Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the most influential women in the history of Europe, having been a queen to rulers of both France and England, along with having significant political and economic power in her own right. She served as an example to all women, during a period where there was increasing development in the female s role in society. Eleanor was a patron of the arts, and she was also a powerful personality, influencing the politics of the day with the help of her sons, and maintaining a certain degree of control over the monarchy even after her marriage to Henry had ended.
Eleanor was born in 1122 to Duke William X of Aquitaine. The holdings of her father were equal to those of the French royalty, making him one of the most influential and important men in the region. She inherited her father s wealth and influence upon his death, and later that year was wed to Louis VII of France.
He became King of France a month later, and as his queen, she proved to be a talented advisor. Eleanor accompanied him during the Second Crusade, organizing his policy and advising his political choices.
It was during the Crusades that their marriage ended, and despite having produced two daughters, it was annulled by Louis in 1152. His reasoning was that of Blood relationship, but the reality was of course that of jealousy and suspicion. Eleanor was rumored to be having an intimate affair with a cousin, but whether that was true or not is unknown.
What is known is that soon after the end of her marriage to Louis of France, Eleanor became independently wealthy and powerful again. Several months later she married Henry II of England, positioning herself into an even greater position of power in Europe.
When Henry was crowned King Of England in 1154, Eleanor became the ruler of England, Normandy and thanks to Henry s holdings and holdings of her own, much of France. It was during this period that she mothered eight children with Henry, including the future Kings Richard the Lionhearted and John. During her reign she was a great patron of the arts, sponsoring troubadours and court poetry. She enjoyed work depicting courtly love, although others thought it to be pornographic and detrimental to the morals of England. Her court was said to be lively and exciting, and the work commissioned in her honor added to the literature of the day.
She also was very active in the court during Henry s absence, advising many aspects of government as well as being the driving force in rescuing Richard when he was kidnapped. Eleanor s relationship with Henry began to collapse, partially because of his frequent adultery, and partially because he was cruel. Eleanor joined again with Louis VII in 1173 to influence her sons in a revolt against Henry. She assisted them both politically and through military channels. This caused Henry to capture and imprison her during the last years of his life.
He was chiefly concerned that she not be allowed to make more of the same political trouble, therefore she was kept under house arrest from 1174 to 1189. Eleanor died in 1204. During her lifetime she wed and advised two Kings, even to some degree ruling in their absence. In advising both husbands she influenced military choices during war, even to the point of accompanying her husband to the Holy Land as he fought in the Crusades. Through the work sponsored by her court, she influenced the art and literature of Europe, which thus affected the social climate of the day.
She served as an example of a strong leader to the men and especially the women of Europe, proving that a woman could be a capable, powerful ruler. Queen Elizabeth I reigned from 1558 to 1602. She was born on September 7, 1533 in Greenwich Palace, London. At the age of 25, Elizabeth became Queen. In a matter of months she had won the hearts of the people and she returned that love. Her great skills made people forget the fact that she was a woman. They saw her as a strong and effective leader who brought great changes for the better of all her people.
Men were usually thought of as the smart, intelligent sex but Queen Elizabeth proved them wrong. Queen Elizabeth changed the way we now look at woman leaders. As a leader, Elizabeth had strengths in many different areas. Her good education and memory helped as she ruled her country. During her reign, the arts flourished. Even Shakespeares” plays were aimed at glorifying the marvoulous Queen. It showed what great strengths she had. It was a great honor, for Shakespeare was very talented in the arts. When she was little, she was taught to speak in different laungages.
This helped her talk to Ambassadors and other important people. This strengh not only helped her talk to important people, but helped with trade issues. This was also the golden age of trade. Many merchant trips were made, bringing back wonderful things from all different places. Society as a whole became more stable as a result of Elizabeths wonderful skills. Elizabeth I was very well educated in many areas including religion. When she was a little girl, she often studied the Bible. Therefore, she understood theological issues more thoroughly.
During this time, because of conficts, it was urgent for religious questions to be answered. After Mary, the previous queen died, the question of allowing the Catholic religon to remain became a major issue. Many people thought that civil war would break out over this dispute. However, with Queen Elizabeth on the thone civil war was not likely, nor would any religion be dominant. Elizabeth solved this conflict by allowing for both a Protestant and Catholic churh. This was a solution that everyone could live with. This Elizabethan Settlement lasts to this day. Only a great leader could think of something so effective.
Her idea has lasted for centuries. Not only was Elizabeth a great leader when it came to religion but her military accomplishments were also overwhelming. During this time, England”s main concern was to limit Spain”s power. So Spain and England went to war. England fought against the Spanish Armada. Sir Francis Drake led the English Fleet to a great victory. When the fight was over, only half the Spanish Armada returned, whereas every single English ship returned to England. This defeat was one of the greatest ever for England. Before this, Elizabeth had kept England out of war for 27 years.
