Women have always played an important role throughout history. This is particularly true in terms of the history of the monarchy in Britain, as well as in other countries around Europe. Although male heirs have always been first in line to the throne, Britain has had several notable female Queens, including our own Queen Elizabeth II. Elizabeth I is one monarch who has a left a strong legacy in British culture. Daughter of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I came to the throne in 1558 and ruled over England and Ireland for 44 years. Her reign as queen is best remembered for the defeat of the Spanish Armada, and a golden age of English drama typified by the works of William Shakespeare.
The Victorian era
In the 19th century, Britain and her empire was ruled by Queen Victoria who ruled the country for 63 years. Her reign remains the longest of any British monarch and is the longest of any female monarch in history. She gives her name to the Victorian age which saw Britain expand her empire overseas whilst at home the industrial revolution changed the face of cities and towns around the country. The Victorian era also saw advances in science through the theories of Charles Darwin, as well of the emergence of the middle classes. Victoria is often remembered for her decision to only wear black after the death of her beloved husband Albert in 1861. In the years after his death she became unpopular amongst the general public because she isolated herself in her permanent state of mourning, rarely setting foot in London or making public appearances. However in modern times she is remembered fondly as one of Britain’s greatest monarchs.
Women in wartime
Women have been involved in warfare since ancient times, with perhaps the most famous example of a military woman in British history being Queen Boudica. Boudica led warriors of the Iceni tribe in their fight against the Romans in AD 62. Joan of Arc is another example of a female warrior, who is a national French heroine as well as being a Catholic saint. Joan led the French army to key victories over the English during the Hundred Years’ War after she claimed that God had instructed her to lead the French to victory. In modern times women have played an important role during times of conflict. In both the first and the second World War women were brought into the civilian work force in huge numbers to replace men who had gone to war. Women did traditionally male jobs in factories to support the war effort, whilst providing support on the front line as nurses and military gun operators. In the 21st century women across the world are involved in the military, however many people still debate their presence alongside men because of the physical and psychological differences between the sexes. Despite the fact that some believe they cannot perform the same role male soldiers, women have shown throughout history that they can handle warfare just as well as men can.