On This Day In History: Ruler Of Palenque Yohl Ik’nal Was Crowned – On Dec 23, 583

Yohl Ik’nal was queen of the Maya city-state of Palenque, who ruled until her death in 604. She was also known as Lady Kan Ik.She ascended to the throne on December 23, 583 and ruled until her death in 604.

Yohl Ik’nal was a grandmother or great-grandmother of K’inich Janaab Pakal I, Palenque’s greatest king. She was a descendent of K’uk’ Bahlam I, the founder of the Palenque dynasty and she came to power within a year of the death of her predecessor, Kan Bahlam I.

Lady Yohl Ik’nal was one of a very small number of Maya women of the Classic era to carry a full royal title and rule in her own right for a complete term; she reigned for a full twenty-one years.

Lady Yohl Ik’nal was probably the daughter of the previous ruler, Kan Bahlam I, who seems to have died without leaving a male heir, although she could have been his sister.

She was the first female ruler in recorded Maya history and was one of a very few female rulers known from Maya history to have borne a full royal title. She must have come to the throne due to extremely unusual circumstances, the details of which have not survived.

She was the one of two woman to have ruled Palenque, second was her daughter or granddaughter Sak K’uk’ and was likely to have been either the sister or, more likely, the daughter of Kan Bahlam, who left no male heir. Her husband or her son was Janahb Pakal.

During the reign of Yohl Ik’nal, Palenque suffered an important defeat in the battle with Calakmul, one of the two great Maya powers of the Classic Period.

This battle took place on April 23, 599.

Yohl Ik’nal reigned for several years more and died in 604. After the defeat, Palenque apparently maintained its political identity but Yohl Ik’nal probably had to pay tribute to Calakmul.

There are indications that either Yohl Ik’nal or her successor successfully rebelled against Calakmul’s dominance before 611.

Archaeologist Merle Greene Robertson has suggested that a vaulted tomb under Temple 20 at Palenque is that of Queen Yohl Ik’nal.

She was considered important enough to be depicted twice on the sarcophagus of her grandson or great-grandson K’inich Janaab Pakal I and to be sculpted in stucco on the wall of his tomb.

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