Rani Rudrama Devi (1259-1289 AD)

Emperor Rani Rudrama Devi ruled Warangal, the capital of the Kakatiya kingdom that held sway over the entire Andhra Pradesh during the 13th century.†She was one of the most prominent rulers of the Kakatiya dynasty. She died in a war at the age of 80 years.

Her father, King Ganapati Deva, nominated her as his successor. Even though her ascendancy was resented by some nobles and her cousins because she was a woman, her gender was not in her way in discharging the duties of her exalted office. She took an active part in governing the country and strove to promote the best interests of the state. In spite of the wars which frequently disturbed the country, her people remained contented and happy under her rule.

Construction of Hospitals and Ponds were done when female rulers were ruling the Dynasty. Rudrama Devi s rule is an example to show the difference between male and female rulers, and people still cherish her memory today. - Sathish M.

Tsarina Elizabeth I (Elizabeth Petrovna), (1709-1761)

Elizabeth I ruled Russia from 1742 - 1763. She was the youngest daughter of Peter the Great and Catherine I. She is one of Russia’s most popular rulers due to her strong opposition to Prussian policies, and the outlawing of the death penalty. Not one person was executed in Russia during her long reign. Among other notable deeds, she revitalized the government through her policies of appointing only Russian citizens to top advisory positions, was victorious in the War of Austrian Succession (1740-8), managed to negotiate a long-standing land dispute between Russian and Sweden, and built or established major institutions, such as the University of Moscow. [Women in World History]

She was preceded by the Empress Anna. - M. Brown.

Makeda, also known as the Queen of Sheba (10th century BCE)

“I could not find one whom I know in History as a queen and powerful ruler, the Queen of Sheba or Makeda from Abysinia (Ethiopia)” - Mulu

[Various origins have been ascribed to this fabulous Queen, including south Arabia and Abyssinia (Ethiopia). A powerful queen, she is known for her control and expansion of trade networks. Supposedly she met King Solomon in Jerusalem, and on her return home had his baby, a son named Menelik. Women in World History]

Additional Information About Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth Tudor of England: The daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and the sister of Mary I and Edward VI, Elizabeth ruled with great poise and determination in England. She wanted what was best for the English people and she wished to unify the country religiously and politically. Known for being the "virgin queen" Elizabeth led the English people into an era of prosperity and into a Renaissance. She died childless and beheaded her cousin Mary of Scots unwillingly, but also led the English Navy( or the
pirates who made up the navy) to victory against the Spanish Armada with her rousing speech at Tilbury. Overall, she was an incredible monarch and an even more powerful woman who helped to unite her country and lead the English into an era of prosperity not seen since the time of her grandfather Henry VII. - Kimberly V. H.

Eleonora of Arborea - (1383-1404) reigned as Queen of Sardinia

"A great woman ruler was Eleonora of Arborea in Medieval Sardinia, Italy. She issued an important Law Code too." - Laura M.

[Eleonora reigned during the regency of her son, Frederick. She is regarded as a Sardinian heroine for her ability in 1383 to unite the population against invaders from Aragón, Spain. The daughter of a judge, in 1395 she compiled a set of humanitarian law codes, the famous "Carta de Logu" written in the Sardinian language, one of which protected falcons. Today one falcon bears her name, as does a piazza in the city of Oristano. Women in World History]

Queen Tomyris of the Massagetae Battle (530 B.C.)

"After her husband's death the Massagetae (the eastern most Scythian people) were ruled by a woman, Queen Tomyris. When the Persian king Cyrus decided to invade Massagetae territory the Queen sent him a message ...."stop & rule your own people and put up with the sight of me ruling mine "... Cyrus was not going to let a mere woman stand in his way, even against the better advice of Croesus of Lydia, his advisor (and king he conquered). When Cyrus engaged the Massagetae he captured the Queen's son Spargapises. When Spargapsisis asked to be freed his request was granted and then he was immediately killed.

Queen Tomyris then herself mustered all her forces and engaged Cyrus in battle. They fought at close quarters and eventually the Massagatae gained the upper hand. Most of the Persian army was wiped out, Cyrus himself died. Queen Tomyris filled a wineskin with human blood and searched the battlefied for Cyrus's corpse and when she found his body she said "...I warned you that I would quench your thirst for blood, and so I shall". Herodotus Book One (205)-(214)" - Kya

Nefertari-Merymut (19th dynasty B.C.E., Egypt)

"I need to learn more about Nefertari, queen of Egypt. Please list her in the Great Rulers section." - William S.
(Nefertari was the first, and principle, queen of Ramses II. Ramses II had many wives and children housed in his large harem. but Nefertari, the "Great Wife," was the one honored in two of Egypt's most famous monuments - her large, beautifully painted tomb in the Valley of the Queens and a temple at Abu Simbel in Nubia. The tomb paintings shows several full-length portraits of a fashionably dressed woman whose flesh was painted with the dark color usually reserved for males. The Abu Simbel temple seems to have been built to establish Nefertari as a cult figure in that part of the world. She also appears as a tiny figure behind the colossal leg of her husband in the first court of the Luxor Temple.
Nefertari had two sons and daughters; her father and brother both held prominent positions in Egypt's political life. She died during the 25th year of Ramses' reign - ca. 1290 to 1224 B.C.E..)

Empress Irene (763-803 C.E.)

"Irene overthrew and then blinded her son in order to rule in her own name and managed to hold onto her power for five years. She actively intervened the the religious controversy of the time., using her power to favor one doctrine over another."  "I hate what she did to her son in order to keep on ruling, but at least one source I checked states that Charlemagne wouldn't have risen to power if she hadn't ruled in her own right. Lovers of icons should be happy that she fought iconoclasm." - Ann N.

