The Solomonic dynasty is the traditional Imperial House of Ethiopia, claiming descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, who is said to have given birth to the traditional first king Menelik I after her Biblically described visit to Solomon in Jerusalem. The dynasty, a bastion of Ethiopian OrthodoxChristianity, came to rule Ethiopia on 10 Nehasé 1262 EC (August 10, AD 1270) when Yekuno Amlakoverthrew the last ruler of the Zagwe dynasty. Yekuno Amlak claimed direct male line descent from the old Axumite royal house that the Zagwe's had replaced on the throne. Menelik II, and later his daughter Zewditu, would be the last Ethiopian monarch who could claim uninterrupted direct male descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (both Lij Eyasu and Emperor Haile Selassie were in the female line, Iyasu through his mother Shewarega Menelik, and Haile Selassie through his paternal grandmother, Tenagnework Sahle Selassie). The male line, through the descendants of Menelik's cousin Dejazmatch Taye Gulilat, still existed, but had been pushed aside largely because of Menelik's personal distaste for this branch of his family. The Solomonics continued to rule Ethiopia with few interruptions until 1974, when the last emperor, Haile Selassie, was deposed. The royal family is currently non-regnant. Members of the family in Ethiopia at the time of the 1974 revolution were imprisoned, and others were exiled. The women of the dynasty were released by the Derg regime from prison in 1989, and the men were released in 1990. Several members were then allowed to leave the country in mid 1990, and the rest were allowed to leave in 1991 upon the fall of the Derg regime in 1991. Many members of the Imperial family have since returned to live in Ethiopia in recent years.
The Imperial Coat of Arms was adopted by Emperor Haile Selassie, and is currently held by his direct heirs in the male line. The arms are composed of an Imperial Throne flanked by two angels, one holding a sword and a pair of scales, the other holding the Imperial scepter. The throne is often shown with a Christian cross, a Star of David, and a crescent moon on it (representing the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions). It is surmounted by a red mantle and an Imperial crown, and before the throne is the Lion of Judah symbol. The Lion of Judah by itself was at the center of the Ethiopian tri-color flag during the monarchy, and is thus the chief symbol of the Ethiopian monarchist movement. The phrase "Moa Ambassa ze imnegede Yehuda", (Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah) appeared on the arms, and always preceded the Emperor's official style and titles, and since the word Christ translates to 'annointed one' this gives credibility to the millions of individuals who claim that Emperor Haile Selassie I, is part of the Holy Trinity, whose blood connection through the house of David and the same line that gave Jesus Christ was born of . The official Imperial Dynastic motto was "Ityopia tabetsih edewiha habe Igziabiher" (Ethiopia stretches her hands unto the Lord) from the book of Psalms.
When including the old Axumite rulers descended from Menelik I, and the Yuktanite ancestors of the Queen of Sheba, the Ethiopian Royal House is the oldest in the world along with that of Japan.
During much of the dynasty's existence, its effective realm was the northwestern quadrant of present-day Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Highlands. The Empire expanded and contracted over the centuries, sometimes incorporating parts of modern day Sudan, and coastal areas of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, and extending south toward modern day Kenya as well. Southern and eastern regions were permanently incorporated during the last two centuries, some by Shewan kings and some by Emperors Menelek II and Haile Selassie; though much of the central, and southern regions were incorporated into the empire under the Emperors Amda Seyon I and Zar'a Ya'iqob but peripheral areas were lost after the invasion of Ahmad Gragn.
Yekuno Amlak - Tasfa Iyasus (Throne Name) 10 August 1270 – 19 June 1285
Rise to Power Much of what is known about Yekuno Amlak is based on oral traditions and medieval hagiographies. Yekuno Amlak was educated at Lake Hayq's Istifanos Monastery near Amba Sel, where later medieval hagiographies state Saint Tekle Haymanot raised and educated him, and helped him to depose the last Zagwe king. Earlier hagiographies, however, state that it was Iyasus Mo'a, the abbot of Istifanos Monastery in Lake Hayq, who helped him achieve power. G.W.B. Huntingford explains this discrepancy by pointing out Istifanos had once been the premier monastery of Ethiopia, but Tekle Haymanot's Debre Libanos eventually eclipsed Istifanos, and from the reign of Amda Seyon it became the custom to appoint the abbot of Debre Libanos Ichege, or secular head of the Ethiopian Church. However, neither of these traditions is contemporary with any of the individuals involved.
There was also the story, related in both the "Life of Iyasus Mo'a" and the Be'ela nagastat, that a rooster was heard to prophesize outside of the house of the Zagwe king for three months that whoever ate his head would be king. The king then had the bird killed and cooked, but the cook discarded the rooster's head -- which Yekuno Amlak ate, and thus became ruler of Ethiopia. Scholars have pointed out the similarity between this legend and one about the first king of Kaffa, who likewise learned from mysterious voice that eating the head of a certain rooster would make him king, as well as the Ethiopian Mashafa dorho or "Book of the Cock", which relates a story about a cooked rooster presented to Christ at the Last Supper which is brought back to life.
Traditional history further reports that Yekuno Amlak was imprisoned by the Zagwe king Za-Ilmaknun ("the unknown, the hidden one") on Mount Malot, but managed to escape. He gathered support in the Amhara provinces and in Shewa, and with an army of followers, defeated the Zagwe king. Taddese Tamrat argued that this king was Yetbarak, but due to a local form of damnatio memoriae, his name was removed from the official records. A more recent chronicler of Wollo history, Getatchew Mekonnen Hasen, flatly states that the last Zagwe king deposed by Yekuno Amlak was none other than Na'akueto La'ab himself.
Recorded history affords more certainty as to his relations with other countries. For example, E.A. Wallis Budge states that Yekuno Amlak not only exchanged letters with the Byzantine EmperorMichael VIII, but sent to him several giraffes as a gift. At first, his interactions with his Muslim neighbors were friendly; however his attempts to be granted an Abuna for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church strained these relations. A letter survives that he wrote to the Mamluk Sultan Baibars, who was suzerain over the Patriarch of Alexandria (the ultimate head of the Ethiopian church), for his help for a new Abuna in 1273; the letter suggests this was not his first request. When one did not arrive, he blamed the intervention of the Sultan of Yemen, who had hindered the progress of his messenger to Cairo.
Taddesse Tamrat interprets Yekuno Amlak's son's allusion to Syrian priests at the royal court as a result of this lack of attention from the Patriarch. Taddesse also notes that around this time, the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch were struggling for control of the appointment of the bishop of Jerusalem, until then the prerogative of the Patriarch of Antioch. One of the moves in this dispute was Patriarch Ignatius III David's appointment of an Ethiopian pilgrim as Abuna. This pilgrim never attempted to assume this post in Ethiopia, but -- Taddesse Tamrat argues -- the lack of Coptic bishops forced Yekuno Amlak to rely on the Syrian partisans who arrived in his kingdom.
Yagbe'u Seyon served as co-ruler with his father Yekuno Amlak for the last few years of his reign, which eased his succession. He sought to improve the relations of his kingdom with his Muslim neighbors; however, like his father, he was unsuccessful in convincing the powers in Egypt to ordain an abuna or metropolitan for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. A letter from him to the Sultan of Egypt, dated Ramadhan A.H. 689 (towards the end of AD 1289) is mentioned in Etienne Marc Quatremère's Mémoires géographiques et historiques sur l'Égypte… sur quelques contrées voisines (Paris, 1811), where he protests the Sultan's treatment of his Christian subjects, stating that he was a protector of his own Muslim subjects.
Marco Polo mentions that one of the "princes" of Ethiopia in 1288 planned to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, following the practice of a number of his subjects; he was dissuaded from this project, but sent his "bishop" in his place. On his return leg, this bishop was detained by the "Sultan of Aden", who attempted to convert the ecclesiastic to Islam; failing to do so, the sultan then had the bishop circumcised before releasing him. The "prince" then marched upon Aden, and despite support from two other Muslim allies the sultan was defeated and his capital captured. A number of historians, including Trimingham and Pankhurst, identify the ruler with Yagbe'u Seyon, correct Polo's reference to Adal not the Arabian seaport, and name Zeila as the sultan's capital.
Historians are divided over the situation that his successors faced following Yagbe'u Seyon's death. Paul B. Henze repeats the tradition that Yagbe'u Seyon could not decide which of his sons should inherit his kingdom, and instructed that each would rule in turn for a year. Taddesse Tamrat, on the other hand, records that his reign was followed by dynastic confusion, during which each of his sons held the throne.
Only one military action is recorded for this ruler. In the first year of his reign, one Sheikh Abu-Abdallah had gathered a large following, and proclaimed a jihad against Wedem Arad's realm. Wedem Arad sent a number of agents into Abu-Abdallah's camp, who were able to persuade most of his followers to defect; without sufficient manpower, Abu-Abdallah was forced to agree to a treaty with Wedem Arad, in return for providing "them with all their needs until they are completely satisfied". Taddesse Tamrat suggests this involved giving them land to settle on, and notes that on the edge of the territory of Shewa there is a locality known as "Abdalla", which might be that settlement.
In 1306, Wedem Arad sent an embassy of 30 envoys to Europe seeking the "king of the Spains" (probably Castile and Aragon). Perhaps hearing of the Christians' successes against Al-Andalus in Iberia, Wedem Arad sought to negotiate a mutual defense pact with them against their common Muslim enemies. Whether or not the envoys reached their destination is unknown, but they did visit Rome and got as far as Avignon. Delayed on their way home, they spent some time in Genoa, where they were interviewed by the geographer Giovanni da Carignano. Giovanni's account of their country based on the interviews is lost, but was summarized byJacobus Philippus Foresti da Bergamo in his Supplementum Chronicarum; this is the first text that associates the legendary figure of Prester John with Ethiopia.
G.W.B. Huntingford speculates that the settlement of Tegulet first became the capital of Ethiopia during Wedem Arad's reign.
^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 131. ISBN 0-19-821671-8.
^ Silverberg, Robert The Realm of Prester John (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1972), pp. 164–165. ISBN 0-8214-1138-1.
^ G.W.B. Huntingford, The Historical Geography of Ethiopia (London: The British Academy, 1989), p. 78
Amda Seyon I - Gabra Masqal I (Throne Name) 1314 to 1344
AncestryIt is argued that there is sufficient evidence to show that Amda Seyon was the son of Wedem Arad. However, when a deputation of monks led by Basalota Mikael accused him of incest for marrying Emperor Wedem Arad's concubine Jan Mogassa and threatened to excommunicate him, he claimed to be the biological son of the Emperor's brother Qidm Asagid; this explanation may have had its origins in court gossip. Whatever the truth of Amda Seyon's parentage, the Imperial history known as the Paris Chronicle records that he expressed his rage at his accusers by beating one of them, Abbot Anorewos of Segaja, and exiling the other ecclesiastics to Dembiya and Begemder.
It is not known how Amda Seyon became Emperor, but there are a few pieces of information that indicate that he may have been involved in the succession struggle against Wedem Arad.
Army Emperor Amda Seyon's army was remarkably similar to the organization of the army during ancient Aksumite times. It consisted of two parts: the first, his central army, was very effective and closely attached to the Royal Court; the second was a much larger local militia raised in times of local crises. These local units would, as in Aksumite times, form a distinctive unit and fight together, maintaining their local character and were divided into smaller units each headed by a local ruler. Though these local units were largely out of the direct control of Amda Seyon, during his reign, the control of vassal contingents enjoyed by the Emperor increased greatly and would continue until the invasion of Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi in the 16th century.
The central army was divided into independent regiments, each with its own specialized name, such as Qeste-Nihb, Hareb Gonda, and Tekula.[a] The independent regiments competed for the king's favor, who "raised" and "nourished" them from childhood.[b]The regiments were led by an intimately loyal commander directly responsible to Amda Seyon. His own son, Saf-Asegid, commanded one of these divisions, as did Amda Seyon's brother-in-law. Moreover, the commander of Qeste-Nihb, Simishehal, along with his colleague Inze-Aygeb, are described as the "most beloved" officers of the Emperor, who is distressed when he learns of their injury at the Battle of Hagera.[c] The specialized regiments tied their fortune to that of the Emperor and were most likely taken from the best soldiers from around the country. Amda Seyon used them whenever quick action had to be taken, and their regiment commanders would often serve the role of governor in times of crises in certain provinces, as did Digna, the right-wing commander of the cavalry regiment Korem (named after the region/town of the same name) in 1332 in Tigray. His central army further consisted of regional regiments similar to those of his local militias. They were drawn mainly from newly conquered provinces and shared a cultural and linguistic heritage. Most soldiers were probably prisoners taken in the conquests, though some were undoubtedly kept as servants to the royal court, while others were exported to slave markets or given to private citizens. Those who were to serve the Emperor were given military training, probably under a commander from the same region and loyal to the Emperor. Most of these groups were broken down into smaller sections due to their size; for instance, in Amda Seyon's 1332 (or 1329) campaigns, a division of Damot fought the Beta Israel in the north, while another went to fight in the campaigns in the south against Ifat and the Muslims.
The Emperor improved the imperial army, which until his reign was not as heavily armed as his Muslim adversaries. The 14th century Arab historian al-Umari noted regarding Ethiopian troops that
"their weapons of war are the bow with arrows resembling the nussab; swords, spears and lances. Some warriors fight with swords and with narrow and long shields. But their principal weapon is the spear which resembles a long lance. There are some [warriors] who fling darts which are [similar to] short arrows, with a long bow resembling a cross-bow."Despite the wide variety of weapons ascribed to the Ethiopian troops by al-Umari, swords and daggers were not often used by the Ethiopian army, which was mainly armed with bows, spears, and shields for defense, along with mounted soldiers.[d] The Muslims, however, are described as having "swords, daggers, iron sticks [dimbus]" and other weapons useful in close quarters, and al-Umari notes that "the arrows of the warriors of the Muslim borderlands are bigger" than those of the Solomonic army. The Ethiopian army's strength was mainly numerical, but Amda Seyon did much to improve his army's equipment, increasing the use of swords and daggers (probably obtained through Muslim traders), and creating a special regiment armed with swords. The Emperor also formed a special regiment of shield-bearers that was probably used to guard his archers.
Go not to the king of Seyon [i.e. Ethiopia]. Do not give him gifts: if he comes against you, be not afraid of him, for he will be delivered into your hands and you will cause him to perish with his army.The Emperor was infuriated, invading Hadiya and killing many people, taking Amano prisoner along with many of his subjects. Bel'am, however was able to escape the Emperor by fleeing to Ifat. These conquests represent a significant advancement of Amda Seyon's eventual goal of controlling the inland trade previously controlled by the Muslims in Ifat and farther east. Hadiya's conquest deeply affected the slave trade and consequently hurt the trade and wealth of the eastern Muslim provinces. For the first time, the Muslim presence in the region was threatened, which later resulted in alliances between the Muslim provinces (which often rebelled) when they had previously acted more independently of each other.
In the same year as his campaigns against the southern regions of Damot and Hadiya, the Emperor also campaigned against the more northerly province of Gojjam.
