Women Warriors: Zenobia
Zenobia was the fearless Queen of the Palmyrene Empire from 267-272 A.D. She ignored the rules, took what she wanted, and conquered Roman cities. While under her rule, Palmyra expanded from modern Syria to Turkey and into Egypt.
Zenobia was a woman of noble descent and some accounts say that she might have even been a descendant of Cleopatra. She rose to power after the death of her husband Odaenathus, who was the king of the Palmyrene Empire.
Their son was too young to rule so Zenobia took control and ruled as Queen Regent. Her husband had maintained a friendly relationship with Palmyra’s superior, the Roman Empire, and for a while, Zenobia did the same.
However, by 269, the center of Rome was crumbling and Zenobia focused on expanding her own empire and strengthening her military. The following year, she broke off friendly relations with the Romans and started to take over their lands.
The Roman emperor Aurelian was not happy with Zenobia’s new quest for expansion so he sent out a campaign to defeat her and claim the new lands that she had won. They clashed in the Battle of Immae in 272.
The Roman forces proved to be too strong for Zenobia and she was forced to flee back to Palmyra, but she was eventually captured when Aurelian laid siege to the city.
There are many different accounts as to what happened to Zenobia after her capture. Some say that she was paraded through the streets in chains in a humiliating parade of Roman triumph, others say that she starved or poisoned herself before reaching Rome so Aurelian never got the satisfaction of killing her. But most sources claim that Zenobia was taken to Rome, released and then married a Roman man.
The history books might not know exactly what became of Zenobia, but the stories of her conquests during her reign undoubtedly make her one of history’s most powerful women warriors.