She was regent for her son, Constantine VI from 780-790. After Constantine VI assumed power in 790, he reigned for 7 years before his mother blinded him and reigned for another 5 years. So in reality, her reign lasted for 15 years and fought off several uprisings, although she will most be remembered for her idol worship. - Carl R.

(Her victory over iconoclasm in the council which met in 787 in Constantinople restored the worship of icons in the Byzantine world).

Empress Isabella of Portugal

"She was wife of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Granddaughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, and Mother of Philip II (Husband to Queen Mary). Charles V, of Spain and the Hapsburg Empire, needed to make a strong political alliance. He looked to the west to Portugal. Isabella brought unity to a Spain who was longing for leadership with Spanish blood (Charles V being a Hapsburg). Thus Charles V left Isabella to rule Spain on his many absences to fight wars in other countries. She beget him several children, one of whom was to be Philip II of Spain. A strong willed woman, though delicate, She ruled the country and her children with a strong hand. Though a rarity in arranged marriages it is believed Charles and Isabella shared a strong love for one another. When she died in her 30's following a miscarriage, Charles was heartbroken. He collected all the paintings that were done of her and had more commissioned to keep the memory of her alive." - Natasha B

Queen Maud - 12th century

"Born in August of 1102, Maud (also called Matilda) was the daughter of England's King Henry I and his Queen Edith of Scotland....When Maud was about 12 years old, she was sent to marry the Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich V, thus becoming Empress of Germany. The pair were married for some years, but produced no children.
Meanwhile, Maud's elder brother Prince William drowned at sea in the wreck of the White Ship. As William was Henry I's heir, Henry found himself on an increasingly unstable throne. The chief candidate for King now that William was dead was King Henry's nephew Stephen of Blois, son of his sister Adela. But Henry decided that he did not want Stephen to rule after him, and recalled Maud (whose husband had conveniently died). Maud was twenty-three years old at the time, and her father had plans to create her a sort of 'female king'. He arranged a marriage for her with Geoffrey V Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou, who was some eleven years younger than Maud! Despite being a lowly Count, he was extremely powerful, owning a large portion of France. Maud and Geoffrey were notorious for their fighting and angry spats, but were able to produce a son and heir, Henry, who was born in 1133.
Now that his grandson had been born, King Henry gathered together his barons and advisors and made them swear an oath of loyalty to Maud when he died. The King passed away in 1135. Treacherously, Maud's cousin Stephen seized her rightful throne and had himself declared King of England. This plunged England into a frightful civil war, with the added intervention of Anjou. While Stephen was handsome and charismatic, he lacked the confidence to instill loyalty in his followers, who deserted him and switched sides at leisure. Maud's most ardent supporter was her bastard half-brother Robert of Gloucester, who became her commander-in-chief....Maud sent Robert to Anjou to convince her husband to come to her aid. However, Geoffrey declined to help until he had conquered Normandy... In 1143 Robert defeated Stephen at Wilton, but sadly died of a fever a couple of years later.
The death of her devoted half-brother was a major blow to Maud, but she and her son pressed on in their civil war against Stephen. Just a few years later, in 1151, her husband died also, making Maud a widow twice over. On the 25th of October, 1154, Stephen died. Not long afterwards, Maud abdicated the throne she had fought for so long to her eldest son, who became King Henry II, and his Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Maud died September 10th, 1167, in Notre Dame, France, having outlived both her husbands, her father, her brothers, and her cousin. She ruled only briefly as Queen of England, she continued to be known as the Dowager Empress of Germany all her life. It was to be more than three hundred years before another woman would sit on the throne of England, with the coronation of Queen Mary I."  Jessica K.

Kim Campbell

"I would like to suggest that you add Kim Campbell in your world leaders category. She was the first woman appointed as a Justice Minister in Canada, and became the first female Prime Minister of Canada in 1993. Although she only served in that capacity for about 4 months, she still broke that barrier for women in Canada. You can access a number of different internet sites by searching MSN for "Kim Campbell" or there is a site under:"  - Corey B. Canada.

Queen Salamasina

"Salamasina was the first and only queen of Samoa. She was related to all the major sovereigns of Polynesia by blood. She was a role model for all the village virgins of Samoa thereforth." - Arny
(The queen united Samoa in the 15th century. A passenger ferry, called the MV Queen Salamasina, served the people of Samoa for many years. She was built in 1977).


"Deborah was one of the Judges of Israel between the death of Joshua and the anointing of Saul as King (See "Judges", the Bible). General Barak refused to lead the battle unless Deborah, as judge and prophetess, accompanied him." - Ann N.
(Deborah is featured in our unit Women in the Ancient Near East)

Nana Yaa Asantewaa

"Her fights against British colonialists is a story woven throughout the history of Ghana.... She led the Ashantis troops against the British. Yaa Asantewaa's war was the last of the major wars in Africa led by a woman." - Mary Ann P.

Zawditu, Empress of Ethiopia

"She died in 1930 after becoming the first woman to rule in over three thousand years of Ethiopian history. She was a strong and intelligent woman who ruled the country from 1917-1930."  - Arsema, Ethiopia


"Queen Zenobia challenged the Roman empire and ruled the city-state of Palmyra in the third century A.D. Palmyra was an important stopping point for caravans carry trade goods along the Old Silk Road. She declared Palmyra independent of Roman rule after her husband's murder. In their first attempts the Roman generals failed badly. Zenobia was an extremely able general....but was finally captured and taken captive back to Rome and walked in golden chains in Aurelian's triumphal parade." - Joseph A.
"Zenobia's husband died, but before he did, she bore him a son. Since the son wasn't of age to rule, she ruled in his place. She expanded her empire to three times it's size while she was in power....It didn't say whether she died while being held captive or not." - Michelle O.

