Pharaoh: an Egyptian king or queen
The Egyptian Pharaoh (FARE-oh) owned all of Egypt, and everything in it: all the land, all the tools, all the animals, and all the people. He or she could tell anybody what to do, and they would have to do it. The Egyptian government was a monarchy. The Pharaoh was like a king or queen.
What does “monarchy” mean?
Other articles about Ancient Egypt
Of course the Pharaoh could not always be telling everybody what to do. So the Pharaohs chose people to represent them – nomarchs – and assigned the nomarchs (NO-marks) to big estates all over Egypt. These rich men and women ran the estates, and on them they could tell everybody what to do.
Who could be pharaoh?
Mostly, the Egyptian pharaoh (the Egyptian king or queen) was the son or daughter of the pharaoh who had just died. You inherited power from your father or mother. But sometimes, the pharaoh died without any children, or a different family decided to try to get power. Sometimes there was a civil war. Then another family might start a new dynasty. From the beginning to the end of ancient Egypt, there were more than twenty different dynasties. But all of the pharaohs, even the outsiders, came from rich, powerful families.
Egyptian pharaohs and taxes
But even the rich people were supposed to do whatever the Pharaohs said to do, and they had to send the Pharaohs some of the food that was grown on that land. Some, at least, of these estate-holders were priests, holding the estate for the gods, but these religious estates were run in the same way, and they also had to pay some food to the Pharaohs.
Find out more about Egyptian religion
How did the pharaoh help the Egyptians?
Mostly Pharaohs led the army to defend Egypt against invasions. When they could, they also started big projects like digging canals to bring water to fields further away from the Nile River, or to prevent flooding. As the Bible story about Joseph shows, Pharaohs also stored food in good years so they could feed their people in bad years.
What is irrigation?
The Egyptian army
Joseph and the Pharaoh
More about Egyptian food
Probably Pharaohs also organized trade with other countries, to make sure Egypt was selling things as well as buying them. For example, they probably organized big linen-weaving workshops full of enslaved women, to produce fine linen to sell to other countries.
History of linen
Slavery in ancient Egypt
Early African economy
As part of organizing trade, the Pharaohs probably helped to pay for universities, so Egyptian doctors and scientists could figure out new inventions and medicines. Egypt was famous for its doctors and probably sold a lot of medicine to their neighbors.
Egyptian doctors and medicine
Egyptian science and inventions
Rich people fought against the pharaoh
When the Pharaohs were weaker, especially in the First and Second Intermediate Periods, sometimes they could not make the rich people do what they wanted them to. Often the Pharaoh had to compromise with the rich people. But at least in theory, the rich people had to do whatever the Pharaoh said, and ordinary people had to do whatever the rich people said.
What happened in the First Intermediate Period?
Did you find out all about Egyptian pharaohs and Egyptian government? Let us know in the comments!
Learn by doing: Building a Pyramid
Old Kingdom Egypt
Slavery in Ancient Egypt
Bibliography and further reading about the government of ancient Egypt:
Or check out this pharaoh article from the Encyclopedia Britannica.
What was the punishments of the people that did not do what the pharaohs wanted them to do?
That depended a lot on who you were and what you did. Egyptians didn’t generally put people in prison for breaking the law, but they did sometimes execute people. Or they made them be enslaved, or pay a fine. Sometimes they beat people with sticks. You can see more about that here: https://quatr.us/egypt/slaves-ancient-egypt.htm
Hey there! This was really helpful for my History investigation. May I ask what Political things did the government in Ancient Egypt do at that time? Like what exactly do they do as a government?
That’s a great question, Hanji. I’ll change the page to include more about that. Mostly Pharaohs led the army to defend Egypt against invasions. When they could, they also undertook big projects like digging canals to bring water to fields further away from the Nile, or to prevent flooding. As the Bible story about Joseph shows (https://quatr.us/religion/joseph-egypt-bible-stories.htm), Pharaohs also stored food in good years so they could feed their people in bad years. Probably they also organized trade with other countries, to make sure Egypt was selling things as well as buying them. For example, they probably organized big linen-weaving workshops full of enslaved women, to produce fine linen to sell to other countries.
i loved reading about the ancient egytpians their so awseome
Thanks, Isabella! We have lots more articles about Ancient Egypt here: https://quatr.us/ancient-egypt-pyramids-plague
this helps me alot to learn about egypt
Same i don’t get it either!?
You’ll need to ask specific questions; then I can help to answer them.
what is egypt’s government like? also stream bts idol
Do you mean Egypt’s government today or in the Bronze Age? This article explains Egypt’s government in the Bronze Age.
Does this website tell if the pharaoh is the king or not.
Well, I can tell you: yes, the pharaoh is often also called the king. In fact, people really didn’t start to call him the pharaoh until the New Kingdom. Before that, they called him the king (only in Egyptian).
Can you see if this website has anymore information about Egyptian Government?
Hi Kaitlyn, Did you have a specific question you’re trying to answer? I’d be happy to answer your question here. You might check out our page about Old Kingdom Egypt: https://quatr.us/history/old-kingdom-ancient-egypt.htm or look at the list of all our Egypt articles here: https://quatr.us/ancient-egypt-pyramids-plague
No, bob, you didn’t find what you wanted? Go ahead and ask your question here, and we’ll answer it!
[…] and knowledge of ship-building with them to Carthage. Around 600 BC, according to Herodotus, the Pharaoh of Egypt sent a Phoenician fleet of ships to sail around Africa. It’s possible that they […]