Tewodros II of Ethiopia
Overview
 
Tewodros II (c. 1818 – April 13, 1868) was the Emperor of Ethiopia
Emperor of Ethiopia
The Emperor of Ethiopia was the hereditary ruler of Ethiopia until the abolition of the monarchy in 1974. The Emperor was the head of state and head of government, with ultimate executive, judicial and legislative power in that country...

 from 1855 until his death.

He was born Kassa Haile Giorgis, but was more regularly referred to as Kassa Hailu (Ge'ez
Ge'ez alphabet
Ge'ez , also called Ethiopic, is a script used as an abugida for several languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea but originated in an abjad used to write Ge'ez, now the liturgical language of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Church...

 ካሳ ኃይሉ — meaning "restitution" and "His
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 [or the] power"). His rule is often placed as the beginning of modern 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...

, ending the decentralized Zemene Mesafint
Zemene Mesafint
The Zemene Mesafint was a period in Ethiopian history when the country was rent by conflicts between warlords, the Emperor was reduced to little more than a figurehead confined to the capital city of...

 (Era of the Princes).
Kassa was the son of a Christian nobleman of the Qwara
Qwara Province
Qwara was a province in Ethiopia, located between Lake Tana and the frontier with Sudan, and stretcing from Agawmeder in the south as far north as Metemma...

 district of the province of Dembiya
Dembiya
Dembiya is a historic region of Ethiopia, intimately linked with Lake Tana. According to the account of Manuel de Almeida, Dembiya was "bounded on East by Begemder, on South by Gojjam, on West by Agaws of Achefer and Tangha...

 named Haile Giorgis Wolde Giorgis.
Encyclopedia
Tewodros II (c. 1818 – April 13, 1868) was the Emperor of Ethiopia
Emperor of Ethiopia
The Emperor of Ethiopia was the hereditary ruler of Ethiopia until the abolition of the monarchy in 1974. The Emperor was the head of state and head of government, with ultimate executive, judicial and legislative power in that country...

 from 1855 until his death.

He was born Kassa Haile Giorgis, but was more regularly referred to as Kassa Hailu (Ge'ez
Ge'ez alphabet
Ge'ez , also called Ethiopic, is a script used as an abugida for several languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea but originated in an abjad used to write Ge'ez, now the liturgical language of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Church...

 ካሳ ኃይሉ — meaning "restitution" and "His
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 [or the] power"). His rule is often placed as the beginning of modern 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...

, ending the decentralized Zemene Mesafint
Zemene Mesafint
The Zemene Mesafint was a period in Ethiopian history when the country was rent by conflicts between warlords, the Emperor was reduced to little more than a figurehead confined to the capital city of...

 (Era of the Princes).

Early years

Kassa was the son of a Christian nobleman of the Qwara
Qwara Province
Qwara was a province in Ethiopia, located between Lake Tana and the frontier with Sudan, and stretcing from Agawmeder in the south as far north as Metemma...

 district of the province of Dembiya
Dembiya
Dembiya is a historic region of Ethiopia, intimately linked with Lake Tana. According to the account of Manuel de Almeida, Dembiya was "bounded on East by Begemder, on South by Gojjam, on West by Agaws of Achefer and Tangha...

 named Haile Giorgis Wolde Giorgis. His baptized paternal grandfather, Dejazmatch Wolde Giorgis, was a widely-respected figure of his time. Dembiya was part of the large territory known as Ye Meru Qemas, or "that which has been tasted by Maru". It was the personal fief of Dejazmach Meru, a powerful warlord, and relative of Kassa Hailu (possibly a half-uncle). Kassa's mother, Woizero Atitegeb Wondbewossen, was the upper nobility, and was originally from Gondar
Gondar
Gondar or Gonder is a city in Ethiopia, which was once the old imperial capital and capital of the historic Begemder Province. As a result, the old province of Begemder is sometimes referred to as Gondar...

. Her mother Woizer Tishal was a member of a noble family of Begemder
Begemder
Begemder was a province in the northwestern part of Ethiopia. There are several proposed etymologies for this name...

, while her paternal grandfather, Ras Wodajo, was a powerful and highly influential figure. Although generally regarded as a non-royal usurper, Tewodros II, would late in his reign claim that his father was descended from Emperor Fasilides
Fasilides of Ethiopia
Fasilides was of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty...

 by way of a daughter, although most of his contemporaries did not acknowledge the legitimacy of these claims.

