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Ethiopian Empire

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ethiopian Empire

የኢትዮጵያ ንጉሠ ነገሥት መንግሥተ (Amharic)
(Mängəstä Ityop'p'ya)
1936–1941: Government-in-exile
Coat of arms
Motto: Ityopia tabetsih edewiha habe Igziabiher
ኢትዮጵያ ታበፅዕ እደዊሃ ሃበ እግዚአብሐር
"Ethiopia Stretches Her Hands unto God"
Anthem: Ityopp'ya Hoy dess yibelish[1]
ኢትዮጵያ ሆይ ደስ ይበልሽ
"Ethiopia, Be happy"
The Ethiopian Empire boundaries in 1952
The Ethiopian Empire boundaries in 1952
In green, the Ethiopian Empire during the 15th century. In light green, the tributary Kingdom of Funj.
In green, the Ethiopian Empire during the 15th century. In light green, the tributary Kingdom of Funj.
CapitalUnspecified (1270–1635)
Gondar (1635–1855)
Magdala (1855–1868)
Mekele (1871–1885)
Addis Ababa (1886–1974)
Common languagesGe'ez (official)
Amharic, Afar, Gamo, Gedeo, Gurage, Hadiyya, Kafa, Oromo, Sidamo, Somali, Tigrinya, Wolaytta (widely spoken)
Ethiopian Orthodox Church
GovernmentAbsolute monarchy[2]
• 1270
Yekuno Amlak (first)[3]
• 1930–1974
Haile Selassie I (last)
Prime Minister 
• 1909–1927
Habte Giyorgis (first)
• 1974
Mikael Imru (last)
LegislatureParliament of the Ethiopian Empire[4]
Chamber of Deputies
Historical eraMiddle Ages to Cold War
• Empire established
23 October 1896
16 July 1931
3 October 1935 – May 1936
• Sovereignty restored
5 May 1941
• Admitted to the United Nations
13 November 1945
12 September 1974
21 March 1975[5][6][7][8][9]
19501,221,900 km2 (471,800 sq mi)
19741,221,900 km2 (471,800 sq mi)
• 1950
• 1974
Location of Ethiopia/Abyssinia
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Zagwe dynasty
Today part of Eritrea

The Ethiopian Empire (Amharic: የኢትዮጵያ ንጉሠ ነገሥት መንግሥተ, Mängəstä Ityop'p'ya), also known as Abyssinia (derived from the Arabic al-Habash),[10] was a kingdom that spanned a geographical area in the current states of Eritrea and Ethiopia. It began with the establishment of the Solomonic dynasty from approximately 1270 and lasted until 1974, when the ruling Solomonic dynasty was overthrown in a coup d'état by the Derg.

Following the British occupation of Egypt in 1882, Ethiopia and Liberia were the only two African nations to remain independent during the Scramble for Africa by the European imperial powers in the late 19th century. Ethiopia remained independent after defeating Italians during the First Italo-Ethiopian War. Later, after the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, the Italian Empire occupied Ethiopia briefly for five years and established the Italian East Africa colony in the region. The Italians were later driven out with the help of the British army. The country was one of the founding members of the United Nations in 1945.

By 1974, Ethiopia was one of only three countries in the world to have the title of Emperor for its head of state, together with Japan and Iran under the Pahlavi dynasty. It was the second-to-last country in Africa to use the title of Emperor; the only one later was the Central African Empire, which was implemented between 1976 and 1979 by Emperor Bokassa I.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • 3,000 years Ethiopia's history explained in less than 10 minutes
  • National Anthem of the Ethiopian Empire (1930-1975) - "Ityopp'ya Hoy dess yibelish" (Instrumental)
  • The Importance Of Oil - Ethiopian Empire I OUT OF THE TRENCHES
  • Why Did Abyssinia Change Its Name To Ethiopia?
  • Italian invasion of Ethiopia (1935-1936)



Historical background

D'mt and Kingdom of Aksum

Ethiopia's human occupation began early, as evidenced by the findings[which?]. It is believed that the ancient Egyptians claimed that Punt, known as gold country, was in Ethiopia in 980 BC. According to the Kebra Nagast, Menelik I founded the Ethiopian empire in the 1st century BC, around when the Axumite Empire was established. In the 4th century, under King Ezana of Axum, the kingdom adopted Christianity (Ethiopian Orthodox Church) as the state religion. It was thus one of the first Christian states.[11]

