Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership

WOMEN IN POWER 
BCE 1000-500

Leaders and women in other positions of political authority
of independent states and
self-governing understate entities


 

Around 993 Queen Nodjemet of Egypt

Daughter of Amenhotep and Hrere and perhaps married to Herihor and possible mother of Smendes, and among others held the titles of Mistress and Lady of the Lands.


Nesihonsu of Nubia and Egypt

990-969 Governor of Foreign Countries Queen Nesihonsu of Egypt, Vicereine of Nubia

Politically influential in Egypt during the reign of her husband and uncle, Pharaoh and High Priest of Amun Pinodzhem II of Egypt (Pindudjem) who appointed her Vice-Queen and Chief of Foreign Countries - both ceremonial titles. She was daughter of High Priest of Amun and Pharaoh Smendes II.


Queen Isetemachbit IV

990-before 969 Politically Influential Queen Isetemachbit IV of Egypt

Daughter of High Priest of Amun Mencheperre and Isetemachbit III. She was co-wife of her brother Pharaoh and High Priest of Amun Pinodzhem II. She also held many priestly titles and was very rich. She talked a divorce with her brother. Mother of Pharaoh and High Priest of Amun Psusennes II. (d. 969).


 

981 Regent Dowager Queen Ishaq of Thama (Arabia)

An Assyrian Vassal.


 

Around 984 Queen Duat-Hathor Henuttauy II of Egypt

The daughter of Smendes and Tentamun, she was married to Pinudjem I, mother of the God's Wife Maatkare I, and holder of the titles of Lady and Mistress of the Lands et cetera.


 

Around 984 BCE 911-.. Regent Queen Dowager Maacah of Judeah (Israel)

Wife or mother of King Abijam of Judeah. Following his death she reigned with his successor (her son or grandson), King Asa of Judeah, until he became of age.


 

873-852 Politically influential Queen Consort Jezebel of Israel
852-842 Politically influential in Judeah

Chief Advisor of her husband, King Achab. She was in charge of the official correspondence, and introduced various forms of Phoenician luxury hitherto unknown in the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Samaria. She also prevailed upon her husband to establish the worship of the Phoenician gods and goddesses, and was a bitter foe of prophet Elijah. After the death of her husband, she continued to exercise a strong and baneful influence over her two sons Ochozias (Ahazia) and Joram (Jehoram), and through her daughter Athalia who married King Joram of Judeah; she was also influential there until she was killed in a coup against Joram. Her story is told in the Old Testament in I Kings


Circa 870-40 High Priestess and God's Wife of Amun Karomama-Meritmut I at Thebes, Mistress of All the Land and Mistress of All Appearances (Egypt)

In the first half of the 11th century a tehenu (Libyan) named Buyuawa lived at Herakleopolis. His son became father of the local God Hershef and great chief of the Meshwesh. This position was inherited by his descendents. One of these, Sheshonq, married a widowed Queen. During the time of Pinedjem II he was recipient of an oracle from Amen at Thebes in favour of a mortuary cult for his father and good fortune for himself and the army. His grandson, Sheshonq I, became founder of the 22nd Dynasty at Bubastis with the support of the army and consolidated his reign by marrying his son Osorkon to a daughter of Psusennes II. The Libyans accepted Egyptian culture in a superficial way, retaining their separate group identity and militaristic outlook.  


 

Around 870-40 High Priestess and God's Wife of Amun Tashaenkheper at Thebes (Egypt)

Her background is not known, but she has been associated with Osorkon III. According to some interpretations, her position meant that she was de-facto ruler of the south of Egypt.


842-37 Queen Athaliah of Southern Judea (Israel)

She was the daughter of Achab Jehoram and Jezebel, and after the death of her son King Ahaziah, she seized power, ruling alone for six years. She is said to have massacred all the male members of the royal house, except for a baby son of Ahaziah, Jehoash, who was concealed by her stepdaughter Jehosheba. Some years later Jehosheba and her husband, the priest Jehoiada, organized a successful coup to place Jehoash on the throne. Ataliah was killed. Her story is told in the Old Testament in II Kings, II Chronicles.