After his 1316/7 campaigns in the south, Amda Seyon had to turn north to strengthen his control over areas that had in the meanwhile gained more autonomy. The northern Tigrayan province of Inderta or Enderta had increasingly been asserting its independence since the Solomonic restoration under Yekuno Amlak in 1270. During Yekuno Amlak's time, the governor of Inderta was Ingida Igzi' who was succeeded by his son, Tesfane Igzi. As governor of Inderta, Tesfane Igzi' had the most power among the northern provinces and held the title Hasgwa and Aqabé Tsentsen ('keeper of the fly whisks – an ancient Aksumite title) and threatened the Amhara-based lineage currently in power. As early as 1305, Tesfane Igzi' referred to Inderta as "his kingdom," his son and successor, Ya'ibika Igzi, did not even mention the Emperor in his 1318/9 land grant. Ya'ibika Igzi eventually rebelled, unsuccessfully inviting the governor of nearby Tembien to join him.[e] Amda Seyon responded swiftly, killing the governor, dividing the titles, and appointing them to different individuals of lowly origin. The Emperor's appointees were unpopular, described as "men who were not born from Adam and Eve who were called Halestiyotat," a term literally meaning "bastard of mixed or low origins". To consolidate his control in the region, Amda Seyon established a military colony of non-Tigrayan troops at Amba Senayata, the center of the rebellion, and appointed his Tigrayan wife, Queen Bilén Saba, as governor of Inderta, along with a new batch of officials below her. The Queen ruled rather indirectly, however, which caused some resentment in the province, inducing the Emperor to appoint one of his sons, Bahr Seged as governor, who was later in 1328 also given control of the maritime provinces under the title of Ma'ikele Bahr ("Between the Rivers/Seas").
Amda Seyon was also wary of Muslim power along the Red Sea coast and therefore headed to the northern area of Tigray provincebordering the Red Sea:
"I, King Amdä-ṣiyon, went to the sea of Eritrea [i.e. "Red"]. When I reached there, I mounted on an elephant and entered the sea. I took up my arrow and spears, killed my enemies, and saved my people."During his campaign, the Emperor also met the famous monk Ewostatewos, who was on his way to Armenia.
Rebellion of Haqq ad-Din I
Around 1320, the Mamluk sultan of Egypt, An-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qala'un began persecuting Egyptian Copts and destroying their churches. Amda Seyon subsequently sent a mission to Cairo in 1321-2 threatening to retaliate against the Muslims in his kingdom and divert the course of the Nile if the sultan did not end his persecution. Though Al-Nasir Muhammad ignored the envoys, fear of the diversion of the Nile in Egypt would continue for centuries. As a result of the dispute and threats, Haqq ad-Din ibn Muhammad ibn 'Ali, governor of the Muslim province of Ifat, seized and imprisoned a member of the envoy sent by the Emperor named Ti`yintay on his way back from Cairo. Haqq ad-Din tried to convert Ti`yintay, killing him when this failed. The Emperor responded by invading Ifat accompanied by, according to Amda Seyon's royal chronicler, only seven horsemen, and killed many of the rebelling governor's soldiers. Part of the army then followed him and destroyed the province's capital, Ifat, and Amda Seyon took much of its wealth in the form of gold, silver, bronze, lead, and clothing. Amda Seyon continued his reprisal throughout all of his Muslim provinces, pillaging Kuelgore, Bequlzar, Gidaye, Kubet, Fedsé Qedsé, Hargaye (the latter five yet unidentified), and Shewa, then populated mainly by Muslims, taking livestock, killing many inhabitants, destroying towns, and taking prisoners, who were later assimilated.
As a result of Amda Seyon's reprisals, other Muslim provinces rebelled, seeing that his army had become weak from the long campaigns. The people of Gebel (or Werjih, today called Werji), reportedly "very skilled in warfare," subsequently revolted and pillaged some Christian regions. The people of Medra Zega and Manzih (Menz), then Muslims, also revolted, surrounding and attacking the Emperor, who defeated them and killed their commander Dedadir, a son of Haqq ad-Din.
Later campaigns CausesThe most important primary source for his reign, The Glorious Victories, describes the extensive military campaigns Amda Seyon undertook in the plains drained by the Awash River. Beginning on 24 Yakatit (18 February), Emperor Amda Seyon led this army against a number of enemies; another document, referring to this year, states that he defeated 10 kings. Rebellion in the Muslim provinces stemmed from the threat to Islam by Amda Seyon, magnified by the earlier loss of trade from his campaigns.This defiance was encouraged and perhaps even instigated by religious leaders in Ifat and other Muslim provinces. The "false prophet" reported as having fled from Hadiya during the 1316/7 campaigns continued spreading propaganda against the king in Ifat, where he was one of Sabr ad-Din's advisors. The chronicle states that:
"The false prophet fled to the land of Ifat and lived there propagating his false teaching... And when Säbrädīn asked him for council he told him saying: 'The kingdom of the Christians has now come to an end; and it has been given to us, for you will reign on in Siyon [i.e. Ethiopia]. Go, ascend [the mountains], and fight the king of the Christians; you will defeat him, and rule him together with his peoples.'"A second religious leader is noted as having fomented trouble in the region, specifically in Adal and Mora. He is called "Salīh whose title was Qazī (which it notes is a title similar to an Archbishop), and is described as being revered and feared like God by the kings and rulers in the region. The chronicle ascribes blame to Salīh, stating that it was he "who gathered the Muslim troops, kings, and rulers" against the Emperor.
As a result of these instigations and conditions, Sabr ad-Din I, governor of Ifat as well as brother and successor to Haqq ad-Din, showed defiance to Amda Seyon by confiscated some of the Emperor's goods in transit from the coast (i.e. Zeila), similar to what his brother had done before him. Amda Seyon was furious with Sabr ad-Din, saying to him:
"You took away the commodities belonging to me obtained in exchange for the large quantity of gold and silver I had entrusted to the merchants... you imprisoned the traders who did business for me."First Ifat rebellionSabr ad-Din's rebellion was not an attempt to achieve independence, but to become emperor of a Muslim Ethiopia. Amda Seyon's royal chronicle states that Sabr ad-Din proclaimed:
"I wish to be King of all Ethiopia; I will rule the Christians according to their law and I will destroy their churches...I will nominate governors in all the provinces of Ethiopia, as does the King of Zion...I will transform the churches into mosques. I will subjugate and convert the King of the Christians to my religion, I will make him a provincial governor, and if he refuses to be converted I will hand him over to one of the shepherds, called Warjeke [i.e. Werjih], that he may be made a keeper of camels. As for the Queen Jan Mangesha, his wife, I will employ her to grind corn. I will make my residence at Marade [i.e.Tegulet], the capital of his kingdom.In fact, after his first incursion, Sabr ad-Din appointed governors for nearby and neighboring provinces such as Fetegar and Alamalé (i.e. Aymellel, part of the "Guragé country"), as well as far-off provinces in the north like Damot, Amhara, Angot, Inderta,Begemder, and Gojjam. He also threatened to plant chat at the capital, a stimulant used by Muslims but forbidden to Ethiopian Orthodox Christians.
Sabr ad-Din's rebellion, with its religious support and ambitious goals, was therefore seen as a jihad rather than an attempt at independence, and it was consequently immediately joined by the nearby Muslim province of Dewaro (the first known mention of the province), under the governor Haydera, and the western province of Hadiya under the vassal local ruler Ameno. Sabr ad-Din divided his troops into three parts, sending a division north-westwards to attack Amhara, one northwards to attack Angot, and another, under his personal command, westward to take Shewa.
Amda Seyon subsequently mobilized his soldiers to meet the threat, endowing them with gifts of gold, silver, and lavish clothing – so much so that the chronicler explains that "in his reign gold and silver abounded like stones and fine clothes were as common as the leaves of the trees or the grass in the fields." Despite the extravagance he bestowed on his men, many chose not to fight due to the inhospitability of Ifat's mountainous and arid terrain and the complete absence of roads. Nevertheless, they advanced on24 Yakatit, and an attachment was able to find the rebellious governor and put him to flight. Once the remainder of Amda Seyon's army arrived, they destroyed the capital and killed many soldiers, but Sabr ad-Din once again escaped. Amda Seyon's forces then grouped together for a final attack, destroying one of his camps, killing many men, women, and children, taking the rest as prisoner, as well as looting it of its gold, silver, and its "fine clothes and jewels without number."
Sabr ad-Din subsequently sued for peace, appealing to Queen Jan Mengesha, who refused his peace offer and expressed Amda Seyon's determination not to return to his capital until he had searched Sabr ad-Din out. Upon hearing this, Sabr ad-Din realized that his rebellion futile and surrendered himself to Amda Seyon's camp. Amda Seyon's courtiers demanded that Sabr ad-Din be executed, but he instead granted him relative clemency and had the rebellious governor imprisoned. Amda Seyon then appointed the governor's brother, Jamal ad-Din I, as his successor in Ifat. Just as the Ifat rebellion had been quelled, however, the neighboring provinces of Adal and Mora just north of Ifat rose against the Emperor. Amda Seyon soon also put down this rebellion.
Conquest of Adal and Second Ifat rebellion
After much campaigning, Amda Seyon's troops were exhausted and wished to return to their homes, pleading that the rainy season was soon approaching. Amda Seyon refused, however, saying to them:
"Do not repeat in front me what you have just said, for I will not leave so long as the ungodly Muslims make war on me, who am the King of all the Muslims of Ethiopia, and I have confidence in the help of God.The new governor of Ifat also beseeched him to return, giving him many gifts, stating that his country was ruined and begging him not to "ravage it again," so that its inhabitants may recover and work the land for the Emperor. He promised him that if he left that Ifat and its inhabitants would serve the Emperor with their trade and tribute and that the he and the Muslims of Ethiopia were the Emperor's servants. Amda Seyon rejected the governor's pleas, declaring:
"While I am attacked by wolves and dogs, by the sons of vipers and children of evil who do not believe in the Son of God, I will never return to my kingdom, and if I leave without going as far as Adal I am no longer the son of my mother; let me no more be called a man, but a woman."Amda Seyon continued and was attacked twice in skirmishes before making camp. The Muslims returned during the night in much greater numbers, and attacked him with an army raised from the seven "great towns" (i.e. districts) of Adal, Gebela, Lebekela, Mora, Paguma, and Tiqo. During the battle, Amda Seyon was struck from the rear by an enemy's sword, cutting his girdle around his waist and his battle dress, but the Emperor was able to turn and kill the attacker with his spear before he could strike again. Amda Seyon emerged victorious from the battle and sent the troops that had not fought to pursue the surviving enemies. They were able to reach the survivors on the banks of a nearby river by morning and kill themm, taking many swords, bows, spears, and clothes.
Jamal ad-Din, despite being his appointee, also joined the rebellion, collaborating with the ruler of Adel to encircle the Emperor, to which the ruler of Adal responded by mobilizing his forces. The Ethiopian army was encircled by the two armies in the Battle of Das, but Amda Seyon was able to defeat them, despite being ill. He then led his army against Talag, the current capital of Adal, where the brother of the governor of Adal and three of the governor's sons surrendered. The Emperor then defeated another governor-king, retraced his steps, returning to Bequlzar in Ifat, where he commanded Jamal ad-Din to deliver unto him all of the province's apostate Christians. The Emperor was first given the priests, deacons, and soldiers, who were each given 30 lashes and imprisoned as slaves. He then turned to the other traitors, whom Jamal ad-Din refused to hand over. Amda Seyon again ravaged Ifat and deposed Jamal ad-Din, appointing Nasir ad-Din, another brother of Sabr ad-Din, as governor.
Having finished campaigning in Ifat, he took his army to the town of Gu'ét, where he killed many men and captured numerous women and cattle. The Emperor then invaded the region of modern Somaliland, where he defeated an attack by the people of Harla. Amda Seyon then advanced to the town of Dilhoya. The town had previously deposed his governor by immolation, along with other Christian men and women, to which the Emperor responded by taking and looting the town and their livestock, as well as killing many of its inhabitants. He continued to Degwi, killing numerous neighboring Werjih pastoralists, who had previously revolted and pillaged some Christian areas earlier in his reign. The chronicle described the people as "very wicked," as they "neither knew God nor feared men". Before the end of the month of December, Amda Seyon ravaged the land of Sharkha and imprisoned its governor Yosef. These efforts extended Ethiopian rule for the first time across the Awash River, gaining control of Dawaro,Bale, and other Muslim states.
Two different years have been offered for when these extensive military actions occurred is disputed. In his translation of The Glorious Victories, G.W.B. Huntingford follows James Bruce in placing this in 1329. Huntingford notes that Amda Seyon is recorded as celebrating Easter on 28 Miyazya (= 24 April in 1329), which would best fit that year. However, the generally accepted year for this campaign is 1332, which is the opinion of such authorities as Dilmann, Carlo Conti Rossini, and Enrico Cerulli.Taddesse Tamrat points to another document which dates Amda Seyon's 18th regnal year to 498 Year of Grace, which confirms that the year 516 in The Glorious Victories is correct and that the campaigns took place in AD 1332.
Some of the earliest works of Ethiopian literature were written during Amda Seyon's reign. Perhaps the best known is the Kebra Nagast, which was translated from Arabic at the request of Yaebika Egzi'e, governor of Inderta. Other works from this period include the Mashafa Mestira Samay Wamedr ("The Book of the Mysteries of Heaven and Earth") written by Giyorgis of Segla, and the Zena Eskender ("History of Alexander the Great"), a romance wherein Alexander the Great becomes a Christian saint. Ullendorff has identified a tradition that at this time the Ge'ez translation of the Bible was revised. Also worth mentioning is that four of the Soldiers Songs were composed during the reign of Amda Seyon, and are the earliest existing examples of Amharic.[f]Lastly, Amda Seyon is the first king recorded as having donated to the library of the Ethiopian community at Jerusalem. Notes a.^ Taddesse Tamrat notes that, according to Jules Perruchon, Tekula literally means "jackal," while Qeste-Nihb means "the sting of the bee." b.^ Seeing many of his soldiers flee at the sight of the powerful armies of Jamal ad-Din and of Adal, the sick Amda Seyon noted: "Have you forgotten, besides, that it was I who raised, you, nourished you, and covered you with ornaments of gold and silver and precious clothes!" c.^ Simshehal's name also appears as "Semey" in a list of governors with the title Ma'ikele-Bahr (lit. "between the rivers/seas," a northern maritime province) and in the Royal chronicle as "Sumey (-shehal)" and "Simiy (-shihal)." Inze-Aygab also appears once as "Yanz-Aygeb." d.^ According to Taddesse Tamrat, though the royal chronicle describes Amda Seyon as being armed with a sword, the chronicler only refers to the Emperors skill with the bow and arrow, spear, and shield; Taddesse further notes in a footnote that swords seem to only be used in a ceremonial manner in contemporary hagiographies. e.^ According to Taddesse Tamrat, from traditional indications in the hagiography of Abiye Igzi'. f.^ A translation with notes of these four songs is included in The Glorious Victories, pp. 129–134.
^ Ullendorff, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, p. 605. Ullendorff concludes his discussion of Huntigford's preference for 1329 with, "I know of no valid reason why we should abandon the year 1332 as that generally agreed for 'Amda Seyon's Adal campaign."
^ Taddesse, Church and State, p. 138 n.2. (He also states that he disagrees with Huntingford over many of the geographical identifications, p. 139 n.4.)
According to James Bruce, Newaya Krestos was present at his father's campaign Salih, the king of Mara, which took place after Amda Seyon had put down the rebellion of Sabr ad-Din I of Adal.
On the death of his father, Newaya Krestos ("Vessel of Christ") had agreed to the entreaties of AbunaYaqob to recall the monks his father had exiled and live amonogamous life unlike his polygamous predecessors; but he went back on his word, marrying three women. When Abuna Yaqob and the monastic leaders protested, the Emperor sent the Abuna back to Egypt, and exiled the monks to the southern parts of his kingdom.
