The Most Powerful Women in the Middle Ages: Queens, Saints, and Viking Slayers, From Empress Theodora to Elizabeth of Tudor - Michael Rank, Melissa Rank

Featured in this book of the Most Powerful Women in the Middle Ages are:


Empress Theodore (500-548)

Lady Aethelfaed of the Mercians(872-918)

Anna Komnene(1083-1153)

Eleanor of Aquitaine(1122-1204)

Saint Catherine of Siena(1347-1380)

Margaret I of Denmark (1353-1412)

Joan of Arc (1412-1431)

Isabella I (1451-1504)

Elizabeth I ( 1533-1603)

Kösem Sultan (1590-1651)


Unquestioningly, this was a disappointing book filled with uninspiring, superficial, abridged biographical content, which could just as well have been Googled or quickly researched off Wikipedia for all the information it presented. It seemed as if the authors picked a handful of notable women between 500 a.d. to -1651 to write a quality high school term paper. Outside of Saint Catherine of Siena ( 1347-1380) and Joan of Arc (1412-1431), the rest of these "powerful" women were queens - either born or married into royal positions - and therefore were able to wield significant dominion over their state and countrymen.

Were they successful in upholding their own will in a period generally governed by a male monarchy? Certainly, for they were intelligent, cunning and ruthless when need be and knew how to manipulate the system. Their lives were privileged from the start, their wealth and power were predestined.

The singular stand-out among these women was Joan of Arc, who was born a peasant, and rose to greatness by leading French armies against the English, managing war strategies and winning numerous battles without prior war training, or any regal entitlement that would have given her advantage. Her accomplishments were vast; it's in this respect that I find her "power" most remarkable, the enormity of which far exceeded the rest of the above-mentioned. Apart from well organized chapters and easy reading, there was nothing earth-shattering within this report that has brought any new or brilliant revelations to light. Quite a let-down.