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Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > Christmas 2016 > Top 50 Kings and Queens

Top 50 Kings and Queens

From the land of the pharaohs to reigning monarchs, who came out on top?

50 KINDS AND QUEENS: WHO CHANGED THE WORLD

NB: In compiling our list, we chose to expand our definition of 'king' and 'queen' to those who rule by hereditary right
ILLUSTRATION: JEAN-MICHEL GIRARD / WWW.THE-ART-AGENCY.CO.UK, ALAMY X1, GETTY X2

THEIR ROYAL HIGHNESSES

1. Atahualpa, last emperor of the Inca Empire

2. Cetshwayo, King of the Zulus

3. Queen Victoria

4. Henry VIII, King of England and Ireland

5. Alfred the Great, King of Wessex

6. Richard I of England

7. Boudicca, Queen of the British Iceni tribe

8. Cleopatra, Queen of Ptolemaic Egypt

9. Alexander the Great of Macedon

10. Louis XIV of France

50 HENRY V

ENGLAND (C1387-1422)

The name of Henry V will be forever attached to the Battle of Agincourt, arguably the key skirmish in the Hundred Years’ War between England and France. Although outnumbered by the home nation’s forces, the English victory precipitated further success in France. Henry married Charles VI of France’s daughter and became heir to the French throne, but never succeeded his father-in-law. He died suddenly in his mid-30s, his titles inherited by his nine-month-old son.

49 MOCTEZUMA II

AZTEC EMPIRE (C1466-1520)

The second Moctezuma (also known as Montezuma) ruled the Aztec Empire at its zenith – and also oversaw the beginnings of its collapse. Having welcomed the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés into his palace for an extended stay, Moctezuma would become a prisoner in his own home as Cortés’s true ambitions became apparent. The Emperor was reportedly killed at the hands of his own Aztec people, who regarded him as weak in the face of Spanish aggression. Cortés’s conquering of the Aztecs continued apace.

48 RICHARD III

ENGLAND (1452-1485)

Richard III continues to be perceived as one of England’s most controversial monarchs. After Edward IV’s death in 1483, he was appointed Protector of the Realm on behalf of his nephew, 12-year-old Edward V. But Richard seized the throne for himself, with Edward and his younger brother disappearing soon after, allegedly murdered by their uncle. Richard’s reign was short; his death at Bosworth ended the Wars of the Roses and ushered in the Tudor dynasty.

CAR PARK KING

In 2012, the remains of Richard III were found beneath a car park in Leicester. They were exhumed and reinterred in Leicester Cathedral.

A CASE OF FAMILICIDE? Richard III has been accused of killing his young nephews

47 LAKSHMIBAI

JHANSI STATE (1828-1858)

Few figures encapsulate opposition to the British Raj more than Lakshmibai, the queen of Jhansi State in northern India. As a warrior-queen, she directed troops against the British in the bloody Indian Rebellion of 1857 before being killed in battle the following year, having put on a cavalryman’s uniform to launch a one-woman charge at a British hussar. As she lay dying, she reportedly asked a local hermit to burn her body so that the opposing forces couldn’t have it as a trophy.

46 JAMES VI AND I

SCOTLAND, ENGLAND AND IRELAND (1566-1625)

Scotland’s sixth regal James – and England’s first – was the monarch who began the Stuart dynasty and oversaw the union of nations known as Great Britain. The son of Mary, Queen of Scots, he succeeded the last Tudor on the throne, Elizabeth I, who had ordered the execution of his mother. Regarded as astute in balancing various factions in society, he was nonetheless the target of the failed, Catholic-led Gunpowder Plot of 1605 – an attempt to assassinate him.

45 HENRY IV

FRANCE (1553-1610)

If nicknames are to be believed, then ‘Good King Henry’ is held in favourable esteem by the history books. The first monarch of the House of Bourbon, he ruled France for 21 years, during which time he was commended for his concern for the welfare of his subjects. Not that – at least during the early years of his reign – he didn’t have enemies among both Catholics and Protestants. He survived more than a dozen attempts on his life before eventually being assassinated.

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The Christmas 2016 issue of History Revealed.
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