Queens pursued more aggressive war policies

 Oeindrila Dube and S.P. Harish have a new NBER working paper called “Queens”:

Are states led by women less prone to conflict than states led by men? We answer this question by examining the effect of female rule on war among European polities over the 15th-20th centuries. We utilize gender of the first born and presence of a female sibling among previous monarchs as instruments for queenly rule. We find that polities led by queens were more likely to engage in war than polities led by kings. Moreover, the tendency of queens to engage as aggressors varied by marital status. Among unmarried monarchs, queens were more likely to be attacked than kings. Among married monarchs, queens were more likely to participate as attackers than kings, and, more likely to fight alongside allies. These results are consistent with an account in which marriages strengthened queenly reigns because married queens were more likely to secure alliances and enlist their spouses to help them rule. Married kings, in contrast, were less inclined to utilize a similar division of labor. These asymmetries, which reflected prevailing gender norms, ultimately enabled queens to pursue more aggressive war policies.

Why would the kings have been less likely to marry for purposes of war?  Is it because they actually were entranced with love, whereas queens are more practical?


Kings would have had lots of other helpers, so modern economic theory of intrahousehold division of labour is a completely ridiculous left field location to be wandering off in.

Queens would have had to prove their warlikeness rapidly before coming under attack from sexist counterpart monarchs who might try to attack, or very numerous pretenders to the throne. From there, already requiring higher mobilization and readiness of various sorts, and also requiring to prove that you're willing to do it ... well, you get more war with queens.

Or what? Queens and kings were so lacking for competent advisers that that they needed to confer with the wife more often?

They thing about "behind every powerful man there is a powerful women" ... well yeah, that's a thing. But also, society generally rejects that a bachelor could ever have such power. So ... all signs point to a) not likely and b) other explanation makes more sense.

Possibly, one single queen whose reign lasted 64 years just might be skewing those results a bit. And a link to a proper musical tribute of her reign - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdGqJpTvp2c

That's a year for every square on the chessboard so like in chess this queen could really move across the board

The queen is indeed a powerful piece, no sexist pun intended: Birth of the Chess Queen: A History – April 27, 2004 by Marilyn Yalom

And the aggression during her reign was largely a reflection of technological superiority.

May be relevant, but not sure: there is research that claims that wives are as likely to *initiate* domestic violence as husbands:


My impression is that queens tended to be above average in executive competence, perhaps because the dynastic systems generally were set up so that any male heir would do, but a female heir had to maneuver successfully to secure the throne for herself.

Usually the requisite to be queen is not having male brothers - seems more pure luck than hability.

There's a lot of ways for queens to get rid of or control male heirs.

Neither Mary Tudor nor Elizabeth did a blessed thing to kill off their brother. Mary of William and Mary was auxilliary to her husband. I take it you fancy Queen Anne made use of hocus pocus to render her sister sterile and then kill off her brother-in-law.

Neither did Victoria.

Indeed. And moreover the Virgin Queen refused to marry the many suitors who lined up of their own volition or were thrust into the line up, precisely because she did not wish to relinquish power. She knew that she would have to cede power once she gained a husband. Finally, she was not particularly war like even in a very war like era. She was reluctant to be drawn into the Protestant resistance to the machinations of the (Catholic) Spanish Crown in the Low Countries for example.

Queens did not always cede power to their husbands. Mary Tudor kept a firm hand on the rule of England despite naming husband Philip II of Spain as king at her side. Isbaella of Castile also remained as the effective ruler of Castile despite marrying Ferdinand of Aragon. And even Mary Queen of Scots did not really lose her power to Lord Darnley (who was mainly interested in drinking the wine cellars dry and tupping the serving wenches).

More about the selection process perhaps, then. Or filtering.

Do you suggest it might be more about self selection kinds of things? Or 'necessity' in the face of that situation? Presumably standard deviation of life expectancy could be expected to be unusually high for people in such situations in that era.

Small sample....

"there are only 10 unmarried queen reigns and 24 married queen reigns in our sample"


And yet, Elizabeth and Victoria alone would stand head and shoulders above most kings, making such numerical comparisons a bit questionable, to put it mildly.

Some speculations: The benefits of feudal wars tended to accrue to only a few while the war taxes and other costs were generally more widespread. (So wars usually increased or maintained inequality, perpetuating the long history of feudalistic societies.) So royal courts would usually end up trying to isolate kings and queens from the masses who largely paid the costs of war. (Is the 'Deep State' a kind of modern equivalent?) Perhaps it's a general principle of sex differences in tribal as well as feudal politics, that women rulers tend to surround themselves with smaller groups of close kin, more familial-based, trusted advisers? (And hence are generally more influenced by the royal court.)

