Araya Selassie Yohannes

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Araya Selassie Yohannes

Araya Selassie Yohannes (1867–1888)[1] was an army commander and a member of the royal family of the Ethiopian Empire.


Leul[nb 1] Araya Selassie Yohannes was born in Enderta, a part of Tigray in Ethiopia in 1867, the legitimate son of Emperor (Nəgusä Nägäst)[nb 2] Yohannes IV of Ethiopia. Mengesha Yohannes was his illegitimate half brother.

Araya Selassie Yohannes (right) with his father, Emperor Yohannes IV (left).

In 1882, the fifteen-year-old Leul Araya Selassie Yohannes married six-year-old Leult[nb 3] Zewditu, eldest daughter of Negus[nb 4] Menelik of Shewa. The marriage was political, having been arranged when Menelik agreed to submit to Yohannes' rule.

In 1883, Araya Selassie Yohannes was made Shum[nb 5] of Wollo Province[2] and, in 1886, he was made Shum of Begemder Province.

In 1885, Araya Selassie Yohannes fathered a son, Gugsa Araya Selassie. The mother's identity is unknown.

In June 1888, while in Mek'ele gathering an army for his father, Araya Selassie Yohannes died of smallpox.

Familial rivalry[edit]

Familial rivalry between the two lines of descent from Emperor Yohannes IV proved to be a difficult issue for Emperor Menelik II and his successors. Tigray Province was divided between Ras Gugsa Araya Selassie, the son of Ras Araya Selassie Yohannes, and Ras Seyum Mangasha, the son of Ras Mangasha Yohannes. Gugsa Araya Selassie ruled the eastern half of Tigray and Seyum Mangasha ruled the western half.

The balance was initially in Gugsa Araya Sellassie's favor. Ras Seyum Mangasha, having married Lij[nb 6] Iyasu's half sister, was suspected of hiding the deposed Emperor designate in his home. Ras Gugsa Araya Selassie as the former stepson of Empress Zewditu was seen as more firmly in the anti-Iyasu camp. This was further cemented when Ras Gugsa Araya Selassie captured Lij Iyasu and handed him over to the central government. Gugsa Araya Selassie then married as his third wife, Leult Yeshashework Yilma, the niece of Emperor Haile Selassie.

In 1935, the war with Italy and the occupation of Ethiopia changed the balance in Tigray completely.

In 1947, after the death of Gugsa Araya Selassie, eastern Tigray Province was incorporated back into western Tigray. All of Tigray Province was then governed by Ras Seyum Mangasha. This was done rather than have any part of Tigray be ruled by the dishonored Ras Haile Selassie Gugsa, the grandson of Araya Selassie Yohannes who openly supported the Italians during the invasion and occupation.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Roughly equivalent to Prince.
  2. ^ Roughly equivalent to King of Kings.
  3. ^ Roughly equivalent to Princess.
  4. ^ Roughly equivalent to King.
  5. ^ Roughly equivalent to Governor.
  6. ^ Roughly equivalent to Child.
  1. ^ Shinn, Historical dictionary of Ethiopia, p.35
  2. ^ Marcus, A History of Ethiopia, p. 80
  3. ^ Mockler, Haile Sellassie's War, p. 396


  • Marcus, Harold G. (1994). A History of Ethiopia. London: University of California Press. p. 316. ISBN 0-520-22479-5. 
  • Mockler, Anthony (2002). Haile Sellassie's War. New York: Olive Branch Press. ISBN 978-1-56656-473-1. 
  • Shinn, David Hamilton, Ofcansky, Thomas P., and Prouty, Chris (2004). Historical dictionary of Ethiopia. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 633. ISBN 0-8108-4910-0.