Women Rulers of the 17th Century

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Women Rulers 1600 - 1699

Crown of Mary of Modena, queen consort of Britain's James II
Crown of Mary of Modena, queen consort of Britain's James II. Museum of London/Heritage Images/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Women rulers became more common in the 17th century, the Early Modern period. Here are some of the more prominent women rulers -- queens, empresses -- of that period, listed in order of their birth dates.  For women who ruled before 1600, see: Medieval Queens, Empresses, and Women Rulers  For women who ruled after 1700, see Women Rulers of the Eighteenth Century.

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Four Patani Queens

Buddhist monks and a mosque in Pattani, 20th century
Buddhist monks and a mosque in Pattani, 20th century. Hulton Archive / Alex Bowie / Getty Images

Three sisters who ruled Thailand (Malay) successively in the late 16th and early 17th century. They were daughters of Mansur Shah, and came to power after their brother died. Then the daughter of the youngest sister ruled, after which the country experienced unrest and decline.

1584 - 1616: Ratu Hijau was queen or sultan of Patani - "Green Queen"
1616 - 1624: Ratu Biru ruled as queen - "Blue Queen"
1624 - 1635: Ratu Ungu ruled as queen - "Purple Queen"
1635 - ?: Ratu Kuning, daughter of Ratu Ungu, ruled - "Yellow Queen"

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Elizabeth Báthory

Elizabeth Bathory, Countess of Transylvania
Elizabeth Bathory, Countess of Transylvania. Hulton Fine Art Collection / Apic / Getty Images

1560 - 1614

Countess of Hungary, widowed in 1604, she was tried in 1611 for torturing and killing between 30 and 40 young girls, with testimony from more than 300 witnesses and survivors. Later stories connected these murders to vampire stories.

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Marie de Medici

Marie de Medici, Queen of France
Marie de Medici, Queen of France. Portrait by Peter Paul Rubens, 1622. Hulton Fine Art Archive / Fine Art Images / Heritage Images / Getty Images

1573 - 1642

Marie de Medici, widow of Henry IV of France, was regent for her son, Louis XII. Her father was Francesco I de' Medici, of the powerful Italian Medici family, and her mother the Archduchess Joanna of Austria, part of the Habsburg dynasty. Marie de' Medici was an art patron and political schemer whose marriage was unhappy, her husband preferring his mistresses.  She was not crowned Queen of France until the day before her husband's assassination. Her son exiled her when he seized power, Marie having extended her regency beyond his attaining the age of majority. He later reconciled with his mother and she continued to have influence at court.

1600 - 1610: Queen consort of France and Navarre
1610 - 1616: regent for Louis XIII

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Nur Jahan

Nur Jahan with Jahangir and Prince Khurram
Nur Jahan with Jahangir and Prince Khurram, About 1625. Hulton Archive / Find Art Images / Heritage Images / Getty Images

1577 - 1645

Bon Mehr un-Nissa, she was given the title Nur Jahan when she married the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. She was his twentieth and favorite wife. His opium and alcohol habits meant that she was de facto ruler. He even rescued her first husband from rebels who captured and held him.

Mumtaz Mahal, for whom her stepson, Shah Jahan, built the Taj Mahal, was Nur Jahan's niece.

1611 - 1627: Empress consort of the Mughal Empire

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Anna Nzinga

Queen Nzinga, seated on a kneeling man, receives Portuguese invaders
Queen Nzinga, seated on a kneeling man, receives Portuguese invaders. Fotosearch / Archive Photos / Getty Images

1581 - December 17, 1663; Angola

Anna Nzinga was a warrior queen of the Ndongo and queen of Matamba. She led a resistance campaign against the Portuguese and against slave trading.

about 1624 - about 1657: regent for her brother's son, and then queen

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Kösem Sultan

Mehpeyker Sultan with servants
Mehpeyker Sultan with servants, about 1647. Hulton Fine Art Collection / Fine Art Images / Heritage Images / Getty Images

~ 1590 - 1651

Greek-born as Anastasia, renamed Mahpeyker and then Kösem, she was the consort and wife of Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I. As Valide Sultan (sultan mother) he wielded power thorugh her sons Murad IV and Ibrahim I, then her grandson Mehmed IV.  She was officially regent two different times.

1623 - 1632: regent for her son Murad
1648 - 1651: regent for her grandson Mehmed IV, with his mother Turhan Hatice

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Anne of Austria

Allegory of the Regency of Anne of Austria, by Laurent de La Hyre (1606 - 1656)
Allegory of the Regency of Anne of Austria, by Laurent de La Hyre (1606 - 1656). Hulton Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

1601 - 1666

She was the daughter of Philip III of Spain and queen consort of Louis XIII of France. She ruled as regent for her son, Louis XIV, against her late husband's expressed wishes. After Louis came of age, she continued to have influence over him. Alexander Dumas included her as a figure in Three Musketeers.