When Kassa was very young, his parents divorced and Woizero Atitegeb moved back to Gondar taking her son with her. Not long after their departure, news reached them that Kassa's father had died. Popular legend states that Kassa's paternal relatives split up the entire paternal inheritance, leaving young Kassa and his mother with nothing and in very dire circumstances financially. To make ends meet, it is often repeated that Woizero Atitegeb was reduced to selling "Kosso", a native herbal remedy used to purge patients of intestinal worms (a common occurrence because of the Ethiopian love of raw meat dishes). Kassa would be taunted often for being a "Kosso seller's son", an insult that Tewodros II seldom forgave. There is actually no evidence that Woizero Atitegeb was ever a Kosso seller, and several writers such as Paulos Ngo Ngo have stated outright that it was a false rumor spread by her detractors. Evidence indicates that Woizero Atitegeb was fairly well to do, and indeed had inherited considerable land holdings from her own illustrious relatives to lead a comfortable life. Kassa's youth was probably not lived lavishly, but he was far from a pauper.

Rise to power

Kassa Hailu was born into a country rife with civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

, and he destroyed many provincial warlord
Warlord
A warlord is a person with power who has both military and civil control over a subnational area due to armed forces loyal to the warlord and not to a central authority. The term can also mean one who espouses the ideal that war is necessary, and has the means and authority to engage in war...

s before becoming emperor. The times were known as the Zemene Mesafint
Zemene Mesafint
The Zemene Mesafint was a period in Ethiopian history when the country was rent by conflicts between warlords, the Emperor was reduced to little more than a figurehead confined to the capital city of...

 or "Age of the Princes". During this era, warlords, regional princes, and noble houses vied with each other for power and control. They divided the Empire into personal fiefs and fought each other continuously. A puppet Emperor of the dynasty was enthroned in Gondar by one warlord, only to be dethroned and replaced by another member of the Imperial dynasty when a different warlord was able to seize Gondar and the reins of power. Regions such as 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...

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

 were ruled by their own branches of the Imperial dynasty and, in Shewa, the local prince went as far as assuming the title of King.

Kassa began his career in this era as a shifta
Shifta
Shifta is term used in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia for rebel, outlaw, or bandit. The word is derived from shúfto. Historically, shifta served as local militia in the lawless rural mountainous regions on the Horn of Africa...

(or outlaw
Outlaw
In historical legal systems, an outlaw is declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, this takes the burden of active prosecution of a criminal from the authorities. Instead, the criminal is withdrawn all legal protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute...

), but after amassing a sizable force of followers, was able to not only restore himself to his father's previous fief of Qwara but was able to control all of Dembiya
Dembiya
Dembiya is a historic region of Ethiopia, intimately linked with Lake Tana. According to the account of Manuel de Almeida, Dembiya was "bounded on East by Begemder, on South by Gojjam, on West by Agaws of Achefer and Tangha...

. Moreover, he gained popular support by his benevolent treatment of the inhabitants in the areas he controlled: According to Sven Rubenson, Kassa "shared out captured grain and money to the peasants in Qwara and told them to buy hoes and plant." This garnered the notice of the warlord in control of Gondar, Ras Ali II of Yejju
Ali II of Yejju
Ali II of Yejju was a Ras of Begemder and Enderase of the Emperor of Ethiopia. He was the son of Alula of Yejju, sometime governor of Damot and then of Gojjam, and Menen Liben Amede, later Empress of Ethiopia, and grandson of Gugsa of Yejju, by his fourth wife, Amata Selassie, daughter of Emperor...

. Ras Ali had enthroned Emperor Yohannes III
Yohannes III of Ethiopia
Emperor Yohannes III was the last of the elder "Gondar" line of the Solomonic dynasty to reign over Ethiopia. He was the son of Tekle Giyorgis. He was largely a figurehead, with real power in the hands of the Enderase or Regent, Ras Ali II a princeling of the Oromo ruling family of the district of...

, forcing the Emperor to marry Ali's mother, the formidable Empress Menen Liben Amede. Empress Menen was the true power behind her son and her helpless husband, and it was she who arranged for Kassa of Qwara to marry her granddaughter, Tewabech Ali
Tewabech Ali
Tewabech Ali was the first wife of Kassa Haile, better known as Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia. They were married in 1848....

 and the grant to Kassa of the title of Dejazmach. She awarded him all of Ye Meru Qemas in the hopes of binding him firmly to her son and herself.

