Women’s History Month: Women Monarchs

I’ve found it interesting that women monarchs have ushered in, or kept momentum going, at the golden ages of different empires. Cairo marked a rise to economic and political power during the era of the crusades with the “Sultan” of Egypt, Shagrat al-Durr. Empress Wu kept the Tang Dynasty’s beginning of a golden age in China moving forward and solidified a foundation for continued Tang success. Maria Theresa styled herself as Holy Roman Empress and instituted a period of reform and economic expansion when she took the Austrian throne. And, perhaps most famously, the policies of Queen Elizabeth I brought a golden age to the British Empire.

Of course, women aren’t necessarily better rulers than men. And from a moral standpoint nearly all monarchs in times past did ruthless and blood-thirsty things to maintain power (for some reason, though, we castigate women for it more). Mary, Queen of Scots is an example of how women can squander their power as effectively as men. But many among the few examples in history of women monarchs serve to point out that women aren’t necessarily worse rulers than men just because they’re women.

Tags: Women’s History Month, Shagrat al-Durr, Empress Wu Tang Dynasty, Mormon feminism,
Elizabeth I British Empire, women monarchs

0 thoughts on “Women’s History Month: Women Monarchs”

  1. We DO castigate women more for it. Look at Hillary Clinton: if she was a man with identical credentials, I think he’d probably walk to the White House and nobody would make snarky remarks about how witchy, assertive, and aggressive he was. I’m not sure that I’m really a HC fan, I just think it has been an interesting thing to follow.

    Crazy thing: hubby watches Idol from time to time and this round of contestants is really good. We’re not huge fans because the music is generally not my style, but I digress. Anyway, tonight he says, “You’ve got to see this Brooke White, she’s good. You’ll like her.” It turns out I loved her. After about ten seconds into the clip I say, wait a minute:

    Mesa Arizona
    Plays TWO instruments well
    Nanny in california
    Not a bare shoulder in a single (might I add stylish) outfit
    24 and married
    And that G L O W


    So, after her incredible performance tonight (Let It Be–my favorite Beatles song) I look up American Idol Brooke White Mormon and your blog post from last month came up.

    Well, I probably wouldn’t have commented at all, except I noticed that some of the people on your sidebar are friends of mine. And, because of the way I met them (lived near Doreen and KarateMommy who began coming to a book club Desmama and I started where Desmama brought Nemesis), I realized that though I don’t know you, we somehow know the same random group of people in CV.

    My uncle, who has lived all over the place, once said, “The world isn’t small, but the church makes it small.” How fun to make a connection of the thousands of Google hits that came back. And good on Brooke for being such a wonderful example of what tender-hearted, strong, beautiful, righteous women can look like.

  2. i’m actually reading a biography of elizabeth right now, which of course includes mary queen of scots. it is very interesting. i love reading about women in history.

  3. Thanks both of you for your comments!

    STM: I agree that the coverage of HC has been more negative than anyone else’s. I don’t think that I’d vote for her, but the way she is treated is appalling. Not to mention the crude jokes John McCain has made about her. If he made the same jokes about Obama, he would be in BIG trouble. But women are the last acceptable target of bigotry.

    Terina: I read Elizabeth the Great. Is the book you’re reading? I also read Mary, Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser. Bother great books. It is interesting to compare and contrast these contemporary women — and cousins.

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