The Emperor of Ethiopia (Ge'ez: ንጉሠ ነገሥት, nəgusä nägäst, "King of Kings") was the hereditary ruler of the Ethiopian Empire, 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 article called imperial Ethiopia "nominally a constitutional monarchy; in fact [it was] a benevolent autocracy".
|Emperor of Ethiopia|
|Style||His Imperial Majesty|
|First monarch||Menelik I|
|Last monarch||Haile Selassie|
|Formation||c. 980 BC|
|Abolition||21 March 1975|
|Pretender(s)||Zera Yacob Amha Selassie|
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. 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.
At the death of a monarch any male or female blood relative of the Emperor could claim succession to the throne: sons, brothers, uncles or cousins. Practice favoured primogeniture but did not always enforce it. The system developed two approaches to controlling the succession: the first, employed on occasion before the 20th century, involved interning all of the Emperor's possible rivals in a secure location, which drastically limited their ability to disrupt the Empire with revolts or to dispute the succession of an heir apparent; the second, used with increasing frequency, involved the selection of Emperors 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 (fl. 11th century), who allegedly received the idea in a dream; 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. Another tradition, recorded by historian Thomas Pakenham, states that this practice predates the Zagwe dynasty (which ruled from ca. 900 AD), 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. Taddesse Tamrat argues that this practice began in the reign of Wedem Arad (1299–1314), following the struggle for succession that he believes lies behind the series of brief reigns of the sons of Yagbe'u Seyon (reigned 1285–1294). 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 patterns allowed all agnates to also succeed to the lands of the monarchy – which however is contrary to keeping the country undivided.
The potential royal rivals were incarcerated at Amba Geshen until Ahmed Gragn captured that site in 1540 and destroyed it; then, from the reign of Fasilides (1632–1667) 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 councillors 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 (ca. 1691 – 1779), who held actual power in the Empire and elevated or deposed Emperors at will.
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.
The restored Solomonic dynasty, which claimed descent from the old Aksumite rulers, ruled Ethiopia from the 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 the Solomonics on the 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. Menelik lost Eritrea to Italy and 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.
In 1936, with the Italian conquest of Ethiopia, Emperor Haile Selassie was forced to flee abroad. Benito Mussolini soon declared Ethiopia, together with Italian Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, a colonial Empire called Italian East Africa ("Africa Orientale Italiana").
During the summer of 1936 Victor Emmanuel III of Italy proclaimed himself Emperor of Ethiopia, a title that was initially considered illegitimate by the international community, but in 1940 was recognized by most members of the League of Nations. In June 1940, even the US and USSR were starting the process of recognition of the title (only Mexico never recognized it), but World War II blocked all this. The title lasted almost five years, until 1941. Victor Emmanuel III later officially renounced the title at the end of 1943.
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.
Haile Selassie was the last Solomonic monarch to rule Ethiopia. He was deposed by the Derg, the committee of lower-ranking military and police officials on September 12, 1974. The Derg offered the throne to Haile Selassie's son Amha Selassie, who – understandably mistrustful of the Derg – refused to return to Ethiopia to rule. The Derg abolished the monarchy on 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 1974. In 1993 a group called the "Crown Council of Ethiopia", which included several descendants of Haile Selassie, affirmed Amha as Emperor and legal head of Ethiopia. However, the 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia confirmed the abolition of the monarchy.
Year 1494 (MCDXCIV) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.Agaw people
The Agaw (Ge'ez: አገው Agäw, modern Agew) are an ethnic Cushitic peoples inhabiting Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea. They speak Agaw languages, which belong to the Cushitic branch of the Afroasiatic language family.Amda Seyon II
Amda Seyon II (Ge'ez: ዓምደ ፡ ጽዮን ʿāmda ṣiyōn, Amharic: āmde ṣiyōn, "Pillar of Zion") (c. 1487 – October 26, 1494) was Emperor of Ethiopia and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the infant son of Eskender, and a second wife of Eskander's father Baeda Maryam I.
Amda Seyon quickly became the pawn in the struggle for control of the throne, which ended in his death, and the ascension of Na'od. As Taddesse Tamrat writes, "Amda-Seyon's reign lasted for only six months, and even the hagiographer betrays a sense of great relief at the announcement of his death."Constitutions of Ethiopia
Ethiopia has had four constitutions:
1931 Constitution of Ethiopia
1955 Constitution of Ethiopia
1987 Constitution of Ethiopia
1995 Constitution of EthiopiaA proposed revision of the 1955 constitution was released in 1974, but it had no legal effect, and was soon forgotten in the events of the Ethiopian Revolution.
