Origins of chess according to Wikipedia:
The game originated in northern India in the 6th century and spread to Persia. When the Arabs conquered Persia, chess was taken up by the Muslim world and subsequently, through the Moorish conquest of Spain, spread to Southern Europe.
And it's just not on wiki, this is very widely accepted as a fact.
In India, it was popular by many names throughout the times, as there are multiple languages spoken here. So, if you ask a Indian player he might tell you 2-5 synonyms of each piece on the Board. And names of these pieces range from animals in the jungle to people in a King's court yard. For Example: Hathi-Ghooda-oont (Hindi words for Elephant-Horse-Camel) and queen was known as Mantri-Rani-Vazir ( The first word translates to a Minister (serving directly under king as his second in command), second word translating as a queen, the third word coming from middle east regions meaning Commander/general or simply a minister )
So, Basically the game was pretty much the same but different linguistic groups or different classes of society made their own names for the sake of simplicity. A lot of which I believe are lost. Only the popular ones remain. Naturally, the upper class of the society's terms are with us now as they were well documented.
Coming to the powers that specific pieces possess.
King: Ever since the beginning of the game as well as human society the people on the top were considered to be precious. The kings and commanders swore oaths to protect their country and soon they became the symbols of peace and progress of the country. If they were taken down everything went down to hell. For each sentence from above you'll find numerous examples. Those that come to mind:
- Sati: When kings died their wife(s) and their helpers used to commit suicide.
- Second Battle of Panipat : In 1556 at the second battle of Panipat, where the teenage Akbar is watching Hindus and Afghans under King Hemu being trounced by his own Mughal army. A Mughal archer gets Hemu in the eye. Hemu falls on the ground and seeing the King fall down his army just runs away even though they were far more superior in numbers and equipments.
As to why kings are shown weak when they were so important:
- Not all kings were powerful, healthy and strong. Some were weak/pathetic but still due to their lineage they ruled for years.
- See it from kings point of view "No king whats to work from himself when he is got people to work for him"
- Even if kings were powerful, they were still symbols and leaders to their people hence they were protected. Like, if a king looses, an army looses , land- lives are lost , people are looted, women would get raped, children will get murdered or get recruited to join army at early age,etc.
You are looking it just as a meaning of a single word king. But that wasn't the ground reality. And chess is based on real life scenarios.
I know many countries don't have history in syllabus or they don't have that big of a history to tell... I recommend you read history of India for such examples or even French history to some extent.
Queen Being Over-powered :
Again coming back to how people choose different name for their pieces according to their convenience. The piece currently known as Queen was created keeping in mind the actions/functionalities that a Mantri/Vazir provided a King.
King was used as a face/symbol , he didn't do much, queens didn't do much either they had people for each work they could possible need to do. For queens there were dasi (Female servents), for king there were das (male servents) and mantri . Dasi and Das were chosen to work for king and queen for their whole lives and they had no say what so ever. Where as Mantri were chosen either on basis of their high intellectual skills or high lineage. They were given different powers over the state and they exercised this power under the name of the King.
And it is still followed, like in UK, Queen is the supreme Leader but her powers are exercised by the Prime Minster under her name. Same situation is in India, The president signs all the documents presented to him by the prime minister but he cannot implement anything on his own.
Modern chess just happens to have the name for the piece as queen, as it is both convenient and relate-able to the king. In addition to that there can be so many situations that make this choice apt:
- Queen makes it feel much personal(to the board and player) than using the word Minister., etc
And women were powerless, well the game began in Asia, some say and the women were definitely powerless
That is so not true. Women were part of making in India far before any western Civilization saw a women leader.
India: "Razia Sultana (1205–1240) became the only woman monarch to have ever ruled Delhi. The Gond Rani Durgavati (1524–1564) ruled for fifteen years before losing her life in a battle with Mughal emperor Akbar's general Asaf Khan in 1564. Chand Bibi defended Ahmednagar against the powerful Mughal forces of Akbar in the 1590s." -Wikipedia
West: "Mary Tudor was the only child of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon to survive into adulthood. Mary took the throne in 1553, reigning as the first queen regnant of England and Ireland." - Wikipedia
Modern Example: For 1 Queen that ruled colonized India there were 6 that fought against her.
Again that's a different question altogether but read Indian(Asian) History to know more. Also, please don't don't mix opinions with facts (specially prejudiced). Next time someone reads it from here he might take it as a fact.