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The Renaissance was a time of cultural rebirth. New music, new thought, new art, and new food are just some of the many things that came out of the Renaissance. In a time of change, it is important to have steadfast leaders. These five women were strong, incredible queens that lead their countries to great new things. Read on to find out more about these historic heroines.
Warrior queen in her own right, this woman was a serious powerhouse. She was the first Queen of Spain and did not let her gender get in the way of leading her armies into battle. Isabella was a staunch Catholic, set on spreading her faith by the sword. Isabella brought her country out of debt and increased the quality of living. Her marriage joined the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile into modern Spain. Isabella and her husband sponsored and funded Christopher Columbus’ expeditions in 1492. Spanish gold funded the discovery of the new world! This achievement placed Spain back as a powerhouse of Europe for the first time in over a century. Great job, Isabella!
My personal favorite wife of notorious King Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon was steadfast, loyal, pious, and fierce. She was the youngest daughter of warrior Queen Isabella of Castile and arrived in England, to be married to Arthur, Prince of Wales, heir to the throne. Shortly after they were wed, Arthur suddenly died, leaving Catherine widowed, yet not welcome back in Spain. After waiting for seven uncertain years, she was married to Arthur’s brother, Henry. While King Henry was away on a French campaign to regain land, the Scots invaded the northern border of England. What does our wonderful woman do? She puts down her sewing (as she made all of Henry’s shirts for him, by hand, of course) and went into battle against the Scots and brought back the head of her brother in law, King James IV, who was married to Henry’s older sister, Margaret. When the going got tough, Catherine stood straight and didn’t waiver in her loyalty to Henry. Despite his lies, his break from the Roman Church, and his affairs, Catherine stayed loyal to him and to England. She is the epitome of strength and vigor in uncertain times.
Born into one of the most powerful families in Medieval Florence, Catherine de Medici was her own force to be reckoned with. She may not have been born with a crown on her head but the Medici money kept Henry II of France’s country and court afloat. Catherine is remembered for producing a great number of heirs and for fostering and betrothing her son to Mary, Queen of Scots.
The golden Virgin Queen of England, Elizabeth I, is one of the most famous and renowned queens in history. Elizabeth I has an entire time period named after her, having successfully reigned over England for 44 years in relative peace and much artistic prosperity. Remembered as “The People’s Queen,” she refused to marry, played the lute, defeated the Spanish Armada, re-established the Church of England, and called for the imprisonment of her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. Elizabeth was a strong, ruthless ruler. Find out more about Elizabeth in these great materials.
My personal favorite Renaissance queen, Mary Queen of Scots has such a troubling history. The Scots have always been a rambunctious people, a people that don’t like to be told what to do or who their ruler is. Throw in religious divides and you have yourself Mary’s life. Mary was Catholic while many of the Scots wanted to be Protestant. After the death of her father, at six days old, Mary was queen. At age five she was sent to the safety of France to be raised at French court where she was betrothed to the French heir, Francis. She and Francis ruled for a short time, until his untimely death. She then went to Scotland to her rightful seat only to be pushed to abdication by the Scottish nobles. Seeking sanctuary from those who didn’t want her in Scotland, she went to England. Instead of sanctuary, Elizabeth I imprisoned and later executed the Scottish Queen.