“ Zenobia governed Syria from about 250 to 275 AD. She led her armies on horseback wearing full armor and during Claudius' reign defeated the Roman legions so decisively that they retreated from much of Asia Minor. Arabia, Armenia and Persia allied themselves with her and she claimed dominion over Egypt by right of ancestry. Claudius' successor Aurelian sent his most experienced legions to conquer Zenobia but it took almost 4 years of battles and sieges before her capital city of Palmyra fell and Zenobia along with nine other martial queens of allied provinces were paraded through the streets of Rome in chains. Aurelian exiled Zenobia to Tibur. Her daughters married into influential Roman families and her line continued to be important in Roman politics for almost three centuries.” - Kathleen O’B.

Christina of Sweden

(1626-1689)  "She was an intellect who transformed her court into a 'New Athens" by attracting the finest minds to her throne to Stockholm. She turned Sweden into an empire that dominated the Baltics and parts of Germany. After ten years in power, she abdicated, wandered through Europe, converted to Catholicism, and tried to secure the throne of Naples, again Sweden, and Poland. In all attempts she failed. "She was an excellent political navigator and did it all on her own!" - Sweetpea

Theodora (c. 497-548 A.D.)

"Theodora of the Byzantine Empire did a great deal to help the plight of women and ruled alongside her husband." - Deb C.
"She was the wife of Justinian I and it is arguable that she was at least as powerful as her husband. She encouraged him to enact a number of edicts prohibiting the trade in women for prostitution throughout the empire, had her own civil service office, built several imperial churches (including SS Sergius and Baccus in Constantinople) and a number of monasteries and refugees for former prostitutes and women who had fled violent owners and husbands. She had a hand in almost everything Justinian undertook, including the reconquest of Italy and the building of Hagia Sophia. It was because of her bravery that Justinian didn't flee the city during the Nika riots, and after she expressed her authority more openly, "co-reigning" with her husband. After her death in 548 A.D. Justinian continued to reign for another twenty years. The Emperor never recovered from the death of his wife, and everyday he went and lit candles at her grave." - Christopher K.

Pulcheria (399-453)

"Empress in her own right, and certainly the power behind the throne of her brother Anastasius II. She convened the council of Ephesus at which the Virgin Mary was declared "Theotokos" - (Mother of God). They ruled together for fifteen or so years." - Christopher K.

Zoe (1045-1055)

"The most married monarch of the Macedonian dynasty. She legitimized three husbands as emperor as she was the imperial heir." - Christopher K.
The see our biographic information on Zoe click here.

Queen Didda

The women of Kashmir from early times down to the 12th century C.E. played prominent roles in the political life of the region. "The widowed Queen Didda ruled Kashmir from 980/1 - 1003, first as a regent for her son Abhimanyu, and thereafter as sole ruler in her own right after killing her three grandsons. Her influence behind the throne spans 50 years, covering the reign of her husband, King Kshemagupta, the time of her regency, and later as sovereign ruler. She eventually handed over the throne to her maternal family from Lohara in undisputed, peaceful succession. Didda was very beautiful but was apparently lame. She was able to transform herself from a comparatively unsure and politically naive persona into a ruthless, decisive and ambitious one. Her alternate bribe-and-placation policy helped in quelling rebellions..."- Devika - India.

Queen Isabella

Sister of a French King, Isabella married Edward II, King of England. Told that Isabella was plotting against him, in 1324 Edward took away her estates, cut her allowance, and friends at court. "She raised an army against his weak kingship, he abdicated [or was perhaps murdered by her], and she was not named the Regent, but took over the reigns of power with her lover, Roger Mortimer. She ruled for several years, until her son Edward III took over when he chose to." - Kelli - Michigan, USA.

Audata of Thrace (Greek name, Eurydice)

"Thrace had queens of equal rank to its kings. Audata, general of her army and warrior, married King Philip of Macedon, Alexander's father...But when Philip finally conquered the rest of Greece, he no longer needed her alliance and divorced her. Back to her other kingdom, with the daughter she had from this marriage, she organized her army and trained her daughter to be at its head, and formed alliances with all the neighboring kingdoms who wished to get rid of Philip. But the time she and her daughter were ready, Philip had been murdered and Alexander was on the throne, and Audata was senile." - D., Greece.

Olympias, Queen in Epirus and mother of Alexander the Great (3rd century BC)

She was "a queen of Epirus in her own right and ruled on the throne of Macedon and even after Philips's death nearly won all the battles she led against successors." She acted as regent for Philip during his military campaigns, and after his death, with her daughter Cleopatra, she ruled Epirus. - D., Greece.

Agrippina the Younger, wife of Claudius, mother of Nero (first century AD, Rome)

Interested in power and wealth, she managed to manipulate her uncle/husband, Claudius and position her son, Nero, to become emperor. She may have murdered Claudius by poison. She remained a power behind Nero's throne, but when she threatened to dethrone him, Nero, after many failed attempts, managed to get her assassinated. "Due to her great influence on both the emperors (even coins of her were made without the picture of Claudius on the reverse), I think she would fit your biographies." - W. S., Austria.

Candace, the Ethiopian Empress

Candace was the Greek name given to all the impressive Nubian/Kushite warrior queens. One "was such a great military leader that Alexander the Great simply chickened out from matching his army against hers. (in 332 BC)." Instead he turned to wage a more successful war in Egypt. - R. de R., Nicaragua


“The Candace’s (A Roman interpretation of the title of the queens) were a succession of leaders from about the time of the fourth century BCE through the third centuries CE. They each had a different name, but bore the same title. Alexander the Great mentions one, as well as does an account of Paul (Romans).” - Candace S.

