Emperor of Ethiopia
Overview
 
The Emperor of Ethiopia was the hereditary ruler of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 until the abolition of the monarchy
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 in 1974. The Emperor was the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

, with ultimate executive
Executive Power
Executive Power is Vince Flynn's fifth novel, and the fourth to feature Mitch Rapp, an American agent that works for the CIA as an operative for a covert counter terrorism unit called the "Orion Team."-Plot summary:...

, judicial and legislative power in that country. A National Geographic Magazine
National Geographic Magazine
National Geographic, formerly the National Geographic Magazine, is the official journal of the National Geographic Society. It published its first issue in 1888, just nine months after the Society itself was founded...

article called imperial Ethiopia "nominally a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

; in fact [it was] a benevolent autocracy
Autocracy
An autocracy is a form of government in which one person is the supreme power within the state. It is derived from the Greek : and , and may be translated as "one who rules by himself". It is distinct from oligarchy and democracy...

."
The title of "King of Kings
King of Kings
King of Kings is a title that has been used by several monarchies and empires throughout history. The title originates in the Ancient Near East. It is broadly the equivalent of the later title Emperor....

", often rendered imprecisely in English as "Emperor", dates back to ancient Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, but was used in Axum
Aksumite Empire
The Kingdom of Aksum or Axum, also known as the Aksumite Empire, was an important trading nation in northeastern Africa, growing from the proto-Aksumite Iron Age period ca. 4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD...

 by King Sembrouthes
Sembrouthes
Sembrouthes was a king of Axum. He is known only from a single inscription in Greek that was found at Deqemhare or Deqqi Mehari in modern Eritrea, which is dated to his 24th regnal year. He is the first known ruler in the lands later ruled by the Emperor of Ethiopia to adopt the title "King of...

 (c.
Timeline

1270    Yekuno Amlak takes the imperial throne of Ethiopia, restoring the Solomonic dynasty to power after a 100-year Zagwe interregnum.

1332    Amda Seyon I, Emperor of Ethiopia begins his campaigns in the southern Muslim provinces.

1531    Battle of Amba Sel: Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi again defeats the army of Lebna Dengel, Emperor of Ethiopia. The southern part of Ethiopia falls under Imam Ahmad's control.

1541    Estevão da Gama departs Massawa, leaving behind 400 matchlock men and 150 slaves under his brother Christovão da Gama, with orders to help the Emperor of Ethiopia defeat Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi who had invaded his Empire.

1561    Menas, Emperor of Ethiopia, defeats a revolt in Emfraz.

1606    Susenyos defeats the combined armies of Yaqob and Abuna Petros II at the Battle of Gol in Gojjam, which makes him Emperor of Ethiopia.

1608    Emperor Susenyos of Ethiopia surprises an Oromo army at Ebenat; his army reportedly kills 12,000 Oromo at the cost of 400 men.

1842    Battle of Debre Tabor: Ras Ali Alula, Regent of the Emperor of Ethiopia defeats warlord Wube Haile Maryam of Semien.

1855    Kassa Hailu is crowned Tewodros II, Emperor of Ethiopia, by Abuna Salama III in a ceremony at the church of Derasge Maryam

Encyclopedia
The Emperor of Ethiopia was the hereditary ruler of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 until the abolition of the monarchy
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 in 1974. The Emperor was the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

, with ultimate executive
Executive Power
Executive Power is Vince Flynn's fifth novel, and the fourth to feature Mitch Rapp, an American agent that works for the CIA as an operative for a covert counter terrorism unit called the "Orion Team."-Plot summary:...

, judicial and legislative power in that country. A National Geographic Magazine
National Geographic Magazine
National Geographic, formerly the National Geographic Magazine, is the official journal of the National Geographic Society. It published its first issue in 1888, just nine months after the Society itself was founded...

article called imperial Ethiopia "nominally a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

; in fact [it was] a benevolent autocracy
Autocracy
An autocracy is a form of government in which one person is the supreme power within the state. It is derived from the Greek : and , and may be translated as "one who rules by himself". It is distinct from oligarchy and democracy...

."

Style

The title of "King of Kings
King of Kings
King of Kings is a title that has been used by several monarchies and empires throughout history. The title originates in the Ancient Near East. It is broadly the equivalent of the later title Emperor....

", often rendered imprecisely in English as "Emperor", dates back to ancient Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, but was used in Axum
Aksumite Empire
The Kingdom of Aksum or Axum, also known as the Aksumite Empire, was an important trading nation in northeastern Africa, growing from the proto-Aksumite Iron Age period ca. 4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD...

 by King Sembrouthes
Sembrouthes
Sembrouthes was a king of Axum. He is known only from a single inscription in Greek that was found at Deqemhare or Deqqi Mehari in modern Eritrea, which is dated to his 24th regnal year. He is the first known ruler in the lands later ruled by the Emperor of Ethiopia to adopt the title "King of...

