11 podcasts about royal women from history to listen to right now

Want to learn more about royal women of the past? We've rounded up 11 fascinating episodes from our podcast archive, ranging from the life of warrior queen Matilda to a look inside the mind of Elizabeth I. Listen now to episodes with Helen Castor, Lucy Worsley, Alison Weir and many more expert historians…

Jane Seymour – HistoryExtra podcast. (Image by Getty Images)

Learn more about fascinating queens and female royals from history with these episodes from the HistoryExtra podcast…

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1

Eleanor of Aquitaine: myth and reality

In late 2019, Sara Cockerill, author of a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine, explored the story of the remarkable medieval queen and challenged some common misconceptions about her life. She was joined in conversation by the popular historian Dan Jones.


2

Lucy Worsley on Queen Victoria

Lucy Worsley. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)

In September 2019, we headed to Kensington Palace, once home to the young Victoria, to discuss the queen’s life with the author, historian and broadcaster Lucy Worsley. And if you’d like to hear more about Queen Victoria, we also have podcasts with Jane Ridley on the unexpected side of the monarch, and Deborah Cadbury on the queen’s matchmaking.


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3

Empress Matilda: a medieval warrior queen

Back in 2019, historian Catherine Hanley joined the podcast to tell the story of Empress Matilda, the daughter of Henry I whose battle with Stephen for the English throne in the 12th century became known as ‘the anarchy’.


4

Marie Antoinette

Portrait of Marie-Antoinette with the rose, 1783, by Vigée-Le Brun. (Photo by Alamy)

In this episode, historian John Hardman discusses his 2020 biography of the 18th-century French queen, exploring her role in the politics of the revolutionary era and explaining why she met a tragic end. You can read more about the queen’s life here.


5

Mary, Queen of Scots’ tragic life

Mary Queen of Scots, after Nicholas Hilliard, 16th century, National Portrait Gallery, London. (Photo by SuperStock)

At our October 2018 History Weekend in Winchester, we caught up with historian, author and broadcaster Kate Williams, who detailed the dramatic story of the 16th-century Scottish queen and reflected on her doomed relationship with Elizabeth I of England. As part of the conversation, Williams also discussed the film Mary, Queen of Scots, released in early 2019.


6

Catherine the Great: fact and fiction

Ahead of HBO’s 2019 TV drama about the Russian empress, we sat down with historian Janet Hartley to explore Catherine the Great’s life and consider whether there is any truth behind the scandals that continue to damage her reputation. You can also read a feature by Janet, Catherine the Great: was she a hypocrite, reactionary, usurper, sex maniac?


7

Margaret Beaufort, mother of the Tudors

In late 2019, we welcomed historian and author Nicola Tallis to the podcast, to discuss her biography of Margaret Beaufort, who played a key role in the Wars of the Roses and whose son, Henry VII, began the Tudor dynasty.


8

Agrippina the younger: a Roman woman of great power

Agrippina the Younger. (Photo by Alamy)

In this podcast from early 2019, historian Emma Southon explores the extraordinary life of Agrippina the Younger, who was the wife of Claudius, the mother of Nero and the sister of Caligula, as well as being a remarkable woman in her own right. You can also read a feature by Emma on Agrippina’s life, here.


9

Inside the mind of Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I podcast

In one of five special programmes to mark the 500th episode of the HistoryExtra podcast, historian, author and broadcaster Helen Castor explores the psychology of the Virgin Queen and discusses the challenges of writing a new biography of one of England’s best-known historical figures. Helen also joined the podcast to talk about another royal – Lady Jane Grey – in 2018.


10

Queen Anne and the real history of The Favourite

As one of the most popular historical films of 2019, The Favourite sparked a wave of fresh interest in ‘forgotten’ monarch Queen Anne. The last Stuart’s reign is the main subject of this lively chat with three historians – Amanda Vickery, Hallie Rubenhold and Hannah Greig – plus there are also broader takes on the choices made by period dramas.


11

Jane Seymour: Henry VIII’s favourite queen

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Bestselling author and historian Alison Weir joined the podcast back in 2018 to discuss the life and tragic death of the Tudor king’s third wife, who bore him his long-awaited male heir. Alison also revealed the challenges of recreating Jane for her historical novel.

Read more about women’s history here