The longest reigning female ruler was the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine who ruled over the Duchy of Aquitaine in her own right. She lived to be 82 years old, which in medieval times was ancient. Eleanor reigned for 66 years and 358 days. Eleanor was first married to Louis VII of France, but the marriage was not a success. It produced two daughters, and their marriage was annulled in 1152. She married Henry II of England in 1154 and gave birth to a further eight children. She died on 1 April 1204 and is buried at Fontevraud Abbey in France.
Queen Elizabeth II has broken yet another record today by beating her ancestress Eleanor of Aquitaine by becoming the longest reigning female ruler in history. Right behind Elizabeth and Eleanor, we find Queen Victoria with a reign of 63 years and 216 days and behind her Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands who reigned for 57 years and 258 days, before abdicating in favour of her daughter Juliana. Wilhelmina was born to William III, King of the Netherlands and Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont. Her father had been married before and had three sons, but all but one had died when Wilhelmina was born. Upon his death, she became her father’s heiress. She married Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and they had a single child, Juliana, after numerous miscarriages and stillbirths. She died on 28 November 1962 and is buried in the New Church in Delft.
Then comes Joanna of Brabant, who was Duchess of Brabant in her own right for 50 years and 331 days. Joanna was born on 24 June 1322 to John III, Duke of Brabant and Marie d’Evreux. Her parents also had three sons, but they all died young, so Joanna became her father’s heiress. She married firstly to William IV, Count of Holland who died in battle. They had a single son, who also died young. Her second marriage was to Wenceslaus of Luxembourg. Upon Joanna’s death, the Duchy of Brabant passed to her great-nephew Antoine, who was the second son of her niece, Margaret III, Countess of Flanders. She was buried in the Carmelite Church in Brussels, but her tomb has been destroyed, unfortunately.