Queens and Empresses: From Cleopatra to Queen Victoria
History is brought to life through the colourful stories of eleven queens and empresses.
Their lives were often tempestuous and tragic, ending in execution, suicide, divorce or abdication. Some were child brides, pawns in political games, and most had unfaithful husbands.
These women differed widely: Queen Elizabeth spoke six languages, while Catherine I of Russia was as illiterate ex-kitchen maid. The tomboyish Christina, Queen of Sweden, contrasted with the beautiful Mary Queen of Scots. Catherine the Great was tyranniccal, while Marie Antoinette was helpless and irresponsible. The conscientious Maria Theresa and the respectable Queen Victoria differed from the duplicitous Catherine de Medici and `the Serpent of Old Nile', Cleopatra.
Some queens committed terrible crimes, such as Catherine de Medici's part in the massacre of St Bartholomew's Day. Queen Elizabeth was responsible for the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, and Cleopatra for the murder of rival sibilings.
There were great failures, as Catherine de Medici failed to preserve the Valois dynasty in France and Maria Theresa saw her empire diminished. On the other hand, under Queen Elizabeth the arts flourished in England, While Catherine the Great made Russia a major power, and Cleopatra's wiles warded off Roman suzerainty over Egypt.
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Josephine Empress of France 17631814
Queen Victoria Queen of England 18191901
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