The Celtic (Iceni) queen Boadicea (first century AD)

"She was a homgongous headache for the Romans until she swallowed poison to avoid being caught." - R. de R., Nicaragua  (Featured in our unit, I Will Not Bow My Head)

Marie de Champlain, daughter of Eleanor of Acquitaine (1100s AD)

She sponsored music, singing, and the creation of literature written in the local language. Poet singers wrote versus of praise and respect for women in her court, raising the value of women in the eyes of the rough nobility. She was "a countess in Champagne during the 1100s (and) very much responsible for the way women are treated here today." - N. & B.

The Zulu queen Nandi, mother of Shaka Zulu (early 19th century)

Nandi, with other women surrounding Shaka, was put in charge of military kraals and given power to govern while he was on campaign. Nandi was a force for moderation in Shaka's life, suggesting various political compromises to him rather than violent action. At her death, in an orgy of grief, he committed extreme violence against his own people for not mourning correctly. - R. de R., Nicaragua

Razia Sultana (ruled Delhi, 1236-40 A.D.)

Razia, who ruled during the Mughal era in India, was "the only woman who ever sat on an Indian throne." It was her father who wished her accession to his throne, over her brothers. Once there, she dressed as a man and appeared in public with her face uncovered. Her her choice of a lower class lover and unfortunate military losses led to her downfall." - S. & R. de R..
"Razia's ancestors were from Moslems of Turkish descent who invaded India in the 11th century. Like other Moslem princesses, she was trained to lead armies and administer kingdoms if necessary. Contrary to custom, her father selected her over her brothers to be his successor....She established peace and order, encouraged trade, built roads, planted trees, dug wells, supported poets, painters, and musicians, constructed schools and libraries, appeared in public without the veil, wore tunic and headdress of a man. State meetings were often open to the populace at large. Yet, she made enemies when she tried to eliminate some of the discriminations against her Hindu subjects. She died in battle trying to regain her kingdom." - Leela S.

She ruled India not for a long period but as long as she ruled, ruled very bravely and
courageously. She finally fell victim of palace intrigue and was killed by the people on whom the responsibility of her protection
was bestowed. - Shafiqul A.M.

(Featured in our unit, I Will Not Bow My Head)

Jhansi Ki Rani (Queen of Jhansi, India, 1850s)

"She ruled and fought against the British. She is the lady ruler most referred to in India history." - R. S.
"Lakshmi Bhai, Queen of Jhansi. was the great heroine of the First war of India Freedom, Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of principality called Jhansi in northern India , led an uprising against a takeover of her homeland by the British. She became a heroine and a symbol of resistance to to the British rule. She lived for only twenty-two years. She became a window in the eighteenth year. Jhansi was in the grip of the cunning British. She was the embodiment of patriotism, self-respect and heroism. ...The Rani was active in defending her country and was in charge of the eastern side of defense. However, she lost her life on the second day of fighting. The British won back Gwalior, where she ruled...A popular Indian ballad said that she was the most dangerous of all the rebel leaders." - Leela S.
(More information on Lakshmi Bai can be found in I Will Not Bow My Head)

Maria Theresa of Hapsburg, Empress of Austria (1724 - 1780)

"She defended her throne against Frederick the Great of Prussia and unified the diverse regions of her Austro-Hungarian Empire. She instituted a policy of centralized government and inaugurated social and economic reforms." "She was an excellent ruler and an interesting character."- R. de R., Nicaragua & M. W., the UK.
"Empress Maria Theresia was the first woman on a throne in middle Europe, ruled over a empire inhabited by different peoples (Hungary, Austrians, Germans, etc.) Frederic II of Prussia was her principal enemy and she proved to be his equal. Mother of eleven children (among them Marie - Antoinette of France) she was a wise and powerful ruler without losing her womanly and motherly qualities. She became a symbol of Austria. Her portrait on coins, the Maria Theresia Taler was worldfamous and spread all over the world. In Ethiopia it was the currency up to World War II." - Carol S.

Gro Harlem (married name Brundtland) 1939

"Educated as a doctor, she was Norway's first prime minister in 1981. Her first government consisted on 18 person, with eight women ministers. She stayed as primer minister for three periods. Her first government didn't last for long, but she came back strong in 1986, and stayed there throughout 1989. Now she is president of the WHO (World Health Organization.)" - G. T., Norway.

Corazon Aquino, ex-leader of the Philippines (1986-1992)

Corazon rose to power following the assassination of her husband, a popular political leader opposed to the Marco regime. "She was a great leader and people do look up to her as a role model." - V.

Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka  (Prime minister 1960-1965, 1970-1977, 1994-)

"She became primer minister ( in 1960) following her husband's assassination. She was the first woman elected to lead a country. Her son was the leader of the opposition and her daughter - Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga - is now the executive president of Sri Lanka. She plans to abolish the presidency and sit in parliament. This itself will make history." - Ms. W., Sri Lanka.

Empress Wu Chao

She was also known as Wu Zetian, Wu Zhao, Wu Hou, and Tian Hou - D. (To see our biography on Empress Wu Zetian - click here.)

