IMO while Elizabeth I is better known than CdM, she was no more successful. Both had accomplishments and defeats. Notably, Catherine de Medici rallied French armies to eject Elizabeth I's English invaders from Le Havre, resulting in the Treaty of Troyes, under which Calais was finally accepted by both as French territory (despite Elizabeth I's firm protestations in that regard prior). Elizabeth I in general didn't do so well in foreign warfare, and even her domestic successes were hampered by too much indulgences for favored courtiers, which resulted in economic issues and a failed rebellion by one of her favorites, Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex (see the Elizabeth I miniseries with Helen Mirren for a great dramatization of this). CdM tried to stop the Catholics and Protestants from killing each other (hence her interest in hosting grand cultural events), and ultimately succeeded only in some cases, but there's a good case to be made that few could have done better when presented with her choices. Her main error was in trying to kill off specific Protestant leaders, which spiraled out of control into the St Bartholomew's Day massacre. But she was surprisingly successful in staving off violence with numerous diplomatic visits with regional French religious and military leaders, and known for being quite charming while playing both Catholics and Protestants. And she began ballet. And she married off many children for potent political alliances. And she was able to prevent Phillip II of Spain from going to war with France. And then there was this: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_de'_Medici#Queen_mother (go to "Reign of Charles IX". When a Protestant rebel leader made an alliance with Elizabeth I's English invaders and refused to stop seizing French cities, Catherine de Medici said "Since you rely on your forces, we will show you ours." CdM was then successful in taking back Rouen from some Protestant rebels and this later led to the Edict of Amboise which ended the war. CdM then turned around and had both Catholic and Protestant Frenchmen defeat the English at Le Havre. During all this combat she was at the field of battle in person despite protestations from her advisors (covered in more detail in Leonor Frieda's book). Heck, Henri IV, widely considered one of France's greatest monarchs now, was only able to unite the Catholics and Protestants because by then the bloodshed had been quite extreme enough that being anointed Catholic sufficed (barely) to bring them both to peace. And even then, he was assassinated by a Catholic fanatic. TLDR; CdM was a capable leader and had numerous successes people don't seem to know her for. When people cite Elizabeth I as the better or more powerful ruler, I can point also to Elizabeth I's numerous mistakes and failures, including her defeat by Catherine at Le Havre. It seems Elizabeth I has had better press than CdM though both leaders are comparable in their limits, faults and successes. I agree with you re: Hatshepsut over Cleopatra though.