Ramses ll was one of Egypt's greatest and most influential New Kingdom pharaohs. His name may also be spelled Rameses or Ramesses. He reigned over Egypt for 67 years and created a great empire. He is known mostly for his buildings and his military campaigns and is often said the most powerful of all pharaohs. He achieved the nickname Ramses The Great and inspired many later pharaohs to take his name. The last was Ramses Xl. He is propitiously called the father of Egypt by many historians. Learn about his life in this page and links.
Ramses ll was the son of Seti l and Queen Tuya. He was born in 1302 B.C. Before he was born, Seti had begun to rebuild Egypt's influence and power in his reign. He was not the crown prince from the start, yet Seti appointed him Prince Regent, or ceremonial commander-in-chief of the army, at age ten. Ramses was soon following his father to campaigns. He may have been the king mentioned in the Exodus and he may have grown up with Moses as the older brother. He had eight wives, princesses from the Hittite Empire to Syria. They may have birthed him over 100 children. Some of them were brought into Ramses' luxurious household for diplomatic reasons, such as Maathorneferure, others out of just love. A few were brought into Nefertari was his first and chief queen, married maybe as to connect the Delta family to Thebes, where Nefertari was most likely to have been from. Another wife, Maathorneferure, was the daughter of the Hittite Muwatalli, one of Ramses' greatest foes during his military career. He may have had over 100 children, including Prince Khaemwaset, the world's first known Egyptologist. He was succeeded by Merenptah aka Merneptah, the 13th son of another wife, Isetnofret. After 67 years of rule, he died at age 90.
Ramses became Prince Regent, appointed by his father in 1316 B.C. When Seti died in 1279 B.C., he usurped the throne from his brother. Ramses had many ideas for Egypt, many of them involving military conquest. He began by building army bases along the Libyan border to quell the fierce desert nomads and warrior tribes. He also looked to continue his father's restoration of power in the Middle East, which would include defeating the worthy opponents of the Hittite Empire and Syria. Egypt used to control these lands, but when Amenhotep lV came to power, a.k.a. Akhenaten, his religious fervor for the Aten distracted him from retaining control and influence over those territories. He built a new capital in the delta at Pi-Ramesse, or as it was called, changing the location from Memphis. He also had religious ideas, and one of his first decisions as pharaoh was to visit Thebes for the festival of Opet. Opet was the New Year, in which Amon was ceremonially taken from Karnak in a barge to the temple at Luxor. He loved his wife Nefertari and begun the construction of many statues of her. He also began work on the Ramesseum, his mortuary tomb at Thebes.
Control over Egypt's once great empire had been toppled by Egypt's own New Kingdom pharaoh, Amenhotep IV. Amenhotep grew very close to the Aten, a sun disk god. As he became feverish for the Aten and his capital Akhetaten( Amarna), the foreign lands that Egypt ruled slipped out of imperial control. One by one, cities began to leave the Egyptian empire, a few defecting to the new power in the region, the Hittite Empire. The following pharaohs attempted to erase his memory and regain territory, including his father, Seti. Seti waged war on the rebel leaders of Syria-Palestine, creating a southern frontier at Kadesh. Ramses was determined to continue his father's work. He was sent down to Nubia to smother a minor uprising and did so perfectly. After taking the throne in 1279 B.C., he soon marched to Syria-Palestine and quelled the rebels and cities that had once been loyal to the Egyptian pharaohs yet had defected to the Hittite Empire. He sent captives back to Egypt as he swept through Syria-Palestine. At Kadesh, he fought the most famous battle of the New Kingdom pharaohs, if not all rulers of Egypt. His soldiers were mostly in chariots, armed with bows, arrows, a dagger, maybe some armor, and more. After returning to Egypt, he came back and made a huge victory against the Hittites at Qatna, conquering them. He had fought the Hittites at Kadesh and considered Qatna and Kadesh the best victories of his life, even though it was a draw at Kadesh. His temples and tomb became loaded with scenes of Kadesh, Syrian sieges, and other achievements. He made peace with the still-threatening Hittites by marrying Maathorneferure. He returned to Egypt and focused on the Libyans to the west. Their mere presence in the Delta made Ramses The Great uneasy. He campaigned through Libya, all while concentrating also on his buildings. By the end of his conquering career, he had an empire including parts of modern-day Libya, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, not including the huge Upper and Lower Egypt.
The rest of his life was spent on building his grand monuments, including his mortuary temple, the Ramesseum.
Ramses lived in luxury, either at his palaces in Pi-Ramesse or in a luxurious tent at war. His eight wives also would have lived in luxury. Ramses made sure everything went well as pharaoh, did his daily jobs, and checked in with his overseers of his monuments. The overseers should have been paying the laborers their bread and beer, making sure the work on the tomb and other monuments continued on time for the pharaoh to reach the Field of Reeds, or the Egyptian afterlife. During wartime, Ramses would have consulted with his esteemed generals.


Ancient Egypt - //Ramesseum// www.ancient-egypt.co.uk/ramasseum/index.htm

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