“At the death of her husband, Emperor Teriqetas – who died in battle”(Face to Face Africa), taking the throne in the the Kingdom of Kush, Queen Amanirenas would go on to become one of the most well-known female rulers of the ancient world. She was the most famous “Kandake” out of the four female queens who ruled in Kush. Amanirenas is known as the queen with one eye, since her fierce military determination led her to lose it in battle (History of Royal Women). In addition to her known war tactics, she goes on to negotiate a treaty with the most powerful male ruler at the time, Augustus Caesar (Lisapo ya Kama).
During her rule, the Roman empire was expanding and conquering various territories such as Britain and Cleopatra’s Egypt. The Romans quickly started pushing the south borders of Egypt into Kush, threatening the Nubians. Amanirenas led various attacks with thousands of soldiers into Roman territory and dethroned statues of emperor Augustus Caesar (24 B.C.). To show her distaste for the emperor, she beheaded a statue of him and “buried it under the entranceway of her palace so everyone could walk over her enemy”(History of Royal Women). This act is not only ironic, but also a slap in the face to Augustus Caesar, since the Nubians will have to walk over the mighty emperor’s head walking into Kush. If that isn’t enough to prove her unique comedic tendencies, Amanirenas is believed to have fed her captives to her pet lion”(History of Royal Women). Years passed of constant conflict between Kush and the Roman Empire, which finally led to Kandake Amanirenas sitting down at a negotiation table with Augustus Caesar, himself. A treaty was signed, which led the Kushites to be free from Roman rule for the following 300 years (Face to Face Africa).
After spending her life fighting for her country, Amanirenas died in 4226 (Lisapo ya Kama). She played a significant role in securing Kush for centuries after, since if it weren’t for her leadership, the kingdom would’ve died the moment Romans set their eyes on the land. Queen Amanirenas is set to become the subject of a movie within the next few years “produced by Will Packer with Mark Rosenthal as the scriptwriter”.(Face to Face Africa).
Kandake Amanirenas intrigued me since she is one of the most famous rulers in the ancient world, yet I had never heard of her. Being assigned to watch an episode of the PBS documentary Africa’s Great Civilizations, I later came to discover that I had watched the wrong episode. However, the “wrong episode” of the documentary that I watched contained information about Queen Amanirenas that I, otherwise, would have never came across. Most common school history textbooks only emphasizes a woman ruler when discussing Cleopatra’s empire, even though she was ultimately defeated by the Romans. Making peace with one of the largest empires at the time (Romans) is an extraordinary and nearly impossible task. Amanirenas’ courage and bravery inspire me to not only work harder in every aspect of life, but not accept weakness as my role for being a woman. Even though history tends to focus on women being oppressed, Amanirenas demonstrated that this is not always the case.
For more information on the history of Queen Amanirenas and her empire, I would encourage you to watch this clip of a documentary by ACR Learning:
(Video courtesy of ACR Learning via Youtube).
Barger, Brittani. “Amanirenas – Fierce Ruler of Kush.” History of RoyalWomen, 4 Feb. 2018, www.historyofroyalwomen.com/the-royal-women/amanirenas-fierce-ruler-kush/.
Johnson, Elizabeth Ofosuah. “Amanirenas, the Brave One-Eyed African Queen Who Led an Army against the Romans in 24BC.” Face2Face Africa, 18 July 2018, face2faceafrica.com/article/amanirenas-the-brave-one-eyed-african-queen-who-led-an-army-against-the-romans-in-24bc.
Kama, Lisapo. “Kandake Amanirenas, the Greatest African Woman Ever.” Lisapo Ya Kama, 8 Jan. 2018, en.lisapoyakama.org/kandake-amanirenas-the-greatest-african-woman-ever/.
LEARNING, AE. “Queen Amanirenas.” YouTube, YouTube, 12 Dec. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVRFmdPbUnY&feature=youtu.be.
“Origins.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, https://www.pbs.org/video/africas-great-civilizations-origins-hour-one/.