Let me introduce you to Rahotep and his wife Nofret who lived at the end of the III and beginning of the IV dynasty. They were contemporaries of Sneferu and perhaps of Khufu as well. Rahotep was a high official whose father may actually have been Khufu although this is speculation. His wife called Nofret may have also been of royal birth as her name means “known to the king.”
He received the throne from his father, Ramesses III, and was by then middle-aged. He had been crown prince for 10 years, after his 4 older brothers died.
Ramesses IV came to the throne in difficult circumstances. A plot by one of his father’s secondary wives, Tiye, to establish her own son, Pentawer, on the throne led to an assassination attempt on Ramesses III. The king was badly wounded, and died soon after. Ramesses IV, however, was able to secure himself on the throne, and had the conspirators arrested and executed.
He was an active builder during his short reign.
He started building two temples near Thebes, and completed the Temple of Khonsu at Karnak. He also built an inferior funerary temple near his father’s (Medinet Habu).
Despite Ramesses IV’s many endeavours for the gods and his prayer to Osiris - preserved on a stela at Abydos - that “thou shalt give me the great age with a long reign as my predecessor”, the king did not live long enough to accomplish his ambitious goals.
He died after only 6 years in power.
Anastasia Romanovna, the first Romanov on the throne
Anastasia Romanovna Zakharyina-Yurieva, the first wife of the Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible and the first Russian tsaritsa (Queen-consort)
Ivan IV (known as Ivan the Terrible or Ivan the Fearsome) was the First Tsar of Russia, who also Paved the Way for the Romanov Dynasty.
Ivan IV (1530 – 1584) was a controversial historical figure: a tyrant and a reformer, a monster and a strategist, a poet and a composer of considerable talent, he supported the arts, liked playing chess and had a sarcastic, wicked sense of humour. He acquired vast amounts of land during his long reign, an era marked by the conquest of the khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan and Siberia, created a centrally controlled Russian state, imposed by military dominance.
The court intrigue and constant danger that Ivan was exposed to while growing up molded much of his ruthless and suspicious nature. His father, Grand Prince of Moscow Basil III, died when he was 3 years old. His mother, Elena Glinskaya, ruled as regent until her death in 1538, when Ivan was 8, and was wildly rumoured to be poisoned. During this time, the realm rapidly degenerated into chaos as rival noble (boyar) families disputed the legitimacy of her rule.
Evidence indicates that Ivan was a sensitive, intelligent boy, neglected and occasionally scorned by members of the nobility who looked after him after his parents’ death. The environment nurtured his hatred for the boyar class, whom he suspected of being involved in his mother’s death.
Ivan IV of Russia aka Ivan the Terrible
On 16 January 1547, at age sixteen, Ivan IV of Rurik dynasty was crowned with Monomakh’s Cap at the Cathedral of the Dormition. He was the first to be crowned as “Tsar of All the Russias”. By being crowned Tsar (King), Ivan was sending a message to the world and to Russia: he was now the one and only supreme ruler of the country, and his will was not to be questioned. The new title symbolized an assumption of powers equivalent and parallel to those held by former Byzantine Emperor and the Tatar Khan, both known in Russian sources as Tsar.
Officially, Tsar Ivan IV had 7 wives, but it was his first marriage to Anastasia Romanovna Zakharyina-Yurieva (1530 – 1560) that influenced his character and his rule, and in the end led to the Romanov Dynasty taking the throne.
Inspection of potential brides
Two weeks after his coronation, Ivan married his first wife Anastasia Romanovna, a member of the Romanov family, who became the first Russian tsaritsa (Queen-consort). She was the daughter of nobleman (Boyar) Roman Yurievich Zakharyin-Yuriev (okolnichi of Ivan’s father, Basil III), who died on 16 February 1543, who gave his name to the Romanov Dynasty of Russian monarchs, and his wife Uliana Ivanovna, who died in 1579.
Anastasia Romanovna was brought to the Kremlin for Ivan’s inspection along with as many as 1500 other potential brides in accordance with old custom of Byzantine Emperors - nobles from across Russia brought their eligible daughters and Ivan himself selected Anastasia as his preferred companion.
