Emperor Menelik IIGCB, GCMG, (Ge'ez ምኒልክ) baptized as Sahle Maryam (17 August 1844 – 12 December 1913), was Negus[nb 1]of Shewa (1866–89), then Nəgusä Nägäst of Ethiopia from 1889 to his death. At the height of his internal power and external prestige, the process of territorial expansion and creation of the modern empire-state had been completed by 1898. Ethiopia was transformed under Nəgusä Nägäst Menelik: the major signposts of modernization were put in place. Externally, his victory over the Italians colonists had earned him great fame: following Adwa, recognition of Ethiopia’s independence by external powers was expressed in terms of diplomatic representation at the court of Menelik and delineation of Ethiopia’s boundaries with the adjacent colonies. Menelik II is considered an African icon and one of the most powerful black persons in history.
Abeto Menelik (Sahle Maryam) was born in Angolela, near Debre Birhan, Shewa. He was the son of NegusHaile Melekot of Shewa andWoizero[nb 3]Ijigayehu. Woizero Ijigayehu was a lady in the household of Haile Melekot's grandmother, the formidable Woizero Zenebework, widow of Merid Azmatch Wossen Seged, and mother of King Sahle Selassie of Shewa. Most sources indicate that while no marriage took place between Haile Melekot and Woizero Ijigayehu, Sahle Selassie ordered his grandson legitimized.
Prior to his death in 1855, Negus Haile Melekot named Menelik as successor to the throne of Shewa. Shortly after Haile Melekot died, Menelik was taken prisoner by Nəgusä NägästTewodros II. Following Nəgusä Nägäst Tewodros II's conquest of Shewa, he had young Sahle Maryam transferred to his mountain stronghold of Magdala. Still, Tewodros treated the young prince well. He even offered him the hand of his daughter Altash Tewodros in marriage, which Menelik accepted.
Upon Menelik's imprisonment, his uncle, Haile Mikael, was appointed as Shum[nb 4] of Shewa by Nəgusä Nägäst Tewodros II with the title of Meridazmach[nb 5]. However, Meridazmach Haile Mikael rebelled against Tewodros, resulting in his being replaced by the non-royal Ato[nb 6]Bezabeh as Shum. However, Ato Bezabeh in turn then rebelled against the Emperor and proclaimed himself Negus of Shewa. Although the Shewan royals imprisoned at Magdala had been largely complacent as long as a member of their family ruled over Shewa, this usurpation by a commoner was not palatable to them. They plotted the escape of Menelik from Magdala; with the help ofMohammed Ali and Queen Worqitu of Wollo, he escaped from Magdala the night of 1 July 1865, abandoning his wife, and returned to Shewa. Enraged, Emperor Tewodros slaughtered 29 Oromo hostages then had 12 Amhara notables beaten to death with bamboo rods.
King of Shewa
Bezabeh's attempt to raise an army against Menelik failed miserably; thousands of Shewans rallied to the flag of the son of NegusHaile Melekot and even Bezabeh's own soldiers deserted him for the returning prince. Abeto Menelik entered Ankober and proclaimed himself Negus. While Negus Menelik reclaimed his ancestral Shewan crown, he also laid claim to the Imperial throne, as a direct descendant male line of Nəgusä NägästLebna Dengel. However, he made no overt attempt to assert this claim during this time; Marcus interprets his lack of decisive action not only to Menelik's lack of confidence and experience, but that "he was emotionally incapable of helping to destroy the man who had treated him as a son." Not wishing to take part in the 1868 Expedition to Abyssinia, he allowed his rival Kassai to benefit with gifts of modern weapons and supplies from the British. Afterwards other challenges—a revolt amongst the Wollo to the north, the intrigues of his next wife Baffana to replace him with her choice of ruler, military failures against the Arsi Oromo to the south east—kept Menelik from directly confronting Kassai until after his rival had brought an Abuna from Egypt who crowned him Nəgusä NägästYohannes IV.
Submission to Yohannes
Eventually Menelik acquiesced to the superior position of Yohannes and, on 20 March 1878, Menelik "approached Yohannes on foot. He was carrying a rock on his neck and his face was down in the traditional form of submission. However, very aware of how precarious his own position was, Yohannes recognized Menelik as Negus of Shewa and gave him numerous presents which included four cannons, several hundred modern Remington rifles, and ammunition for both.
On 10 March 1889, Emperor Yohannes was killed in a war against the dervishes during the Battle of Gallabat (Matemma). With his dying breaths, Yohannes declared his natural son, DejazmachMengesha Yohannes, as his heir. On 25 March, upon hearing of the death of Yohannes, Negus Menelik immediately proclaimed himself as Nəgusä Nägäst.
The succession now lay between Mengesha Yohannes of Tigray and Menelik of Shewa. Menelek argued that while the family of Yohannes IV claimed descent from King Solomonand the Queen of Sheba through females of the dynasty, his own claim was based on uninterrupted direct male lineage which made the claims of the House of Shewa equal to those of the elder Gondar line of the dynasty. In the end, Menelik was able to obtain the allegiance of a large majority of the Ethiopian nobility. On 3 November 1889, Menelik was consecrated and crowned as Nəgusä Nägäst before a glittering crowd of dignitaries and clegy. He was crowned by AbunaMattewos, Bishop of Shewa, at the Church of Mary onMount Entoto.
The newly consecrated and crowned Nəgusä Nägäst Menelik II quickly toured the north in force. He received the submission of the local officials in Lasta, Yejju, Gojjam, Welo, and Begemder.
Menelik, and later his daughter Zauditu, would be the last Ethiopian monarchs who could claim uninterrupted direct male descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (bothLij Iyasu 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).
His reign as emperor
In April 1889, while claiming the throne against Mengesha Yohannes, Menelik reached at Wuchale (Uccialli in Italian) in Wollo province a treaty with Italy, putting the northern province of Eritrea temporarily under the Italian protection. Most of the highland area of this province was part of Abyssinian kingdoms for hundreds of years under the title of Medri-Bahri (Land of the Sea), consisting of the districts of Hamasien, Akele-Guzay, and Seraye. It was also referred to as Merab Melash, meaning the "Land Beyond the River". The river was the boundary that separated the two northern Abyssinian provinces; Medri-Bahri and Tigrai.
Menelik signed the Treaty of Wuchale with the Italians on May 2, 1889. Controversy soon emerged on the interpretation of article 17 of the treaty. While the Amharic text reads that Menelik could, if he wished, call upon the services of the Italian authorities in his communications with other powers, the Italian version made this obligatory, thereby making Eritrea in effect a protectorate of Italy. Emperor Menelik denounced it and demanded that the Italian version be changed. Negotiations failed, so Menelik renounced the treaty, leading Italy to declare war and invade from Eritrea. After defeating the Italians at Amba Alagi and Mekele, Menelik inflicted an even greater defeat on them, at Adwa on 1 March 1896, forcing them to capitulate. A treaty was signed at Addis Ababa recognizing the absolute sovereign independence of Ethiopia.
Menelik II can be named as father for modern Ethiopia. He was a russophile because he thought only Russia could be the main ally of his policy of integration of Ethiopia by reason of necessity to counteract the British colonial expansion and sabotage against integration, starting with the war against the British (1868 Expedition to Abyssinia, theft of Kebra Nagast and death of Tewodros II).
During the visit of a Russian diplomatic and military mission in 1893, Menelik II concluded a strong alliance with that country. As a result of that alliance, from 1893–1913, Russia sponsored the visits of thousands of advisers and volunteers to Ethiopia. Two friendships that evolved from these visits were friendships between Menelik II and Alexander Bulatovich and also between Menelek II andNikolay Gumilyov the great poet.[
Menelik had in 1898 crushed a rebellion by Ras Mengesha Yohannes (who died in 1906). He directed his efforts thenceforth to the consolidation of his authority, and in a certain degree, to the opening up of his country to western civilization. Menelik’s clemency to Ras Mangasha, whom he compelled to submit and then made hereditary Prince of his native Tigray, was ill repaid by a long series of revolts by that prince. Menelek focused much of his energy on development and modernization of his country after this threat to his throne was firmly ended. He had granted in 1894 a concession for the building of a railway to his capital from the French port of Djibouti but, alarmed by a claim made by France in 1902 to the control of the line in Ethiopian territory, he stopped for four years the extension of the railway beyond Dire Dawa. When in 1906 France, the United Kingdom and Italy came to an agreement on the subject, granting control to a joint venture corporation, Menelek officially reiterated his full sovereign rights over the whole of his empire.
Developments during Menelik's reign
Menelik II was fascinated by modernity, and like Tewodros II before him, had a keen ambition to introduce Western technological and administrative advances into Ethiopia. The Russian support for Ethiopia led to the advent of a Russian Red Cross mission. The Russian mission was a military mission conceived as medical support for the Ethiopian troops. It arrived in Addis Ababa some three months after Menilek's Adwa victory, and then the first hospital was created in Ethiopia. Following the rush by the major powers to establish diplomatic relations following the Ethiopian victory at Adwa, more and more westerners began to travel to Ethiopia looking for trade, farming, hunting and mineral exploration concessions. Menelik II founded the first modern bank in Ethiopia, the Bank of Abyssinia, introduced the first modern postal system, signed the agreement and initiated work that established the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway with the French, introduced electricity to Addis Ababa, as well as the telephone, telegraph, the motor car and modern plumbing. He attempted unsuccessfully to introduce coinage to replace the Maria Theresa thaler.
According to one persistent tale, Menelik heard about the modern method of executing criminals using electric chairs during the 1890s, and ordered 3 for his kingdom. When the chairs arrived, Menelik learnt they would not work, as Ethiopia did not yet have an electric power industry. Rather than waste his investment, Menelik used one of the chairs as his throne, sending another to his "second" (Lique Mekwas) Abate Ba-Yalew. Recent research, however, has cast significant doubt on this story, and suggested it was invented by a Canadian journalist during the 1930s.
During a particularly devastating famine caused by Rinderpest early in his reign, Menelik personally went out with a hand-held hoe to furrow the fields to show that there was no shame in plowing fields by hand without oxen, something Ethiopian highlanders had been too proud to consider previously. He also forgave taxes during this particularly severe famine.
Later in his reign, Menelik established the first Cabinet of Ministers to help in the administration of the Empire, appointing trusted and widely respected nobles and retainers to the first Ministries. These ministers would remain in place long after his death, serving in their posts through the brief reign of Lij Iyasu and into the reign of Empress Zauditu. They played a key role in deposing Lij Iyasu.
Private life and death
In 1864, Menelik married Altash Tewodros, whom he divorced in 1865; the marriage produced no children. In 1865, he married Befana Gatchew, whom he divorced in 1882; the marriage produced no children. Finally, in 1883, he married Taytu Betul, who remained his wife until his death. From 1906, for all intents and purposes, Taytu Betul ruled in Menelik's stead during his infirmity.
Woizero Altash Tewodros was a daughter of Emperor Tewodros II and the first wife of Menelik II. She and Menelik were married during the time that Menelik was held captive by Tewodros. The marriage ended when Menelik escaped captivity abandoning her. She was subsequently remarried to Dejazmatch Bariaw Paulos of Adwa.
