Throughout history, there have been many evil queens who have caused fear and terror in their own kingdoms, as well as in the neighboring lands. From powerful rulers like Cleopatra to notorious matriarchs like Marie Antoinette, these infamous women have left an indelible mark on our collective memory. Here is a list of the top 10 most cruel queens in history, starting with the least wicked and ending with the most wicked of them all.
10- Empress Irene of Athens
Year: 752 AD – 803AD
Photo Credit: Factinate
Empress Irene of Athens was one of the cruelest queens in history. She was known for her tyrannical rule and her absolute power. She was responsible for the executions of many Athenians and her reign was highly oppressive. Irene was so ruthless that she had her own son blinded and exiled. She also banned the Olympic Games and had her political opponents tortured and killed. She also imposed heavy taxes on the people of Athens and had a number of innocent people arrested on false charges. Irene’s reign was so oppressive that her own daughter turned against her and plotted her overthrow. Irene was eventually overthrown and exiled in 803 CE. Her legacy remains one of tyranny and cruelty.
9- Queen Isabella of Spain
Year: 1451 – 1504
Queen Isabella of Spain was a formidable ruler in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. She was known for her cruelty, often punishing those who opposed her. Isabella used her power to eliminate her enemies and consolidate her own rule. She also confiscated large amounts of land and wealth from her subjects. In addition, Isabella was known for her religious zeal, exiling Muslims and Jews who refused to convert to Christianity. She also forced those who did convert to Catholicism to follow the religion strictly. Isabella was also responsible for the colonization of the Americas, which led to the exploitation of the native population. Her reign was marked by violence, persecution, and cruelty, making her one of the cruelest queens in history.
8- Queen Elizabeth I
Year: 1533 – 1603
Photo Credit: Book Riot
Queen Elizabeth I was one of the most ruthless and powerful queens in history. She ascended to the throne of England in 1558 and reigned for 45 years. Elizabeth was known for her staunch Protestantism, which she used to dissolve the monasteries, imprison and execute Catholics, and reject foreign suitors. She also established a strong navy, supported exploration and commerce, and brought stability to her kingdom. Elizabeth was a shrewd politician and a fierce defender of her kingdom. She was ruthless in her suppression of dissenters and those who threatened her reign. She also fought off numerous foreign invasions and defended England against the Spanish Armada. Elizabeth was a masterful ruler who left a lasting legacy on England and the world. However, her reign saw the execution of many of her opponents, and her treatment of her enemies was considered by some to be unnecessarily harsh.
7- Queen Ranavalona I
Year: 1778 – 1861
Queen Ranavalona I was a ruthless monarch who ruled Madagascar from 1828 to 1861. She was considered one of the cruelest queens in history. Ranavalona also persecuted Christians and systematically killed her political opponents. She also imposed harsh labor conditions on her subjects, leading to widespread famine. In addition, she banned foreign trade, trade with Europeans, and communication with the outside world. Queen Ranavalona I had a reputation for being a tyrant and her reign was marked by fear and oppression. Her reign ended when she was overthrown by her adopted son, Prince Radama II.
6- Empress Wu Zetian
Year: 624 AD – 705 AD
Empress Wu Zetian was one of the most ruthless rulers in history. She rose to power in the Chinese Tang Dynasty, becoming the only female emperor in the country’s history. She was known for her cruel, oppressive tactics, such as executing anyone who disagreed with her. Wu Zetian also imposed harsh taxes on the people, which caused extreme poverty and suffering. She was also known for her ruthless treatment of political opponents, often imprisoning them and torturing them.
She also had a practice of executing those who failed to carry out her orders. Her reign was so oppressive that it caused a widespread rebellion among her people. Despite her cruelty, Empress Wu Zetian was a brilliant strategist, able to outwit her enemies and expand the power of the Tang Dynasty. Her rule was so powerful that it lasted for more than 40 years. She remains one of the most controversial figures in Chinese history.