Anastasia was described by chronicles as a beauty of small stature, with fine and soft features, dark eyes and rich chestnut hair. She had a kind and mild persona, was pious and honest in character. Despite her many good qualities many noble families didn’t approve the marriage as they considered Anastasia to be beneath the Tsar and not equal to other, far more noble lines.
Anastasia with her newborn son Ivan and his christening.
The marriage lasted 13 years and proved to be affectionate and successful, the only such marriage for Ivan. Anastasia gave birth to six children (Anna, Maria, Dmitry, Ivan, Eudoxia, and Feodor) before she died in 1560.
As a wife she had a calming and moderating influence on Ivan’s mercurial nature and his volatile character, was supportive of him and was among few people Ivan really trusted or listened to.
Jerome Horsey, an agent for the Russia Company and later envoy for Queen Elizabeth I of England, recorded in his memoirs that: “he [Ivan IV] being young and riotous, she [Anastasia] ruled him with admirable affability and wisdom”.
Many boyars resented Anastasia’s influence on her husband.
In the summer of 1560, Anastasia fell ill to a lingering illness and died. It could be due to numerous pregnancies and births weakining her health, but Ivan IV thought that his wife was poisoned by boyars.
Upon her death, Ivan IV suffered an emotional collapse and went into a deep depression, his behavior became more erratic and out of control. He banged his head on the floor in full view of the court and smashed his furniture. He tried to tear his hair out and rip his clothes. At the funeral, following the coffin of his wife, Ivan was crying uncontrollably and could barely walk. Several of his courtiers had to hold him by the hands to support him. One Metropolitan, himself in tears, dared to remind Tsar of the hardness of a Christian. But it was in vain. Angry and depressed, with his old cruelty resurfacing, Ivan raged against the boyars. Although he had no actual evidence against the boyars of poisoning Anastasia, he had a number of them tortured and executed.
Statue of Anastasia Romanovna
Renowned Russian historian and writer, Nikolay Karamzin, wrote in his
History of the Russian State about Anastasia’s funeral:
“Never common grief professed more touchingly and stronger. Not only the court but all of Moscow came to bury their first, dearest Queen. When the body was carried to the Ascension Convent, the people did not give way either to clergy or nobles, crowding the streets round the coffin. All wept inconsolably and all the poor, beggars were calling Anastasia their mother. They wanted to deal alms among the poor as it was common in such cases: they did not take it, devoid of all joy in this day of sadness”. As Karamzin put it : “Nobody knew what Anastasia took with her to the grave! Here is the end of happy days of Ivan and Russia: for he had lost not only spouse, but virtue”.
Over the next 24 years, Ivan IV earned the moniker by which he’s now best known - the nickname “Grozny,” which roughly translates as “formidable or sparking terror or fear”. It was during this period that Ivan displaced and destroyed the major boyar families in the region and created the Oprichniki, the first official secret Russian police force.
Ivan IV’s personal life became chaotic, all other six marriages proved to be unstable and most of them turned out to be disastrous, several of the wives not lived long enough to enjoy royal years. By coincidence or by design, most of them met their end when still young, sometimes very shortly after the wedding bells and coronation. Ivan IV often openly compared his subsequent spouses with his first wife Anastasia and death of his other wives never caused him much grief unlike the death of Anastasia. None of the wives had such a soothing and positive influence on tempestuous Tsar.
18 years after Anastasia’s death Ivan IV wrote in a letter to Prince Kurbsky, his
former close friend and then a leading political opponent, who had defected to Lithuania (Kurbsky was believed by some historians to be aware of the plot to kill Anastasia.): “Why did you separate me with my wife? If you hadn’t taken my young wife from me, there would have been no bloody victims”.
Out of six children of Ivan IV and Anastasia all their three daughters died in infancy, their eldest son and heir, Dmitry, died due to accident (he drowned) in 1553. Their son Ivan was killed in 1581 by Ivan IV himself in a fit of rage after Ivan IV
beat his pregnant daughter-in-law, causing a miscarriage.
