I admit it, I am totally a (historical) royals geek. Of course, I understand that royalty are just people, some of whom aren’t very interesting or nice. But especially when I was younger, I read numerous “Queens of England” books and biographies of various queens. I always think about doing social media theme days with images of different queens, then get disappointed when I realize that there aren’t enough movies/TV series to make it worthwhile. So instead, I’m compiling a bunch of the lesser known/depicted queens into a series of three posts, focusing on the medieval era, then the Renaissance through the 19th century, and finally the 20th century.
BEFORE YOU FREAK OUT, I am consciously skipping these people who are worthy of (or already have) their own posts:
- Eleanor of Aquitaine
- Elizabeth Woodville
- Anne Neville
- Elizabeth of York
- Catherine of Aragon
- Anne Boleyn
- Jane Seymour
- Anne of Cleves
- Catherine Howard
- Catherine Parr
- Henrietta Maria
- Jane Grey
- Mary I
- Elizabeth I
- Catherine of Braganza
- Mary of Modena
- Elizabeth II
I’m mostly working with Wikipedia data here, so if you know of a movie or TV series that has included any of English/British queens, please feel free to add it in the comments! If they’re not listed here, it’s because I can’t find any onscreen portrayals. Also, I don’t wanna hear any bitching about the term “lesser.” I mean “less frequently depicted.” Breathe.
Empress Matilda (1114-25)
The daughter of Henry I of England, married Holy Roman Emperor Henry V. When her brother died, Henry I made Matilda (or Maude) his heir, but when he died, a civil war ensued between Matilda and her cousin Stephen of Blois. Stephen ended up winning, but Matilda’s son succeeded Stephen. A story that is SO WORTHY of screen adaptation – come on Hollywood!
Also played by Brenda Bruce in The Devil’s Crown (1978), but I can’t find any images.
Margaret of France, Queen of England and Hungary (1172-83)
Daughter of Louis VII of France, she married Henry the Young King when he was five and she was three. After Henry died, she married Béla III of Hungary.
Tracey Childs played Margaret in The Devil’s Crown (1978), but again I can’t find any images.
Berengaria of Navarre (1191-99)
Daughter of Sancho VI of Navarre and Sancha of Castile. She married Richard I, may never have set foot in England, and accompanied her husband on crusade. Hence, why she’s in a lot of crusader-y movies!
Isabella of Angoulême (1200-16)
Daughter of the count of Angoulême, Isabella married King John (the usual “evil king” in Robin Hood stories) and had five children. She later married Hugh X of Lusignan, Count of La Marche and had NINE more. Crikey!
Cory Pulman played her in Robin of Sherwood (1984-86). I can’t find any images, which is too bad…
Isabella of France (1308-27)
Daughter of Philip IV of France, she married Edward II. After various factionalism and war in which she couldn’t stand her husband’s favorite, she deposed Edward and served as regent for her son (1326-30). She’s frequently called the “She-Wolf of France.”
Philippa of Hainault (1328-69)
Daughter of William I, Count of Hainaut and wife of Edward III. She served as regent when her husband was out of the country and frequently travelled with him to Scotland, France, and Flanders. Her eldest son was the famous Edward, the Black Prince.
Margaret of Anjou (1445-61 and 1470-71)
Daughter of René, King of Naples, and Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine. She married Henry VI and was personally involved as a leader of the Lancastrians in the Wars of the Roses. Margaret personally ruled the kingdom in her husband’s place due to his frequent bouts of mental illness. After the Lancastrian defeat, she finished her life in France.
Who’s your favorite on-screen medieval English queen?