of Duchess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg and Tsar Paul I of Russia. Through her marriage with her first cousin Crown Prince William, she became Queen Catharina Pavlovna of Württemberg in 1816 when Prince William became King William I of Württemberg. Catherine died of erysipelas complicated by pneumonia, at the age of 30.
Grand Duchess Maria Kirillovna of Russia was the daughter of Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna and Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich of Russia. Her parents were in exile at the time of her birth as their marriage was yet to be approved by Tsar Nicholas II. Maria married Karl, Prince of Leiningen, and had seven children, including Prince Peter Victor of Leiningen.
Anna Leopoldovna, or Anna Carlovna, was the wife of Duke Anthony Ulrich of Brunswick, and is best known for her reign as a regent for their son, Ivan VI, for a year. She was eventually imprisoned by Peter the Great’s daughter, Elizabeth, and died in exile.
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.
Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia was the daughter of Nicholas I of Russia. An art collector, Maria served as the president of the Russian Academy of Arts. She was married to Maximilian de Beauharnais, 3rd Duke of Leuchtenberg from 1839 until his death in 1852. In 1854, Maria married Count Grigori Aleksandrovich Stroganov.
Olga Nikolaevna of Russia was the daughter of Charlotte of Prussia and Nicholas I of Russia. A member of the House of Romanov, Olga became the Kingdom of Württemberg's queen consort. She dedicated herself to social causes, including the issues surrounding the education of girls. She also played a major role in supporting and helping the disabled and wounded veterans.
Described as the right hand of Catherine the Great, the Empress of Russia, Praskovya Bruce became Catherine's lady-in-waiting soon after her arrival in Russia, remaining so even after her ascendance to the throne. A close confidant of the empress, she fell from grace when she was caught having sex with one of the queen's latest lovers and was sent away.
Elena Glinskaya was the daughter of Princess Ana Jakšić and Vasili Lvovich Glinsky. Upon her marriage to Grand Prince Vasili III, Elena Glinskaya became Grand Princess consort of Russia. She went on to serve as de facto regent of Russia for five successive years from 1533 to 1538.
Natalya Naryshkina reigned as the Tsaritsa of Russia between 1671 and 1676. She later served as regent of Russia when her son Peter the Great became Tsar Peter I of Russia in 1682. Natalya Naryshkina was regarded as an influential personality when she was a regent of Russia.
Though remembered as the third wife of Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible, Marfa Sobakina had been his wife only for 15 days. Selected of Ivan’s 12 marriage finalists, she died rather mysteriously, like the other wives of Ivan, within days of her marriage, with people suspecting poisoning as a probable reason.
The first wife of Russian tsar Alexei I, or Alexis, Maria Miloslavskaya bore 13 children, including tsars Feodor III and Ivan V, and princess regent Sophia Alekseyevna. Though Alexei had chosen another girl out of 200 marriage finalists, his tutor Morozov suggested Maria, a friend’s daughter, as the bride.
Leonilla Bariatinskaya was a Russian aristocrat. Born to Prince Ivan Ivanovich Bariatinsky, Leonilla belonged to one of the most influential families in Russia. Renowned for her beauty, Leonilla Bariatinskaya served as the subject of several portraits by popular painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter.
Anastasia of Kiev served as Queen consort of Hungary from 1046 to 1060 through her marriage to King Andrew the White. An influential figure, Anastasia played a major role in the functionality of her kingdom throughout her life.
Dobrodeia of Kiev was a Rus' princess who married Alexios Komnenos, the co-emperor of the Byzantine Empire. An author on medicine, Dobrodeia of Kiev was considered an intelligent woman. She is widely considered the first woman to write a treatise on medicine, thanks to her famous treatise titled Ointments. She is also credited with translating physician Galen's works into Russian.
Kievan princess Wyszesława Sviatoslavna, also known as Wyszesława of Kiev, was a Rurikid dynasty member and the Duchess Consort and then Queen of Poland. Both her husband, Bolesław II the Bold, and son were later poisoned, and not much is not about her following this.
Maria of Chernigov was a Russian aristocrat who became Princess of Rostov upon her marriage to Prince Vasilko Konstantinovich of Rostov. She later became the regent of Rostov and played an important role during the reign of her son Boris Vasilkovich of Rostov, who was still a minor when he was given the throne.
Viacheslava of Novgorod was a Kievan Rus' princess. Viacheslava, who belonged to the House of Rurik, became Duchess of Kuyavia and Masovia upon her marriage to Bolesław IV the Curly. She later went on to become the High Duchess of Poland in 1146.