Ladies first

1350 – 1300 BC. Politically Influential Queen Napir Asu, Elam, Khuzistan
Wife of King Untash-Napirasha who built many great buildings and temples in the area including, the Choga Zanbil near Sush (Susa). Her well preserved and headless status was discovered at Susa and is currently at the Louvre Museum in Paris. She is dressed in the same outfit as the Elamite goddess Pinikir and very likely served and represented this divinity at the temple of Ninhursag where she was discovered.

Around 580s B.C. Aryenis, Queen Consort of Media
Married to king Astyages of Media she was, according to Herodotus, the daughter of King Alyattes II of Lydia and the sister of King Croesus of Lydia. She was the mother of Mandane (Mandana) of Media and a probable Amytis, married to her nephew Cyrus the Great. She was also mother-in-law of Cambyses I of Anshan and maternal grandmother of Cyrus the Great. She was given in marriage to Astyages (reigned 585-550 BC) to seal a treaty between Cyaxares of Media and Alyattes II of Lydia, following the Battle of the Eclipse. Herodotus identified her as the mother of Mandane, but there is speculation that Mandane (the wife of Cambyses I of Anshan) may have been born to an earlier wife of Astyages.

Around 584 B.C. Mandane (Mandana) of Media
She was a Median princess, daughter of Astyages and later, the Queen consort of Cambyses I of Anshan and mother of Cyrus the Great. She is a central character in legends describing the birth of Cyrus the great. According to Herodotus Astyages had a strange dream where his daughter urinated so much that Asia would flood. He consulted the magi who interpreted the dream as a warning that Mandana’s son would overthrow Astyages. He married her off to prince, Cambyses I of Anshan, “a man of good family and quiet habits”, whom Astyages considered no threat to the Median throne. The king had a second dream when Mandana became pregnant and a vine grew from her womb and overtook the world. Terrified, he sent his most loyal court retainer, Harpagus, to kill the child. However, Harpagus was loathed to spill royal blood and hid the child, Cyrus II (Cyrus the Great) with a shepherd named Mitridates. According to this legend, Cyrus would defy his grandfather, Astyages, leading to war between them; a war that Cyrus would have lost, but for Harpagus’ defection on the battlefield of Pasargadae, leading to the overthrow of Astyages, as the dream had forecast. Xenophon has a different legend with respect to Cyrus’s birth in his fictional novel about Cyrus, Cyropedia (The Education of Cyrus). In this story, Mandana and her son travel to Astyages court (most likely as hostages), when Cyrus is in his early teens. Cyrus charms his grandfather, who includes the boy in royal hunts, while Mandana returns to her husband in Anshan. It is when Cyrus concocts a story that his father, Cambyses I, is ill and returns to visit him that Astyages comes after him and the battle is joined. Darius I also had a daughter called Mandana.

Around 550 B.C. Queen Atossa of Achaemenid Persia
Queen consort of Persia, she was born around 550 B.C. She was a daughter of Cyrus the Great and a sister (or half-sister) of Cambyses II. Atossa married Darius I in 522 BC after Darius took over. Xerxes I was one of her children with Darius. She probably died before Xerxes came to power, although Herodotus believed she was still alive during Xerxes’ reign. Aeschylus the Greek play writer included her as a central character in his tragedy The Persians. Atossa is also a figure from Zoroastrian scripture.

Around 540s B.C. Queen Cassandane of Achaemenid Persia
Wife of Cyrus the Great, sister of Otanes and daughter of Pharnaspes. She bore four children: Cambyses II, Smerdis, Atossa and an unnamed daughter (see Herodotus, 2.1; 3.2, 3). According to Herodotus (2.1), Cyrus loved her dearly and, when she died, ordered all the subjects of his empire to observe “a great mourning.” There is a report in the chronicle of Nabonidus that, when “the king’s wife died,” there was public mourning in Babylonia lasting from 27 Adar to 3 Nisan, that is, 21-26 March 538; very probably it was the death of Cassandane that was being mourned. Professor Mary Boyce has suggested that she was buried in the tower called Zendaan-e Solaymaan at Pasargadae.

Around 520 B.C., Phaidyme of Achaemenid Persia
Phaidyme was daughter of the Persian noble Otanes one of the seven conspirators who helped Darius the Great to assume the throne. She was the wife of king Smerdis (Bardya) who was allegedly killed and replaced with a false pretender to the throne. She is the first to realize there is something wrong. In bed she feels for the absent ears of her husband while he is making love to her in the dark; and so begins the story about the overthrow of the Magi who pretends to be the king by Darius and the seven aristocrats.

Around 510s – 480s Queen Artystone of Achaemenid Persia
Daughter of Cyrus the Great and sister or half-sister of Atossa. Along with Atossa and her niece Parmys, Artystone was married to king Darius I; by marrying the female offspring of Cyrus, the founder of the empire, the new king, Darius, prevented his rule being contested. She bore Darius at least two sons, Arsames and Gobryas, and a daughter, Artazostre. According to the Greek historian Herodotus Artystone was the favorite wife of Darius. She is also mentioned in the Persepolis Fortification Tablets, an administrative archive from Persepolis. She was very wealthy with her own administration.

Around 510s – 480s Princess Parmys of Achaemenid Persia
Daughter of Cyrus the Great and sister to prince Bardya, like her other sisters she was also married to king Darius I to end any claim against the throne following Darius’s assumption of the throne.

Around 490s B.C., Princess Artazostre of Achaemenid Persia
Daughter of king Darius I (521 BC-485 BC) by Artystone, daughter of Cyrus the Great. According to to the Greek historian Herodotus (VI, 43) Artazostre was given in marriage to Mardonius, young son of the Persian noble Gobryas, not much before he took the command of the Persian army in Thrace and Macedon (c. 493/492 B.C.). Artazostre seems not to be mentioned by name in the Persepolis Fortification Tablets (administrative documents found at Persepolis), but there are references (in tablets dated on the year 498 BC) to a “wife of Mardonius, daughter of the king”, who received rations for a trip she made with Gobryas and a woman called Radu�namuya or Ardu�namuya.

Around 490s B.C., Irdabama, A Successful Business Woman
Irdabama, was a successful landowner who controlled her own wine and grain business at the time of Xerxes. The fortification tablets at Persepolis contain information about her wealth, workshops and hundreds of workers of both sexes. She had her own seal which meant great prestige and power.