Woizero Bafena Gatchew was married to Menelik for seventeen years from 1865 to 1882. Her brother was Zeka Gatchew, the first husband of Empress Taytu Betul. Woizero Bafena was implicated in a plot to overthrow Menelik when he was King of Shewa. She was widely suspected of being secretly in touch with Emperor Yohannes IV in her ambition to replace her husband on the Shewan throne with one of her sons from a previous marriage. With the failure of her plot, Woizero Bafena was separated from Menelik, but Menelik apparently was still deeply attached to her. An attempt at reconciliation failed, but when his relatives and courtiers suggested new young wives to the King, he would sadly say "You ask me to look at these women with the same eyes that once gazed upon Bafena?" Paying tribute both to his ex-wife's great beauty and his own continuing attachment to her.
Empress Taytu Betul was a noblewoman of Imperial blood and a member of one of the leading families of the regions of Semien, Yejju in modern Wollo, and Begemder. Her paternal uncle, DejazmatchWube Haile Maryam of Semien, had been the ruler of Tigray and much of northern Ethiopia. She had been married four times previously and exercised considerable influence. Taytu and Menelik were married in a full communion church service and thus fully canonical and insoluble, which Menelik had not had with either of his previous wives. Menelik and Taytu would have no children. Empress Taytu would become Empress consort upon her husband's succession, and would became the most powerful consort of an Ethiopian monarch since Empress Mentewab.
In 1886, Menelik married ten-year-old Zauditu to RasAraya Selassie Yohannes, the fifteen-year-old son of Emperor Yohannes IV. In May 1888, Ras Araya Selassie died. WoizeroShoaregga was first married to Dejazmatch Wodajo Gobena, the son of Ras Gobena Dachi. They would have a son, Abeto Wossen Seged Wodajo, but this grandson of Menelik II was eliminated from the succession due to dwarfism. In 1892, twenty-five-year-old Woizero Shoaregga was married for a second time to forty-two-year-old RasMikael of Wollo. They had two children, a daughter Woizero Zenebework, and Menelik's eventual successor, Lij[nb 9]Iyasu. Woizero Zenebework Mikael would evetually marry at age twelve, the much older Ras Bezabih Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam, and died in childbirth a year later. Abeto Asfa Wossen Menelik died when he was about fifteen-years-old. Only Shoagarad has present day descendants.
On 27 October 1909, Menelik II suffered a massive stroke and his "mind and spirit died". After that, Menelik was no longer able to reign, and the office was taken over by Empress Taytu. as de facto ruler, until Ras Bitwaddad Tesemma was publicly appointed regent. However, he died within a year, and a council of regency — from which the empress was excluded — was formed in March 1910.
In the early morning hours of 12 December 1913, Nəgusä Nägäst Menelik II died. He was buried quickly without announcement or ceremony at the Se'el Bet Kidane Meheret Church, on the grounds of the Imperial Palace. In 1916 Menelik II was reburied in the specially built church at Ba'eta Le Mariam Monastery of Addis Ababa.
After the death of Menelik II, the council of regency continued to rule Ethiopia. As described above, Lij Iyasu had been designated successor of Menelik II by Empress Taytu in May 1909 — however, the imperial Abyssinian rules of succession dictated that only a Christian could rule Ethiopia as Emperor, and Lij Iyasu had taken the Muslim faith. Therefore Lij Iyasu was never crowned Emperor of Ethiopia, and eventually Empress Zewditu I succeeded Menelik II on the 27 September 1916. She was his oldest daughter.
Iyasu V 12 December 1913 – 27 September 1916 Coronation: Never Crowned
Iyasu V (Ge'ez ኢያሱ፭ኛ, the Ethiopian version of Joshua), also known as Lij Iyasu (Ge'ez ልጅ ኢያሱ; 4 February 1895 – 25 November 1935) was the designated but uncrowned Emperor of Ethiopia (1913–16). His baptismal name was Kifle Yaqob. Because he was never crowned emperor, he is usually referred to as Lij Iyasu, "Lij" meaning child, especially one born of royal blood. His excommunication by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church prevented him from being referred to publicly as Iyasu V.
Late in his life, Emperor Menelek II of Ethiopia was confronted with the problem of his succession; if he did not explicitly name an heir before he died, the nation he had built would likely dissolve into civil war and be devoured by European colonial powers. He had four possible heirs. According to the traditional rules of succession, the next direct patrilineal descendant was the grandson of Menelik's uncle, DejazmachTaye Gulilat. His other three heirs were all in the female line. The first of these was his oldest grandson, DejazmachWosan Seged, son of his daughter Shoagarad Menelik by her first marriage to Wedadjo Gobena. The second heir of the female line was his younger grandson Lij Iyasu, son of Shoagarad and RasMikael. Finally, the third heir of the female line was Menelik's third daughter WoizeroZewditu, who was married to RasGugsa Welle, nephew of the Empress Taitu.
Menelik refused to consider Dejazmach Taye Gulilat whom he deeply disliked. Dejazmach Wosan Seged was eliminated from consideration due to dwarfism. In March 1908, at any rate, Wosan Seged was in poor health and dying of tuberculosis. It was clear that the aristocracy would not respect a woman as their leader, so Woizero Zewditu was also not seriously considered at this time. On 11 June 1908, after experiencing a stroke while on pilgrimage to Debre Libanos, Menelik informed his ministers that Lij Iyasu would succeed him. However, due to Iyasu's youth, Menelik agreed to the suggestion that he appoint a Regent (Enderase)[nb 2] during the minority of his heir apparent. Until Lij Iyasu came of age, the elder statesman Ras Tessema Nadew ' would be Regent Plenipotentiary(Balemulu 'Enderase).
Not long after his decision that Lij Iyasu would succeed him, Emperor Menelik succumbed to further strokes. These eventually left him a mere shell of his once-powerful self, and incapacitated until his death in 1913. During his last years, in a bid to retain power, Empress Taitu intrigued against his choice, intending to substitute either her step-daughter Leult Zewditu or her daughter's husband Ras Gugsa Welle (who happened to be Taitu's nephew) for Lij Iyasu. In response to Taitu's intriguing, a number of nobles organized in an ever-closer alliance against her. On 28 October 1909, after a massive stroke, Menelik's choice of Lij Iyasu as his heir was made public with RasBitwoeddedTessema Nadew as Enderase.
Enderase Tessema found his authority undermined not only by the still living but paralyzed Emperor Menelik, but also by the Empress. For example, she insisted that questions from the foreign legations in Addis Ababa be directed to her, not to Tessema. Furthermore, Tessema himself suffered from an illness, which left him appearing helpless and apathetic and would take his life within a year. It took acoup d'état engineered by a group of aristocrats and the head of the Imperial Bodyguard to convince Ras Tesemma and Habte Giyorgis to decisively limit the influence of the Empress. Despite these developments, the imperial government continued to falter: administrators were unwilling to make decisions because Tessema himself might be overthrown, and foreign affairs likewise suffered. Despite this, Harold Marcus notes that the presence of Tessema "did curb ministerial dissensions and intrigues and was a reminder of the existence of central authority."
With Tessema, Iyasu continued Menelik's program of modernization, including the establishment of the first police force in Addis Ababa. On 10 April 1911, Tessema Nadew died and, when the council met to appoint a successor as Enderase, Lij Iyasu demanded a role in the process. When asked whom he desired in the position, he is reported to have replied, "Myself!" On 11 May, the seal of Iyasu replaced that of his grandfather, although not with the style of Emperor.
Marcus describes Lij Iyasu's abilities as a ruler:
From the very beginning of his de facto reign, Lij Iyasu showed that he was not the stuff from which great monarchs were made. He was bright, but also impulsive, cruel, lascivious, prone to depressions and egocentricities, and politically inept. Despite his vision of an Ethiopia in which religion and ethnic affiliations made no difference in a man's political or private career, he had no clear comprehension of the power realities in the empire, nor of his own position as its ruler.
In the first year, he was faced with several serious challenges to his rule. On 31 May, Ras Abate attempted a coup d’état by seizing the arsenal and its modern weapons in the palace, but was eventually convinced to make a public submission in return for being allowed to depart for his estates in the southern provinces. On 14 July, an attempt was made to poison Iyasu. That same year Menelik's soldiers sent a delegation demanding back pay and regular supplies, which made clear that the government was on the brink of financial insolvency. Intelligence reached Iyasu's father, Ras Mikael, of another plot, and he arrived on 14 November in Addis Ababa with an army of 8,000 men. This was only the first of many efforts Ras Mikael made to keep his son on the Imperial throne. Mikael established a powerful position behind the scenes.
At this point, Lij Iyasu decided to leave the capital, ostensibly on a military expedition against the Afar, but he simply traveled through eastern Shewa and into Wollo, meeting with the common people. He had promised to return to Addis Ababa in May 1912, but instead visited Debre Libanos, then Addis Alem, before joining Dajazmach Kabbada's expedition into southwest Ethiopia. Here Lij Iyasu took part in a series of slave raids, in which 40,000 people of both sexes were captured, "half of whom died en route of smallpox,dysentery, hunger and fatigue."[ Marcus explains this constant journeying beyond the capital by his will "to prove that the government could not function without him and to force the ministers to authorize his immediate coronation." Once he finally returned to the capital, he came into conflict with the commander of the Imperial Bodyguard, which was eventually settled by the mediation of AbunaMattewos. The conflict began when Iyasu expressed his wish to the ministers that the incapacitated Emperor be removed from the Imperial Palace so that Iyasu himself could take up residence there. Trying to please the heir, the ministers asked for an audience with Empress Taitu and suggested that she take the Emperor to Ankober as a change of scene that might be beneficial for his health. Taitu had however been informed that Iyasu inteded on moving into the Imperial Palace and defiantly refused to move either herself or her husband from the Palace. Informed of this exchange, the commander of the Imperial Bodyguard swore that he would protect the Emperor in his palace with his life. Angrily, Iyasu ordered the palace complex surrounded by his soldiers and only allowed in enough food for the Emperor himself. With Iyasu's soldiers in a tense standoff with the Imperial guard, the situation deteriorated to the point that gunfire was exchanged, and the bedridden Emperor had to be moved to the cellars as his bedroom windows were shattered in the battle. Hearing the guns, the Archbishop rushed to the scene and arranged for a ceasefire. Empress Taitu then emerged from the palace to publicly berate Iyasu as an ungrateful child who wanted to kill his grandfather. She angrily declared that neither she nor the Emperor would be going anywhere and returned to her rooms. Iyasu was thwarted, but demanded vengeance against the commander of the Imperial Bodyguard. Although he had wanted him severely punished, he was convinced to accept a sentence of banishment from the capital. Iyasu indulged in a lavish celebration, which led the European diplomats to conclude "that he was purposely neglecting urgent business and impeding the ministers from carrying out their duties".