 (c. 250 AD). However, Yuri Kobishchanov dates this usage to the period following the Persian victory over the Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 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
Vassal
A vassal or feudatory is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually including the grant of land held...

 of Gojjam
Gojjam
Gojjam was a kingdom in the north-western part of Ethiopia, with its capital city at Debre Marqos. This region is distinctive for lying entirely within the bend of the Abbay River from its outflow from Lake Tana to the Sudan...

 (who ranked 12th in the states non-dynastic protocol as per 1690), Welega
Welega Province
Welega was a province in the western part of Ethiopia, with its capital city at Nekemte. It was named for the Welega Oromo, who are the majority of the population within its boundaries....

, the seaward provinces
Provinces of Ethiopia
Until 1995 Ethiopia was divided into provinces, further subdivided into awrajjas or districts. They were replaced by regions and two chartered cities with the adoption of a new constitution that year...

 and later Shewa
Shewa
Shewa is a historical region of Ethiopia, formerly an autonomous kingdom within the Ethiopian Empire...

, received the honorific title of , a word for "king."

The consort of the Emperor was referred to as the , and the ruling Empress Zauditu used that title in addition to the feminized form ('queen of kings').

Succession

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
Primogeniture
Primogeniture is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn to inherit the entire estate, to the exclusion of younger siblings . Historically, the term implied male primogeniture, to the exclusion of females...

 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
Heir apparent
An heir apparent or heiress apparent is a person who is first in line of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting, except by a change in the rules of succession....

; 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
Zagwe dynasty
The Zagwe dynasty was an historical kingdom in present-day Ethiopia. It ruled large parts of the territory from approximately 1137 to 1270, when the last Zagwe King Za-Ilmaknun was killed in battle by the forces of Yekuno Amlak...

 king Yemrehana Krestos
Yemrehana Krestos
Yemrehana Krestos was negus of Ethiopia, and a member of the Zagwe dynasty. According to Taddesse Tamrat, he was the son of Germa Seyum, the brother of Tatadim; however the Italian scholar Carlo Conti Rossini published in 1902 a document that stated Yemrehana Krestos was the successor of Na'akueto...

, who is said to have 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 Thomas Pakenham, states that this practice predates the Zagwe dynasty, and was first practiced on Debre Damo
Debre Damo
Debre Damo is the name of a flat-topped mountain, or amba, and a 6th century monastery in northern Ethiopia. The mountain is a steeply rising plateau of trapezoidal shape, about 1000 by 400 meters in dimension. With a latitude and longitude of , it sits at an elevation of 2216 meters above sea level...

, which was captured by the 10th century queen Gudit
Gudit
Gudit is a semi-legendary, non-Christian, Beta Israel, queen who laid waste to Axum and its countryside, destroyed churches and monuments, and attempted to exterminate the members of the ruling Axumite dynasty...

, 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
Wedem Arad
Wedem Arad was of Ethiopia and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the brother of Yagbe'u Seyon and seized power from his nephews.-History:...

, 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
Amba Geshen
Amba Geshen is the name of a mountain in northern Ethiopia.It is located in the Debub Wollo Zone of the Amhara Region, northwest of Dessie, and sits at a latitude and longitude of . Part of Ambassel woreda, it is one of the mountains of Ethiopia where most of the male heirs to the Emperor of...

 until Ahmed Gragn captured and destroyed that site; then, from the reign of Fasilides
Fasilides of Ethiopia
Fasilides was of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty...

 until the mid-18th century, at Wehni
Wehni
Wehni is the name of one of the mountains of Ethiopia where most of the male heirs to the Emperor of Ethiopia were interned, usually for life. It was the last one the three such mountains -- or amba -- said to have been used for this purpose, the other two being Debre Damo and Amba Geshen.From...

. Rumors of these royal mountain residences were part of the inspiration for Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson , often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer...

'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
Mikael Sehul
Mikael Sehul was a Ras or governor of Tigray 1748–71 and again from 1772 until his death...

 of Tigray
Tigray Province
Tigray was a province of Ethiopia. The Tigray Region superseded the province with the adoption of the new constitution in 1995. The province of Tigre merged with its neighboring provinces, including Semien, Tembien, Agame and the prominent Enderta province and towards the end of 19th century it...

, 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

The Emperors of Ethiopia derived their right to rule based on two dynastic claims: their descent from the kings of Axum
Axum
Axum or Aksum is a city in northern Ethiopia which was the original capital of the eponymous kingdom of Axum. Population 56,500 . Axum was a naval and trading power that ruled the region from ca. 400 BC into the 10th century...

, and their descent from Menelik I
Menelik I
Menelik I , first Jewish Emperor of Ethiopia, is traditionally believed to be the son of King Solomon of ancient Israel and Makeda, ancient Ethiopia Queen of Sheba. He ruled around 950 BC, according to traditional sources...

, the son of Solomon
Solomon
Solomon , according to the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, a King of Israel and according to the Talmud one of the 48 prophets, is identified as the son of David, also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before...

