Emperor of Ethiopia

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Emperor of Ethiopia
Former Monarchy
Imperial
Imperial coat of arms of Ethiopia (Haile Selassie).svg
Imperial Coat of arms
Selassie restored.jpg
Haile Selassie I
First monarch Menelik I
Last monarch Haile Selassie I
Style His Imperial Majesty
Official residence Menelik Palace
Appointer Hereditary
Monarchy began c. 980 BC[1]
Monarchy ended 21 March 1975
Current pretender(s) Zera Yacob Amha Selassie

The Emperor of Ethiopia (Ge'ez: ንጉሠ ነገሥት, nəgusä nägäst, "King of Kings") was the hereditary ruler of Ethiopia until the abolition of the monarchy in 1975. The Emperor was the head of state and head of government, with ultimate executive, judicial and legislative power in that country. A National Geographic Magazine article called imperial Ethiopia "nominally a constitutional monarchy; in fact [it was] a benevolent autocracy."[2]

Style[edit]

The title of "King of Kings", often rendered imprecisely in English as "Emperor", dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, but was used in Axum by King Sembrouthes (c. 250 AD). However, Yuri Kobishchanov dates this usage to the period following the Persian victory over the Romans in 296-297.[3] Its use, from at least the reign of Yekuno Amlak onward, meant that both subordinate officials and tributary rulers, notably the gubernatorial vassals of Gojjam (who ranked 12th in the states non-dynastic protocol as per 1690), Welega, the seaward provinces and later Shewa, received the honorific title of nəgus, a word for "king."

The consort of the Emperor was referred to as the ətege. Empress Zauditu used the feminized form nəgəstä nägäst ("Queen of Kings") to show that she reigned in her own right, and did not use the title of ətege.

Succession[edit]

Imperial Standard (obverse)
Imperial Standard (reverse)

Succession to the throne at the death of the Monarch could be claimed by any male blood relative of the Emperor: sons, brothers, uncles or cousins. Primogeniture was preferred but not always enforced. As a result, two steps were taken: the first, employed on occasion before the 20th century, was to intern all of the Emperor's possible rivals in a secure location, which drastically limited their ability to disrupt the Empire with revolts or dispute the succession of an heir apparent; the second was that, with increasing frequency, Emperors were selected by a council of the senior officials of the realm, both secular and religious.

Ethiopian traditions do not all agree as to exactly when the custom started of imprisoning rivals to the throne on a Mountain of the Princes. One tradition credits this practice to the Zagwe king Yemrehana Krestos, who is said to have received the idea in a dream;[4] Taddesse Tamrat discredits this tradition, arguing that the records of the Zagwe dynasty betray too many disputed successions for this to have been the case.[5] Another tradition, recorded by Thomas Pakenham, states that this practice predates the Zagwe dynasty, and was first practiced on Debre Damo, which was captured by the 10th-century queen Gudit, who then isolated 200 princes there to death; however, Pakenham also notes that when questioned, the abbot of the monastery on Debre Damo knew of no such tale.[6] Taddesse Tamrat argues that this practice began in the reign of Wedem Arad, following the struggle for succession that he believes lies behind the series of brief reigns of the sons of Yagbe'u Seyon. A constructivist approach states that the tradition was used on occasion, weakened or lapsed sometimes, and was sometimes revived to full effect after some unfortunate disputes - and that the custom started in time immemorial as Ethiopian common inheritance pattern allowed all agnates to also succeed to the lands of the monarchy - which however is contrary to keeping the country undivided.

These potential rivals were incarcerated at Amba Geshen until Ahmed Gragn captured and destroyed that site; then, from the reign of Fasilides until the mid-18th century, at Wehni. Rumors of these royal mountain residences were part of the inspiration for Samuel Johnson's short story, Rasselas.

Although the Emperor of Ethiopia had theoretically unlimited power over his subjects, his councilors came to play an increasing role in governing Ethiopia, because many Emperors were succeeded either by a child, or one of the incarcerated princes, who could only successfully leave their prisons with help from the outside. As a result, by the mid-18th century the power of the Emperor had been largely transferred to his deputies, like Ras Mikael Sehul of Tigray, who held the actual power of the Empire and elevated or deposed Emperors at will in their struggle for control of the entire realm.