During his reign Ali ibn Sabr ad-Din of the Walashma dynasty revolted. In response, Newaya Krestos campaigned along the eastern frontier of Ethiopia in the territories of Adal and Ifat. Due to lack of support from his subjects, Ali ad-Din's revolt was unsuccessful, and he was captured with all of his sons, effectively destroying the Sultanate of Ifat as an independent state. Newaya Krestos imprisoned Ali ad-Din and all of his sons except for Ahmad, whom the emperor made governor of Ifat. However, after eight years Ali was released from prison and returned to power; Ahmad and his sons were excluded from power, and it took the direct intervention of the Emperor for Ahmad to obtain a position over a single district.
Despite his earlier actions against the Ethiopian Church, towards the end of his reign he aggressively helped the Patriarch of AlexandriaMark IV, who had been imprisoned by Al-Salih, the Sultan of Egypt. One step Newaya Krestos took was to imprison the Egyptian merchants in his kingdom; the other was to march on Egypt at the head of a numerous army. Tradition states that Patriarch Mark was freed and sent a delegation to convince the Emperor to return to his kingdom. Newaya Krestos did return, but he kept the delegation with him as his unwilling guests.
Newaya Krestos is also credited for rebuilding the ancient church Debre Igziabher that overooks Lake Hayq. This church was looted and burned by Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi in 1531. Copies of three charters first composed during his reign survive, which G.W.B. Huntingford uses as evidence that his rule extended as far north as Serae and Tigray.
^ James Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1805 edition), vol. 3 pp. 93f
^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), pp. 117f.
^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State, pp 146-8; E.A. Wallis Budge, A History of Ethiopia: Nubia and Abyssinia, 1928 (Oosterhout, the Netherlands: Anthropological Publications, 1970), p. 299.
^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State, pp. 253f; Paul E. Henze, Layers of Time: A History of Ethiopia (New York: Palgrave, 2000), p. 67.
^ Sihab ad-Din Ahmad bin 'Abd al-Qader, Futuh al-Habasa: The conquest of Ethiopia, translated by Paul Lester Stenhouse with annotations by Richard Pankhurst (Hollywood: Tsehai, 2003), p. 265.
^ G.W.B. Huntingford, The Historical Geography of Ethiopia (London: The British Academy, 1989), p. 82
Newaya Maryam - Wedem Asfare or Gemma Asfare (Throne Name ) 1372 to 1382
During his reign, Haqq ad-Din II of the Walasma dynasty gained control of the kingdom of Ifat on the southeastern frontier of Ethiopia in 1376, and began raids against the Empire. According to E. A. Wallis Budge, the Royal Chronicles state that "little was known about" Newaya Maryam, and he died without issue. He was buried at Asar, but his descendant Emperor Baeda Maryam had his body re-interred at the church of Atronsa Maryam.
^J. Spencer Trimingham, Islam in Ethiopia (Oxford: Geoffrey Cumberlege for the University Press, 1952), p. 74.
^ E.A. Wallis Budge, A History of Ethiopia: Nubia and Abyssinia, 1928 (Oosterhout, the Netherlands: Anthropological Publications, 1970), p. 300.
Life Taddesse Tamrat discusses a tradition that early in his reign Dawit campaigned against Egypt, reaching as far north as Aswan; in response the Emir forced the Patriarch of Alexandria, Matthew I, to send a deputation to Dawit to persuade him to retire back to his kingdom. Taddesse concludes, "There seems to be little or no doubt that, on the eve of the advent of the Burji dynasty of Mamluk Egypt, King Dawit had in fact led his troops beyond the northern frontiers of his kingdom, and created much havoc among the Muslim inhabitants of the area who had been within the sphere of influence of Egypt since the thirteenth century." He apparently had a much friendlier relationship with the Sultan's successor, for according to the medieval historian al-Maqrizi Dawit sent 22 camels laden with gifts to Berkuk, the first Sultan of the Burji dynasty.
He confronted the problem of raids from the Muslim kingdoms on his eastern border with numerous counter attacks on those kingdoms. According to al-Maqrizi, in 1403 Emperor Dawit pursued the Sultan of Adal, Sa'ad ad-Din II to Zeila where he killed Sa'ad ad-Din, and sacked Zeila; however, another contemporary source dates the death of Sa'ad ad-Din to 1415, and gives the credit to Emperor Yeshaq.
Dawit sent an embassy to Europe, which had reached Venice by 23 June 1402, requesting that a number of artisans be sent to his domain. Carlo Conti Rossini assembled the surviving documents concerning this visit in 1927, which record that five artisans departed with the Ethiopian envoy that August, but not if they arrived in Ethiopia. However, Marilyn E. Heldman found evidence of a "silver-gilt chalice" made in Venice, which, if it was the one Francisco Álvares described as seeing in Ethiopia, did reach Dawit.
During his reign, two surviving examples of illustrated manuscripts were produced. One is a translation of the Miracles of Marywhich had been written in Arabic, done at the command of Emperor Dawit; this is the oldest surviving illustrated book commissioned by an Ethiopian Emperor. The other, described as "one of the most beautiful illustrated books of the period" is a copy of the gospels, which is now at the monastery of Saint Gabriel on Kebran Island in southern Lake Tana.
^ In Ethiopian sources he is referred to as Dawit II (and all subsequent Dawits are numerated accordingly), as Dawit I is used to refer only to King David of Judah.
^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p.255
^ E. A. Wallis Budge, A History of Ethiopia: Nubia and Abyssinia, 1928 (Oosterhout, the Netherlands: Anthropological Publications, 1970), p. 301.
^ J. Spencer Trimingham, Islam in Ethiopia (Oxford: Geoffrey Cumberlege for the University Press, 1952), p. 74 and note explains the discrepancy in the sources; some historians pick one of the two possible dates (e.g. Paul Henze selects 1403 inLayers of Time, A History of Ethiopia [New York: Palgrave, 2000], p. 67) without even mentioning the problem.)
^ So R.E. Cheesman ("Lake Tana and Its Islands",Geographical Journal, 85 , p. 496), who visited Daga and was shown his casket, and Wallis Budge (History, p. 301).James Bruce states Dawit was buried on Dek Island (Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile [1805 edition], vol. 3, p. 96); Bruce must have confused the two islands, which is easy to do.
Despite the fact it only lasted nine months, Tewodros's period of rule acquired a connotation of being a golden age of Ethiopia. The explorer James Bruce later commented,
There must have been something very brilliant that happened under this prince, for though the reign is so short, it is before all others the most favourite epoch in Abyssinia. It is even confidently believed, that he is to rise again, and reign in Abyssinia for a thousand years, and in this period all war is to cease and everyone, in fulness, to enjoy happiness, plenty and peace.E. A. Wallis Budge repeats the account of the Synaxarium that Emperor Tewodros was "a very religious man, and a great lover of religious literature". Budge adds that Tewodros wished to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but was convinced not to make the journey by the Abuna Mark, "who feared for his safety." Despite this, Budge notes that he annulled the agreement of his ancestorYekuno Amlak that granted a third of the country to the Ethiopian Church.
Tewodros was killed beyond the Awash River fighting Muslims, although this is not explicitly stated by the Ethiopian chroniclers. Taddesse Tamrat notes that "in the royal chronicles and other traditions for the period, one can detect a deliberate attempt to suppress the violent ends of Ethiopian kings at the hands of their enemies." He was first buried at the church of Tadbaba Maryam, but his descendant Emperor Baeda Maryam had his body re-interred at Atronsa Maryam.
^ Budge however states Tewodros ruled 3 years (A History of Ethiopia: Nubia and Abyssinia, 1928 [Oosterhout, the Netherlands: Anthropological Publications, 1970], p. 301).
^ ab James Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1805 edition), vol. 3, p. 96.
^ Budge, A History of Ethiopia, p. 301; Bruce, Travels to Discover, vol. 3 p. 97.
^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 153n.5
During his reign, the Falashas revolted; Emperor Yeshaq marched into Wogera where he defeated them at Kossoge, ending the revolt; he had the church Debre Yeshaq built there to commemorate his victory. Yeshaq also invaded the Shanqella region beyond Agawmeder, and to the southeast he fought against the sons of Sa'ad ad-Din II who returned from exile in Arabia.
During his reign, according to the Islamic historian al-Maqrizi, a group of Mameluks led by al-Tabingha made their way to Ethiopia where he taught Yeshaq's soldiers how to make flame-throwers and fight with swords. About the same time another Egyptian visitor, a Copt, "reorganized the kingdom," according to al-Maqrizi, "and collected so much wealth for the Hati [the Emperor] that he enjoyed the king's authority." This unnamed Copt also introduced the practice of the Emperor dressing in "splendid" clothes and carrying a cross, which made him stand out from his subjects. Further, G.W.B. Huntingford suggests that it was during Yeshaq's reign that the rulers of Ethiopia ceased having permanent capitals; instead, their courts were held in their encampments as they progressed around their realm.
Yeshaq made the earliest known contact from post-Axumite Ethiopia to a European ruler. He sent a letter by two dignitaries toAlfonso V of Aragon, which reached the king in 1428, proposing an alliance against the Muslims and would be sealed by a dual marriage, that would require the Infante Don Pedro to bring a group of artisans to Ethiopia, where he would marry Yeshaq's daughter. It is not clear how or if Alfonso responded to this letter, although in a letter that reached Yeshaq's successor Zara Yaqobin 1450, Alfonso wrote that he would be happy to send artisans to Ethiopia if their safe arrival could be guaranteed, for on a previous occasion a party of 13 of his subjects travelling to Ethiopia had all perished.
Manoel de Almeida remarks that the descendants of Takla Maryam had been taken from Amba Geshen by Emperor Zara Yaqoband "exiled to hot lands where there are many diseases"; when his son Emperor Baeda Maryam, early in his reign, attempted to redress this injury by recalling them from exile, they slew his messengers. Although Baeda Maryam promptly took punitive measures (which included decapitating 80 of their members), in de Almeida's day they were "still rigorously watched".
^ C.F. Beckingham and G.W.B. Huntingford, Some Records of Ethiopia, 1593-1646 (London: Hakluyt Society, 1954), pp.101f.
^ Budge, A History of Ethiopia: Nubia and Abyssinia, 1928 (Oosterhout, the Netherlands: Anthropological Publications, 1970), p. 303.
^ James Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1805 edition), vol. 3, p. 98
Amda Iyasus - Badel Nan (Throne Name) 1433 to 1434
Amda Iyasus (Ge'ez ዓምደ ኢየሱስ ʿāmda iyasus, "Pillar of Jesus," Amh. made iyesus) was nəgusä nägäst (throne name Badel Nan በድል ናኝ badil nāñ; 1433–1434) of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the younger son of Takla Maryam.
E. A. Wallis Budge notes that Amda Iyasus ruled for eight months, and left no issue. "The Chronicles supply no information about his acts, and the rapid succession of occupants of the throne of the Nagashi puzzled even Makrizi."^
Zara Yaqob - Kuestantinos I (Constantine I) Throne Name 1434 to 1468
Zar'a Ya`qob or Zera Yacob (Ge'ez ዘርአ:ያዕቆብ zar'ā yāʿiqōb "Seed of Jacob," modern zer'a yā'iqōb) (1399–1468) was nəgusä nägäst (19 or 20 June 1434–1468) of Ethiopia (throne name Kwestantinos I Ge'ez ቈስታንቲኖስ qʷastāntīnōs or Constantine I), and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. Born at Tilq in the province of Fatagar (now part of the Oromia Region, near the Awash River), Zara Yaqob was the youngest son of Dawit I and his youngest queen, Igzi Kebra.
The British expert on Ethiopia, Edward Ullendorff, stated that Zara Yaqob "was unquestionably the greatest ruler Ethiopia had seen since Ezana, during the heyday of Aksumite power, and none of his successors on the throne – excepted only the emperors Menelik II and Haile Selassie – can be compared to him."
Paul B. Henze repeats the tradition that the jealousy of his older brother Tewodros I forced the courtiers to take Zara Yaqob to Tigray where he was brought up in secret, and educated in Axum and at the monastery of Dabra Abbay. While admitting that this tradition "is invaluable as providing a religious background for Zar'a-Ya'iqob's career", Taddesse Tamrat dismisses this story as "very improbable in its details." The professor notes that Zara Yaqob wrote in his Mashafa Berhan that "he was brought down from the royal prison of Mount Gishan only on the eve of his accession to the throne."Reign
Upon the death of Emperor Dawit, his older brother Tewodros ordered Zara Yaqob confined on Amba Geshen (around 1414). Despite this, Zara Yaqob's supporters kept him a perennial candidate for Emperor, helped by the rapid succession of his older brothers to the throne over the next 20 years, and left him as the oldest qualified candidate. David Buxton points out the effect that his forced seclusion had on his personality, "deprived of all contact with ordinary people or ordinary life." Thrust into a position of leadership "with no experience of the affairs of state, he [Zara Yaqob] was faced by a kingdom seething with plots and rebellions, a Church riven with heresies, and outside enemies constantly threatening invasion." Buxton continues, In the circumstances it was hardly possible for the new king to show adaptability or tolerance or diplomatic skill, which are the fruit of long experience in human relationships. Confronted with a desperate and chaotic situation he met it instead with grim determination and implacable ferocity. Towards the end of his life, forfeiting the affection and loyalty even of his courtiers and family he became a lonely figure, isolated by suspicion and mistrust. But, in spite of all, the name of this great defender of the faith is one of the most memorable in Ethiopian history.
Although he became Emperor in 1434, Zara Yaqob was not crowned until 1436 at Axum, where he resided for three years. It was not unusual for Ethiopian rulers to postpone their coronation until later in their reigns.
After he became Emperor, Zara Yaqob married princess Eleni, who had converted from Islam before their marriage. Eleni was the daughter of the king of Hadiya, one of the Sidamo kingdoms south of the Abay River. Although she failed to bear him any children, Eleni grew into a powerful political person. When a conspiracy involving one of his Bitwodeds came to light, Zara Yaqob reacted by appointing his two daughters, Medhan Zamada and Berhan Zamada, to these two offices. According to the Chronicle of his reign, the Emperor also appointed his daughters and nieces as governors over eight of his provinces. These appointments were not successful.
He defeated Badlay ad-Din, the Sultan of Adal at the Battle of Gomit in 1445, which consolidated his hold over the Sidamo kingdoms in the south, as well as the weak Muslim kingdoms beyond the Awash River. Similar campaigns in the north against the Agaw and the Falasha were not as successful.
After witnessing a bright light in the sky (which most historians have identified as Halley's Comet, visible in Ethiopia in 1456), Zara Yaqob founded Debre Berhan and made it his capital for the remainder of his reign.
In his later years, Zara Yaqob became more despotic. When Takla Hawariat, abbot of Dabra Libanos, criticized Yaqob's beatings and murder of men, the emperor had the abbot himself beaten and imprisoned, where he died after few months. Zara Yaqob was convinced of a plot against him in 1453, which led to more brutal actions. He increasingly became convinced that his wives and children were plotting against him, and had several of them beaten. Seyon Morgasa, the mother of the future emperor Baeda Maryam, died from this mistreatment in 1462, which led to a complete break between son and father. Eventually relations between the two were repaired, and Zara Yaqob publicly designated Baeda Maryam as his successor.
The Ethiopian church
At the time Zara Yaqob assumed the throne, the Ethiopian church had been divided over the issue of Biblical Sabbath for roughly a century. One group, loyal to the Egyptian bishops, believed that Sabbath should be observed on only one day; another group, the followers of Ewostatewos, believed with their founder that both Saturday (seventh-day Sabbath) and Sunday (first-day Sabbath) should be observed.
