Amanirenas: Queen of Kush Who Defied Rome

Amanirenas: Queen of Kush Who Defied Rome

Queen Amanirenas is the Queen of Kush who fought and defeated the Roman Empire in battle.

Queen Amanirenas ruled and fought the Roman Empire from the Second Kushite Capital at Meroe located in modern day Sudan.

Historians estimate that Queen Amanirenas was born between 60 and 50 B.C. and was one of the “Kandakes” (“Great Woman” or ‘Queen Mothers”) of Kush. Queen Amanirenas 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 the Roman Empire conquered Egypt in 30 BC, the Roman Empire attempted to Tax the Nubians in Egypt as well as to invade Kush under Queen Amanirenas in order to make it a vassal State paying Tribute to the Roman Empire. 

In response, the Kushites led by Queen Amanirenas 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 the Roman Empire.

After the Roman Empire had been defeated by Queen Amanirenas, 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 Roman 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.

However, Queen Amanirenas decided to counter this further incursion into Kushite lands by dispatching a force to meet and fight the Roman Empire’s Army.

By the end of 24 B.C. however,  Queen Amanirenas had lost both her Husband, the King and Her Son in the ongoing War against the Roman Empire.

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 between the Roman Empire and Queen Amanirenas.

Faced with the risk of a dwindling and weakened Army in the harsh desert terrain, the Roman Empire decided it was better to make a strategic withdrawal in order to avoid a risky climatic engagement and final battle with Queen Amanirenas’ forces.

Kush and the Roman Empire then signed a Peace Treaty in which Kush managed to secure its borders as well as have Roman Taxation revoked.   

Queen Amanirenas had thus successfully resisted complete conquest by the Roman Empire.

Furthermore, Queen Amanirenas 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 Amanirenas is also remembered by the Romans as being brave.

Although Queen Amanirenas was blind in one eye, she personally participated in the Battles against the Roman Army, and under Queen Amanirenas’ rule, Kush succesfully established its borders with Egypt under the new Roman Empire’s Dynasty.

Queen Amanirenas was so respected by the Roman Empire that according to legend, at the height of the confrontation with the Roman Empire 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 the Roman Empire did not accept Queen Amanirenas’ overtures for peace.

The Kushites commemorated the legend of Queen Amanirenas with a wall painting in a Pyramid Chapel at Meroe which portrays Queen Amanirenas holding bows, arrows and spears in one hand and seven Roman Captives with the other.

As far as we know, Queen Amanirenas is the only African Monarch who was able to successfully resist the Roman Empire in Africa and maintain the independence of their State.

For this great triumph over the Roman Empire Queen Amanirenas deserves recognition as one of Africa’s Greatest Queens. 

Queen Amanirenas Who Defeated The Roman Empire


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