Ideology[edit]

The Emperors of Ethiopia derived their right to rule based on two dynastic claims: their descent from the kings of Axum, and their descent from Menelik I, the son of Solomon and Makeda, Queen of Sheba.

The claim to their relationship to the Kings of Axum derives from Yakuno Amlak's claim that he was the descendant of Dil Na'od, through his father, although he defeated and killed the last Zagwe king in battle. His claim to the throne was also helped by his marriage to that king's daughter, even though Ethiopians commonly do not acknowledge claims from the distaff side.

The claim of descent from Menelik I is based on the assertion that the kings of Axum were also the descendants of Menelik I; its definitive and best-known formulation is set forth in the Kebra Nagast. While the surviving records of these kings fail to shed light on their origins, this genealogical claim is first documented in the 10th century by an Arab historian. Interpretations of this claim vary widely. Some (including many inside Ethiopia) accept it as evident fact. At the other extreme, others (mostly interested non-Ethiopians) understand this as an expression of propaganda, attempting to connect the legitimacy of the state to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Some scholars take an approach in the middle, attempting to either find a connection between Axum and the South Arabian kingdom of Saba, or between Axum and the pre-exilic Kingdom of Judah. Due to lack of primary materials, it is not possible as of 2006 to determine which theory is the more plausible.

History[edit]

The Solomonic dynasty[edit]

Conquering Lion of Judah

The restored Solomonic dynasty, which claimed descent from the old Aksumite rulers, ruled Ethiopia from 13th century until 1974, with only a couple of usurpers. The most significant usurper was Kassa of Kwara, who in 1855 took complete control over Ethiopia and was crowned Tewodros II (he developed a claim to have been descended from Solomonics in distaff side). After his defeat and demise, another Solomonic dynasty, Dejazmatch Kassai took over as Yohannes IV; however, his distaff descent from Solomonics was a well-attested fact. Menelik of Shewa, who descended from Solomonic Emperors, in the direct male line (junior only to the Gondar line), ascended the imperial throne following Yohannis IV's death, thus purporting to restore the male-line Solomonic tradition.

The most famous post-Theodorean Emperors were Yohannes IV, Menelik II and Haile Selassie. Emperor Menelik II achieved a major military victory against Italian invaders in March 1896 at the Battle of Adwa actually Ras Alula Abanega play great role on the victory, the first major victory of an African nation against a colonial power. Menelik gave Eritrea to Italy and also sold Djubouti to France. After Menelik, all monarchs were of distaff descent from Solomonics. The male line, through the descendants of Menelik's cousin Dejazmatch Taye Gulilat, still existed, but had been pushed aside largely because of Menelik's personal distaste for this branch of his family. Menelik's Solomonic successors ruled the country until the military coup in 1974.

Italian conquest of Ethiopia[edit]

In 1936, with the Italian conquest of Ethiopia, Emperor Haile Selassie was forced to flee abroad. Benito Mussolini instead declared Ethiopia,and Eritrea was not part of Ethiopia before Italian colonization as It was controlled by Egypt . Victor Emmanuel III was proclaimed Emperor of Ethiopia - a title considered illegitimate by parts of the international community, which lasted only five years.

Return of Haile Selassie[edit]

Haile Selassie returned to power with the British conquest of the Italian East Africa during World War II. In January 1942 he was officially reinstated to power in Ethiopia by the British government.

The position of the Emperor and the Line of succession were strictly defined in both of the constitutions adopted during the reign of Haile Selassie: the one adopted on July 16, 1931; and the revised one of November 1955.

The last Solomonic monarch to rule Ethiopia was Amha Selassie, who was offered the throne by the Derg after his father Haile Selassie's deposition on September 12, 1974. When Amha Selassie, understandably mistrustful of the Derg, refused to return to Ethiopia to rule, the Derg announced that the monarchy had come to an end in 21 March 1975. In April 1989, Amha Selassie was proclaimed Emperor in exile at London, with his succession backdated to the date of Emperor Haile Selassie's death in August 1975 rather than his deposition in September of 1974. In 1993 a group called the "Crown Council of Ethiopia", which includes several descendants of Haile Selassie, claimed that the nəgusä nägäst was still in existence, and was the legal head of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian constitution of 1995 confirmed the abolition of the Emperorship.

