Top 10 Most Famous Queens In History

Written by Kelly MacDonald Whether hapless pawns, political power players or iconic princesses, these ladies broke the royal mold. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 most famous queens in history. For this list, we looked at the female monarchs whose royal legacy continues to capture the public’s imagination. Whether known for their brilliant leadership, or their less than brilliant demise, these are the queens who, one way or another, defied expectations and redefined what it meant to be a queen. Special Thanks to our users Alex Poggetti, Eli Salas, hardcorelegend101 and Francisco Jesús Rodriguez for suggesting this idea on our suggest tool at www.WatchMojo.comsuggest.php
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Written by Kelly MacDonald

Whether hapless pawns, political power players or iconic princesses, these ladies broke their royal mold. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 most famous queens in history.

For this list, we looked at the female monarchs whose royal legacy continues to capture the public’s imagination. Whether known for their brilliant leadership, or their less than brilliant demise, these are the queens who, one way or another, defied expectations and in so doing redefined what it can mean to be a queen.

#10: Mary, Queen of Scots
1542 - 1587

Queen of Scotland at six days old, married to a short-lived French King and with claim to the English throne, Mary, Queen of Scots was doomed to make history. Raised in France, Mary’s rule in Scotland was plagued by scandal. She fled to England, hoping for sanctuary, but her cousin, Elizabeth I, was wary of her intentions. Mary was imprisoned and eventually executed. For Mary, Queen of Scots, noble birth proved more burden than blessing.

#9: Queen Elizabeth II
1926 -

As constitutional monarch to sixteen realms of the British Commonwealth, the reign of Queen Elizabeth II is largely ornamental. Nevertheless, Elizabeth has managed to maintain her dynasty’s popularity. And since the tragic death of her daughter-in-law, Diana, the queen has demonstrated the surprising ability to adjust her role to the changing expectations of her subjects. One of the longest reigning monarchs in history, Elizabeth II proves that you can most certainly teach an old queen new tricks!

#8: Maria Theresa of Austria
1717 - 1780

The only woman to rule over the Habsburg dominions of the Holy Roman Empire, Maria Theresa defied most expectations. With little training to rule, she strengthened her empire’s international standing by building up military forces, improving education, and developing commercial industry within her vast kingdom. Though her Enlightened-Absolutism was little help to some of her children, like Marie-Antoinette, Maria Theresa was the last, but one of the most effective Habsburg monarchs in history.

#7: Catherine the Great of Russia
1729 - 1796

She rose from a low-level German princess to celebrated Russian Empress. With the successful acquisition of new territory and her introduction of new religious and educational reforms, Catherine the Great turned Russia from a medieval backwater into a major European player. Though much focus has been placed on Catherine’s love life, which never actually included a horse, it is better to think of her as the great empress who ushered Russia into the modern age.

#6: Anne Boleyn of England
1501 - 1536

A charming coquette, a six-fingered witch, an ill-fated queen – 500 years after her death, Anne Boleyn still inspires on-going debates. As a stylish courtier, Boleyn caught the eye of Henry VIII, who divorced his first wife and the Catholic Church just to marry her. But three years later, Anne was beheaded on charges of incest, adultery and treason. Whether a scheming seductress or victim of nasty gossip, the mother of Elizabeth I remains a tragic and fascinating figure.

#5: Nefertiti of Egypt
1370 - 1330 BC

Though her timeless beauty is the stuff of legend, Nefertiti’s story goes well beyond her looks. Unlike many Egyptian queens, she was not her husband’s sister. If deepening the monarchy’s gene-pool wasn’t enough, Nefertiti wielded more power than most Egyptian queens, ruling alongside her husband, and even establishing a new monotheist religion within the empire. Some historians speculate that she may have also ruled as pharaoh alone, showing that Nefertiti’s historical significance is more than just skin deep.

#4: Victoria of England
1819 - 1901

A woman of little political power, but powerful cultural influence, Queen Victoria’s reign is synonymous with England’s imperial rise. Championing many social reforms to aid the country’s growing urban population, Victoria was also a unifying symbol for the British Empire. But her international influence may best be shown by the fact that her nine children married into most of the ruling monarchies of the period, making Victoria “the Grandmother of Europe.”

#3: Marie-Antoinette of France
1755 - 1793

The symbol of aristocratic excess, Marie-Antoinette lost her head in the name of Revolution. Two hundred years later, France’s last queen before the French Revolution is still controversial. Was she a conniving, elitist harpy or simply a naive political pawn? Either way, her opulent life and shocking death is a key event of the French Revolution. Though we know little about her true character, the countless stories, and salacious intrigue surrounding her, make Marie-Antoinette a fascinating historical figure and pop-culture icon.

#2: Elizabeth I of England
1533 - 1603

“The Virgin Queen,” “Gloriana,” or simply “Good Queen Bess,” Elizabeth I defined an era. A politically stabilizing force, she oversaw England’s colonial expansion. Her patronage of the arts led to a plethora of English masterpieces, including the works of Shakespeare. And though her death would mark the end of the Tudor dynasty, Elizabeth I remains one of the most famous and celebrated monarchs in English history.

Before we unveil our pick for number one, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Catherine of Aragon

1485 - 1536

- Eleanor of Aquitaine

1122 - 1204

- Empress Theodora

500 - 548

- Hatshepsut of Egypt

1508 - 1458 BC

- Wu Zetian

624 - 705


#1: Cleopatra VII, Ptolemaic Queen of Egypt
69 - 30 BC

Her life is historic. Her death is legendary. She was a political mastermind who went from initially ruling with her relatives to the sole pharaoh of Ancient Egypt. As Julius Caesar’s ally and “baby-mama,” she influenced the fate of two empires. Though her romance with Marc Antony would prove deadly, it has inspired artists and storytellers for over two millennia. One of the richest women in history, Cleopatra is bar-none the most popular Queen to have ever lived.

Do you agree with our list? Which queen is your favorite? For more informative top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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