Until the adoption of the first of these constitutions, the concepts of Ethiopian government had been codified in the Kebra Nagast (which presented the concept that the legitimacy of the Emperor of Ethiopia was based on its asserted descent from king Solomon of ancient Israel), and the Fetha Negest (a legal code used in Ethiopia at least as early as 1450 to define the rights and responsibilities of the monarch and subjects, as defined by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church).Crown Council of Ethiopia
The Crown Council of Ethiopia was the constitutional body within the Ethiopian Empire, which advised the reigning Emperor of Ethiopia (Ge'ez: ንጉሠ ነገሥት, Nəgusä Nägäst). It also acted on behalf of the Crown. The council’s members were appointed by the Emperor.
The Communist Derg deposed the last Emperor, Haile Selassie I on 12 September 1974, and dissolved the Council. Most members of the Council were imprisoned and executed, including its president, Prince Asrate Medhin Kassa. The Derg announced that the monarchy had been abolished early in the following year. However, in 1993, a new Crown Council — which included several descendants of the late Haile Selassie I — asserted that the title of Emperor of Ethiopia was still in existence, and the Crown Council would act in its interests. Its justification was that the abolition of the monarchy by the Derg was extra-constitutional and carried out illegally.
The Crown Council of Ethiopia acted as Government-in-exile of the Ethiopian Empire (thus claiming Ethiopia & Eritrea).
The Federal Constitution of 1995 confirmed the status of the country as a republic, but Ethiopian royalists continue to operate the Crown Council. The Ethiopian government has however continued to accord members of the Imperial family their princely titles as a matter of courtesy. On 16 March 2005, Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie was reaffirmed by his second cousin Prince Zera Yacob as the President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia. Prince Zera Yacob is considered to be the Crown Prince of Ethiopia. On July 28, 2004, the Crown Council redefined its role by redirecting its mission from the political realm to a mission of cultural preservation, development and humanitarian efforts in Ethiopia.Demetros
Demetros or Demetrius (died 1802) was Emperor of Ethiopia from July 25, 1799 to March 24, 1800 and from June 1800 to June 1801. He was the son of Arqedewos. He may be the same person as the "Adimo" mentioned in the account of the traveler Henry Salt who was dead by the time of Salt's visit to northern Ethiopia in 1809/1810.Demetros was elevated as Emperor by Dejazmach Gugsa and his brother Alula, who put his predecessor Emperor Salomon III in chains. Four days later he made Gugsa Dejazmach over Begemder, and five days after that Demetros appointed Alula Kenyazmach. However, in March of the next year, Tekle Giyorgis returned to Gondar, supported by Ras Wolde Selassie, and while Tekle Giyorgis made a point of not entering the palace, Demetros is commonly considered to have been deposed at that point.Demetros' restoration was not a solemn affair. According to the Royal Chronicle of Abyssinia, while Tekle Giyorgis was away from Gondar campaigning in the provinces, Demetros was dragged to the Royal Palace against his will where he was made ruler. "After that they turned him out and bringing in Takla Giyorgis King of Kings made him King over the other and even yet a third time drove him out of the Royal Palace when he had done nothing."On this rapid succession of emperors at the will of the powerful warlords, the writer of The Royal Chronicle lamented,
I indeed am sad and stricken on account of this persecution of those revered kings. Who shall restore the dominion of the kingdom to you as of old he restored the kingdom from the Zague to the house of David, through the prayer of Iyasus Mo'a, and the covenant of Abuna Takla Haymanot, may he grant us this day that he restore the Kingdom. Amen.The Royal Chronicle records his death late in 1802. He was buried at Ba'ata.Fasilides
Fasilides (Ge'ez: ፋሲልደስ Fāsīladas, modern Fāsīledes; 20 November 1603 – 18 October 1667), also known as Fasil or Basilide, was emperor of Ethiopia from 1632 to 18 October 1667, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. His throne name was ʿAlam Sagad (Ge'ez: ዓለም ሰገድ ʿĀlam Sagad, modern ʿĀlem Seged), meaning "to whom the world bows". He was the son of Emperor Susenyos I and Empress Sultana Mogesa, born at Magazaz in Bulga, Shewa, before 10 November 1603. His paternal grandfather's name was also Fasilides.Gebre Mesqel Lalibela
