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How history’s killer queens conquered kings

By Francisco de Paula Van Halen -Public Domain, Wiki Commons

The power on a chessboard lies with the queen and now new research indicates the same goes for royal history. Experts have found that European queens were more likely to go to war and had greater success in expanding their realms than any of their male counterparts.

The investigation by Chicago University and the College of William & Mary in Virginia studied the reigns of monarchs in all parts of western Europe between 1480 and 1913. And it found that a country was much more likely to start a fight when ruled by a woman than a man.

By looking at the reigns of 193 monarchs, researchers found that when a queen wielded power, a state was 39 percentage points more likely to go to war. These battle queens were successful too. The same investigation indicated that female rulers managed to expand their territories more than male monarchs.

This power grab wasn’t just limited to Europe. Some of the most famous female rulers included in the investigation, including Isabella of Castile and Elizabeth I, governed states that saw their political and economic influence expand rapidly with the development of overseas empires.

Among the other female monarchs studied is Catherine the Great, who increased Russia’s power throughout her seismic 18th century reign, and Queen Victoria who is cited by the authors as being a major influence in Britain’s expansion in the 19th century.

And researchers also dismissed the idea that female rulers went to war at the start of their reigns to prove they weren’t weak. Their study found that queens fought their battles at various points in their tenure. It seems that in real life as well as on the chessboard, the queen really does rule.

About author

Lydia is a writer, blogger and journalist. She's worked in the media for over twenty years as a broadcast reporter, producer and editor as well as feature and online writer. As well as royals and royal history, she's a news junkie and podcaster.