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The King of Egypt – Ramses the Great (Ramses II)

On this day, one of the greatest kings (Ramses II) of the ancient world takes his crown. This is a man even older than Alexander the Great and Julius Ceasar by almost a thousand years. That is the King Ramses the Great from the New Kingdom of Egypt. Under him, Egypt reached the height of its power, becoming the dominant power of the Mediterranean. 

Ramses II – Hero of Kadesh

Ramses II, also known as Ramses the Great, was one of ancient Egypt’s most powerful and celebrated pharaohs, reigning from 1279 to 1213 BCE during the Nineteenth Dynasty. His reign is often regarded as the zenith of Egyptian art, culture, and military prowess.

Ramses II is renowned for his architectural achievements, including constructing the magnificent temples at Abu Simbel and his mortuary temple, the Ramesseum. His reign was marked by prosperity, extensive building projects, and the flourishing of arts and literature. 

His subjects and later generations viewed him as the epitome of a great king. In Egypt, Ramses completed the great hypostyle hall at Karnak (Thebes) and continued work on the temple at Abydos, which was started by his father, Seti I. He finished his father’s funerary temple at Luxor and built his own, known as the Ramesseum. Ramses also built his own temple at Abydos near his father’s and constructed four major temples in his city of residence.

In Nubia, Ramses built six temples, including two magnificent ones carved into a cliffside at Abu Simbel, featuring four colossal statues of himself. The larger temple was begun by Seti I but completed by Ramses, while the smaller one was entirely his work. Ramses also founded Per Ramessu, his residence city, and sank a well in the eastern desert along the route to the Nubian gold mines.

Ramses II’s reign marked the last peak of Egypt’s imperial power. Though his Battle of Kadesh faced challenges, he managed to penetrate deep into the Hittite empire in the following years. After his death, Egypt went on the defensive but maintained control over Palestine and adjacent territories until the 20th dynasty. Ramses was a skilled soldier and administrator, leading to a prosperous and stable Egypt. Despite later invasions by the Sea Peoples, Ramses II’s reign remains a golden era of Egyptian history, showcasing his capabilities as a warrior, builder, and ruler.

The Military Genius Ramses the Great

A part of that success was due to the military success of Egypt, allowing him to focus his attention inward and build up Egypt. He led several military campaigns that secured Egypt’s interests, most notably the Battle of Kadesh against the Hittites, which is one of the first battles recorded in its entirety.

The Battle of Kadesh fought around 1274 BCE, was one of the largest chariot battles ever recorded and was one of the most important battles of Ramses II. This clash was fought between Egypt and the Hittite Empire and occurred near the city of Kadesh, in modern-day Syria. Both these empires wished to control the important trade routes of Syria. The flash point was Kadesh, a bustling trading city that was captured by the Hittites.

Ramses II led his troops in an attempt to recapture territories in the Levant, facing the Hittite king Muwatalli II. However, his troops were strung out in four divisions, allowing them to fall easy prey to the Hittite chariot corps.

Despite initial setbacks due to an unexpected Hittite ambush, Ramses II’s tactical prowess and personal bravery turned the tide. Rallying his division, Ramses counter-attacked the Hittite army, managing to drive off the enemy charioteers until reinforcements could arrive to strengthen his position.

The Aftermath and Peace Treaty

The battle ended in a stalemate, with heavy casualties on both sides, but Muwatalli II was unwilling to risk a battle, allowing him to negotiate with Ramses. The aftermath of the battle saw both empires claim victory, but eventually led to the signing of one of history’s earliest known peace treaties.

Ramses II’s legacy endured for centuries, and he was often regarded as the quintessential pharaoh, symbolizing the strength and splendor of ancient Egypt. This victory was also immortalized in a poem written about his reign.

“Now then, his majesty had prepared his infantry, his chariotry, and the Sherden of his majesty’s capturing… in the Year 5, 2nd month of the third season, day 9, his majesty passed the fortress of Sile. His infantry went on the narrow passes as if on the highways of Egypt. Now after days had passed after this, then his majesty was in Ramses Meri-Amon, the town which is in the Valley of the Cedar.”

ramses the great

Amid the great achievements of Ramses the Great, it’s interesting to note parallels in history, such as the rise and fall of empires. In modern times, discussions about the “Death of Chinese Democracy” echo the shifts in power and governance seen in ancient civilizations.

If you want to create vintage letters that look fit for a pharoah, our Vintage Letter platform can let you create some beautiful letters that you can try here.

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