Egyptian queens that reigned in Ancient Egypt are those strong women who enjoyed the glory of power and left a huge legacy that will last an eternity.
The majority of people can name Nefertiti and Cleopatra as the most significant and famous queens of Egypt from the past. In fact, there are several other names that deserve mention in the list of Egyptian queens.
These strong and powerful women who ruled Ancient Egypt lived in a world dominated by men and were unusual and extraordinary wonders of their time.
By the way, according to the facts the ancient Egyptians had no word that was equivalent to “Queen” and the title of a queen was King or Pharaoh, the same as a man.
Some queens reigned quietly whereas, others took it upon themselves to enjoy the glory of power. They tried to ensure their legacy would last an eternity. Some of the queens showcased in the list are those that reigned during a period when men held supremacy and it was unthinkable to see a woman having such power.
With the help of their intelligence and femininely, they become so powerful that they literally changed the world they lived in. So, if you are interested to learn more interesting facts and detailed stories of some of the most famous Egyptian queens, just keep on reading.
Egyptian queens #1 | Queen MerNeith
According to some facts, MerNeith was a queen consort and regent; however, she may have been a ruler in her own right. It is believed that she has risen to power after the death of her husband, King Djet and as her son was too young to rule Egypt, she became the very first female ruler of ancient Egypt.
Interestingly, her tomb closely resembles those of Egyptian kings and reflects many of the honors granted to them, such as graves for servants, a large underground chamber, a solar boat and sacrificial offerings. By the way, MerNeith means “beloved by Neith”.
Her name is included in a list of the first dynasty of Egyptian pharaohs found on a seal in her son’s tomb.
Egyptian queens #2 | Queen Hatshepsut
Next up in our list of most powerful names of ancient Egypt is Queen Hatshepsut. She lived from 1500-1458 BC and is the second historically confirmed female pharaoh of Egypt.
Based on hard facts Hatshepsut ruled over Egypt for 21 years and holds the title of the longest reign of a female ancient Egyptian ruler. According to the legends, she dressed up in men’s clothing and wore a false beard to instill the idea in the people’s minds that she was no less a king than any other.
As an inscription says she was addressed as “God’s Wife, King’s Daughter, King’s Sister, Great Royal Wife Hatshepsut”. Furthermore, Hatshepsut insisted that people call her as “King” and “His Majesty”.
Above all these things, this strong and powerful female ruler is known for the building of many monuments. In general, she is regarded by scholars as one of the most successful and effective pharaohs in Egyptian history. It’s not surprising as she expanded trade and realized ambitious building projects.
Egyptian queens #3 | Queen Sobekneferu
Sobekneferu is the first pharaoh confirmed by evidence. Her name literally means “Sobek is the beauty of Ra”. She ruled Egypt during the 12th Dynasty from 1806-1802 BC and rose to power after her husband Amenemhat IV died.
Sobekneferu constructed structures at Herakleopolis Magna and continued the funerary complex of Amenemhat III. You can find her damaged statues in the Delta. As it is said she used masculine names and titles to help relieve the criticism that female rulers received.
Perhaps she ruled for only about four years but is known from a number of monuments and other achievements. Sobekneferu is known as the last Egyptian king of the Middle Kingdom but you can’t find a lot of information about her reign, death or burial.
So, one of the most powerful and strong women of early world history, queen Sobekneferu, remains a mystery.
Egyptian queens #4 | Queen Ankhesenamun
Ankhesenamun was married to Tutankhamun and she tried to save the throne upon the death of her husband. Preserved depictions presented them in a loving and romantic relationship.
Her story, however, wasn’t all as cheerful. Because of the genetic disorders (as she was Tutankhamun’s half-sister) their two daughters were stillborn.
In the ninth year of Tutankhamun’s reign, at about the age of eighteen, Tutankhamun died suddenly, leaving Ankhesenamun alone without an heir.
Furthermore, she was married by force to both her father, Akhenaten and her grandfather, Ay. This was not an unusual thing for Egyptian royal families. Ankhesenamun probably died during Ay’s reign but no burial has been found for her yet.
Egyptian queens #5 | Queen Nefertiti
Nefertiti (meaning “a beautiful woman has come”) is known as not only one of the most beautiful but also most powerful queens of Egypt. She was born approximately in 1370 BC and died around 1330 BC.