He was successful in persuading two recently arrived Egyptian bishops, Mikael and Gabriel, to accept a compromise aimed to restore harmony with the House of Ewostatewos, as the followers of Ewostatewos were known. At the same time, he made efforts to pacify the House of Ewostatewos. While the Ewostathians were won over to the compromise by 1442, the two Egyptian bishops only agreed to the compromise only at the Council of Debre Mitmaq in Tegulet (1450).
Emperor Zara Yaqob also continued as the defender of the Patriarch of Alexandria. When he heard in 1441 of the destruction of the Egyptian monastery of Dabra Mitmaq by Sultan Jaqmaq, he called for a period of mourning, then sent a letter of strong protest to the Sultan. He reminded Jaqmaq that he had Muslim subjects whom he treated fairly, and warned that he had the power to divert the Nile, but refrained from doing so for the human suffering it would cause. Jaqmaq responded with gifts to appease Zara Yaqob's anger, but refused to rebuild the Coptic churches he had destroyed.
According to Richard Pankhurst the Emperor was also "reputedly an author of renown", having contributed to Ethiopian literature as many as three important theological works. One was Mahsafa Berha ("The Book of Light"), an exposition of his ecclesiastical reforms and a defense of his religious beliefs; the others were Mahsafa Milad ("The Book of Nativity") and Mahsafa Selassie ("The Book of the Trinity"). Foreign affairs
Zara Yaqob sent a diplomatic mission to Europe (1450), led by a Sicilian Pietro Rombulo who had previously been successful in a mission to India, specifically asking for skilled labor. Rombulo first visited Pope Nicholas V, but his ultimate goal was the court of Alfonso V of Aragon, who responded favorably. The Catholic Ecumenical Council of Florence (1438-1445) declared that Zara Yaqob was the legendary rumored king Prester John.  References ^ Getachew Haile, "A Preliminary Investigation of the "Tomara Tesse't" of Emperor Zar'a Ya'eqob of Ethiopia" in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 43, no. 2 (1980), p. 210. The beginning of what Getachew Haile believes is the "Ṭomarä Tesbe't" states that he was crowned on 26 Sené (20 June), while a contemporary Stephanite writer ascribes a date of 25 Sené (19 June). Getachew Haile explains this discrepancy by suggesting that the ceremony lasted two days. ^ Edward Ullendorff, The Ethiopians: An Introduction to the Country and People, second edition (London: Oxford University Press, 1960), p. 69. ISBN 0-19-285061-X. ^ Paul B. Henze, Layers of Time, A History of Ethiopia (New York: Palgrave, 2000), p. 68. ISBN 1-85065-522-7 ^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 222 ISBN 0-19-821671-8 ^ Taddesse Tamrat, pp. 278-283. ^ David Buxon, The Abyssinians (New York: Praeger, 1970), pp. 48f ^ Taddesse Tamrat, p. 229. ^ Richard K. P. Pankhurst, The Ethiopian Royal Chronicles (Addis Ababa: Oxford University Press, 1967), p. 32f. ^ His war against Badlay is described in the Royal Chronicles (Pankhurst, pp. 36-38). ^ The founding of Debre Berhan is described in the Royal Chronicles (Pankhurst, pp.36-38). ^ Taddesse Tamrat, p. 230. ^ Taddesse Tamrat, pp. 262-3 ^ Richard Pankhurst, The Ethiopians: A History (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), p. 85. Edward Ullendorff, however, attributes only the Mahsafa Berha and Mahsafa Milad. ^ Taddesse Tamrat, p. 264f
Towards the end of Zara Yaqob's life, the Emperor became increasingly convinced that members of his family were plotting against him, and had several of them beaten. Baeda Maryam's mother died from this mistreatment in 1462, and Baeda Maryam buried her in secret in the church of Maqdesa Maryam, near Debre Berhan, and donated incense and other gifts to support the church. Zara Yaqob then directed his anger at Baeda Maryam, until members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church repaired the rift between the two, and Zara Yaqob publicly designated Baeda Maryam as his successor.
With his own mother dead, Baeda Maryam gave Eleni, a wife of his father, the title of Queen Mother. She proved to be an effective member of the royal family, and Paul B. Henze comments that she "was practically co-monarch" during his reign. However, Edward Ullendorff notes Baeda Maryam was unable to hold together the far-flung empire his father left him: "some of the outlying provinces recently conquered began to grow restive; the feudal lords whom Zar'a Ya'qob had only ephemerally brought under central control reasserted their regional authority; and the senior clergy relapsed into some of the old-established ways of conduct and ecclesiastical organization."
Campaigns against the Dobe'a Emperor Baeda Maryam conducted a campaign against the Dobe'a early in his reign, but they had fled with their cattle, camels, and he was unable to track down any of them. He subsequently rode into the area himself, but the Dobe'a recognized him from a distance and were able to flee, their possessions already having been evacuated. At this point, the "Dankalé," the ruler of the Danakil (better known as the Afar), offered to intervene and help in the Emperor's campaign. He sent the Emperor a horse, a mule laden with dates, a shield, and two spears to show his support, along with a message saying, "I have set up my camp, O my master, with the intention of stopping these people. If they are your enemies, I will not let them pass, and will seize them." Ba'eda Maryam sent his men against the Dobe'a again, but his men were defeated and suffered heavy casualties. Ba'eda Maryam was by this point infuriated, criticizing his soldiers for attacking without orders and stating his determination to remain in the Dobe'a country until he had subdued the country to the point where he could sow grain there and his horses could eats its crop.
The Emperor then dispatched Jan Zeg, the Garad (governor) of Bali, in a campaign in the region of Gam, where the Garad was killed. Cholera (or some other pestilence) broke out among his men, depressing him further, resulting in his withdrawal to Tigray. There he called upon one of his best fighting regiments, Jan Amora ("Royal Eagle," after which the sub-province and woreda were named), who were eager to participate in the campaign. The twelve Dobe'a leaders learned of the new attack being prepared, and began to flee in various directions into the lowlands of Adal with their women, children, and cattle, with their property loaded on their camels and other beasts of burden. The Emperor heard of their plans, however, and mounted another campaign against Dobe'as, sending the governors of Tigray, Qeda and Damot to pursue them. This new campaign was successful, resulting in the capture of many cattle and the deaths of many Dobe'a, both in the main attack and the following pursuit.
After this defeat, many of the Dobe'a converted to Christianity and begged the Emperor for his pardon. The Emperor in turn returned their cattle, supplementing it with others from the southern provinces of Wej and Genz and stationed soldiers in their country. He further built a church in Dobe'a country dedicated to the Virgin Mary and planted orange trees, lemon trees, and vines in the area, in fulfillment of his earlier declaration. Ba'eda Maryam soon returned to the Dobe'a country and appointed governors and "regulated the social condition of the people," as well as encouraging the celebration of the death of the Virgin Mary every January, upon which occasion he distributed bread, tela (beer), and tej (a type of honey wine or mead) to the people. He further ordered that the Dobe'as become cultivators, as opposed to bandits and left the country for the last time.
Other campaigns Baeda Maryam moved his court to the Gurage country, using it as a base for campaigns in Dawaro and Bale. His constant campaigning led to a peace treaty with Sultan Muhammad of Adal, the son of Badlay ibn Sa'ad ad-Din, and used the peace it brought to his southern borders to successfully campaign against the restive Falasha in his northern territories. But on Muhammad's death, war with Adal flared up once again.
Baeda Maryam died at Abasi Wera Gabayi of a sudden illness, but he was buried in a tomb at Atronsa Maryam, a church he had built in the area between the Abay and Jamma Rivers. This church was later notable for its painting of Mary and Christ by the artist Brancaleon, a Venetian who had come to live in Ethiopia. His tomb was later destroyed in an Oromo raid in 1709, when they sacked the church, enslaved or killed all of the people present, and hurled the coffin of Baeda Maryam over the nearby cliffs. The explorer Richard Burton records the contrary story that on his deathbed, Baeda Maryam ordered that his body be buried so his face looked towards Adal, "upon whose subjugation the energies of ten years had been vainly expended."
^ His Chronicle is translated in part by Richard K. P. Pankhurst, The Ethiopian Royal Chronicles (Addis Ababa: Oxford University Press, 1967).
^ James Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1805 edition), vol. 3, pp. 110f
^ Paul B. Henze, Layers of Time, A History of Ethiopia (New York: Palgrave, 2000), p.75.
^ Edward Ullendorff, The Ethiopians: An Introduction to the Country and People, second edition (London: Oxford University Press, 1960), p. 70.
^ [[Richard Pankhurst (academic)|]], The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century (Asmara, Eritrea: Red Sea Press, 1997), pp. 106-7, 110.
Reign Due to his young age, his authority required a regent; a council was formed of his mother Queen Romna, Tasfa Giyorgis (the abbot of the monastery of Lake Hayq), and the BitwodedAmda Mikael. However, Queen Romna withdrew from this arrangement early on, entering a convent near Debre Libanos where she lived until her death; Abbot Tasfa Giyorgis proved no match for the experienced Bitwoded, and according to Taddesse Tamrat Amda Mikael "ruled the kingdom almost single handed." Betwoded Amda Mikael's rule came to an end around 1486 when a palace coup led by the Emperor's step-grandmother Queen Mother Eleni resulted in his deposition and execution. Queen Eleni thereafter played a leading role in the Emperor's government.
Eskender's most significant military accomplishment was sacking Dakkar, the capital of the Adal Sultanate, in 1478; despite this achievement, as he led his army back home, the larger Adal army under amir Muhammad ibn Azhar ad-Din overtook them, killing many of his men and taking many prisoners. Eskender was said to have escaped capture only through the assistance of angels, and afterwards he built a church named Debere Meshwa'e, "Place of Sacrifice". There is some disagreement over the context of this campaign. One view is presented by James Bruce, who adds that Zasillus, governor of Amhara, had been commanded to mobilize the forces in the south while Eskender himself raised levies from Angot and Tigray; according to Bruce, Eskender was responding to the predations of Mahfuz of Zeila. More recent scholars, such as Richard Pankhurst, hold that Eskender's sack of Dakkar led to Amir Muhammad to seek peace with the Ethiopians, but he was outmaneuvered by Mahfuz.
There are also conflicting versions of Emperor Eskender's death, which occurred when he was only 22. One source holds he was killed fighting the Maya, a vanished ethnic group known for using poisoned arrows, east of Enderta. On the other hand, both Bruce and the explorer Richard Burton writes that Eskender was assassinated at Tegulet: Bruce stating that Zasillus of Amhara was responsible, while Burton claiming that Mahfuz had him assassinated. He was buried in the church of Atronsa Maryam, which his father had begun construction on. His early death immediately led to civil war. While the court kept the Emperor's death a secret, one major noble, Zasillus, immediately marched to the royal prison of Amba Geshen, freed Na'od, and proclaimed him Emperor. Another noble Tekle Kristos, who had remained at the Imperial court, championed Eskender's son Amda Seyon II as emperor. Although Tekle Kristos' forces defeated the followers of Zasillus, warfare continued through the realm.
European influence European influence was noticeable during his reign. In a manuscript written by Francesco Suriano (dated to 1482 by Somigli), Suriano describes finding 10 Italians "of good repute" residing at Eskender's court, some who had been living there for 25 years. Suriano adds that since 1480, seven more had travelled to the Ethiopian court. They had travelled there "to seek jewels and precious stones", but "since the king did not allow them to return, they were all ill content, although they were all well rewarded, each in accordance with his rank."
It was in the last years of Eskender's reign that Pedro de Covilham arrived in Ethiopia, as an envoy from king John II of Portugal. However, da Covilha was not allowed to return to Portugal, and was forced to live out his days in Ethiopia—although as a trusted advisor to the Emperors.
^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 286.
^ ab Richard Pankhurst, The Ethiopian Borderlands (Lawrenceville: Red Sea Press, 1997), pp. 121f
^ Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1805 edition), vol. 3, pp. 144f
^ G.W.B. Huntingford, The historical geography of Ethiopia from the first century AD to 1704, (Oxford University Press: 1989), p. 109.
Amda Seyon quickly became the pawn in the struggle for control of the throne, which ended in his death, and the ascension of Na'od. As Taddesse Tamrat writes, "Amda-Seyon's reign lasted for only six months, and even the hagiographer betrays a sense of great relief at the announcement of his death."
^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 293.
Like Eskender before him, he relied on the counsel of the Queen Mother Eleni. Despite her help, his reign was marked by internal dissension.
Na'od began construction on a lavish church in Amhara, which was decorated with gold leaf and known as Mekane Selassie. However, he died before it was completed, and he was buried in a tomb inside the church; his son Emperor Lebna Dengel completed the construction in 1530.Francisco Álvares records seeing the church as it was being constructed, and mentions that he was kept from entering it by the local clergy. However, not long after its completion, ImamAhmad Gragn managed to penetrate the province of Amhara, and on 3 November 1531, he personally pillaged the structure and set it afire.
Na'od was killed near Jejeno (possibly Mekane Selassie) while campaigning against the Muslims.
^ James Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1805 edition), vol. 3, p. 148
^ Sihab ad-Din Ahmad bin 'Abd al-Qader, Futuh al-Habasa: The Conquest of Ethiopia, translated by Paul Lester Stenhouse with annotations by Richard Pankhurst (Hollywood: Tsehai, 2003), pp. 231f
^ C.F. Beckingham and G.W.B. Huntingford, The Prester John of the Indies (Cambridge: Hakluyt Society, 1961), pp. 360f, 582
^ G.W.B. Huntingford, The historical geography of Ethiopia from the first century AD to 1704, (Oxford University Press: 1989), p. 105
Dawit II (David II) - Lebna Dengel (Throne Name) 1508 to 1540
Dawit II (Ge'ez ዳዊት dāwīt), enthroned as Emperor Anbasa Segad (Ge'ez አንበሳ ሰገድ, anbassā sagad, Amh.ānbessā seged, 'to whom lions bow'), better known by his birth name Lebna Dengel (Ge'ez ልብነ ድንግል libna dingil; 1501 - September 2, 1540) was nəgusä nägäst (1508 - 1540) of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the son of Emperor Na'od and Queen Na'od Mogasa.
Early reign Although she was well into her seventies, the Empress Mother Eleni stepped in to act as her step-great-grandson's regent until 1516, when he came of age. During this time, she was aware that the neighboring Muslim states were benefitting from the assistance of other, larger Muslim countries like theOttoman Empire. Eleni sought to neutralize this advantage by dispatching the ArmenianMateus to Portugal to ask for assistance. However, the Portuguese response did not arrive in Ethiopia until much later, when an embassy led by Dom Rodrigo de Lima arrived at Massawa on April 9, 1520. Transversing the Ethiopian highlands, they did not reach Dawit's camp until October 19 of that year. Francisco Álvares provides us a description of the Emperor:
In age, complexion, and stature, he is a young man, not very black. His complexion might be chestnut or bay, not very dark in colour; he is very much a man of breeding, of middling stature; they said that he was twenty-three years of age, and he looks like that, his face is round, the eyes large, the nose high in the middle, and his beard is beginning to grow. In presence and state he fully looks like the great lord that he is.Dawit had ambushed and killed Emir Mahfuz of Adal in 1517; about the same time a Portuguese fleet attacked Zeila, a Muslim stronghold, and burned it. In 1523, Dawit campaigned amongst the Gurage near Lake Zway. Contemporaries concluded that the Muslim threat to Ethiopia was finally over, so when the diplomatic mission from Portugal arrived at last, Dawit denied that Mateus had the authority to negotiate treaties, ignoring Eleni's counsels. After a stay of six years, the Portuguese at last set sail and left a governing class who thought they were securely in control of the situation. As Paul B. Henze notes, "They were mistaken."