Queens is a highly selected subset of women, and there are likely hypotheses true of queens that do not generalize to women, or even to less highly selected subsets of female political leaders.

"We utilize gender of the first born and presence of a female sibling among previous monarchs as instruments for queenly rule."

What this really mean?

>>Why would the kings have been less likely to marry for purposes of war?

I would speculate that, since most rulers are kings, a queen regnant is likely to have a spouse who is a king regnant, bringing in a valuable war ally, whereas a king regnant will usually not be able to find such a spouse, and has to make do with marrying off sisters and daughters.

Or it was more an instrument of peace for them.

"female rule on war among European polities over the 15th-20th centuries": I'm struggling to think of a European queen who ruled in the 20th century. Reigned, sure: but ruled? I don't suppose there were many - were there any? - in the 19th century either.

In other words, I suspect this work to be a profoundly ignorant load of old bollocks.

" I don’t suppose there were many – were there any? – in the 19th century either."

Perhaps D. Maria II of Portugal? I think that, under her rule, Portugal was a kind of "presidentialism" - with a Constitution and an elected parliament, but with the king/queen retaining substancial powers.

Thank you. So, so far their sample for the 19th and 20th century might total one.

The authors are probably the sort of bloody fools who imagine that Queen Victoria ruled. Or Queen Elizabeth II. Or indeed Queens Wilhelmina, Juliana, and Beatrix.

I think I shall download it and have a look, lest I am libelling them. The bloody fools, I mean, not Their Majesties.

"neither sample includes the German kingdoms. This is because various parts of the German polities were ruled by different houses/families simultaneously, and we are unable to observe which house/family was involved in each of the different wars." You gotta laugh.

Austrian Exceptionalism is apparent: "We follow Wright in coding Austria as a separate polity with the start of Leopold’s reign in 1658. This also allows us to capture the reign of Maria Theresa, whose reign otherwise would be omitted from the panel."

"We create a new dataset to examine the effects of female rule on war, covering European polities over 1480-1914." So the recent British and Dutch queens are excluded, thank goodness. If I understand one of their tables aright (i) Lady Jane Grey is recognised as a Queen of England, so at least they are explicit about a tricky decision, and (ii) Monaco is part of the universe they are considering.

May I emphasise that? Monaco in, Germany out!

I do hope these authors are not wasting the best years of their lives on this stuff.

'that Queen Victoria ruled'

Well, somehow she ended up as the Empress of India - probably just a token of affection from the adoring masses.

It is fair to say that since the age of George III, British monarchs were on a shorter leash than most.

A token from Dizzy.

There is no liability to expressing an opinion if it proves incorrect.

Printing it in a paid publication, in particular with ulterior motives for example, would be a different story.

You're pro free press, right? What about fake news? What's that more about these days?

It's possible the Grand Duke/Duchess of Lu/xembourg counts as an executive monarch, or did prior to 1945 or 1918. The position was held by women for decades.

Salic Law has generally been the order of the day in Germany, so you're not going to find any women on any throne after the Napoleonic resorting of territory there (and you'll find them only on a scatter of tiny principalities prior to that).

Ah, but you need the male monarchs as part of the comparison.

"The position was held by women for decades."

It was? I had the ideia that the reason because Luxemburg exists was exactly because women can't herit the throne, and, because that, when a King of Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxemburg died only with daughter, the daughter herited the throne of Netherlands and some male relative herited the throne of Luxemburg.

"Why would the kings have been less likely to marry for purposes of war?"

Presumably reigning kings were not subject to external challenge quite as automatically as reigning queens would be, and their marriages thus did not have to reflect the same degree of existential concern.

Alex posted this already about a year ago, FYI: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/01/are-queens-more-warlike.html

That some rulers would want to project an image of toughness isn't surprising, but I don't believe it's based on gender, at least not today. Margaret Thatcher certainly wanted to project an image of toughness, in the Falkland Islands for sure, but so did George W. Bush, who had the misfortune (or bad judgment) to pick a more formidable foe. Ms. Clinton seemed overly concerned about projecting an image of toughness, while her boss, Mr. Obama, didn't. As for Mr. Trump, I'm not so sure. In the campaign, in particular the Republican primaries, he definitely projected an image of toughness against his primary opponents, while creating an unflattering image of his opponents as weak. Now that he is president, many are concerned that Mr. Trump's obsession with his image may lead him into a fiasco as bad as or worse than Iraq, but I'd say that his insecurity more than offsets his obsession. Mr. Bush, on the other hand, was both obsessed about projecting an image of toughness and possessed extreme, if totally misplaced, confidence. Whenever someone raises questions about the mental health of politicians, I'm always reminded of George Wallace, who in his campaign for president produced a certificate from his psychiatrist that Mr. Wallace was, indeed, sane. It didn't help Mr. Wallace. On the other hand, Mr. Nixon, who was insane, did not produce a certificate, and won. Americans like crazy politicians for some reason. Entertainment, perhaps. Mr. Trump is, of course, an entertainer.

