Iran, commonly known as Persia in the Western world is home to one of the world’s oldest continuous major civilizations. Throughout the Persian history, women contribute a significant role in each era. The ancient Persia shows the great participation by women in all facets of life. Many cities and states of the ancient Persian Empire were ruled by them, and also had their army totally under control of women commanders.
The significant role of women in Ancient Persia was both terrified and fascinated. They were very honored and revered and were treated like goddesses esteemed as mothers of creation before the imposition of the Judaism, Christianity, and especially Islam.
This article is a little glance to some most famous, beautiful and brave Persian queens, who wisely run the country for thousands of years. This partial list of historical Persian Queens, Princesses and Empresses and other women warriors runs from the legendary Amazons.
The Historical Persian Queens: Iranian Women in History
1. Atusa Shahbanu
Atusa or Atossa was the Queen of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, the daughter of Cyrus the Great and a half-sister of Cambyses II. She later married Darius the Great and gave birth to Xerxes the Great. Atossa, had a great authority in the Achaemenid royal house and court and her marriage with Darius I is suggested to be because of her power and influence and also the fact that she was a direct descendant of Cyrus the Great. Her special position enabled Xerxes, the younger son of Darius, to succeed his father.
2. Amestris Shahbanu
Amestris Shahbanu was the beautiful daughter of a Persian nobleman Otanes, know as a defender of the idea of democracy mentioned in the Histories of Herodotus . She was Queen of Persia, the early wife of Emperor Xerxes (prior to Esther) and mother of King Artaxerxes. She was also an Achaemenid military Commander and had the reputation to be more bloodthirsty than any Persian king.
Esther (born as Hadassah) is the heroine of the Biblical Book of Esther. She was the Persia’s first Jewish queen of the Achaemenid empire and wife of King Xerxes. The celebration of Purim in Jewish tradition is based on her story. However, her existence can not be verified by any non-biblical account.
4. Princess Estatira
Princess Estatira (Stateira II), also known as Barsine, was the daughter of Stateira I and Darius III of Persia. After her father’s defeat at the Battle of Issus, Stateira and her sisters became captives of Alexander of Macedon. They were treated well, and in 324 BC, after Alexander’s return from India, she became his 2nd wife at the Susa weddings. At the same ceremony Alexander also married her cousin, Parysatis, daughter of Darius’ predecessor. After Alexander’s death, a year later, Stateira was killed by his first wife Roxana.
Princess Roxana was a Bactrian princess and a wife of Alexander the Great. She was daughter of King Darius III. Roxana bravely accompanied Alexander on his campaign in India. In 323 BC, after the sudden death of Alexander at Babylon, Roxana bore him a posthumous son called Alexander, and was murdered by Alexander’s other wife, Stateira II, as well as either Stateira’s sister Drypteis or Parysatis II (Alexander’s third wife).
Zand Shahbanu was the Queen of Persia and the Wife of King Khosrow Anushirvan (531–579 and the niece of General Bahram Chubin. She was the counselor of the Persian courthouse, extremely intelligent and confident lady.
7. Shirin Shahbanu
Shirin was the Queen of the Sassanid Persian Empire and the wife of King Khosrow Parviz (590–628). She was a christian princess who eventually consents to marry Khosrow after many heroic and romantic episodes. Long after her death, Shirin became an important heroine of Persian literature, as a model of a ‘faithful lover’ and ‘honest wife’. She appears in the Shahnameh and the romance Khosrow and Shirin by Nizami Ganjavi (1141−1209), and is referred to in very many other works.
Borandukht or Purandokht was the twenty-sixth Sassanid monarch of Persia, reigning from 629 to 631. She was the daughter of the Sasanian king Khosrau II. She was one of only two women on the throne of the Sasanian Empire (the other was her sister and successor Azarmidokht).
Empress Azarmidokht was the daughter of King Khosrow Parviz. Khosrau was said to have had a Shabestan with over 3,000 concubines, it is not known if one of these concubines was her mother or Khosrau’s favorite wife Shirin was. She was the twenty-seventh Sassanid Monarch of Persia and she ruled the empire after her sister Purandokht during the Sassanid Dynasty era.
Turandokht was the beautiful Princess of Persia during the Sassanid dynasty era. She was daughter of King Khosrow Parviz, sister of Purandokht and Azarmidokht. Also known as Turandot (means “daughter of Turan“).
(Pictures courtesy: persepolis.nu)