Egypt has a long and stunning history of monarchy, with focus typically drawn to ancient Egypt and the pharaohs. Its transition from ancient hub to a caliphate in the medieval period as it underwent periods of conquest and conquering, and then its development to a sultanate and kingdom meant that its rule and rulers were not always placed within the borders of what we now categorise as Egypt. The female rulers during the dynasties of the Achaemenids, Ptolemaics, Abbasids, Fatimids, Ayyubids, and Mamluks, as well as the kingdom of Kush, will feature here. Egypt’s current boundaries have remained stable since the loss of Palestine as its client state in 1967.
This is a brief outline of the country’s history, in order to situate its rulers with further context. Please follow the links below to find out more about the female rulers of the territories that now lie in modern Egypt!
- Ahhotep I (c. 1560-1530BC)
- Hatshepsut (1507-1458BC)
- Nefertiti (1370-1330BC)
- Amanimalel (fl. 7th century BC)
- Arsinoe II (316-c.270-260BC)
- Cleopatra I (204-176BC)
- Shanakdakhete (2nd century BC)
- Cleopatra II (185-116BC)
- Cleopatra VII (69-30BC)
- Amanitore (1st century BC)
- Amanishakheto (1st century BC)
- Amanirenas (1st century BC)
- Sagar al-Durr (13th century)
- Nazli Sabri (1894-1978)
Cooney, Kara. When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt. Washington D. C.: National Geographic, 2018
Fisher, Marjorie M., Peter Lacovara, Salima Ikram, and Sue D’Auria, eds. Ancient Nubia: African Kingdoms of the Nile. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2012
Hobson, Janell, ed. The Routledge Companion to Black Women’s Cultural Histories. London: Routledge, 2021
Krakowski, Eve. Coming of Age in Medieval Egypt. Female Adolescence, Jewish Law, and Ordinary Culture. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017
Lohwasser, Angelika. “Queenship in Kush: Status, Role, and Ideology of Royal Women.” JARCE 38 (2001): 61–76
Schwarz-Bart, Andre, and Simone Swarz-Bart. In Praise of Black Women: Ancient African Queens. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001
Shaw, Ian, ed. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004
Török, László. The Kingdom of Kush: Handbook of the Napatan-Meroitic Civilization. Leiden: Brill, 1997.