Great Royal Wife

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Great Royal Wife
Great Royal Wife
Great Royal Wife
Great Royal Wife
in hieroglyphs
Hatshepsut was Great Royal Wife to Thutmose II, then regent for her stepson Thutmose III, before becoming pharaoh in her own right (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) HatshepsutStatuette MuseumOfFineArtsBoston.png
Hatshepsut was Great Royal Wife to Thutmose II, then regent for her stepson Thutmose III, before becoming pharaoh in her own right (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Great Royal Wife, or alternatively, Chief King's Wife (Ancient Egyptian: ḥmt nswt wrt), is the term that was used to refer to the principal wife of the pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, who served many official functions.

Pharaoh Title of Ancient Egyptian rulers

Pharaoh is the common title of the monarchs of ancient Egypt from the First Dynasty until the annexation of Egypt by the Roman Empire in 30 BCE, although the actual term "Pharaoh" was not used contemporaneously for a ruler until Merneptah, c. 1200 BCE. In the early dynasty, ancient Egyptian kings used to have up to three titles, the Horus, the Sedge and Bee (nswt-bjtj) name, and the Two Ladies (nbtj) name. The Golden Horus and nomen and prenomen titles were later added.

Ancient Egypt ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes. The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.



While most Ancient Egyptians were monogamous, a male pharaoh would have had other, lesser wives and concubines in addition to the Great Royal Wife. This arrangement would allow the pharaoh to enter into diplomatic marriages with the daughters of allies, as was the custom of ancient kings. [1]

Monogamy is a form of dyadic relationship in which an individual has only one partner during their lifetime—alternately, only one partner at any one time —as compared to non-monogamy. The term is also applied to the social behavior of some animals, referring to the state of having only one mate at any one time.

In the past the order of succession in Ancient Egypt was thought to pass through the royal women. This theory, referred to as the Heiress Theory, has been rejected regarding the eighteenth dynasty ever since a 1980s study of its royalty. [2] [3] The throne likely just passed to the eldest living son of those pharaohs.

An order of succession or right of succession is the sequence of those entitled to hold a high office such as head of state or an honor such as a title of nobility in the order in which they stand in line to it when it becomes vacated. This sequence may be regulated through descent or by statute.

The mother of the heir to the throne was not always the Great Royal Wife, but once a pharaoh was crowned, it was possible to grant the mother of the king the title of Great Royal Wife, along with other titles. Examples include Iset, the mother of Thutmose III, [4] Tiaa, the mother of Thutmose IV [2] and Mutemwia, the mother of Amenhotep III. [5]

Iset (queen) Queen consort of Egypt

Iset was a queen of the eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, and she was named after goddess Isis. She was a secondary wife or concubine of Thutmose II.

Thutmose III sixth Egyptian Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty

Thutmose III was the sixth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Officially, Thutmose III ruled Egypt for almost 54 years and his reign is usually dated from 24 April 1479 BC to 11 March 1425 BC, from the age of two and until his death at age fifty-six; however, during the first 22 years of his reign, he was coregent with his stepmother and aunt, Hatshepsut, who was named the pharaoh. While he was shown first on surviving monuments, both were assigned the usual royal names and insignia and neither is given any obvious seniority over the other. Thutmose served as the head of Hatshepsut's armies. During the final two years of his reign, he appointed his son and successor, Amenhotep II, as his junior co-regent. His firstborn son and heir to the throne, Amenemhat, predeceased Thutmose III.

Thutmose IV Egyptian Pharaoh

Thutmose IV was the 8th Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypt, who ruled in approximately the 14th century BC. His prenomen or royal name, Menkheperure, means "Established in forms is Re."

Meretseger, the chief wife of Senusret III, may be the earliest queen whose name appears with this title; she also was the first consort known to write her name in a cartouche. [6] However, she is only attested in the New Kingdom [7] so the title might be an anachronism. Perhaps the first holder of its title was Nubkhaes of the Second Intermediate Period.

Meretseger (queen) ancient Egyptian queen consort

Meretseger was an Ancient Egyptian queen consort.

Senusret III Pharaoh of Egypt

Khakaure Senusret III was a pharaoh of Egypt. He ruled from 1878 BC to 1839 BC during a time of great power and prosperity, and was the fifth king of the Twelfth Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom. He was a great pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty and is considered to be, perhaps, the most powerful Egyptian ruler of the dynasty. Consequently, he is regarded as one of the sources for the legend about Sesostris. His military campaigns gave rise to an era of peace and economic prosperity that reduced the power of regional rulers and led to a revival in craftwork, trade, and urban development. Senusret III was among the few Egyptian kings who were deified and honored with a cult during their own lifetime.