Family tree[edit]

Legend[edit]

Lion of Judah.svg EMPEROR (bold, capital letters)


Marriage


Descent


Uncertain/purported/legendary descent
HOUSE OF DAVID
Star of David.svg
SOLOMON
King of Israel
MAKEDA
Queen of Sheba
Lion of Judah.svg
MENELIK I
Semi-legendary first emperor
KINGS OF AXUM
(mostly ahistorical, legendary genealogy)
DIL NA'OD
Last King of Axum
Lion of Judah.svg
MARA TAKLA HAYMANOT
(1)
Masoba Warq
Mkhbara Widam
(Mahbere-Widam)
ZAGWE DYNASTY
Lion of Judah.svg
TATADIM
(2)
Lion of Judah.svg
JAN SEYUM
(3)
Lion of Judah.svg
GERMA SEYUM
(4)
Agba Seyun
(Yakob)
Lion of Judah.svg
KEDUS HARBE
(6)
Lion of Judah.svg
GEBRE MESQEL LALIBELA
(7)
Lion of Judah.svg
YEMREHANA KRESTOS
(5)
Sinfa Ar'ad
Lion of Judah.svg
NA'AKUETO LA'AB
(8)
Lion of Judah.svg
YETBARAK
(9)
Negus Zaré
Asfiha
Yakob
Bahr Seggad
Zagwe Dynasty continued to rule in Lasta for centuries; restored to imperial throne in 1868.
Adam Asgad
(Widma Asgad)
Tasfa Iyasus
Lion of Judah.svg
YEKUNO AMLAK
1270–1285
SOLOMONIC DYNASTY
Lion of Judah.svg
Yagbe'u Seyon
(SALOMON I)