The Ethiopian-Adal WarMain article: Ethiopian-Adal WarWith the death of Sultan Abu Bakr in 1520, a young ImamAhmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi consolidated his hold on the Adal Sultanate, making his candidateUmar Din Sultan, then began a campaign to extinguish the Empire of Ethiopia. The Imam crossed the Awash River and entered Fatagar in 1528, looting and burning the town of Badeqe before Dawit could arrive with his army. The Imam began to withdraw, retreating across the Samara, a tributary of the Awash. The Imam's followers were accustomed to making lightning raids on Ethiopian territory, swiftly attacking and quickly returning home; they had no experience in pitched battles, and Imam Ahmad Gragn struggled with numerous desertions. The Emperor Dawit caught up with Imam Ahmad Gragn's forces, and they engaged in battle on either March 7 or March 9, 1529 at Shimbra Kure, but failed to destroy the Imam's army. While not a clear victory for the Imam, this battle still proved to the Imam's followers that they could fight the Ethiopian army.
Imam Ahmad Gragn spent the next two years preoccupied beyond the Awash, but returned to attack Ethiopia in 1531, where he scattered the army under the general Eslamu by firing the first cannon in the Horn of Africa. Dawit was forced to withdraw into the Ethiopian highlands and fortify the passes into Bet Amhara ("the House of Amhara"), leaving the territories to the east and south under the protection of his general Wasan Sagad. However, Wasan Sagad was slain near Mount Busat while fighting Ura'i Utman on 29 July (5 Nahase 1524 A.M.) and his army scattered. The Imam surprised the Emperor at the Battle of Amba Sel on 27 October, where the Emperor was almost captured, a reversal, in the words of R.S. Whiteway, that left Lebna Dengel "never in a position to offer a pitched battle to his enemies." The Imam's followers poured into Bet Amhara, pillaging every church they found, including Mekane Selassie, Atronsa Maryam, Debre Nagwadgwad and Ganata Giyorgis. Emperor Dawit fell back behind the Abay River to the relative security of Gojjam. Only their failure to capture the royal compound at Amba Geshen slowed the Muslims down.
In the campaigns that followed, Ahmad's followers destroyed churches, monasteries, and converted Christians at the point of spear. In April 1533, Ahmad once again assembled his troops at Debre Berhan to conquer—or at least ravage—the northern regions of Tigray, Begemder, and Gojjam.
Both Ethiopia and Dawit suffered heavily from these assaults. The monastery of Debre Libanos was burned, and the establishments on the islands ofLake Tana looted. Dawit's eldest son Fiqtor was killed at Zara in Wag by a lieutenant of Ahmad on April 7, 1537; another son, Menas, was captured on May 19, 1539, and later sent to Yemen. Amba Geshen fell to another assault in January, 1540, the royal prisoners interred there were slaughtered with their guards and the royal treasury looted. During the years that he lived as an outlaw in his own realm, Dawit came to see Queen Eleni's wisdom in reaching out to Europe for help, and he dispatched John Bermudez, who had arrived in Ethiopia with Dom Rodrigo de Lima, to ask for it once again. However, this help in the form of Cristóvão da Gama and his picked troop of 400 did not reach Ethiopia until after Dawit was killed in battle near Debre Damo, 2 September 1540. The Ethiopian historian Taddesse Tamrat writes, "The Muslim occupation of the Christian highlands under Ahmad Gragn lasted for little more than ten years, between 1531 and 1543. But the amount of destruction brought about in these years can only be estimated in terms of centuries."
One of his younger sons, Yaqob, is said to have stayed behind to hide in the province of Menz in Shewa. Yaqob's grandson Susenyos defeated his various second cousins in 1604 to become Emperor and started the Gondar line of the Solomonic dynasty.
^ Francisco Alvarez, The Prester John of the Indies translated by C.F. Beckingham and G.W.B. Huntingford (Cambridge: Hakluyt Society, 1961), p. 304. Alvarez's book is an important account not only of the Portuguese mission to Ethiopia, but for Ethiopia at the time.
^ Paul B. Henze, Layers of Time, A History of Ethiopia (New York: Palgrave, 2000), p. 85.
^ As described by Sihab ad-Din Ahmad bin 'Abd al-Qader, Futuh al-Habasa: The conquest of Ethiopia, translated by Paul Lester Stenhouse with annotations by Richard Pankhurst (Hollywood: Tsehai, 2003), pp. 68-70
^ R.S. Whiteway, The Portuguese Expedition to Abyssinia in 1541-1543, 1902 (Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus Reprint Limited, 1967), p. xxxvi.
^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia (1270 - 1527) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 301.
Gelawdewos (Claudius) - Asnaf Sagad I (Throne Name) September 3, 1540 to March 23, 1559
Gelawdewos (Ge'ez ገላውዴዎስ galāwdēwōs, modern gelāwdēwōs, "Claudius"; 1521/1522 - March 23, 1559) was nəgusä nägäst (throne name Asnaf Sagad I(Ge'ez አጽናፍ ሰገድ aṣnāf sagad, modern āṣnāf seged, "to whom the peaks bow" or "the remotest regions submit [to him]"; September 3, 1540 - March 23, 1559) of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was a younger son of Dawit II by Sabla Wengel.
LifeHis reign was dominated by the struggle with Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi during the Abyssinian-Adal War, until Ahmad's defeat and death in the Battle of Wayna Daga on February 21, 1543. Gelawdewos devoted time and energy to rallying his people against Ahmad, a determination his chronicler credits prevented Ahmad's forcible conversions from being permanent. With Ahmad's death, Gelawdewos was not only able to eject the leaderless Muslim forces from the Ethiopian highlands, but also from the lowlands to the east which included Dawaro and Bale. He also turned his attention to the numerous Ethiopians who had crossed over to the Imam's side, either to further themselves or out of self-preservation. While some presented themselves to Gelawdewos expecting to be pardoned only to be executed, to many others he granted his safe-conduct, according to Miguel de Castanhoso, "for there were so many [who had joined Imam Ahmad] that had he ordered all to be killed, he would have remained alone."
However, while campaigning against the Agaw in Gojjam (1548), Nur ibn Mujahid once again invaded Ethiopia. Gelawedewos's vassal Fanu'el succeeded in repulsing them, but the Emperor followed up with a further attack into Muslim territory, plundering the countryside for six months. At one point he captured Harar, where Sultan Barakat ibn Umar Din of Adal was killed, the last member of the Walasma dynasty.
According to a Harari chronicle, Gelawdewos was killed in battle. "Early in the engagement Galawdéwos was hit by a bullet, but continued to fight until surrounded by a score of Harari cavalry, who struck him fatally to the ground with their spears," according to Pankhurst. Emir Nur had the Emperor's head sent to the country of Sa'ad ad-Din, then rode off to plunder Ethiopian territory before returning home. The explorer Richard F. Burton tells a slightly different account, adding that Gelawedewos had been supervising the restoration of Debre Werq when he received a message from Emir Nur challenging him to combat. When the Emperor met the Emir, a priest warned that the angel Gabriel had told him Gelawdewos would needlessly risk his life—which caused most of the Ethiopian army to flee.
According to G. W. B. Huntingford, Gelawdewos' body was buried at Tadbaba Maryam and his head, which was brought back to Ethiopia by some traders, was buried in Ensaqya (modernAntsokiya), in the tomb of St. Gelawdewos.
Foreign relationsThe first problem of foreign relations Gelawdewos had to deal with following his victory at Wayna Daga was John Bermudez, a Portuguese priest whom his father had sent abroad as his ambassador to secure help from Portugal. Bermudez had represented himself in Europe as the properly appointed Patriarch of Ethiopia (or Abuna), and once he returned to Ethiopia, he claimed he had been appointed by Pope Paul III as Patriarch of Alexandria. A surviving letter dated 13 March 1546 from King John III to Emperor Gelawdewos, translated by Whiteway, is a response to a lost letter wherein the Ethiopian ruler asked, in essence, "Who is this John Bermudez fellow? And why does he behave so irresponsibly?" King John's answer was frank:
As to what João Bermudez has done there, whom the King your father sent to me as his Ambassador, I disapprove greatly, for they are things very contrary to the service of Our Lord, and by reason of them it is clear that he cannot be given any help or assistance, nor do I know more of him than that he is a mere priest. Of the powers which he says the Holy Father granted him I know nothing; from the letters of His Holiness you will learn better what has passed in the matter; although for this he merits very severe punishment, it appears to me that you should not inflict it, except in such a way that, his life being saved, he may be punished according to his errors.According to Bermudez's own account of his time in Ethiopia, early in the reign of Gelawdewos he was banished to Gafat, south of the Abay River, the first of several exiles that ended when Bermudez left Ethiopia. This banishment probably followed Gelawdewos' receipt of King John's letter.
In the same letter, King John promised to send priests more worthy than Bermudez, and during his reign two different groups of Jesuit missionaries arrived in Ethiopia. The first arrived 7 February 1555 to determine the state of the country and whether the Ethiopians would properly receive a Patriarch anointed by the Catholic church. Gelawdewos received them, but gave them no overt encouragement. The second landed in March 1557, and was headed by André de Oviedo who had been made titular Bishop of Nice, who received them just before leaving to campaign againstNur ibn Mujahid but did not make any promises. In response to their arguments, Gelawdewos wrote his Confession, which defended the Miaphysite doctrine of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. According to Richard Pankhurst, Gelawdewos' Confession helped his fellow Ethiopian Christians to remain "steadfast in their adherence to Sabbath observance, circumcision, and the prohibition against pork and other 'unclean' foods."
Ethiopia's access to the outside world was severely crippled during his reign in 1557, when the Ottoman Empire conquered Massawa. From that point forward, dignitaries and missionaries to Ethiopia had to travel in disguise to avoid Muslim authorities. This also allowed the Ottomans to block the Ethiopians from importing firearms.
^Remedius Prutky states that Gelawdewos had a son, Na'od; this son is not mentioned in his Royal Chronicle. J.H. Arrowsmith-Brown, translator and editor, Prutky's Travels to Ethiopia and Other Countries (London: Hakluyt Society, 1991), p. 112 and note.
According to a genealogy collected by James Bruce, Menas' father Lebna Dengel arranged Menas to be married to the daughter of Robel, governor of Bora and Selawe; upon becoming empress she took the name Adimas Moas. They had two children, Fiqtor and Theodora.
During Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi's invasion of Ethiopia, Menas had been captured but treated well as a valuable prisoner. Although the fate of prisoners of war at the time was to be castrated and enslaved, due to the intervention of Bati del Wambara, wife of Imam Ahmad Gragn, Menas escaped this mutilation, and was married to Bati del Wambara's daughter—an act Whiteway describes as "a unique act of clemency." This clemency came to an end in 1542, when the Imam, desperate for help from his fellow Muslims, included Menas in an assortment of extravagant gifts to the sultan of Yemen in return for military aid. However, Imam Ahmad's son was later captured in the aftermath of the Battle of Wayna Daga, Gelawdewos used his prisoner to recover his brother Menas; according to Pankhurst, "when the royal family was reunited there were many days of celebrations."
About one year into his reign, Bahr negusYeshaq rose in revolt in Tigray against Menas, proclaiming Tazkaro, the illegitimate son of Emperor Menas' brother Yaqob as negus. Tazkaro was supported by the leader of the Portuguese who had followed Cristóvão da Gama into Ethiopia, and allegedly by "the Prime Men of the Kingdom." This revolt occupied Menas' attention for the remainder of his short reign. He marched into Lasta, at which point Yeshaq retreated into Shire. The emperor found him there and defeated Yeshaq, then turned south to Emfraz where he defeated the remaining supporters of Tazkaro on 2 July 1561. Tazkaro was captured, and Menas afterwards ordered him thrown from the rock of Lamalmon to his death.
Bahr Negash Yeshaq then obtained the support of Özdemir, the OttomanPasha of Massawa, and proclaimed Tazkaro's infant brother, Marqos, nəgusä nägäst. Menas marched north again, but was defeated at Enderta by Yeshaq. According to the Royal Chronicle of his reign, which Bruce follows in his account, the Emperor fell back to Atronsa Maryam to regroup for another assault on the Bahr Negash, but came down with a fever during the march, and died at Kolo on 1 February 1563. However, some European writers, such as Hiob Ludolf and Baltazar Téllez write that Minas was slain fleeing from the battlefield.
^ James Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1805 edition), vol. 4 p. 97, editor's note
^ R.S. Whiteway, The Portuguese Expedition to Abyssinia in 1541-1543, 1902 (Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus Reprint Limited, 1967), p. xxxiv.
Sarsa Dengel - Malak Sagad I (Throne Name) 1563 to 1597
Sarsa Dengel (Ge'ez ሠረጸ ድንግል śarṣa dingil, Amh.serṣe dingil "Sprout of the Virgin", 1550 - 4 October 1597) was nəgusä nägäst (throne name Malak Sagad I, Ge'ez መልአክ ሰገድ mal'ak sagad, Amh. mel'āk seged, "to whom the angel bows") (1563 - 1597) of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. The son of Menas and Admas Mogasa, Sarsa Dengel spent his reign in constant campaigning, repelling Ottoman advances inland from the Red Sea; and Oromo advances from the south.
He was elected king by the Shewan commanders of the army and the Queen Mother. Upon his coming of age Bahr negusYeshaq, who had rebelled against his father, presented himself to Sarsa Dengel and made peace. However, Sarsa Dengel had to confront a number of other revolts: his cousinHamalmal in 1563, another cousin Fasil two years later. Yeshaq once again revolted with support of the Ottoman Empire; Sarsa Dengel then marched toTigray in 1576, where he defeated and killed in battle the Bahr Negash and his allies, Özdemir Pasha and Sultan Muhammed IV of Harar. When the Ottomans attempted to advance inland to capture Debarwa in 1588, Emperor Sarsa Dengel responded by sacking Arqiqo the following year.
Sarsa Dengel was the first emperor of Ethiopia to confront the encroachment of the Oromo, who had defeated Nur ibn Mujahid as he returned home from killing his uncle Gelawdewos in battle. In his tenth regnal year (1573), campaigning in the south, he defeated the Oromo in a battle near Lake Zway. He campaigned against them again in his 15th (1578) and 25th (1588) regnal years.
Sarsa Dengel campaigned against the Falasha in Semien in 1580, then again in 1585. He also campaigned against the Agaw in 1581, and in 1585. He campaigned against the Gambo who dwelled in the lands west of the Chomen swamp in 1590. He made a punitive expedition against the Ottoman Turksin 1588, in response to their raids in the northern provinces. Sarsa Dengel campaigned in Ennarea twice, the first time in 1586, and the second time in 1597. On the final campaign against the Oromo, his Chronicle records, a group of monks tried to dissuade him from this expedition; failing that, they warned him not to eat fish from a certain river he would pass. Despite their warning, when he passed by the river the monks warned him about, he ate fish taken from this river and grew sick and died.
His body was interred in Medhane Alem church on Rema Island. When R.E. Cheesman visited the church in March 1933, he was shown a blue-and-white porcelain jar, which his entrails were brought from the place of his death. References
^ Partially translated by Richard K.P. Pankhurst in The Ethiopian Royal Chronicles. Addis Ababa: Oxford University Press, 1967.
^ G.W.B. Huntingford, Historical Geography of Ethiopia (London: British Academy, 1989), p.149.