Before 486-ca. 440, Queen Amestris of Achaemenid Persia
She was the wife of Xerxes I and mother of king Artaxerxes I . Amstris was the daughter of Otanes, one of the seven conspirators who killed the Persian rebel king Gaum�ta (September 22, 522 BCE). After this, Darius the Great started his reign. According to the Greek researcher Herodotus (5th century BC), Otanes was honored with a diplomatic marriage. The new king married Otanes’ daughter Phaedymia, and Otanes married a sister of Darius, who gave birth to Amestris. When Darius died in 486 BC, Amestris was married to the crown prince, Xerxes and must have been in her thirties. She had a bad reputation among ancient Greek historians.The historian, Therodotus, describes her as a cruel despot. Herodotus reported that she sacrificed children of Persians to the Gods of the underworld (Ahriman?). After the death of her husband, Xerxes I, she was politically influential during the reign of her son. During the sovereignty of Artaxerxes I (465-424), another son, Achaemenes, was killed by Egyptian rebels. The general Megabyzus, who offered terms to the rebels to shorten the war, defeated them and their Athenian allies. According to the historian Ctesias, Amestris was enraged because Megabyzus had not punished the murderers of her son. Initially, Artaxerxes did not allow her revenge, but after five years (around 449), he permitted her to crucify the Egyptian leader, Inarus, and kill several captives. She lived (before 486-ca. 440). According to an oriental fairy tale told by Herodotus, Amestris was a very jealous woman. When Xerxes returned from the Greco-Persian Wars, he fell in love with the wife of one of his sons Crown Prince Darius, Artaynte. In return for her favors, she demanded a special cloak that Amestris had made for Xerxes. When the queen saw her daughter-in-law parading in the royal dress, she knew what was going on, and she ordered Artaynte’s mother to be mutilated. (Herodotus offers no convincing explanation.) Artayntes’ father, Xerxes’ brother Masistes, decided to revolt against his king and brother, but was not successful. She may have died as late as 440 B.C.

Around 430s B.C Amestris of Achaemenid Persia
Daughter of Artaxerxes II.

Around 430s B.C., Queen Damaspia of Achaemenid Persia
This Persian noblewoman was wife of king Artaxerxes I, and mother of Xerxes II, his legitimate heir. According to to the Greek historian Ctesias of Cnidus, king Artaxerxes and his wife died the same day (424 BC, perhaps during a military expedition), and their corpses were carried to Persia. Xerxes succeeded his father, but was murdered not much later (423 BC) by his half-brother Sogdianus.

Around 420s B.C. Amestris of Achaemenid Persia
The oldest child of Darius II and sister to Artaxerxes II. She was married to Teritouchmes son of Hydarnes as part of an alliance between the Persians and the House of Hydranes.

424-405 B.C. Joint-Ruler Queen Parysatis of Achaemenid Persia
Daughter of Xerxes I (486-66), who was murdered by his chamberlain and succeeded by her brother, Xerxes II, who was assassinated after only 45 days by his half brother, Secydianus, but Parysatis and her husband and brother Darius II conspired against him and had him deposed after only 6 months. She was co-ruler during her husband’s reign, and among other things secured the appointment of her son, Cyrus as Satrap of Lydia, Cappadocia and Phrygia (all in western Turkey) in 408 or 408. At the same time, he was appointed as commander in chief of Asia Minor, when he was only 15-17 years old. He succeeded to the throne in 404.

Around 440s, Princess Amytis of Achaemenid Persia
Amytis was daughter of king Xerxes I and queen Amestris, and sister of king Artaxerxes I. She was given in marriage to the nobleman Megabyzus. Amytis and her mother are portrayed in Ctesias’ account as the most powerful women during Artaxerxes’s reign. Near 445 BC, her husband Megabyzus started a successful revolt in Syria against Artaxerxes I. Initially, Amytis stayed with the king during the war; however, she later participated, along with Amestris and the satrap Artarius, in the reconciliation negotiations between the rebel and the king. Notwithstanding this, Megabyzus again fell in disgrace and was expelled from the court and exiled to a town on the Persian Gulf. After five years in exile, Magabyzus was forgiven and allowed to return to the court, again thanks to the intercession of Amytis and Amestris. Amytis bore Megabyzus two sons: Zopyrus and Artyphius. After the death of his father and mother, Zopyrus fled to Athens, where, according to Ctesias, he “was well received owing to the services his mother had rendered to the Athenians. Greek sources portray Amytis as a licentious woman. According to Ctesias, during Xerxes’ reign she was accused of adultery by Megabyzus. The same historian further affirms that, after her husband’s death, she had a love affair with the Greek physician Apollonides of Cos, and that when the affair was discovered, Apollonides was tortured and put to death by queen mother Amestris. Dinon, another Greek historian, describes Amytis as the most beautiful and licentious woman of Asia. The most difficult challenge in using historians as Ctesias or Dinon as reliable sources is the fact that they tended to write amazing stories that would better appeal to their readers, often without much attention to historical rigor. The lack of primary sources makes it therefore impossible to have an accurate image of amytis.

Around 380s B.C. Amestris of Achaemenid Persia
Daugther of Oxathres brother of Darius III, married to Craterus but was abandoned by him and later married Dionysius of Heraclea Pontus.

Around 320s B.C., Princess Stateira (Barsine) of Achaemenid Persia
Stateira was the daughter of Darius III. She was captured by Alexander the Great after the battle of Issus in 333 BC, along with her sister Drypetis, her mother Stateira, and her grandmother Sisygambis. After their capture, the Persian women joined Alexander’s baggage train for around two years. After Alexander’s return from India he married Stateira. The Greek sources mention that following Alexander’s death, his favourate wife Roxane from the kingdom of Bactria (modern Afghanistan) lured Stateira and her sister to her, and had the two princesses killed and thrown into a well, Roxane was pregnant and was determined that her son should be the undisputed heir of Alexander. Around 320s B.C., Princess Parysatis of Achaemenid Persia She was a daughter of Artaxerxes III Ochus. She was taken as a third wife by Alexander the Great, at Susa in 324 BC. She was probably murdered by Roxane, alongside her kinswoman Stateira, following the death of Alexander in 323 b.C.

Around 320s B.C., Princess Drypetis of Achaemenid Persia
Drypetis was the daughter of Darius III. She was captured by Alexander the Great after the battle of Issus in 333 BC, along with her sister Stateira, her mother Stateira, and her grandmother Sisygambis.

Around 320s B.C., Princess Roxane of Bactria (modern Afghanistan)
Daughter of the Bactrian baron Oxyartes, was married to Alexander in 327 B.C. It is possible that she gave birth to a son in 326, who was either stillborn or who died in early infancy. At the time of Alexander’s death in 323 she was some months’ pregnant and she gave birth to another son after the king’s death. This baby was named Alexander and was acclaimed as joint king, in partnership with Alexander’s half-brother, Arrhidaeus. Roxane appears to have been responsible for the deaths of Alexander’s other wives – Stateira the daughter of Darius, and Parysatis the daughter of Artaxerxes III Ochus. However, she didn’t take an active part in the wars of the Diadochi, but was murdered with her son in around 310/309 B.C.

Ca.280 B.C. Queen Stratonice of Seleucid Dynasty, Iran
From Greek ancestery she was married to Alexander’s heir Seleucus I founder of the Seleucid dynasty that ruled over Iran after Alexander’s death. After her husband’s death she married his heir Antiochus I who ruled from 281 to 261 B.C.

Before 127 B.C. Regent Dowager Queen Ri-‘nu of Parthia (Ashkanian)
Queen Ri-‘nu lived in what is now modern Turkey following her husband’s (Mithridates I) successful conquests of Syria and Turkey. Other versions of her name are Riinu or Rihinu, and she was regent for her son Phraates II.

