Monday, 25 February 2013
Rameses II 1304-1237bc begins his career of conquest
Rameses II is one of the most famous of the Egyptian pharaohs. He fought wars of conquest across the Middle East, using the spoils and plunder to build magnificent monuments in Egypt - some of which survive to the present day and ensure his lasting fame.
In the century before Rameses became Pharaoh, Egypt had been torn apart by religious disputes and a succession of short-lived pharaohs. In 1320bc Sety I became ruler and set about rebuilding Egyptian power and wealth. His work was only partially complete when he died and left the task to his son, Rameses II. The young man was only about 20 years old, his exact date of birth is unknown, but he was determined to make Egypt great.
Rameses began by establishing garrisons along Egypt’s western frontier to control the nomadic tribes of the deserts. He also continued improving transport and other links inside Egypt, especially those to the Red Sea along which trade travelled to the south and east.
The real problem for Rameses was to the northeast. Egypt had long enjoyed huge influence over the lands stretching from the Red Sea to the Euphrates River. Some areas had been ruled directly by Egypt, others had recognised Egyptian overlordship and paid tribute. In the years of trouble this power had been lost. Sety had rebuilt diplomatic links and had imposed Egyptian influence as far north as the Orontes River.
When Sety died the Hittite King Muwatallis, who ruled what is now Turkey attacked. He hoped that the young Rameses would be too weak and inexperienced to resist. The Hittites captured the key fortress city of Kadesh on the Orontes. Rameses led an army of 20,000 men, divided into four divisions, north to face the Hittites.
from "Conquerors" by Rupert Matthews.
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