 

814-813 Legendary Queen Elissa Dido of Chartago (Tunis)

According to legend she was the founder of Chartago but the city is much older. 


Queen Sammuramãt

811-806 Regent Dowager Queen Sammuramāt of Assyria

Semiramis ruled in the name of her son Adad-nirai III and might have continued as his co-ruler or they ruled different parts of the kingdom until 787/783. She was legendary for her efficient rule, where she managed to expand the kingdom. She lived (circa 844-787/783).


 

754-14 High Priestess and God's Wife of Amun Shepenupet I Merytmut at Thebes, Ruleress of Both Countries (Egypt)

At the time Egypt was divided into three parts: The Delta ruled by the Pharaohs, the Middle Egypt and Upper Egypt ruled by the Priestess of Amun and Wife of God. She was daughter of Pharaoh Osorkon III and Karoaczet. In circa 735 she adopted and appointed her successor, Princess Amenirdis I. During the 25th and 26th dynasties (747-525) the office of God's wife of Amun was at its height politically and economically and was often combined with that of the chief of the priestesses of Amun at Thebes and in southern Egypt. It was during this time held by princesses from the ruling family in Tanis in Lower Egypt, as a means to secure peaceful relations with the Delta area. It included an 'oracle' function, through which political decisions were sanctioned as coming from God.

Queen of Arabia

Circa 745-27 Queen Zaire of Higaz (Arabia)

Paid tribute to king Tiglatilesaris III of Assyria (745-27).


 

Circa 738-33 Queen Zabibe of Kedar (Jordan)

An Assyrian Vassal, she commanded armies containing large numbers of women. Succeeded by Queen Samsil.


Amenirdis I

Ca.736-690 High Priestess and God's Wife of Amun Amenirdis I at Thebes (Egypt)

Daughter of Kashta and Pebtama, she was sister of Piye, who proclaimed himself king of Egypt and "of all lands" by joint authority of Amun of Thebes and Amun of Napata. Her installation as High Priestess of Amun at Karnak gave him political control of Southern Egypt.

 

Circa 733-circa 10 Queen Samsil of Kedar (Jordan)

In 734 King Ahaz of Judah asked the help of Tiglath-pileser III, who had taken over the New Assyrian Empire (745-27), to help defend against a coalition of the forces of Rezen of Damascus and Pekah of Israel. Tiglath-pileser obliged by first demolishing Israel’s forces and then, in 732 marching against Damascus and killing king Pekah. She was forced to pay tribute to Tiglatpilesars III (745-27) in return for the use of the harbour of Gaza, which was in his control. She also paid tribute to his successor, Sargon II (722-05). Also known as Samsjja and was succeeded by Queen Yatie.


Circa 730 Queen Mout of the Sudan

Mentioned in accounts of the life her son, the Egyptian commander Taharqa, who led the Egyptian forces into Asia against the Assyrian Senachririb. She was married to king Piankhi of Sudan, who laid the foundation for his brother, Shabka to found the 25th Egyptian Dynasty by invading and subduing the various rebel forces in Lower Egypt.


 

Around 730-716 Queen Abar of Egypt

Daughter Kashta, she was the Sister-Wife of Pharaoh Pije (Piye) she among others held the titles of Lady of the Two Lands and Mistress of the Lands.

 

Around 716-702 Queen Qalhata of Egypt

Held the title of Mistress of the Land, she was married to Shabaka possibly as his Sister-Wife.

Schepenupet II

710-650 High Priestess and God's Wife of Amun Schepenupet II at Thebes (Egypt)

Daughter of Pharaoh Pije (Piye) and Peksater/Pekeresko. She adopted Amenirdis II and was joint ruler with her from 670, and also held the titles of Mistress and Lady of the Two Lands. As High Priestess she was the leader of the female music-makers who were regarded as the god’s harem and were identified with the goddess Hathor, who was associated with love and music. From the Twenty-third Dynasty and afterwards the priestesses were practically rulers of the theocracy, their duties centering around the reverence of Isis, and many other female and male goddesses and gods.

