Hatshepsut (ca. 1479-1458 B.C.)Hatshepsut (ca. 1479-1458 B.C.) - Her name means "foremost of noble women" and she is probably the first known woman in history of great accomplishment. Never meant to be pharaoh, her task was to groom the next ruler of Egypt after her husband died. But her ambition was just too great. As the daughter of Thutmose I, she was born of royal blood and this put her on the path to monarchy. In order to maintain a pure blood line, the pharaoh was expected to marry a woman of royal birth. And so Thutmose II took his half-sister, Hatshepsut, as his wife. When he died around 1479 B.C., his son, Thutmose III was still too young to be sole ruler of Egypt. Hatshepsut was named regent. But in the second year of her regency, something extraordinary happened. She proclaimed herself Pharaoh of Egypt.


But not of her own will; it was the will of Amun-Ra. "Welcome my sweet daughter, my favorite, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Maatkare, Hatshepsut. Thou art the King, taking possession of the Two Lands," read the Oracle. The people bought it, and with that, she became ruler over the most powerful kingdom on earth. But she was not satisfied simply with being pharaoh; she was a ruler of significant achievement. She re-established trade routes with other nations that had been disrupted during the rule of the Hyksos, raising the country's standard of living. And she became one of the most prolific builders of the New Kingdom. Her reign lasted a little over 20 years and then came to a mysterious end. Some believe her successor, Thutmose III, grew tired of waiting and removed her; though she may have simply died of natural causes.