Women, we have been told, are supposed to be meek, mild and subservient to the men in their lives. But what happens when a woman becomes a ruler in her own right?
Elizabeth I Of England was not the first woman to lead the English people. But she is one of the most well known queens, especially of her period. Helen Castor’s 2012 book, She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth tells the stories of the Queens Of England who ruled before Elizabeth ascended to the throne. The profiles include Empress Matilda, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella of France and Margaret of Anjou.
I liked this book. Each of these women were brought to life in full color. They had different reasons for ruling. Some were the children of aristocrats and royalty, others married into the title and a third were women who led England until their underage sons and heirs to the throne were of an age to rule. My only criticism of this book is that the chapters about Lady Jane Grey and Mary Tudor seem a bit rushed, but other than that, I recommend this book.
In 1990, Antonia Fraser published The Warrior Queens: The Legends and the Lives of the Women Who Have Led Their Nations in War. The women whom she writes about come from different time periods and different parts of the globe. She starts the book with Boudicca and moving forward through time, the book ends with three modern female leaders: Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher. I liked this book. It is a history book that is not meant to be simply written and read for academic purposes. It is immensely readable. I especially recommend this book for young women who are looking for female role models who have stepped into positions of power.
I recommend both.