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Medieval Queen. Source: aicandy / Adobe Stock.

History's 10 Most Ruthless Queens and Brutal Rulers (Video)


Throughout history, powerful women have wielded authority with determination. Countess Elizabeth Bathory had a dark obsession, enjoying the torture of the lower classes. Empress Wu Zetian, China's sole female ruler, left a trail of political strife and bloodshed, even orchestrating the downfall of family members to maintain power. Constantine VI's Byzantine rule was overshadowed by his mother, Irene of Athens, who ruled alongside him, going to great lengths to retain control, even blinding her son. Mary I of England, known as "Bloody Mary," unleashed terror against Protestants during her short reign, leaving a legacy of cruelty. Queen Isabella of Spain was instrumental in the Spanish Inquisition, expelling Jews and Muslims, imposing religious conversion or expulsion.

Fredegund of Soissons engaged in murderous schemes to secure her position as queen consort, eliminating rivals and opponents. Princess Olga of Kiev's rule began with brutal vengeance, seeking retribution for her husband's murder by boiling alive those responsible, followed by further bloodshed. Agrippina the Younger's ruthless ambition led to manipulation, possibly even the murder of her uncle and husband, Claudius, securing power for herself and her son, Nero. Queen Elizabeth I of England shifted religious oppression from Protestants to Catholics during her reign, leading to harsh penalties for Catholics. Finally, Catherine the Great's rise to power involved a daring plot to overthrow her husband, Tsar Peter III, executed with remarkable skill, ultimately becoming Empress of Russia.

Top image: Medieval Queen. Source: aicandy / Adobe Stock.

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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