In 332, the Macedonian king Alexander the Great conquered Egypt and gave a new capital to the old kingdom along the Nile, Alexandria. After his death (11 June 323), his friend Ptolemy became satrap of Egypt, and started to behave himself rather independently. When Perdiccas, the regent of Alexander's mentally unfit successor Philip Arridaeus arrived in 320, he was defeated. This marked the beginning of Egypt's independence under a new dynasty, the Ptolemies (or Lagids). Ptolemy accepted the royal title in 306. The fourteen kings of this dynasty were all called Ptolemy and are numbered by modern historians I to XV (Ptolemy VII never reigned). A remarkable aspect of the Ptolemaic monarchy was the prominence of women (seven queens named Cleopatra and four Berenices), who rose to power when their sons or brothers were too young. This was almost unique in Antiquity. Another intriguing aspect was the willingness of the Ptolemies to present themselves to the Egyptians as native pharaohs (cf. the pictures below, some of which are in Egyptian style). This was less unique: the Seleucid dynasty that reigned the Asian parts of Alexander's empire did the same.

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