Although all sources and authorities believe that Kassa truly loved and respected his wife, his relationship with his new in-laws deteriorated largely because of the disdainful treatment he repeatedly received from the Empress Menen. By 1852 he rebelled against Ras Ali and, in a series of victories — Gur Amaba
Battle of Gur Amba
The Battle of Gur Amba was fought on 27 September 1852 between the forces of the Ethiopian regent, Ras Ali II, and the rebel forces of Kassa Hailu. Kassa was victorious, and Goshu Zewde of Gojjam, the commander of the regent's forces, was killed...

, Takusa
Battle of Takusa
The Battle of Takusa was fought on April 12, 1853, between the forces of Kassa Hailu, future Emperor of Ethiopia, and an alliance of several rival warlords...

, Ayshal
Battle of Ayshal
The Battle of Ayshal was fought on June 29, 1853, between the forces of Kassa Hailu and the forces of Ras Ali II, in Ayshal, in eastern Gojjam. Kassa's forces won the battle....

, and Amba Jebelli
Battle of Amba Jebelli
The Battle of Amba Jebelli was fought in Ethiopia in 1854 between the forces of Kassa Hailu , and the forces of Birru Goshu of Gojjam. Kassa was victorious, Birru Goshu was captured and spent the next 14 years in chains....

 — over the next three years he handily defeated every army the Ras and the Empress sent against him. At Ayshal he captured the Empress Menen, and Ras Ali fled from the rising star and out of history. Kassa announced that he was deposing Yohannes III, and then marched on his greatest remaining rival, Dejazmach Wube Haile Maryam of Semien
Semien province
Semien Province was a historical province of northwest Ethiopia, often called Gondar. It was located south and west of the Tekezé River, and north of Lake Tsana. It was south west of Enderta Province, west of Tembien Province, and east of the Sudan. To some extent it covered the territory of the...

. Following the defeat of Dejazmach Wube, Kassa was crowned Emperor by Abuna
Abuna
Also see Leaders of ChristianityAbun is the honorific title used for any bishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church as well as of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church...

 Salama III
Abuna Salama III
Salama III was Abuna, or head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church . Originally brought to Ethiopia by Dejazmach Wube Haile Maryam, he afterwards attached himself to the party of Emperor Tewodros II for his help to settle the theological disputes and to gain control over the fractured church...

 in the church of Derasge Maryam on February 11, 1855. He took the throne name of Tewodros II, attempting to fulfill a prophecy that a man named Tewodros would restore the Ethiopian Empire to greatness and rule for 40 years.

Tewodros refused to acknowledge an attempt to restore the former Emperor Sahle Dengel
Sahle Dengel of Ethiopia
Sahle Dengel was of Ethiopia intermittently between 1832 and 11 February 1855, towards the end of the Zemene Mesafint...

 in the place of the hapless Yohannes III who had acknowledged Tewodros immediately. Yohannes III was treated well by Tewodros who seems to have had some personal sympathy for him. His views on Sahle Dengel are not known but are not likely to have been sympathetic.

Reign

Tewodros sought to unify and modernise 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...

. However, since he was nearly always away on campaign during his tenure as emperor, disloyal leaders frequently tried to dislodge him whilst he was away fighting. Within a few short years, he had forcibly brought back under direct Imperial rule the Kingdom of Shewa and the province of Gojjam. He crushed the many warlords of Wollo and Tigray and brought recalcitrant regions of Begemder and Simien under his direct rule.

He moved the capital city of the Empire from Gondar
Gondar
Gondar or Gonder is a city in Ethiopia, which was once the old imperial capital and capital of the historic Begemder Province. As a result, the old province of Begemder is sometimes referred to as Gondar...

, first to Debre Tabor
Debre Tabor
Debre Tabor is a town and a woreda in north-central Ethiopia. Located in the Debub Gondar Zone of the Amhara Region of Ethiopia, about 100 kilometers southeast of Gondar and 50 kilometers east of Lake Tana, this historic town has a latitude and longitude of with an elevation of 2706 meters above...

, and later to Magdala. Tewodros ended the division of Ethiopia among the various regional warlords and princes that had vied among each other for power for almost two centuries. He forcibly re-incorporated the regions 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...

