Women are mostly associated with the gentle nature of a loving mother whenever they are given leadership positions. However, there’s the fight in human nature that seems to have no gender preference. The world has had its fair share of cruel and vicious leaders, some for good and others for very selfish reasons. While evil men like Hitler, Dracula and Starlin are at the top of the list, there is a bunch of very evil women that ruled too. The likes of Wu Zetan who killed her own daughter and other evil queens that exterminated whole communities from history just to cling on power still shock the world every day. These are the 10 most cruel and vicious female leaders in history.
1. Irma Grese
Hitler was a beast, and while fellow evil men like Kramer enforced his agenda of death and violence, some women participated in the violence in equal measure. Irma Grese got a job as a prison guard at the age of 20 and later became the deputy SS commander, the highest position ever held by a woman in that rank. Despite her young age, Irma displayed the most beastly characters of any woman in history. In Auschwitz where she was put in charge of 30,000 Jewish prisoners, she was accused of killing an estimated 30 people per day. She worked there for 14 months displaying extreme sexual deviance and high-level sadism. She even extracted sexual pleasure on the sight of blood and suffering. She had affairs with both female and male prisoners forcefully and executed some of them once she was done.
She also had a pair of starved dogs that she used to release on the prisoners, beat the women on their breasts and even tied the legs of a pregnant woman in labor to enjoy watching her suffer. After being arrested in 1945 at the Belsen execution camp where she had continued the violence, she was unrepentant and even shouted at the executioner to kill her quickly after her sentence had been passed. She was disowned by her own family when they heard of the violent crimes she had committed. She is the youngest Nazi war criminal ever hanged, she is also the youngest person executed in Britain in the 20th century, but her execution was not enough to pay for her crimes.
2. Empress Julia Agrippina the Y
Her most memorable action was the act of opening up a dead woman’s head to examine the teeth to be sure that she was the right kill. It was the head of Paulina her sister in law who she had just killed to pave her way to the throne. Empress Julia wasn’t always an Empress, and she would never have been one were it not for her calculated series or royal murders and manipulations that saw her enter the royal villa as her uncle’s wife and secure the empire for her son Nero. She was born in a royal family as the great-granddaughter of Augustus the first Roman emperor, her brother Caligula who was also a very evil man, banished Agrippina and her sister for attempting to overthrow him. After Caligula’s death, the only death she was not accused of, she came back and married a prospective councilor, but when the man did not get the desired position, she killed him and moved on to another man who had been a counselor twice.
She was married and widowed thrice, most of her own making. She wanted to be rich and powerful enough to be noticed by her uncle Claudius who could not marry her at the time because it was incestuous and illegal. Her biggest competition was the beautiful Paulina who she framed for sorcery and convinced her uncle to banish before sending a royal guard to kill her in exile and bring the head. She later Convinced her uncle to change the law and allow them to get married after manipulating lots of men in the Senate to support it. She then poisoned Claudius after convincing him to name her Son Nero as the heir instead of his own son. Since Nero was too young, she became the Empress being the regent although Nero later killed her out of fear for his own life.
3. Elizabeth Bathory
Also called the blood countess, Bathory is probably the worst ever serial killer in history. She killed at least 650 girls in cold blood until the year 1610 when she was arrested. She was born of a royal family that tortured servants and peasants. While growing up, she was taught torture methods by her uncle and satanism by an aunt leading to her murderous anger in adulthood. She had a thing for killing young girls and bathing in their blood because she wanted to remain beautiful for her husband Nardady who was a soldier. She would smear the girls in honey and leave them outside to be consumed by ants and bees.
At one point she beat a girl half dead, went for a change of clothes because she was too bloody then came back to stab her to death. Her husband was an accomplice because he builds her a torture chamber. After his death, however, Elizabeth became worse, resorting to cannibalism and sometimes forcing the victims to cook and eat their own flesh. King Mathias sent Bathory’s own cousin to raid the castle after Elizabeth kidnapped noble girls, she was tried alongside her accomplices and imprisoned in a tiny room until her suicide four years later.
4. Queen Mary Tudor of England
King Henry VIII of England had three heirs all of whom made history for many firsts for England. Mary Tudor, however, his only daughter by Catherine of Argon made the worst of decisions when dealing with religious differences. She ascended the throne and sought to restore Catholicism to England after her father denied it. She married Philip the prince of Spain, but he found her unattractive and stayed in Europe forcing Mary to deal with her own troubles at home.
In a bid to restore papal authority in England, she restored church canons and forced everyone to obey them on the penalty of death, of course, there were some rebels. She started executing rebellious protestants starting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer who was her father’s longest-serving advisor and friend. She went ahead to burn over 300 protestants at stake earning her the name Bloody Mary. She ruled with an iron fist and even exiled her own half-sister who would later reign as Queen Elizabeth I.
5. Empress Wu Zetan
This is the only woman that ever ruled the ancient Chinese empire in the 4000 years and maybe the worst mother ever. She was a maid in the court and 28th in line to Emperor Taizhong as a concubine. She managed to get close to the first emperor, but he died before she could accomplish anything. She then escaped the Buddhist convent where all widowed concubines stayed and entered the court as emperor Gao Zhong as a concubine. She went ahead to sleep with him and conceived a daughter who she placed in Empress Wang the legitimate wife’s hands, strangled her to death then accused Wang of it.