Arouund 138 B.C. Princess Rhodogune, the daughter of Mithridates I of Parthia
In 138 B.C. Princess Rhodogune married Seleucid king Demetrius II Nicator. After bearing several children with him, she was presumably abandoned in 131 B.C. when Demetrius, after numerous failed attempts to escape from Parthia, was dispatched back to Antioch during the invasion of Parthia by Demetrius’ brother. During their marriage, she had been temporarily a hostage in the Parthian court after an ill-fated campaign. The historian, Polyaenus tells us that Rhodogune, informed of a revolt while preparing for a bath, vowed not to bathe or brush her hair until the revolt was neutralised. She immediately went to battle, riding out to the head of her army. She successfully directed the battle, and was depicted thereafter with long, disheveled hair because of her adherence to her vow. He is the sole source of the story.

Ca. 82/1 – 76/5 B.C. Queen Anzaze, Joint Queen Regnant Elam, Khuzistan
She was joint ruler with Kamnaskares III, of the Kamnaskirid dynasty of Elam, Khuzistan. The queen is portrayed on coins with her husband, the local ruler of Elam during the Parthian era.

30-40 B.C. Joint Princess Regnant Helena of Adiabene (North Iraq), under Parthian Rule
Helena ruled jointly with her husband Bazeus Monobazus in Adiaben then part of the Persian Empire. The rulers of the territory had converted to Judaism and Adiabene was a Jewish kingdom at the time.

Around 40-1 B.C. Queen Musa, the influential wife of King Phraates of Parthia
Queen Musa was presented as a slave to King Phraates of Parthia, Iran by the Roman Emperor Augustus around 36 B.C. She later married the king and had a son Phraates (V), but usually referred to by the diminutive name, Phraataces. In time, Musa was elevated as Phraates’ queen. In 10 B.C., she persuaded Phraates to send his other sons to Rome for their safety. Cleared of any rivals to her son, she poisoned her husband in 2 B.C. to have her son Phraataces succeed his father to the throne and became the co-ruler. Her pictures have survived on coins.

Around AD 150. Joint Queen Regnant Ulfan of Elam (Elymias)
She was joint ruler with Orodes IV of the Helleno-Iranian kingdom located in what are now southeastern Iraq and the Zagros Mountains of Iran. Elymias is a Hellenization of “Elam”, an ancient state in roughly the same region. Its capital was Susa, one of the capitals of the Achaemenid Persian kings and a major city centre since 2000 B.C.

227- 43 A.D. Queen Denak
Daughter of Papak, sister and wife of Ardeshir Papakan, the founder of the Sasanian Dynasty. One of her seals has survived and is currently at the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg. The seal shows the queen’s profile without her husband and is in remarkable condition. The Sasanian aristocratic women had great wealth and influence and managed their extensive wealth with their own administration.

310-32? Regent The Dowager Queen of Persia (Iran)
Her husband Hormozd II died before the birth of their son Shahpur II the Great (310-79), who was elected king before his birth, or possibly as an infant after her brother-in-law Adarnarseh had been on the throne for a short while. During her son’s minority reign Persia had a weak government of regents and suffered raids from its neighbours, particularly the Arabs who invaded southern Persia. Rome, however, which had gained some of the western Persian cities in Mesopotamia during the reign of Narse, Shahpur’s grandfather, left Persia in peace. From Jewish origin, the queen regent managed to hold on to power and secured her son’s reign. She later married the governor of Kushan one of the kingdoms under Sasanian sovereignty. Shapur II became one of the greatest kings of the Sasanian era.

Around early 300, Princess Hormozd-dokot
Daughter of Hormozd II (r. 303-09 C.E.) is said to have married the Armenian prince Vahan Mamikonian to improve relations between the two countries.

Ca. 450. Sasanian queen from Abu Nasr?, Qasr-i Abu Nasr, Shiraz
The seal of a Sasanian queen was discovered in the Sasanian palace now called Qasr-i Abu Nasr near Shiraz, and is named after the location. The seal is currently at the British Museum. She has remained unknown.

630-31 Empress Burandokht (Purandokht) of Sasanian Iran
Daughter of King Khusraw II (590-628), who was succeeded by two sons and a usurper. She became the empress after the murder of her brother Ardeshir III. She then became the first of two consecutive female monarchs to rule over the Sasanian Empire, she signed a peace treaty with the Byzantines and after a short reign was succeeded by her sister Azarmidokht. Her coins have survived. She is remembered as a reformist who tried to stabilize the nation by re-structuring and lowering taxes.

631-32 Empress Azarmidokht of Sasanian Iran
She succeeded her sister, Purandokht, and her reign was marred by pretenders and rival kings. She died within less than a year, and was succeeded by her nephew Yazdgard III, the last Iranian pre-Islamic monarch.

Around 613-78 ‘A’ishah daughter of Abu Bakr
Married at age 9 to Prophet Muhammad, she became a powerful force in the political turmoil that followed the death of her husband in 632. She became an authority on Muslim tradition, and very important for her role in the civil war against Caliph Ali. She was defeated and captured in a battle in 656 and only released on promising to abandon political life. Her religious teachings became important for the Sunni branch of the Muslim faith and is called as Um al-Muslemin (the mother of all Muslims). She is despised by the Shii Muslims.

Early 7th century, Fatima Zahra
The only surviving child of Prophet Mohammad, Fatima has become the most venerated female saint amongst the Shii Muslims. She was married to Ali her father’s cousin and one of the first four caliphs. She died soon after the prophet’s death in 632. All her children are also venerated greatly by the Shii Muslims including the martyred Imam Hussein and his sister Zaynab.

Mid 7th century, Zaynab
Fatima’s daughter, she is praised by the Shii Muslims for taking a strong stand following the massacre of her brother Imam Hussein and his entourage at Karbala. She was taken prisoner and reportedly conducted herself with dignity and courage. According to Shii accounts, when there was the possibility of Ibn Ziyad killing her nephew, Ali, the only surviving son of Hussein, she threw her arms around Ali’s neck exclaiming, “by God, I will not be parted from him and so if you are going to kill him, then kill me with him”. Ibn Ziyad imprisoned the captives and sent them to Yazid with the head of Hussein. Although Ibn Yazid mocked Ali and Zaynab he eventually allowed them to return to Medina. She died in Cairo and both Egyptians and Syrians claim that she is buried in their lands. There are two Zaynabieh (burial shrine of Zeynab) in Cairo and in Syria. Iranians accept the Syrian shrine as authentic.

685-99 Regent Dowager Princess Spram of Girdyaman (Azerbaijan)
Ruled in the name of Varaz-Tiridat I of the Mihranid Dynasty, which ruled (680-699). She was succeeded by Sheraye.

720-… De facto Joint Ruler Hababa of Bagdad (Iraq)
She was slave singer of the 9th Ummayyad Caliph, Yarzid II Ibn ‘Abd al-Malik who was hostage to her charm. She choked on a pomegranate seed and he died of grief a few weeks later. Later historians stigmatized him and held him in contempt for letting himself be infatuated by a slave.

