Here are some of history’s more famous (and infamous) mothers and women nicknamed Mother in honor of Mother’s Day.
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Famous Mothers in History: Ancient Through Modern
Aside from being married to a US president, Abigail Adams was also the mother of a US president. While her husband was overseas, she managed the family’s business.
Aelfgifu was the mother of the long-serving Anglo-Saxon king, Aethelraed, sometimes known as “the Unready.” When her husband was overthrown, she disappeared from history, but he returned when he married Emma of Normandy, famous for marrying two different kings and giving them both heirs.
Despite fostering twelve children after World War II, Josephine Baker is better known for her career as a performer than her role as a model of world brotherhood.
Anne Beauchamp was the mother of Anne Neville (the Princess of Wales, when she married Henry VI’s heir, and later Queen of England when she married Richard III) and Isabel Neville (the wife of George, Duke of Clarence, who attempted to become king for a time). Anne Beauchamp’s husband, Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick, was known as “the Kingmaker” during the Wars of the Roses.
Catherine of Aragon
Queen Mary I of England was the only child of Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Isabella I.
Lydia Maria Child
In the early 19th century, Lydia Maria Child wrote books to guide mothers in raising children and running a house; she was also an active abolitionist. She also wrote a song that’s been sung for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays for many years.
She was twice a Nobel Prize winner (in different fields) and was known as the “Mother of Modern Physics.” She shared the Nobel Prize with her daughter Irene.
Henry Steward, Lord Darnley, Margaret Douglas’s son, married Mary, Queen of Scots, and gave his family name to the royal family following the Tudors, the Stuarts. Margaret Douglas was a niece of Tudor king Henry VIII and granddaughter of Henry VII, the first Tudor king of England. Moreover, she was a friend of England’s Mary I.
Eleanor of Aquitaine
As the mother of three kings, Eleanor of Aquitaine’s daughters married into the royal houses of Europe; therefore, she is known as the Mother of Europe.
Elizabeth, Queen Mum
During her lifetime, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon had two children, Elizabeth Arthur and Elizabeth Sophia.
Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York was the daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, the queen consort of Henry VII, and the mother of Prince Arthur, Henry VIII, Mary Tudor, and Margaret Tudor.
Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville disrupted plans by some of his allies to marry him to a European. Several key figures in history were descended from her first marriage to Sir John Grey and her second marriage to Edward IV.
Isabella I of Castile
She had five children, including Queen Juana, the Mad, her heir; Catherine of Aragon, her first heir; Juan, who died before his parents; and Isabella and Maria, who married Manuel I of Portugal and had many descendants, many of whom intermarried as part of the Habsburg family.
Mary Queen of Scots
James I of England, the first Stuart king, was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Her four children died in a yellow fever epidemic long before her career as a labor organizer made her the most dangerous woman in America.
Henry II, the first Plantagenet king, was the son of Empress Matilda.
A medieval English conflict called the Wars of the Roses was fought by Cecily Neville. Among her 13 children were Edward IV of England, Margaret, who married the Duke of Burgundy, George, who was a contender for the English throne for a while, and Richard III.
The mother of Alexander the Great, Olympias, was also known for her ambition and violence.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
John F. Kennedy, Jr., Caroline Kennedy, and Patrick Kennedy were all born to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Her son was the victim of a tragic kidnapping while he was married to the famous Charles Lindbergh.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Stanton was a women’s suffrage leader and mother of eight; one daughter became a leader as well.
She led the suffrage movement alone with her daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell.
In 1979, Mother Teresa of Calcutta won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work as a nun in Calcutta.
The grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, was Margaret Tudor.
The novel Frankenstein was written by Mary Shelley, a daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, an early feminist.