In 1584 Ivan IV died of an apparent stroke. He willed the kingdom to his youngest son from Anastasia, Feodor, who died childless and whose rule spiraled Russia into difficult Time of Troubles, leading to the establishment of the Romanov Dynasty.
Michael I of Russia, grandnephew of Anastasia Romanovna and first Tsar of House of Romanov
Anastasia’s brother Nikita Romanovich was the father of Feodor, the first to take the surname Romanov. In other words, Feodor Romanov was the first cousin of the last Rurik Tsar, Feodor I. This connection facilitated the election of Feodor Romanov’s son Mikhail Romanov, the first Tsar of House of Romanov, to the throne in 1613 after the Time of Troubles.
House of Romanov ruled over Russia from 1613 until the abdication of the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II in 1917.
Anastasia Romanovna was buried in
Ascension Convent in Kremlin, which was destroyed by Bolsheviks in 1929. However, her remains along with remains of other grand princesses, tsarinas and noble ladies from the Muscovite royal court were moved to the Cathedral of the Archangel in Kremlin.
Examination of the bone remains of Anastasia in the late 20th century by archaeologists and forensics experts have been able to provide evidence that could actually sustain her husband’s claim. The extremely high levels of mercury found in her hair, fabrics and dust indicate that she indeed may have been poisoned.
Anastasia Romanovna and her role in Ivan IV’s life left a notable mark not only on history, but also in arts.
Ivan IV and Anastasia in the movie by Eisenstein
The acclaimed two-part historical epic film about Ivan IV of Russia (1944,1958) written and directed by the filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, featured Anastasia, her love and support for her husband, her death through poison and Ivan´s gradual slide into madness as a result of her death.
Ivan IV and Anastasia in the ballet “Ivan the Terrible”
The famous ballet to music by Sergei Prokofiev called Ivan the Terrible with choreography by Yuri Grigorovich premiered in 1975 at the Bolshoi Theatre, had several revivals and remains one of the most popular and beloved dramatic ballets about historical figures. The ballet’s plot includes Anastasia’s role in Ivan IV’s life and the effect her death had on him.
Egyptian Turquoise Glass Inlay of Akhenaten, New Kingdom, Amarna Period, Dynasty XVIII, c. 1353-1336 BC
The Amarna Period was an era of Egyptian history during the latter half of the Eighteenth Dynasty when the royal residence of the pharaoh and his queen was shifted to Akhetaten (‘Horizon of the Aten’) in what is now Amarna. It was marked by the reign of Amenhotep IV, who changed his name to Akhenaten (1353–1336 BC) in order to reflect the dramatic change of Egypt’s polytheistic religion into one where a sun-god Aten was worshiped over all other gods. Aten was not solely worshipped (the religion was not monotheistic), however, it was close as the rest of the gods were worshipped to a significantly lesser degree. The Egyptian pantheon of the equality of all gods and goddesses was restored under Akhenaten’s successor. Other rulers of this period include Amenhotep III, Smenkhkare, Neferneferuaten, Tutankhamun, Ay, and Horemheb.
The Ptolemaic Dynasty,
as with many Royal Houses, had a tendency to re-use names over the
generations. The women of the dynasty were either named Cleopatra,
Berenice, Arsinoe, or some combination of those names, often with other
epithets added to them.
These are the four Queens who had the name
of Arsinoe (The accompanying pictures are said to be them, but I
can’t absolutely guarantee that as it can be difficult to determine who
is being portrayed in Ptolemaic imagery. Arsinoe IV is represented by
Kassandra Voyagis, who played her in the 1999 Cleopatra miniseries, since it was difficult to even find an image claiming to be her):
Arsinoe I: A Macedonian Greek Princess, she was married to her distant cousin, Ptolemy II. They had three children together, two sons (Ptolemy and
Lysimachus) and a daughter (Berenice). She was repudiated when her husband’s sister, also called Arsinoe, arrived in Egypt and likely convinced her brother his wife was trying to assassinate him. Ptolemy divorced her and she was sent into exile, marrying his half sister afterwards. Arsinoe I lived very comfortably as a former wife of the Pharaoh and her son, Ptolemy III, would succeed her former husband on the throne when he died.
