*** African Royalty: Ethiopia

African Royalty: Ethiopia

Etiopian royalty
Figure 1.--This photograph shows the emperor of Ethiopia Menelik II with his court (June 1896), just after the great victory over the Italians at Adwa. It seems that the photo has been touched up to change Menelik's feet. We don't know the reason, but we believe that Menelik was probably barefoot like all the other people in the photo and that was seen as inappropriate for the emperor in a photograph distributed in Europe. We are not positive about this supposition, but it seems the most likely.

The Solomonic Dynasty of Ethiopia claims to have reigned with few interruptions (called by the Solomics usurpers) from it's founding by Menelik I, legendary son of the Biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, until the fall of Haile Selassie I in 1974. The ancient claims are largely lengendary. The restored Solomonic dynasty has a historical basis. They claimed descent from the old Aksumite rulers. The restored Solomic dynasty seized power (13th century). The most notable usurper was Kassa of Kwara, who seized control (1855). He claimed descent from Solomonics on the distaff (female) side. He was was crowned Tewodros II. He was defeated and deposed. The best known post-Theodorean Emperors were Yohannes IV, Menelik II and Haile Selassie. Another non-Solomonic, Dejazmatch Kassai took over and had himself crowned as Yohannes IV. When Yohannis IV died, Menelik of Shewa of Solomonic descent ascended the throne. Menelik had impeccable ancestry. He was in the direct male line and junior only to the Gondar line. He thus presented himself as restoring the male-line Solomonic tradition. Emperor Menelik II achieved a major military victory against Italian invaders at the Battle of Adwa (1896). This was the only important victory of an African nation against a European colonial power and a matter of considerable ebarassment for the Italians. After Menelik, in contrast to Solomonic tradition were of distaff descent from Solomonics. The male line, through the descendants of Menelik's cousin Dejazmatch Taye Gulilat, existed, but Menelik had personal issues with the individuals involved. Emperor Haile Selassie (1892–1975) rose to the thronre (1930). He had to defeat Ras Gugsa Wole Bitul (Nephew of Empress Taitu) of Begemidr (present Gondar) at the Battle of Anchem (1928). [Erlich, p.192.] He had been Regent Plenipotentiary (Enderase) for Empress Zewditu (since 1916). He rose to internation attention resisting the Italian Fascist invasion (1935). It is seen as one of the first Fascist aggressioins leading to World War II. Selassie is seentoday seen as a defining figure in modern Ethiopian history. He was important in the Rastafari, a trans-national religious movement in Jamaica. At the time of his removal from power in a military coup. He was seen as a historic anacronism leading a poor, backward country.


Erlich, Haggai. (2002), The Cross and the River: Ethiopia, Egypt, and the Nile (Lynne Rienner Publishers: 2002).


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Created: 9:35 PM 5/21/2011
Last updated: 11:52 PM 10/5/2023