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General Horemheb

Military Personnel - The Military

Born: Unknown
Died: 1292 BC
Name means: “Horus is in Jubilation”
Married to: Amenia, probably before and when he was General: when he became Pharaoh, he married the previous Pharaoh’s daughter, Princess Mutnedjmet, to sure up his link and legitimacy to the Throne: the previous Pharaoh was Ay
Reigned as Pharaoh: Approx. 1306 – 1292 BC

 

Family

Historians cannot be certain but Horemheb is believed to have been born in Hnes, located on the West Bank of the Nile near Faiyum, which was later known as Herakleopolis. To learn more about this area, click here. Hnes was dedicated to the God Horus and this is whom Horemheb is named after and later the Deity who he credits with allowing him to rise to Pharaoh-hood. We do not know who his parents were, and it is thought that at birth he did not have any connection to the Royal Family.

 

Early Career

Again, Historians do not know a lot about Horemheb’s earliest career. He does appear in the Court records, but we can extrapolate from the clues provided in the earliest Tomb that Horemheb built for himself that he would have attended into Scribal School at a young age, maybe around 5 years old, and then went on to Military Training, perhaps when he became a teenager. Within his Saqqara Tomb he frequently has himself shown in the Reliefs as a Scribe and being closely aligned with God Thoth, God if knowledge and wisdom. The Titles that he relates here are for his Scribal career are:

  • “Scribe of Recruits”
  • “Royal Scribe”
  • “Overseer of all Overseers of Scribes of the King”

And then for his Military career:

  • “General”
  • “Overseer of the Generals of the Two Lands”

As a Scribe he is thought to have served at the Malkata City Palace Royal Court of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. To learn more about the world of Malkata, click here.  Here he would have at least been aware of the future Pharaoh Akhenaten, the future Queen Nefertiti, and the future Pharaoh Ay. He may well have worked with Queen Tiye who is known to have been involved in many diplomatic and international affairs on behalf of Egypt. She continued this role on behalf of her son, the future Pharaoh Akhenaten, and the Foreign Policies of Egypt suffered greatly after her death. Click here to learn more about Queen Tiye and her diplomatic affairs.

Court of Pharaoh Akhenaten

By the time Pharaoh Amenhotep III died and Pharaoh Amenhotep IV took the Throne, it would appear that Horemheb had already changed his career from that of a Scribe to a Military man, as Pharaoh Amenhotep IV changed his name, Capital City and religion; and also promoted Horemheb to Great Commander of the Army.

Regardless of what Horemheb thought of Pharaoh Akhenaten’s change in religion he would have been incensed at the Pharaoh’s lack of interest in the continuation of Military exercises, discipline and campaigns which would have all been standardised and accounted for to Pharaoh Amenhotep III. During Pharaoh Akhenaten’s reign the Egyptian Army did not win a single victory against one of their largest foes, the Hittites, against whom they had previously been seen as formidable. All that Pharaoh Akhenaten cared about was his new religion.

Court of Pharaoh Tutankhamun

At Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s Court, Horemheb was called on to serve as, “the Royal Spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Affairs” and was entrusted to meet with the Nubian Governors as part of a Diplomatic Mission. After this he rose to Commander in Chief for the Army and was one of Pharaoh’s closest advisors.

At this point, Horemheb had amassed enough wealth to build his own Noble’s Tomb at Saqqara which had been dated to the early years of Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s reign. Inside Egyptologists have discovered the list of Titles Pharaoh had given him:

  • “Chief Commander of the Army”
  • “Sole Companion, he who is by the feet of his lord on the battlefield on that day of killing Asiatics”
  • “Attendant of the King in his footsteps in the foreign countries of the south and the north”
  • “Fan bearer on the Right Side of the King”
  • “King’s Messenger in front of his army to the foreign countries to the south and the north”
  • “Hereditary Prince”
  • “Deputy of the King”

General Horemheb’s Saqqara Tomb Reliefs

The last titles listed here, namely, “Hereditary Prince” and “Deputy of the King”, are the extremely interesting Titles. This confirms that Pharaoh Tutankhamun, having no living children of his own at this point in his life, wished for Horemheb to follow him as Pharaoh of Egypt if he died without issue. Obviously, Pharaoh at this juncture was a young man and not expected to die early or die without issue. But it does show the close and extremely trusted relationship that existed between Horemheb and Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

Court of Pharaoh Ay

When the young Pharaoh Tutankhamun died, General Horemheb was abroad leading Egypt’s armies against the Hittites.

This is when Grand Vizier Ay arranged to have a ceremonial marriage to the widowed Queen so he could officiate the burial of the late Pharaoh.

But the Grand Vizier took this a step further, he seized the Throne, married the Queen and ignored Tutankhamun’s wishes as who should rule after him and crowned himself, Pharaoh Ay.

He went on to rule for 3 years as he was an elderly man himself, and when he died, he left no legitimate male heir. To learn more about Pharaoh Ay, click here.

As such General Horemheb finally reached the Throne as Pharaoh Tutankhamun had wished.