Circa 240 - Circa 274, Rome
Zenobia was the daughter of a Roman citizen born in what is now Syria during the third century. She claimed to be descended from Dido and Cleopatra, but those claims were never substantiated.
By 258 she had become the second wife of King Odenathus of the city-state of Palmyra. King Odenathus and his older son were assassinated in 267, leaving Zenobia to rule in the name of her young son.
Soon Zenobia was looking to expand her territories and control Roman trade routes through the eastern frontier. In 269, she and her army conquered Egypt. The Roman prefect of Egypt, Tenagino Probus, was beheaded and Zenobia declared herself Queen of Egypt.
As Rome struggled with internal conflicts, Zenobia expanded her empire through the Roman territories of Syria, Palestine, Asia Minor and Lebanon.
This alarmed the new Roman emperor Aurelian and he set out to reclaim the areas Zenobia had conquered.
By 274, Zenobia had been defeated and she was a prisoner of the Roman Empire. Reports say she appeared in golden chains in Aurelian’s triumphant military parade through Rome.
No one is quite sure what happened to Zenobia in the end. Some say she was beheaded, some say she committed suicide and some say that Aurelian was so impressed by her that he pardoned her, allowing her to live out her days as a Roman socialite.