Margaret I
Nordic Queen

Margaret I, queen of Denmark and Norway (1387-97) and of Sweden (1389-97), and founder of the Kalmar Union. Margaret was the daughter of the king of Denmark, and married to the king of Norway.

After her father's death, she had her son, Olaf, elected king of Denmark and governed in his stead, as she also did in Norway after her husband's death in 1380. When Olaf died in 1387, she was elected head of state in both countries; at the same time she had her grandnephew, Eric of Pomerania, acknowledged as her heir.

Margaret faced opposition abroad from King Albert of Sweden and the count of Holstein, as well as from the encroaching Hanseatic cities. Many of the Swedish nobles, however, supported her against Albert, who was finally defeated and deposed in 1389; the Swedes then accepted Margaret as their queen.

As head of the three realms, she had Eric crowned king of Denmark and Sweden in 1397 (he had been accepted as king of Norway in 1389) and had a treaty signed at Kalmar that created a union of all three countries.

This was the first time the Scandinavian lands were joined under one king.

Even after Eric came of age, however, Margaret retained the reins of government. She made great efforts to amalgamate the three realms, ruling with a firm hand that strengthened royal authority.

She died at Flensburg on October 28, 1412, while campaigning against Holstein. The Union of Kalmar lasted nominally until 1523, when Sweden broke away. Denmark and Norway, however, remained united until 1814.

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Queen of England

Matilda, or Maud, was married first to the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V and after his death to Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou.

When her father, King Henry I of England, died his nephew Stephen of Blois seized the throne.

Maud invaded England, captured Stephen, and ruled England for six month, before she was besiegd at Oxford Castle. She escaped to Normandy. Her son became the famed King Henry II.

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Catherine de Medici
Queen of France

Catherine de Medici was the daughter of Lorenzo de Medici, the duke of Urbino. In 1533 she married the duc d'Orleans, who became king of France in 1547 as Henry II.

As queen she was very influential in bringing aspects of Italian culture to France, such as their theater and food. After her husband's death, she gained political power as regent for her sons (she had ten children).

An ambitious woman, she actively involved herself in the political intrigues of the court, always trying to increase royal power.

At first Catherine tried to reconcile France's opposing Catholic and Protestant factions as their violent disputes threatened national unity. But with the massacre in 1570 of Protestants (the massacre of
St Bartholomew), this peace was shattered, and Catherine was blamed for allowing it to happen.

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Golda Meir
Israeli Prime Minister

Golda Meir was born in Russia. Her family emigrated to America in 1906. Golda went to Palestine in 1921 and joined the Mapai (Labour) party.

Active in Zionist political affairs since 1929 she signed Israel's declaration of independence (1948), and became the first woman foreign minister of Israel.

She was prime minister (1969 to 1974) during the Yom Kippur War, which caught Israel off guard. Its army suffered heavy losses before it encircled the Egyptian army by crossing the Suez Canal. Golda Meir resigned soon after, in the wake of the repercussions of the war.

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