While Hatshepsut was not the last, and posibly not even, as she was long-believed to be, the first, women to rule Ancient Egypt as pharaoh, her reign during the Eighteenth Egyptian Dynasty New Kingdom is frequently regarded as the most successful. Despite this, because deliberate erasures, vandalism and defacing of her accomplishments meant that information had been missing from histrical records until the early twentieth century, we may not have known the scope of her success.
Hatshepsut's father was Thutmose I, her mother was Queen Ahmose. Her husband and consort was Thutmose II, her half-brother. When their father died, Thutmose II became pharoah, and when he died, the next in line to become pharoah, Thutmose II's child with another wife, Thutmose III was next in line to become pharaoh (because Hatsepsut and Thutmose II had only one child, a daughter, Neferue). However, since he was just a child at the time, Hatshepsut became regent. It was not long before she identified herself as pharaoh rather than regent, and when he was of age, Thutmose III was co-regent, reversing the expected roles. Upon Hatshepsut's death, Thutmose III was made pharoah.
Hatshepsut's reign was the longest of all female rulers, twenty one to twenty two years long, as well as the most prosperous. While she experienced success with warfare early in her reign, she is general considered to have brought to her people a long peaceful and prosperous era due to reestablishing trading relationships. The wealth that this brought allowed or building projects that raised Ancient Egyptian architecture to a much higher standard, high enough that it would not be rivaled by any other culture for a thousand years.
One of her major accomplishments was reestablishing the trade networks that had been disrupted during foreign occupuption of Egypt. This allowed for a mission to the Land of Punt, where notably, the Egyptians returned baring thirty-one love myrrh trees, which were then replanted in the courts of Hatshepsut's mortuary temple-- the first recorded attempt to transplant foreign trees. The depiction of this expedition in relief is also famous for a realistic depiction of the Queen of the Land of Punt, who appears to have suffered from steatopygia. Hatshepsut was also one of the most prolific builders in Ancient Egypt, with hundres of building projects, ans so numerous was her statuary that almost every major museum in the world has some of it amongst their collections.
Many of her more public works of were willfully defaced, rather than eroded or broken due to weather or age, and it was once widely believed that this was an attempt by Thutmose III to erase the name of Hatshepsut from the history of Egypt, due to negative feelings of being reduced to co-regent and denied his place as pharaoh. However, all of this vandalism and rewriting of Hatshepsut's accomplishments only occurred during the end of Thutmose III's reign. When one considers that Thutmose was the head of Hatshepsut's army for over twenty years, that he had considerable power, and that he could have easily orchestrated a take-over had he been willing to, as well as more private depictions of Hatshepsut were left to remain, it makes the premise of a personal vendetta seem questionable. It is instead posited by many Egyptologists that Thutmose III's successor, and co-regent during his reign, Amenhotep II, would have had a motive to do this because his position in the royal lineage was not so strong as to assure his elevation to pharaoh. That he also usurped many of Hatshepsut's accomplishments as his own also supports this premise. Who did it, and their motives, have never been proven completely, however.
The erasure of Hatshepsut's name, whoever did it, and their motives, almost caused her to disappear from history. It is only when 19th century Egyptologists became confused when they started to interpret the texts on temple walls began to suggest that things did not add up. The 2006 discovery of nine cartouches bearing the names of Hatshepsut and Thurmose III in Karnak may shed additional light on the attempt to erase her from the record and correct the nature of their relationship, and her role as pharaoh.