Arsinoe II: The daughter of Ptolemy I by his second wife, Berenice I. She married
when she was 15, and had 3 sons with him (Ptolemy,
Lysimachus, and Philip). Trying to ensure her eldest son would inherit the throne, she had her husband’s eldest son poisoned. When her husband died she fled the country and married her half brother,
Ptolemy Keraunos, in a political union to claim her former husband’s throne. The relationship soon soured, and she conspired with her sons to kill him.
killed the two younger ones; Ptolemy having managed to flee the country. Arsinoe herself fled to Egypt, seeking the protection of her full brother, the Pharaoh Ptolemy II. Convincing him his wife was trying to assassinate him, she had him divorce her and married him herself. Arsinoe became a very influential Queen, and according to legend even won chariot races at the Olympic Games. After she died, her brother/husband continued to refer to her on official documents and supported her cult, where she was worshipped as a goddess.
Arsinoe III: Daughter of Ptolemy III and Berenice II, she married her brother, Ptolemy IV. They had one known child, a son named Ptolemy V. She was active in government, even accompanying her brother/husband on campaign. When one battle went badly, she appeared in front of the troops and encouraged them to fight harder to defend their families, promising them gold if they won the battle, which they did. Arsinoe was murdered in a coup, shortly after her husband’s death, by men who wanted to secure the regency of her then 5 year old son for themselves.
Arsinoe IV: She was the daughter of Ptolemy XII by an unknown woman. This Arsinoe had two full younger brothers, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, along with three elder half sisters from her father’s first wife: Cleopatra VI, Berenice IV, and Cleopatra VII. When her father died, he left the throne to his eldest surviving children, Cleopatra VII and Ptolemy XIII. The young Ptolemy forced his co-ruler to flee the country, but when Caesar arrived in Egypt he sided with Cleopatra. Arsinoe herself fled the city with her tutor Ganymedes, and joined the army besieging it under General
Achillas. The men fought and she had the general executed, placing her tutor in charge. Eventually they negotiated to exchange Arsinoe for Ptolemy, but Ptolemy was later released and is said to have drowned in the Nile, weighed down by his armour. After receiving reinforcements, Caesar’s men won the war and Arsinoe was taken to Rome where she was forced to appear in his Triumph Parade. It was customary to have prominent captives murdered after the parade was over, but Caesar was persuaded to spare Arsinoe and she was given sanctuary at
the temple of Artemis in Ephesus. She lived there until 41 B.C. when her sister Cleopatra, who had always been convinced Arsinoe was a threat to her power, convinced Marc Antony to have her murdered on the steps of the temple, violating sanctuary and horrifying the Roman people.
~Arm Panel From a Ceremonial Chair of Thutmose IV.
Period: New Kingdom
Dynasty: Dynasty 18
Reign: reign of Thutmose IV
Date: ca. 1400–1390 B.C.
Geography: From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Valley of the Kings, Tomb of Thutmose IV (KV 43), Carter/Davis 1903
Medium: Wood (ficus sycomorus?)
This fragmentary panel from the left arm of a chair was found in the tomb of Thutmose IV in the Valley of the Kings. Traces of glue on the surface suggest that the beautifully carved low relief with its exquisitely executed details was once covered with gold sheeting. On one side, the king is shown as a sphinx subduing the enemies of Egypt. The front edge of the panel is missing, but the text before the king’s face probably read: “Lord of the Two Lands, Menkheperure, son of Re, Thutmose, [given] life like Re.” The falcon at the upper right represents “the Behedite [Horus], the great god, with dappled plumage, giving life and dominion.” The text above the sphinx’s back reads: “Horus, the lord of might and action, trampling all foreign lands.”
On the other side, the panel depicts “the young god, Menkheperure” enthroned, wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt. In front of him is the lion-headed goddess Weret, whose name is written above her head. Behind the king is the ibis-headed god “Thoth, Lord of Hermopolis, giving all life and dominion.” Thoth says, “I have brought you millions of years of life and dominion united with eternity.” Behind the throne is the phrase “All life and dominion around him [like] Re.”