Today on March 11, 1425 BCE, Thutmose III, one of Ancient Egypt's greatest pharaohs, died after reigning for more than fifty years.
Thutmose III, nicknamed the Napoleon of Ancient Egypt, was one of the most influential and powerful pharaohs. As the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty, he reigned for an impressively long 54 years. Under his rule, Ancient Egypt transitioned from being an inward-facing state to an expansionist empire. Unlike Napoleon, he and his mighty armies never lost a single battle. The Egyptian people revered Thutmose III for centuries after his death. As the eldest son of Thutmose II, he was suddenly thrown into the monarchy as a young boy following his father's death.
The royal court granted his stepmother, Queen Hatshepsut, the title imperial regent. But she quickly capitalized on the opportunity by seizing total power and eventually claimed the title of Pharaoh. Thutmose III and Hatshepsut would effectively co-rule over the empire during the first twenty years of his reign. Many of his contemporaries speculate that Thutmose grew increasingly resentful of Hatshepsut. Immediately following her death, he infamously ordered the defacement of her temple and monuments.
Under the command of Thutmose III, the kingdom greatly expanded its territory — more than any other previous ruler. Historians generally regard him as a proficient military strategist and charismatic leader. After leading seventeen campaigns, he succeeded in conquering new lands across Niya in North Syria to the Fourth Cataract of the Nile (Nubia). It's estimated the warrior king captured over 350 cities and became the first Pharaoh to cross the Euphrates River. Scribes often accompanied the army while on campaign, providing us with a valuable glimpse into his reign. A document known as the Annals of Thutmose III survived his first major campaign into Israel.
Thutmose III wasn't just a competent commander but also a talented horseman, archer, and athlete himself. Off the battlefield, he was an avid patron of the arts. Using the power of propaganda, he commissioned painters from across the empire to depict his legendary victories. Several of these paintings were inscribed on the walls at the Temple of Amun. Modern Egyptologists now understand extensive details about his campaign tactics and routes. Unlike subsequent pharaohs like Ramses the Great — who was notorious for exaggerating his triumphs — Thutmose truly earned his reputation for being an exceptional commander.
Thutmose III also proved to be one of the country's most celebrated builders. He would construct more than fifty massive temples and monuments throughout his reign. After establishing a strong administrative center, he dedicated state resources to developing the arts and allowing culture to flourish. He focused much of his attention on expanding the Temples of Karnak and redeveloping the Great Hall that was first erected by his grandfather, Thutmose I.