Lij Iyasu left the capital after little more than a month, and during this time engaged in a raid upon the Afar, who had reportedly massacred 300 of the Karayu Oromo at the village of Sadimalka on the Awash River. Unable to find the responsible parties, he made a punitive raid upon the general population which provoked a general uprising of the Afar. On 8 April, after repeated messages from his father to return to the capital, he finally did arrive at the city and managed to accomplish nothing. On 8 May, Iyasu left to meet his father inDessie.
On the night of 12–3 December 1913, the Emperor Menelik II finally died. Iyasu was informed of his grandfather's death, but insisted on continuing a mock battle game known as gugs and did not allow any form of public mourning. The Emperor's body was secretly locked away in a small room adjoining the Se'el Bet Kidane Meheret (Our Lady Covenant of Mercy) Church on the grounds of the Imperial Palace. No public announcement of the Emperor's death was made, and no requiem or any type of mourning ritual was allowed. Empress Taitu was immediately expelled from the Imperial Palace and sent to the old palace on Mt. Entoto. Lij Iyasu's aunt, Zewditu Menelik, was also removed from the palace and banished into internal exile at her estates at Falle. By mid-January, the news had slipped through the official wall of silence. On 10 January 1914, the leading nobles of Ethiopia had gathered to discuss their response to his loss and the future of Ethiopia. "Although no records of the 1914 meeting have come to the author's notice," Marcus admits, he states that "it is safe to conclude" that their arrival in Addis Ababa "indicated their fidelity to Menelik's heir." However, they opposed his immediate coronation, although they did approve of his proposal to crown his father "Negus of the North."
Lij Iyasu showed a pronounced lack of interest in the day to day running of the government, leaving most of the work for the ministers to deal with. However, the cabinet of ministers remained largely unchanged from the days of his grandfather, and by now the ministers wielded much power and influence. They were constantly subject to insults and disparagement by Lij Iyasu who referred to them as "my grandfather's fattened sheep."He constantly spoke of his intention of dismissing "these Shewans", as he called them, and appointing new officials and creating a new aristocracy of his own choosing. His essentially reformist orientation clashed with the conservatism of his grandfather's old ministers. As Paul Henze notes, Iyasu "seems deliberately to have antagonized the Shoan establishment. He lacked the diplomatic skill and the refined sense of discretion that came naturally to Tafari."
Iyasu's many capricious acts served only to further alienate the aristocracy. One was his betrothal of his royal-blooded cousin Woizero Sakamyelesh Seyfu to his former driver, Tilahun. Another was the appointment of his Syrian friend and crony Ydlibi to the position of Nagadras (Customs-Master) at the railway depot at Dire Dawa, thus controlling the vast tariff and customs that were collected there. All this, combined with his frequent absences from the capital, created the ideal environment for the ministers, led by FitawrariHabte Giyorgis, the Minister of War, to plot his downfall.
In February 1915, Iyasu travelled to Harar with Abdullahi Tsadeq, who had become his constant companion, and went to the largest mosque of the city for a three hour service. Throughout his stay in Harar he was friendly towards the Muslims, an act which worried the priests of Ethiopia; when he remained in this Muslim community over Easter, they were scandalized.
However, the foreign legations in Addis Ababa had been lobbying for him to join their sides in World War I. According to Marcus, many of the Ethiopian nobility and commoners were impressed by the early successes of the Central Powers, and both listened eagerly toGerman and Turkish propaganda concerning events. Both sides sought Ethiopian support: the Central Powers wanted the Ethiopians to drive the Italians out of Eritrea. Rumors circulated that, in return for Iyasu invading the Sudan with 50,000 soldiers, that he would be rewarded with the strategic port of Djibouti. At a minimum, the Allies sought to keep Ethiopia neutral. However, some reports indicate that Iyasu not only supported the Central Powers, he converted to Islam.
In August 1915, Iyasu went to French Somaliland in disguise, and without informing either the French diplomats in Addis Ababa or even the colonial government. There he spent two days in mysterious meetings. Although Marcus states that "What actually happened will not be known until information from the French archives becomes available," Fitawrari ("Commander of the Vanguard") Tekle Hawariat Tekle Mariyam, a fervent reformer and a onetime friend of Iyasu, states in his recently published autobiography that the Djibouti trip was something of a vacation for Lij Iyasu, and that he spent much of his time consorting with Muslim notables in the city and consuming large amounts of qat as well as completely depleting the funds of the Ethiopian mission in the French colony.
Around the same time, the British reported that documents preaching jihad against the Europeans had been posted in the Harar marketplace. That August, the British reported that supplies were being sent to Jijiga to support the activities of Mohammed Abdullah Hassan and Sheikh Hassan Barsane, a devout Muslim pair who were at war with the British and Italians in Somalia. Then that September, the Italians revealed that one of their Somali agents had witnessed Iyasu declaring to an assemblage of Muslim leaders that he was a Muslim, and swore to his apostasy on a Koran.
On 27 September 1916, while at the city of Harar, Lij Iyasu was deposed in favor of his aunt, Zewditu. Iyasu sent an army to attack Addis Ababa, which was met at Mieso and turned back. His father initially hesitated, then marched south from Dessie with 80,000 troops. On 27 October, Negus Mikael was defeated at the Battle of Segale. According to Paul Henze, Iyasu had reached Ankober the morning of the battle with a few thousand loyal followers, and after witnessing his father's defeat, fled towards the Eritrean border. On 8 November, Iyasu appeared in Dessie where he vainly sought the support from the nobility of Tigray and then the Italians. On 10 December, Iyasu fled and took refuge with his followers on the abandoned amba of Maqdala. At Maqdala, he was surrounded and subjected to an uninspired siege. On 18 July 1917, Iyasu slipped through the siege lines and rallied the peasantry of Wollo to revolt. On 27 August, troops under Habte Giyorgis defeated the rebels and captured many of Iyasu's generals, including Ras Imer.After this defeat, with a few hundred picked men, Iyasu fled to the desert of the Afar Depression, where he roamed for five years. On 11 January 1921, Iyasu was captured and taken into custody by Gugsa Araya Selassie. He was handed over to the custody of his cousin RasKassa Haile Darge. Ras Kassa kept Iyasu in comfortable house arrest at his country home at Fiche.
Empress Zewditu I, who in spite of having been treated harshly by her nephew seems to have had considerable sympathy for Iyasu's fate and is said to have tried to have him handed over to her personal custody in order that he "be brought back to Christ and salvation" under her guidance. In her view, the most serious part of his fate was his excommunication, and she deeply wanted to save her nephew from what she regarded as assured damnation. While her plea to have her nephew moved to the Imperial Palace in Addis Ababa was vehemently vetoed by both Fitawrari Habte Giorgis and by the Crown Prince, Ras Teferi Makonnen, the Empress took care that Iyasu lived in luxury and was supplied with whatever he desired. Ras Kassa also adhered to this policy for as long as Iyasu was in his custody, so the terms of Iyasu's imprisonment were not particularly harsh.
Empress Zewditu died in 1930, and was succeeded by Emperor Haile Selassie who was considerably less sympathetic to Iyasu. In 1931, Iyasu escaped from imprisonment at Fichte. He apparently achieved his freedom with the aid of his former father-in-law, RasHailu Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam, although Haile Selassie claimed that the Italians had a hand in his escape — or at least planned to assist in Iyasu's attempt to regain the throne. In his autobiography, Haile Selassie reports that when Italian Baron Raimondo Franchettilanded his plane in a field outside of Addis Alem, onlookers "noticed that inside it were a machine-gun as well as rifles and many cartridges" — implying these were to arm Iyasu's followers.
Iyasu was recaptured shortly after his escape. Having deeply alienated Ras Kassa with his escape, and having deeply angered the Emperor, Iyasu was taken to a fortress on the slopes of Mount Gara Muleta in Girawa,[nb 5] where he was guarded closely by locals loyal to Emperor Haile Selassie. When the forces of Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, aircraft of the Royal Italian Air Force (Regia Aeronautica Italiana) scattered fliers asking the population to rebel against Haile Selassie and support the "true Emperor Iyasu V." It was feared that the Italians would make use of Iyasu to fragment Ethiopian resistance to their conquest.
In November 1935, Iyasu's death was announced. The circumstances surrounding his death and his burial place remain shrouded in mystery. One rumour that persists to this day is that Emperor Haile Selassie ordered his guards to kill him. Others dispute this and allege that Iyasu died of natural causes. His grandson and current Iyasuist claimant to the Ethiopian throne, Lij Girma Yohannes, claims that Iyasu's body was brought to the Church of St. Mark at Addis Ababa's Guenete Leul Palace (since 1961 the main campus ofAddis Ababa University) and buried there in secret. Because he had been excommunicated, these claims are extremely unlikely. Another recently published account states that Iyasu was interred in the grave prepared for Emperor Haile Selassie's confessor and almoner, Abba Hanna Jimma, at Debre Libanos. This account contends that, upon the priest's death, Lij Iyasu's remains were moved to the crypt of St. Tekle Haimanot's Church at the monastery, and placed below the tomb prepared for Ethiopia's first Patriarch, Abuna Basilios. Family
His younger sister Zenebework was married off at a young age to Ras Bezabih of Gojjam, but died in childbirth. Iyasu also had an elder half-sister, Woizero Sehin Mikael, married toJantirar Asfaw, Lord of Ambassel, whose daughter would eventually become Empress Menen Asfaw, wife of Emperor Haile Selassie. While through his Imperial mother, Iyasu could claim to be descended from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, through his father, he claimed descent from the Prophet Mohammed.[nb 6] Iyasu seems to have had at least thirteen secondary wives and an uncertain number of natural children, several of whom have been Iyasuist claimants to the Imperial throne, as well as grandchildren like Girma Yohannes. Lij Iyasu's only legitimate child was a daughter born in 1928 to him and Sabla Wangel Hailu, Alem Tsahai Iyasu who was granted the title of Emebet-hoy by Emperor Haile Selassie.
The Ethiopian historian Bahru Zewde describes Iyasu's reign as "one of the most enigmatic in Ethiopian history." A common account of his reign is provided by J. Spencer Trimingham, who writes that his acts favoring Islam were
...encouraged by German and Turkish diplomats. He made the fuqaha construct a genealogy deriving his ancestry on his father's side from the Prophet. He made prolonged stays in Harar where he adopted Muslim dress and customs. He put away his Christian wife, Romane-Warq, and started a harim by marrying the daughters of 'Afar and Galla chiefs, including a daughter and niece of Abba Jifar of Jimma. He built mosques at Dire Dawa and Jigjiga. In 1916 he officially placed Abyssinia in religious dependence upon Turkey, and sent the Turkish consul-general an Abyssinian flag embroidered with a crescent and the Islamic formula of faith. He sent similar flags to his own Muslim chiefs and promised to lead them to the jihad. He entered into negotiations with Muhammed ibn 'Abd Allah, the Mahdi of the Ogaden, and sent him rifles and ammunition. He then issued a summons to all Somalis, some of whom regarded him as true Mahdi, to follow him in a jihad against the Christians, and went to Jigjiga to collect an army.