 

Circa 730 Queen Yatie of Kedar (Jordan)

Also known as  Iati'e, she succeeded Queen Samsil as ruler of the nomadic Arabic tribe, living in the deserts of eastern Syria and Jordan. She was succeeded by Queen Te'el-hunu.


 

Circa 705-690 Queen Nikauta Kadake of Ethiopia  

Her successor, Basyo, reigned for seven years and was succeeded by Queen Akawakis Candace, who reigned for 10 years.


 

Circa 690-circa 67 Queen Telhunu of Kedar (Jordan)

Also known as Te'el-humu, she succeeded Queen Yatie she reigned jointly with King Kaza'il. circa 690-circa 675 and then with her successor, Queen Tabua.


 

Around 690-664 Queen Naparaye of Egypt

The daughter of Piye, she was the sister-wife of Taharka and held the titles of Lady of the Two Lands and Noblewoman of All the Lands, etc.

 

689 Regent Queen Naqi’a of Assyria

There is some confusion over the identity of the builder Queen whom Herodotus called Nitocris. Naqi’a was the wife of Sennacherib, who ruled (705-681), when, according to the biblical account (II Kings 19:37), he was murdered in Babylon by two of his sons. There is evidence that she acted as regent during his absence on military campaign. Her name indicates that she was of Jewish or Armenian origin.


 

Circa 680-67 Queen Iskallabu of Arabia

Co-ruler with King Haza (circa 680-69). She was Assyrian and placed on the throne by King Asarhaddon, of whom she was a vassal. 


 

Circa 678-circa 675 Queen Tabua of Kedar (Jordan)

The last of five Queens, she first reigned jointly with Queen Telhunu, who reigned from circa 690. Tabua was succeeded by king Uaite ben Kaza''el.


Amenirdis II

670-640 High Priestess and God's Wife of Amun Amenirdis II at Thebes (Egypt)

She was daughter of Pharaoh Taharka. She was adopted by Schepenupet II but may never actually have functioned in the office of the Wife of the God. She later adopted Nitocris I.

Unnamed Egyptian Queen

656-586 High Priestess and God's Wife of Amun Nitocris I Merymut at Thebes (Egypt)

Daughter of Pharaoh Psametyk I (Psammetichus), who reigned 656-640, and joint ruler with Amenirdis II until 640. She adopted Anchnesneferibre as God's Wife of Amun - 595-25, and as High Priestess 595-60. 

 

598-97 Regent Queen Dowager Nehusta of Judea (Israel)

In charge of the government for her son, Jehoiachin after the death of her husband, King Jehoiakim. After 3 months and 10 days they were deported by the Bablonians. She was deported with her 18 year old son by the Babylonians. She was daughter of Elnatan of Jerusalem, and is mentioned in the Old Testament, II Book of Kings, 24th Chapter. 


595-25 High Priestess and God's Wife of Amun Ankhesenneferibre at Thebes (Egypt)

She was daughter of Pharaoh Psametyk II and Tachuit and adopted Nitocris II and also held the titles of Lady of the Lands, Lady of the Horus, Judge and Female Horus.

 

Around 600 Kandake Nensela of Kush (Sudan)

Mother of king Aspelta.


 

590-59 Legendary Ruler Adela of Friesland (The Netherlands and Germany)

After the murder of Frana in 586 BCE, the people wanted the "borough maid" Adela to be their new Earth Mother, but she refused because she wished to resign from her citadel and marry, which she did. For the next thirty years no Mother could be elected because each state supported the its own Maiden. More land was lost to the Magy of the Finns and Magyars but not by conquest of arms. He used propaganda on children and bribes on the nobles, promising them permanent hereditary offices with special privileges. These were long-term plans that undermined the very foundation of Friesland society. During Adela’s unofficial reign, nobles were then being mentioned but the meaning of such offices was changing. A count took the public inventory; he counted, initially the market sales, which were taxed, and the profits of the ships which were shared and later on, the military levy of armed men. It eventually became a position of privilege, even a hereditary one. A duke was a hearer of disputes like a local judge and it has already been mentioned that a king was an elected short-term commander.