Za Dengel may have been married to Woizero Wangelawit, eldest daughter of his second cousin Susenyos Fasilides (later emperor) and lady Wolde Saala of Walaqa and Marabete (later Empress Sultan Mogassa).
Sarsa Dengel had intended to make his nephew as his heir, recognizing that to avert the civil war that would likely follow his death an adult would be needed, and the emperor's own sons were quite young. These plans were changed primarily through the influence of Empress Sena Maryam, stepmother of Emperor's eldest surviving son Prince Yaqob, who was made emperor in 1597. The empress had Za Dengel seized and confined in a religious retreat on the island of Dek in Lake Tana. Za Dengel eventually managed to escape, taking refuge in Gojjam.
In 1603 Za Dengel was made Emperor by RasZa Sellase, who intended Za Dengel to be little more than a figurehead. He was crowned as Asnaf Segad ('He to whom the horizons bow'). However, Za Dengel summoned the JesuitPedro Páez to his court at Dankaz, who persuaded him to embraceCatholicism.
This religious conversion led to Za Sellase not only withdrawing his support, but actively working against him and stirred up a revolt in Gojjam. Za Dengel marched to the plain of Bartcho to put down this revolt, but despite the help of 200 Portuguesemusketeers Za Dengel perished in battle on October 24. According to James Bruce, Za Dengel's corpse lay unclaimed on the battlefield for three days, until some peasants buried it "in a little building, like a chapel (which I have seen), not above six feet high, under the shade of a very fine tree, in Abyssinia called sassa." The body was reinterred 10 years later in Daga Estifanos monastery on Daga Island in Lake Tana. References
^ James Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1805 edition), vol. 3, pp. 270f
E. A. Wallis Budge. A History of Ethiopia: Nubia and Abyssinia, 1928. Oosterhout, the Netherlands: Anthropological Publications, 1970. The sections about Za Dengel and his cousin Yaqob cover pp. 375–383.
Yaqob (Jacob) - Malak Sagad II (Throne Name) 1604 to 1606 Restored
Yaqob I (Ge'ez ያዕቆብ yāʿiqōb, Amh.yā'iqōb) was nəgusä nägäst (throne name Malak Sagad II, መልአክ ሰገድ, mal'ak sagad, Amh. mel'āk seged, "to whom the angel bows"; 1597–1603; 1604–1606) of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the eldest surviving son of Sarsa Dengel; his mother was either Queen Maryam Sena (so E. A. Wallis Budge), or Woizero Harego of the Beta Israel. Because Yaqob had at least three sons before his death, it is likely he was born no later than 1590.
Life Sarsa Dengel had intended to make his nephew Za Dengel his successor, but under the influence of his wife Maryam Sena and a number of his sons-in-law, he instead chose Yaqob, who was seven when he came to the throne, with RasAntenatewos of Begemder as his regent. Za Dengel and the other rival for the throne – Susenyos, the son of Abeto Fasilides – were exiled, but Za Dengel escaped to the mountains around Lake Tana, while Susenyos found refuge in the south amongst the Oromo.
When Yaqob came to adulthood six years later, he quarrelled with Ras Antenatewos, and had him replaced with RasZa Sellase. However, Za Sellase deposed Yaqob, exiling him to Ennarea, and made his cousin Za Dengel Emperor. When Za Dengel proved more troublesome than Yaqob, Za Sellase recalled Yaqob from exile.
Not long after Za Dengel was defeated and killed in battle, Susenyos marched north at the head of an army raised amongst the Oromo, and sent a message to Ras Antenatewos proclaiming himself as king and demanding support from Antenatewos; unable to communicate with Za Sellase, the Ras sent his troops to support Susenyos. A similar message to Za Sellase only served to steel Za Sellase into action: he marched on Susenyos, who, sick from fever, retreated into the mountains of Amhara. This lack of resolve convinced Ras Antenatewos to waver in his support, and as the rainy season passed Za Sellase began to negotiate his submission to Susenyos. At this moment Yaqob revealed himself in Dembiya and both Ras Antenatewos and Za Sellase flocked to his side.
Susenyos managed to first surprise and decimate the forces of Za Sellase at Manta Dafar in Begemder; when Za Sellase escaped to Yaqob's camp, the Emperor's derision caused Za Sellase to defect to Susenyos. For several days, the armies of the two rival emperors maneuvered in the mountains of Gojjam, to at last meet in the Battle of Gol 10 March 1606, where Yaqob and Abuna Petros II were killed in battle, and his troops slaughtered.
Issue Yaqob had married some years before a foreigner named Nazarena, by whom he had three sons, one of whom had died before the Battle of Gol. Nazarena sent her surviving sons to safety in exile: Cosmas, the older, went south and was not heard of again; the younger, Saga Krestos, went to the safety of the Kingdom of Sennar where he was treated well and came of age. When KingRabat proposed that Saga Krestos marry his daughter, Saga Krestos refused, and was forced to flee to another refuge, adopting Roman Catholicism while at Jerusalem. Eventually he found his way to Rome (1632), and eventually to Paris, where he was given lodgings by Cardinal Richelieu. Saga Krestos died of pleurisy in 1638 at the age of 38.
^ The date of this battle is taken from G.W.B. Huntingford, The historical geography of Ethiopia from the first century AD to 1704, (Oxford University Press: 1989), p. 158
Partly based on the narrative of E. A. Wallis Budge, A History of Ethiopia: Nubia and Abyssinia, 1928 (Oosterhout, the Netherlands: Anthropological Publications, 1970). The sections about Yaqob and his cousin Za Dengel cover pp. 375–383.
Susenyos - Malak Sagad III (Throne Name) 1606 to 1632
Susenyos (also Sissinios, as in Greek, Ge'ez ሱስንዮስ sūsinyōs; throne name Malak Sagad III, Ge'ez መልአክ ሰገድ, mal'ak sagad, Amh.mel'āk seged, "to whom the angel bows"; 1572 - 7 September 1632) was nəgusä nägäst (1606–1632) of Ethiopia. His father was Abeto (Prince) Fasilides, a grandson of Dawit II; as a result, while some authorities list him as a member of the Solomonic dynasty, others consider him, instead of his son, as the founder of the Gondarline of the dynasty (ultimately a subset, however, of the Solomonic dynasty).
Manuel de Almeida, a Portuguese Jesuit who lived in Ethiopia during Susenyos' reign, described him as "tall, with the features of a man of quality, large handsome eyes, pointed nose and an ample and well groomed beard. He was wearing a tunic of crimson velvet down to the knee, breeches of the Moorish style, a sash or girdle of many large pieces of fine gold, and an outer coat of damask of the same colour, like a capelhar" LifeAs a boy, a group of marauding Oromo captured him and his father, holding them captive for over a year until they were rescued by the DejazmachAssebo. Upon his rescue, he went to live with Queen Admas Mogasa, the mother of Sarsa Dengel and widow of Emperor Menas.
In 1590s, Susenyos was perceived as one of potential successors, as Emperor Sarsa Dengel's sons were very young. In order to eliminate him from the competition, Empress Maryam Sena had Susenyos exiled, but Susenyos managed to escape and find refuge amongst the Oromo. At the death of his one-time ally, Emperor Za Dengel, he was proclaimed his successor and returned to the realm, although the fight against Emperor Yaqob continued.
Susenyos became Emperor following the defeat of first Za Sellase, then Yaqob at the Battle of Gol in 1607, which was in southern Gojjam. After his defeat, Za Sellase became a supporter of Susenyos, but eventually fell out with Susenyos early in his reign, and was imprisoned on an amba in Guzamn. After a year, Za Sellase managed to escape and lived as a brigand for a year until he was killed by a peasant, who sent his head to the Emperor.
In 1608, a rebel appeared near Debre Bizen. Because the body of Yaqob had never been found after the Battle of Gol, there had been some doubt that the previous Emperor was truly dead, and apretender announced that he was the dead Emperor Yaqob. The pretender managed to disguise the fact he did not resemble Yaqob by keeping part of his face covered, claiming that he had suffered grievous wounds to his teeth and face from the battle. The governor of Tigray, Sela Krestos, eventually heard of the revolt, and not trusting the loyalty of a general levy of troops struck against the rebel with his own household and the descendants of the Portuguese soldiers who had followed Cristóvão da Gama (son of the legendary Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama) into Ethiopia. Despite defeating the rebels three different times, the pretender managed to escape each battle to hide in the mountains of Hamasien.
Meanwhile, Emperor Susenyos was preoccupied with raiding parties of the Oromo. An initial encounter with the Marawa Oromo near the upper course of the Reb River ended in a defeat for the Ethiopians; Susenyos rallied his men and made a second attack which scattered the Oromo. The Marawa allied with other Oromo, and the united force entered Begemder to avenge their defeat. Upon hearing of this, the Emperor responded by summoning his son-in-law Qegnazmach Julius and Kifla Krestos to join him with their troops, and defeated the raiders at Ebenat on 17 January 1608. According to James Bruce, the Royal Chronicle of Susenyos reports 12,000 Oromo were killed while only 400 on the Emperor's side were lost. With the Oromo threat dealt with, Susenyos now could turn his attention to Yaqob the pretender; he marched to Axum by way of the Lamalmo and Waldebba, where he was formally crowned Emperor 18 March 1608, in a ceremony described by João Gabriel, the captain of the Portuguese in Ethiopia. Despite this act legitimizing his rule, Susenyos had no luck capturing the pretender, and was forced to leave the task to his servant Amsala Krestos. Amsala Krestos induced two brothers who had joined the rebellion to assassinate Yaqob the pretender, who then sent the dead man's head to Susenyos. Without a scarf obscuring his features, writes Bruce, "it now appeared, that he had neither scars in his face, broken jaw, nor loss of teeth; but the covering was intending only to conceal the little resemblance he bore to king Jacob, slain, as we said before, at the battle of Lebart."
According to his Royal Chronicle, Susenyos made his power felt along his western frontier from Fazogli north to Suakin. Susenyos and CatholicismSusenyos' reign is perhaps best known as the brief period in Ethiopian history when Roman Catholic Christianity became the official religion. The Emperor became interested in Catholicism, in part due to Pedro Páez' persuasion, but also hoping for military help from Portugal and Spain (in union at the time of Susenyos's reign). Some decades earlier, in 1541, Cristóvão da Gama had led a military expedition to save the Ethiopian emperor Gelawdewos from the onslaught of Ahmed Gragn, a Muslim Imam who almost destroyed the existence of the Ethiopian state. Susenyos hoped to receive a new contingent of well-armed European soldiers, this time against the Oromo, who were ravaging his kingdom, and to help with the constant rebellions. Two letters of this diplomatic effort survive, which he entrusted to Páez to send to Europe: the one to the King of Portugal is dated 10 December 1607, while the other is to the Pope and dated 14 October of the same year; neither mention his conversion, but both ask for soldiers. He showed the Jesuit missionaries his favor by a number of land grants, most importantly those at Gorgora, located on a peninsula on the northern shore of Lake Tana.
In 1613, Susenyos sent a mission heading for Madrid and Rome, led by Fr. António Fernandes. The plan was to head south, in an attempt to reach Malindi, a port on the Indian Ocean in what isKenya today, hoping to break through the effective blockade that the Ottoman conquests had created around the Ethiopian empire by sailing all the way around the southern tip of Africa. However, they failed to reach Malindi, due to delays caused by local Christians hostile to the mission.
Susenyos at last announced his conversion to Catholicism in a public ceremony in 1622, and separated himself from all of his wives and concubines except for his first wife. However, the tolerant and sensitive Pedro Paez died soon afterwards, and he was replaced by Afonso Mendes, who arrived at Massawa on 24 January 1624. E.A. Wallis Budge has stated the commonly accepted opinion of this man, as being "rigid, uncompromising, narrow-minded, and intolerant." Strife and rebellions over the enforced changes began within days of Mendes' public ceremony in 1626, where he proclaimed the primacy of Rome and condemned local practices which included Saturday Sabbath and frequent fasts. Yet a number of Ethiopians did embrace the new faith: Richard Pankhurst reports 100,000 inhabitants of Dembiya and Wegera alone are said to have converted to Catholicism. The most serious response was launched by a triumvirate composed of his half-brother Yimena Krestos, a eunuch named Kefla Wahad, and his brother-in-law Julius. Susenyos avoided their first attempt to assassinate him at court, but while he was campaigning againstSennar they raised a revolt, calling to their side "all those who were friends to the Alexandrian faith". However, Susenyos had returned to Dembiya before the rebels expected, and quickly killed Julius. Yimena Krestos held out a while longer on Melka Amba in Gojjam, before Af Krestos captured him and brought him to Dankaz where Susenyos had his camp; here the Emperor's brother was tried and sentenced to banishment.
More revolts followed, some led by champions of the traditional Ethiopian Church. One revolt which resisted all of Susenyos' efforts to put down was by the Agaw in Lasta. Their first leader wasMelka Krestos, a distant member of the Solomonic dynasty, whom the Agaw had recruited. Susenyos' first campaign against them, which began in February 1629 with raising an army of 30,000 men in Gojjam, was defeated and his son-in-law Gebra Krestos slain. While Melka Krestos' master of horse was slain along with 4000 men not long after while pillaging Tigray, at the same time the men of Lasta made a successful raid out of their mountains into Susenyos' territory. When he attempted a second expedition against the rebels in Lasta, Susenyos found his men's morale so low that he was forced to allow them to observe one of the traditional Wednesday fasts—which brought an immediate reproach from the Catholic Patriarch. Although Susenyos eloquently defended himself, Bruce notes that "from this time, it plainly appears, that Socinios began to entertain ideas, at least of the church discipline and government, very opposite to those he had when he first embraced the Romish religion." Despite this concession to his troops, and despite the fact they reached Melka Krestos' headquarters, his forces fell to an ambush and Susenyos was forced to return to Dankaz with nothing to show for his effort.
Susenyos attempted one more campaign against the rebels, only to find his men mutinous. They saw no end to unrewarding expeditions to Lasta, and when at home confronted by the executions used to enforce Catholicism on Ethiopia. While expressing some skepticism at the mater, Bruce states the Royal Chronicle reports his son told the troops that if they were victorious in Lasta, the Emperor would restore the traditional Ethiopian practices. However as they marched behind Susenyos to Lasta, his scouts reported that Melka Krestos had descended from Lasta with 25,000 men, and were at hand. On 26 July 1631 the armies clashed; 8,000 of the rebels were dead and Melka Krestos had fled the field. Upon viewing the field of battle, Susenyos' son Fasilides is reported to have said,
These men, whom you see slaughtered on the ground, were neither Pagans nor Mahometans, at whose death we should rejoice -- they were Christians, lately your subjects and your countrymen, some of them your relations. This is not victory, which is gained over ourselves. In killing these, you drive the sword into your own entrails. How many men have you slaughtered? How many more have you to kill? We have become a proverb, even among the Pagans and Moors, for carrying on this war, and apostatizing, as they say, from the faith of our ancestors.Less than a year afterwards, on 14 June 1632 Susenyos made a declaration that those who would follow the Catholic faith were allowed to do so, but no one would be forced to do so any further. At this point, all Patriarch Mendes could do in response was to confirm that this was, indeed, the actual will of the Emperor, his protector. Catholic Ethiopia had come to an end SuccessionIn 1630, the Viceroy of Begemder, Sarsa Krestos, proclaimed Susenyos's son Fasilides emperor; Sarsa Krestos was promptly captured and hanged. Despite this, the two stayed on good terms.After announcing his act of toleration, Susenyos abdicated in favor of his son, Fasilides. He was buried at the church of Genneta Iyasus.