After the conquest of Aksum by Queen Gudit or Yodit, a period began which some scholars refer to as the Ethiopian Dark Ages.[11] According to Ethiopian tradition, she ruled over the remains of the Aksumite Empire for 40 years before transmitting the crown to her descendants.[11] In 1063AD the Sultanate of Showa describes the passing of their overlord Badit daughter of Maya.[12]

Makhzumi and Zagwe dynasty

The earliest Muslim state in Ethiopia, the Makhzumi dynasty with its capital in Wahal, Hararghe region succeeds Queen Badit.[13] The Zagwe kingdom another dynasty with its capital at Adafa, emerged not far from modern day Lalibela in the Lasta mountains.[14] The Zagwe continued the Orthodox Christianity of Aksum and constructed many rock-hewn churches such as the Church of Saint George in Lalibela. The dynasty would last until its overthrow by a new regime claiming descent from the old Aksumite kings.

Solomonic dynasty

Map of medieval Ethiopian provinces, with sub-provinces in smaller lettering.
Map of medieval Ethiopian provinces, with sub-provinces in smaller lettering.

In 1270, the Zagwe dynasty was overthrown by a king claiming lineage from the Aksumite kings and, hence, from Solomon.[14] The eponymously named Solomonic dynasty was founded and ruled by the Abyssinians, from whom Abyssinia gets its name. The Abyssinians reigned with only a few interruptions from 1270 until the late 20th century. This dynasty governed large parts of Ethiopia through much of its modern history. During this time, the empire conquered and annexed various kingdoms into its realm. The dynasty also successfully fought off Italian, Ottoman and Egyptian forces and made fruitful contacts with some European powers.

Adal Sultanate invasion

In 1529, the Adal Sultanate's forces led by Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi invaded the Ethiopian Empire in what is known as the Abyssinian–Adal war. The Adal occupation lasted fourteen years. During the conflict, the Adal Sultanate employed cannons provided by the Ottoman Empire. In the aftermath of the war, Adal annexed Ethiopia, uniting it with territories in what is now Somalia. In 1543, with the help of the Portuguese Empire, the Solomonic dynasty was restored.

Abyssinian King Yagbea-Sion and his forces (left) battling the Sultan of Adal and his troops (Le Livre des Merveilles, 15th century)
Abyssinian King Yagbea-Sion and his forces (left) battling the Sultan of Adal and his troops (Le Livre des Merveilles, 15th century)

Early modern period

In 1543, Emperor Gelawdewos beat Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi armies and Ahmad himself was killed at the Battle of Wayna Daga, close to Wegera. This victory allowed the Empire to reconquer progressively the Ethiopian Highlands.[15] In 1559 Gelawdewos was killed attempting to invade Adal Sultanate, and his severed head was paraded in Adal's capital Harar.[16]

Dawit II of Ethiopia (Lebna Dengel), Emperor of Ethiopia (nəgusä Nagast) and member of the Solomonic dynasty
Dawit II of Ethiopia (Lebna Dengel), Emperor of Ethiopia (nəgusä Nagast) and member of the Solomonic dynasty

The Ottoman Empire, distated by the defeat of its ally Gragn, made another attempt at conquering Ethiopia, from 1557, establishing Habesh Eyalet, the province of Abyssinia, by conquering Massawa, the Empire’s main port and seizing Suakin from the allied Orthodox Funj Kingdom. In 1573 Harar attempted to invade Ethiopia again however Sarsa Dengel successfully defended the Ethiopian frontier.[17]

1683 Map of Ethiopia, Ludolf and Abba Gorgoryos, Major provinces (Gojjam, Tigre, Dembea, Gurage, Gamo, Cambata...)
1683 Map of Ethiopia, Ludolf and Abba Gorgoryos, Major provinces (Gojjam, Tigre, Dembea, Gurage, Gamo, Cambata...)

The Ottomans were checked by Emperor Sarsa Dengel victory and sacking of Arqiqo in 1589, thus containing them on a narrow coast line strip. The Afar Sultanate maintained the remaining Ethiopian port on the Red Sea, at Baylul.[18]

Oromo migrations through the same period, occurred with the movement of a large pastoral population from the southeastern provinces of the Empire. A contemporary account was recorded by the monk Abba Bahrey, from the Gamo region. Subsequently, the empire organization changed progressively, with faraway provinces taking more independence. A remote province such as Bale is last recorded paying tribute to the imperial throne during Yaqob reign (1590-1607).[19]

By 1607, Oromos were also major players in the imperial politics, when Susenyos I, raised by a clan through gudifacha (or adoption), took power. He was helped by fellow Luba age-group generals Mecha, Yilma and Densa, who were rewarded by Rist feudal lands, in the present-day Gojjam districts of the same name.[20] Susenyos reign was also marked by his short-lived conversion to Catholicism, which ignited a major civil war. His son Fasilides I reverted the move.

