26th Dynasty PharaohsThe Pharaohs - The People
Brief History of the 26th Dynasty
After being driven back south by the Assyrians, the Nubians never invaded Egypt again but continued to rule from their Capital City in Napata and when former Pharaoh Tantamani died he was buried in the Royal Cemetery with the Nubian Pyramids. They left behind them an Egypt who had been reintroduced to the Temples, Deities and Pyramids of the Middle Kingdom periods.
The Assyrian Ruler, King Ashurbanipal, left his vassal, Psamtik I to rule Egypt on his behalf. Psamtik had different ideas and though he continued to be peaceful with the Assyrians, he did not stay loyal to his Assyrian King Ashurbanipal. He expelled the Assyrian Army and made himself the first Pharaoh of the 26th Dynasty of Egypt, taking Sais as his Capital City where he reigned for over 50 years. In part this may have been due to the Assyrians being involved in an ongoing rebellion closer to home in Babylon. In 656BC Pharaoh Psamtik I sent a fleet to Thebes in the south and peacefully managed to regain control of Upper Egypt and reunify the country as one.
Pharaoh Psamtik I
Founder of the 26th Dynasty, or Saite Dynasty, he was a relative of the two Pharaohs of the 24th Dynasty who were also based at Sais. To learn more about their rule, click here. Pharaoh managed to reunite all Egypt in 656 BC by utilising troops which his ally, King Gyges of Lydia had loaned him, and the former Egyptian Pharaohs, the now Nubian Rulers never returned. It is thought that he reigned for 54 years from 664 to 610 BC. King Gyges ruled over Lydia, an Iron Age country in the modern day west of Asia Minor, east of Ionia in Turkey’s western provinces
Pharaoh Necho II
Son of Pharaoh Psamtik I and Queen Mehtenweshkhet, he ruled from 610 to 595 BC. He sent out explorers who via the Red Sea around modern South Africa probably navigated all the way to the Strait of Gibraltar and back, a trip which took 3 years; he aimed to build the precursor of today’s Suez Canal to allow trade between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean; he instituted a Royal Navy and built boats for their use; and is supposed to be the Pharaoh mentioned many times in the Bible: Second Book of Chronicles and Second Book of Kings.
His Military Campaigns began immediately on his ascension when he tried to stop the supply chain of the rampaging of Scythians, Cimmerians and Babylonians who had formed an allyship to break apart the Assyrian Empire. On this campaign he became the first since Pharaoh Seti I to recapture the former Hittite City of Kadesh and the first Pharaoh since Pharaoh Tuthmose III to cross the Euphrates. He was ultimately defeated, the Babylonians took power, and he retreated. His second campaign was against the aging Babylonian King Nabopolassar, during which the Egyptians looked to recapture the land they had held during the New Kingdom Period. The tide was in favour of Egypt until the Babylonian King passed his army over to his son who crushed Pharaoh’s plans and Pharaoh Necho II eventually turned to diplomatically allying himself with new countries rather than retyring to conquer long lost territory.
Pharaoh Psamtik II
Son of his predecessor, he ruled from 595 to 589 BC, in Regnal Year 3 he engaged in battles in Nubia who looked as though they were gathering pace to reinvade Egypt. He sacked the Kushite Capital of Napata and the survivors fled further into their Nubian territory of Meroe. Pharaoh Psamtik II retreated to the Egyptian border at Elephantine, his purpose being achieved, he had no desire to rule Nubia. He erected the Kiosk at the Temple of Isis on Philae Island, a pair of Obelisk at the Temple of Heliopolis, and the Temple of Hibis.
Pharaoh Wahibre Haaibre or Apries
Ruling from 589 to 570 BC, Pharaoh Apries was the son of his predecessor and Queen Takhut, and his sister was Princess Ankhnesneferibre, who was raised to be God’s Wife of Amun at Karnak Temple in Thebes in Regnal Year 4. Attempting to follow in his grandfather’s military exploits he sent an army to protect Jerusalem from the Babylonians which failed leading to the mutiny of the Soldiers at Aswan, he then sent an army to protect Libya from Greek invaders, but they were massacred.
This led to a Civil War inside the Army, pitching the Egyptian native troops, under General Amasis II, against the Foreign Mercenaries. The Egyptians in the army believed that they had been betrayed by the mercenaries who were fighting alongside them and by Pharaoh Apries himself. Forced into exile by now self-proclaimed Pharaoh Amasis II in his 19th Regnal Year, Pharaoh Apries fled to Babylon, from where he returned to try and reconquer his lost Throne at the head of a Babylonian Army, but they were defeated and Pharaoh Apries probably died either in battle or after a demand of justice by the Egyptian people after he battle.
Pharaoh Amasis II
A General for Pharaoh Psamtik II, Pharaoh Amasis II took on the Throne after a Civil War inside the Army put him at the head of the Egyptian contingent which exiled the current Pharaoh, Apries. Pharaoh Amasis II ruled from 570 to 526 BC, and to ensure his legitimate right to rule, he married his predecessor’s daughter, Princess Khedebneithirbinet II.
Amasis II taking the Throne was prosperous for Egypt as he reformed the government, and the economy began to bloom due to its flourishing trade and secure borders. Pharaoh was able to begin Building Campaigns once more and built Temples and made many additions in Lower Egypt. During this period Pharaoh was requested by Ruler Cambyses II of the Achaemenid Empire to provide him with a wife, one of Pharaoh’s daughters to ensure good relations between the two empires. Pharaoh was worried that the Princess of Egypt would be treated as a concubine, so he sent the daughter of his predecessor to Cambyses instead, a usurped former Princess.
On learning of the duplicity Cambyses II led a Persian Invasion to Egypt but found that Pharaoh had died leaving his son on the Throne. His initial attacks were rebuffed until a former Greek advisor of Pharaoh Amasis II fled to Persia meeting with Ruler Cambyses II. Together they plotted the best battle strategy and pitched the Battle of Pelusium in 525BC. Egypt lost and Cambyses II took his revenge on Pharaoh Psamtik III by removing him from the Throne.
To enact his final revenge, Ruler Cambyses II exhumed Pharaoh Amasis II’s body from its Tomb and burned what remained of his mummy.
Pharaoh Psamtik III
Son of his predecessor, he only ruled for a period of 6 month in between 526 to 525BC when Ruler Cambyses II invaded Egypt at the head of a Persian Army and defeated the Egyptians at the Battle of Pelusium in 525 BC.
Pharaoh Psamtik III, the Royal Family and some of the Court managed to flee to the former Capital City of Memphis but they were soon captured by the Persians who removed them to their Capital City of Susa.
Here many of them lived peacefully until former Pharaoh Psamtik III tried to incite a revolt. The Persians executed him and put many of the remaining Egyptians to death.