In the 16th and 17th centuries, it was an almost universally held belief that women should never rule over men. However, the existence of three regnant queens (Mary Tudor, Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I) inescapably belied this central principle of social order. How did men and women of the period reconcile themselves to female rule, or did they? How did queens construct their public personae in order to maintain their power? What portrayals of ruling women were employed by queens' opponents? How do political ideologies, conflicting religious beliefs, and the pressures of dynastic struggle affect the question of female rule? We will look at literary texts as well as historical documents to explore these issues.