According to FitawrariTekle Hawariat Tekle Mariyam, Lij Iyasu at one point announced "If I do not make Ethiopia Muslim, then I am not Iyasu." He also recalls Lij Iyasu's visit toDire Dawa in 1916, when the ruler walked into a Roman Catholic church in that city (this an act alone would scandalize the Ethiopian Orthodox establishment) and commenced to light and smoke a cigarette while Mass was being conducted. Tekle Hawariat, concludes that Iyasu V was completely unsuited for the throne, and that his deposing was necessary for the survival of the Empire and the good of the people.
Bahru Zewde on the other hand, while admitting that "contradiction and inconsistency were the hallmark of his character and policies", notes that Iyasu's reign was characterized by "a series of measures which, because of the social and economic security they implied, may well be considered progressive." Iyasu modernized many sections of the Ethiopian criminal code, and created a municipal police force, the Terenbulle. His overtures to the Muslim inhabitants of Ethiopia "can be interpreted as one of trying to redress the injustices of the past, of making the Muslims feel at home in their own country."
However, Iyasu had the misfortune of being succeeded (in Bahru Zewde's words) "by a ruler of extraordinary political longevity who found it in his interest to suppress any objective appreciation of the man." According to Paul B. Henze, during the reign of his cousin Haile Selassie, Iyasu was "practically an 'unperson'. If he was referred to at all, it was invariably in extremely negative terms." While admitting the lack of information about this man, Henze suggests that "the fairest conclusion that can be reached on the basis of present knowledge may be to credit him with good intentions but condemn him for intemperate, inept and in the end, disastrous performance."
Zewditu I (also spelled Zawditu or Zauditu; Ge'ez ዘውዲቱ; 29 April 1876 – 2 April 1930) was Empress of Ethiopia from 1916 to 1930. The first woman head of an internationally recognized state in Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries, she was noted for opposing the reforms of Tafari Makonnen (later Emperor Haile Selassie I) and for her strong religious devotion.
Baptised as Askala Maryam ("Askal of Mary," a type of flower), but using the given name of Zewditu (known erroneously as Judith inEnglish), the future Empress was the eldest daughter of the then Negus (or King) Menelik of Shewa, the future emperor Menelek II of Ethiopia. Her mother, Weyziro (Lady) Abechi, was a noblewoman of Wollo and a brief companion of Menelek. Her mother had separated from Menelik when Zewditu was very young, and the future empress was raised by her father and his consort Baffana. Negus Menelik later married Taytu Betul, but had no children by this wife. Menelik had three acknowledged children: Zewditu herself, a son Asfaw Wossen who died in infancy, and another daughter Shewa Regga, the mother of Lij Iyasu, Menelik's eventual heir. However, the Emperor remained closest to Zewditu, who also had good relations with her stepmother Empress Taytu, and was part of her father's household for most of her life.
In 1886, the ten-year-old Zewditu was married to RasAraya Selassie Yohannes, son and heir of Emperor Yohannes IV. The marriage was political, having been arranged when Menelik agreed to submit to Yohannes' rule. Yohannes and Menelik eventually fell into conflict again, however, with Menelik launching a rebellion against Yohannes' rule. Zewditu's marriage was childless, being very young during her marriage, although her husband had fathered a son by another woman. When Araya Selassie died in 1888, she left Mekele and returned to her father's court in Shewa. Despite the hostility between Menelik and Yohannes, Zewditu managed throughout the conflict to maintain good relations with both.
Zewditu had two further marriages, both brief, before marrying Ras Gugsa Welle. Gugsa Welle was the nephew of Empress Taytu, Zewditu's stepmother. Zewditu had already been on good terms with Taytu, but the establishment of a direct tie between the two helped cement the relationship. Unlike her prior marriages, Zewditu's marriage to Gugsa Welle is thought to have been happy.
Ascent to power
Upon the death of Emperor Yohannis IV at the Battle of Metemma against the Mahdists of the Sudan, Negus Menelek of Shewa assumed power and become Emperor of Ethiopia in 1889. This restored the direct male succession of the dynasty, as Emperor Yohannes's claim to the throne was through a female link to the line. As the daughter of Menelek II, Zewditu would be the last monarch in direct agnatic descent from the Solomonic dynasty. Her successor Haile Selassie was also linked in the female line. In 1913, Menelik died, and Lij Iyasu, the son of Zewditu's half-sister Shewa Regga, who had been publicly declared heir apparent in 1909, took the throne. Iyasu considered Zewditu a potential threat to his rule, and exiled her and her husband to the countryside.
Due to fears of instability that might be caused, the cabinet of ministers decided not to publicly proclaim the death of Menelik II. As a result, Iyasu was never officially proclaimed as Emperor Iyasu V. However, both Menelik's death and Iyasu's de-facto accession were widely known and accepted. The Church authorities, the Lord Regent Ras Tessema, and the ministers agreed that Iyasu's coronation should be postponed until he was a bit older. However Iyasu quickly encountered problems with his rule and he was never crowned. He was widely disliked by the nobility for his unstable behavior, and the church held him in suspicion for his alleged Muslim sympathies. After a troubled few years, Iyasu was removed from power. Zewditu was summoned to the capital, and on 27 September 1916, the Council of State and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church officially announced the death of Emperor Menelik II and deposed Iyasu in favour of Zewditu. Zewditu's official title was "Queen of Kings" (Negiste Negest), a modification of the traditional title "King of Kings" (Nəgusä Nägäst).
Initially, Zewditu was not permitted to exercise power herself. Instead, her cousin Ras Tafari Makonnen was appointed regent, and her father's old loyal general, FitawrariHapte Giorgis Dinagde was made commander in chief of the army. Ras Tafari was also made heir apparent to Zewditu – none of Zewditu's children had survived to adulthood. In 1928, after an attempt to remove Ras Tafari Makonnen from power failed, the Empress was compelled to crown her cousin Negus.
While the conservative Ethiopian aristocracy was generally supportive of Zewditu, it was less enthusiastic about many of her relatives. Zewditu's stepmother and the aunt of her husband, Dowager Empress Taytu Betul, had withdrawn from the capital after Menelik's death, but was still distrusted somewhat due to the evident favorism she had practiced during the reign of her late husband. In an attempt to limit her influence, the aristocracy arranged for her nephew (Zewditu's husband Ras Gugsa Welle) to be appointed to a remote governorship, removing him from court. This move, while intended as a strike against Taytu rather than against Zewditu, is believed to have upset Zewditu considerably. Zewditu also suffered guilt for taking the throne from Lij Iyasu, who her father had wanted to succeed him – while she believed that Iyasu's overthrow was necessary, she had admired her father greatly, and was unhappy at having to disobey his wishes. Her separation from her husband and her guilt about Iyasu's overthrow combined to make Zewditu not particularly happy as Empress. Interestingly, even though he had treated her abominably, she held much personal affection for her nephew Iyasu, and is said to have wept bitterly for him when told that she was being made Empress as her nephew had been excommunicated for apostasy. Increasingly, the Empress retreated from state responsibility into a world of fasting and prayer, as the progressive elements that surrounded the heir, Tafari Makonnen gained in strength and influence at court.
War against Iyasu
The early period of Zewditu's reign was marked by a war against Lij Iyasu, who had escaped captivity. Backed by his father, NegusMikael of Wollo, a powerful northern leader, Iyasu attempted to regain the throne. The two failed to effectively coordinate their efforts however, and after some initial victories Iyasu's father was defeated and captured at theBattle of Segale. The Negus was paraded through the streets of Addis Ababa in chains, carrying a rock of repentance on his shoulders, before entering the throne room and kissing the Empress's shoes to beg for her mercy. The heir to the throne, Ras Tafari Makonnen was not present at this spectacle out of consideration for the feelings of his wife, who was the granddaughter of Negus Mikael. Upon hearing of his father's defeat and humiliation, Iyasu himself fled to Afar. After years on the run, Iyasu was later captured by DejazmachGugsa Araya Selassie, the son who Zewditu's first husband had fathered by another woman. Gugsa Araya was rewarded with the title of Ras from his former stepmother, and Princess Yeshashework Yilma, the niece of Tafari Makonnen, as his bride. When Iyasu was captured, a tearful Empress Zewditu pleaded that he be kept in a special house on the grounds of the palace where she would see to his care and he could receive religious counsel. She found Ras Tafari and FitawrariHapte Giorgis to be unbendingly opposed, and so gave up. She did however make sure that special favorite foods and a constant supply of clothing and small luxuries reached Lij Iyasu at his place of arrest in Sellale. To the end of her life, she referred to her deposed nephew as "Getaye (my lord master) Iyasu".
Rise of Tafari
As Empress Zewditu's reign progressed, the difference in outlook gradually widened between her and her appointed heir, Ras Tafari Makonnen. Tafari was a moderniser, believing that Ethiopia needed to open itself to the world in order to survive. In this, he had the backing of many younger nobles. Zewditu, however, was a conservative, believing in the preservation of Ethiopian tradition. She had the strong backing of the church in this belief. Slowly, however, Zewditu began to withdraw from active politics, leaving more and more power to Tafari. Under Tafari's direction, Ethiopia entered the League of Nations, and abolished slavery. Zewditu busied herself with religious activities, such as the construction of a number of significant churches.
In 1928, there was a small conservative uprising against Tafari's reforms, but it was unsuccessful. Empress Zewditu was compelled to grant Tafari, who now controlled most of the Ethiopian government, the title of King (Negus). While Negus Tafari remained under the nominal rule of Zewditu (who was still Negeste Negest, Queen of Kings or Empress), Tafari was now effectively the ruler of Ethiopia. A number of attempts were made to displace him, but they were all unsuccessful. In 1930, Zewditu's husband Ras Gugsa Welle led a rebellion against Negus Tafari in Begemder, hoping to end the regency in spite of his wife's repeated pleas and orders to desist, but was defeated and killed in battle by the modernised Ethiopian army at the Battle of Anchem on 31 March 1930.
Death and succession
On 2 April 1930, two days after Ras Gugsa Welle was killed in battle, Empress Zewditu died. It is known today that Zewditu suffered from diabetes, and was seriously ill withtyphoid, but it is not universally agreed that this was the cause of her death. According to some popular histories, Zewditu died of shock and grief at hearing of her husband's death, but other accounts contradict this, claiming that Zewditu was not informed of the battle's outcome before her sudden death. Some diplomatic sources in Addis Ababa reported at the time that the fever stricken Empress was immersed in a large container of fridgidly cold holy water to cure her of her illness, but that her body went into shock and she died shortly thereafter. The timing of her death immediately after news of the outcome of the battle reached Addis Ababa has caused considerable speculation as to her cause of death. Some, particularly conservative critics of her successor, Emperor Haile Selassie, allege that once the rebellion had been decisively defeated, he or his supporters felt safe inpoisoning Zewditu. Speculation as to the cause of Zewditu's death continues today.
Empress Zewditu was succeeded on the throne by Negus Tafari, who took the name of Emperor Haile Selassie.
At the League of Nations in 1936, the Emperor condemned the use of chemical weapons by Italy against his people during the Second Italo–Ethiopian War. His internationalist views led to Ethiopia becoming a charter member of the United Nations, and his political thought and experience in promoting multilateralism and collective security have proved seminal and enduring. His suppression of rebellions among the nobles (mekwannint), as well as what some[who?] perceived to be Ethiopia's failure to modernize adequately,earned him criticism among some contemporaries and historians.