The reign of Iyasu I the Great (1682-1706) was a major period of consolidation. It also saw the dispatching of embassies to Louis XIV's France and to Dutch India. During the reign of Iyasu II (1730-1755), the Empire was strong enough to undertake a war on the Sennar Sultanate, where the emperor leading its army to Sennar itself, was afterwards forced to reatreat upon defeat, along the Setit river.

Fasilides Palace
Fasilides Palace
Guzara Fortress,in Enfranz
Guzara Fortress,in Enfranz

The Wallo and Yejju clans rise to power culminated in 1755, when Emperor Iyoas I ascended to the imperial throne in Gondar. They would be one of the major factions contending for imperial power during the ensuing Zemene Mesafint, starting from 1769, when Mikael Sehul, Ras of Tigray killed Iyoas I and replaced him by Yohannes II.

The Early Modern period was one of intense cultural and artistic creation. Notable philosophers from that area are Zera Yacob (philosopher) and Walda Heywat. The city of Gondar became the capital in 1636, with several fortified castles built in the town and in its surrounding areas.

Princes Era

Emperor Tewodros II's rise to the throne marked the end of the Zemene Mesafint.
Emperor Tewodros II's rise to the throne marked the end of the Zemene Mesafint.

From 1769 to 1855, the Ethiopian empire passed through a period known as the "Princes Era" (in Amharic Zemene Mesafint). This was a period of Ethiopian history with numerous conflicts between the various ras (equivalent to the English dukes) and the emperor, who had only limited power and only dominated the area around the contemporary capital of Gondar. Both the development of society and culture stagnated in this period. Religious conflict, both within the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and between them and the Muslims were often used as a pretext for mutual strife. The Princes Era ended with the reign of the Emperor Tewodros II.

Reign of Emperor Tewodros II and scramble for Africa

Abyssinia, c. 1891
Abyssinia, c. 1891

In 1868, following the imprisonment of several missionaries and representatives of the British government, the British engaged in the punitive Expedition to Abyssinia. This campaign was a success for Britain and the Ethiopian emperor committed suicide.

The 1880s were marked by the Scramble for Africa. Italy, seeking a colonial presence in Africa, invaded Ethiopia and following a successful conquest of some coastal regions, forced the Treaty of Wuchale upon Shewa (an autonomous kingdom within the Ethiopian Empire), creating the colony of Eritrea.

Ethiopia in 1911, following the conquests and treaties of Menelik II
Ethiopia in 1911, following the conquests and treaties of Menelik II

Due to significant differences between the Italian and Amharic translations of the Treaty of Wuchale, Italy believed they had subsumed Ethiopia as a client state. Ethiopia repudiated the treaty in 1893. Insulted, Italy declared war on Ethiopia in 1895. The First Italo-Ethiopian War resulted in the 1896 Battle of Adwa, in which Italy was decisively defeated. As a result, the Treaty of Addis Ababa was signed in October, which strictly delineated the borders of Eritrea and forced Italy to recognize the independence of Ethiopia.

Beginning in the 1880s, under the reign of the Emperor Menelik II, the empire's forces set off from the central province of Shoa to incorporate through conquest inhabited lands to the west, east and south of its realm.[21] The territories that were annexed included those of the western Oromo (non Shoan Oromo), Sidama, Gurage, Wolayta,[22] and Dizi.[23] Among the imperial troops was Ras Gobena's Shewan Oromo militia. Many of the lands that they annexed had never been under the empire's rule, with the newly incorporated territories resulting in the modern borders of Ethiopia.[24]

Delegations from the United Kingdom and France – European powers whose colonial possessions lay next to Ethiopia – soon arrived in the Ethiopian capital to negotiate their own treaties with this newly-proven power.

Italian invasion and World War II

The Emperors palace, 1934

In 1935 Italian soldiers, commanded by Marshal Emilio De Bono, invaded Ethiopia in what is known as the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. The war lasted seven months before an Italian victory was declared. The Ethiopian Empire was incorporated into the Italian colony of Italian East Africa. The invasion was condemned by the League of Nations, though not much was done to end the hostility.

During the conflict, Italy used sulfur mustard in chemical warfare, ignoring the Geneva Protocol that it had signed seven years earlier. The Italian military dropped mustard gas in bombs, sprayed it from airplanes and spread it in powdered form on the ground. 150,000 chemical casualties were reported, mostly from mustard gas. In the aftermath of the war Italy annexed Ethiopia, uniting it with Italy's other colonies in eastern Africa to form the new colony of Italian East Africa, and Victor Emmanuel III of Italy adopted the title "Emperor of Abyssinia".

