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Home » Gender Relations » Historically Significant Women of Iran and the Neighbouring Countries
 
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GENDER RELATIONS
Historically Significant Women of Iran and the Neighbouring Countries
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Last Updated: October, 2009
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Ca. 82/1 - 76/5 B.C. Queen Anzaze, Joint Queen Regnant Elam, Khuzistan

She was joint ruler with Kamnaskares III, of the Kamnaskirid dynasty of Elam, Khuzistan. The queen is portrayed on coins with her husband, the local ruler of Elam during the Parthian era.



Picture courtesy www.parthia.com 

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30-40 B.C. Joint Princess Regnant Helena of Adiabene (North Iraq), under Parthian Rule

Helena ruled jointly with her husband Bazeus Monobazus in Adiaben then part of the Persian Empire. The rulers of the territory had converted to Judaism and Adiabene was a Jewish kingdom at the time.

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Around 40-1 B.C. Queen Musa, the influential wife of King Phraates of Parthia.

Queen Musa was presented as a slave to King Phraates of Parthia, Iran by the Roman Emperor Augustus around 36 B.C. She later married the king and had a son Phraates (V), but usually referred to by the diminutive name, Phraataces. In time, Musa was elevated as Phraates' queen. In 10 B.C., she persuaded Phraates to send his other sons to Rome for their safety. Cleared of any rivals to her son, she poisoned her husband in 2 B.C. to have her son Phraataces succeed his father to the throne and became the co-ruler. Her pictures have survived on coins.


Picture courtesy www.parthia.com

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Around AD 170. Joint Queen Regnant Ulfan of Elam (Elymias)

She was queen consort with Orodes IV of the Helleno-Iranian kingdom located in what are now southeastern Iraq and the Zagros Mountains of Iran.


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Around 270. Unknown Sasanian Queen.

A coin of Bahram II (276-293) shows him portrayed with his queen and son. Narseh (r. 293-303). When queens appear on coins, this normally indicates that they were major dynastic personage.


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227- 43 A.D. Queen Denak

Daughter of Papak, sister and wife of Ardeshir Papakan, the founder of the Sasanian Dynasty. One of her seals has survived and is currently at the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg. The seal shows the queen's profile without her husband and is in remarkable condition. The Sasanian aristocratic women had great wealth and influence and managed their extensive wealth with their own administration.

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310-32? Regent The Dowager Queen of Persia (Iran)

Her husband Hormozd II died before the birth of their son Shahpur II the Great (310-79), who was elected king before his birth, or possibly as an infant after her brother-in-law Adarnarseh had been on the throne for a short while. During her son's minority reign Persia had a weak government of regents and suffered raids from its neighbours, particularly the Arabs who invaded southern Persia. Rome, however, which had gained some of the western Persian cities in Mesopotamia during the reign of Narse, Shahpur's grandfather, left Persia in peace. From Jewish origin, the queen regent managed to hold on to power and secured her son's reign. She later married the governor of Kushan one of the kingdoms under Sasanian sovereignty. Shapur II became one of the greatest kings of the Sasanian era.

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Around early 300, Princess Hormozd-dokot

Daughter of Hormozd II (r. 303-09 C.E.) is said to have married the Armenian prince Vahan Mamikonian to improve relations between the two countries.

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Ca. 450. Sasanian queen from Abu Nasr?, Qasr-i Abu Nasr, Shiraz

The seal of a Sasanian queen was discovered in the Sasanian palace now called Qasr-i Abu Nasr near Shiraz, and is named after the location. The seal is currently at the British Museum. She has remained unknown.

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630-31 Empress Burandokht (Purandokht) of Sasanian Iran

Daughter of King Khusraw II (590-628), who was succeeded by two sons and a usurper. She became the empress after the murder of her brother Ardeshir III. She then became the first of two consecutive female monarchs to rule over the Sasanian Empire, she signed a peace treaty with the Byzantines and after a short reign was succeeded by her sister Azarmidokht. Her coins have survived. She is remembered as a reformist who tried to stabilize the nation by re-structuring and lowering taxes.


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31-32 Empress Azarmidokht of Sasanian Iran

She succeeded her sister, Purandokht, and her reign was marred by pretenders and rival kings. She died within less than a year, and was succeeded by her nephew Yazdgard III, the last Iranian pre-Islamic monarch.

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Around 613-78 'A'ishah daughter of Abu Bakr

Married at age 9 to Prophet Muhammad, she became a powerful force in the political turmoil that followed the death of her husband in 632. She became an authority on Muslim tradition, and very important for her role in the civil war against Caliph Ali. She was defeated and captured in a battle in 656 and only released on promising to abandon political life. Her religious teachings became important for the Sunni branch of the Muslim faith and is called as Um al-Muslemin (the mother of all Muslims). She is despised by the Shii Muslims.

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Early 7th century, Fatima Zahra

The only surviving child of Prophet Mohammad, Fatima has become the most venerated female saint amongst the Shii Muslims. She was married to Ali her father's cousin and one of the first four caliphs. She died soon after the prophet's death in 632. All her children are also venerated greatly by the Shii Muslims including the martyred Imam Hussein and his sister Zaynab.

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Mid 7th century, Zaynab

Fatima's daughter, she is praised by the Shii Muslims for taking a strong stand following the massacre of her brother Imam Hussein and his entourage at Karbala. She was taken prisoner and reportedly conducted herself with dignity and courage. According to Shii accounts, when there was the possibility of Ibn Ziyad killing her nephew, Ali, the only surviving son of Hussein, she threw her arms around Ali's neck exclaiming, "by God, I will not be parted from him and so if you are going to kill him, then kill me with him". Ibn Ziyad imprisoned the captives and sent them to Yazid with the head of Hussein. Although Ibn Yazid mocked Ali and Zaynab he eventually allowed them to return to Medina. She died in Cairo and both Egyptians and Syrians claim that she is buried in their lands. There are two Zaynabieh (burial shrine of Zeynab) in Cairo and in Syria. Iranians accept the Syrian shrine as authentic.

