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Ancient & Classical World: Queens, Empresses, Pharaohs, Other Women Rulers

Female rulers of the ancient and classical world: queens, pharaohs and empresses who ruled in their own name or who wielded power and influence as queen consorts. Find biographies, some bibliographies and pictures, and links to net resources for these women heads of state. Articles and links from Jone Johnson Lewis, About Women's History Guide.
  1. Helena: Saint and Mothe...
  2. Livia Drusilla: Julia Au...
  3. Boudicca (Boadicea) (16)
  4. Cleopatra (31)
  5. Hatshepsut (36)
  6. Women in Ancient/Classic...
  7. Queens, Empresses and Ot...
  8. Trung Sisters
  9. Nefertiti (6)

Ancient Women Rulers
Though most rulers in the ancient (and classical) world were men, some women ruled power and influence. Some ruled in their own name, some wielded power and influence as royal consorts. Here are some of the most powerful women in the ancient world.

Female Pharaohs
Here is a list of the women most commonly thought to have served as Pharaoh, or to have assumed the power of the Pharaoh as a regent.

Augusta (Roman Title)
Augusta was the title given to a number of women in the Roman empire.

Artemisia
In the 5th century B.C.E., this queen of Halicarnassus helped Xerxes against the Greeks, then helped talk Xerxes out of pursuing his conquest of Greece.

Cartimandua
Queen of the Brigantes, she signed a peace treaty with the invading Romans, and ruled as a client of Rome. Then she dumped her husband, and even Rome couldn't keep her in power -- and they ultimately took direct control, so her ex didn't win, either.

Chinese Empress Discovers Silk Secret
Description of the legend of the discovery of silk in ancient China by the Empress Lei-tzu.

Cleopatra Thea
A profile of Cleopatra Thea, less well known than her later namesake, a queen of Syria who exercised power after her husband died and before her son succeeded to power. A number of queens in antiquity bore the name Cleopatra.

Elen Luyddog
Elen Luyddog, legendary Welsh princess, has sometimes had her story conflated with that of the Roman Helena, other of Constantine.

Hatshepsut, Pharaoh of Egypt
On this Women's History site, a guide to a female ruler of ancient Egypt who reigned nearly 3500 years ago.

Helena, Mother of Constantine
Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine I, is considered a saint in both the western and eastern churches.

Meryt-Neith
The third ruler of the first Egyptian dynasty which united upper and lower Egypt is known only by name and a few objects -- but many scholars believe that this ruler was a woman. We don't know much about her life or her reign.

Olympias
The infamous Olympias was the mother of Alexander the Great. She also served as a regent for her grandson.

Semiramis - Sammu-Ramat
Information on Semiramis - Sammu-Ramat - semi-legendary Assyrian queen.

Zenobia
Warrior Queen Zenobia of Palmyra in Syria challenged Rome, though she was eventually defeated.

Who Was the Queen of Sheba?
Was the biblical Queen of Sheba a real historical figure? What country did she come from? Do we know her name?

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