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Ok, ranking number one on my list is Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. I would strongly consider Victoria being “the” most powerful woman in history because not only was she the queen of the United Kingdom in her own right, she was head of the vast colonial British Empire.
Victoria’s empire covered 14.2 million square miles, spanning six continents, and controlling countries such as Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, and Sudan as well as many others. Geographically, the British Empire was the largest colonial empire in the nineteenth century and the largest in history. Victoria ruled over 400 to 458 million people during her reign. Victoria inspired a worldwide trend known as the “Victorian Era.” The Victorian Era influenced conservative religious and social attitudes, fashion, and politics in her country as well as in the United States and other nations abroad. Victoria’s reign began in 1837 and ended with her death in 1901. She ruled for 63 years; the longest of any British monarch.
Despite having to share her power with the British Parliament, Victoria still exerted a certain amount of power over political decisions. For example, Victoria played a role in appointing some cabinet ministers as well as a prime minister at one time. She was even responsible for appointing particular ambassadors and bishops of the Church of England. She also consulted regularly with her prime ministers by letter and in person.
Victoria contributed to massive political and social reforms in the United Kingdom as well as in the British Empire. She supported an act of Parliament in 1838 which abolished slavery throughout all colonies in the British Empire. In 1847, she supported the Factory Act which reduced the working day in textile mills to ten hours. Last but not least, Victoria supported the Third Reform Act of 1884, which granted the right to vote to all male householders and effectively extended the vote to most British men.