1285–1294
Lion of Judah.svg
WEDEM ARAD
1299–1314
Prince Qidma Seggada
Lion of Judah.svg
SENFA ARED IV
1294–1295
Lion of Judah.svg
HEZBA ASGAD
1295–1296
Lion of Judah.svg
QEDMA ASGAD
1296–1297
Lion of Judah.svg
JIN ASGAD
1297–1298
Lion of Judah.svg
SABA ASGAD
1298–1299
Lion of Judah.svg
AMDA SEYON I
1314–1344
Lion of Judah.svg
NEWAYA KRESTOS
1344–1372
Lion of Judah.svg
DAWIT I
1382–1413
Lion of Judah.svg
NEWAYA MARYAM
1372–1382
Lion of Judah.svg
TEWODROS I
1413–1414
Lion of Judah.svg
YESHAQ I
1414–1429
Lion of Judah.svg
TAKLA MARYAM
1430–1433
Lion of Judah.svg
ZARA YAQOB
1434–1468
Lion of Judah.svg
ANDREYAS
1429–1430
Lion of Judah.svg
SARWE IYASUS
1433
Lion of Judah.svg
AMDA IYASUS
1433–1434
Lion of Judah.svg
BAEDA MARYAM I
1468–1478
Lion of Judah.svg
ESKENDER
1478–1494
Lion of Judah.svg
NA'OD
1494–1507
Lion of Judah.svg
AMDA SEYON II
1494
Lion of Judah.svg
DAWIT II
1507–1540
Lion of Judah.svg
GELAWDEWOS
1540–1559
Lion of Judah.svg
MENAS
1559–1563
Prince Yakob
SOLOMONIC DYNASTY
GONDAR BRANCH
SOLOMONIC DYNASTY
SHEWA BRANCH
Lion of Judah.svg
SARSA DENGEL
1563–1597
Prince Lesana Krestos
Prince Fasilidas
Prince Segwa Qal
Lion of Judah.svg
YAQOB
1597–1603
1604–1606
Lion of Judah.svg
ZA DENGEL
1603–1604
Lion of Judah.svg
SUSENYOS I
1606–1632
Warada Qal
Lion of Judah.svg
FASILIDES
1632–1667
Lebsa Qal
Lion of Judah.svg
YOHANNES I
1667–1682
Negasi Krestos
Ruler of Shewa
Princess Amlakawit
Lion of Judah.svg
IYASU I
1682–1706
Lion of Judah.svg
TEWOFLOS
1708–1711
Sebestyanos
Ruler of Shewa
Delba Iyasus
Dejazmatch of Tigray
Lion of Judah.svg
TEKLE HAYMANOT I
1706–1708
Lion of Judah.svg
BAKAFFA
1721–1730
Lion of Judah.svg
DAWIT III
1716–1721
Lion of Judah.svg
YOHANNES II
1769
Qedami Qal
Ruler of Shewa
Lion of Judah.svg
YOSTOS
1711–1716
Lion of Judah.svg
IYASU II
1730–1755
Lion of Judah.svg
TEKLE HAYMANOT II
1769–1770
1770–1777
Lion of Judah.svg
TEKLE GIYORGIS I
1779–1784
1788–1789
1794–1795
1795–1796
1798–1799
1800
Amha Iyasus
Ruler of Shewa
Prince Adigo
Prince Atsequ
Lion of Judah.svg
IYOAS I
1755–1769
Lion of Judah.svg
HEZQEYAS
1789–1794
Lion of Judah.svg
SALOMON III
1796–1797
1799
Lion of Judah.svg
YOHANNES III
1840–1841
1845
1850–1851
Asfa Wossen
Ruler of Shewa
Lion of Judah.svg
SALOMON II
1777–1779
Lion of Judah.svg
IYASU III
1784–1788
Lion of Judah.svg
EGWALE SEYON
1801–1818
Lion of Judah.svg
IYOAS II
1818–1821
Lion of Judah.svg
IYASU IV
1830–1832
Unascertainable claims of descent from Fasilides
(intermediate generations omitted)
Wossen Seged
Ruler of Shewa
(alleged sons of Iyasu II)
Lion of Judah.svg
BAEDA MARYAM II
1795
Lion of Judah.svg
SUSENYOS II
1770
Lion of Judah.svg
GIGAR
1821–1826
1826–1830
Lion of Judah.svg
YONAS
1797–1798
Gabre Masai
Lion of Judah.svg
DEMETROS
1799–1800
1800–1801
Lion of Judah.svg
GEBRE KRESTOS
1832
Lion of Judah.svg
SAHLE DENGEL
1832–1840
1841–1845
1845–1850
1851–1855
Sahle Selassie
Ruler of Shewa
N.B.: BAEDA MARYAM III (1826) omitted due to unknown parentage
TIGRAY DYNASTY
TEWODROS DYNASTY
Mirtcha Wolde Kidane
Shum of Tembien
Lion of Judah.svg
TEWODROS II
1855–1868
Haile Melekot
Ruler of Shewa
Princess Tenagnework
ZAGWE DYNASTY
(RESTORED)
Lion of Judah.svg
TEKLE GIYORGIS II
1868–1872
Empress Dinqinesh
Lion of Judah.svg
YOHANNES IV
1872–1889
Woizero Altash
Lion of Judah.svg
MENELIK II
1889–1913
Other wives
Ras Makonnen
Governor of Harar
Araya Selassie
King of Tigray
Lion of Judah.svg
ZEWDITU I
1916–1930
Princess Shoagarad
Lion of Judah.svg
HAILE SELASSIE I
1930–1974
Lion of Judah.svg
IYASU V
1913–1916
AMHA SELASSIE
1989–1997
Crown Prince
Titular Emperor
ZERA SELASSIE
1997–present
Crown Prince
Titular Emperor

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "The Ark of the Covenant: The Ethiopian Tradition". Retrieved 2013-02-16. 
  2. ^ Nathaniel T. Kenney, "Ethiopian Adventure", National Geographic, 127 (1965), p. 555.
  3. ^ Yuri M. Kobishchanov, Axum, translated by Lorraine T. Kapitanoff, and edited by Joseph W. Michels (University Park: University of Pennsylvania State Press, 1979), p. 195. ISBN 0-271-00531-9.
  4. ^ Francisco Álvares, The Prester John of the Indies, translated by Lord Stanley of Alderley, revised and edited with additional material by C.F. Beckingham and G.W.B. Huntingford, (Cambridge: The Hakluyt Society, 1961), p. 237ff.
  5. ^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia (1270 - 1527) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 275, n. 3. ISBN 0-19-821671-8.
  6. ^ Thomas Pakenham, The Mountains of Rasselas (New York: Reynal & Co., 1959), p. 84. ISBN 0-297-82369-8.

References[edit]

External links[edit]