House of Solomon (Solomonic dynasty)
The Solomonic dynasty is the traditional royal house of Ethiopia, claiming descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, who is said to have given birth to the traditional first king Menelik I after her Biblically-described visit to Solomon in Jerusalem. The identification of Ethiopia with the Biblical Sheba and the traditional accounts of the dynasty's founding are accepted within Ethiopia but are doubted by many Western scholars.
The dynasty, a bastion of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, came to rule Ethiopia on 10 Nehasé 1262 EC (August 10, AD 1270) when Yekuno Amlak overthrew the last ruler of the Zagwe dynasty. Yekuno Amlak claimed direct male line descent from the old Axumite royal house that the Zagwe's had replaced on the throne. The Solomonics continued to rule Ethiopia with few interruptions until 1974, when the last emperor, Haile Selassie, was deposed. The royal family is currently non-regnant. Members of the family in Ethiopia at the time of the 1974 revolution were imprisoned, and others were exiled. The women of the dynasty were released by the Derg regime from prison in 1989, and the men were released in 1990. Several members were then allowed to leave the country in mid 1990, and the rest were allowed to leave in 1991 upon the fall of the Derg regime in 1991. Many members of the Imperial family have since returned to live in Ethiopia in recent years.
The Imperial Coat of Arms was adopted by Emperor Haile Selassie, and is currently held by his direct heirs in the male line. The arms are composed of an Imperial Throne flanked by two angels, one holding a sword and a pair of scales, the other holding the Imperial scepter. The throne is often shown with a Christian cross, a Star of David, and a crescent moon on it (representing the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions). It is surmounted by a red mantle and an Imperial crown, and before the throne is the Lion of Judah symbol. The Lion of Judah by itself was at the center of the Ethiopian tri-color flag during the monarchy, and is thus the chief symbol of the Ethiopian monarchist movement. The phrase "Moa Ambassa ze imnegede Yehuda", (Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah) appeared on the arms, and was always preceded the Emperor's official style and titles, but referring to Christ rather than the monarch. The official Imperial Dynastic moto was "Ityopia tabetsih edewiha habe Igziabiher" (Ethiopia stretches her hands unto the Lord) from the book of Psalms.
When including the old Axumite rulers descended from Menelik I, and the Yuktanite ancestors of the Queen of Sheba, the Ethiopian Royal House is the oldest in the world along with that of Japan.
During much of dynasty's existence, its effective realm was the northwestern quadrant of present-day Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Highlands. The Empire expanded and contracted over the centuries, sometimes incorporating parts of modern day Sudan, and coastal areas of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, and extending south toward modern day Kenya as well. Southern and eastern regions were permanently incorporated during the last two centuries, some by Shewan kings and some by Emperors Menelek II and Haile Selassie; though much of the central, and southern regions were incorporated into the empire under the Emperors Amda Seyon I and Zar'a Ya'iqob but peripheral areas were lost after the invasion of Ahmad Gragn.
- A. K. Irvine, "Review: The Different Collections of Nägś Hymns in Ethiopic Literature and Their Contributions." Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. School of Oriental and African Studies, 1985.
- Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia (1270 - 1527) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p 275.