 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
Dil Na'od
Dil Na'od was the last negus of Axum before the Zagwe dynasty of Ethiopia. He lived in either the 9th or 10th century. Dil Na'od was the younger son of Ged'a Jan , and succeeded his older brother 'Anbasa Wedem as negus...

, 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
Kebra Nagast
The Kebra Nagast , or the Book of the Glory of Kings, is an account written in Ge'ez of the origins of the Solomonic line of the Emperors of Ethiopia. The text, in its existing form, is at least seven hundred years old, and is considered by many Ethiopian Christians and Rastafarians to be an...

. 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
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

, 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
Sheba
Sheba was a kingdom mentioned in the Jewish scriptures and the Qur'an...

, or between Axum and the pre-exilic
Babylonian captivity
The Babylonian captivity was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon—conventionally 587–538 BCE....

 Kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

. Due to lack of primary materials, it is not possible to determine which theory is the more plausible.

The Solomonic dynasty

The restored Solomonic dynasty
Solomonic dynasty
The Solomonic dynasty is the Imperial House of Abyssinia. Its members claim lineal descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, the latter of whom tradition asserts gave birth to the first King Menelik I after her Biblically described visit to Solomon in Jerusalem .-Overview:The dynasty, a...

, 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
Tewodros II of Ethiopia
Tewodros II was the Emperor of Ethiopia from 1855 until his death....

 (he developed a claim to have been descended from Solomonics in distaff side). After his defeat and demise, another non-Solomonic, Dejazmatch Kassai took over as Yohannes IV
Yohannes IV of Ethiopia
Yohannes IV , born Lij Kassay Mercha Ge'ez, was Emperor of Ethiopia from 1872 until his death.-Early life:...

 - 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
Yohannes IV of Ethiopia
Yohannes IV , born Lij Kassay Mercha Ge'ez, was Emperor of Ethiopia from 1872 until his death.-Early life:...

, Menelik II and Haile Selassie. Emperor Menelik II achieved a major military victory against Italian invaders in March 1896 at the Battle of Adwa, the first major victory of an African nation against a colonial power. 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

In 1936, with the Italian conquest of Ethiopia, Emperor Haile Selassie was forced to flee abroad. Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 instead made Ethiopia an Italian province and proclaimed Victor Emmanuel III to be the Emperor of Ethiopia - a title considered illegitimate by parts of the international community, and lasted only five years.

Return of Haile Selassie

Haile Selassie returned to power with the British conquest of the Italian East Africa
Italian East Africa
Italian East Africa was an Italian colonial administrative subdivision established in 1936, resulting from the merger of the Ethiopian Empire with the old colonies of Italian Somaliland and Italian Eritrea. In August 1940, British Somaliland was conquered and annexed to 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
Line of succession to the Ethiopian Throne
The line of succession to the Ethiopian throne is described in the first section of the 1955 Revised Constitution of Ethiopia.In brief, the title of Emperor may pass only through male descendants of HIM Haile Selassie I, through the oldest male line before the younger...

 were strictly defined in both of the constitutions adopted during the reign of Haile Selassie: the one adopted on July 16, 1931
1931 Constitution of Ethiopia
The 1931 Constitution of Ethiopia was the first document intended as a modern constitution for that country. It was promulgated in "an impressive ceremony" held 16 July 1931 in the presence of Emperor Haile Selassie, who had long desired to proclaim one for his country.In the preface to his...

; and the revised one of November 1955
1955 Constitution of Ethiopia
Emperor Haile Selassie proclaimed a revised constitution in November 1955 of the Empire of Ethiopia. This constitution was prompted, like its 1931 predecessor, by a concern with international opinion...

.

The last Solomonic monarch to rule Ethiopia was Amha Selassie, who was offered the throne by the Derg
Derg
The Derg or Dergue was a Communist military junta that came to power in Ethiopia following the ousting of Haile Selassie I. Derg, which means "committee" or "council" in Ge'ez, is the short name of the Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces, Police, and Territorial Army, a committee of...

 after his father Haile Selassie's deposition 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 March, 1975. In 1993 a group called the "Crown Council of Ethiopia
Crown Council of Ethiopia
The Crown Council of Ethiopia was the constitutional body which advised the reigning emperors of Ethiopia and acted on behalf of the Crown. The council’s members were appointed by the emperor....

", which includes several descendants of Haile Selassie, claimed that the was still in existence, and was the legal head of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian constitution of 1995 confirmed the abolition of the Emperorship.

See also

  • History of Ethiopia
    History of Ethiopia
    This article covers the prehistory and history of Ethiopia.-Prehistory:Lucy, discovered in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar region, is considered the world's second-oldest, but most complete and best preserved, adult Australopithecine fossil...

  • Fetha Negest
    Fetha Negest
    The Fetha Negest is a legal code compiled around 1240 by the Coptic Egyptian Christian writer, 'Abul Fada'il Ibn al-'Assal, in Arabic that was later translated into Ge'ez in Ethiopia and expanded upon with numerous local laws...

  • List of Emperors of Ethiopia
  • Victor Emmanuel III

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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