Queen, Empress, Concubine: 50 Women Rulers from the Queen of Sheba to Catherine the Great, by Claudia Gold

My Copy: 9781847241917 (image from amazon.com)

Just to let you know, the title is a bit misleading. This book covers a far-wider timeline than Sheba to Catherine II. It actually starts with Hatshepsut of Egypt (15th Century BC) to Benazir Bhutto (2007).

I’ll just assume Ms. Gold was referring to the diversity represented in this book.

Queen, Empress, Concubine… is a book I’d call a great basic collection of biographies of women rulers from different nations and cultures, and definitely capabilities. Some of them were considered good rulers, some bad, some exceptional and some that were so threatening that they were erased from history for a time.

But it does tell you that there were a lot more women rulers (that we know of) then we previously thought. Of course, the book only goes up to 2007, but I’m sure the anniversary version (should it come out) will have quite a few more to add.

Many names I haven’t heard of before, like the Hittite Queen Puduhepa. With some of these women, the term “ruler” is more about their station than any actual political fananglings. Some were reluctant rulers, some were ambitious, and some only came into their own when their ruler husbands died or they lost all their heirs.

I liked it because you got a basic biography of most of these women (at least, what’s known) and who they knew and what their lives were like before and during their ruling period. I have to say, this book really made me want to read more about some of the earlier civilizations, the Ottoman empire, and Lady Jane Grey.

Boy, I felt bad for Jane Grey–I think she’s the only “ruler” I know of who was practically happy to die…but it sucked that she did, in my opinion.

Yeah, I definitely want to know more.

Anyhoo, I recommend this as worth a look and a good resource for some basic info on women rulers–it’s not a complicated read and has a lot to it. It’s probably the third time I’ve read it and I just keep on liking it and using it as a good quick reference.

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