Among the Rastafari movement, whose followers are estimated at between 200,000 and 800,000, Haile Selassie is revered as the returned messiah of the Bible, God incarnate. Beginning in Jamaica in the 1930s, the Rastafari movement perceives Haile Selassie as a messianic figure who will lead a future golden age of eternal peace, righteousness, and prosperity. Haile Selassie was an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian throughout his life.
Name Lij Tafari Makonnen at age 3 Haile Selassie was known as a child as Lij Tafari Makonnen (Amharic ልጅ ተፈሪ መኮንን; lij teferī mekōnnin). Lij translates to "child", and serves to indicate that a youth is of noble blood. His given name, Tafari means "one who is respected or feared". Like most Ethiopians, his personal name Tafari is followed by that of his father Makonnen and rarely that of his grandfather Woldemikael. While his Ge'ez name, Haile Selassie was given to him at his infant baptism and adopted again as part of his regnal name in 1930.
As Governor of Harer, he became known as Ras Tafari Makonnenlisten (help·info). Ras translates to "head" and is a rank of nobility equivalent to Duke; though it is often rendered in translation as "prince". In 1916, EmpressZewditu I appointed him to the position of Balemulu Silt'an Enderase (Regent Plenipotentiary). In 1928, she granted him the throne of Shoa elevating his title to Negus or "King".
To Ethiopians Haile Selassie has been known by many names, including Janhoy, Talaqu Meri, and Abba Tekel. The Rastafari movement employ many of these appellations, also referring to him as Jah, Jah Rastafari, and HIM (the abbreviation of "His Imperial Majesty"),.
Tafari assumed the titular governorship of Selale in 1906, a realm of marginal importance but one that enabled him to continue his studies. In 1907, he was appointed governor over part of the province of Sidamo. It is alleged that during his late teens, Haile Selassie was married to Woizero Altayech, and that from this union, his daughter Princess Romanework was born.
Following the death of his brother Yelma in 1907, the governorate of Harar was left vacant, and its administration was left to Menelik's loyal general, DejazmachBalcha Safo. Balcha Safo's administration of Harar was ineffective, and so during the last illness of Menelik II, and the brief reign of Empress Taitu Bitul, Tafari was made governor of Harar in 1910 or 1911.
The extent to which Tafari Makonnen contributed to the movement that would come to depose Iyasu V has been discussed extensively, particularly in Haile Selassie's own detailed account of the matter. Iyasu V, or Lij Iyasu, was the designated but uncrowned Emperor of Ethiopia from 1913 to 1916. Iyasu's reputation for scandalous behavior and a disrespectful attitude towards the nobles at the court of his grandfather, Menelik II, damaged his reputation. Iyasu's flirtation with Islam was considered treasonous among the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian leadership of the empire. On 27 September 1916, Iyasu was deposed.
Contributing to the movement that deposed Iyasu were conservatives such as FitawrariHabte Giyorgis, Menelik II's longtime Minister of War. The movement to depose Iyasu preferred Tafari, as he attracted support from both progressive and conservative factions. Ultimately, Iyasu was deposed on the grounds of conversion to Islam. In his place, the daughter of Menelik II (the aunt of Iyasu) was named Empress Zewditu, while Tafari was elevated to the rank of Ras and was made heir apparent andCrown Prince. In the power arrangement that followed, Tafari accepted the role of Regent Plenipotentiary (Balemulu 'Inderase) and became the de facto ruler of the Ethiopian Empire(Mangista Ityop'p'ya). Zewditu would govern while Tafari would administer.
While Iyasu had been deposed on 27 September 1916, on 8 October he managed to escape into the Ogaden Desert and his father,NegusMikael of Wollo, had time to come to his aid. On 27 October, Negus Mikael and his army met an army under FitawrariHabte Giyorgis loyal to Zewditu and Tafari. During the Battle of Segale, Negus Mikael was defeated and captured. Any chance that Iyasu would regain the throne was ended and he went into hiding. On 11 January 1921, after avoiding capture for about five years, Iyasu was taken into custody by Gugsa Araya Selassie.
On 11 February 1917, the coronation for Zewditu took place. She pledged to rule justly through her Regent, Tafari. While Tafari was the more visible of the two, Zewditu was far from an honorary ruler. Her position required that she arbitrate the claims of competing factions. In other words, she had the last word. Tafari carried the burden of daily administration but, because his position was relatively weak, this was often an exercise in futility for him. Initially his personal army was poorly equipped, his finances were limited, and he had little leverage to withstand the combined influence of the Empress, the Minister of War, or the provincial governors.
During his Regency, the new Crown Prince developed the policy of cautious modernization initiated by Menelik II. Also during this time, he survived the 1918 flu pandemic. He secured Ethiopia's admission to the League of Nations in 1923 by promising to eradicate slavery; each emperor since Tewodros II had issued proclamations to halt slavery, but without effect: the internationally scorned practice persisted well into Haile Selassie's reign with an estimated 2 million slaves in Ethiopia the early 1930s.
Throughout Ras Tafari's travels in Europe, the Levant, and Egypt, he and his entourage were greeted with enthusiasm and fascination. He was accompanied by Seyum Mangasha and Hailu Tekle Haymanot who, like Tafari, were sons of generals who contributed to the victorious war against Italy a quarter century earlier at the Battle of Adwa. Another member of his entourage, Mulugeta Yeggazu, actually fought at Adwa as a young man. The "Oriental Dignity" of the Ethiopians and their "rich, picturesque court dress" were sensationalized in the media; among his entourage he even included a pride of lions, which he distributed as gifts to PresidentAlexandre Millerand and Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré of France, to KingGeorge V of the United Kingdom, and to the Zoological Garden (Jardin Zoologique) of Paris. As one historian noted, "Rarely can a tour have inspired so many anecdotes". In return for two lions, the United Kingdom presented Ras Tafari with the imperial crown of Emperor Tewodros II for its safe return to Empress Zewditu. The crown had been taken by Robert Napier during the 1868 Expedition to Abyssinia.
In this period, the Crown Prince visited the Armenian monastery of Jerusalem. There, he adopted 40 Armenian orphans (አርባ ልጆች Arba Lijoch, "forty children"), who had lost their parents in Ottoman massacres. He was a great man, a philanthropist;Ras Tafari arranged for the musical education of the youths, and they came to form the imperial brass band.
King and emperor
In 1928, the authority of Ras Tafari Makonnen was challenged when DejazmatchBalcha Safo went to Addis Ababa with a sizeable armed force. When Tafari consolidated his hold over the provinces, many of Menelik's appointees refused to abide by the new regulations. Balcha Safo, the governor (Shum) of coffee-rich Sidamo Province, was particularly troublesome. The revenues he remitted to the central government did not reflect the accrued profits and Tafari recalled him to Addis Ababa. The old man came in high dudgeon and, insultingly, with a large army.[nb 4] The Dejazmatch paid homage to Empress Zewditu, but snubbed Ras Tafari. On 18 February, while Balcha Safo and his personal bodyguard[nb 5] were in Addis Ababa, Ras Tafari had RasKassa Haile Darge bought off his army and arranged to have him displaced as the Shum of Sidamo Province by Birru Wolde Gabriel who himself was replaced by Desta Damtew.
Even so, the gesture of Balcha Safo empowered Empress Zewditu politically and she attempted to have Tafari tried for treason. He was tried for his benevolent dealings with Italy including a 20-year peace accord which was signed on 2 August. In September, a group of palace reactionaries including some of the courtiers of the Empress, made a final bid to get rid of Tafari. The attempted coup d'état was tragic in its origins and comic in its end. When confronted by Tafari and a company of his troops, the ringleaders of the coup took refuge on the palace grounds in Menelik's mausoleum. Tafari and his men surrounded them only to be surrounded themselves by the personal guard of Zewditu. More of Tafari's khaki clad soldiers arrived and, with superiority of arms, decided the outcome in his favor. Popular support, as well as the support of the police, remained with Tafari. Ultimately, the Empress relented and, on 7 October 1928, she crowned Tafari as Negus (Amharic: "King").
The crowning of Tafari as King was controversial. He occupied the same territory as the Empress rather than going off to a regional kingdom of the empire. Two monarchs, even with one being the vassal and the other the emperor (in this case empress), had never occupied the same location as their seat in Ethiopian history. Conservatives agitated to redress this perceived insult to the dignity of the crown, leading to the rebellion of Ras Gugsa Welle. Gugsa Welle was the husband of the Empress and the Shum of Begemder Province. In early 1930, he raised an army and marched it from his governorate at Gondar towards Addis Ababa. On 31 March 1930, Gugsa Welle was met by forces loyal to Negus Tafari and was defeated at theBattle of Anchem. Gugsa Welle was killed in action. News of Gugsa Welle's defeat and death had hardly spread through Addis Ababa when the Empress died suddenly on 2 April 1930. Although it was long rumored that the Empress was poisoned upon the defeat of her husband, or alternately that she died from shock upon hearing of the death of her estranged yet beloved husband, it has since been documented that the Empress succumbed to a flu-like fever and complications from diabetes.
With the passing of Zewditu, Tafari himself rose to emperor and was proclaimed Neguse Negest ze-'Ityopp'ya, "King of Kings of Ethiopia". He was crowned on 2 November 1930, atAddis Ababa's Cathedral of St. George. The coronation was by all accounts "a most splendid affair", and it was attended by royals and dignitaries from all over the world. Among those in attendance were George V's son Prince Henry, Marshal Franchet d'Esperey of France, and the Prince of Udine representing Italy. Emissaries from the United States,Egypt, Turkey, Sweden, Belgium, and Japan were also present. British author Evelyn Waugh was also present, penning a contemporary report on the event, and American travel lecturer Burton Holmes shot the only known film footage of the event. One newspaper report suggested that the celebration may have incurred a cost in excess of $3,000,000.Many of those in attendance received lavish gifts; in one instance, the Christian emperor even sent a gold-encased Bible to an American bishop who had not attended the coronation, but who had dedicated a prayer to the emperor on the day of the coronation.
Haile Selassie introduced Ethiopia's first written constitution on 16 July 1931, providing for a bicameral legislature. The constitution kept power in the hands of the nobility, but it did establish democratic standards among the nobility, envisaging a transition to democratic rule: it would prevail "until the people are in a position to elect themselves." The constitution limited the succession to the throne to the descendants of Haile Selassie, a point that met with the disapprobation of other dynastic princes, including the princes ofTigrai and even the emperor's loyal cousin, Ras Kassa Haile Darge.
Conflict with ItalySee also: Abyssinia Crisis and Second Italo-Abyssinian War Ethiopia became the target of renewed Italian imperialist designs in the 1930s. Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime was keen to avenge the military defeats Italy had suffered to Ethiopia in the First Italo-Abyssinian War, and to efface the failed attempt by "liberal" Italy to conquer the country, as epitomised by the defeat at Adowa. A conquest of Ethiopia could also empower the cause of fascism and embolden its rhetoric of empire. Ethiopia would also provide a bridge between Italy's Eritrean and Italian Somalilandpossessions. Ethiopia's position in the League of Nations did not dissuade the Italians from invading in 1935; the "collective security" envisaged by the League proved useless, and a scandal erupted when the Hoare-Laval Pact revealed that Ethiopia's League allies were scheming to appease Italy.