A Queen in Mesopotamia

552 Regent Priestess Addagoppe of Babylon (Iraq)

Also known as Adda-Goppi, she was Priestess of the sun god Sin in Haran, when she moved to Babylon and managed to have her son, Nabu-naid named king (555-39). He spent little time in Babylon, leaving the government in her hands. In order to strengthen the security of the city, she altered the course of the Euphrates and constricted tall embankments on each side. She also built a footbridge across the river. It seems that when her son left Babylon to reside in Taima in northeastern Asia, and she seems to have continued to act as regent for grandson Bel-shar-usur when he was absent from the city. This might explain why she was buried in Harar with all the honors reserved for a Queen. The Historian Herdodotus wrote of her, but erroneously called her Nitrocris mistakenly had her married to king Labynetus of  Assyria. But it seems to be a fact that she died at the age of 104, After her death, Nabu-naid appointed his daughter to be high priestess of the God Sin. Addagoppe lived (647-circa 547). 


 

Circa 539-530/490-475 or 470-455 BC De-facto Ruler Queen Amoashtart of Sidon (Lebanon)

According to the Sidonian inscriptions she was daughter of King Eshmunazor I and married to her brother, Tabnit. Since he died before the birth of his son Eshmunazor II, she (the queen mother (HMLKT) Amoashtart) assumed the interregnum until the birth, then the co-regency with her young son during his childhood.  Another source say that Eshmunazor II died as a minor under the regency of his mother and she reigned as regent many years. She was the priestess of Astarte.


Tamyris of the Massagatae

Around 529 Queen Tamyris of the Massagatae Tribe (Iran)

Also known as Tomyris, the Greek form from the original Iranian name Tahm-Rayiš. According to legend, Cyrus the Great (559-30) wanted to marry her to acquire her portion of Persia (Iran) that she controlled as head of the Massagetae tribe. She refused and gathered an army to stop him. When he son died in battle, she took his place and led her troops to victory. So many accounts of warrior women appear in legends and traditional accounts that one must assume they were more common in battle than most modern historians credit them.


 

526-515 Regent Queen Dowager Pheretime of Cyrene of Salamis (Libya)

Took care of the government-business from Bule while her son, Arkesilaos III (526-510), re-conquered Cyrene. He was murdered and Egypt helped her take revenge.  


Unnamed Egyptian Ruler

525 High Priestess and God's Wife of Amun Nitocris II at Thebes (Egypt)

Daughter of Pharaoh Psametyk II.  She was the last High Priestess and God's Wife of Amun. In 525 king of Persia Kambyses II occupied Egypt and abolished the post of High Priestess and God's Wife of Amun who had been rulers of the theocracy from the 23rd Dynasty around 900.


 

521-before 515 Politically Influential Queen Atossa of Persia (Iran)

Also known as Hutaosâ, she was first married to her brother, Kambyses II (529-22). Afterwards she was forced to marry Magian usurper Smerdis, who had seized power in March 522. In September 522, Darius, a member of the younger branch of the royal family, the Achaemenids, staged a countercoup and became king. To improve his claim to the throne, Darius married both Atossa, her sister Artystone and her niece Parmys. There may have been another important element: the name Atossa is Zoroastrian, and it may be that she belonged to a family with connection in the Persian religious establishment. There are indications that she died before 515 and that Herodotus' statement that she helped her oldest son, Xerxes become king therefore is unlikely to be true. The same applies to Aeschylus' play "The Persians", in which she is presented as a widow. She lived (before 545-before 515).


 

Circa 520-circa 480 Political Advisor Queen Gorgo of Sparta (Greece)

According to Herodotus she acted as an informal political advisor to her father, Cleomenes I, and her husband, Leonidas I.


Amazon Queen

Before 512 Queen Hypsipyle of Lemnos (Greece)

In the ancient realm of myth there is the account that in prehistoric times the island Lemnos was only inhabited by women. This island was called gynaikokratumene, which means reigned by women. In the Greek myth about the Argonauts, a group of men comes to this island on their way to the land of Colchis (in the East of the Black Sea), which was ruled by Hypsipyle. These women of Lemnos lived as self-confident Amazons on this island; their aim of life was not focused on fighting against men. It is likely that this myth reflects former matriarchal life on this island.


Last update 24.02.14

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