Mavia of Arab, known as Iron Lady of ancient world, ruled over a confederation of semi-nomadic Arabs, in southern Syria, in the latter half of the fourth century. Her Arabic name Mawiyya was Christian by religion perhaps a pagan convert. She was regarded as the ‘warrior queen’.
The strongest woman of that era Mavia was heading her troop for a battle with the late roman rule. She was all alone with her troop when she entered Palestine and Phoenicia. On reaching the frontiers of the Egypt she along with her troop attacked and defeated the Romans and their army. Later after accepting the defeat the Romans had to reconcile on the terms and conditions Mavia had lain down before them. Later the Romans called for her and also for her assistance when the Romans were being attacked by the Goths. Mavia lent a friendly hand and helped the Romans. Instead of refusing she had sent her force to their rescue.
A century before Mavia was born her ancestors; namely Tanukhids – a loosely affiliated Arab tribe migrated toward the North from the Arabian Peninsula. The migration was due to the increase in the Sassanian influence in Iran.
Al-Hawari, Mavia’s husband was the last king of the semi-nomadic Tanukh confedaration in the southern Syria. As they had no heir after the death of Al-Hawari, Mavia took over the throne. It is said that Mavia has been like an iron lady who had struck fear in the hearts of the ancient men rulers of that time.
Socrates’ records of Mavia’s revolts have been of much more significance in the historical records. According to his accounts Mavia along with her allies were foederati formerly, who then had made a treaty with the Romans. But for unknown reasons they had decided to withdraw the allegiance and the revolts following the Valens’ which was a departure from the Antioch to Thrace. It can be noted under the circumstances when Mavia revolted against the Romans who had assassinated her husband Al-Hawari making Mavia the sole legitimated authority of her tribe.
Of the recent times the scholars have approached Mavia on the basis of the historic evidences that this Arab queen had anticipated Zenobia, who was then among them the most prominent. As per the notes of Irfan Shahid, he accounted that both the queens – Mavia and Zenobia had reached the same water way which was dividing Asia from the Europe. Later in his notes he mentions that only Mavia was accounted in his notes to cross the water way, as well as crossing the Bosporus into the Byzantium.
In his notes Shahid also writes the contrast between the two Arab queens – Mavia and Zenobia and their career. The first, Mavia who belonged to the world of the third century, was a pagan and also disloyal to Rome. And the second, Zenobia who then belonged to the newer world of the fourth century was Christian by religion and loyal. There is no second thought on Mavia being the superior amongst all lady rulers of that era, and a real fighter being single handed.