Who were the most ruthless female rulers?

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,387
Dispargum
#2
Catherine the Great had her own husband murdered and never really bonded with her own children although in the latter case she might not be the one to blame.

Brunhilde of Austrasia was blamed for the murder of ten kings, perhaps unfairly, at least in some cases. She had a hand in the execution of dozens of men who had failed to assassinate her or her family members. It's hard to fault her for that, but I think that still qualifies her as 'ruthless.' After the assassination of her husband she and her daughters were imprisoned. She married the son of her captor as part of an escape plan. It worked. Once she was back among her own people her new husband betrayed his father and defected to her side only to find out she was no longer interested in being his wife. The new husband, betrayer of his father and abandoned by Brunhilde, eventually committed suicide.

Brunhilde's great rival, Fredegunde of Neustria, also deserves a mention as a ruthles female ruler. She was behind many of the assassination attempts on Brunhilde. She also had one of her stepsons murdered and may have had a hand in the events that led to another stepson's suicide mentioned above. She was also suspected of murdering her husband, perhaps to cover up that her last child was not his, an allegation that was never proven.
 
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Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
2,188
Republika Srpska
#3
According to legends, the queen of the Sidama people, Furra. She allegedly had all old, short and bald men executed. Furra deliberately oppressed men in her kingdom, ordering them to do impossible tasks such as building her a house in the middle of air. Eventually the men tricked her by telling her that in their tradition the owner of the house must lay down the foundation. Of course, knowing that she wouldn't be able to lay down the foundation in the air, she relented and ordered that her house is to be built in an ordinary way. She also ordered men to bring her water in their sleeves. After seeing male cowardice in battle, she ordered that only women should fight from then on. Eventually, she ordered men to bring her an extremely fast animal and they decided to bring her a wild giraffe. When she attempted to ride it, the giraffe galopped quickly and killed Furra. Now, keep in mind that this story is an oral one and is not really backed by any written primary sources. Some elements of the story are rather impossible, so we might conclude that the story of Queen Furra was perhaps based on a real person and real events, but that it was exaggerated over the centuries.
 

antocya

Ad Honorem
May 2012
5,688
Iraq
#6
It was pretty common for the byzantines to blind or mutilate rivals for the throne, I think it was a disqualifier if they were malformed.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,569
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#8
Catherine the Great had her own husband murdered and never really bonded with her own children although in the latter case she might not be the one to blame.

Brunhilde of Austrasia was blamed for the murder of ten kings, perhaps unfairly, at least in some cases. She had a hand in the execution of dozens of men who had failed to assassinate her or her family members. It's hard to fault her for that, but I think that still qualifies her as 'ruthless.' After the assassination of her husband she and her daughters were imprisoned. She married the son of her captor as part of an escape plan. It worked. Once she was back among her own people her new husband betrayed his father and defected to her side only to find out she was no longer interested in being his wife. The new husband, betrayer of his father and abandoned by Brunhilde, eventually committed suicide.

Brunhilde's great rival, Fredegunde of Neustria, also deserves a mention as a ruthles female ruler. She was behind many of the assassination attempts on Brunhilde. She also had one of her stepsons murdered and may have had a hand in the events that led to another stepson's suicide mentioned above. She was also suspected of murdering her husband, perhaps to cover up that her last child was not his, an allegation that was never proven.
The main historian of those times Gregory, Bishop of Tours, knew both Brunhilde and Fredegunde and described Fredegunde as a murderer and Brunhilde as a good woman. I may point out that Brunhilde was blamed for the murder of ten Merovingian kings and princes by king Clothaire II right before having her tortured, and that Clothaire had himself just ordered two of those deaths, Brunhilde's great grandsons. So if Clothaire truely believed that killing Merovingians was bad and deserved to be punished by death, why didn't he execute himself first? Or at least stop himself from ordering two of the murders he blamed Brunhilda for.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,387
Dispargum
#9
The main historian of those times Gregory, Bishop of Tours, knew both Brunhilde and Fredegunde and described Fredegunde as a murderer and Brunhilde as a good woman. I may point out that Brunhilde was blamed for the murder of ten Merovingian kings and princes by king Clothaire II right before having her tortured, and that Clothaire had himself just ordered two of those deaths, Brunhilde's great grandsons. So if Clothaire truely believed that killing Merovingians was bad and deserved to be punished by death, why didn't he execute himself first? Or at least stop himself from ordering two of the murders he blamed Brunhilda for.
All true. I would add that Brunhilde's other documentarian, Fredegar, hated her. In the civil war between Brunhilde and Fredegunde, Gregory was politically allied to Brunhilde, so naturally, he only said nice things about her. Fredegar was politically opposed to Brunhilde so naturally he had nothing nice to say about her. The truth? Probably somewhere in between.
 
Sep 2012
3,556
Bulgaria
#10
Erzsebet Bathori

A beautiful countess turns into a monster after the death of her husband, goes a vengeful rampage against her subjects and uses blood for rejuvenation.

or

A beautiful countess single-handedly runs the largest estate in all of Hungary, owns more land & peasants and makes more money than the King himself. Her main accuser (Gyorgy Thurzo) benefits directly from her fall.
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The Countess is accused of doing nearly every heinous act in existence. She is not present at her trial and is sentenced to isolation.
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Swedish metal band Bathory is named after her.
 

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