775-809 Politically Influential Al-Haizuran of Bagdad (Iraq)
Also known as Khayzuran (literally, Bamboo) she was a slave, born most likely in Yemen, and gained substantial influence during the reigns of her husband, al-Mahdi (775-785), who allowed her to make many important decisions. After his death, it was Khayzuran who kept the peace by paying off the Caliph’s army in order to maintain order. She arranged for the accession of her son, al-Hadi, even when he was away from the capitol. When al-Hadi proved less tolerant of Khayzuran’s political manoeuvrings than had al-Mahdi, it was speculated that it was Khayzuran who arranged his murder in favour of her second, more tolerant son, Harun. Whatever the truth, Khayzuran is more fondly remembered than many of the caliphs themselves.

908-32 Politically Influential Shaghab of Baghdad (Iraq)
Successful in manoeuvring the religious and military elite into recognizing her only 13-year-old son, Muqtadir, as caliph. She had originally been a slave.

Around 976 Politically Influential Dowager Queen of Iran
Together with the court minister, Abu’l-Husain ‘Abd-Allah ibn Ahmad ‘Utbi, she assisted her son, Nuh II ibn Mansur, of the Samanid Dynasty (d. 997) who ascended to the throne as a youth.

978-94 Queen Gurandukht of Abkhazia (Georgia)
She succeeded Theodosius III the Blind and reigned jointly with king Bagrat III Bagrationi the Unifier (King of Georgia 1008-14) of the mountainous district along the east coast of the Black Sea.

1092-94 Regent Dowager Princess Turhan Hatun of Seljuk Iran
The Seljuqs were a Turkish people whose history begins around the year 1000, by which time they were the dominant presence in Transoxiana and Turkistan. They overran the western part of the Ghaznavid Emirate in 1040, and shortly thereafter took over all of Iran and Mesopotamia from the Buwayhids. The death of Sanjar in 1118 signalled the decline of the Great Seljuq Empire, which broke up into several smaller states.

Ca. 1147-68 Ruler Zahida Khatun of Iran
Ruled the territory after the death of her husband, Amir Boz-Aba, and founded the madrasa in Shiraz.

1184-1245 Regent Princess Rusudani of Georgia
Daughter of Queen Tamar of Georgia she succeed her brother to the throne. She fought the Kharazmshahian rulers of Iran and was defeated. A Christian kingdom, they were forced to convert into Islam and when they refused thousands were massacred in Tiblis. She survived and later surrendered to the invading Mongol army that defeated the Kharazmshahian. She died in 1245.

1200-20 De-facto Co-Ruler Terken Khatun of Khwarezmian Empire, Iran
After the death of her partner, ‘Ala’ al-Din Tekish (1172-1200), she dominated the court of their son, ‘Ala’ al-Din Muhammad II (1200-20) and quarrelled so bitterly with his heir by another wife, Jalal al-Din, that she may have contributed to the impotence of the Khwarazmshahi kingdom in the face of the Mongol onslaught. She had a separate Divan (administration) and separate palace and the orders of the sultan were not considered to be effective without her signature. The Shah ruled the heterogeneous peoples without mercy. In face of Mongol attacks, Khwarazmshahian empire, with a combined army of 400.000, simply collapsed. Kharezmshah Muhammed had retreated to Samarkand towards the end of his domination and he had to leave the capital city to her.

1208-20 Princess Ahmadilidyn of the Ahmadi Dynasty in Maragha, Iran In 1029 the City of Maragha on the southern slopes of Mount Sahand in North Western Iran (East Azerbaijan Province) was seized by the Oghuz Turks, but a Kurdish chief and her daughter who established a local dynasty drove them out. The Mongols destroyed the city in 1221, but Hulagu Khan held court there until the establishment of a fixed capital at Tabriz.

1210’s-1221 Reigning Lala Khatun of Bamiyan (Afghanistan)
She was the daughter of the local Bamiyan ruler. Today it is a town in North-central Afghanistan’s Hazarijat province. Bamiyan is an ancient caravan centre on the route across the Hindu Kush between India and central Asia. It was sacked by Genghis Khan in 1221 and never regained its former prominence.

121?-18 Ruler Salbak Turhan of Uiguristan (Kazakstan)
The daughter off the local Qara-Khitai chief who ruled over the nomadic group for a brief period. The Qara-Khitai Empire with Samarkand as its capital covering present day’s Mongolia, Northern-China, Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian Territories. In 1210 the Qara-Khitai Empire lost Transoxiana to the Khwarazim Shahdom, previously a vassal. The empire ended in 1218, when it was annexed by the Mongol Empire of Chingiz Khan.

1242-46 Regent Dowager Khanum Ebuskun of Qara Khitai (Turkistan)
She reigned in the name of Khan Qara Hul. The dynasty used to rule over a vast empire, but had been forced back to present day’s Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

1251-52 Dowager Khanum Sorghaghtani Beki of The Qagans of the Khanate of Eastern Turkiut (Xinjiang), of Qara Khitai and of Khurasan (Iran)
As the daughter-in-law of Chinggis Khan, she pointed out that future khans ought to be Chinggis’ direct descendants. The powerful nobles quickly sided with her against the regent, Khanum Oghul, and her eldest son Mongke emerged as victor. He was enthroned in 1251, setting in place the accession of the future rulers of the Mongolian Empire through the Tolui line. Throughout the first year of her son’s rule, her influence and teaching was felt. She had ensured that her sons received proper training and the skills in combat and administration necessary to rule empires. Although she herself was illiterate, she gave them an education. Understanding what Khubilai Khan would need to rule China, she introduced him to the concepts of Confucian thought. Herself she was a Nestorian Christian who patronized a variety of foreign religions. She was daughter of Jakha Gambu Khan of the Kerate Tribe. She (d. 1252).

1251-? Warrior Princess Khutulun of The Qagans in the Khanate of the Eastern Turkiut (Xinjiang) and of Khurasan (Iran)
The niece of Kublai Khan, she relished the military life and loved combat. She even impressed Marco Polo who described her as so strong and brave that in all of her father’s army no man could out do her in feats of strength. She never did marry. She accompanied her father on all of his campaigns.

1252-61 Regent Dowager Khanum Organa Hatum of the Khanate of the Eastern Turkiut (Xinjiang) and of Khurasan (Iran)
Head of the Ghafa Sid Horde (or Qara Khitai/ Chagataiid Horde) and ruled over a vast territory after the death of Qara Hulegu as successor of Qara Hulegu, who reigned 1247-52 and 1252. She was succeeded by Khan Alughu. Her name also spelled as Orqina Khatum.

1255-57 Regent Dowager Khanum Boraqcin of Hwarizim Sahi (or the Khanate of Kipchak) (Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan)
She was the widow of Batu, who was khan (1227-55). When he died in 1255 his son and heir, Sartaq, had gone to pay court to Grand Khan Mongka, his father’s friend. But he died before he could return home to the Khanate of Kipchak. Mongka nominated the young prince Ulagci, who was either the brother or son of Sartaq, and made Boraqchin regent of the Mongol tribe (The Golden Horde) in West Turkistan, roughly covering present day Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

1257-82 Regent Dowager Sultan Turhan Khatun ‘Ismat ad-Duyan Wa’l-Din of Qutlug Khan (Iran)
Also known as Qutlug or Kutlugh, she ruled as regent for son Sultan Haggag (Haggag) until 1267, and afterwards alone. She had the khutba (prayer for the sovereign) proclaimed in the mosques, the ultimate sign of legitimate reign. She was deposed by Ahmad Teguder and replaced by her stepson as ruler of Qutluq Khan or Kirman. Her daughter, Padisha, later reigned the Kingdom of Kirman.