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

 and Wollo
Wollo
Wollo was a historical region and province in the northeastern part of Ethiopia, with its capital city at Dessie. The province was named after the Wollo Oromo, who settled in this part of Ethiopia in the 17th century...

 under the direct administration of the Imperial throne after having been ruled by local branches of the Imperial dynasty (in Gojjam and Shewa) or other warlords (Wollo). With all of his rivals apparently subdued, he imprisoned them and their relatives comfortably at Magdala. Among the royal and aristocratic prisoners at Magdala was the young Prince of Shewa, Sahle Mariam, the future Emperor Menelik II. Tewodros doted on the young prince, and in fact married him to his own daughter Alitash Tewodros. Menelik would eventually escape from Magdala, and abandon his wife, offending Tewodros deeply.

The death of his beloved wife, Empress Tewabech, marked a deterioration in Tewodros II's behavior. Increasingly erratic and vengeful, he gave full rein to some of his more brutal tendencies now that the calming influence of his wife was absent. Tewodros II remarried, this time to the daughter of his imprisoned enemy Dejazmatch Wube. The new Empress, Tiruwork Wube
Empress Tiruwork Wube
Empress Tiruwork Wube aka Queen Terunesh was the second wife, and widow of Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia.-Origin:She was the daughter of Dejazmatch Wube Hayle Maryam, the prince of Simien and virtual ruler of all of northern Ethiopia during the 1840s. Her mother was Woizero Lakiyaye, a Tigrayan...

 was a haughty and proud woman, who disdained her husband for having been of a socially inferior origin than that of her own aristocratic family which traced its lineage to the Imperial dynasty itself. The marriage was not a happy one, and was extremely stormy. They did manage to produce a son, Dejazmatch Alemayehu Tewodros whom the Emperor adored and whom he regarded as his heir.

Tewodros, fearful of northerly Muslim powers, wrote a letter to a fellow Christian monarch, Queen Victoria asking for British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 assistance in the region. Tewodros asked the British Consul in Ethiopia, Captain Charles Duncan Cameron
Charles Duncan Cameron
Charles Duncan Cameron was a British soldier who was serving as British consul in Ethiopia when he was imprisoned by Emperor Tewodros II as one of the acts which led to the 1868 Expedition to Abyssinia.- Life :...

, to carry a letter to Queen Victoria requesting skilled workers to come to teach his subjects how to produce firearms, and other technical skills. Cameron traveled to the coast with the letter, but when he informed the Foreign Office of the letter and its contents, the Foreign Office instructed him simply to send the letter to London rather than bring it himself, and to proceed to the Sudan where he was to make inquiries about the slave trade there. After doing this, Cameron returned to Ethiopia. On Cameron's return, the Emperor became enraged when he found out that Cameron had not taken the letter to London personally, had not brought a response from the Queen, and most of all, had spent time traveling through enemy Egyptian and Turkish territories. Cameron tried to appease the Emperor saying that a reply to the letter would arrive shortly.

Unfortunately, the Foreign Office in London did not pass the letter to Queen Victoria, but simply filed it under Pending. There the letter stayed for a year. Then the Foreign Office sent the letter to India, because Abyssinia came under the Raj's remit. It is alleged that when the letter arrived in India, officials filed it under Not Even Pending.

After two years had passed and Tewodros had not received a reply, he imprisoned Cameron, together with all the British subjects in Ethiopia at the time and various other Europeans, in an attempt to get Victoria's attention. Among the Europeans he imprisoned was a missionary by the name of Mr. Stern, who had previously published a book in Europe describing Tewodros as a barbaric, cruel, unstable usurper, who was born a mere son of a poor kosso seller. When Tewodros saw this book he became violently angry, pulling a gun on Stern, and had to be restrained from killing the missionary. Tewodros also received reports from abroad that foreign papers had quoted these European residents of Ethiopia as having said many negative things about him and his reign.

1868 Expedition to Abyssinia

The British sent a mission under an Assyrian
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

 born British subject named Hormuzd Rassam
Hormuzd Rassam
Hormuzd Rassam , was a native Assyrian Assyriologist, British diplomat and traveller who made a number of important discoveries, including the clay tablets that contained the Epic of Gilgamesh, the world's oldest literature...