Lalibela (Ge'ez: ላሊበላ), regnal name Gebre Meskel (Ge'ez: ገብረ መስቀል, lit. 'Servant of the Cross'; 1162 – 1221) was Emperor of Ethiopia of the Zagwe dynasty, reigning from 1181 to 1221. According to Taddesse Tamrat, he was the son of Jan Seyum and brother of Kedus Harbe. Perhaps the most well-known of the Zagwe monarchs, the namesake monolithic churches of Lalibela are attributed to his reign, although recent scholarship has suggested origins as early as the late Aksumite period, with the complex reaching its present form during his time. He is venerated as a saint by the Orthodox Tewahedo churches.Gondar Airport
Gondar Airport (IATA: GDQ, ICAO: HAGN), also known as Atse Tewodros Airport, is an airport serving Gondar, a city in the northern Amhara Region of Ethiopia. The name of the city and airport may also be transliterated as Gonder. The airport is located 18 km (11 miles) south of Gondar. The airport is named after the Emperor of Ethiopia (Atse) Tewodros II.Haile Selassie
Haile Selassie I (Ge'ez: ቀዳማዊ ኃይለ ሥላሴ, qädamawi haylä səllasé, English trans.: "Power of the Trinity," born Lij Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael; Amharic pronunciation: [ˈhaɪlə sɨlˈlase] (listen); 23 July 1892 – 27 August 1975) was an Ethiopian regent from 1916 to 1930 and emperor from 1930 to 1974. He is a defining figure in contemporary Ethiopian history.He was a member of the Solomonic dynasty who traced his lineage to Emperor Menelik I via his Shewan royal ancestors as a great-grandson of king Sahle Selassie daughter of Sahle Selase was mother of Woldemikael. Haile Selassie's father was Makonnen Wolde-Mikael Guddisa and his mother was Yeshimebet Mikael (Daughter of Ras Ali of Bete Amhara/Wollo)
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. 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 suppression of rebellions among the landed aristocracy (the mesafint), which consistently opposed his reforms, as well as what some critics perceived to be Ethiopia's failure to modernize rapidly enough, earned him criticism among some contemporaries and historians. During his rule the Harari people were persecuted and many left the Harari Region. His regime was also criticized by human rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, as autocratic and illiberal.Among the Rastafari movement, whose followers are estimated to number between 700,000 and one million, 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.
The 1973 famine in Ethiopia led to Haile Selassie's eventual removal from the throne. He died from strangulation on 27 August 1975 at the age of 83, following a coup d'état.Kebur Zabagna
Kebur Zabagna or Zebenya (Amharic: ክቡር ዘበኛ, romanized: kəbur zãbãňňya, lit. 'honorable guard') was the Ethiopian Imperial Guard. Also known as the First Division, this unit served the dual purposes of providing security for the Emperor of Ethiopia, and being an elite infantry division. It was not, however, part of the organizational structure of the Ethiopian regular army as it was part of the Zebagna, the Addis Ababa Guard. The Kebur Zabagna was based at Addis Ababa.Menelik I
Menelik I was the first emperor of Ethiopia and of Hebrew descent. Ruling in the 10th century BC, he established the inaugural Solomonic dynasty.Order of Solomon
The Imperial Order of Solomon was an order of knighthood of the Ethiopian Empire founded in 1874. A special class Collar was created by Empress Zauditu in 1922. It was a split off from the Order of the Seal of Solomon and created as an independent order with a single grade of "Collar" by Emperor Haile Selassie I in 1930. Members are identified as a "Knight" or "Dame" of the Order of Solomon, with the use the post-nominal initials KS or DS.
The Collar of the Order of Solomon is reserved for the Emperor and Empress, members of the Imperial Family, Foreign Sovereigns, and a maximum of three ordinary recipients who have rendered exceptionally meritorious services . Recipients were entitled to wear special ceremonial robes on "collar days".
The Solomonic dynasty, the ancient Imperial House of Ethiopia, claims descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, said to have given birth to King Menelik I after her visit to Solomon in Jerusalem.
As the Empire's principal Order, it featured first in the long list of knightly titles of the last ruling Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, described as –The Lion of Judah Hath Prevailed (or "[by the] Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah");
His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, King of Kings of Ethiopia, Conquering Lion of Judah, Elect of God, Grand Cordon of the Order of Solomon, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Solomon, Knight of the Garter, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George...
