Hatshepsut or Cleopatra?
Pharaonic and Ptolemaic Egypt were ruled by a "king," and the Egyptian ideal of succession was from father to son (Shaw, 2003). The female relatives of the ruling king often played significant roles in the rule of Egypt, and the ideology of kingship itself was a careful blend of both male and female elements. Women who ruled autonomously as king were unusual in Dynastic Egypt, but it did occur; the best-known examples of this are Hatshepsut (from the 18th Dynasty) and Cleopatra VII (from the Ptolemaic period) (Tyldesley, 1995).
Hatshepsut, the fifth ruler of the 18th Dynasty, was the daughter of Thutmose I and Queen Ahmose. After the death of her father, she married her half-brother, Thutmose II, who had a son, Thutmose III, by a minor wife. When Thutmose II died in 1479 B.C. his son, Thutmose III, underwent coronation. Due to the boy's young age, Hatshepsut took the position of regent (Tyldesley, 1995). Hatshepsut did not wait for her nephew to come of age and take power. As a favourite daughter of a popular Pharaoh, and as a charismatic and beautiful lady in her own right, she command a following strong enough to take control. She ruled as regent until 1473, when she declared herself Pharaoh of Egypt (Tyldesley, 1995).
Hatshepsut, as a woman, had many obstacles to overcome. To have a female pharaoh was unprecedented and probably unheard of as well. There was always a threat of revolt, especially as her stepson came of age. Using propaganda and keen political skills, she overcame each obstruction. She dressed in the traditional male garb of rulers and the false beard. Hatshepsut administered affairs of the nation with the full support of the high priest of Amon and other officials. To calm the fears of a mostly illiterate populous and to create the illusion of maât, she provided material proof of her reign by becoming a "king" in all statuary and relief...