Sila Maria Calderon

She was elected the First female Governor of Puerto Rico in November of 2000 and she will take power in January 2, 2001. - Del Valle J.    
(Sila 's "Popular Democratic Party" is opposed to statehood, which was championed by the outgoing governor Pedro Rossello. She also wants the U.S. Navy to get out of its bombing range on Vieques Island immediately. She is past major of San Juan and a former vice president of Citibank in Puerto Rico. She has said, "When I was a little girl everybody who had power were men. Now girls know that it is very normal for power to be shared with men and women." - Women in World History Curriculum)

Helen Clark

"She was twice elected as the Prime Minister of New Zealand. And before that we had another. " -Frances V. - New Zealand
[additional site comments: Jenny Shipley was Prime Minister from 1997 to 1999. Heading up the conservative National Party, she was the first women in New Zealand to serve as Prime Minister. A former primary school teacher and farmer, she rose quickly in her party to become first Social Welfare Minister and then Health Minister. Her reforms in both these agencies, which led to cuts, made her a prime target for Labour opposition leader Helen Clark. Clark's priorities have been quite different than Shipley's. A social activist whose involvement in politics was sparked by issues such as the Vietnam war, apartheid in South Africa, and nuclear testing in the South Pacific, she continued to work for peace and disarmament, conservation, and housing. Elected to office in 1999, she has made support of the arts an important part of her agenda as well.]

Empress Himiko (183 C.E.)

"Are you planning on having any articles about Empress Himiko, the first ruler of ancient Japan. In such a male dominated society, having a female as their first leader seems pretty cool." - Megan D.
(Himiko (or Pimiko) came to power in about 183 C.E. After years of constant warfare, the people decided to take a woman as a rule. Himiko had shamanic authority that was translated into political power. She was described in the Wei chronicles as being unmarried, living in relative seclusion, and attended by many women. The only male in her palace transmitted her words to society as a whole. She also sent envoys to China to pay homage to the Chinese emperor, which led to trade and diplomatic relations between the two countries. - Women in World History Curriculum).

Wilma Mankiller

"You should include Wilma Mankiller. She was principle Chief of the Cherokee People. And the first woman to rule a captive nation within the confines of the United States." - Carol C.

(Mankiller was elected to office of principle chief, in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, in 1985. Her goal was to create a financially independent and self-governing Cherokee Nation, and in 1990 helped re-establish the Cherokee tribal judicial system).

Khaleda Zia (1945-)

“There are women political personalities from Asia that this website does not mention. Ms. Khaleda Zia being one.” - S. Chowdhury
(Prime minister of Bangladesh from 20 Mar 1991 to 30 Mar 1996 and again from 10 Oct 2001 to current date (2003). Khaleda became involved in politics after the death of her husband, Ziaur Rahman, President of the country who assassinated in 1981. She heads the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and is a close rival of Sheikh Hasina. - Women in World History Curriculum).

Ms. Sheikh Hasina (1947 - )

“There are women political personalities from Asia that this website does not mention. Ms Sheikh Hasina being one.” - S. Chowdhury
(Sheikh Hasina was Prime minister of Bangladesh from 1996 to 2001. She is the daughter of Sheik Mujibur Rahman who is considered by many to be the founder of modern Bangladesh - not related to Ziaur Rahman. After five years in office, she and her party, the Awami League, lost the 2001 general elections to her rival Khaleda Zia. - Women in World History Curriculum).

Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007 )

“There are women political personalities from Asia that this website does not mention. Benazir Bhutto being one.” - S. Chowdhury
(Benazir was Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 6 Aug 1990, and again from 1993 to 5 Nov 1996. Daughter of former ruler Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was overthrown in 1977 and executed by the military regime in 1979, she was only 35 when she was elected Prime Minister, becoming the first woman to lead a Muslim nation in modern age. Differences between her Government and the Establishment, however, led to her dismissal in 1990. She returned to power in 1993, but again was dismissed by the president in 1996 on charges of corruption. She was assassinated December 27, 2007 as she was campaigning ahead of elections due in January 2008.- Women in World History Curriculum).

Madagascar Queens (1800s)

“During the 180s four women ruled over the India Ocean island of Madagascar beginning with Ranavalona I 1828-61, Rasoherina, 1863-68, Ranavalona II 918688888-83) and Ranavalona III (1883-96 - deposed and exiled 1896).” - R. Duncan
(The unification of many small kingdoms into one occurred in the 19th century. Ranavalona I was the widow of Radama, the second king, and she succeeded him to the throne. She was know for her refusal to sign the treaties of white foreigners and for repelling two European invasions. The widows of her son, queens Rasoherina and Ranavalona II ruled but held less authority than did the first Ranavalona. The last queen of Madagascar was Ranavalona III, who was exiled by the French to the island of Reunion, and then to Algeria. - Women in World History Curriculum).

Empress Elisabeth of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (mid 19th Century)

“Despite the fact that Elisabeth (also known as Sisi), Empress of Austria and Queen of a range of small states from Dalmatia to Hungary, was never allowed to rule or never took the opportunity to exert a sense of independence into her station, she is still a particular favourite historical figure. She was brought up very far away from court life, in a liberal family where she was the least important people of the household...[In 1853] she married Emperor Franz-Joseph of Austria, whom she hardly knew, and did not whoolly want to be married to....
Being a bit of a mummy's boy, Franz-Joseph was very dependent on his mother, the Archduchess Sophie, and trusted only her in state business. Elisabeth was only his wife and the child bearer of the Empire. Her first child (of four) was a daughter named Sophie, born when Sisi was just 16. Sisi was practically forbidden to see her, and was not included in any of her upbringing. The same goes for her next two children, another daughter (to the dismay of the Empire) and a son.
Though her father had caused her to be an opinionated young woman, and despite the fact that Sisi tried very hard to be politically aware, she was almost forgotten away from the bedroom. She was immensely beautiful, a fact noticed by all her subjects, but she hated to be cooped up in palaces, used only as a figure of style, grace, and beauty, and she felt that she could do more as an Empress. She became very depressed, and starved herself to try and become the perfectly petite person that her mother in law and husband wanted.
Franz-Joseph and Elisabeth eventually [were] crowned King and Queen of Hungary, merging it together to become the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This was something that Sisi threw herself into headlong... She learnt to speak fluent Hungarian (one of the most difficult of languages) in a matter of weeks in preparation for her presentation to the Hungarian people. And as for them? They fell instantly in love with her..... Sisi was the 'Hungarian Queen.'...
Still, Sisi was shunned to the side. Her husband refused to let her help in the governing of Hungary, and she was confined to visiting orphanages and hospitals in the surrounding area. This became her next passion....The poorer people of Austria came to love their simple Empress who was born and bred and conditions closer to theirs than the palace she hated so much.
Convinced that she could do more, she took to expressing herself in her poetry, and pushing her lost dreams into her children....Though Empress Elisabeth of Austria never came around to changing the society she lived in and so hated, she is still an example. Why? Because she is a prime example of a woman with potential and hope to change a world - as was her original plan - which soon became a woman enclosed on her own depression, cooped up in a void of unhappiness. The way women of promise have been shunned over history must stand as an example for the future so that people like Sisi are never under estimated and forgotten about again.” - Lucy B.
[Edited by Women in World History Curriculum]

