Why Pharaoh Ramesses III's Family Might Have Had Him Killed

There is a saying, "Heavy is the head that wears a crown." Dictionary.com says that is a modified Shakespeare quote from "Henry the Fourth Part II." Being a monarch has many perks, such as absolute power over the kingdom that they rule. On the downside, there tend to be a lot of people who are jealous of that lofty position and will do anything to wrest control — up to and including murder. They may do it for themselves or even to put someone else in that position.

That likely was the case for Pharaoh Ramesses III, who lived and ruled Egypt from 1217 BC to 1155 BC, per Britannica. The monarch's death was due to an assassination where his throat was cut ... and someone even attacked his lower body, cutting off a toe. Who were the people that were likely behind his demise? It's possible that it was none other than his own family, per Smithsonian Magazine.

Pharaoh Ramesses III was unfairly murdered

But, aside from the thirst for power, why would they do this? The Smithsonian article said that apparently, Pharaoh Ramesses III was not a popular figure, overseeing a time that saw food problems and labor issues. That wasn't the cause for his assassination, though. He had more than one wife and he planned to have the child of his first wife succeed him in the royal lineage. This greatly displeased his second wife, Tiye, who wanted her son, Pentawere, to be the pharaoh

There was a cover-up. Well, they literally covered him up when they mummified him, but they also did cosmetic work, cleaning up the neck wound and also making a fake toe to replace the lopped-off one. Per Smithsonian, this was not necessarily to hide the murder. They wanted him to look worthy when he met Osiris, the Egyptian god of Death. The embalmers even put material under his skin to make him bulkier. This particular cover-up took over 2,000 years to be discovered.

We will never know who actually did the killings, but there is a historical record of the plot. There is an ancient document, called the Judicial Papyrus of Turin, that outlined the whole dastardly plan. Pharaoh Ramesses IV did get a measure of revenge, having a trial for the royal family and the defendants included Tiye and Pentawere. Sadly, there was no "Egyptian Law & Order" in syndication then, because the whole thing would have been really good television.