A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king, or an empress consort in the case of an emperor. A queen consort usually shares her husband's social rank and status. She holds the feminine equivalent of the king's monarchical titles, but historically, she does not share the king's political and military powers.

A special place in the history of great royal wives was taken by Hatshepsut. She was Great Royal Wife to her half-brother Thutmose II. During this time Hatshepsut also became God's Wife of Amun (the highest ranking priestess in the temple of Amun in Karnak). After the death of her husband, she became regent because of the minority of her stepson, the only male heir (born to Iset), who eventually would become Thutmose III. While he was still very young, however, Hatshepsut was crowned as pharaoh and ruled very successfully in her own right for many years. Although other women before her had ruled Egypt, Hatshepsut was the first woman to take the title, pharaoh, as it was a new term being used for the rulers, not having been used before the eighteenth dynasty. When she became pharaoh, she designated her daughter, Neferure, as God's Wife of Amun to perform the duties of high priestess. Her daughter may have been the great royal wife of Thutmose III, but there is no clear evidence for this proposed marriage. [8]

Hatshepsut Queen Regent of Egypt

Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. She was the second historically-confirmed female pharaoh, the first being Sobekneferu.

Gods Wife of Amun

God's Wife of Amun was the highest-ranking priestess of the Amun cult, an important religious institution in ancient Egypt. The cult was centered in Thebes in Upper Egypt during the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth dynasties. The office had political importance as well as religious, since the two were closely related in ancient Egypt.

A regent is a person appointed to govern a state because the monarch is a minor, is absent or is incapacitated. The rule of a regent or regents is called a regency. A regent or regency council may be formed ad hoc or in accordance with a constitutional rule. Regent is sometimes a formal title. If the regent is holding his position due to his position in the line of succession, the compound term prince regent is often used; if the regent of a minor is his mother, she is often referred to as queen regent.

Elsewhere, in Kush and other major states of ancient Africa, the rulers often structured their households in much the same way as has just been described.

Asiya, the adoptive mother of Moses, often confused with Pharaoh's daughter (Exodus), is regarded to be the chief consort of the Biblical Pharaoh according to Islam.


Ancient Egypt

Middle Kingdom

12th Dynasty Meretseger Senusret III Possibly the first holder of the title, but not definitively attested to in contemporary sources

Second Intermediate Period

13th Dynasty Nubhotepti Hor
13th Dynasty Nubkhaes Sobekhotep V, Sobekhotep VI or Wahibre Ibiau
13th Dynasty Ineni Merneferre Ai
13th Dynasty Nehyt (?)Only known from two scarab seals
13th Dynasty Satsobek (?)Only known from one scarab seal
13th Dynasty Sathathor (?)Only known from one scarab seal, reading of name not fully certain
16th Dynasty Mentuhotep Djehuti
16th Dynasty Sitmut Mentuhotep VI (?)
17th Dynasty Nubemhat Sobekemsaf I
17th Dynasty Sobekemsaf Nubkheperre Intef Sister of an unknown king, buried in Edfu
17th Dynasty Nubkhaes Sobekemsaf II
17th Dynasty Tetisheri Tao I the Elder Mother of Tao II the Brave
17th Dynasty Ahhotep I Tao II the Brave Mother of Ahmose I and Ahmose-Nefertari

