Amazons were often referred to in Elizabethan England, and extensive mythologies existed around this idea of a society of female warriors, who excluded men. The amazons were an Other for Englishmen, and as foreign lands were conquered and known, the mythological amazons were relocated, always just outside the boundaries of the known.
Hippolyta is Theseus' bride in A Midsummer Night's Dream, she is also an amazon queen from Greek mythology. Theseus mentions this history at the very beginning of the play:
Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword,
And won thy love, doing thee injuries;
But I will wed thee in another key,
With pomp, with triumph and with revelling. (I i 16-19)
Hippolyta is already mastered by Theseus at the outset of the play, but there is another queen who opposes male rule: Titania.
[Montrose writes about Amazons meaning in Elizabethan England.
Should also include some background on Hippolyta.]
Amazonian mythology seems symbolically to embody and to control a collective anxiety about the power of the female not only to dominate or reject the male but to create and destroy him. It is an ironic acknowledgement by an androcentric culture of the degree to which men are in fact dependent upon women: upon mothers and nurses, for their birth and nurture; upon mistresses and wives, for the validation of their manhood. (Montrose 1996: 108)
in the text:
Act 1, scene 1, lines 17-18