Maathorneferure Biography


Born In: Hattusa, Egypt

Ancient Egyptian queen Maathorneferure was the Great Royal Wife of Ramesses II, the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt who is often regarded as one of the most powerful, celebrated and greatest pharaohs of the New Kingdom. Maathorneferure was the daughter of King of the Hittite Empire Hattusili III who after ascending the throne began a correspondence with Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II and the two eventually signed a peace treaty to end a long war between the Hittite Empire and the Egyptians. Thirteen years later Maathorneferure’s marriage with Ramesses II, while the latter was in the 34th year of his reign, marked the conclusion of the peace process that started with the signing of the peace treaty. Maathorneferure’s name finds place on her Marriage Stela and on a papyrus found at Gurob in Egypt. Although her original name remains unknown, her Egyptian name Maathorneferure that she was possibly given following her marriage with Ramesses II means "One who sees Horus, the invisible splendor of Ra".

Quick Facts


Spouse/Ex-: Ramesses II

father: Ḫattušili III

mother: Puduḫepa

children: Neferure

Born Country: Egypt

Empresses & Queens Egyptian Female

place of death: Faiyum, Egypt

Childhood & Early Life

Maathorneferure was born in the family of Hittite King Hattusili III and his wife, the great Queen Puduhepa. Hattusili III was the youngest son of Hittite King Mursili II who was succeeded by Hattusili III’s elder brother Muwatalli II. The latter appointed Hattusili III as governor in Hattusa, made him King of the northern territories; and was known for fighting Ramesses II in the Battle of Kadesh. Following Muwatalli II’s death, his son Mursili III assumed the throne of the Hittite Empire. After becoming the emperor, Mursili III however reduced Hattusili III’s power considerably and nullified his role as king of the northern territories which strained their relationship.

Hattusili III eventually defeated Mursili III in a civil war and successfully rose to the Hittite throne. Maathorneferure’s mother ascended the throne as the Hittite Queen. Puduhepa is counted among the most influential women known from the Ancient Near East.

Maathorneferure’s brother Nerikkaili was the crown prince and another brother Tudhaliya IV later succeeded their father Hattusili III as King of the Hittite Empire (New kingdom) in 1245 BC

Marriage with Ramesses II & Associated Legends

Tensions and conflicts between the Hittite Empire and Egypt continued since the demise of the kingdom of the Mitanni. Maathorneferure’s father’s strategic military victory over Ramesses II of Egypt under the then Hittite ruler Muwatalli II in the 1274 BC Battle of Kadesh marked a significant milestone in his career.

After assuming the throne as the Hittite Emperor, Hattusili III started a correspondence with Ramesses II amidst running borderlands conflicts and escalating tensions, which brought the two empires almost to the verge of war. In a turn of events, the two emperors decided to end the conflict. This led to the signing of a peace treaty called the Egyptian–Hittite peace treaty, or the Eternal Treaty or the Silver Treaty, the first ever recorded peace treaty and the earliest international peace treaty known in world history. It was signed roughly fifteen years after the Battle of Kadesh and in the twenty-first year of Ramesses II’s reign (1258 BC).

Marriage of Maathorneferure with Ramesses II took place during the 34th year of the latter’s reign and marked the conclusion of the peace process that started with the signing of the Egyptian–Hittite peace treaty thirteen years earlier. Following her marriage, Maathorneferure became the Great Royal Wife and Queen Consort of Egypt

The Marriage Stela of Maathorneferure claims that she, the daughter of the great chief of Kheta, marched in front of the army. Maathorneferure and her mother left the Hittite capital Hattusa in late 1246 BCE. They were accompanied by a large contingent that included slaves and cattle and sheep and was loaded with gold, silver and bronze. The message 'They have traversed sheer mountains and treacherous passes to reach Your Majesty's border' was despatched to Ramesses II at the Egyptian frontier who then sent a contingent to receive and escort Maathorneferure through Canaan and into Egypt. Maathorneferure finally reached Pi-Ramesse, the new capital built by Ramesses II, in February 1245 BCE. The large dowry that Ramesses II received through his marriage with Maathorneferure seemed to be more valuable to him than Maathorneferure as he sent the latter to his harem palace at Mer-wer (Present-day Gurob).

An account suggest that Maathorneferure through her marriage with Ramesses II gave birth to a baby girl called Neferure and died shortly thereafter.

A papyrus fragment found at the archaeological site of Gurob, that once remained the place of a palace in the New Kingdom, mentions the name of Maathorneferure indicating that the queen lived there. A broken statue of Ramesses II was found in another important archaeological site called Tanis, located in the north-eastern Nile Delta of Egypt. A small and almost destroyed figure of Maathorneferure touching the leg of Ramesses II can be seen on the statue.

In the latter half of the first millennium BCE, marriage of Maathorneferure and Ramesses II gave rise to the story of the daughter of the prince of Bakhtan called Bentresh who was instantly cured of an illness by the Egyptian god Khonsu. The story is inscribed on an ancient Egyptian stela called the Bakhtan Stella or Bentresh stela made of black sandstone. The text that includes 28 lines mentions that the Prince of Bakhtan gave his eldest daughter in marriage to His Majesty (Ramesses II) who travelled to Naharin. The girl, possibly modelled on Maathorneferure, was named Neferure by the pharaoh who made her his queen. After Ramesses II received news that Bentresh, younger sister of Neferure, became ill, he sent her the wise scribe Djehutyemheb, however the physician failed to heal the girl as she was seized by a demon. The Prince of Bakhtan then asked Ramesses II to send a god following which the latter sought help of Khonsu-Neferhotep who gave his magical protection to Khonsu-Pairsekher. The divine statue of Khonsu-Pairsekher was then sent from Egypt to Bakhtan and the princess was instantly healed by the Egyptian god Khonsu.

See the events in life of Maathorneferure in Chronological Order

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