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685-99 Regent Dowager Princess Spram of Girdyaman (Azerbaijan)

Ruled in the name of Varaz-Tiridat I of the Mihranid Dynasty, which ruled (680-699). She was succeeded by Sheraye.

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720-... De facto Joint Ruler Hababa of Bagdad (Iraq)

She was slave singer of the 9th Ummayyad Caliph, Yarzid II Ibn 'Abd al-Malik who was hostage to her charm. She choked on a pomegranate seed and he died of grief a few weeks later. Later historians stigmatized him and held him in contempt for letting himself be infatuated by a slave.

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775-809 Politically Influential Al-Haizuran of Bagdad (Iraq)

Also known as Khayzuran (literally, Bamboo) she was a slave, born most likely in Yemen, and gained substantial influence during the reigns of her husband, al-Mahdi (775-785), who allowed her to make many important decisions. After his death, it was Khayzuran who kept the peace by paying off the Caliph's army in order to maintain order. She arranged for the accession of her son, al-Hadi, even when he was away from the capitol. When al-Hadi proved less tolerant of Khayzuran's political manoeuvrings than had al-Mahdi, it was speculated that it was Khayzuran who arranged his murder in favour of her second, more tolerant son, Harun. Whatever the truth, Khayzuran is more fondly remembered than many of the caliphs themselves.

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908-32 Politically Influential Shaghab of Baghdad (Iraq)

Successful in manoeuvring the religious and military elite into recognizing her only 13-year-old son, Muqtadir, as caliph. She had originally been a slave.

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Around 976 Politically Influential Dowager Queen of Iran

Together with the court minister, Abu'l-Husain 'Abd-Allah ibn Ahmad 'Utbi, she assisted her son, Nuh II ibn Mansur, of the Samanid Dynasty (d. 997) who ascended to the throne as a youth.

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978-94 Queen Gurandukht of Abkhazia (Georgia)

She succeeded Theodosius III the Blind and reigned jointly with king Bagrat III Bagrationi the Unifier (King of Georgia 1008-14) of the mountainous district along the east coast of the Black Sea.

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1092-94 Regent Dowager Princess Turhan Hatun of Seljuk Iran

The Seljuqs were a Turkish people whose history begins around the year 1000, by which time they were the dominant presence in Transoxiana and Turkistan. They overran the western part of the Ghaznavid Emirate in 1040, and shortly thereafter took over all of Iran and Mesopotamia from the Buwayhids. The death of Sanjar in 1118 signalled the decline of the Great Seljuq Empire, which broke up into several smaller states.

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Ca. 1147-68 Ruler Zahida Khatun of Iran

Ruled the territory after the death of her husband, Amir Boz-Aba, and founded the madrasa in Shiraz.

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1184-1245 Regent Princess Rusudani of Georgia

Daughter of Queen Tamar of Georgia she succeed her brother to the throne. She fought the Kharazmshahian rulers of Iran and was defeated. A Christian kingdom, they were forced to convert into Islam and when they refused thousands were massacred in Tiblis. She survived and later surrendered to the invading Mongol army that defeated the Kharazmshahian. She died in 1245.

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1200-20 De-facto Co-Ruler Terken Khatun of Khwarezmian Empire, Iran

After the death of her partner, 'Ala' al-Din Tekish (1172-1200), she dominated the court of their son, 'Ala' al-Din Muhammad II (1200-20) and quarrelled so bitterly with his heir by another wife, Jalal al-Din, that she may have contributed to the impotence of the Khwarazmshahi kingdom in the face of the Mongol onslaught. She had a separate Divan (administration) and separate palace and the orders of the sultan were not considered to be effective without her signature. The Shah ruled the heterogeneous peoples without mercy. In face of Mongol attacks, Khwarazmshahian empire, with a combined army of 400.000, simply collapsed. Kharezmshah Muhammed had retreated to Samarkand towards the end of his domination and he had to leave the capital city to her.

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1208-20 Princess Ahmadilidyn of the Ahmadi Dynasty in Maragha, Iran

In 1029 the City of Maragha on the southern slopes of Mount Sahand in North Western Iran (East Azerbaijan Province) was seized by the Oghuz Turks, but a Kurdish chief and her daughter who established a local dynasty drove them out. The Mongols destroyed the city in 1221, but Hulagu Khan held court there until the establishment of a fixed capital at Tabriz.

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1210's-1221 Reigning Lala Khatun of Bamiyan (Afghanistan)

She was the daughter of the local Bamiyan ruler. Today it is a town in North-central Afghanistan's Hazarijat province. Bamiyan is an ancient caravan centre on the route across the Hindu Kush between India and central Asia. It was sacked by Genghis Khan in 1221 and never regained its former prominence.

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121?-18 Ruler Salbak Turhan of Uiguristan (Kazakstan)

The daughter off the local Qara-Khitai chief who ruled over the nomadic group for a brief period. The Qara-Khitai Empire with Samarkand as its capital covering present day's Mongolia, Northern-China, Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian Territories. In 1210 the Qara-Khitai Empire lost Transoxiana to the Khwarazim Shahdom, previously a vassal. The empire ended in 1218, when it was annexed by the Mongol Empire of Chingiz Khan.

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1242-46 Regent Dowager Khanum Ebuskun of Qara Khitai (Turkistan)

She reigned in the name of Khan Qara Hul. The dynasty used to rule over a vast empire, but had been forced back to present day's Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

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