The eldest true son of Ramses II was named Khaemwaset. While waiting for his father to designate him as crown prince in the greater throne, he ruled as a Libyan pharaoh under the name Sheshonq IV. It is also clear that he assumed the role of the Old Kingdom pharaoh Menkhaure successor of Khufu. Ramses, the eldest true son of Khaemwaset was in turn made crown prince to his Libyan throne under the name of Tefnakht. The throne name of Tefnakht was Shesesre after Shepseskaf the son and successor of Old Kingdom pharaoh Menkaure.
Nefertari, as Chief Wife of Ramses II the New Kingdom Khufu, assumed the role of Khentkaues in the Old Kingdom. Her son Osorkon III was expected to produce one or more heirs through her as Nefer-ir-kare had done through Khentkaues, however this did not happen. Khaemwaset the eldest true son of Ramses II produced a second prominent son named Hori through Nefertari instead. Hori was eventually granted the status of a Libyan pharaoh under the name Iuput I and made heir of Osorkon III in his share of the Libyan throne. This effectively blocked the natural line of Osorkon III from further kingship in Egypt, or so Ramses II may have thought.
As the death of Ramses II approached, the various leading princes began to jockey for position. Interestingly, they were not only vying for the role of illustrious Old Kingdom pharaoh Pepi I (E-anna-tum), but also for the role of the next Inyotef/Sargon the Great. Osorkon III moved first. He had spent decades building a power base in Mesopotamia and Nubia that rivaled that of E-anna-tum and Sargon. Osorkon III held the Assyrian throne under the name of Assur-Dan III. He appointed his own true son as Tiglath-pileser III.
In Egypt, this son was dubbed Libyan pharoah Takelot III and received the throne name of Neferkare, which was precisely that of Pepi I. By association, Osorkon III was declaring himself to be the New Kingdom equivalent of Pepi I. For good measure, Osorkon III, called Alara in Nubia, placed Takelot III on a new and superior pharaonic throne in Nubia under the name of Shabaka. No one was powerful enough to stop him and kingship was figuratively "carried away".
Merenptah, the younger full brother of Khaemwaset, enjoyed a long co-regency with Ramses the Great, but was assassinated only six months into his sole reign by Amenmesses. Amenmesses did not resist Takelot III/Shabaka and was allowed to retain his (now lesser) throne of Egypt. When Amenmesses died however, the former heir of Merenptah reasserted himself. The name of Merenptah's son Seti II indicates that he intended to be a conqueror ala Seti I and take the role of Pepi I/Sargon. He was instead killed by one of his brothers Siptah who had designs on the role for himself. Siptah won an important battle against the new overlord. Nevertheless, Takelot III won the war by bringing an army from his alter-ego Tiglath-pileser of Assyria into Egypt.
Hori/Iuput, known as Kashta in Nubia, was next to operate. He had Takelot III poisoned. His eldest son Pi-ankhy (a name associated with Ptah/Joseph) had earlier orchestrated an invasion of the so-called Sea Peoples which severely weakened the power of Merenptah. He was now declared pharoah of Libya under the name of Rudamon (a play on Rhadamanthys, a Greek epithet of the god Ptah/Joseph). Kashta also placed Pi-ankhy/Rudamon on the newly established Nubian throne under the name of Piye. Finally, Piye was crowned as successor to Tiglath-pileser III in Mesopotamia under the name Sargon II. This act left no doubt as to his kingly ambition. Yet, in order to keep the coveted prize, he would have to fend off one more mighty challenger.
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.