1615 - 1643: Queen consort of France and Navarre
1643 - 1651: regent for Louis XIV

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Maria Anna of Spain

Maria Anna, Infanta of Spain
Maria Anna, Infanta of Spain. Portrait by Diego Velàzquez, about 1630. Hulton Fine Art Collection / Fine Art Images / Heritage Images / Getty Images

1606 - 1646

Married to her first cousin, the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III, she was politically active until her death from poisoning. Also known as Maria Anna of Austria, she was the daughter of Philip III of Spain and Margaret of Austria. Maria Anna's daughter, Mariana of Austria, married Maria Anna's brother, Philip IV of Spain. She died after her sixth child was born; the pregnancy ended with a caesarean section; the child did not survive long.

1631 - 1646: Empress consort

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Henrietta Maria of France

Henrietta Maria, Queen Consort of Charles I of England
Henrietta Maria, Queen Consort of Charles I of England. Culture Club / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

1609 - 1669

Married to Charles I of England, she was the daughter of Marie de Medici and King Henry IV of France, and was mother of Charles II and James II of England. Her husband was executed in the first English Civil War. When her son was deposed, Henrietta worked to have him restored.

1625 - 1649: Queen consort of England, Scotland and Ireland

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Christina of Sweden

Christina of Sweden, about 1650
Christina of Sweden, about 1650. From a painting by David Beck. Hulton Fine Art Collection / Fine Art Images / Heritage Images / Getty Images

 1626 - 1689

Christina of Sweden is famous -- or infamous -- for ruling Sweden in her own right, being raised as a boy, rumors of lesbianism and an affair with an Italian cardinal, and her abdication of the Swedish throne.

1632 - 1654: Queen (regnant) of Sweden

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Turhan Hatice Sultan

1627 - 1683

Captured from the Tatars during a raid and given as a gift to  Kösem Sultan, mother of Ibrahim I, Turhan Hatice Sultan became a concubine of Ibrahim. She then was regent for her son Mehmed IV, helping defeat a plot against him.

1640 - 1648: concubine of the Ottoman Sultan Ibrahim I
1648 - 1656: Valide Sultan and regent for Sultan Mehmed IV

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Maria Francisca of Savoy

Maria Francisca of Savoy
Maria Francisca of Savoy. Courtesy Wikimedia

 1646 - 1683

She married first Afonso VI of Portugal, who had physical and mental disabilities, and the marriage was annulled. She and the king's younger brother led a revolt that forced Afonso to give up his power. She then married the brother, who succeeded as Peter II when Afonso died. Though Maria Francisca became queen a second time, she died that same year.

1666 - 1668: Queen consort of Portugal
1683 - 1683: Queen consort of Portugal

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Mary of Modena

Mary of Modena
Mary of Modena. Photo by Museum of London/Heritage Images/Getty Images

1658 - 1718

She was the second wife of James II of England, Scotland and Ireland. As a Roman Catholic, she was perceived as a danger to Protestant England.  James II was deposed, and Mary fought for the right to rule of her son, who was never recognized as king by the English. James II was replaced on the throne by Mary II, his daughter by his first wife, and her husband, William of Orange.

1685 - 1688: Queen Consort of England, Scotland and Ireland

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Mary II Stuart

Mary II
Mary II, from a painting by an unknown artist. National Galleries of Scotland / Hulton Fine Art Collection / Getty Images

 1662 - 1694

Mary II was the daughter of James II of England and Scotland, and his first wife, Anne Hyde. She and her husband, William of Orange, became co-rulers, displacing her father in the Glorious Revolution when it was feared he'd restore Roman Catholicism. She ruled in her husband's absences but deferred to him when he was present.

1689 - 1694: Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland, with her husband

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Sophia von Hanover

Sophia of Hanover, Electress of Hanover from a painting by Gerard Honthorst
Sophia of Hanover, Electress of Hanover from a painting by Gerard Honthorst. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Electress of Hanover, married to Friedrich V, she was the nearest Protestant successor to the British Stuarts, a granddaughter of James VI and I. The Act of Settlement 1701 in England and Ireland, and the Act of Union, 1707, established her as heir presumptive to the British throne.

1692 - 1698: Electress of Hanover
1701 - 1714: Crown Princess of Great Britain

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Ulrika Eleonora of Denmark

Ulrike Eleonore of Denmark, Queen of Sweden
Ulrike Eleonore of Denmark, Queen of Sweden. Courtesy Wikimedia

1656 - 1693

Sometimes called Ulrike Eleonora the Older, to distinguish her from her daughter, a queen regnant of Sweden. She was the daughter of Frederick III, king of Denmark, and his consort Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Luneburg.  She was queen consort of Karl XII of Sweden and mother of their seven children, and was named to serve as regent at her husband's death, but she predeceased him.

1680 - 1693: Queen consort of Sweden

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More Powerful Women Rulers