Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Famous Egyptian Women

A few queens became sole rulers in Egypt in ancient times

This normally occurred after the death of their husbands, while their sons or stepsons were still underage.

In these instances, the queens took over as "King of Upper and Lower Egypt," which, according to tradition, was not tolerated by the ancient Egyptians.

Their names and deeds were mostly erased from both memories and monuments. Their reigns usually marked a change in the dynasty or ruling family.

These famous female rulers were Neith-iqeret or Nitocris, Sobek-nefru, Hatshepsut, and Ta-wesert. Neith-iqeret, or Nitocris, might have been a widow of the last king of the Sixth Dynasty. She ruled for a very short time.

Sobek-nefru ruled after the death of her husband, Amenemhat the Fourth, at the end of the Twelfth Dynasty.

Hatshepsut was the greatest female ruler in the history of Egypt. She became ruler after the early death of her husband, Tuthmosis the Second, in the Eighteenth Dynasty. Hatshepsut ruled for about 20 years, first together with her very young stepson, Tuthmosis the Third, as co-regent, then alone.

Ta-wesert was the widow of Seti the Second, the last king of the Nineteenth Dynasty

Ptolemaic Queens' Influence on Their Husbands

During the Ptolemaic period, women of the ruling class were equal to their husbands in all ways and played a large role in public affairs. They would sponsor expeditions and supply all the expeditions' needs with funding from their husbands.

Women built temples, founded cities, led armies, and owned castles and forts. They sometimes took the position of king or ruled as absolute equals to the king. These queens developed the same interest their husbands had in education. A woman like Arsinoe the Second, Ptolemy the Second's wife, was beautiful and very powerful. She naturally had an impact on all those who surrounded her, especially her brother, who was also her husband, to the extent that he was called Philadelphus, or "lover of his sister."

Arsinoe was mainly responsible for her husband's foreign policy. People and messengers from other cities would seek her counsel. It was probably based on his wife's advice that Ptolemy the Second sent an expedition to Rome requesting friendship. Arsinoe's death ended the Ptolemaic expansion since she had control over the middle Greek countries and because Ptolemy could not resist her influence. When she died, he named the Al-Faiyum province after her, which became known as Arsinoe Province after it was reformed.

Notable Mothers of Sultans

Although very little information is available to us about the upbringing of a sultan's children, we learn from stories such as One Thousand and One Nights that it is obvious that mothers were extremely loving and protective of their children. Mothers were constantly trying to spare them from their fathers' punishments by hiding their mistakes. Mothers might even murder anyone who threatened the lives of their sons.

During the Ayyubid period, the mother of Nur al-Din helped her son escape the wrath of his father Al-Malik al-Adil, who swore to cut off his hands as a punishment for drinking alcohol.

Historians mention that Al-Khatun, the daughter of Baraka Khan, poisoned Prince Belik when she overheard his plan to prevent her son from becoming Sultan of Egypt.

The mother of Sultan Al-Nasir Mohammad Ibn Qala'un is said to have escaped from the Egyptian territories with her son for fear of plots to get rid of him in order that another could take the throne.

Another example is that of Khawand Zeinab, daughter of Khasbak. She chose to leave the Citadel Palace and join her two sons, Al-Muayyed Ahmed and Muhamad, in prison. She nursed Ahmed until his death and then requested the permission of Sultan Khashqadam to take his body to Cairo to bury him next to his father Al-Ashraf Inal.

As for Khawand Aslabay, mother of Sultan Al-Nasir Mohammad Ibn Qaitbay, upon learning of a threat on her son's life from his uncle Konsowah, she made them vow loyalty to each other.

Another historical story is that of Anook, son of Sultan Al-Nasir Mohammad Ibn Qala'un. When Anook fell in love with a singer named Zahra, his mother, Khawand Toghay, helped him. When his father the Sultan found out, he vowed to kill Anook, but Al-Nasir Mohammad's wife, Khawand Toghay stopped him.

The great respect and privileges that mothers enjoyed at the time is repeated in several historical Mamluk sources.

An example of this great love is the amazing building Al-Ashraf Shaaban built in honor of his mother, Umm al-Sultan Shaaban.

Famous Muslim Women

Many historical writings indicate that Muslim women were involved in both religious and intellectual life.

Numerous women specialized in grammar, poetry, and the Prophet's sayings.

One example is Fatma, daughter of Abbas Shikha of Rebat (convent) Al-Baghdadia, named "The Lady of her times" by the historian Al-Makrizi, who described her as having great intellect and wisdom.

Other women were known by reciting the Prophet's sayings from the Bukhari book in gatherings that took place at the Citadel.

Many intellectuals of the Mamluk period were taught and certified by famous women, Muslim scholars at the time. A historian named Al-Sakhawy describes how many students crowded to listen to Anas, daughter of Abd Al-Karim. In his book, "The Golden Light in the Elite of the Ninth Century," he includes over a thousand biographies about women that lived during that century (Ninth Century Hijri, Fifteenth Century AD).

Before that, during the Wallah age, Sayeda Nafisa, a descendant of the Prophet, gave religious lessons in her house and was a great woman loved by the Egyptian population.

One of the most famous women of Egyptian Islamic history is Lady Meskah, a slave to Sultan Al-Nasir Mohammad Ibn Qala'un. She raised him and played a major role in the social life of the time. Lady Meskah established a mosque and taught Islamic knowledge and wisdom in the area of Sayeda Zeinab.

Lady Khawand Toghay was a slave to Al-Nasir Mohammad Ibn Qala'un. He freed her and made her his wife. She was a great beauty and a kind-hearted woman who attended to all her slaves' needs. She was the mother of Prince Anook and her greatness continued even after the death of Al-Nasir Mohammad Ibn Qala'un. Khawand Toghay built a khanqa, a monastery or Sufi convent. This khanqa, had houses linked to it where Sufis lived and received their education. She arranged the presence of a prayer reader at her son's grave. She also donated money so that bread could be given to the poor.

Another famous woman of the Mamluk period is Khawand Baraka, mother of Sultan Shaaban and wife of Prince Iljay Al-Yusufi. She enjoyed greatness and high status. The school of Umm al-Sultan Shaaban, which was built for her, is a great building with a public fountain which is located near the Citadel. She also arranged for lessons of the Shafii and Hanafi religious rites to be taught there. She was buried there along with her son Al-Ashraf Shaaban.

Eternal Egypt


Inger-M said...

A very interesting post!

Jamie said...

So fun learning more!

بنوتة said...

Informazioni su Egitto è un mondo bellissimo

Grazie Tamer

Krystal said...

how could would it have been to be a queen :)

Beautiful girl said...

Wonderful information

Thank you Tamer

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Very good website you have here but I was curious if you knew of
any user discussion forums that cover the same topics discussed in this article?
I'd really like to be a part of online community where I can get responses from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Cheers!

my web site ... hand pole saw pruner

emily rose said...

Great Post ! I really appreciate your effort of writting... Thanks for sharing such a superb Post .... Keep Sharing such a great info ... !!! Web development services Dubai

Web hosting services Dubai

SEO services Dubai

Ecommerce website design Dubai

Travel booking website Dubai

Hotel management software Dubai

Website design services Dubai