5- Queen Marie Antoinette
Year: 1755 – 1793
Marie Antoinette was an infamous queen who was known for her cruelty. She was born in 1755 in Vienna, Austria. Marie was the fifteenth child of Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Theresa. She married to Louis XVI of France at the age of fifteen. Marie Antoinette was known for her extravagance and her unconcern for the poverty of her people. She was also known for her notoriously high taxes and her refusal to accept advice. She was also known to be cruel to her servants, often mistreating them and even imprisoning them.
Marie Antoinette was also known for her disdain for the French Revolutionaries. She was known to mock them and even tried to bribe them to stop protesting. Marie Antoinette was also known for her willingness to execute anyone who did not agree with her. She was known to order the executions of many people, including the Marquis de Lafayette and the Duc d’Orleans. Marie Antoinette was eventually executed by guillotine in 1793.
4- Queen Catherine de’ Medici
Year: 1519 – 1589
Queen Catherine de’ Medici was one of the most ruthless queens in history. Born in 1519 in Florence, Italy, she was the daughter of Lorenzo II and Madeleine de La Tour d’Auvergne. She was married to Henry II of France in 1533, and became Queen Consort of France in 1547. Throughout her life, she became known for her savvy political maneuvers, her iron grip over the French court, and her brutal treatment of her enemies. Catherine was a master strategist and often used her power and influence to manipulate events in her favor.
She was a master of espionage and used her spies to gain intelligence and to discredit her enemies. She was a ruthless tyrant and was known for her harsh punishments and her use of poison and torture. Catherine was behind the massacre of French Protestants in 1572 and the infamous St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in 1572. She was an ambitious queen and her legacy is one of fear and suspicion.
3- Queen Mary I
Year: 1516- 1558
Photo Credit: News
Queen Mary I was one of the most cruel queens in history. She was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, born in 1516. She was declared heir to the throne in 1544. Her father, King Henry VIII, had broken with the Roman Catholic Church in 1534 and declared himself head of the Church of England. Queen Mary sought to restore the Catholic faith and authority in England. She executed hundreds of Protestants who refused to convert to Catholicism. She was known as “Bloody Mary” for her harsh treatment of those who opposed her.
Mary also persecuted Jews, revoking their legal rights and forbidding them to practice their religion. She also imposed heavy taxes on her subjects. In 1554, she married Philip, the future king of Spain, which further alienated the English people. Mary died in 1558, having failed to restore Catholicism in England. Her legacy as one of the most cruel queens in history remains.
2- Queen Maria Eleonora
Year: 1599 – 1655
Queen Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg, one of the most cruel queens in history, was known for her harsh treatment of her courtiers and subjects. She was highly intolerant of any form of disobedience and her punishments were often severe. She was known to have exiled high-ranking courtiers and even executed them in some cases. Maria Eleonora was also known to have confiscated land and property from her subjects without due cause. She was also known to be a religious zealot who persecuted those who did not comply with her religious beliefs.
Maria Eleonora was also known for her lavish lifestyle and expensive tastes, which she often funded by imposing heavy taxes on her subjects. She desperately wanted a son, so when she delivered a daughter, Queen Christina, she was not pleased. She declared that her daughter was “dark and ugly” with “black eyes” and called her a “monster.” In her rage, Maria even tried to kill Christina multiple times and made her sleep next to her dead father’s decaying body. Such evil behavior is beyond comprehension.
1- Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt
Year: 69 BC- 30 BC
Photo Credit: Egypt Tours Portal
Queen Cleopatra VII was a powerful and influential ruler of the ancient world. She was an ambitious and determined woman who ruled over the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt from 51 BC to 30 BC. She was well-known for her intelligence, charm, and ambition, which helped her become one of the most powerful women in history. Cleopatra also had a reputation for being one of the most cruel queens in history. She was known to be ruthless in her dealings with her enemies, and her tactics included using fear and intimidation to keep her people in line.
She was also known to be calculating and manipulative, using her power and influence to gain advantage over her opponents. Cleopatra was infamous for her manipulation of powerful men, such as Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, in order to maintain her power. Her reign was marked by conflict and bloodshed, and she was ultimately defeated by the Roman Empire in 30 BC.