, who bore a letter from the Queen, but brought with him no skilled workers as Tewodros had requested. Deeply insulted by the British failure to do exactly as they were told, Tewodros imprisoned the members of the Rassam mission as well. This last breach of diplomatic immunity
Diplomatic immunity
Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity and a policy held between governments that ensures that diplomats are given safe passage and are considered not susceptible to lawsuit or prosecution under the host country's laws...

 led to the 1868 Expedition to Abyssinia
1868 Expedition to Abyssinia
The British 1868 Expedition to Abyssinia was a punitive expedition carried out by armed forces of the British Empire against the Ethiopian Empire...

 under Robert Napier
Robert Napier, 1st Baron Napier of Magdala
Field Marshal Robert Cornelis Napier, 1st Baron Napier of Magdala, GCB, GCSI, CIE, FRS was a British soldier.-Early life:...

,who came from India, the then colony of the British, with more than 30,000 personnel which consisted of not only soldiers but also other personnels such as engineers. Tewodros had become increasingly unpopular over the years due to his harsh methods, and many regional figures had rebelled against him. Several readily came to the assistance of the British by providing guides and food as the expeditionary force marched towards Magdala, where the Emperor had fortified the mountaintop.

When the two sides met at Arogye, in the plain facing Magdala, on April 10, 1868, the British defeated the Ethiopian army. With his army so decisively defeated, many of his men began to desert and was only left with 4,000 soldiers. Tewodros freed the prisoners and sent them to Napier along with a gift of cattle to be slaughtered for the Easter holiday that was to take place on Sunday, April 12, that year. However, when Napier sent a message thanking him for this peace offering and stating that he would treat the Emperor and his family with every dignity, Tewodros II furiously stated that he would never be taken prisoner. The British then proceeded to shell Magdala itself, killing most of Tewodros II's remaining loyal men. Emperor Tewodros II committed suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

 on Easter Monday, April 13, 1868, as the British troops stormed the citadel of Magdala. Ironically he used a pistol that Queen Victoria had sent him as a gift. Tewodros II was buried by the British troops at Magdala's Medhane Alem (Savior of the World) Orthodox Church under the name of Theodore II.

After his suicide, the British burned the fortress of Magdala, and departed from Ethiopia. They looted a vast amount of treasure from the citadel, including Tewodros II's crowns, a huge number of both royal and ecclesiastic robes, vestments, crosses, chalices, swords and shields, many embroidered or decorated with gold or silver, numerous tabot
Tabot
Tabot , is a Ge'ez word referring to a replica of the Tablets of Law, onto which the Biblical Ten Commandments were inscribed, used in the practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Tabot can also refer to a replica of the Ark of the Covenant...

s, the great Imperial silver negarit war drum, and a huge number of valuable manuscripts. Today one may see many of these in various museums and libraries in Europe, as well as in private collections. In burning the mountaintop fortress, they also torched the two churches and town as well. With the Church of Medhane Alem burned, Tewodros II's family would later move the Emperor's remains to the Mahedere Selassie Monastery in his native Qwara where they remain.

In his efforts to keep skilled Europeans in Ethiopia, Tewodros arranged a marriage between one of his daughters and a Swiss military engineer. That branch of Tewodros's family ended up in Russia; as a consequence, the late British actor Peter Ustinov
Peter Ustinov
Peter Alexander Ustinov CBE was an English actor, writer and dramatist. He was also renowned as a filmmaker, theatre and opera director, stage designer, author, screenwriter, comedian, humourist, newspaper and magazine columnist, radio broadcaster and television presenter...

 could claim to be Tewodros's great-great-grandson.

Heirs

The widowed Empress Tiruwork and the young heir of Tewodros, Alemayehu
Prince Alemayehu
HIH Prince Alemayehu or Alamayou of Ethiopia was the son of Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia. Emperor Tewodros II committed suicide after his defeat by the British, led by Sir Robert Napier, at the Battle of Magdala in 1868.The young prince was taken to Britain for safekeeping, under the care of...

, were also to be taken to England. However, Empress Tiruwork died on the journey to the coast, and little Alemayehu made the journey alone. The Empress was buried at Sheleqot monastery in Tigrai among her ancestors. Although Queen Victoria subsidised the education (at Rugby
Rugby School
Rugby School is a co-educational day and boarding school located in the town of Rugby, Warwickshire, England. It is one of the oldest independent schools in Britain.-History:...

