Anne of Brittany was a 15th-century French Queen. She ruled as the Queen Consort of two successive French kings; Charles VIII and Louis XII. Anne was known for her ability to navigate the complex political landscape of her time. Despite the challenges she faced as a woman in a male-dominated society, she was able to assert her power. Anne was instrumental in securing the independence of Brittany and maintaining its autonomy within France. She was a fierce defender of the rights and privileges of her duchy, and worked to maintain the independence of the Breton nobility from the French crown. In addition to her political accomplishments, Anne was known for her piety and her support of the arts. She was a major contributor to the building of the church of St. Anne in Nantes.
Lady Jane Grey was an English noblewoman who was briefly proclaimed Queen of England after the death of Edward VI in 1553. She was raised as a Protestant and was considered a leading figure among the reforming factions within the Church of England. Lady Jane’s brief reign as Queen was marked by political conflict. Different factions fought for power after Edward VI’s death. She was kicked off the throne after only nine days, and was eventually executed by Queen Mary I in 1554. Despite her short reign, Lady Jane Grey’s story has inspired numerous plays, novels, and historical works. Her legacy continues to be a subject of interest and debate.
Margaret of Anjou was a powerful figure in 15th-century England. Born in 1430, she was the daughter of René, Duke of Anjou. She was married to King Henry VI of England in 1445. Their marriage was seen as an attempt to solidify peace between England and France. Margaret was instrumental in securing the English crown for her husband and was considered a significant influence on his rule. However, her ambition and her French background made her unpopular with the English nobility. Her husband’s mental instability only added to the political turmoil of the time. During the Wars of the Roses, Margaret was a leading figure on the side of the House of Lancaster, because she was responsible for several key military victories. She was eventually defeated by the forces of Edward IV and was forced into exile.
Marie de Guise was a 16th-century Scottish Queen consort and regent. She was born in Bar-le-Duc, Lorraine (now France) in 1515. Marie was also the daughter of Claude de Guise, Duke of Guise. In 1538, she married King James V of Scotland. After the death of her husband, she acted as Queen regent on behalf of her daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots. During her time as regent, she played a key role in Scottish politics, because she worked to protect the interests of her daughter. Despite opposition from some Scottish nobles, she successfully navigated the country through a turbulent period.
“Joanna the Mad” was the nickname given to Joanna of Castile. She was a Spanish Queen who ruled Castile from 1504 to 1555. Born in 1479 to King Ferdinand II of Aragon, she was married to Philip the Handsome of Austria. In 1504, after her mother’s death, she became Queen of Castile. Joanna’s mental illness caused her to behave erratically, leading to her nickname “Joanna the Mad” and making her an ineffective ruler. Consequently, her siblings divided her kingdom during her reign. Despite her personal struggles, she is remembered for supporting the arts and patronizing famous artists like Michelangelo.