New Kingdom

18th Dynasty Ahmose-Nefertari Ahmose I Mother of Amenhotep I and Ahmose-Meritamon
18th Dynasty Sitkamose Ahmose I (?)
18th Dynasty Ahmose-Henuttamehu Ahmose I (?)Daughter of Queen Inhapi
18th Dynasty Ahmose-Meritamon Amenhotep I
18th Dynasty Ahmose Thutmose I Mother of Hatshepsut
18th Dynasty Hatshepsut Thutmose II second great royal wife to her father, Thutmose I, and later, ruling pharaoh with her daughter, Neferure, as great royal wife
18th Dynasty Iset Thutmose II Received the title from her son Thutmose III after he became pharaoh
18th Dynasty Neferure (?) Thutmose III No evidence documents their marriage
18th Dynasty Satiah Thutmose III
18th Dynasty Merytre-Hatshepsut Thutmose III Mother of Amenhotep II
18th Dynasty Tiaa Amenhotep II Received the title from her son Thutmose IV after her husband's death - Amenhotep II tried to break the royal lineage by not recording any of his wives, who may not have been royal, and Tiaa was identified only later, by her son
18th Dynasty Nefertari Thutmose IV
18th Dynasty Iaret Thutmose IV
18th Dynasty Tenettepihu Thutmose IV (?)Known from a shabti and funerary statue, thought to date to the time of Tuthmosis IV (?)
18th Dynasty Mutemwia Thutmose IV Received the title from her son, Amenhotep III, after her husband's death to make his own birth seem royal
18th Dynasty Tiye Amenhotep III Mother of Akhenaten
18th Dynasty Sitamun Amenhotep III Eldest daughter of Amenhotep III and Tiye
18th Dynasty Iset Amenhotep III Daughter of Amenhotep III and Tiye
18th Dynasty Nebetnehat UnidentifiedKnown from cartouche found on canopic fragments, she lived during the mid to late 18th Dynasty
18th Dynasty Nefertiti Akhenaten Mother of Meritaten and Ankhesenamun, possible daughter of Ay, likely became pharaoh in her own right as King Neferneferuaten
18th Dynasty Meritaten Smenkhkare Daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti
18th Dynasty Ankhesenamen Tutankhamen Daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti
18th Dynasty Tey Ay
18th Dynasty Mutnedjmet Horemheb Probable daughter of Ay and Tey
19th Dynasty Sitre Ramesses I Mother of Seti I
19th Dynasty Tuya Seti I Mother of Ramesses II
19th Dynasty Nefertari Ramesses II
19th Dynasty Isetnofret Ramesses II Mother of Merenptah
19th Dynasty Bintanath Ramesses II Eldest daughter of Ramesses II and Isetnofret
19th Dynasty Meritamen Ramesses II Daughter of Ramesses II and Nefertari
19th Dynasty Nebettawy Ramesses II Daughter of Ramesses II and Nefertari
19th Dynasty Henutmire Ramesses II Sister or daughter of Ramesses II
19th Dynasty Maathorneferure Ramesses II Hittite princess
19th Dynasty Isetnofret II Merenptah Sister or niece of her husband
19th Dynasty Tawosret Seti II Later pharaoh
19th Dynasty Takhat Seti II (?)Depicted as the wife of Sety II on a (usurped) statue, may have been the mother of Amenmesse (?)
20th Dynasty Tiye-Mereniset Setnakhte Mother of Ramesses III
20th Dynasty Iset Ta-Hemdjert Ramesses III Mother of Ramesses IV and Ramesses VI
20th Dynasty Henutwati Ramesses V Queen mentioned in the Wilbour Papyrus
20th Dynasty Nubkhesbed Ramesses V Mother of Princess Isis, who later, would be the God's Wife of Amun
20th Dynasty Baketwernel Ramesses IX
20th Dynasty Tyti Ramesses X Possibly a wife of Ramesses X, buried in QV52
20th Dynasty Anuketemheb unknownOriginal owner of sarcophagus and canopic jars later used for Queen Takhat in KV10, dates to the 19th or 20th Dynasty

Third Intermediate Period

21st Dynasty Nodjmet Herihor Probable mother of Pinedjem I
21st Dynasty Mutnedjmet Psusennes I
23rd Dynasty Karomama Takelot II Mother of Osorkon III
25th Dynasty Khensa Piye
25th Dynasty Peksater Piye
25th Dynasty Takahatenamun Taharqa
25th Dynasty Isetemkheb Tanutamon

Late Period

26th Dynasty Mehytenweskhet Psamtik I Mother of Necho II
26th Dynasty Takhuit Psamtik II Mother of Wahibre

See also

Nefertari, the Great Royal Wife of Ramasses II, from the temple he built to honour her at Abu Simbel, she holds a sistrum and a sacred lotus Nefertari.JPG
Nefertari, the Great Royal Wife of Ramasses II, from the temple he built to honour her at Abu Simbel, she holds a sistrum and a sacred lotus

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  1. Shaw, Garry J. The Pharaoh, Life at Court and on Campaign, Thames and Hudson, 2012, p. 48, 91-94.
  2. 1 2 O'Connor and Cline (Editors), Amenhotep III: Perspectives on his reign, pg 6
  3. G. Robins, A Critical examination of the Theory that the Right to the Throne in Ancient Egypt Passed through the Female Line in the Eighteenth Dynasty. GM 62: pg 67-77
  4. O'Conner and Cline, Thutmose III: A new biography,2006
  5. Joann Fletcher: Egypt's Sun King – Amenhotep III (Duncan Baird Publishers, London, 2000) ISBN   1-900131-09-9, p.167
  6. Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, 2004, ISBN   0-500-05128-3, pp.25-26
  7. L. Holden, in: Egypt’s Golden Age: The Art of Living in the New Kingdom, 1558-1085 B.C., Boston 1982, S. 302f.
  8. Tyldesley, Chronicle of the Queens of Ancient Egypt, pg 110