5. Dakhamunzu: Queen of Egypt

 

A Queen in need of a King

Fragment I

To my brother, the Great King, the King of Mittani. Your sister, Queen of Egypt, Dakhamunzu beseeches you to send me aid. My husband is dead. I have no sons to place upon the throne. You though, Great King, have many sons. Send to me one of these sons, that I might take him for my husband and make him King of Egypt. Send me one of your sons; I am alone and have no son of my own. I will not marry a servant.

It is strange, for the Queen of Egypt to ask for a husband from a foreign land. It has never happened before. But you are a Great King, King of Mittani, my brother, and it will bring me no shame to marry your son. Only hurry; I am alone and surrounded by those who wish me ill. Let us join our peoples in peace.

Fragment II

To my brother, the Great King, King of Mitanni. Your letter brings shame upon you. “Perhaps she lies?” you say. “Perhaps she means to trap me?” you say. I am the God’s Wife, the Queen of Egypt; I do not deal in petty lies. Would I tell you of my loss, of my fear, if I had a king of my own? I tell you again, my husband is dead, and I have no son. I am surrounded by servants I cannot trust. You, Great King, have many sons. Send to me even the least of your sons, and I will make him King and husband and father of the Kings of Egypt. Do not forsake me, my brother. I have not asked the king of Hatti for a husband, nor the king of Babylon.

I ask you again, send to me a son. To show that I do not deceive you, I send to you this my ring and my seal; give it to the son you choose for me. Let us make peace and an alliance between our peoples. You war with your brother; I am beset by traitors; the King of the Hatti wars against both our countries. Send me a son, and let us make an alliance against our enemies. But send him soon!

Fragment III

Shuttarna, Great King, King of Egypt, says to Artatama, Great King of Mittani, my brother, my father, rejoice! For the gods of given us victory over our enemy, Suppiluliuma, king of the Hatti. 

What really happened…

The pharaohs of ancient Egypt had a simple rule for diplomatic marriage: Egyptian kings could marry foreign princesses, but Egyptian royal women DID NOT marry foreign kings. So when a desperate Egyptian queen decided to write to a foreign king, pleading for his son for her husband, it sent shockwaves through royal circles.

We’re not sure who this Egyptian queen was – there are no Egyptian records of this request, so we only have the Hittite version of her name/title, Dakhamunzu. She’s widely believed to have been Ankhsenamun, widow of King Tut. The widowed, son-less queen chose to write to the king of the Hatti (Hittites), begging for a husband. However, the Hittite king was so stunned by this extraordinary request that he waited too long, and the son he eventually sent was murdered, and the mystery queen had been shuffled out of the throne, exactly how is unclear. Instead of a foreign alliance with a king, Egypt soon ended up with the Pharaoh formerly known as General Horemheb.

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