She also killed all women that stood in her way to the Queenship earning her the seat before the emperor’s death. She had four sons who would have inherited the throne, but she wanted it for herself. So she killed the eldest, banished the second and the third and forced the last born to abdicate. She went ahead to cut off the limbs of other women in the court and even poison her own mother. She is however believed to have brought lots of development before her ultimate dethronement by her second son whom she had banished.
6. Queen Ranavalona 1 of Madagascar
This small island off the coast of South Africa was almost wiped out during the reign of this murderous woman. The mad queen was born Ramavo only becoming a royal as a betrothment to a prince in repayment to her father who saved the king. Planned marriages don’t work well, and this wasn’t so good either. The prince would later die in the 1820s leaving his nephew as the successor bit Ramova influenced some powerful men to help her ascend the throne.
She then proceeded to wipe out her husband’s family in revenge for his earlier crimes against her and her family. Her wrath soon descended on the ordinary people especially the Christians. She killed French missionaries and threw their heads to the snakes off the Madagascan coast as a warning to other foreigners. She went ahead to establish a barbaric rule that saw whole communities drowned off the cliffs for the mistake of one family member while people watched. The death toll is estimated to be 2.5 million people, nearly 75% of the Island population at the time.
7. Catherine De Medici
From an Italian prisoner of war to one of the most vicious women who ever ruled France Catherine De Medici was a real survivor who used both poison, sword and the church to keep herself safe. Catherine was the daughter of Lorenzo de Medici and the mother of three French kings married to King Henry while he was still the Duke of Orleans bringing her back to royalty. Her viciousness was significantly associated with her husband’s betrayal which forced her to be insignificant in her marriage for the first two decades. After getting her first son, she fought, by all means, to keep her family on the throne wiping out rebellious nobles and their families including early protestant outcrops in France.
When her husband died, she had a small base solidifying the reign of her first-born son Francis who died within a year leaving her second son Charles who was only ten as the king. She ruled as queen Regent throughout Charles rule suppressing Protestantism which was gaining popularity in France. She used the royal guard and the papal army as her tools of power to force submission to her family and the church. She later organized the St. Bartholomew massacre in which hundreds of protestants including Coligny, a famous Protestant leader were murdered.
8. Queen Zenobia of Palmyra
Vicious calculations and bravery in battle made this one of the smartest ever queens in history. She was not a serial killer but not a forgiving woman either. She would not let male dominance stop her ambitions. Palmyra was one of the provinces of Rome ruled by Governor Odaenthus who was the most powerful ruler in the East. Zenobia was only a second wife, and because she just had sex with her husband for recreation according to her beliefs, she was not his favorite wife. However, according to most accounts, she had her husband and his son Herodes killed by his nephew leaving Zenobia’s young son Vaballathus as the heir and of course Zenobia as regent.
She orchestrated a plan to expand Palmyran borders by instigating a fake rebellion against Rome in Egypt then crashing it to claim victory. She then made treaties with most cities in Asia Minor and Levante naming herself the queen of the East. Her forces were prosperous although she was betrayed by some allies allowing emperor Aurelian to crash her forces all the way back to Palmyra. Even then, she blamed her advisor Cassius Longinus for her actions making him die for her crimes.
9. Tamar of Georgia
She was an 18-year-old girl that thwarted men’s efforts to weaken her to become the most powerful woman to rule Georgia in the Golden ages. The Georgian Orthodox church has her as a saint commemorated on 1st May, but her long and prosperous reign did not come without some iron fist. She was a firm believer, and her reign brought the worst ever century for the Muslim lands. She started by killing all the nobles that opposed her rise to the throne because she was a woman, well, most of them anyway.
She created an alliance with Yuri, the drunken prince of Russia in the early 12th century. She later divorced and banished him which resulted in two vicious battles as Yuri tried to revenge his banishment because he had helped Tamar solidify her authority. She crashed his ex-husband soundly and went ahead to marry King George I’s son David Soslan who helped her defeat Abu Bakr in a war that wiped thousands of Muslims. She continued crashing Muslims to expand her rulemaking her the greatest ever queen to rule Georgia until she was named Tamar the king of Georgia.
10. Queen Isabella of Castile
This woman is attributed to the spread of Spanish rule and language beyond Spain by her aggressive explorative policies westwards. Spain was the harbor for all persecuted religions including Jews and Muslims, but this was about to change under this woman. She swore allegiance to the pope and married Ferdinand, the king of Aragon joining the two kingdoms. To gain the full Vatican supported, she declared Catholicism as the sole religion forcing Jews and Muslims to convert, leave or die. She pushed the Jews to flee throughout Europe and North America. She went ahead to thrash all rebellions in neighboring cities including one by her own sister Joana forcing the Portuguese and all foreigners to leave Spain.
In 1492, Columbus had very few fans, and Queen Isabella sponsored his journey making her the most famous woman in Europe at the time. Her reign was preceded by the disorderly rule of her half-brother Henry and the country was in debt to almost all countries in Europe. She also had her sister Joana to beat in the race to the throne, and this called for the most vicious strength of any European queen to establish a valid realm. Well, she did, and quite well at that.