After the disintegration of the central government at the end of the Old Kingdom, power had shifted to several local rulers who usurped royal power, even though their territory was often very limited. One of these local rulers was Antef I of the provincial city of Thebes in Upper-Egypt. That this Antef I, and his two immediate successors, had the ambition to once re-unite Egypt under Theban rule, is shown by the fact that they all claimed to be “King of Upper- and Lower-Egypt” and that they added a Horus-name to their titulary.
Their ambition was fulfilled by the 4th king of the 11th Dynasty, Mentuhotep II, who, during his more than 50-year long reign finally succeeded in ending the 9/10th Dynasty that ruled over Heracleopolis thus re-uniting the country. Because of this, Mentuhotep II was considered by later tradition as the 'second founder' of the country. His name would be placed prominently in many king-lists. Modern-day history books let the Middle Kingdom begin with the reign of this king.His two successors do not appear to have been as formidable as he was.There even appear to have been some dynastic problems at the end of the dynasty: the name of the last Mentuhotep is missing in several of the important king-lists. The Turin King-list only mentions three Mentuhoteps, including a Mentuhotep who preceded Antef I, and in the summation of the dynasty notes a discrepancy of 7 years for the dynasty. This discrepancy is often interpreted as the duration of the last Mentuhotep’s reign.
Different history books will often give different numbers to the kings named Mentuhotep. Sometimes the uniter of Egypt will be referred to as Mentuhotep I, other times as Mentuhotep II. The Turin King-list mentions a total of 3 kings with that name, but this includes an unattested Mentuhotep before Antef I and excludes the last king of the 11th Dynasty.
In some history books, this Mentuhotep is considered the first of that name, making the king who reunited Egypt the second Mentuhotep. However, because Antef I was the first Theban ruler to have claimed to be a king, other Egyptologists do not consider the older Mentuhotep as a king and thus do not count him as such. In their books, Mentuhotep I is the king who finally defeated the kings of the 9th/10th Dynasty.
More recently, the different Mentuhoteps are no longer identified by a number, but by adding their pre-nomen to their name. Thus Mentuhotep Nebhepetre is used to refer to the king who ended the 9th/10th Dynasty. For the sake of easy recognition, however, this site will continue to use sequence numbers for the Mentuhotep's, considering the unattested predecessor of Antef I as the first Mentuhotep.
Click on the thumbnails below to learn more about the kings of the 11th Dynasty.