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Pharaoh Ramses XI

20th Dynasty - The Pharaohs - The People

The last Pharaoh of this Dynasty and of the New Kingdom Period, who ruled for 29 years, was called Pharaoh Ramses XI.

As had been the growing issue since the end of Pharaoh Ramses III’s reign, the High Priest of the Temple of Amun in Karnak held most of Egypt’s wealth, lands and the subsequent power that had ebbed away from the Royals. Since the rule of Pharaoh Ramses VI, Thebes had been run as the religious Capital City of Egypt.

Roughly halfway through Pharaoh Ramses XI’s reign the High Priest of Amun, Amenhotep, was usurped from his role by the Viceroy of Kush, Pinehesy. Who ended this period of unrest is currently not known and all remaining administrative documents show that Pharaoh Ramses XI was fully involved in these “schemes” (for lack of a better word) maybe because they promised to secure his Throne against the Priesthood of Amun. Seemingly none the worse for his time in Thebes, Pinehesy retreated to Nubia and maintained his own Court for at least a decade.

During this same period, it appears as though one of Pharaoh’s relatives, a Princess Tentamun, the daughter of Pharaoh Ramses IX, married a man called Nesbanebdjed (also known to the Greeks as Smendes), and then Pharaoh allowed them to set up their own de facto Court and Government in the city of Tanis in Lower Egypt. Perhaps Pharaoh saw this pair as heirs to his Throne but none of these details are clear. Nesbanebdjed’s parents were the Lady Hrere, the Chief of the Harem of Mun-Re and a High Priest of Amun, and now the whole country was ruled in some form or other by the Priesthood.

At the end of Pharaoh’s reign, he moved the political capital to the city of Tanis, where his supposed heirs held their own Court, releasing the Middle and Upper sections of Egypt back to the Priesthood of Amun. Pharaoh wished to be buried in Lower Egypt, probably near Memphis, despite having commenced his own King’s Valley Tomb, KV4. This put the Artisan Village at Deir-el-Medina out of business as the Royal Necropolis was no longer needed, and the Village occupants slowly retreated out of their secret and secluded home over the coming years.

Pharaoh died and was buried by his successor, Pharaoh Nesbanebdjed I, who began Egypt’s 21st Dynasty ruling Lower Egypt from Tanis, whilst High Priest of Amun, Herihor ruled Upper Egypt from Thebes. The New Kingdom Period had reached its conclusion.


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