Grainne O'Malley - 16th Century - Ireland

“A pirate queen of Galway, Ireland who gave Elizabeth Rex a run for her money. ‘Twice widowed, twice imprisoned, fighting her enemies both Irish and English for her rights, condemned for piracy, and finally pardoned in London by Queen Elizabeth herself, Gráinne was one of the few sea-raiders to retire from the sea and die in her own bed, though where she's buried remains a mystery.’ See site;” - Kathleen O’B.

Cartimandau - 1st Century Celtic British

“Queen and Warrior of the Brigantes tribe which worshipped Brigantia the Goddess Queen of the Land as their direct ancestress - her name means "sleek pony". She refused to join Bouddicca's revolt. See site;” - Kathleen O’B.

Artemisia I - 5th Century, B.C.E.

"Artemisia I, ruler of the Greek city-state of Halicarnassus and Cos and advisor to Xerxes the ruler of the Persian empire, assisted him in his attacks on the Greeks by commanding a force of warships in the naval battle of Salamis around 480 BC.”- Kathleen O’B.

Arachidamia - 3rd Century, B.C.E.

“ One of a number of Spartan princesses who led female troops. She fought against Pyrrhus during the siege of Lacedemon in the 3rd century BC. The Princess Chelidonis captained women warriors atop the city wall during a siege of Sparta in 280 BC.” - Kathleen O’B.

Zabibi and Samsi - 700s B.C.E.

“Zabibi and her successor Samsi reigned as Arabian warrior queens from approximately 740 to 720 BC. Both commanded armies containing large numbers of women.” - Kathleen O’B.
( They fought against the Assyrians.)

Mavia - 370-380 C.E.

“Mavia was Queen of the Bedouin Saracens from 370 to 380 AD. She led her troops in defeating a Roman army then made a favorable peace and married her daughter to the Roman commander in chief of the eastern Emperor Valens.” - Kathleen O’B.

The Kahina - Mahgreb c. 702 C.E.

“An 8th century religious leader, the Kahina, united the Byzantine and Berber forces against the invading Arab army. She maintained an independent Berber monarchy for many years before her death in battle against the Arabs.” - Kathleen O’B.

Aethelflaed - late 9th-early 10th century

“Aethelflaed, oldest daughter of Alfred the Great, was considered the chief tactician of her time. She united Mercia, conquered Wales and subdued the Danes becoming the de facto ruler of the Mercians and Danes. She was killed in battle in June 918 AD at Tammorth in Staffordshire.” - Kathleen O’B.
(She was first known as “The Lady of the Mercians.” Later, the Mercians felt these terms insufficiently strong and called her “lord” and “king.”)

Nanye-hi - “Beloved Woman - 18th Century

“Nancy Ward -Cherokee warrior and ‘Beloved Woman,’ the title of civil leaders of the Cherokee, was “still very young when she married a warrior named Kingfisher; while still a teenager, she bore two children. When she went to battle with her husband, at Taliwa against the Creeks, she was just 17, maybe younger. She chewed bullets for her husband's musket; a well-masticated bullet was known to cause more damage in enemy flesh. When her husband fell dead, Nany'hi took up her husband's musket. She was honored for her bravery with the title Ghigau, or Beloved Woman, the highest title available to Cherokee women, a sacred position that sometimes trumped the highest chiefs. Considering the Cherokee held women in higher esteem than any other tribe, especially the pale one, Nancy Ward may have been the highest-ranking woman in America." - Kathleen O’B.

Creek Mary - leader of the Creek Nation Confederacy

“See site: More resources on American Indian Women leaders and,” - Kathleen O’B.


“The four female regents of the Netherlands, all intelligent, and politically savvy, were: Margaret of Austria. Mary of Hungary. Margaret of Parma.Clara Isabella Eugenia. Also, Catherine of Braganza who acted as Regent of Portugal. There are a few others, but I consider these among the most important” - Rex W.

[Margaret of Austria was the daughter of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor and Mary of Burgundy. She was appointed for the first time as governor of the Hapsburg Netherlands (1507–1515), and guardian of her young nephew Charles, who became Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. When he was older, Charles rebelled against her influence, but he soon recognized her as one of his wisest advisers, and she was again governor of the Netherlands (1519–30) intermittently until her death. Women in World History].

[Mary of Hungary, also named Mary of Hapsburg, was the Queen consort of Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia. In 1531, her brother Emperor Charles V appointed her regent of the Netherlands, as Margaret's successor. She remained on the post until 1555. Women in World History].

[Margaret, Duchess of Parma was was appointed as governor of the Netherlands in 1559 by Philip II of Spain. She was the illegitimate daughter of Charles V. In 1567 Margaret resigned her post and left for an unhappy marriage to the Duke of Parma, Italy. Women in World History].

