Celebrity Queens of the Past

A life of Luxury and Peace is what we consider to be the life of a Queen who we always imagine to be beautiful, but in ancient times it could be quite different. The lives of these three Queens may fascinate and surprise you.

CLEOPATRA

Cleopatra sculpture at Altes Museum

Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of Egypt, ruling before the Romans took control, came to power in Egypt at the age of 17.  She reigned from 51 to 30 BCE. Cleopatra is known for her relationships with Roman commanders Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, by whom she had three children, and her suicide by snake bite after her husband or partner Antony took his own life. Many have assumed she was a beauty, but, unlike Nefertiti, Cleopatra was probably not like she has been portrayed in the movies. Instead, she was smart and politically valuable.  She was actually Macedonian, but she was still an Egyptian queen and worshiped as a god.


BOUDICCA

Boudicca (also spelled Boadicea and Boudica) was the wife of King Prasutagus of the Celtic Iceni, in the east of ancient Britain. When the Romans conquered Britain, they allowed the king to continue his rule, but when he died and his wife, Boudicca took over, the Romans wanted the territory.  In an effort to assert their dominance, the Romans are said to have stripped and beaten Boudicca and raped her daughters. In a brave act of retaliation, in about A.D. 60, Boudicca led her troops against the Romans, killing thousands of them.  Unfortunately, Boudicca’s success didn’t last long, and the tide turned with the Romans defeating the Celts. It is not known how Boudicca died, but she may have committed suicide.


ZENOBIA

Queen Zenobia of Palmyra was a 3rd century queen in modern Syria, east of the Mediterranean Sea, who claimed Cleopatra and Dido of Carthage as ancestors, defied the Romans, and rode into battle against them, but was eventually defeated and probably taken prisoner.   Zenobia became queen when her husband and his son were assassinated in 267. Zenobia’s son Vaballanthus was heir, but just an infant, so Zenobia ruled instead (as regent).  A “warrior queen” Zenobia conquered Egypt in 269, part of Asia Minor, taking Cappadocia and Bithynia, and ruled a large empire until she was defeated and captured by the Romans in 274.  However although she was allowed to live out her life in luxury in Rome, it appears she didn’t reach old age, possibly due to being executed, and or as some think she may have committed suicide.


These three Queens show that they may have had some good times and luxuries, but they a lot of hardships and didn’t have they luxurious lives of modern monarchs. These Queens most likely were smart and politically astute, and not as beautiful as portrayed in movies such as Cleopatra by Elizabeth Taylor.

Elizabeth Taylor played Cleopatra in the 1963 movie Cleopatra
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