Following 5 December 1934 Italian invasion of Ethiopia at Walwal, Ogeden Province, Haile Selassie joined his northern armies and set up headquarters at Desse in Wollo province. He issued his famous mobilization order on 3 October 1935:
“If you withhold from your country Ethiopia the death from cough or head-cold of which you would otherwise die, refusing to resist (in your district, in your patrimony, and in your home) our enemy who is coming from a distant country to attack us, and if you persist in not shedding your blood, you will be rebuked for it by your Creator and will be cursed by your offspring. Hence, without cooling your heart of accustomed valour, there emerges your decision to fight fiercely, mindful of your history that will last far into the future... If on your march you touch any property inside houses or cattle and crops outside, not even grass, straw, and dung excluded, it is like killing your brother who is dying with you... You, countryman, living at the various access routes, set up a market for the army at the places where it is camping and on the day your district-governor will indicate to you, lest the soldiers campaigning for Ethiopia's liberty should experience difficulty. You will not be charged excise duty, until the end of the campaign, for anything you are marketing at the military camps: I have granted you remission... After you have been ordered to go to war, but are then idly missing from the campaign, and when you are seized by the local chief or by an accuser, you will have punishment inflicted upon your inherited land, your property, and your body; to the accuser I shall grant a third of your property...”On 19 October 1935, Haile Selassie gave more precise orders for his army to his Commander-in-Chief, Ras Kassa:
When you set up tents, it is to be in caves and by trees and in a wood, if the place happens to be adjoining to these―and separated in the various platoons. Tents are to be set up at a distance of 30 cubits from each other.
When an aeroplane is sighted, one should leave large open roads and wide meadows and march in valleys and trenches and by zigzag routes, along places which have trees and woods.
When an aeroplane comes to drop bombs, it will not suit it to do so unless it comes down to about 100 metres; hence when it flies low for such action, one should fire a volley with a good and very long gun and then quickly disperse. When three or four bullets have hit it, the aeroplane is bound to fall down. But let only those fire who have been ordered to shoot with a weapon that has been selected for such firing, for if everyone shoots who possesses a gun, there is no advantage in this except to waste bullets and to disclose the men's whereabouts.
Lest the aeroplane, when rising again, should detect the whereabouts of those who are dispersed, it is well to remain cautiously scattered as long as it is still fairly close. In time of war it suits the enemy to aim his guns at adorned shields, ornaments, silver and gold cloaks, silk shirts and all similar things. Whether one possesses a jacket or not, it is best to wear a narrow-sleeved shirt with faded colours. When we return, with God's help, you can wear your gold and silver decorations then. Now it is time to go and fight. We offer you all these words of advice in the hope that no great harm should befall you through lack of caution. At the same time, We are glad to assure you that in time of war We are ready to shed Our blood in your midst for the sake of Ethiopia's freedom..."
Compared to the Ethiopians, the Italians had an advanced, modern military which included a large air force. The Italians would also come to employ chemical weapons extensively throughout the conflict, even targeting Red Cross field hospitals in violation of the Geneva Convention.
Progress of the war Starting in early October 1935, the Italians invaded Ethiopia. But, by November, the pace of invasion had slowed appreciably and Haile Selassie's northern armies were able to launch what was known as the "Christmas Offensive". During this offensive, the Italians were forced back in places and put on the defensive. However, in early 1936, the First Battle of Tembien stopped the progress of the Ethiopian offensive and the Italians were ready to continue their offensive. Following the defeat and destruction of the northern Ethiopian armies at the Battle of Amba Aradam, the Second Battle of Tembien, and the Battle of Shire, Haile Selassie took the field with the last Ethiopian army on the northern front. On 31 March 1936, he launched a counterattack against the Italians himself at the Battle of Maychew in southern Tigray. The emperor's army was defeated and retreated in disarray. As Haile Selassie's army withdrew, the Italians attacked from the air along with rebellious Raya and Azebo tribesmen on the ground, who were armed and paid by the Italians.
Haile Selassie made a solitary pilgrimage to the churches at Lalibela, at considerable risk of capture, before returning to his capital. After a stormy session of the council of state, it was agreed that because Addis Ababa could not be defended, the government would relocate to the southern town of Gore, and that in the interest of preserving the Imperial house, the emperor's wifeMenen Asfaw and the rest of the imperial family should immediately depart for Djibouti, and from there continue on to Jerusalem.
The emperor arrives in Jerusalem. After further debate as to whether Haile Selassie should go to Gore or accompany his family into exile, it was agreed that Haile Selassie should leave Ethiopia with his family and present the case of Ethiopia to the League of Nations at Geneva. The decision was not unanimous and several participants, including the nobleman Page (Blatta) Tekle Wolde Hawariat, objected to the idea of an Ethiopian monarch fleeing before an invading force. Haile Selassie appointed his cousin Ras Imru Haile Selassie as Prince Regent in his absence, departing with his family for Djibouti on 2 May 1936.
On 5 May, Marshal Pietro Badoglio led Italian troops into Addis Ababa, and Mussolini declared Ethiopia an Italian province. Victor Emanuel III was proclaimed as the new Emperor of Ethiopia. However, on the previous day, the Ethiopian exiles had left Djibouti aboard the British cruiser HMS Enterprise. They were bound for Jerusalem in the British Mandate of Palestine, where the Ethiopian royal family maintained a residence. The Imperial family disembarked at Haifa and then went on to Jerusalem. Once there, Haile Selassie and his retinue prepared to make their case at Geneva. The choice of Jerusalem was highly symbolic, since the Solomonic Dynasty claimed descent from the House of David. Leaving theHoly Land, Haile Selassie and his entourage sailed for Gibraltar aboard the British cruiser HMS Capetown. From Gibraltar, the exiles were transferred to an ordinary liner. By doing this, the government of the United Kingdom was spared the expense of a state reception.
Collective security and the League of Nations, 1936
Mussolini, upon invading Ethiopia, had promptly declared his own "Italian Empire"; because the League of Nations afforded Haile Selassie the opportunity to address the assembly, Italy even withdrew its League delegation, on 12 May 1936. It was in this context that Haile Selassie walked into the hall of the League of Nations, introduced by the President of the Assembly as "His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Ethiopia" (Sa Majesté Imperiale, l'Empereur d'Ethiopie). The introduction caused a great many Italian journalists in the galleries to erupt into jeering, heckling, and whistling. As it turned out, they had earlier been issued whistles by Mussolini's son-in-law, Count Galeazzo Ciano. Haile Selassie waited calmly for the hall to be cleared, and responded "majestically" with a speech sometimes considered among the most stirring of the 20th century.
Although fluent in French, the working language of the League, Haile Selassie chose to deliver his historic speech in his native Amharic. He asserted that, because his "confidence in the League was absolute", his people were now being slaughtered. He pointed out that the same European states that found in Ethiopia's favor at the League of Nations were refusing Ethiopia credit and matériel while aiding Italy, which was employing chemical weapons on military and civilian targets alike.
It was at the time when the operations for the encircling of Makale were taking place that the Italian command, fearing a rout, followed the procedure which it is now my duty to denounce to the world. Special sprayers were installed on board aircraft so that they could vaporize, over vast areas of territory, a fine, death-dealing rain. Groups of nine, fifteen, eighteen aircraft followed one another so that the fog issuing from them formed a continuous sheet. It was thus that, as from the end of January 1936, soldiers, women, children, cattle, rivers, lakes, and pastures were drenched continually with this deadly rain. In order to kill off systematically all living creatures, in order to more surely poison waters and pastures, the Italian command made its aircraft pass over and over again. That was its chief method of warfare.
Noting that his own "small people of 12 million inhabitants, without arms, without resources" could never withstand an attack by a large power such as Italy, with its 42 million people and "unlimited quantities of the most death-dealing weapons", he contended that all small states were threatened by the aggression, and that all small states were in effect reduced to vassal states in the absence of collective action. He admonished the League that "God and history will remember your judgment."
It is collective security: it is the very existence of the League of Nations. It is the confidence that each State is to place in international treaties... In a word, it is international morality that is at stake. Have the signatures appended to a Treaty value only in so far as the signatory Powers have a personal, direct and immediate interest involved? The speech made the emperor an icon for anti-fascists around the world, and Time named him "Man of the Year". He failed, however, to get what he most needed: the League agreed to only partial and ineffective sanctions on Italy, and several members even recognized the Italian conquest.
Haile Selassie spent his exile years (1936–1941) in Bath, United Kingdom, in Fairfield House, which he bought. The emperor and Kassa Haile Darge took morning walks together behind the high walls of the 14-room Georgian house. Haile Selassie's favorite reading was "diplomatic history." But most of his serious hours were occupied with the 90,000-word story of his life which he was laboriously writing in Amharic.
Prior to Fairfield House, he briefly stayed at Warne's Hotel in Worthing and in Parkside, Wimbledon A bust of Haile Selassie is in nearby Cannizaro Park to commemorate this time and is a popular place of pilgrimage for London's Rastafarian community.
Haile Selassie stayed at the Abbey Hotel in Malvern in the 1930s and his granddaughters and daughters of court officials were educated at Clarendon School in North Malvern. During his time in Malvern he attended services at Holy Trinity Church, in Link Top. A blue plaque, commemorating his stay in Malvern, was unveiled on Saturday, 25 June 2011. As part of the ceremony, a delegation from the Rastafari movement gave a short address and a drum recital.
Haile Selassie's activity in this period was focused on countering Italian propaganda as to the state of Ethiopian resistance and the legality of the occupation. He spoke out against the desecration of houses of worship and historical artifacts (including the theft of a 1,600-year old imperial obelisk), and condemned the atrocities suffered by the Ethiopian civilian population. He continued to plead for League intervention and to voice his certainty that "God's judgment will eventually visit the weak and the mighty alike", though his attempts to gain support for the struggle against Italy were largely unsuccessful until Italy entered World War II on the German side in June 1940.
The emperor's pleas for international support did take root in the United States, particularly among African-American organizations sympathetic to the Ethiopian cause. In 1937, Haile Selassie was to give a Christmas Day radio address to the American people to thank his supporters when his taxi was involved in a traffic accident, leaving him with a fractured knee. Rather than canceling the radio appearance, he proceeded in much pain to complete the address, in which he linked Christianity and goodwill with the Covenant of the League of Nations, and asserted that "War is not the only means to stop war":
With the birth of the Son of God, an unprecedented, an unrepeatable, and a long-anticipated phenomenon occurred. He was born in a stable instead of a palace, in a manger instead of a crib. The hearts of the Wise men were struck by fear and wonder due to His Majestic Humbleness. The kings prostrated themselves before Him and worshipped Him. 'Peace be to those who have good will'. This became the first message.