Nefertiti and Akhenaten, the most powerful couple of the ancient world, ruled Egypt together from 1353-1336 B.C. Nefertiti gave birth to six daughters. The couple is best known for promoting a monotheistic religious revolution pushing for the worship of only one god.
Prior to that, Egyptian religion was polytheistic. The cause of her death is unknown. It is likely Nefertiti perished from natural death, but it’s also possible she was murdered because of her scandalous religious ideals. Noteworthy is that under the rule of Nefertiti Egypt witnessed wealth and prosperity, possibly the most it had ever seen.
This strong woman had many names and titles including Great of Praises, Hereditary Princess, Lady of Grace, Sweet of Love, Lady of The Two Lands, Main King’s Wife, Great King’s Wife, Lady of all Women and Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt. Her bust is now kept in Berlin’s Neues Museum and it is one of the most copied works of ancient Egypt.
Egyptian queens #6 | Queen Nefertari
Egyptian queen Nefertari was the first of the Great Royal Wives of Ramesses the Great.Her name means ‘beautiful companion’. She is also known as Nefertari Meritmut which means ‘Beloved of the goddess Mut’.
Nefertari is one of the well-known Egyptian queens, alongside with Cleopatra, Hatshepsut and Nefertiti. Her tomb is one of the largest and most amazing in the Valley of the Queens.
Ramesses dedicated a temple in her honor at Abu Simbel next to his colossal monument. Notably, Nefertari was highly educated and she was able to read and write hieroglyphs that was a very rare skill during that period.
This brilliant and strong woman had different titles, such as Sweet of Love, Great of Praises, Lady of Grace, Lady of The Two Lands, Lady of all Lands, Wife of the Strong Bull, God’s Wife and some others. According to the facts, Ramesses II even named her ‘The one for whom the sun shines’.
Egyptian queens #7 | Queen Cleopatra
Cleopatra (Cleopatra VII Philopator) was from a family of Macedonian Greek origin. She was the last active pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt. At first, she ruled the country jointly with her father Ptolemy XII Auletes and then later with her two brothers.
At the age of eighteen, she got married to her brother by their father’s will. Cleopatra, however, assured that she would not share power with him. She even dropped his name from official documents and kept his face off of currency and got that honor for herself alone.
It is noteworthy that Cleopatra could speak six languages including Egyptian, Hebrew, Ethiopic, Aramaic, Greek and Latin.
Cleopatra’s military alliances with the Roman leaders Mark Antony and Julius Caesar, and her powers of seduction and exotic beauty, earned her a lasting place in history.
Her legacy survives in numerous ancient and modern works of art, including William Shakespeare’s tragedy Antony and Cleopatra; George Bernard Shaw’s play Caesar and Cleopatra; George Frideric Handel’s opera Giulio Cesare and many others.
The means of Cleopatra’s death is uncertain, but the ancient sources, such as Plutarch and other writers are in general agreement that she used a poisonous snake asp (Egyptian cobra) to kill herself.
Egyptian queens #8 | Queen Twosret
The last known ruler and the final Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty Twosret ruled Egypt for seven years. Her royal name was Sitre Meryamun, which means “Daughter of Re, beloved of Amun.”
She was married to Seti II. When he died his son took over the throne. However, he was unable to rule Egypt effectively and Twosret, the “Great Royal Wife”, took over co-regency with her son Siptah.
Six years after his reign Siptah died and Twosret took over as sole ruler of Egypt. It is not certain if her reign ended in civil war or the conflict was initiated as a result of her death.
Egyptian queens #9 | Queen Nitocris
Nitocris is considered to be the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt’s Sixth Dynasty. Even though her historicity is questionable her name can be found in Herodotus’ Histories and in some other writings. She has been claimed to be the daughter of King Pepi II.
Furthermore, Nitocris is the half-sister and wife of King Merenre. His reign ended abruptly as he was assassinated. As the couple was childless the grieving wife took the throne of Egypt as the pharaoh-queen.
There is an interesting legend connected with her. According to the famous Greek historian Herodotus, Nitocris invited the murderers of her brother to a banquet and killed them by flooding the room that was secretly connected tunnel leading to the Nile River.
It is believed that Nitocris then committed suicide. Thus, she ended the period in history known as the Old Kingdom of ancient Egyptian and the reign of the 6th dynasty.
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