[Clara Isabella Eugenia was the daughter of King Philip II and his third wife. She married the Archduke of Austria, Albert VII. After Albert's death in 1621, the sovereignty of the Spanish Netherlands reverted to Spain, and Isabella ruled as governor of the country for her nephew, King Philip IV of Spain, until her death. Women in World History].

[Catherine of Braganza: was queen consort of the Stuart House of Charles II (England, the Scots, and Ireland, 1662 – 1685). She was the daughter of John IV of Portugal (Duke of Braganza). In 1704 she was appointed regent of Portugal during the illness of her brother King Pedro II, and died the year after. Women in World History].

Queen Ka’ahumanu (c.1768 - 1832)

In reality this queen was more an equal partner than power behind the throne. She first was queen of King Kamehameha I and after his death served as Premier, really co-ruler, to his successor. She also was acting regent until Kamehameha III should come of age. In these roles she managed to establish many reforms.

"She ruled equally beside her husband and son for 30 years, fought for women’s rights and managed to abolish both polygamy and a brutal system of capital punishment called kapu." (L. Miller).

Katherine Swynford (1350 – 1403) was sister-in-law to Geofrey Chaucer

Married to Sir Hugh Swynford (2 children) and mistress to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, bearing him 4 illegitimate children. Through the Beauforts (her children by John of Gaunt) the royal line of England is descended (Tudor, Stuart, Hanover, Winsor). 
 What is also interesting about Katherine Swynford is that many years after her husband Sir Hugh Swynford died John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, one of the son's of Edward the III, married her (his last wife) and legitimated the children he had by her.  They were married 3 years until John of Gaunt's death.  She died 4 years later.
In effect John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, married a commoner, most unusual for a lord at any time, but especially in the 1300's. John of Gaunt 's epitaph on his tombstone referred to her as "eximia pulchritudine feminam". - KYA

Marie Antoinette

"Antoinette defied Versailles etiquette gracefully to expose its falseness, and became an excellent state craftswoman in a hurry when she became queen." - Sweetpea

Eva Peron

"She was adored by millions for her more than monumental role in Argentina's 'healing' and personally saw and spoke with (as well as answered) 10,000 letters a day. She called Juan's and her supporters the 'shirtless ones." - Sweetpea.

Princess Joanna of Wales - wife of Llewelyn ap Iorweth (Llewelyn Fawr)

"Being the daughter of King John of England, she owed her loyalties to her father due to the fact that he provided her a suitable title. Joan was born from an outcast mother who played mistress to King John, and was illegitimate. Her father being able to gain her the title of Princess of Wales was a feat that earned her respect and loyalty. At the beginning of her marriage with Llewelyn, she showed her first sign of spunk by burning her husband's bed after she walked in on him with his lover. At the time she was only 14, and didn't know that under Welsh law, she could have rightfully murdered the woman her husband was with... Llewelyn and King John became allies through the marriage of Joanna. While Llewelyn would assist King John on crusades and paid him homage, King John constantly betrayed their alliance by encouraging wars among the Marcher lords and stirring up trouble for Llewelyn. Knowing this, Joanna openly defied her father when her husband was forced to yet again pay homage to the king and pay him a ridiculous amount of money. When Llewelyn paid homage to the king, Joanna walked over to her husband, knelt, and swore fealty and loyalty to him. She ruled alongside her husband in Wales, created a scandal or two, but was still considered a powerful and loyal woman." - Star M.

Eleanor de Montfort
Born 1215 (also called Eleanor of England, Eleanor Plantagenet, and Eleanor of Leicester)
Wife to Simon de Montfort (6th Earl of Leicester)

"While England was being ruled by a weak and unjust king (King Henry III), Simon fought for the common folk who worked by day and night to provide for his family. Simon spurred a crusade in England and gained the support of all the commoners and a number of Royals and trustees of the King. Ellen supported him in whatever he did, and went through times of both of them being outcasts from England for various reasons. To make a long story short, Simon was killed fighting the King. Ellen took over his title, took care of the entrusted materials her husband bestowed upon her, kept in full support of renegades fighting in the name of Simon, took care of their 3 sons and daughter, and was able to acquire decent titles and land ownership for her eldest and youngest son. She pleaded with the King to lift the ban from England so that her children can visit the royal courts. - Star M."  

(After capturing the King and heir-apparent, Edward, in 1264, Simon and Eleanor became the de facto head of the government; Eleanor even had her own seal made.Under them England briefly had a new type of government in which the Parliament of 1265 included two knights from each county, and two citizens from each city or borough. When barons loyal to the king challenged Simon, Eleanor placed herself and her son Simon in command of various strongholds, like Dover Castle. But all ended when Simon and another son, Henry, were defeated and killed - Women in World History Curriculum)

Anne of Brittany (1460-1522)

"I think Anne should be added because she was queen of France twice and was an intelligent woman...and was very kind." - Student D.
(Anne was a woman of great wealth and land. She first married Maximilian of Austria - a marriage that was annulled when he failed to protect her duchy. After her second husband, King Charles VIII of France, died, her lands were so valuable that Louis XII, his successor, divorced his own wife so that he could marry Anne. Anne was a resourceful woman who used to power and influence to help promote high culture in France. She was an influential part of the intellectual climate of the Renaissance. During the reign of Charles VIII, she commissioned the translation of Boccaccio's "Concerning Famous Women," and filled her court with educated women and discussions of platonic love. She inherited the volumes that both husbands had bought or stolen from Italy during her husband's campaigns, and commissioned some more to be made to enrich her collection.)

Roxelana (Haseki Hurrem)

"What about Roxelana, also known as Rossa, also known as Haseki Hurrem, who got Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent to marry her. She had quite a lot of power over him." - Ann N.
(Hurrem is featured in our curriculum unit A Message for the Sultan.)


