Portrait commemorating the defeat of the Spanish Armada, depicted in the background. Elizabeth


Scientists have proven historical queens were “38.8%” more likely to declare war than kings.

When Canadian cognitive psychologist and author Steven Pinker claimed men instigated “almost all the world’s wars and genocides” US researchers formally tested whether there was indeed more peace under female rulers , but their results showed the very opposite: that female rulers “caused wars” much more often.

In myths, legends, folklore, and fairy tales strong male kings are portrayed as declaring and fighting in great wars and it has long been projected that women were less conflictive and more likely to maintain peace than go to war. But a new study reveals that queens waged war over the centuries a shocking 39% more than kings.

Tipping Stereotypes On Their Heads

A working paper by political scientists Oeindrila Dube, of the University of Chicago, and S. P. Harish, of McGill University, analyzed a selection of mostly European kings and queens who reigned between 1480 AD and 1913 which covered 193 rulers in 18 countries. A Daily Mail article says the 400 years of European history included female rulers such as Catherine the Great , who made Russia a waring nation in the 18th century, Britain’s Elizabeth I , who defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588, and Isabella I of Castile , who led Spain to dominate the world in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Portrait commemorating the defeat of the Spanish Armada, depicted in the background. Elizabeth’s hand rests on the globe, symbolizing her international power. (Shakko / Public Domain )

Over 193 reigns the researchers found that states ruled by queens were 39% more likely to wage war than those ruled by kings. Not only did the team of researchers find that states ruled by queens were more likely to fall into conflict and war than those led by kings, but females were also more likely to gain territory and were attacked more often. Co-author Oeindrila Dube told The Times that there’s this general stereotype that men are greatly responsible for wars and genocides and that women are natural peace-makers, but “our research turns this stereotype on its head”.

Marriage Mattered Little

It is a common social perception that because women are (on average) physically weaker than men they are therefore less violent and more peaceful. But the authors say their findings “contradict” these misconceptions. They played with the idea that queens, more so than kings, had to show that they were not weak  but they concluded that this was “unlikely” because queens were not only war-thirsty at the beginning of their reigns when a greater need to show strength existed, but also throughout the duration of their reigns.

Catherine the Great came to power following a coup d'état that she organized—resulting in her husband, Peter III, being overthrown. (Magnus Manske / Public Domain)

Catherine the Great came to power following a  coup d’état that she organized—resulting in her husband, Peter III, being overthrown. (Magnus Manske / Public Domain )

The study also shows single queens were attacked more than single kings, probably because threatening foreign powers perceived female rulers as a “soft touch” and that their territories were more vulnerable. However, according to Sputnick News , at the same time, married queens were also more likely to attack than married kings and this was partly because they would “enlist their husbands to help them rule” while kings would rarely turn to their spouses to handle this responsibility.

Were Males Pushing the Queens into War?

The authors of the new paper explained that queens often put their spouses in charge of the military or fiscal reforms and this greater spousal division of labor might have enhanced the capacity of queenly reigns, “enabling queens to pursue more aggressive war policies”. The roles of male advisors pushing queen’s foreign policies towards war wasn’t factored in and the researchers said that this male influence on war should be “even larger among monarchs who acceded at a younger age” since they were more likely to be influenced by their male advisors. However, the paper says, “we do not observe this type of differential effect”.

When Isabella I of Castile ascended to the throne in 1474 there already several plots against her and war broke out. (Zumalabe / Public Domain)

When Isabella I of Castile ascended to the throne in 1474 there already several plots against her and war broke out. (Zumalabe / Public Domain )

Violence Stats Change On The Street

Putting this new paper in perspective, while the study proves historical queens were more violent than kings, on the street, quite the opposite is and has always been the case. A quick glance at the statistics tell that today men commit much more acts of violence than women and in 2007 the U.S. Department of Justice sponsored a National Crime Victimization Study that found “75.6% of all offenders” were male and only 20.1% were female. Therefore, when not wearing a crown, men commit violent crimes more than three times as often as women.

Even taking into account the possibility that many crimes in which a woman commits violence go unreported, this disparity can’t be ignored and it would take thousands of unreported violent acts to balance up these numbers. But are men really hardwired to be violent? It looks like the answer might be “no” and that woman have the same blood-thirsty tendencies when they get crowned.

Top image: A new study reveals that queens were more warlike than kings. Source: Evdoha / Adobe Stock.

By Ashley Cowie



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