Hatshepsut – The Most Successful Female Pharaon

Throughout the course of ancient history, women have never been in the spotlight. Women in history is a rare topic of discussion, they tend to be hidden more in the shadows than a part of history. Especially during Ancient Egypt. The only women that were truly known of Egypt were the pharaoh’s wife, also known as the queen. The majority of Ancient Egypt was dominated and controlled by men. Egypt was ruled by a male king also known as the Pharaoh, the Pharaoh was the most powerful person in Egypt. Women couldn't be Pharaoh, it was frowned upon. If women wanted to rise to power, they had to marry a male in line to the throne. Some women became so desperate for the climb to power, that they would attempt to assassinate their husbands to gain a higher position of power. The Pharaoh was basically the spokesperson of Egypt. The Pharaoh was also responsible for the religious, political, and overall decisions for Egypt as a whole. Ancient Egypt ended up taking a turn in a direction that was entirely rare and slightly unheard of. Ancient Egypt was now run by one of the few female Pharaohs, but most famous, also known as, 'The King Herself, Hatshepsut.' 

Women in Ancient Egypt had more rights than women elsewhere. Egyptian women were considered legally equal to that of a man and they were also allowed to purchase their own properties. I believe that maybe since women were legally viewed as an equal to a man that they were so desperate for power because they believed they deserved it. According to the article, “Women in Ancient History,” “An Egyptian queen during the time of the Pharaoh’s couldn’t rule as monarch. Hatshepsut, the only known exception to this, was labelled as a king.” Also referring to the same article, Hatshepsut not only was referred to as a king, but she also dressed like one. Rather than keeping the idealistic beauty that is portrayed of women in Egypt, with the gold jewelry, makeup, and beautiful dresses, Hatshepsut instead chose to wear a royal kilt. I feel as if Hatshepsut’s reasoning for dressing as a male was that she wanted the Egyptian people to view and respect her just as they would if she was a male pharaoh. Her rise to the throne was a family tragedy. She was expected to marry her half-brother and become queen of the Pharaoh, however her half-brother ended up dying along with her other two brothers. “The shift from male to female monarch is but one of the profound transitions in gender relationships that occurred in this period.” In my opinion, it was considered such a profound transition because women were viewed as the wife, the queen, and the lady who stood alongside their pharaoh of a husband supporting, loving, and encouraging him in his power. Which also makes me believe that Hatshepsut reigned so effectively over Egypt because she didn’t have a significant other to worry about, her ultimate worry was with Egypt as a whole. Continuing my reference to the article, “Women in Ancient History,” Hatshepsut was referred to with male and female pronouns. The two remaining statues of Hatshepsut are held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, in one statue she is dressed as a woman, and the other as a man. Hatshepsut possessed her powerful title over Egypt for twenty years and deemed to be successful.

According to the article, “The Queen Who Would Be King,” Hatshepsut was the sixth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty and by far the most successful. As I said before, I think majority of her success results in her being able to rule Egypt alone and not being linked to anyone through marriage or having a significant other who may try to persuade her or disagree with her way of ruling. Being widowed of her brother who was also her husband, Thutmose II, she kept her title as queen and realized her stepson Thutmose III was too young to take the throne. After a couple years of remaining as the widowed queen of the pharaoh, she finally chose to give herself the title of pharaoh. I believe that when Hatshepsut gave herself the title as pharaoh, she felt empowered and was flooded with determination to lead Egypt down the right path. In the same article, they explain how Hatshepsut was born into an age of Egyptian imperial power and prosperity, also known as the New Kingdom. She married her brother Thutmose II and became queen of the pharaoh at the young age of twelve. At twelve years old she was hand in hand with the pharaoh and all of Egypt’s decisions became their ultimate priority. Her late husband’s son was expected by all of Egypt to take the throne, but Hatshepsut had different ideas for him. According to the same article, Thutmose III “wasn’t under house arrest for those twenty-odd years, he was learning how to become a good soldier.” 

Hatshepsut wasn’t viewed in a positive light by everyone. It took time for her to be able to gain the respect of her fellow civilians of Egypt. Referring to an article from National Geographic, it states, “Hatshepsut is famous today less for her reign during the golden age of Egypt’s 18th dynasty than for having the audacity to portray herself as a man.” After two decades of reigning as female pharaoh, Hatshepsut passed away. According to National Geographic, headlines arose about the finding of Hatshepsut’s mummy two summers ago. “When she died, she had two tombs and two sarcophagi; one for a king and one for a queen,” says the article, “Women in Ancient Egypt.” The dictionary defines a sarcophagus or sarcophagi (plural) as “a stone coffin especially one bearing sculpture, inscriptions, often displayed as a monument.” For the twenty years Egypt was under her power, there were no wars, and she expanded trade and built extensively. When Hatshepsut died and Thutmose III took over the throne, he demolished anything with her name on it and everything she worked so hard to build was now gone. I think that when he took over the throne he was still so envious over the fact that Hatshepsut rose to the throne before he did. He was so determined to rid everything she worked so hard for because he was ready to build his own dynasty the way he imagined to for so long. I think those twenty years were beyond tough for Thutmose III because he watched his step-mother control the throne that he was supposed to inherit.

From being twelve and queen to a pharaoh, to becoming one of the few female pharaohs but the most successful one, Hatshepsut thought she left Egypt in good hands. Even though her step-son wanted to destroy the empire she worked so hard to build, she remains as one of the most successful pharaohs of all time. Hatshepsut has inspired me to rise to the occasion and follow through with my own beliefs in any circumstances. She not only inspired me, but she inspired the other females during her era, and the era after her. Hatshepsut in my opinion is the most successful, female ruling pharaohs’ of all time. She took on a role that controls the decisions of Egypt, and her fellow citizens were relying on her to make the right decision and leading Egypt into the successful direction. Hatshepsut took her role very seriously and lived up to the expectations of her fellow Egyptians.  

16 December 2021
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