12. Maria Theresa of Austria (1717-1780)
When Maria Theresa of Austria took over for her father, she became the Empress of the Hapsburg dynasty and controlled much of central Europe. Although she had to fight for her title…literally, Maria Theresa initiated a number of improvements to the empire that were successful in strengthening the economic, military, and political power.
She also encouraged intellectual pursuits, particularly in medical research, and abolished human rights violations, such as capital punishment, torture, and witch burning.