) of Dejazmatch Alemayehu Tewodros, Captain Tristam Speedy was appointed as his guardian. He developed a very strong attachment to Captain Speedy and his wife. However, Prince Alemayehu grew increasingly lonely as the years went by, and his compromised health made things even harder. He died in October 1879 at the age of 19 without seeing his homeland again. Prince Alemayehu left an impression on Queen Victoria of England, who said of his death: "It is too sad! All alone in a strange country, without a single person or relative belonging to him... His was no happy life".

Emperor Tewodros had an elder son born outside of wedlock, named Meshesha Tewodros. Meshesha was frequently at odds with his father, especially after it was learned that he had assisted Menelik of Shewa in his escape from Magdala. When Menelik became Emperor of Ethiopia, Meshesha Tewodros was raised to the title of Ras and given Dembia as his fief. Ras Meshesha would remain a loyal friend of Emperor Menelik II until his death, and his descendants were regarded as among the highest nobility and the leading representatives of Tewodros' line.

Tewodros II's much loved daughter, Woizero Alitash Tewodros, was the first wife of Menelik of Shewa who eventually became Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia. Woizero Alitash was abandoned by her husband when Menelik escaped from Magdala to return and reclaim his Shewan throne. She was subsequently remarried to Dejazmatch Bariaw Paulos of Adwa. When Menelik II was proclaimed Emperor of Ethiopia at Were Illu in Wollo shortly after the death of Yohannes IV, Woizero Alitash was among the first of the nobility to travel to Were Illu to pay homage to her former husband as the new Emperor. Rumors persist that Woizero Alitash and Emperor Menelik may have rekindled their relationship and that Woizero Alitash found that she was pregnant by the Emperor in the following months. The rumors continue that upon hearing about this pregnancy of the Emperor's first wife, the childless and barren Empress Taytu Bitul had Woizero Alitash poisoned. Regardless of the veracity of these rumors, Woizero Alitash Tewodros, daughter of Tewodros II, died within the first few months of the reign of her ex-husband Menelik II.

Tewodros II has numerous descendants by his many children, but none by the two women to whom he was legally married.

Popular culture

  • Emperor Tewodros has come to occupy a high regard amongst many Ethiopians. Examples of his influence are seen in plays, literature, folk lore, songs and art works (such as a 1974 book by Sahle Sellassie
    Sahle Sellassie
    Berhane Mariam Sahle Sellassie is an Ethiopian author who has written in three languages: Gurage, English, and Amharic. He wrote the first novel in Chaha, a Gurage dialect, which was translated into English by Wolf Leslau for publication with the title Shinega's Village...

    ). Emperor Tewodros has come to symbolise Ethiopian unity and identity.
  • Tewodros, under the name 'Theodore', appears in George MacDonald Fraser
    George MacDonald Fraser
    George MacDonald Fraser, OBE was an English-born author of Scottish descent, who wrote both historical novels and non-fiction books, as well as several screenplays.-Early life and military career:...

    's fictionalised account of the 1868 conflict, Flashman on the March
    Flashman on the March
    Flashman on the March is a 2005 novel by George MacDonald Fraser. It is the twelfth and last Flashman novel.-Plot introduction:As in all of Fraser's Flashman novels, the story is presented as part of the Flashman Papers, supposedly written by Sir Harry Flashman, the villain of Tom Brown's Schooldays...

    , where he is portrayed as a volatile, bloodthirsty madman.
  • Karen Mercury's historical fiction The Four Quarters of the World (Medallion Press, 2006) depicts the rise and fall of Tewodros as seen through the eyes of his European captives, using primary sources from eyewitnesses to create an unbiased portrait of the Emperor.
  • When the Emperor Dies by Mason McCann Smith is another work of Historical Fiction based around the rise, reign and fall of Emperor Tewodros
  • Philip Marsden's The Barefoot Emperor chronicles the life and times of Emperor Tewodros's quest to power and his reign
  • Tewodros features prominently in Alan Moorehead's historical survey, The Blue Nile.

Further reading

  • Henry Blanc, A Narrative of Captivity in Abyssinia; With Some Account of the Late Emperor Theodore, His Country and People (1868), available at Project Gutenberg
  • C. R. Markham, History of the Abyssinian Expedition (1869)
  • Frederick Myatt, The March to Mandala (1970)

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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