I should point out that not just politicians are insane. For example, there are academics. Here's one who believes Mr. Trump should model his policies and presidency after Presidents Coolidge and Hoover. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/26/opinion/donald-trump-is-a-real-republican-and-thats-a-good-thing.html? Crazy academics provide cover for crazy politicians. Can voters rightfully be blamed for insane politicians?

Yes, they can and must bpe blamed. Voters must know better. Brazilians would never vote for crazy people. When we were a Portuguese colony, we were under the reign of Queen Mary the Crazy of Portugal, but all our Emperors and presidents were sane people.

I think it's great that everyone is always so fascinated about whether people have vaginas or not.

Even modern econ professors will post and discuss a pathetically thin sliver of "research" about a handful of people who lived centuries ago -- as long as the matter in question is vaginal possession.

This is the way forward, people. It is everything.

So, in defining women as sex objects to the nth degree (or ... what?), you intend to deter people from som much as discussing some matter of questioning how things have been different between men and women in different times and places, inclusive of the present and the way in which things can or should stay the same and/or change?

I think referring to the so-called "better half of the species" by reference to their genitalia is among the practices that could be boxed into the "should change" category.

You know, that's fine, sexuality is an aspect of humanity and everything. Right? OK? So big fucking deal. The 60s already happened a long time ago and all, and Victorian repression is more a rarity than the mainstream these days ...

But if you cannot keep your head out of vagina-thinking any time the subject of any women comes up, then you may have a problem.

Good luck.

I hate a cafina because Obama cut off my dick!

I mean vagina

I would think inheritance rules come into play here, but those seem pretty idiosyncratic.

I agree with the other commentators in that this is junk social science.

The obvious problem is the small sample size.

Wikipedia as it turns out has both an article on "Queens Regnant" and a list of Queens regnant, so some people are interested in this topic:


This list is long enough to be a significant sample size, and if the authors had looked at everyone on the list they could well have come to a meaningful conclusion. But they didn't. Here is the list edited down to cover European Queens regnant, between the years 1400 through 1914:

Ruzhina (ruled 1395–1417) Albania
Maria Theresa (ruled 1740-1780) Austria etc.
Margaret I (ruled 1387–1412) Denmark, Sweden, Norway
Mary I (ruled 1553–1558) England
Elizabeth I (ruled 1558–1603) England
Mary II (ruled 1689-1694) England and Scotland
Anne (ruled 1702–1714) Great Britain
Victoria (ruled 1837-1901) Great Britain and Ireland etc.
Joan I (ruled 1343–1382) Naples
Joan II (ruled 1414–1435) Naples
Joan III the Mad (ruled 1516–1555) Castille, Naples, etc.
Wilhelmina (ruled 23 November 1890 – 4 September 1948) Netherlands
Anna (ruled 1575–1586) Poland and Lithuania
Eleanor of Aragon (regent) 1438-1439 Portugal
Catherine of Austria (regent) 1557-1562 Portugal
Luisa de Guzmán (regent) 1656-1662 Portugal
Maria I (ruled 1777–1816) Portugal
Maria II (ruled 1826–1828 and 1834–1853) Portugal
Catherine II of RussiaElena Glinskaya (regent) 1533-1538 Russia
Irina Godunova (regent) 1598 Russia
Catherine I (ruled 1725–1727) Russia
Anna (ruled 1730–1740) Russia
Elizabeth (ruled 1741–1762) Russia
Catherine II ("the Great") (ruled 1762–1796) Russia
Isabella I of Castile the Catholic (ruled 1474–1504)
Mariana of Austria (regent) 1665-1675 Castille
Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies (regent during her daughter's infancy) 1833-1840 Spain
Isabella II of Spain An infant de jure queen from 1833, ruled 1843–1868 Spain
Maria Christina of Austria (regent) 1885-1902 Spain
Blanche II (ruled de jure 1461–1464) Navarre
Eleanor (ruled in 1479) Navarre
Catherine (ruled 1483–1517) Navarre
Joan III (ruled 1555–1572) Navarre
Margaret (ruled 1389–1412)
Christina (ruled 1632–5 June 1654) Sweden
Hedwig Eleonora of Holstein-Gottorp (regent) 1660-1672 and 1697-1699 Sweden
Ulrika Eleonora the Younger (ruled 30 November 1718 – 29 February 1720) Sweden
Mary of Gueldres (regent) 1460-1463 Scotland
Margaret Tudor (regent) 1513-1514 Scotland
Mary I of Scotland (ruled 1542–1567) Scotland
Mary of Guise (regent) 1554-1560 Scotland
monarch and head of state.

