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The Build Up

Battle of Kadesh - The Military

Background

So why did Pharaoh Ramses II decide to invade Kadesh? During the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten (the father of Tutankhamun) it appears that his mother, King’s Mother Tiye, took responsibility for all of Egypt’s Foreign and Diplomatic Policies. She was well versed in this role as she had supported her husband, Pharaoh Amenhotep III, with Egypt’s Foreign and Diplomatic Policies during his reign. But during this period, she had all responsibility because her son was not interested in pursuing it at all. How do we know this? 

After King Mother Tiye’s death it appears that Pharaoh Akhenaten simply could not or would not take on her long held Diplomatic role. For he disdained the previously strong adherence to Foreign Policy and allowed lands to be taken especially by the Hittites in Syria and Canaan. But he went further. He reduced the Military, the Defences and ceased Foreign Militaria Campaigns. Furthermore, he refused to support any of them with Gold or reinforcements.

 

This led to the ravaging of Egypt’s borders until Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s General, Horemheb, began to take back control after Akhenaten’s death. This legacy still held strongly with the Egyptian people which is why they turned to the army after Tutankhamun’s successor Ay died without a strong familial successor. General Horemheb became Pharaoh Horemheb and appointed his own Head of the Army as his Successor, Pharaoh Ramses I. Father of Pharaoh Seti I and grandfather of Pharaoh Ramses II. This explains why both Seti I and Ramses II were so keen to undertake, succeed and then display their numerous Military Campaigns on their Temples during their reigns.

Immediately on Ramses II’s ascension the Hittite’s took advantage of the perceived lack of strength in the Throne and began their invasions, capturing the border Canaan city of Kadesh. Ramses focus soon shifted to the restoration of the Northern and Southern borders of Egypt and to ensure that all Trade Routes were secure. To do this in the most efficient way, Ramses started building his new Capital City, Pi Ramses, in the Delta region of Egypt which gave him faster access to his Norther Borders. The City was constructed on a specific layout, for more details about this, click here, but Ramses ensured that his new City included everything he would need to provision his army. This incorporated one of the largest Smelting Factories ever found in Egypt to arm the Army; Stables with training and exercising areas; and production and repair areas for the Chariotry.

Relief of Pharaoh Horemheb and God Anubis from his Tomb in the Valley of the Kings