.Order of the Star of Ethiopia
The Order of the Star of Ethiopia was established as an order of knighthood of the Ethiopian Empire, founded by the Negus of Shoa and later emperor of Ethiopia Menelik II in 1884-1885. It is currently awarded as a house order by the Crown Council of Ethiopia.
The Order was established to honor foreign and domestic civilian and military officials and individuals for service to the country, and was considered the fifth ranking order of the Empire of Ethiopia alongside the Order of Menelik II.Sahle Dengel
Sahle Dengel (1778 – 11 February 1855) was nəgusä nägäst of Ethiopia intermittently between 1832 and 11 February 1855, towards the end of the Zemene Mesafint ("Era of the Princes"). He was the son of Gebre Mesay, allegedly a descendant of a younger son of Emperor Fasilides.Salomon III
Salomon III or Solomon III was the Emperor of Ethiopia (20 May 1796 – 15 July 1797 and 16 June – 25 July 1799) and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the son of Tekle Haymanot II. He may be identical with the Emperor Solomon whom the traveler Henry Salt lists as one of the Emperors still alive at the time of his visit in 1809/1810. E. A. Wallis Budge notes some authorities believe he was the same person as Baeda Maryam II.Tekle Giyorgis I
Tekle Giyorgis I (Amharic: ተክለ ጊዮርጊስ "Plant of Saint George"; c. 1751 – 12 December 1817) was Emperor of Ethiopia (throne name Feqr Sagad) intermittently between 20 July 1779 and June 1800, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the youngest son of Yohannes II and Woizoro Sancheviyer, and the brother of Tekle Haymanot II.
According to Sven Rubenson, who described Tekle Giyorgis as the last emperor to exercise authority on his own, "It is not without justification that he has in Ethiopian tradition received the nickname Fiṣame Mengist, 'the end of the government'".Tewodros II
Tewodros II (Ge'ez: ቴዎድሮስ, baptized as Sahle Dingil; c. 1818 – April 13, 1868) was Emperor of Ethiopia from 1855 until his death. He was born Kassa Hailegiorgis (Ge'ez: ካሳ ኃይሉ; English: "restitution" and "His [or the] power"). His rule is often placed as the beginning of modern Ethiopia, ending the decentralized Zemene Mesafint (Era of the Princes).
Tewodros II's origins were in the Era of the Princes, but his ambitions were not those of the regional nobility. He sought to reestablish a cohesive Ethiopian state and to reform its administration and church. He sought to restore Solomonic hegemony, and he considered himself the Elect of God.
Tewodros II's first task was to bring Shewa under his control. During the Era of the Princes, Shewa was, even more than most provinces, an independent entity, its ruler even styling himself Negus, a royal title denoting monarchy. In the course of subduing the Shewans, Tewodros imprisoned a Shewan prince, Menelik II, who would later become emperor himself. Despite his success against Shewa, Tewodros faced constant rebellions in other provinces. He ultimately committed suicide at the Battle of Magdala, during the British Expedition to Abyssinia.
In the first six years of his reign, the new ruler managed to put down these rebellions, and the empire was relatively peaceful from about 1861 to 1863, but the energy, wealth, and manpower necessary to deal with regional opposition limited the scope of Tewodros's other activities.
Tewodros II never realized his dream of restoring a strong monarchy, although he took many important initial steps. He sought to establish the principle that governors and judges must be salaried appointees. He also established a professional standing army, rather than depending on local lords to provide soldiers for his expeditions. He introduced the collection of books in the form of a library, tax codes, as well as a centralized political system with respective administrative districts. He also intended to reform the church but he was confronted by strong opposition when he tried to impose a tax on church lands to help finance government activities. His confiscation of these lands gained him enemies in the church and little support elsewhere. Essentially, Tewodros was a talented military campaigner.Yohannes IV
Yohannes IV (ትግርኛ: ዮሐንስ ፬ይ, Āratenya Yōḥānnis; horse name "Abba Bezba"; 11 July 1837 – 10 March 1889), born Lij Kahśa Mercha and contemporaneously also known in English as Johannes or John IV, was ruler of Tigray 1867–71, and Emperor of Ethiopia ("King of Zion" and "King of Kings" of Ethiopia [as shown in his seal]) 1872–89. He is remembered as one of the leading architects of the modern state of Ethiopia.
|Family of Emperor of Ethiopia|
|Era of princes|
Heads of state and government of Africa
|Heads of state|
|Heads of government|