Lady Eveningstar

Stela 35 from Yaxchilan, depicting Lady Eveningstar. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

By Amy-Jane Humphries

Lady Ik’skull or Lady Eveningstar was the second queen consort of the Mayan king Itzamnaaj B’alam II, also known as Shield Jaguar. She was born into a high-ranking family in Calamakul, 147km from Yaxchilan, where she would one-day rule as queen.

Shield Jaguar’s principal wife, the powerful Lady Xoc, held precedence at court. It was expected that, upon their husband’s death, someone from Lady Xoc’s lineage would ascend to the throne. But when Shield Jaguar died in the middle of the 8th century, this did not happen.

In fact, it’s quite unclear what took place in the aftermath of Shield Jaguar’s death. It would be a decade before Shield Jaguar’s son with Lady Eveningstar, Yaxum Ba’lam IV would ascend the throne. This interregnum indicates a struggle for the throne, but we cannot be absolutely certain.

It has been argued that Lady Eveningstar was actually regent for that decade, ruling the kingdom on behalf of her son who was presumably absent—perhaps at war with his rivals who may have been from Lady Xoc’s bloodline.

If she was regent for a decade, the length of time suggests she was an able ruler. Lady Eveningstar’s successful subversion of the established female hierarchy, and the interruption of the usual monarchic practices says much for the power she wielded during her lifetime.

Recommended Reading

Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube, Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens: Deciphering the Dynasties of the Ancient Maya (London: Thames and Hudson, 2000).

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