Portrait of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile (15th century). Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Iberian peninsula, now home to the countries of Spain, Portugal, and Andorra, has a rich cultural history and has been the site of several kingdoms over the course of its 42,000 years of human habitation. It has been settled by Phonecians, Romans, and then the Visigoths, who were in turn succeeded by the Umayyad caliphate in the eighth century. Several early Christian kingdoms emerged around this period, namely the kingdoms of Aragón, Barcelona, Castile, Galicia, León, Navarre, and Portugal. During the medieval period and era of reconquista saw the Islamic powers pushed out the region, and the marital alliance between the kingdoms of Aragón and Castile in 1469, led by Ferdinand and Isabella respectively, laid the foundations for the modern Spain. In the early modern period the Spanish Empire, fuelled by the discoveries of Christopher Columbus and participation in the slave trade, became a great global power. Religious change, conflict, and revolution during the early modern period changed the power and extent of Spain’s empire and the country itself. Throughout its history there have been several queens regnant and powerful queens consort, with Spain proving more favourable to queens regnant than many of its European counterparts. The monarchy endured until the proclamation of a republic on 14 April 1931, whereby the king Alfonso XIII left Spain without abdicating. The monarchy was restored in 1975, albeit as a constitutional monarchy.

You can find out more about some of the many queens of Spain below!


Aram, Bethany, “Authority and Maternity in Late-Medieval Castile: Four Queens Regnant.” In Aspects of Power and Authority in the Middle Ages, edited by Brenda Bolton and Christine Meek, 121-129. Turnhout: Brepols, 2007

Barton, Simon. Conquerors, Brides, and Concubines: Interfaith Relations and Social Power in Medieval Iberia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015

Cernadas Martínas, Silvia, and Miguel Gracía-Fernández, eds. Reinas e infantas en los reinos medievales iberícos. Santiago de Compostela: Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, 2018

Collins, Roger. “Queens-Dowager and Queens-Regent in Tenth-Century León and Navarre.” In Medieval Queenship, edited by John Carmi Parsons, 79–92. Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1990

Earenfight, Theresa, ed. Queenship and Political Power in Medieval and Early Modern Spain. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005

Earenfight, Theresa. “Absent Kings: Queens as Political Partners in the Medieval Crown of Aragon.” In Queenship and Political Power in Medieval and Early Modern Spain, edited by Theresa Earenfight, 33–51. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005

Earenfight, Theresa. “Trastámara Kings, Queens, and the Gender Dynamics of Monarchy.” In The Emergence of León-Castile, c. 1065–1500: Essays Presented to J. F. O’Callaghan, edited by James Todesca, 141-160. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2015

Cervantes. Kings and Queens of Contemporary Spain

Martin, Therese. “The Art of a Reigning Queen as Dynastic Propaganda in Twelfth-century Spain.” Speculum 80:4 (2005): 1134–1171

Martin, Therese. Queen as King: Politics and Architectural Propaganda in Twelfth-century Spain. Leiden: Brill, 2006

Pick, Lucy. Her Father’s Daughter: Gender, Power, and Religion in the Early Spanish Kingdoms. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2017

Storrs, Christopher. The Resilience of the Spanish Monarchy 1665-1700. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006

Woodacre, Elena, ed. Queenship in the Mediterranean: Negotiating the Role of the Queen in the Medieval and Early Modern Eras, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013

Woodacre, Elena. The Queens Regnant of Navarre. Succession, Politics and Partnership 1274-1512. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

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