Kandake, also Candace, was the title for queens and queen mothers of the ancient African kingdom of Kush.
In the kingdom of Kush (called Ethiopia by classical authors), particularly during the Meroitic period, women played prominent roles in affairs of the state, occupying positions of power and prestige, the natural outgrowth of which was the development of a line of queens. The kendakes held just as much, if not more, power than the kings; The mothers would rule and create their sons as rulers, but they also deposed their own sons too. In fact, a Kandake could order the king to commit suicide to end his rule, an order that he was required to follow. They were rulers in their own right, and they ruled alongside the kings.
There are four women most often cited as Candace: Amanerinas, Amanishakhete, Nawidemak and Maleqereabar and each of them Powerful rulers. After alexander the great conquered Kemet, he decided to continue south to invade Kush, but he had to contend with Candace, one of the “mother queens,” who was the general-in-chief of the army as well as a great military commander and war strategist. As Alexander headed towards the first cataract feeling good about his victories, he saw the Kushite army with its leader Queen Candace, who was sitting on a royally designed bench set across the top of two elephants.
There are different accounts of what actually occurred when Candace confronted Alexander. According to Chancellor Williams, after seeing Candace’s formidable defense of well-trained soldiers armed with iron weapons, Alexander reconsidered his decision to go into battle because his opponent’s air of confidence forced him to think about his winning streak. William Leo Hansberry says that Alexander met semi-privately with Candace. Legend has it that Candace advised Alexander to leave the region immediately and if he refused, after defeating his army, she would cut off his head and roll it down a hill. He also weighed the possibility of losing to a woman general against his reputation.
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Click here for a very brief introductory overview about the Kandake’s.