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Queen Amanirenas: The Queen Of Kush Who Defied Rome
Queen Kandake Amanirenas was a Kushite Queen who ruled from the Second Kushite Capital at Meroe located in modern day Sudan.
Historians estimate that she was born between 60 and 50 B.C. and was one of the “Kandakes” (“Great Woman” or ‘Queen Mothers”) of Kush.
She ascended the Throne of Kush around 20 BC and led a 5 year long Kushite resistance against the Roman Army commanded by General Petronius.
After Rome conquered Egypt in 30 BC, an attempt was made to Tax Nubians in Egypt as well as to invade Kush and make it a vassal State paying Tribute to Rome.
In response, the Kushites successfully launched attacks against the Roman Cities in Southern Egypt, taking the head of the Statue of Augustus Caesar to be buried underneath the Palace Entrance at Kush as a symbol of the triumph over Rome.
After this initial Roman defeat, the new Roman Governor, Petronius mastered a force of 10, 000 Troops and began a campaign into the Nubian hinterland driving the Kushites Southwards and further inland for a period of about two years.
This expedition achieved some successes for the Roman Empire as 10 000 Roman Soldiers on a punitive expedition looted and enslaved the inhabitants of Kush and claimed more territory for Rome.
Queen Kandake Amanirenas decided to counter this further Roman incursion into Kushite lands by dispatching a force to fight the Roman Army.
By the end of 24 B.C. however, Queen Kandake Amanirenas had lost both her Husband, the King and Her Son in the War against Rome.
Eventually, the Roman force succeeded in conquering the important Kushite Capital at Napata but faced with difficult desert conditions of the Nubian Terrain, the Roman Army could not advance any further and a Peace Treaty was negotiated because of the stalemate between Rome and the Kushite forces under Queen Kandake Amanirenas.
Faced with the risk of a dwindling and weakened Army in the harsh desert terrain, Petronius decided it was better to make a strategic withdrawal in order to avoid a risky climatic engagement and final battle with Queen Kandake Amanirenas’ forces.
Kush and Rome then signed a Peace Treaty in which Kush managed to secure its borders as well as have Roman Taxation revoked.
Queen Kandake Amanirenas had thus successfully resisted complete conquest by Rome.
Furthermore, she did not give up lands, pay tribute or contribute material resources to Rome like most other Kingdoms that had fallen to the Roman Empire in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Queen Kandake Amanirenas is also remembered by the Romans as being brave.
Although she was blind in one eye, she personally participated in the Battles against the Roman Army, and under her rule Kush succesfully established its borders with Egypt under the new Roman Dynasty.
Queen Kandake Amanirenas was so respected by the Romans that according to legend, at the height of the confrontation with Petronius she reportedly sent Kushite Ambassadors to Petronius who presented him with a bundle of golden arrows which he could keep either as a token of Kushite friendship or as weapons to fight the Kushites if he did not accept the Kushite overtures for peace.
The Kushites commemorated the legend with a wall painting in a Pyramid Chapel at Meroe which portrays Queen Kandake Amanirenas holding bows, arrows and spears in one hand and seven Roman Captives with the other.
As far as we know, Queen Kandake Amanirenas is the only African Monarch who was able to successfully resist the Roman Empire in Africa and maintain the independence of their State, and for this great feat she deserves recognition as one of Africa’s Greatest Queens.