[...] Although the toils of wise people may earn them respect, it is a fact of life that the spirit of the wicked continues to cast its shadow on this world. The arrogant are seen visibly leading their people into crime and destruction. The laws of the League of Nations are constantly violated and wars and acts of aggression repeatedly take place... So that the spirit of the cursed will not gain predominance over the human race whom Christ redeemed with his blood, all peace-loving people should cooperate to stand firm in order to preserve and promote lawfulness and peace.
During this period, Haile Selassie suffered several personal tragedies. His two sons-in-law, Ras Desta Damtew and Dejazmach Beyene Merid, were both executed by the Italians. The emperor's daughter, Princess Romanework, wife of Dejazmach Beyene Merid, was herself taken into captivity with her children, and she died in Italy in 1941. His daughter Tsehai died during childbirth shortly after the restoration in 1942.
After his return to Ethiopia, he donated Fairfield House to the city of Bath as a residence for the aged, until modified in the 1990s where it is now used as a residential meeting
1940s and 1950s
British forces, which consisted primarily of Ethiopian-backed African and South African colonial troops under the "Gideon Force" of Colonel Orde Wingate, coordinated the military effort to liberate Ethiopia. The emperor himself issued several imperial proclamations in this period, demonstrating that, while authority was not divided up in any formal way, British military might and the emperor's populist appeal could be joined in the concerted effort to liberate Ethiopia.
Today is the day on which we defeated our enemy. Therefore, when we say let us rejoice with our hearts, let not our rejoicing be in any other way but in the spirit of Christ. Do not return evil for evil. Do not indulge in the atrocities which the enemy has been practicing in his usual way, even to the last.
Take care not to spoil the good name of Ethiopia by acts which are worthy of the enemy. We shall see that our enemies are disarmed and sent out the same way they came. As Saint George who killed the dragon is the Patron Saint of our army as well as of our allies, let us unite with our allies in everlasting friendship and amity in order to be able to stand against the godless and cruel dragon which has newly risen and which is oppressing mankind.
On 27 August 1942, Haile Selassie abolished the legal basis of slavery throughout the empire and imposed severe penalties, including death, for slave trading. After World War II, Ethiopia became a charter member of the United Nations. In 1948, the Ogaden, a region disputed with Somalia, was granted to Ethiopia. On 2 December 1950, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 390 (V), establishing the federation of Eritrea (the former Italian colony) into Ethiopia. Eritrea was to have its own constitution, which would provide for ethnic, linguistic, and cultural balance, while Ethiopia was to manage its finances, defense, and foreign policy.
Despite his centralization policies that had been made before World War II, Haile Selassie still found himself unable to push for all the programs he wanted. In 1942, he attempted to institute a progressive tax scheme, but this failed due to opposition from the nobility, and only a flat tax was passed; in 1951, he agreed to reduce this as well. Ethiopia was still "semi-feudal", and the emperor's attempts to alter its social and economic form by reforming its modes of taxation met with resistance from the nobility and clergy, which were eager to resume their privileges in the postwar era. Where Haile Selassie actually did succeed in effecting new land taxes, the burdens were often passed by the landowners to the peasants. Despite his wishes, the tax burden remained primarily on the peasants.
Between 1941 and 1959, Haile Selassie worked to establish the autocephaly of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church had been headed by the abuna, a bishop who answered to the Partriarchate in Egypt. Haile Selassie applied to Egypt's Holy Synod in 1942 and 1945 to establish the independence of Ethiopian bishops, and when his appeals were denied he threatened to sever relations with the See of St. Mark. Finally, in 1959, Pope Kyrillos VI elevated the Abuna to Patriarch-Catholicos. The Ethiopian Church remained affiliated with the Alexandrian Church. In addition to these efforts, Haile Selassie changed the Ethiopian church-state relationship by introducing taxation of church lands, and by restricting the legal privileges of the clergy, who had formerly been tried in their own courts for civil offenses.
Nearly two decades ago, I personally assumed before history the responsibility of placing the fate of my beloved people on the issue of collective security, for surely, at that time and for the first time in world history, that issue was posed in all its clarity. My searching of conscience convinced me of the rightness of my course and if, after untold sufferings and, indeed, unaided resistance at the time of aggression, we now see the final vindication of that principle in our joint action in Korea, I can only be thankful that God gave me strength to persist in our faith until the moment of its recent glorious vindication.
During the celebrations of his Silver Jubilee in November 1955, Haile Selassie introduced a revised constitution, whereby he retained effective power, while extending political participation to the people by allowing the lower house of parliament to become an elected body. Party politics were not provided for. Modern educational methods were more widely spread throughout the Empire, and the country embarked on a development scheme and plans for modernization, tempered by Ethiopian traditions, and within the framework of the ancient monarchical structure of the state.
Haile Selassie compromised when practical with the traditionalists in the nobility and church. He also tried to improve relations between the state and ethnic groups, and granted autonomy to Afar lands that were difficult to control. Still, his reforms to end feudalism were slow and weakened by the compromises he made with the entrenched aristocracy. The Revised Constitution of 1955 has been criticized for reasserting "the indisputable power of the monarch" and maintaining the relative powerlessness of the peasants.
He sent aid to the British government in 1947 when Britain was affected by heavy flooding. His letter to Lord Meork, National Distress Fund, London said, "even though We are busy of helping our people who didn't recover from the crises of the war, We heard that your fertile and beautiful country is devastated by the unusually heavy rain, and your request for aid. "Therefore, We are sending small amount of money, about one thousand pounds through our embassy to show our sympathy and cooperation."
Haile Selassie contributed Ethiopian troops to the United Nations Operation in the Congo peacekeeping force during the 1960 Congo Crisis, to consolidate Congolese integrity and independence from Belgian troops, per United Nations Security Council Resolution 143. On 13 December 1960, while Haile Selassie was on a state visit to Brazil, his Imperial Guard forces staged an unsuccessful coup, briefly proclaiming Haile Selassie's eldest son Asfa Wossen as emperor. The coup d'état was crushed by the regular army and police forces. The coup attempt lacked broad popular support, was denounced by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and was unpopular with the army, air force and police. Nonetheless, the effort to depose the emperor had support among students and the educated classes.The coup attempt has been characterized as a pivotal moment in Ethiopian history, the point at which Ethiopians "for the first time questioned the power of the king to rule without the people's consent". Student populations began to empathize with the peasantry and poor, and to advocate on their behalf. The coup spurred Haile Selassie to accelerate reform, which was manifested in the form of land grants to military and police officials.
The emperor continued to be a staunch ally of the West, while pursuing a firm policy of decolonization in Africa, which was still largely under European colonial rule. The United Nations conducted a lengthy inquiry regarding the status of Eritrea, with the superpowers each vying for a stake in the state's future. Britain, the administrator at the time, suggested the partition of Eritrea between Sudan and Ethiopia, separating Christians and Muslims. The idea was instantly rejected by Eritrean political parties, as well as the UN.
A UN plebiscite voted 46 to 10 to have Eritrea be federated with Ethiopia, which was later stipulated on 2 December 1950 in resolution 390 (V). Eritrea would have its own parliament and administration and would be represented in what had been the Ethiopian parliament and would become the federal parliament. However, Haile Selassie would have none of European attempts to draft a separate Constitution under which Eritrea would be governed, and wanted his own 1955 Constitution protecting families to apply in both Ethiopia and Eritrea. In 1961 the 30-year Eritrean Struggle for Independence began, followed by Haile Selassie's dissolution of the federation and shutting down of Eritrea's parliament.
In 1961, tensions between independence-minded Eritreans and Ethiopian forces culminated in the Eritrean War of Independence. The emperor declared Eritrea the fourteenth province of Ethiopia in 1962. The war would continue for 30 years, as first Haile Selassie, then the Soviet-backed junta that succeeded him, attempted to retain Eritrea by force.
In 1963, Haile Selassie presided over the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the precursor of the continent-wideAfrican Union (AU). The new organization would establish its headquarters in Addis Ababa. In May of that year, Haile Selassie was elected as the OAU's first official chairperson, a rotating seat. Along with Modibo Keïta of Mali, the Ethiopian leader would later help successfully negotiate the Bamako Accords, which brought an end to the border conflict between Morocco and Algeria. In 1964, Haile Selassie would initiate the concept of the United States of Africa, a proposition later taken up by Muammar Gaddafi.
On 6 October 1963, Haile Selassie addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations, referring in his address to his earlier speech to the League of Nations:
Twenty-seven years ago, as Emperor of Ethiopia, I mounted the rostrum in Geneva, Switzerland, to address the League of Nations and to appeal for relief from the destruction which had been unleashed against my defenceless nation, by the fascist invader. I spoke then both to and for the conscience of the world. My words went unheeded, but history testifies to the accuracy of the warning that I gave in 1936. Today, I stand before the world organization which has succeeded to the mantle discarded by its discredited predecessor. In this body is enshrined the principle of collective security which I unsuccessfully invoked at Geneva. Here, in this Assembly, reposes the best – perhaps the last – hope for the peaceful survival of mankind.
In 1966, Haile Selassie attempted to create a modern, progressive tax that included registration of land, which would significantly weaken the nobility. Even with alterations, this law led to a revolt in Gojjam, which was repressed although enforcement of the tax was abandoned. The revolt, having achieved its design in undermining the tax, encouraged other landowners to defy Haile Selassie.
Student unrest became a regular feature of Ethiopian life in the 1960s and 1970s. Marxism took root in large segments of the Ethiopian intelligentsia, particularly among those who had studied abroad and had thus been exposed to radical and left-wing sentiments that were becoming popular in other parts of the globe. Resistance by conservative elements at the Imperial Court and Parliament, and by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, made Haile Selassie's land reform proposals difficult to implement, and also damaged the standing of the government, costing Haile Selassie much of the goodwill he had once enjoyed. This bred resentment among the peasant population. Efforts to weaken unions also hurt his image. As these issues began to pile up, Haile Selassie left much of domestic governance to his Prime Minister, Aklilu Habte Wold, and concentrated more on foreign affairs.
Famine—mostly in Wollo, north-eastern Ethiopia, as well as in some parts of Tigray—is estimated to have killed 40,000 to 80,000 Ethiopians between 1972 and 1974. A BBC News report has cited a 1973 estimate that 200,000 deaths occurred, based on a contemporaneous estimate from the Ethiopian Nutrition Institute. While this figure is still repeated in some texts and media sources, it was an estimate that was later found to be "over-pessimistic". Although the region is infamous for recurrent crop failures and continuous food shortage and starvation risk, this episode was remarkably severe. A 1973 production of the ITV programme The Unknown Famine by Jonathan Dimbleby.relied on the unverified estimate of 200,000 dead, stimulating a massive influx of aid while at the same time destabilizing Haile Selassie's regime.
Some reports suggest that the emperor was unaware of the extent of the famine, while others assert that he was well aware of it. In addition to the exposure of attempts by corrupt local officials to cover up the famine from the imperial government, the Kremlin's depiction of Haile Selassie's Ethiopia as backwards and inept (relative to the purported utopia ofMarxism-Leninism) contributed to the popular uprising that led to its downfall and the rise of Mengistu Haile Mariam.The famine and its image in the media undermined popular support of the government, and Haile Selassie's once unassailable personal popularity fell.