^ C.F. Beckingham and G.W.B. Huntingford, Some Records of Ethiopia, 1593-1646 (London: Hakluyt Society, 1954), p. 189. Beckingham and Huntingford gloss capelhar as a "kind of short mantle of Moorish origin."
^ James Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1805 edition), vol. 3, pp. 287-289
Fasilides was proclaimed Emperor in 1630 during a revolt led by Sarsa Krestos, but did not actually reach the throne until his father abdicated in 1632. Once he became Emperor, Fasilides immediately restored the official status of the traditional Ethiopian Orthodox Church. He sent for a new abunafrom the Patriarch of Alexandria, restoring the ancient relationship that had been allowed to lapse. He confiscated the lands of the Jesuits at Dankazand elsewhere in the empire, relegating them to Fremona. When he heard that the Portuguese bombarded Mombasa, Fasilides assumed that Afonso Mendes, the Roman Catholicprelate, was behind the act, and banished the remaining Jesuits from his lands. Mendes and most of his followers made their way back to Goa, being robbed or imprisoned several times on the way. In 1665, he ordered the "Books of the Franks" -- the remaining religious writings of the Catholics—burnt.
He is commonly credited with founding the city of Gondar in 1636, establishing it as Ethiopia's capital. Whether or not a community existed here before he made it his capital is unknown. Amongst the buildings he had constructed there are the beginnings of the complex later known as Fasil Ghebbi, as well as some of the earliest of Gondar's fabled 44 churches: Adababay Iyasus, Adababay Tekle Haymanot, Atatami Mikael, Gimjabet Maryam, Fit Mikael, and Fit Abbo. He is also credited with building seven stone bridges in Ethiopia; as a result all old bridges in Ethiopia are often commonly believed to be his work.
The rebellion of the Agaw in Lasta, which had begun under his father, continued into his reign and for the rest of his reign he made regular punitive expeditions into Lasta. The first, in 1637 went badly, for at the Battle of Libo his men panicked before the Agaw assault and their leader, Melka Kristos, entered Fasilides' palace and took the throne for himself. Fasilides quickly recovered and sent for help to Qegnazmach Dimmo, governor ofSemien, and his brother Gelawdewos, governor of Begemder. These marched on Melka Kristos, who was still at Libo, where he was killed and his men defeated. The next year Fasilides marched into Lasta; according to James Bruce, the Agaw retreated to their mountain strongholds, and "almost the whole army perished amidst the mountains; great part from famine, but a greater still from cold, a very remarkable circumstance in these latitudes."
In 1666, after his son Dawit rebelled, Fasilides had incarcerated at Wehni, reviving the ancient practice of confining troublesome members of the Imperial family to a mountaintop, as they had once been confined at Amba Geshen.
Fasilides died at Azazo, five miles south of Gondar, and his body was interred at St. Stephen's, a monastery on Daga Island in Lake Tana. When Nathaniel T. Kenney was shown Fasilides' remains, he saw a smaller mummy also shared the coffin. A monk told Kenney that it was Fasilides' seven-year-old son Isur, who had been smothered in a crush of people who had come to pay the new king homage.
^ See the discussion in Solomon Getamun, History of the City of Gondar (Africa World Press, 2005), pp.1-4
Yohannes was appointed nəgusä nägäst by a council of the senior dignitaries of the Empire, at the encouragement of the noble Blattengeta Malka Krestos. The council then imprisoned the other sons of Fasilides on Mount Wehni, continuing the practice Fasilides had revived.
According to G.W.B. Huntingford, Yohannes spent much of his reign campaigning, stating that 6 of the 11 itineraries he reproduces were military expeditions. Three of these were against the Agaw in Gojjam, and Agawmeder, one against the Oromo, and two punitive expeditions to the area around Mount Ashgwagwa -- Angot and Lasta -- to quash the revolts of Feres (in 1677) and Za Maryam (1679). Emperor Yohannes died on 19 July and was buried at Teda.
Religion under Yohannes Due to the violent religious controversy that Catholic missionaries had caused in Ethiopia under the reign of his grandfather Susenyos, he acted harshly towards Europeans. In 1669, he directed Gerazmach Mikael to expel all of the Catholics still living in Ethiopia; those who did not embrace the beliefs of the Ethiopian Church were exiled to Sennar. Six Franciscans sent by Pope Alexander VII to succeed in converting Ethiopia to Catholicism where the Jesuits had failed 30 years before, were executed during his reign. As a result, he favored Armenian visitors, whose beliefs also embracedMiaphysitism, and were in harmony with the Ethiopian Church. These included one Murad, who undertook a number of diplomatic missions for the Emperor; and in 1679, the Emperor Yohannes received the Armenian bishop Yohannes, bearing a relic of Ewostatewos.
The growing controversy over the nature of Christ had grown severe enough that in the last year of his reign Yohannes called a synod to resolve the dispute. The Ewostathian monks of Gojjam advocated the formula "Through Unction Christ the Son was consubstantial with the Father", by which they came to be known as the Qebat ("Unction") faction, who were supported by the Emperor's own son Iyasu; they were opposed by the monks ofDebre Libanos, who at that time still advocated traditional Miaphysitism. The outcome of the synod is in dispute: according to E.A. Wallis-Budge andH. Weld Blundell, Emperor Yohannes was convinced to condemn the Qebat doctrine, which led to Iyasu attempting to flee his father's realm; but according to Crummey, Yohannes favored the Gojjame delegation for political reasons: at the time Gojjam was an important province. These decisions were revisited once Iyasu became Emperor, at a synod he called in 1686.
^James Bruce wrote that Yohannes ruled between 1665 - 1680, but E. A. Wallis Budge showed this was an error by identifying an eclipse seen in Ethiopia during his reign with one calculated to have occurred on 4 November 1668 (E.A. Wallis Budge, A History of Ethiopia: Nubia and Abyssinia, 1928 [Oosterhout, the Netherlands: Anthropological Publications, 1970], p. 408).
^ G.W.B. Huntingford, The historical geography of Ethiopia from the first century AD to 1704, (Oxford University Press: 1989), pp. 187-200
^ James Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1805 edition), vol. 3, p. 447
^ Budge, pp. 406f, 410f; H. Weld Blundell, The Royal chronicle of Abyssinia, 1769-1840 (Cambridge: University Press, 1922, p. 525; Donald Crummey, Priests and Politicians, 1972 (Hollywood: Tsehai, 2007), p. 22.
Iyasu I (Iyasu the Great) - Adyam Sagad II (Throne Name) 19 July 1682 to 13 October 1706
Iyasu I (or Joshua I, Ge'ez ኢያሱ ), also known as Iyasu the Great, was nəgusä nägäst (throne name Adyam Sagad, Ge'ez አድያም ሰገድ, "to whom the confines of the earth bow") (19 July 1682 - 13 October 1706) of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the son of Yohannes I and Empress Sabla Wangel.
According to G.W.B Huntingford, Iyasu "owed his reputation partly to the mildness of his character, exemplified in his treatment of the princes on Wehniin his first year, and his attention to religious matters, and partly to his abdication, retirement, and murder."
He was serving as governor of Gojjam when his father Yohannes summoned him and made him heir at the age of 20. (However, he did not have himself crowned until 1693.) During the first year of his reign he attended to his brothers and other relatives imprisoned on Wehni, a moment recorded by James Bruce who describes how the Emperor replaced their rags with proper clothing and furnished the starving royals with a banquet.
LifeHis reign is noteworthy for the attention he devoted to administration, holding a large number of councils to settle theological and ecclesiastical matters (the first in 1684, in the public square ofGondar), matters of state, and to proclaim laws. In 1698, Iyasu undertook a number of reforms, affecting customs and taxation, which encouraged trade.
In the second year of his reign, he confronted an invasion of the Yejju and Wollo Oromo into Amhara, defeating them at Melka Shimfa. After Qegnazmach Wale of Damot and Tabdan the Hermit proclaimed Yeshaq emperor in his fourth year (1685), Iyasu quickly suppressed this revolt, and captured Yeshaq, then waited a year before marching beyond southern Gojjam in a punitive expedition against the Agaws who had supported the rebels.
It was during his reign that individual Oromo first found service in the Imperial court. His Royal Chronicle recounts how when the OttomanNaib of Massawa attempted to levy a tax on Iyasu's goods that had landed at Massawa, he responded with a blockade of that island city until the Naib relented.
Solomon Getahun observes that "unlike his immediate predecessors, Iyasu's tenure was noted for endeavors to establish diplomatic ties with Christian monarchies like Louis XIV of France and Ethiopian delegates had been sent to foreign countries." Solomon notes that one of the benefits of these efforts to reach out to other countries was that Emperor Iyasu received a bell from the Dutch governor in India, which was then donated to Debre Berhan Selassie Church in Gondar.
This also led to the visit by a French physician, Charles Poncet, who travelled to the Empire to treat Iyasu and one of his sons. Poncet arrived at Gondar 21 July 1699, and stayed until September 1700. Poncet published an account of his visit in Paris in 1704, which included his personal impression of Iyasu the Great:
Althou' he be not above one and forty years old, yet he has already a numerous issue. He has eight princes and three princesses. The Emperor has great qualities -- a quick and piercing wit [i.e. intelligence], a sweet and affable humour, and the stature of a hero. He is the handsomest man I have seen in Aethiopia. He is a lover of curious arts and sciences; but his chief passion is for war. He is brave and undaunted in battles, and always at the head of his troops. He has an extraordinary love for justice, which he administers to his subjects with great exactness; but whereas he is averse to blood, 'tis not without reluctance that he condemns a criminal [to death]. Such eminent qualities make him equally fear'd and belov'd by his subjects, who respect him even to adoration.While he was campaigning in Gojjam against the Oromo, Iyasu learned that his favorite concubine, Kedeste Kristos, had died. Striken with grief, he retired to an island in Lake Tana. Supported by Empress Malakotawit, some of the officials argued, after the precedent of king Kaleb that he had abdicated, and crowned his son Tekle Haymanot Emperor. According to some accounts, this was not Iyasus' intent, and he marched from his hermitage in Lake Tana towards to Gondar to protest this; in any case, during this time he fell sick and was assassinated at Tekle Haymanot's orders. Iyasu's death caused much distress in the capital, especially amongst the priests of Debre Berhan Selassie, who openly displayed his gifts to them, and mourned their dead monarch for a month. Bruce writes that Iyasu was buried on Mitraha Island, where he was shown Iyasu's body interred amongst "the bodies of all his ancestors".
Once his brother Tewoflos became Emperor, he initiated Iyasu's canonization.
^ G.W.B Huntingford, The Historical Geography of Ethiopia (London: The British Academy, 1989), p.201.
^ James Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1805 edition), vol. 3, pp. 449-451
^ Translated in part by Richard K. P. Pankhurst in The Ethiopian Royal Chronicles. Addis Ababa: Oxford University Press, 1967.
^ Solomon Getahun, History of the City of Gondar (Trenton: Red Sea Press, 2005), p. 7
^ William Foster, editor, The Red Sea and Adjacent Countries (London, Hakluyt Society, 1949), pp. 130f. The translation is an anonymous work printed in 1709; glosses appearing in square brackets are by Foster.
^ Richard P.K. Pankhurst, History of Ethiopian Towns (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1982), pp. 142f
Tekle Haymanot I - Le`al Sagad (Throne Name) 27 March 1706 to 30 June 1708
Tekle Haymanot I (Ge'ez ተክለ ሃይማኖት, "Plant of religion," throne name Le`al SagadGe'ez ለዓለ ሰገድ, "to whom the exalted bows") was nəgusä nägäst (27 March 1706 - 30 June 1708) of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the son of Iyasu I and Empress Malakotawit. He is often referred to as "Irgum Tekle Haymanot" or "Tekle Haymanot the Cursed"
Tekle Haymanot became Emperor following Iyasus' retirement to an island in Lake Tana. With the support of his mother Empress Malakotawit, some of the officials argued, after the precedent of king Kaleb, that Iyasu had abdicated, and crowned Tekle Haymanot nəgusä nägäst in Gondar. This act was not embraced by the entire state, and the resulting civil strife led to Iyasu's murder at the order of his son Tekle Haymanot.
In September, 1707, a rebel in Gojjam declared himself nəgusä nägäst under the name Amda Seyon, and made his way to the capital city, where he had himself crowned. Tekle Haymanot quickly returned to Gondar, despite the difficulty of travel during the rainy season, forced the usurper to flee, and celebrated his triumph. Amda Seyon was later killed in battle in Maitsa. However his unpopularity for having ordered the murder of his widely revered father was profound and he never overcame it. The involvement of his mother Melekotawit, and the acceptance of his position by other members of the dynasty did irreparable harm to the image of the monarchy. His own courtiers plotted against him, and discussions abounded about whether it was worthy to keep such a corrupt dynasty in power.
While travelling in the provinces, Tekle Haymanot was stabbed to death by some of his late father's courtiers.
Some historians date the beginning of the Ethiopian Zemene Mesafint or "Era of the Princes" (a time of disorder when the power of the monarchy was eclipsed by the power of local warlords) the murder of Iyasu the Great by his son Tekle Haymanot, and the resultant decline in the prestige of the dynasty. Notes
^ E.A. Wallis Budge, A History of Ethiopia: Nubia and Abyssinia (1928) (Oosterhout, the Netherlands: Anthropological Publications, 1970), pp. 425f
^ Pankhurst, Richard K. P. (1982). History of Ethiopian Towns. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag. James Bruce on the other hand states that Tekle Haymanot was murdered while hunting by two former courtiers of his father. (Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile [1805 edition], vol. 4 pp. 14f.)
Following the murder of his nephew Tekle Haymanot I, Tewoflos was brought out of captivity at Mount Wehni and made Emperor. At first he faced a rival in the person of the four-year-old son of his nephew, who was supported by the Master of Horse Yohannes and Empress Malakotawit. However, Tewoflos moved quickly by having Yohannes, and several other non-royals accused of aiding in the murder of Tekle Haymanot, arrested then sent into exile..
According to James Bruce, at first he behaved as if he would not seek vengeance on those thought responsible for the death of his brother Iyasu; but this was a deception, and once this party relaxed their guard he acted. He accused his late nephew Emperor Tekle Haymanot of regicide and patricide, and Tekle Haymanot has been known as Irgum ("Cursed") ever since. Empress Malakotawit was publicly hanged, while her two brothers were speared to death; Bruce states that in one afternoon a total of 37 persons were executed. Not long afterwards he decided to move against all regicides, and ordered that all who had taken part in the plot that led to the death of his brother Iyasu I be found and executed.
Tewoflos also initiated the canonization of his brother Iyasu I.
His reign was an unquiet one. In 1709, Nebahne Yohannes was proclaimed nəgusä nägäst in a revolt that lasted until July of 1710. Tewoflos also found himself compelled to support the doctrine known as Wold Qib; when the monks of Debre Libanos asked the Emperor why he embraced the belief they opposed, he reportedly told them, "It is not because I hate you, but so that Gojjam will be subject to me."
Tewflos died under suspicious circumstances. He was buried at Teda.
^ Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1805 edition), vol. 4 pp. 15, 16
^ Bruce, Travels, vol. 4 pp. 16f. Another source claims only one of Malakotawit's brothers was speared to death, while the other was hanged.
^ Donald Crummey, Priests and Politicians, 1972 (Hollywood: Tsehai, 2007), p. 22
Nebahne Yohannes 1709 to July 1710 - A rebel
Paragraph. Fai clic qui per effettuare modifiche.