1260-62 Regent Dowager Princess Turhan Khatun of Banu-Salgar (Iran)
In 1260 the Mongol Empire was fragmented into four states: The Golden Horde in the West, Il-Khans in Persia, The Chagatai Empire in Mongolia, and Kublai Khan in China. The Mongols in Persia were further divided into a number of smaller states in addition to the Il-Khans. One of them was Banu-Salgar.

1261-63 Regent Dowager Princess Turkan Khatun of Fars (Iran)
After the death of her husband, Atabeg Sa’d II bin Abi Bakr bin Sa’d bin Zangi, she was duly confirmed as the ruler of Fars by the Ilkhan Hulegu. She then married a kinsman, presumably as part of some now forgotten dynastic pact, but he killed her in a drunken frenzy and subsequently rebelled against the Ilkhan. After his defeat and death in 1263/64, Hulegu nominated her infant daughter, Abish Khatun to be the ruler of Fars.

1263-75 Atabeg Regnant Abisha Hadud Khatun of Fars (Iran)
Governor of Fars (1283-87) Also known as Abish Khatun or Aubee Khatton, she was nominated as ruler by the Ilkhan of the Khwarazham Empire in Fars, after her mother, Turkan Khatun, was killed. Her name was read in the khutha and struck on the coinage. In 1274, when she was about fifteen, she was taken to the Ilkhan’s ordu (Court), and married to Tash-Mongke (Mengu Temur), a younger son of Hulegu This was a marriage, forbidden in Islamic law, between a Muslim woman and a shamanist, but presumably the will of the Ilkhan transcended all other considerations. She became his chief wife and had two daughters by him, Kurdujin and Alghanchi. When her husband was sent as governor to Fars, she was retained in the ordu, but 1283, the new Ilkhan, Ahmad Teguder (1282-84), recalled him from Shiraz and appointed her in his place. Her financial recklessness, coinciding with a drought throughout Fars, meant that she defaulted on her revenue payments, so that Ahmad Teguder’s successor, Arghun (1284-91), ordered her to appear at the ordu. Perhaps relying on the good offices of oljei Khatun, Hulegu’s widow, to protect her from the Ilkhan’s wrath, she declined to go and behaved outrageously toward the officials sent to supersede her. She was eventually forced to capitulate and submitted to the Ilkhan (oljei Khatun did indeed intercede for her), dying at the ordu in 1287, after having lived (ca. 1269-87).

1271-95 Politically influential Padshah Khatun of Fars (Iran)
She was the second daughter of Qutluqh Terken’s sister and as the principal wife of the Ilkhan Abaqa she was well-placed to look after her mother’s and Kirman’s interests, and became involved in the intrigues of the last Qutlugh-Khanid contenders, eventually being strangled in 1295 by order of the Ilkhan Baydu for her murder of her half-brother, Soyurghatmish.

1282-89 Politically Influential Bibi Turkan in Kirman (Iran)
Also known as Bibi Khatun, she was a major player in events both in the ordu (at the court) and in Kirman until her death in 1288 or 1289.

1291-95 Safwad al dunya wa ad-Din Padshah Khatun of Qutlugh Khan (Iran)
Padshah became ruler and took the title Safwad al dunya wa ad-Din (Purity of the earthly world and of the faith) after Djalal da-Din Abu’l-Muzzafar was deposed as head of the Mongol tribe, which reigned in the south-eastern Iran. She had her stepbrother Suyurghatamish arrested and eventually killed. She was daughter of Kitlugh Turkan or Turkan Khatun, Queen of Qutlugh Khan or Kirman (1257-82). In 1295 her husband’s successor Great Khan Baydo of the Ilkhan dynasty, had her put to death on the advise of the leader of Suyurghatamish’s clan, his widow, Khurdudjin.

1291-95 Ruler Kurdujin of Kirman (Iran), chief tax collector of Fras (Iran)
She was the eldest daughter of Abish Khatun, the last Atabeg (Ruler) of Fars 1263-75 and 1283-87. She was first married to the sixth Qutlugh-Khanid ruler of Kirman, Soyurghatmish and made two other significant marriages before the Ilkhan Abu Sa’id (717-36/ 1317-35) granted her the tax-farm of the province of Fars, but the new Ilkhan Ghazan (1295-1304) replaced her with a son of Hajjaj, and she either lived at the ordu or in Fars until Abu Sa’id granted her the revenues of Fars, where she ended her life as a magnificent ruler and patron.

1316-17 Regent and Principal Minister Qutlug Sah Hatun of Persia and Iraq
After the death of her husband, Ghiyath al-Din Muhammed Uljaytu (1282-1304-16) the 8th Il Khan she was regent for their son, ‘Ala al-Dunaya wa ‘l-din Abu Said (1304-1317-1335). The dynasty had reigned Persia and Iraq China since Kubilai Khan of Mongolia and China appointed his brother, Halagu (1256-1265) as tributary sub-ruler. With the death of Abu Sa’id the Il-lkhanid dynasty in Iran virtually came to an end.

1316 Ruler Dawlat Khatun of Luristan , Iran
She succeeded her husband, Izz al-Din Muhammad, the 13th sovereign of the Mongol Bani Kurshid dynasty, which ruled Luristan in south-western Persia. She proved to be a poor administrator, and therefore she abdicated after a short period in favour of her brother-in-law, Izz al-Din Hassan.

1338-39 Acting Caliph Governor and Principal Minister Sati Beg Khatun of the Mongols Il Khans Empires in Iran
She used the title Al-sultana al-radila Sati Bek Khan Khallad Allah mulkaha – The just sultana Sati Bek, may Allah perpetuate her reign, and was daughter and sister of some of the earlier rulers. After Mohammad was overthrown, she took power and married Suleiman, who became titular co-ruler. The Mongols Il Khans controlled Persia as a sort of local Mongol authority under the Great Horde.

1411-19 Governor and Sultan Tandu of Baghdad (Iraq)
Also known as Tindu, she belonged to the Jalarid Dynasty, a branch of the Ilkhan Mongol rulers, and daughter of king Awis. She was first married to al-Zahir Barquq, the last Mamluk king of Egypt. She did not like life in Cairo and her husband let her go back to Baghdad, where she married her cousin Shah Walad bin Ali, the Governor for the Caliph, and after his death she acceded to the throne, had coins stuck in her name and the khutba (sovereign’s prayer) proclaimed in her name in the mosques. She was one of the last Mongol rulers in the area.

Late 1300s, Bibi khanoom, Timurid Dynasty
Chinese wife of Tamerlane (Timur Lang) is said to have ordered the construction of the principal mosque in Samarkand.

