The One-Eyed African Queen that Stopped a Roman Invasion

Jax Hudur

After the assassination of Julius Caesar in the hands of Roman senators, the age of the Roman Republic ended, and with it rose the Roman Empire. 

Before Julius Caesar’s murder, he named his great-nephew Gaius Octavius in his will as his adopted son. With Gaius Octavious as Caesar’s heir, he became Caesar Augustus (also called Octavian), Rome’s first Emperor.

To consolidate his power, Octavian had to crush Mark Antony, who was married to his sister but was nevertheless in a romantic affair with Cleopatra of Egypt. Octavian thus convinced the Roman senators to wage war on Queen Cleopatra. As a result, the War of Actium was fought, and within a month, Egypt fell to Octavian, where he was crowned as the Pharoah of Egypt.

However, when the Roman army made further incursions into the Nubian Kingdom of Kush (Present-day Sudan), they found a ruling warrior queen who didn’t hesitate to wage war on the invading enemies. Her name was Kandake Amanirenas, Queen of the Kushites. Kandake ( Latinised as Candace) is a title that means Queen mother. She was also referred to as Candance by historians.

The Kushites, led by their Queen Amanirenas, fought with Gaius Petronius, the Roman prefect in charge of Egypt. Amanirenas took the war to the Romans, but her attacks led to the Romans decimating her capital city, Napata, and forced her to retreat further south.

Because of Amanirenas and the costly war she waged on the Romans, the Romans were forced to make favorable termswhich led to peace and trade relations between the Kushites and the Romans on equal terms. Furthermore, the Romans were amazed by her sheer bravery. Strabo, a Roman historian, referring to her bravery, said, “This Queen had courage above that of her gender.”

Strabo further described Queen Amanirenas as, “fierce, unyielding resistance of a queen whose determined struggle symbolized the national pride of a people who, until then, had commanded others.”

The five-year war with the Romans left Queen Amanirenas one-eyed due to injuries sustained in battle. In 1910, Professor John Garstang of Liverpool University excavated a bronze head of Augustus buried beneath the staircase of a victory shrine in the Capital Kush so that anyone who entered the shrine would trample on the Roman ruler’s head.

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I write about history, politics and true crime. Not to mention anything else that takes my fancy or newsworthy. "No special talents. Only passionately curious." Albert Einstein

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