What was the player before the queen in chess?

Prior to being called the queen it was known as the "minister". In polish it is the "Hetman" (a military/political office), in shatranj it is the vizier (though in shatrang the piece is weaker). The basic idea behind the piece is that it is the kings adviser/right-hand: The "adviser" can use any of the kings powers, but it is not weighed down by the responsibilities of running a kingdom. This is also why the queen/minister has the same movement as the king but in a greater magnitude.