On 10 June 1940, Italy declared war on the United Kingdom and France, as France was in the process of being conquered by Germany at the time and Benito Mussolini wished to expand Italy's colonial holdings. The Italian conquest of British Somaliland in August 1940 was successful, but the war turned against Italy afterward. Haile Selassie returned to Ethiopia from England to help rally the resistance. The British began their own invasion in January 1941 with the help of Ethiopian freedom fighters, and the last organized Italian resistance in Italian East Africa surrendered in November 1941, ending Italian rule.

Fall of monarchy

Haile Selassie was the last Emperor of the Ethiopian Empire.
Haile Selassie was the last Emperor of the Ethiopian Empire.

In 1974 a pro-Soviet Marxist–Leninist military junta, the "Derg", led by Mengistu Haile Mariam, deposed Haile Selassie and established a one-party communist state. Haile Selassie was imprisoned and died in unclear circumstances, a rumor being that he was suffocated with an ether-soaked pillow.[25]

See also


  1. ^ "Ethiopia (1930-1975)". 16 January 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  2. ^ Nathaniel T. Kenney (1965). "Ethiopian Adventure". National Geographic. 127: 555.
  3. ^ Negash, Tekeste (2006). "The Zagwe Period and the Zenith of Urban Culture in Ethiopia, Ca. 930-1270 Ad". Africa: Rivista Trimestrale di Studi e Documentazione Dell'istituto Italiano Per l'Africa e l'Oriente. 61 (1): 120–137. JSTOR 40761842.
  4. ^ Constitution of Ethiopia, 4 November 1955, Article 76 (source: Constitutions of Nations: Volume I, Africa by Amos Jenkins Peaslee)
  5. ^ "Ethiopia Ends 3,000 Year Monarchy". Milwaukee Sentinel. 22 March 1975. p. 3.
  6. ^ "Ethiopia ends old monarchy". The Day. 22 March 1975. p. 7.
  7. ^ Henc van Maarseveen; Ger van der Tang (1978). Written Constitutions: A Computerized Comparative Study. Brill. p. 47.
  8. ^ "Ethiopia". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 1987.
  9. ^ "Ethiopia".
  10. ^ E. A. Wallis Budge (1 August 2014). A History of Ethiopia: Volume I: Nubia and Abyssinia. Routledge. p. 7. ISBN 9781317649151.
  11. ^ a b c Adekumobi (2007), p. 10
  12. ^ Oliver, Roland (1975). The Cambridge History of Africa, Volume 3. Cambridge University Press. p. 106. ISBN 9780521209816.
  13. ^ Braukhaper, Ulrich (2002). Islamic History and Culture in Southern Ethiopia: Collected Essays. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 21. ISBN 9783825856717. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  14. ^ a b Pankhurst (2001), p. 45
  15. ^ Richard Pankhurst, The Ethiopian Borderlands (Trenton: Red Sea Press, 1997), pp. 241f.
  16. ^ Akyeampong, Emmanuel. "Dictionary of African Biography". OUP USA. 1–6: 451.
  17. ^ Pankhurst, Richard (1997). The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century. The Red Sea Press. p. 375.
  18. ^ Richard Pankhurst, The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to The End of the 18th Century Asmara: Red Sea Press, Inc., 1997. p. 390
  19. ^ Braukämper, Islamic History and Culture in Southern Ethiopia: Collected Essays (Hamburg: Lit Verlag, 2002), p. 82
  20. ^ Solomon GETAHUN, A History of Ethiopia's Newest Immigrants to the United States: Orphans,
  21. ^ John Young (1998). "Regionalism and Democracy in Ethiopia". Third World Quarterly. 19 (2): 192. doi:10.1080/01436599814415. JSTOR 3993156.
  22. ^ International Crisis Group, "Ethnic Federalism and its Discontents". Issue 153 of ICG Africa report (4 September 2009) p. 2.
  23. ^ Haberland, Eike (1983). "An Amharic Manuscript on the Mythical History of the Adi kyaz (Dizi, South-West Ethiopia)". Cambridge University Press on Behalf of School of Oriental and African Studies. 46 (2): 240. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  24. ^ Edward C. Keefer (1973). "Great Britain and Ethiopia 1897–1910: Competition for Empire". International Journal of African Studies. 6 (3): 470. doi:10.2307/216612. JSTOR 216612.
  25. ^ Jack, Ian (2001). Necessary Journeys. Granta. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-929001-03-3.


External links

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