For more than three centurys, Englands ships ruled the water. After the war, Elizabeth made a friendship with Spain. Elizabeth also made many treaties with surrounding countries. England became the foremost power in Europe. Even Englands enemies loved Elizabeth. This woman changed the balance of power in Europe during her reign. Elizabeth proved to be a successful and a well accomplished leader who advanced her country socially, militarily, religiously and economically. She thought of herself as Mother of England and she most certainly proved this to be true.
No English woman ruler accomplished as much as Elizabeth did. Elizabeth was one of the most able rulers to ever govern England. Because of her, the way woman rulers were thought of changed forever. Catherine The Great Catherine II, or Catherine the Great, empress of Russia 1762-96 , did much to transform Russia into a modern country. Originally named Sophie Fredericke Augusta, she was born in Szczecin, Poland, on May 2, 1729. She was the daughter of the German prince of Anhalt-Zerbst. At the age of 15 she went to Russia to become the wife of Peter, who is a nephew and a heir of Empress Elizabeth.
Elizabeth died on Dec. 25, 1761, and Catherine’s husband succeeded as Peter III. The new ruler soon made himself unpopular, especially with his army officers. Led by Aleksei Orlov, the officers plan a revolt in June 1762. Peter was deposed and also murdered, and Catherine became the absolute ruler of Russia. Catherine was not only an Empress with ambitions, she was a powerful and a smart Empress. She knew whom to use for a specific job and they respected her for those reasons. Filled with brilliant ideas, Catherine aimed at completing the job started by Peter I, westernizing Russia.
However, she was planning on using different methods from Peter the Great. Unlike Peter, she did not force her citizens to be westernized, but she gave more options to them and encouraged them to pursue their own interest. It was successful to most of the noble families, but it took no effect on the huge population of serfs. To learn more about the needs of the country, she held assemblies, but didn t really help her that much. In 1773, Yemelian Pugachev led Cossacks, peasants, and others to a revolt that engulfed large chunks of eastern Russia.
The revolt, ruthlessly crushed by the army in 1775, warned Catherine about the necessity for reforms. In 1775, she reorganized the local administration, combined the Cossacks with the regular army, and put the serfs belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church under the administration of the state. In 1785, she issued two charters, to the towns and to the nobility, to try to mix the educated class with the uneducated. In a similar spirit, Catherine established the Free Economic Society that encouraged development of agriculture and industry in 1765.
She promoted trade and the development of under-populated regions by inviting foreign settlers such as the Volga Germans, and she founded new towns such as Odessa, and enterprises on the Black Sea. Being a writer herself, Catherine frequently encouraged arts and letters, and permitted the establishment of private printing presses, and made the censorship rules not as strict. Under her guidance, the University of Moscow and the Academy of Science became internationally recognized as centers of learning. She also increased the number of state and private schools.
As a result, the Russian nobility and some townspeople also began to organize associations for the promotion of schools and publications. Catherine, who did not want to give up her control over social and cultural policy, viewed these activities with suspicion. Finally, Catherine vastly expanded the Russian Empire. Following two successful wars against Turkey the Russo-Turkish Wars of 1768-74 and 1787-92 , Russia secured the Crimea establishing itself on the north shore of the Black Sea which used to be a dream.
The fertile lands of the Ukraine were also opened for settlement and soon became the granary of Europe. Catherine also participated in the partitions of Poland 1772, 1792, and 1795 , bringing a large part of that country under Russian rule. By the time of Catherine’s death in Nov. 17, 1796, modern Russian society was organized and its culture had stablized. (Eleanor) She achieved so many things in her time that it was unheard of for a woman to do in her time. Having been Queen of two countries during her life she contributed a lot to keeping the peace and establishing fair rule in both of her countries.
Also Eleanor was one of the first women to speak out for women s rights and take action for fairer treatment for women. Eleanor of Aquitaine will always be remembered as one of the great women in history. (Elizabeth) She brought effective government to the people through parliament. She opened the opportunity for trade as well as the opportunity to gain wealth. Queen Elizabeth I also set the precedent that all nations are not as powerful as they may appear by defeating the Spanish Armada. This enabled other smaller countries to set sail in the seas to gain wealth and explore new territory.
Comparing Hatshepsut, Theodora, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Elizabeth I of England shows that the status of women differed according to time and place from ancient civilizations through about 1700. Strong women sometimes ruled directly and were highly accepted in that role. However, such women were not accepted in other times and places. Moreover, at least two of these four women suggest that strong women could be most successful not by ruling directly but by influencing husbands or sons who were the official rulers. Although all of these women were queens or empresses, they came into these positions by very different routes.
Unlike the others, who were all born as royalty, Theodora was born a commoner – in fact, was the daughter of a circus performer, which was considered low status within Roman society. Like all but Elizabeth, Theodora reached her position through marriage to the king or emperor. Eleanor was unlike the others in that she was queen of two different countries through marriages, the first of which ended in divorce. Elizabeth was unlike all the others in that she directly inherited the throne and ruled without ever marrying – an unusual situation in an era when kings were expected to be rulers.