Mark Hichens’s book, Queens and Empresses: From Cleopatra to Queen Victoria, is a fascinating look at the lives of reigning women throughout the world.
The book comes at an appropriate moment in royal history: the debate over the change in succession laws in the United Kingdom. Can a woman rule just as well as a man? Should she?
The queens’ lives and times span the globe. All are living in times of male domination, but within that they have their own dramas and struggles for power. Some are scheming; some are incompetent and vulnerable; some are respectable and august.
There are both familiar and not so familiar faces in Queens and Empresses. It is a treat to learn about the women with whom you may be unfamiliar. We all know Elizabeth I, but what about Maria Teresa, Queen of Hungary and Archduchess of Austria? The statesmen around her were of no use, and she herself lacked political experience. Yet Maria’s intelligence and sturdy backbone saw her through, and she reigned for 40 years.
The book also covers a large span of history, beginning with the reign of Cleopatra of Egypt and ending with the famous Queen Victoria. The breadth of history covered in the book may seem overwhelming, but once you begin to read you find that it is at once informative and engaging. It is written clearly without overpowering.
After reading Queens and Empresses, I guarantee that it will prompt you to investigate further into the lives of those Queens you may not have known as well as the others. In my case, I did not know much about Catherine de Medici nor Maria Theresa of Austria, but Hichens’ coverage has interested me so much that I am inspired to read more about them.
I bet you’ll do the same!
© 2011 M.L. Littlefield
Also by Mark Hichens: