The Ethiopian Empire known as Abyssinia, 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 1270 and lasted until 1974, when the ruling Solomonic dynasty was overthrown in a coup d'état by the Derg; the territory of present-day Eritrea became Italian Eritrea. 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. After the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, the Italian Empire occupied Ethiopia for five years and established the Italian East Africa colony in the region; the Italians were 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. Ethiopia's human occupation began early, 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 as the state religion, it was thus one of the first Christian states. After the conquest of Aksum by Queen Gudit or Yodit, a period began which some scholars refer to as the Ethiopian Dark Ages. According to Ethiopian tradition, she ruled over the remains of the Aksumite Empire for 40 years before transmitting the crown to her descendants. In 1063AD the Sultanate of Showa describes the passing of their overlord Badit daughter of Maya; the earliest Muslim state in Ethiopia, the Makhzumi dynasty with its capital in Wahal, Hararghe region succeeds Queen Badit. The Zagwe kingdom another dynasty with its capital at Adafa, emerged not far from modern day Lalibela in the Lasta mountains.
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. In 1270, the Zagwe dynasty was overthrown by a king claiming lineage from the Aksumite kings and, from Solomon; 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 annexed various kingdoms into its realm; the dynasty successfully fought off Italian and Egyptian forces and made fruitful contacts with some European powers. 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. 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. In 1559 Gelawdewos was killed attempting to invade Adal Sultanate, his severed head was paraded in Adal's capital Harar; 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 Funj Sultanate in what is now Sudan. In 1573 Harar attempted to invade Ethiopia again however Sarsa Dengel defended the Ethiopian frontier.
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 at Baylul. 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 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. By 1607, Oromos were major players in the imperial politics, when Susenyos I, raised by a clan through gudifacha, took power, he was helped by fellow Luba age-group generals Mecha and Densa, who were rewarded by Rist feudal lands, in the present-day Gojjam districts of the same name. Susenyos reign was 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 was a major period of consolidation, it saw the dispatching of
Sembrouthes was a King of the Kingdom of Aksum. He is known only from a single inscription in Ancient Greek, found at Dekemhare in modern-day Eritrea, dated to his 24th regnal year. Sembrouthes is the first known ruler in the lands ruled by the Emperor of Ethiopia to adopt the title "King of Kings". S. C. Munro-Hay places his reign in a gap between `DBH and DTWNS, or c.250. However, W. R. O. Hahn, in a study published in 1983, assigns Sembrouthes to the 4th century, between Aphilas and Ezana, he identifies him with Ousanas or the legendary Ella Amida. Munro-Hay suggests that Sembrouthes may have been the ruler who erected the anonymous Monumentum Adulitanum; the latter is an inscription at Adulis that Cosmas Indicopleustes made a copy of for king Kaleb of Axum
Abraha known as Abraha al-Ashram, was an Aksumite army general the viceroy of southern Arabia for the Kingdom of Aksum, declared himself an independent King of Himyar. Abraha ruled much of present-day Arabia and Yemen from at least 531–547 CE to 555–565 CE. Dhu Nuwas, the Jewish Himyarite ruler of Yemen, in the period c. 523–525 or c. 518–20 launched military operations against the Aksumite Christians and their local Arab Christian allies. The Aksumites in Zafar were killed, their fortresses in the Yemeni highlands destroyed, Najran sacked. Najran fell in 518 or 523 and many members of the Himyarite Christian community were put to death evoking great sympathy throughout the Christian regions of the Orient and prompting an intercontinental Aksumite military intervention using the massive Aksumite fleet aided by a small extra Byzantine fleet first made in 518/523. Abraha was either one of the commanders or a member of one of the armies led by King Kaleb of Axum against Dhu Nuwas. In al-Tabari's history,'Abraha is said to have been the commander of the second army sent by Kaléb after the first failed, led by'Ariat.
Abraha was reported to have led his army of 100,000 men with hundreds of elephants to crush all resistance of the Yemeni army and following the suicide of Dhu Nuwas, seized power and established himself at Sana‘a. He aroused the wrath of Kaléb, however, by withholding tribute who sent his general'Ariat to take over the governorship of Yemen.'Abraha rid himself of the latter by a subterfuge in a duel resulting in'Ariat being killed and'Abraha suffering the injury which earned him the sobriquet of al-Asräm, "scar-face."According to Procopius,'Abraha seized the control of Yemen from Esimiphaios, the Christian Himyarite viceroy appointed by Kaléb, with the support of dissident elements within the Aksum occupation force who were eager to settle in the Yemen a rich and fertile land. Stuart Munro-Hay, who proposes a 518 date for the rise of Dhu Nuwas, dates this event to 525, while by the chronology, this event would have happened about 530, although a date as late as 543 has been postulated by Jacques Ryckmans.