Grace O'Malley (ruled mid-16th century – c. 1603) - also known as Gráinne Ní Mháille, Granuaile or The Sea Queen Of Connaught; she was Queen of Umaill, Chieftain of the Ó Máille clan, a pirate and a revolutionary in 16th century Ireland
Jane Grey (ruled 1553) (disputed)

(also two Cypriot queens were omitted on various grounds, mainly because Cyrus is in Asia)

This seems pretty impressive, but note how padded it is with regents, often ruling for a year or two. Once you through out the regents and short termers you get only a handful. I agree with throwing out constitutional monarchs, but the 1914 cut-off does that effectively for everyone except for Victoria and possibly Isabella II of Spain

Also the list is pretty weighted towards Russia and England. Most continental European countries had rules designed to prevent women from being rulers.

Re: Most continental European countries had rules designed to prevent women from being rulers.

Actually, no. Only France and the German states (most of them) had Salic Law. Most of the other European states did have ruling queens or empresses at one time or another: England, Scotland, the Netherlands (in the 20th century; not even a kingdom until 1815), Castile, Navarre, Portugal, Naples, Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, Poland, Russia, the Byzantine Empire, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Add to the some (officially) ruling duchesses in sovereign duchies like Burgundy and Brittany. But in a number of cases these queens regnant only reigned while husbands did the work of ruling.

History is chock full of appalling violence from Queens, from Olympias to Cixi, though often more directed at their own households than foreign territories. I doubt there's evidence they were worse than men but they weren't any better either.

'We utilize gender of the first born and presence of a female sibling among previous monarchs as instruments.' I find this very strange. Gender of first born did not matter. Being the sister of a Queen did not matter. What mattered was that no direct male heir of the right Religion/ Clique existed.

As for Wars, during the period in question, some soldier-Kings- like Fredrick the Great- did initiate wars whereas some Queens/ Empresses presided over either defensive or offensive operations. No Queen- including Catherine the Great or Elizabeth the First- initiated Wars which would not otherwise have happened anyway.
No a single Queen was genuinely aggressive. This result is utterly worthless.

Among unmarried monarchs, queens were more likely to be attacked than kings. ... These asymmetries, which reflected prevailing gender norms, ultimately enabled queens to pursue more aggressive war policies.

So unmarried queens were seen as weaker and therefore more likely to be attacked, and married queens we able to secure alliances via their spouses, which made them militarily stronger.

But I don't think the sum total of this is "queens are more aggressive than kings". Being attacked does not make you the aggressor, it makes you the person who is aggressed against. That needs to be chalked up in the "less aggressive" category, not the "more aggressive".

A more accurate statement would be "queens are more likely to be involved in wars than kings". It doesn't seem to be the case that they *start* wars more often.

Since no one has said this yet (but I know you are all thinking it): The results of this study make it sexist!

If you don't believe me ask an SJW.

Only for love the kings were unwilling to do this? I am not fully agree with your point. Because naturally the male are strong on their behavior.

Very few monarchs married for love before very recent times. Edward IV of England did in the 15th century and almost lost his throne because his advisers would not accept his wife. In a few cases elderly kings got away with marrying for love, or at least desire, the second or third time at the altar (e.g., the aged Louis XIV married his mistress Mme. de Maintenon). Of course Henry VIII is a counter-example with most of his wives, though hardly a paragon of marital success. The best kings and queens could hope for was that they would fall in love afterward, as Henry VII and Elizabeth of York did.

Very few monarchs married for love before very recent times.

FWIW, I think you'll find that the conventional opinion in period literature was that marriage was characterized by affection, not love. Think modest peasant communities wherein the young married people quite familiar to them (often cousins), stem families, &c.

Art Deco - you are of course correct. The novel Kristin Lavransdatter occasioned much debate, almost all of it now lost (take my word for it, 99 percent of that debate is not to be found either on the internet or in any library outside Scandinavia), because several characters in the novel were described as considering love in marriage to be necessary to their happiness. Those who studied the time argued over whether this could be true or if the author was simply unwilling to imagine a different world than the one she lived in.

If you think Queens pursued more aggressive war policies, you should have seen the war policies pursued by the Bronx!

The conventional view is that Queens made babies while Kings made war. Remarkably, between 1480- 1918, Kings made more Royal Babies (because they alone ever declared a bastard son legitimate) than Queens and also created war-like Kingdoms thus displaying far more belligerence than Queens.

Thus contra Dube & Harish, men are both more belligerent and more able to make babies than women. Vide https://indglish.wordpress.com/2017/05/01/contra-dube-harish-queens-are-less-good-at-both-belligerence-and-baby-making-than-kings/

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