1325-36 Baghdad Khatun of the Ilkhanate Mongol rulers of Iran
She was first married to Sheykh Hasan Buzurg, founder of the Jalayirid dynasty, whom she married in 1323. Two years later, they divorced and she married Abu Said, the Ilkhan ruler, and they married in 1327, and now enjoyed a period of unprecedented power as the harem favorite, even acquiring the honorific title of Khudawandigar [sovereign]. 1331-32, she briefly fell from grace because of accusations that she had plotted the assassination of Abu Said with her former husband, but in the following year she was restored to favour. Another blow to her authority came in 734/1333-34, when Abu Sa’id married her niece, Dilshad Khatun, and elevated the latter to the rank of principal wife. She displayed her resentment at her diminished status and when, according to Ibn Battuta, Abu Sa’id died in 1335, she was accused of poisoning him and was beaten to death in her bathhouse either by order of his amirs or his successor, Arpa.

1338-39 Al-sultana al-radila Sati Bek Khan Khallad Allah mulkaha of the Mongols Dynasty
Also known as Sati Beg Hatun, her title ment: “The just sultana Sati Bek, may Allah perpetuate her reign”. In 1319 she was married to the Amir Coban, one of the most powerful individuals in the Ilkhanid court, but when he came into conflict with her brother, Ilkhan Abu Sa’id , she was returned to the Ilkhan, and her husband executed. After her brother’s death in 1335, the Ilkhanate began to disintegrate. By 1336, she and her son Surgan had taken the side of the founder of the Jalayirid dynasty, Hasan Buzurg. After the latter seized control of western Persia, Surgan was made governor of Qarabag (in modern Azerbaijan), where they moved to. However, when a grandson of Coban, Hasan Kucek, defeated Hasan Buzurg in July 1338, she defected to his camp. Taking advantage of her family ties, Hasan Kucek raised her to the Ilkhanid throne in July or August of that year. Her nominal authority did not extend beyond the Chobanid domains of north-western Iran. Hasan Buzurg, who still controlled south western Iran and Iraq, requested the assistance of another claimant of the Ilkhanid throne named Togha Temur. The latter invaded the Chobanid lands in early 1339. Hasan Kucek, however, promised her hand in marriage to him in exchange for an alliance. This proved, however, to be a ruse; the intent was merely to alienate Hasan Buzurg from Togha Temur. The Jalayirids withdrew their support, and Togha Temur was forced to retreat without gaining her. Meanwhile, Hasan Kucek was growing suspicious of her and her son. Realizing that she was too valuable to be removed completely, he deposed her and then forced her to marry his new candidate for the throne, Suleiman Khan. Hasan Kucek was murdered late in 1343 and her son Surgan found himself competing for control of the Chobanid lands with the late ruler’s brother Malek Asraf and his uncle Yagi Basti. When he was defeated by Malek Asraf, he fled to his mother and stepfather. The three of them then formed an alliance, but when Hasan Buzurg decided to withdraw the support he promised, the plan fell apart, and they fled to Diyarbakr. Surgan was defeated again in 1345 by Malek Asraf and they fled to Anatolia. Coinage dating from that year appears in Hesn Kayfa in her name – the last trace of her. Surgan moved from Anatolia to Baghdad, where he was eventually executed by Hasan Buzurg; she may have suffered the same fate, but this is unknown. (d. sometime after 1345).

Around 1400s Gohar Shad Khanoom
The wife of Shahrukh of the Timurid Dynasty built the famous Gohar Shad Mosque in Mashahd in 1418.

1467 Princess Regnant Bigum khatun of Qara Quyunlu (Black Sheep Turks in Iran/Iraq)
After the death of Jahanshah (1435-67) she held power before the Hassan Ali came on the throne of the Emirate of Qara Qoyunu, Turkmen vassals of the Jalayirids in Eastern Anatolia. They became independent in 1389, after the Jalayirids had been overrun by Tamerlane’s Timurids.

Around 1520s Tajlu Khanoom, or Shah Begi Begum, Safavid Dynasty
Favourite wife of Shah Isma’il Safavi, donated many of her numerous properties to the shrine of Ma’suma in Mashhad, patronized other buildings at the shrine, built the dome of the Jannatsara at the shrine of the Safavid ancestor Shaykh Safi at Ardabil, and the domed tomb of Shah Isma’il at Ardabil in 1524.

Around 1530s Mahin Banu, Safavid Dynasty
Daughter of Tajlu Khanoom, patronized shrines and places of pilgrimage; set up foundations with her income from properties in Shirvan, Tabriz, Qazvin, Ray, and Isfahan; and established an endowment for the welfare of women.

Around 1570s Zaynab Begum, Safavid Dynasty
Shah ‘Abbas’ unmarried aunt, built bridges and caravanserais along the Qazvin-Sava trade route.

1577-79 De-facto joint ruler Queen Mahid-I Uliyah of Safavid Dyanasty
Also known as Mahd-i Olya, she initially dominated her husband, Mohammad Shah, who succeeded his brother, Shah Esma’il II, who was a brutal a pro-Sunni ruler who was poisoned with the participation of their sister Pari Khan Khanoom after only one year at the throne. Mohammad proved to be a weak leader, but after her assassination in 1579 the Qezelbash took control. Meanwhile Ottomans took advantage of Iran’s political turmoil to launch a major invasion of the country. Consequently extensive territories were lost to Ottomans, including most of Azerbaijan, with Tabriz, and Georgia. The Safavid Dynasty was of Turkmen origin and established themselves first at Tabriz, which had been the capital of the Mongol Il Khans, in Turkish speaking Azerbaijan. They also brought the Shi’ite branch of Islam to Persia.

Around 1620s Dilaram Khanoom
The grandmother of Shah ‘Abbas II, constructed the Caravanserai Jadda in 1642-45, the Caravanserai Nim Avard in the 1640’s, the Madrasa of Small Grandmother in 1645-46, and the Madrasa of Large Grandmother in 1647-48. The caravanserais sold rich Indian cloths and other goods from both India and Shiraz. Additionally, Dilaram Khanoom gave both madrasas special income from waqf (dedications of religious trust income).

Around 1660s Sahib Sultan Begum
Daughter of the physician and ambassador Hakim Nizam al-Din Muhammad, built the Ilchi Mosque in Isfahan in 1678-79. The mosque was famous for its sound acoustics.

Around 1650s The unnamed mother of Shah ‘Abbas II
Commissioned the construction of the Masjid-i Jami of ‘Abbasabad in the mid 17th century.

Around 1670s Izzat al-Nisa Khanum, daughter of the merchant Mirza Khan Tajir of Qum and wife of Mirza Muhammad Mahdi
Built the Madrasa Mirza Hussein in 1687-88.

Around 1690s Maryam Begum
Daughter of Shah Safi, built a mansion in the early 18th century and a madrasa in 1703-04.

Around 1690s Shahr Banu
Sister of Shah Sultan Hussein, built the Madrasa of the Princes and the Bathhouse of the Princes in 1694-1722.

Around 1690s Zinat Begum
Wife of the physician Hakim al-Mulk Ardistani, built the Madrasa Nim Avard in 1705-06.

Around 1700s An anonymous courtesan
Constructed the “mansion of the twelve tumans,” (the price charged by the madam for a client’s first visit) in the early 17th century, which had the walls and ceiling decorated in gold and silver .

