A History of Royals discussion

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General > Who are the top 5 most important female monarch in Renaissance Europe?

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message 1: by Catharina (new)

Catharina Botermans | 1 comments The first female monarchs that come to mind are: Elizabeth I, Catharine du Medici and Mary Queen of Scots. But then who else would you say had the most influence on renaissance Europe? Would it be Anne Boleyn, Mary I....


message 2: by Lyn (Readinghearts), The mod of last resort/Mod #3 (new)

Lyn (Readinghearts) (lsmeadows) | 1550 comments Mod
That is an interesting question, Catharina. I can't wait to see what our members come up with.


message 3: by Robin (new)

Robin (ukamerican) | 73 comments I don't know if Anne Boleyn would count - I thought a monarch was the regnant, not the consort? Likewise with Catherine de Medici - though very powerful, she was queen consort and then regent/dowager, never a regnant in her own right.

I think there were very few women who ruled in their own right even during the renaissance. Jeanne d'Albret (Jeanne III of Navarre) was one of the few, as is Anna of Poland I think. Isabella of Castile ruled in her own right but she ruled more during the middle ages than the renaissance. Her daughter Joanna of Castile was queen regnant but unfortunately was not considered fit to rule and so her husband acted as regent.

If we're looking at queen consorts, dowagers and regents too, I would name Catherine Parr. She is a bit overlooked because Anne Boleyn dominates the interest in Henry VIII's wives so much (and secondly Katherine Howard because they were both beheaded) but Parr was a published author and I believe a big influence on Elizabeth I growing up. And if you count the period as renaissance, I'd also include Mary of Guise in the running (mother of Mary Queen of Scots).

Spain seems to have had a lot of female regents:
Isabella of Portugal was queen consort of Aragon and Castile and served them as regent while her husband (Charles, son of Joanna of Castile) was often away (which I suppose is what happens when you're also Holy Roman Emperor).
Joan of Austria was regent of Spain for her brother, Philip (who had married Mary I and was away in England).
Maria of Austria (Holy Roman Empress - consort) also served as regent of Spain for her brother Felipe while he was away.

Isabella d'Esta was not a queen in any sense of the word but worth a mention as a very influential woman in the renaissance.


message 4: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) Mary, Queen of Scots, really? Important in the sense of what they did do?

I would list (including the English Ren.)

Catherine De Medici
Marie of Guise
Elizabeth I


And there were a few women in Italy, but they weren't really queens.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 227 comments My list isn't very long, and would have Elizabeth I and Isabella of Castille at the head of it.


message 6: by Lyn (Readinghearts), The mod of last resort/Mod #3 (new)

Lyn (Readinghearts) (lsmeadows) | 1550 comments Mod
So - I am loving people's lists, but I would be interesting in hearing some about the reasons that you picked who you did.

I think that most people in this group would include Elizabeth I. Other than that, I would have to think long and hard. It would depend on two things:

1. What we are defining as Rennaisance Europe. The time period and area included.

2. Whether we are limiting it to actual women who were Regents in their own right, or any women who were queens or queen consorts?


message 7: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Jul 10, 2011 09:11PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 227 comments I personally am keeping it to Queens regnant.


message 8: by Aly (new)

Aly (Alygator) | 174 comments Well, I've always considered that the Renaissance started in the 14th century in Italy. That's what my professors all mostly agreed on, anyway.

I'm not sure how Mary Queen of Scots was influential? I mean, she's a big name for sure, but I'm not sure she did anything really important.

I would consider Mary I to be influential in that, by pushing Catholicism on her people, she actually helped changed the face of England. She wasn't the only player in this religious reform in England, but by swinging the pendulum so opposite of what her brother did, I feel that the people of England were happier being allowed a little bit of freedom in their beliefs.


message 9: by Robin (new)

Robin (ukamerican) | 73 comments Aly wrote: "Well, I've always considered that the Renaissance started in the 14th century in Italy. That's what my professors all mostly agreed on, anyway."

Yeah, it's when it spread into other areas that it gets a bit ify. The Spanish Renaissance is said to have started in 1492 and Isabella of Castile died in 1504 so most of her reign occurred before the start of the renaissance. Can she really be considered a renaissance queen? But of course if you consider that she did commission Columbus' journey and she was therefore a very important figure in the Age of Exploration which is associated more with the renaissance, it does leave me a little conflicted on where to place her.

The English Renaissance is debated as well - some people say it began with the Elizabethan era but I've always credited Henry VIII with sparking the renaissance in England whereas I consider Elizabeth's reign to have been the height of the renaissance. I guess some people mark the beginning with Elizabeth because Mary I doesn't seem like a renaissance queen - but just because she didn't behave like one doesn't mean the movement hadn't reached the country.

"I'm not sure how Mary Queen of Scots was influential? I mean, she's a big name for sure, but I'm not sure she did anything really important."

I agree, she's an interesting person to learn about but I've always considered her a bit of a failure. That's why I named her mother, Mary of Guise, because I feel she had far more accomplishments even as just a dowager/regent. However, the question did ask for the more important, not the most influential and as someone else pointed out, it depends how you define important. Important in what they accomplished or important to history/learning about (even failures are an important part of history which we should study)?

And there again, can Mary of Guise really be considered a renaissance queen? Though she lived from 1515-1560 when a lot of people considered the renaissance to have begun in England, my understanding is that it took longer to reach Scotland. It's difficult to draw a line though because it was a gradual process.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Aly wrote: "Well, I've always considered that the Renaissance started in the 14th century in Italy. That's what my professors all mostly agreed on, anyway.

I'm not sure how Mary Queen of Scots was influent..."


I agree with you Aly. I think Mary I was maybe not as influencial as her sister, but the things she did stand out.

Until what period are you all talking about?
Would Queen Victoria count?


message 11: by Amanda (new)

Amanda | 19 comments I agree that Mary I was influential, she just gets overshadowed by her sister.

What about Mary of Hungary or Margaret of Austria? Both acted as regents in the Netherlands and held together a fractious country and negotiated for peace multiple times even though they were women.

Both women were queens, just not in the Netherlands so I don't know if they'd count.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 227 comments The latest I'd even consider the Renaissance as extending is about 1600.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks Susanna

I agree with you Amanda, Mary is overshadowed by her sister.

What do you guys think of Catherine of Aragon?


message 14: by Amanda (new)

Amanda | 19 comments Catherine of Aragon was a known entity but how much of an effect did she have? While married to Henry VIII she kept out of things and was the dutiful life.

However, I guess you could say that she had a legacy through her daughter Mary. How she raised Mary and how Catherine was treated by Henry had a profound effect on Mary.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree with you Amanda, I think thats what I meant. If she wasnt Mary's mother then Mary would of been a very different child. I do think that she had in influence on the people of the Kingdoms lives, they loved her, she was their Queen for so long.


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