An army sent by Kaléb to subdue'Abraha joined his ranks and killed the ruler sent to replace him and a second army was defeated. After this Kaléb had to accord him de facto recognition before earning recognition under Kaleb's successor for a nominal tribute. Abraha is seen as becoming a prominent figure in Yemen's history, promoting the cause of Christianity in the face of the prevalent Judaism and the paganism of Central Arabia. A zealous Christian himself, he is said to have built a great church at San'a' and to have repaired the principal irrigation dam at the Sabaean capital of Ma'rib. Epigraphic sources chronicling'Abraha's career include an inscription on the Marib Dam recording the quelling of an insurrection backed by a son of the deposed ruler, Esimiphaios, in the year 657 of the Sabaean era, i.e. between 540–550. The royal title adopted by'Abraha "King of Saba' and dhü-Raydän and Hadhramaut and Yamanat and of their Arabs on the plateau and the lowland." was of the Himyarites Islamic tradition credits Abraha with a military expedition against the Quraysh of Mecca in an invasion of Hejaz in 570, known as the Year of the Elephant.
The tafsir of the surat al-Fil states. According to the National Museum of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, Abraha built Al-Qullays in Sana'a, he built a similar one in Najran for Bani Al-Harith, the House of Allat in Taif for the tribe of Thaqeef, the House of Yareem and the House of Ghamdan in Yemen; the traditions say that Abraha is said to have built a cathedral at San'a' known as al-Qullays to rival the Kaaba at Mecca and came with his forces of elephants to destroy the Kaaba. No reliable information exists about the date of'Abraha's death. Munro-Hay dates his death to some time after 553 based on the inscription at Murayghän. Islamic tradition places it after his expedition to Mecca, he was succeeded on the throne by two of his sons and Masruq, born to him by Raihäna, a Yemenite noblewoman whom'Abraha had abducted from her husband. Between 570 and 575 the pro-Persian group in Yemen made contact with the Sassanid king through the Lakhmid princes in Al-Hirah; the Persians sent troops under the command of Wahriz, who helped the semi-legendary Sayf ibn Dhi Yazan drive the Aksumites from Yemen and Southern Arabia became a Persian dominion under a Yemenite vassal within the sphere of influence of the Sassanian empire.
According to the Qur'an, the next day, as Abraha prepared to enter Mecca, a dark cloud of birds appeared. The birds, sent by God, carried brimstone and bombarded Abraha's army, killed him and his army; this is the theme mentioned in the Qur'an, Chapter 105 "al-Feel" as follows: "Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the possessors of the elephant? Did He not cause their war plot to end in confusion, send down upon them birds in flocks, casting them with brimstone, so He rendered them like straw eaten up" Kingdom of Aksum
Battle of Amba Aradam
The Battle of Amba Aradam was a battle fought on the northern front of what was known as the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. This battle consisted of attacks and counterattacks by Italian forces under Marshal of Italy Pietro Badoglio and Ethiopian forces under Ras Mulugeta Yeggazu; this battle was fought in the area around Amba Aradam which included most of Enderta Province. On 3 October 1935, General Emilio De Bono advanced into Ethiopia from Eritrea without a declaration of war. De Bono had a force of 100,000 Italian soldiers and 25,000 Eritrean soldiers to advance towards Addis Ababa. In December, after a brief period of inactivity and minor setbacks for the Italians, De Bono was replaced by Badoglio. Haile Selassie launched the Christmas Offensive late in the year to test Badoglio. By mid-January 1936, Badoglio was ready to renew the Italian advance on the Ethiopian capital. Badoglio overwhelmed the armies of ill-armed and uncoordinated Ethiopian warriors with mustard gas and heavy artillery.
In early January 1936, the Ethiopian forces were in the hills everywhere overlooking the Italian positions and attacking them regularly. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was impatient for an Italian offensive to get under way and for the Ethiopians to be swept from the field; the Ethiopians facing the Italians were in three groupings. In the center, near Abbi Addi and along the Beles River in the Tembien, were Ras Kassa Haile Darge with 40,000 men and Ras Seyoum Mangasha with about 30,000 men. On the Ethiopian right was Ras Mulugeta and his army of 80,000 men in positions atop Amba Aradam. Ras Imru Haile Selassie with 40,000 men was on the Ethiopian left in the area around Seleh Leha in Shire Province. Badoglio had five army corps at his disposal. On his right, he had the Italian II Corps facing Ras Imru in the Shire. In the Italian center was the Eritrean Corps facing Ras Kassa and Ras Seyoum in the Tembien. Facing Ras Mulugeta atop Amba Aradam was the Italian III Corps. Badoglio saw the destruction of Ras Mulugeta's army as his first priority.