The crisis was exacerbated by military mutinies and high oil prices, the latter a result of the 1973 oil crisis. The international economic crisis triggered by the oil crisis caused the costs of imported goods, gasoline, and food to skyrocket, while unemployment spiked.
RevolutionIn February 1974, four days of serious riots in Addis against a sudden economic inflation left five dead. The emperor responded by announcing on national television a rollback of gasoline prices and a freeze on the cost of basic commodities. This calmed the public, but the promised 33% military wage hike was not substantial enough to pacify the army, which then mutinied, beginning in Asmara and spreading throughout the empire. This mutiny led to the resignation of Prime Minister Aklilu Habte Wold on 27 February 1974.Haile Selassie again went on television to agree to the army's demands for still greater pay, and named Endelkachew Makonnen as his new Prime Minister. However, despite Endalkatchew's many concessions, discontent continued in March with a four-day general strike that paralyzed the nation.
The Derg, a committee of low-ranking military officers and enlisted men, set up in June to investigate the military's demands, took advantage of the government's disarray to depose Haile Selassie on 12 September 1974. General Aman Mikael Andom, a Protestant of Eritrean origin, served briefly as provisional head of state pending the return of Crown Prince Asfa Wossen, who was then receiving medical treatment abroad. Haile Selassie was placed under house arrest briefly at the 4th Army Division in Addis Ababa, while most of his family was detained at the late Duke of Harar's residence in the north of the capital. The last months of the emperor's life were spent in imprisonment, in the Grand Palace.
Later, most of the imperial family was imprisoned in the Addis Ababa prison Kerchele, also known as "Alem Bekagne", or "Goodbye, cruel world". On 23 November 1974, sixty former high officials of the imperial government were executed without trial. The executed included Haile Selassie's grandson and two former Prime Ministers. These killings, known to Ethiopians as "Bloody Saturday", were condemned by Crown Prince Asfa Wossen; the Derg responded to his rebuke by revoking its acknowledgment of his imperial legitimacy, and announcing the end of the Solomonic dynasty.
Death and interment
On 28 August 1975, the state media reported that the "ex-monarch" Haile Selassie had died on 27 August of "respiratory failure" following complications from a prostate operation. His doctor, Asrat Woldeyes, denied that complications had occurred and rejected the government version of his death. Some imperial loyalists believed that the emperor had in fact been assassinated, and this belief remains widely held to this day. One western correspondent in Ethiopia at the time commented, "While it is not known what actually happened, there are strong indications that no efforts were made to save him. It is unlikely that he was actually killed. Such rumors were bound to arise no matter what happened, given the atmosphere of suspicion and distrust prevailing in Addis Ababa at the time." Court testimony given by the emperor's servants, however, indicates that they were ordered to leave his rooms for the night, and that they returned in the morning to find him dead in his bed, with a strong chemical smell in the room. They further testified that the emperor had been in perfect health the night before when they had left him. Professor Asrat Woldeyes also testified that his patient had completely recovered from the effects of the surgery and that there had been no complications.
The Soviet-backed Derg fell in 1991. In 1992, the emperor's bones were found under a concrete slab on the palace grounds; some reports suggest that his remains were discovered beneath a latrine. For almost a decade thereafter, as Ethiopian courts attempted to sort out the circumstances of his death, his coffin rested in Bhata Church, near his great uncle Menelik II's imperial resting place. On 5 November 2000, Haile Selassie was given an imperial-style funeral by the Ethiopian Orthodox church. The post-communist government refused calls to declare the ceremony an official imperial funeral.
Although such prominent Rastafarian figures as Rita Marley and others participated in the grand funeral, most Rastafari rejected the event and refused to accept that the bones were the remains of Haile Selassie. There remains some debate within the Rastafari movement as to whether Haile Selassie actually died in 1975.
There is some controversy as to Haile Selassie's eldest daughter, Princess Romanework. While the living members of the royal family state that Romanework is the eldest daughter of Empress Menen, it has been asserted that Princess Romanework is actually the daughter of a previous union of the emperor with Woizero Altayech. The emperor's own autobiography makes no mention of a previous marriage or having fathered children with anyone other than Empress Menen.
Today, Haile Selassie is worshipped as God incarnate among followers of the Rastafari movement (taken from Haile Selassie's pre-imperial name Ras – meaning Head – a title equivalent to Duke – Tafari Makonnen), which emerged in Jamaica during the 1930s under the influence of Marcus Garvey's "Pan Africanism" movement. He is viewed as the messiah who will lead the peoples of Africa and the African diaspora to freedom.His official titles are Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah and King of Kings and Elect of God, and his traditional lineage is thought to be from Solomon and Sheba. These notions are perceived by Rastafarians as confirmation of the return of the messiah in the prophetic Book of Revelation in the New Testament: King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and Root of David. Rastafari faith in the incarnate divinity of Haile Selassie began after news reports of his coronation reached Jamaica, particularly via the twoTime magazine articles on the coronation the week before and the week after the event. Haile Selassie's own perspectives permeate the philosophy of the movement.
In 1961, the Jamaican government sent a delegation composed of both Rastafari and non-Rastafari leaders to Ethiopia to discuss the matter of repatriation, among other issues, with the emperor. He reportedly told the Rastafarian delegation (which included Mortimer Planno), "Tell the Brethren to be not dismayed, I personally will give my assistance in the matter of repatriation."
Haile Selassie visited Jamaica on 21 April 1966, and approximately one hundred thousand Rastafari from all over Jamaica descended on Palisadoes Airport in Kingston, having heard that the man whom they considered to be their messiah was coming to visit them. Spliffs and chaliceswere openly smoked, causing "a haze of ganja smoke" to drift through the air. Haile Selassie arrived at the airport but was unable to come down the mobile steps of the airplane, as the crowd rushed the tarmac. He then returned into the plane, disappearing for several more minutes. Finally, Jamaican authorities were obliged to request Ras Mortimer Planno, a well-known Rasta leader, to climb the steps, enter the plane, and negotiate the emperor's descent. Planno re-emerged and announced to the crowd: "The Emperor has instructed me to tell you to be calm. Step back and let the Emperor land". This day is widely held by scholars to be a major turning point for the movement, and it is still commemorated by Rastafarians as Grounation Day, the anniversary of which is celebrated as the second holiest holiday after 2 November, the emperor's Coronation Day.
From then on, as a result of Planno's actions, the Jamaican authorities were asked to ensure that Rastafarian representatives were present at all state functions attended by the emperor, and Rastafarian elders also ensured that they obtained a private audience with the emperor,where he reportedly told them that they should not emigrate to Ethiopia until they had first liberated the people of Jamaica. This dictum came to be known as "liberation before repatriation".
Haile Selassie defied expectations of the Jamaican authorities, and never rebuked the Rastafari for their belief in him as the returned Jesus. Instead, he presented the movement's faithful elders with gold medallions – the only recipients of such an honor on this visit. During PNPleader (later Jamaican Prime Minister) Michael Manley's visit to Ethiopia in October 1969, the emperor allegedly still recalled his 1966 reception with amazement, and stated that he felt that he had to be respectful of their beliefs. This was the visit when Manley received the Rod of Correction or Rod of Joshua as a present from the emperor, which is thought to have helped him to win the 1972 election in Jamaica.
Rita Marley, Bob Marley's wife, converted to the Rastafari faith after seeing Haile Selassie on his Jamaican trip. She claimed in interviews (and in her book No Woman, No Cry) that she saw a stigmata print on the palm of Haile Selassie's hand as he waved to the crowd which resembled the markings on Christ's hands from being nailed to the cross—a claim that was not supported by other sources, but was used as evidence for her and other Rastafarians to suggest that Haile Selassie I was indeed their messiah. She was also influential in the conversion of Bob Marley, who then became internationally recognized. As a result, Rastafari became much better known throughout much of the world. Bob Marley's posthumously released song Iron Lion Zion refers to Haile Selassie.
Question of his divinity
According to Robert Earl Hood, Haile Selassie "never denied or affirmed his divinity." In Reggae Routes: The Story of Jamaican Music, Kevin Chang and Wayne Chen note
It's often said, though no definite date is ever cited, that Selassie himself denied his divinity. Former senator and Gleaner editor, Hector Wynter, tells of asking him, during his visit to Jamaica in 1966, when he was going to tell Rastafarians he was not God. "Who am I to disturb their belief?" replied the emperor.
After his return to Ethiopia, he dispatched Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq Mandefro to the Caribbean to help draw Rastafarians and other West Indians to the Ethiopian church and, according to some sources, denied his divinity.
In 1948, Haile Selassie donated a piece of land at Shashamane, 250 km south of Addis Ababa, for the use of people of African descent from the West Indies. Numerous Rastafari families settled there and still live as a community to this day.
In 2008 a full-length feature film, Man of the Millennium, was produced by an Ethiopian film-maker, Tikher Teferra Kidane of Exodus Films, in collaboration with an Alaskan TV station Tanana Valley TV and 4th Avenue Films.
A house built on granite and strong foundations, not even the onslaught of pouring rain, gushing torrents and strong winds will be able to pull down. Some people have written the story of my life representing as truth what in fact derives from ignorance, error or envy; but they cannot shake the truth from its place, even if they attempt to make others believe it. —Preface to My Life and Ethiopia's Progress, Autobiography of H.I.M. Haile Selassie I (English translation) That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation; That until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained and until the ignoble but unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique, and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and goodwill; until all Africans stand and speak as free human beings, equal in the eyes of the Almighty; until that day, the African continent shall not know peace. We Africans will fight if necessary and we know that we shall win as we are confident in the victory of good over evil. —English translation of 1963 Speech delivered to the United Nations and popularized in a song called War by Bob Marley. Apart from the Kingdom of the Lord there is not on this earth any nation that is superior to any other. Should it happen that a strong Government finds it may with impunity destroy a weak people, then the hour strikes for that weak people to appeal to the League of Nations to give its judgment in all freedom. God and history will remember your judgment. —Address to the League of Nations, 1936. We have finished the job. What shall we do with the tools? — Telegram to Winston Churchill, 1941. Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph. Today I stand before the world organization which has succeeded to the mantle discarded by its discredited predecessor. —In a speech to the United Nations. Misguided people sometimes create misguided ideas. Some of my ancestors were Oromo. How can I colonize myself? — in response to accusations by dissidents I have heard of that idea [i.e., of Haile Selassie being the reincarnation of Jesus Christ]. I also met certain Rastafarians. I told them clearly that I am a man, that I am mortal, and that I would be replaced by the oncoming generation, and that they should never make a mistake in assuming or pretending that the human being is emanated from a deity." — Interview with Bill McNeil. A qualified man with vision, unmoved by daily selfish interests, will be led to right decisions by his conscience. In general, a man who knows from whence he comes and where he is going will co-operate with his fellow human beings. He will not be satisfied with merely doing his ordinary duties but will inspire others by his good example. You are being watched by the nation and you should realize that you will satisfy it if you do good; but if, on the contrary, you do evil, it will lose its hope and its confidence in you." — 2 July 1963 – University Graduation