1746-70 Sovereign Princess Irdana Bi Erdeni of Khokanda (Uzbekistan)
She was succeeded by Sulaiman who reigned for less than a year as Prince of Khokanda, which is a city near Tashkent, now located in a far eastern part of Uzbekistan. Founded in 1732, it stands on the site of the ancient city of Khavakend, obliterated by the Mongols in the 3rd century. It was ruled by the Dzungarian Kalmucks until 1758, when it became part of China.

Around 1780s Jani Khanoom (I), Qajar Dynasty
Fath Ali Shah’a wife, daughter of Ebrahim Khan Taleshi. She had two children who did not survive infancy.

Around 1780s Jani Khanoom (II), Qajar Dynasty
Fath Ali Shah’a wife,from the Sadat of Mazandaran.

Around 1780s , Khanoom Kouchak, Qajar Dynasty
Daughter of Mohammad Taghi Khan and great great grand-daughter of Karim Khan Zand..

Around 1780s Khadijeh Khanom, Qajar Dynasty
From Jewish origin, she had two children who did not survive infancy. (76th wife of Fath Ali Shah).

Around 1780s Khadijeh Khanoom, Qajar Dynasty
Jewish origin. (156 wife of Fath Ali Shah).

Around 1780s Khadijeh Khanoom, Qajar Dynasty
Daughter of Mohammad Khan Ezzodinlou Qajar. She bore a child that did not survive infancy. She died of poison by the hand of her maid-servant because she opposed her maid-servant’s desire to marry.

Around 1780s Khajeh Baji, Qajar Dynasty
Responsible for the personal articles of toiletry of Fath Ali Shah, e.g. mirror, comb, and other personal effects.

Late 1700s Arezou Khanoom, Qajar Dynasty
From the Shahsavan tribal group, she was married to Fath Ali Shah to seal a union between the Qajar and Shahsavan tribes both of Turkic ancestry.

Late 1700s Assieh Khanoom (I), Qajar Dynasty
Daughter of Fath Ali Khan Davallou Qajar, was married to Fath Ali Shah to seal a union between the two branches of the Qajar grup. Mother of Abbas Mirza Nayeb-Saltaneh and Ali Shah Mirza Zell-es-Soltan and Gohar Moolk Khanom. She was buried in Kerbela.

Late 1700s Assieh Khanoom (II), Qajar Dynasty
Daughter of Mohammad Khan Qovanlou Qajar, sister of Suleyman Khan Nezam-ed-Dowleh Qovanlou Qajar. She was first married to Mehdi Qoli Khan Qovanlou Qajar (brother of Agha Mohammad Khan), uncle of Fath Ali Shah, and is the mother Ebrahim Khan Zahir-ed-Dowleh from that marriage. After the death of Mehdi Qoli Khan, she joined the harem of Fath Ali Shah as his wife on the orders of Agha Mohammad Khan. She died in Mazandaran.

Late 1700s Agha Begum (I), (also known as Agha Baji), Qajar Dynasty
Daughter of Ebrahim Khalil Khan Shishe’i, governor of Qarabagh. After the death of Assieh Khanom II, she married Fath Ali Shah as his wife, but the marriage was not consummated. She died in Qom and is buried there.

Late 1700s Late 1700s Agha Begom (II), Qajar Dynasty
Daughter of Seyyed Morad Khan Zand. She had no issue.

Late 1700s Agha Begom (III), Qajar Dynasty
Descendant of the Safavid shahs was given to Fath Ali Shah to seal political union.

Late 1700s Ahou Khanoom
An Armenian concubine of Fath Ali Shah.

Late 1700s Badr-e Jahan Khanoom
Wife of Fath Ali Shah and daughter of Mohammad Ja’ffar Khan Arab, governor of Bestam, mother of Hossein Ali Mirza Farman Farma and Hassan Ali Mirza Shoja’-ol-Saltaneh and three daughters: Homayoun Soltan, Begom Jan, and Seyyed Begom.

Late 1700s Badr-ol-Nessa Khanoom
Daughter of Hajji Mostafa Qoli Khan Qovanlu Qajar (brother of Agha Mohammad Khan), uncle of Fath Ali Shah. She had one child that did not survive infancy. She divorced Fath Ali Shah and went on the Hajj to Mecca but died on her return. She was buried in Kerbela.

Late 1700s Banafsheh Badaam (or, more likely, Neghieh Badaam)
From the Azarbaijan Armenians, mother of Allahverdi Mirza a concubine of Fath Ali Shah.

Late 1700s Khatoun Jan Khanoom (II) (Hajjieh)
Daughter of Mohammad Ali Khan Zand, son of Karim Khan Zand. Mother of Shah Gholi Mirza .

Late 1700s Khanom Jan Khanoom, Qajar Dynasty
Daughter of Mohammad Ali Khan Zand, soLate 1700s Ahou Khanoom, an Armenian concubine of Fath Ali Shah.

Late 1700s Badr-e Jahan Khanoom, Qajar Dynasty
Wife of Fath Ali Shah and daughter of Mohammad Ja’ffar Khan Arab, governor of Bestam, mother of Hossein Ali Mirza Farman Farma and Hassan Ali Mirza Shoja’-ol-Saltaneh and three daughters: Homayoun Soltan, Begom Jan, and Seyyed Begom.

Late 1700s Badr-ol-Nessa Khanoom, Qajar Dynasty
Daughter of Hajji Mostafa Qoli Khan Qovanlu Qajar (brother of Agha Mohammad Khan), uncle of Fath Ali Shah. She had one child that did not survive infancy. She divorced Fath Ali Shah and went on the Hajj to Mecca but died on her return. She was buried in Kerbela.

Late 1700s Banafsheh Badaam (or, more likely, Neghieh Badaam), Qajar Dynasty
From the Azarbaijan Armenians, mother of Allahverdi Mirza a concubine of Fath Ali Shah.

Late 1700s Khatoun Jan Khanoom (II), Qajar Dynasty
Daughter of Mohammad Ali Khan Zand, son of Karim Khan Zand. Mother of Shah Gholi Mirza .

Late 1700s Khanom Jan Khanoom, Qajar Dynasty
An Armenian concubine of Fath Ali Shah.

Late 1700s Badr-e Jahan Khanoom, Qajar Dynasty
Wife of Fath Ali Shah and daughter of Mohammad Ja’ffar Khan Arab, governor of Bestam, mother of Hossein Ali Mirza Farman Farma and Hassan Ali Mirza Shoja’-ol-Saltaneh and three daughters: Homayoun Soltan, Begom Jan, and Seyyed Begom.

Late 1700s Badr-ol-Nessa Khanoom, Qajar Dynasty
Daughter of Hajji Mostafa Qoli Khan Qovanlu Qajar (brother of Agha Mohammad Khan), uncle of Fath Ali Shah. She had one child that did not survive infancy. She divorced Fath Ali Shah and went on the Hajj to Mecca but died on her return. She was buried in Kerbela.

Late 1700s Banafsheh Badaam (or, more likely, Neghieh Badaam), Qajar Dynasty
From the Azarbaijan Armenians, mother of Allahverdi Mirza a concubine of Fath Ali Shah.

Late 1700s Khatoun Jan Khanoom (II) (Hajjieh), Qajar Dynasty
Daughter of Mohammad Ali Khan Zand, son of Karim Khan Zand. Mother of Shah Gholi Mirza . She was married to Fath Ali Shah.

1821 Regent Dowager Princess Thamar of Abkhazia (Georgia)
After the death of her husband, Prince Giorgi Shirvashidze (1810-21) she was regent for their son Prince Dimitri Giorgievitch Shirvashidze (originally known as Umar Bey), who was poisoned after one year’s reign. She was daughter of Katsia II Dadiani, Duke of Dukes of Mingrelia, and mother of four sons and six daugthers. (b. 1790).

1805-73 Politically Influential Maleka Jahan Khanum (Mahd-e Olya), Qajar Dynasty
Her official title was Mahd-e Olya “Sublime Cradle.” She was grand-daughter of Fath ‘Ali Shah, (1797-1834), wife of her cousin Mohammad Shah (1834-48) and mother of Nasser-ed-Din Shah (1848-96). She was one of the strongest women of the Qajar Dynasty. She yielded power from the Harem, once her son ascended the throne of Persia. She ensured the strengthening and survival of the Qajar nobility against the rivalries by many non-Qajars. She is characterized as an accomplished and cunning woman of some political gifts, strong personality. Her daughter, Malekzadeh Khanoom, married Mirza Taqi Khan Amir Kabir the reformist Prime Minister to Nasir al-Din Shah. Mahd-e Olya is accused of being involved in the murder of Amir Kabir. She was well educated, knew Arabic, was an accomplished calligraphist, and was well versed in literature. She is also rumered to have had a relationship with Agha Khan Nouri who became the Prime Minister after Amir Kabirs assassination.She was disliked by her son Nasir al-Din Shah.

Around 1850s Khadijeh Khanoom
Known as Mola Baji, was a companion of Shokooh Saltaneh, a wife of Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar. Her title indicates that she was a private teacher to women at the court. Her daughter Bibi Khanoum wrote a very important feminist booklet that has survived.

Around 1859-1921 Bibi Khanoum Astarabadi
She has produced the first feminist booklet criticizing the patriarchal society of her time. In her pamphlet “The Shortcomings of Men” she strongly criticizes the derogatory popular book Educating Women and concluded that the writer’s understanding of keeping women in their place implied the total subjugation of women. Bibi and her mother belonged to generations of women who served the Royal women as educators. Her book has survived. She was active in the Constitutional Revolution in the 1905-107 and opened one of the first girl’s schools in Tehran called Doshizegan (girls). She also articles in defence of women’s rights in progressive newspapers such as the famous paper Habal al-Matin.

1870s Anis al-doleh, Nasir al-Din Shah’s Favourite Concubine, Qajar Dynasty
She became the most trusted woman in the Shah’s harem and once accompanied the Shah on his trip to Europe. This was bitterly opposed by the clergy who deemed unsuitable for a Muslim woman to travel to a non-Muslim country. She was forced to come back to Tehran and did not depart for Europe.

1884-1936 Taj Saltaneh, Qajar Dynasty
Daughter of Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar was a member of secret societies promoting reform and modernization in Iran. Her famous memoirs Khaterat Taj Saltaneh is very critical of the situation in Iran at the time and is regarded as an early feminist writing. She was the subject of admiration by many men including Aref Ghazvini the famous activist, musician and poet of the period.

1875-1925 Malekeh-Jahan, “Queen of the World”, Qajat Dynasty
Mohammad Ali Shah’s cousin and queen, daughter of Prince Kamran Mirza Na’eb-Saltaneh (Nasser-ed-Din Shah’s son), mother of Ahmad Shah Qajar. She, like her predecessor queens and many others of the Qajar princesses, was a strong presence. She was forced into exile with her husband. After Mohammad Ali Shah’s death, she was able to keep the family together in exile in Europe.

Around 1900s Ashraf (Fakhr-al-Dowleh)
Mozafereddin Shah’s daughter, the mother of Mirza Mohsen Khan (Amin-od-Dowleh II) was a wealthy and influential Qajar princess. Her strength and character earned her even the respect of Reza Shah (Pahlavi), who is said to have commented that the Qajars “only have one ‘man’ amongst them, and that is Khanoum-e Fakhr-al Dowleh.” She was the grandmother of Dr. Amini, the Prime Minster of Iran in the 1961-1962.

Around 1900s Mrs. Jahangeer
A constitutionalist activist and the aunt of the murdered journalist Mirza Jahangeer Sur-i Israfil one of the founders of the popular reformist news paper Sur-i Israfil. She confronted Muzafar al-Din Shah Qajar publicly and demanded constitutional reform.

1892-1960 Politically Influential H.M. Queen Soraya Shah of Afghanistan
She influenced her husband, King Amanulluh Shah(1892-1960), who was one of the most liberal rulers of the country. He abolished slavery, liberalized the family code, child marriage was limited, allowed women the right to choose their own husband. In 1928 Soraya and her daughters appeared unveiled. Conservative forces forced her husband to abdicate in 1929, and they went into exile first in India and then in Rome. She was the daughter of Mahmud Beg Tarzi, sometime Minister for Foreign Affairs, and lived (1897-1968).

1941-79 Politically Influential Princess Ashraf Pahlavi of Iran
In 1946 her twin brother, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, send her to negotiate with Stalin in the Kremilin, to secure the return of some Soviet occupied parts of Iran. She was Head of the Woman’s Organization of Iran and a Special Ambassador to the United Nations. Her first two marriages ended in divorce and her third husband died.

1938- Empress Farah Diba Pahlavi of Iran (in Egypt and France)
She is widow of The last Shah of Ian, she was Acting Head of the Imperial Family and acted as regent for son who became shah on his 20th birthday in 1980. Queen Farah was Shah’s third wife and married him in 1959. She became very active culturally, socially and politically and became a role model for other Middle Eastern female dignitaries. She was the first queen to be crowned in Iran since the Islamic conquest of the 7th century and was officially proclaimed Regent by the Parliament. Since the Islamic Revolution of the 1979 she has been living in exile.

1970s Dr. Farrokh Roo Parsa
The first female minister in Iran and the daughter of a pioneer feminist and educator Fakher Afagh Parsa. She was executed after the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

1985-92- President of the Government-in-Exile Maryam Rajavi, Iran (in Paris)
From 1985-92 Commander-in-Chief of Mujahedin-Army operating from Iraq. Mujahedin were a millitant Islamic group that oppose both the Shah and the Islamic government of Iran. She was head of the 250 member self proclaimed parliament in exile. Half of its members were women and the exile-government is dominated by women. Following the American occupation of Iraq the position has deteriorated and have ceased to be functional.

1960- Vice-President Dr. Masoumek Ebtekar, Iran
As Vice-President for president Khatami she was in charge of the Ministry of Environment (b. 1960-). A militant Islamist turned reformist, she was the spokesperson for the militant students who occupied the American Embassy following the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and started the hostage crisis. She lost her position in 2005 after the election of Mr. Ahmadinejad as the new president.

1962- Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani
Daughter of President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and a member of the parliament from 1996-2000. She has been trying to improve women’s rights in Iran and has been very active in promoting women’s sports in Iran. She currently is working on her Ph.D thesis in England.

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