Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Wonderologist. Wonderologist Wonders, “Who was the one-eyed queen?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Wonderologist!
When you think of famous queens throughout history, who comes to mind? Some Wonder Friends may think of Cleopatra. Maybe you remember learning about Mary, Queen of Scots. Today’s Wonder of the Day is about another great queen. What do you know about the ancient Kandake Amanirenas?
Amanirenas (say “uh-mon-ee-ray-nus”) was a kandake (queen or “great woman”) of a nation called Kush. This kingdom was in the region that today is the African country Sudan. She was the second of eight kandakes who ruled Kush. Considering most ancient civilizations were ruled by kings, this made the nation unique.
The reign of Kandake Amanirenas lasted thirty years (40-10 B.C.E.). Experts believe she was born sometime between 60 and 50 B.C.E. She led Kush at a very important time when the nation was under threat from the Roman Empire.
In 30 B.C.E., the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus conquered Egypt. That’s when he set his sights south to Kush. But Kandake Amanirenas was ready. In 24 B.C.E., she led 30,000 soldiers against the Roman forces in Egypt. She and her son, Prince Akinidad, fought among the soldiers and won a great victory.
As a result of this first battle, Kush took three Roman cities and many captives. The Kushite troops also defaced many monuments to Caesar Augustus throughout the cities. Amanirenas ordered the head removed from one bronze statue of Augustus. Upon return to her palace, she buried the head beneath the entrance as an insult to the emperor.
Rome launched a counterattack. It reclaimed its lost cities and invaded Kush. Kandake Amanirenas continued to fight. In one battle, she lost an eye. After healing, she returned to battle. Amanirenas also lost her son in the fight, which would become known as the Meroitic War (after Kush’s capital, Meroe).
Rome and Kush agreed to a peace treaty in 22 B.C.E. The agreement meant that the Kushites kept all of their territory. The Romans also took their army out of Egypt. Kush did not pay tribute or send any resources to Rome, unlike other nations along the empire’s border.
Amanirenas continued to rule until her death in 10 B.C.E. Her reign was followed by that of another kandake, Amanishakheto. Today, many kandakes of Kush are remembered as brave women who led their kingdom to great victories.
What would it have been like to live in the time of Amanirenas? Would you have fought against the Roman Empire? Many nations found it was more fruitful to join it. Not so for the nation of Kush, which lasted for another 400 years after the Meroitic War!
Standards: C3.D2.His.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, C3.D2.His.3, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.7, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.8, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.R.10