“Great dame of the late Roman Republic and the first really modern woman in history considered herself equal with men and lived according to this. She directed her son Brutus’ career and Caesar’s, as his most loving mistress. She led Roman and world political life with Caesar until his death. From this she led the Senate and thereby Rome to the start of Augustus’ reign.” S. Kondra

Margaret, Byzantine Empress and Regent/Queen of Thessaloniki (1204-23)

“She was legendary with her beauty, and powerful and clever. She was the last civilized ruler of Greece in the middle age, and only woman leader in the conquered Greece by crusaders. After her domination her kingdom fell into anarchy.” S. Kondra

Anne de Beaujeu

"Daughter of King Louis XI of France and sister to King Charles VIII- her father appointed her regent of France for her brother- the only time such an office has ever been conferred on a royal sister. She was responsible for keeping the peace during her brother's infancy, and for adding Brittany once and for all to the possessions of the French crown (by marrying Charles to Ann of Brittany)" D.Weiner

Crown Princess Sophia

"Daughter of Czar Alexis of Russia and half sister to Peter the Great and Czar Ivan V- her father left her as regent for her brothers, one of whom (Ivan) was probably mentally retarded. She was a staunch conservative. Her brother and step mother overthrew her in a palace coup and locked her away in a nunnery." D. Weiner

Alexandra Federovna Romanov (1872-1918)

“I know Empress Alexandra Fedrona Romanov wasn’t on the ‘toughest’ side, but would you pleas put her on your site? I need to learn a little bit more about her instead of the other Romanovs.” = L. Rollins.
(Empress Alexandra Fedorovna - called Alix - was born in Germany, one of the Granddaughters of Queen Victoria of England. After a long courtship with Russia’s Tsarevitch Nicholas II, she finally agreed to marry him and convert to Russian Orthodoxy. Their wedding in 1894 followed closely upon the death of Tsar Alexander III; suddenly the young bride became empress to one of the largest and most powerful empires in the world. Alix had five children, but only her last, a boy named Alexei, could become heir to the throne since girls were forbidden imperial succession. Alexei, however, was a hemophiliac and Alix’s obsession with trying to find a cure for him led her to extreme mystical beliefs and reliance on an unkempt scoundrel called Rasputin. The Russian public disliked and mistrusted not only Rasputin but also the empress, whose influence over Nicholas was seen as excessive and harmful. The Russian Revolution swept the whole family away. - Women in World History Curriculum).

Queen Suriyothai - Queen of Thailand (Siam)

“I recently watched the move ‘The Legend of Suriyothai’ produced by Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Thai nobleman Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol. As Thai history is not extensively covered in most school curricula, I had never heard of the Thai heroine or of the history of Southeast Asia of her times...” - L Fines
[According to legend, Suriyothai was the wife of Siamese King Maha Chakraphat who reigned between 1548 - 1569. When the newly appointed king in 1549 was forced to test his courage against the stronger might of the Burmese army, Suriyothai joined him in battle dressed as a man. She valiantly fought to save her husband, and was killed in the attempt. Her action, however, halted the Burmese, thus saving the nation. There is an historical dispute between Thai and Burmese historians regarding Queen Suriyothai’s existence, with the Burmese claiming that that there is no mention of her in their written sources - Women in World History Curriculum]

Queen Ankhesenamon - 1322-1319 B.C.E.

Queen Ankhesenamon (or mun) was widow of King Tutankhamum. “...Letters from an Egyptian queens were found in the annals of the Hittites...the most reviled enemies of Egypt. This was the strangest occurrence in history for no Egyptian lady, especially a queen would ever consider marrying a foreigner, much less an enemy. Basically the queen Ankhesenamon wrote to the king (Suppiluliuma) begging him to send her his son for her to marry. She wrote that she was afraid, and she would not marry a servant. The king and his council were so amazed that the king said, “Such a thing has never happened to me in my whole life!” He sent a man to investigate, sure that this was a trap. Ankhesenanmon wrote back very indignantly writing that she was afraid still and would not marry a servant. The son (Zannanza) was sent and the prince was found murdered on the border of Egypt with all his company....
The Prime minister Aye had during this time married Ankhesenamon, his granddaughter, and became king. The last she was heard of was at the funeral (of King Tut), and she disappeared from history.” - Cheyenne
(Much of ancient Egyptian history is speculation. Although many think Ankhesenamon to be the one who wrote to the Hittite king, some scholars believe Nefertiti sent the letter; others that her daughter Meritaten did. All we know for certain is that during the end of the Amarna Period a female member and widowed queen of Akhenaten’s family wrote to the king of the Hittite Empire requesting one of the king’s sons as her husband. With the death of this prince on his approach to Egypt, Suppiluliuma held the Egyptians responsible and eventually launched a retaliatory attack on Egyptian territory in Syria. Aye (or Aya), possibly father of Nefertiti, was a court courier, master of the horses (the “servant referred to?) before becoming pharaoh. Women in World History Curriculum)

Lozen- 19th Century

“Lozen was an Chiricahua Apache warrior and Medicine woman.” - Kathleen O’B.
( Lozen was the sister of Chief Victorio. As a shamman, she was known to have the power to anticipate where the enemy was. Accepted as a warrior, she took part in all their ceremonies, was a skilled scout and clever battle strategists. She was with Geronimo at his final surrender in 1886.)

For an up-to-date list of current women heads of states, please link to these sites:

1) Women Heads of State

2) Women Presidents and Prime Ministers

3) Important Women in Turkish History

Clink here for an answer to the question:
"Why have their been so few women rulers?"

Lyn Reese is the author of all the information on this website
Click for Author Information

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