A polyglot is someone that speaks multiple languages, and we can see some important queens numbered among them. Cleopatra, Elizabeth I, and Mary Queen of Scots all spoke at least six languages!
It is unsurprising that royal children would be given the education that would allow them to speak multiple languages. What is a bit more surprising is that this level of education was also given to women in these eras. Egypt was a place of greater equality than most in the ancient world, and in fact, had more gender equality than did most other cultures until the 20th century! Mary Stuart became queen of Scotland at just six days old, so her education was that of a monarch in her own right. Henry VIII provided excellent education for all of his children, no matter their gender, so Elizabeth I excelled at languages!
Speaking multiple languages is helpful for royals, as there are many treaties and alliances that need to happen between nations that speak different language, is helpful! All three of the queens I have highlighted in this post were highly intelligent and known for their ability in the educational world. Cleopatra was the only Ptolemy to actually speak Egyptian! Elizabeth I was translating Latin books in her teenage years. Mary Stuart was, as I stated a queen from infancy, and taught to understand royal duty (as a queen) all her life.
Polyglots have to have a rather high level of intellect in order to become fluent in multiple languages. Certainly being taught from a young age helps to learn languages, as toddlers are known to be able to learn multiple languages (they absorb information like sponges)! Not everyone is able to learn languages easily, and some struggle even at a young age. Other people are simply able to learn languages easily, and we call this having an ear for languages! These are the people who are likely to become polyglots!
I hope you have enjoyed learning a bit about polyglot royals! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I. I found the image on lazyhistorian.com.
- Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
- Elizabeth I by Alison Weir
- Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser