Gender and Politics at Ugarit The Undoing of the Daughter of the Great Lady

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Christine Neal Thomas



The integral role of royal women in political systems structured by diplomatic marriage is revealed in a series of legal verdicts from a case that involved the rulers of Late Bronze Age Ugarit, Amurru, and Ḫatti. These verdicts adjudicate the divorce, loss of political status, and execution of a royal woman who was the wife of the king of Ugarit, the daughter and sister of two successive kings of Amurru, and the granddaughter and niece of two successive Hittite Great Kings. The undoing of her multivalent political status destabilized the regional and imperial system in which she was enmeshed. Protracted negotiations were required to restore equilibrium to the system. Examination of the rhetorical and legal strategies through which these negotiations took place reveals the extent to which the relative power of royal men depended on their relationships to royal women.

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