Yostos (Justus) - Sahay Sagad (Throne Name) 14 October 1711 to 19 February 1716 Not of the Solomonic dynasty; overthrew Tewoflos.
Yostos or Justus (Ge'ez ዮስቶስ, throne name Tsehay SagadGe'ez ፀሓይ ሰገድ, "to whom the sun bows") was nəgusä nägäst (14 October 1711 - 19 February 1716) of Ethiopia.
According to James Bruce, he was the son of Delba Iyasu and a daughter of Emperor Iyasu I. He had served as governor of Samien under Emperor Tekle Haymanot, but fell out of favor under Emperor Tewoflos -- despite it was Yostos who, immediately after the assassination of Emperor Tekle Haymanot travelled to Mount Wehni and brought Tewoflos down.
According to Richard Pankhurst, on the death of Tewoflos, the chief nobles of Ethiopia feared that the cycle of vengeance that had characterized the reigns of the previous two rulers would continue if a member of the Solomonic dynasty were picked for the throne, so they selected one of their own to be nəgusä nägäst. However Yostos encountered many challenges to his authority, and was forced to remain in the capital of Gondar for his entire reign, leaving the city only to hunt. After a few years, the political situation stabilized enough for him to construct two new churches in Gondar, Ledata ("Birth of the Virgin Mary") in 1713, and Abba Antons ("Father Anthony") in 1715.
Bruce notes that Yostos faced a conspiracy to depose him shortly after taking the throne: while he was away from Gondar on a hunt, a group of men he had entrusted his government to had planned to overthrow him. Yostos, with a body of picked men, returned to his capital at night and surprised them sitting in council. His chief minister, Ras Hezekias, and his Master of his Household, Heraclides, along with five others, had their nose and ears cut off then thrown into prison. One of the chief conspirators, Benaia Basile, however managed to escape, having been warned of Yostos' sudden return, but was later caught and punished.
The following year Yostos led a slave-raiding expedition against one of the peoples, once collectively referred to as the Shangalla, who lived along the western border of his kingdom, specifically the people known as the Baasa. These he surprised, slaying the adults and taking their children captive. Yostos had his expedition brought to an end after this first predation when the death of his confident Ras Fasa Krestos.
In January 1716 Yostos grew ill, and according to his Royal Chronicles withdrew from public life. Bruce provides more information: while supervising the work on the Abba Antons church Yostos "was taken suddenly ill, and, suspecting some unwholesomeness or witchcraft in his palace, ordered his tent to be pitched without the town until his apartments should be smoked with gunpowder." However, the fumigation accidentally burned down part of the palace, which was seen as a "very bad omen". Yostos, still unwell, took up residence in another part of the Royal Enclosure, but fear that he would make his son Fasil heir to the throne led to a battle between his courtiers (who wanted the ailing Emperor to proclaim an heir) and the Imperial Guard (who were loyal to the Solomonic dynasty). Victorious, the Imperial Guard proclaimed Dawit III Emperor 30 January. Meanwhile, Emperor Yostos was still alive in the palace, forgotten in his sick bed until his death. He was given a respectful burial in Ledata church.
^ James Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1805 edition), vol. 4 p. 23
Dawit III - Adabar Sagad (Throne Name) 8 February 1716 to 18 May 1721
Dawit III (Ge'ez ዳዊት, throne name Adbar SagadGe'ez አድባር ሰገድ, "to whom the mountains bow"), also known as Dawit the Singer, was nəgusä nägäst (8 February 1716 - 18 May 1721) ofEthiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the son of Iyasu I and his concubine Kedeste Krestos.
The second was when three Capuchin missionaries entered Ethiopia without Imperial permission, were tried by an ecclesiastical council, found to be heretics, and together with a child who accompanied them were stoned to death at Mount Abbo just east of Gondar.
The third was a synod of the Ethiopian Church, presided over by Emperor Dawit, concerning Christology disputed between the monks of the House of Ewostatewos in Gojjam and the monks ofDebre Libanos, and where the Emperor sided with the Ewostathians. The monks of Debre Libanos then demonstrated against the results of the council, irritating Emperor Dawit to the point he sent a party of pagan Oromo from his Guard to slaughter them.
Dawit was also known for his patronage of Amharic folk songs, building an amusement hall in the Royal Enclosure where he could hear ministrels perform, for which he was known as "Dawit the Singer". However, this epithet has a connotation of "playboy, which Donald Levine writes "was not deserved". "Knowledgeable Gondares today insist that, at first, even the priests were happy to join him in the amusement hall to listen to the one-string fiddles and the witty songs." Only after the conclusion of the Synod of Gondar, did the priests begin to besmirch his name.
Dawit fell ill shortly after this synod, and died under mysterious circumstances. His courtiers and a Muslim apothecary were accused of poisoning him and executed.
^ James Bruce dates the arrival of the new Abuna to 3 November. (Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1805 edition), vol. 4 pp. 59, 68.)
^ E. A. Wallis Budge, A History of Ethiopia: Nubia and Abyssinia, 1928 (Oosterhout, the Netherlands: Anthropological Publications, 1970), pp. 440f.
^ Donald Crummey, Priests and Politicians, 1972 (Hollywood: Tsehai, 2007), p. 22
^ Richard P.K. Pankhurst, History of Ethiopian Towns (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1982), pp. 146f.
^ Donald N. Levine, Wax and Gold: Tradition and Innovation in Ethiopian Culture (Chicago: University Press, 1965), p. 26
^ Pankhurst, Ethiopian Towns, p. 147. However, Paul B. Henze (Layers of Time, p. 104) accepts these reports as the truth.
Bakaffa - Asma Sagad or Masih Sagad (Throne Name) 18 May 1721 to 1730
James Bruce describes Bakaffa as faced with the increasing enfeeblement of the Ethiopian Empire as well as growing intrigue and conspiracies. To respond to these challenges, writes Bruce, Bakaffa was "silent, secret, and unfathomable in his designs, surrounded by soldiers who were his own slaves, and by new men of his own creation." In writing his account of this Emperor's reign, Bruce claims that at the time of his writing no Royal Chronicle of his reign existed, because it "would have been a very dangerous book to have been kept in Bacuffa's time; and, accordingly, no person chose ever to run that risk; and the king's particular behaviour afterwards had still the further effect, that nobody would supply this deficiency after his death, a general belief prevailing in Abyssinia that he is alive to this day, and will appear again in all his terrors." As a result, Bruce's account of Bakaffa's reign consists of a collection of impressionistic vignettes of selected events—his travels through Ethiopia in disguise, his feigned death, his first meetings with people who were to play an important role during his rule—which support this portrait. In contrast, editor of the 1805 publication of Bruce's work, Alexander Murray, excised all but the first two paragraphs of his chapter on this ruler and replaced it with a summary of a chronicle of the reign, stating that "the annals of this period are very complete, the public transactions of Bacuffa are well known, though his motives seldom escaped from his own impenetrable breast."
His LifeBakaffa spent his childhood confined on Wehni, but during the unrest in the last year of Emperor Yostos' reign he escaped to live with the Oromo; when he was recaptured, part of his nose was cut off as punishment, with the intent of disqualifying him for the throne. Nevertheless, upon the death of his brother Emperor Dawit III, he was selected to succeed him against the wishes of a sizable group backing Welde Giyorgis, the son of Nagala Mammit.
While his reign was broken by few wars, Donald Levine observes that he "spent his days breaking the power of the feudal lords and strengthening the hand of the monarchy." However, Paul B. Henze believes that "his most valuable contribution to his capital and his country was his second wife, Mentewab ('How Beautiful!')".
Bakaffa also added new buildings to the capital city of Gondar. He and Mentewab built the last new buildings in the Royal Enclosure at the capital. He also devoted much of his rule travelling in disguise around his realm to seek out inequities to correct, acts which, according to Edward Ullendorff, "have long become part of Ethiopian folklore." It is believed that he met Empress Mentewab (his second wife) when he was on one of his frequent trips in disguise, and fell ill while visiting her home province of Qwara. He was put to bed in her father's house and she had nursed him during his illness, and upon his recovery, he had married her.
An enduring tragic mystery is that of the death of his first wife. The Emperor had crowned his previous wife in the palace, and she had proceeded to the banqueting hall to preside over her coronation banquet. After taking part in the meal, she suddenly took ill and died that very night. Rumors of poisoning were rife. His second wife, Mentewab arrived as the new Empress in Gondar to a court that was suspicious and full of intrigue and danger. That she was able to engineer her way to power and influence in such an environment is very impressive, not to mention the dominant role that she would seize upon her husband's death.
However, Bakaffa's reign at the time was not entirely happy. Fearful of the danger of insurrections against him, in 1727 he tested the attitude of his subjects by hiding in his palace for many days, with the result that the nobles and populace were alarmed. The governor of the city put a guard around the Imperial palace, at which point the crafty ruler emerged and rode to the church of Debre Berhan. While the unfortunate governor and several associates were executed the next day, Richard Pankhurst notes the public shared in this disaffection, quoting James Bruce that when rumor of Bakaffa's death circulated, "the joy was so great, so universal, that nobody attempted to conceal it"; and when he revealed that he was actually still alive,
There was no occasion to accuse the guilty. The whole court, and all stangers attending there upon business, fled, and spread a universal terror through the whole streets of Gondar. [...] What this sedition would have ended in, it is hard to know, had it not been for the immediate resolution of the king, who ordered a general pardon and amnesty to be proclaimed at the door of the palace.Notwithstanding this clemency, Bakaffa later was quoted as remarking that although he loved the inhabitants of Gondar, they only responded with hate.
A marvel of his reign, recorded in his Royal Chronicle, was the construction of a new kind of boat on Lake Tana in 1726 by two foreigners from Egypt, Demetros and Giyorgis, unlike the traditional ones built from reeds.
^Edward Ullendorff, The Ethiopians: An Introduction to Country and People, second edition (London: Oxford Press, 1965), p. 81
^ Bruce, Travels to Discover (1790 edition), vol. 2 pp. 601f
^ Translated in part by Richard K.P. Pankhurst in The Ethiopian Royal Chronicles (Addis Ababa: Oxford University Press, 1967).
Iyasu II (Joshua II) - `Alem Sagad (Throne Name) 19 September 1730 to 26 June 1755
Iyasu II or Joshua II (Ge'ez ኢያሱ; 21 October 1723 – 27 June 1755) was nəgusä nägäst (throne name Alem Sagad, Ge'ez ዓለም ሰገድ ʿAläm Sägäd, "to whom the world bows") (19 September 1730 – 27 June 1755) of Ethiopia, and a member of the Gondar branch of Solomonic dynasty. He was the son of Emperor Bakaffa and Empress Mentewab (also known by her Baptismal name of Welete Giyorgis).
The Empress Mentewab played a major role in Iyasu's reign, perhaps against her will. Shortly after he was proclaimed Emperor, a rival claimant assaulted the Royal Enclosure for eight days, only leaving the capital Gondar when an army of 30,000 from Gojjam appeared. Although the rebels failed to penetrate its walls, nonetheless much of Gondar was left in ruins. Instead of taking the title of regent upon the succession of her underage son, Empress Mentewab had herself crowned as co-ruler, becoming the first woman to be crowned in this manner in Ethiopian history. Empress Mentewab wielded significant authority throughout the reign of her son, and well into the reign of her grandson as well.
ReignDuring Iyasu II's reign, a CzechFranciscanRemedius Prutky visited his kingdom, and engaged Iyasu in talks about religion and European politics. Although he and his two companions were popular because of their medical skills, Prutky and his Catholic companion were asked to leave because of complaints from the local clergy after a year.
Despite Mentewab's counsel, Iyasu proved to be an ineffectual monarch. According to Paul Henze, Iyasu "came under criticism for devoting too much time to pleasure (he loved hunting) and for spending too many resources on embellishing the capital, paying foreign workmen, and importing luxury goods, ornaments and mirrors from Europe." Prutky, on the other hand blamed Iyasu's constrained revenues to the actions of his mother Mentewab: "Since the youthful emperor Jasu had only reached the age of eight when he ascended the throne, his mother the Queen divided out the provinces among the chief ministers in such a way that, at the time of my sojourn there, the Emperor, now over thirty years of age, saw his treasury diminished and scarcely enough for his ordinary expenses." Prutky adds that during the year Prutky was in Ethiopia (1752), the emperor was engaged in a struggle with his own sister over the revenues from Gojjam.
In a bid to gain the respect of his subjects, the Emperor Iyasu engaged in a campaign against the Kingdom of Sennar, which ended in defeat at the Battle of the Dindar River in 1738; an icon of Christ and a piece of the True Cross carried into battle were captured, and had to be ransomed for 8,000 ounces of gold. This defeat decisively ended any hope by Iyasu to prove himself competent in military affairs; as Donald Levine writes, "The subsequent subdual of Lasta, a rebel region for generations, and Iyasu's raids against tribes in the Atbara district were not sufficient to redeem that defeat or restore the force of Gondar."
During his reign two infestations of locusts afflicted the land, and an epidemic took the lives of thousands. When Abuna Krestodolos died, the treasury lacked money to pay for procurement of a new abuna. According to Edward Ullendorff, his authority "scarcely extended beyond Begemder and Gojjam; Shoa and Lasta acknowledged only a token allegiance, while in the Tigrai the long rule of the powerful RasMika'el had begun."
Emperor Iyasu also resented deeply the romantic liaison his mother entered into with a young member of the Imperial family. Empress Mentewab became involved with Iyasu, the son of her former sister-in-law Romanework, who was herself the sister of the late Emperor Bakaffa, and on her father's side descended in male line from another cadet line of the Solomonic dynasty. Mentewab's relationship with the much younger nephew of her late husband was considered a great scandal, and the young Prince was derisively referred to as "Melmal Iyasu", or "Iyasu the Kept". The Empress had three daughters by this Melmal Iyasu, one of whom was the beautiful Woizero Aster Iyasu who took Ras Mikael Sehul in 1769 as her third husband. Emperor Iyasu became very attached to his half-sisters, but was deeply resentful of their father. It is said that it was the Emperor himself that ordered the murder of his mother's lover by having him pushed from a cliff top near Lake Tana in 1742.
DeathIyasu fell seriously ill in May, 1755, and died the next month. It was generally believed that he had been poisoned by the sister of Melmal Iyasu, in revenge for her brother's death. When the Empress Mentewab sought funds from the treasury for his funeral, only a few dinars could be found. Saddened by this situation, she threatened to retire to her palace convent at Qusquam, but a group of nobles persuaded her to instead become regent for her grandson Iyoas I.References
^ 12 Teqemt 7216 Year of the World. Bosc-Tiessé, Claire, "'How Beautiful She Is!' in Her Mirror: Polysemic Images and Reflections of Power of an Eighteenth-Century Ethiopia Queen", Journal of Early Modern History, 2004, Vol. 8 Issue 3/4, p. 294
^Richard Pankhurst, "An Eighteenth Century Ethiopian Dynastic Marriage Contract between Empress Mentewwab of Gondar and Ras Mika'el Sehul of Tegre," in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 1979, p. 458.
^ Donald N. Levine, Wax and Gold: Tradition and Innovation in Ethiopian Culture (Chicago: University Press, 1965), p. 24. Details from Remedius Prutky's account in J.H. Arrowsmith-Brown (trans.),Prutky's Travels in Ethiopia and other Countries with notes by Richard Pankhurst (London: Hakluyt Society, 1991), pp. 173f
^ Paul B. Henze, Layers of Time (New York: Palgrave, 2000), p. 106