On this day in 583, Yohl Ik’nal became ruler of the Mayan city-state of Palenque. This was during the height of Palenque’s power. She is notable as being the first known woman to have ruled the city — only one of two known to have ruled. She ruled when the population was roughly 5,000 people. That doesn’t sound like much, but that was on the high side of classical period Mayan city-states (pdf). What’s more, this is just the core population. We really don’t know what the population was in the surrounding area that supported the city.
At some point during Yohl Ik’nal’s reign, it was defeated by Calakmul. It then lived under the ultimate rule of the much bigger city-state. This didn’t change her rulership, but it did mean that Palenque had to pay taxes to Calakmul. But sometime toward the end of her reign or that of her successor (and possible son), Ajen Yohl Mat, Palenque managed to rid itself of Calakmul dominance.
She ruled for over 20 years, which is quite a lot longer than the other rules around her time. However, her grandson (or great-grandson — it’s amazing how these things aren’t well established), K’inich Janaab’ Pakal, ruled for a staggering 68 years — living to be 80 years old.