Mulugeta's force would have to be dislodged from its strong positions on Amba Aradam in order for the Italians to continue the advance towards Addis Ababa. But Ras Kassa and Ras Seyoumm were exerting such pressure from the Tembien that Badoglio decided that he would have to deal with them first. If the Ethiopian center was successful, the I Corps and III Corps facing Mulugeta would be cut off from reinforcement and resupply. From 20 to 24 January, the First Battle of Tembien was fought; the outcome of this battle was inconclusive, but the threat Ras Kassa posed to the I Corps and III Corps was neutralized. On 9 February, Marshal Badoglio held a press conference at his headquarters and announced that the mighty obstacle that blocked the road to Addis Ababa was about to be liquidated. Badoglio was talking of course about Ras Mulugeta and his army dug in atop Amba Aradam; the mountain was of two parts. There was a jagged ridge known to the Italians as "The Herringbone" and, on the extreme right, a flat-topped peak called "The Priest's Hat."
The land around the base of the mountain was known as the Enderta. An article in a current issue of Time Magazine indicated that the correspondents on the Italian side were provided with a high-powered telescope to watch the progress of the battle. While their forces were equal, Badoglio held an overwhelming material advantage over Mulugeta; the Italians attacking Amba Aradam had more than 5,000 machine guns, 280 pieces of artillery, 170 airplanes. By contrast, the Ethiopians had about 400 machine guns, 18 old field pieces of medium calibre, a small number of anti-aircraft guns, no planes. Mulugeta's one advantage were the steep slopes of Amba Arada. At 8:00am on the 10 February, Badoglio launched the Battle of Amba Aradam. Regulars and Blackshirts led the Italian advance. Native Askaris, on which De Bono had leaned so formed the reserve; the Italian I Corps and Italian III Corps advanced across the Calamino Plain. By night fall, both corps were established on the banks of the Gabat River. Badoglio was an artilleryman last.
As a result, he fought a gunner's battle. His headquarters was the Italian artillery observation post and about every five minutes scout planes of the Regia Aeronautica went out to circle the front; the planes identified the locations of Ethiopian forces for the Italian gunners. But the Ethiopians fighting for Ras Mulugeta were regular uniformed troops, they knew how to use it. The Italian scout planes mapped out the area around Amba Aradam and discovered a weakness in Ras Mulugeta's defences. Air photographs showed that an attack from the Plain of Antalo to the south of Amba Aradam should be uncontested; as a result of this discovery, Badoglio planned to encircle Amba Aradam and attack Mulugeta from the rear after his forces linked up at Antalo. On the 11 February, the 4th "3rd January" Blackshirt Division and the Pusteria Alpine Division of the I Corps advanced from the Gabat moving towards and around the west side of Amba Aradam. At the same time, the III Corps moved around the east side of Amba Aradam.
Too late Ras Mulugeta realized the Italian plan to encircle his positions. On the afternoon of the 12 February, a large Ethiopian force streamed down the western slopes of Amba Aradam and attacked the 3rd Blackshirt Division; the blackshirts were held up. The near continuous and persistent air and artillery bombardment of the Ethiopian positions had sapped the Ethiopians of much of their will to resist. On the evening of the 14 February, the Italian pincers were ab
Kebur Zabagna or Zebenya was the Ethiopian Imperial Guard. Known as the First Division, this unit served the dual purposes of providing security for the Emperor of Ethiopia, being an elite infantry division, it was not, 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. Richard Pankhurst dates the formation of the Imperial Bodyguard to 1917, when the Regent Ras Tafari assembled a unit under his direct control from men who had trained in the British army in Kenya as well as a few who had served under the Italians in Tripoli. In 1930 as Negus he invited a Belgian military mission to train and modernize the Ethiopian military, which included the Kebur Zabagna; the unit was organized in three battalions of trained regular infantry armed with rifles and mortars. The Kebur Zabagna had one heavy machine-gun company, it was commanded by Ethiopian graduates of Saint Cyr, the French military academy, at the time of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia.
As a unit, the Imperial Bodyguard only participated in the Battle of Maychew, where they inflicted heavy losses on the 2nd Eritrean Division until the Ethiopian troops were forced to withdraw. Afterwards many of its members joined the various groups of the Ethiopian resistance. Following the return of Emperor Haile Selassie to Ethiopia, the Kebur Zabagna was reconstituted, a Swedish military mission aided in its training. Men for the Kagnew Battalion, which fought in the Korean War, were drawn from the Imperial Bodyguard."It remained the elite force of the empire," notes historian Bahru Zewde, "until discredited in the wake of the attempted coup of 1960." That unsuccessful coup had been planned by its commander Brigadier-General Mengistu Neway, his brother Germame Neway. In 1961 it numbered nine battalions. In 1974 the Commander was Major-General Tafessa Lemma; the Kebur Zabagna was disbanded after the Derg consolidated their hold on Ethiopia
GDRT was a King of the Kingdom of Aksum, known for being the first king to involve Axum in the affairs of what is now Yemen. He is known from inscriptions in South Arabia that mention him and his son BYGT. GDRT is thought to be the same person as GDR, the name inscribed on a bronze wand or sceptre, found in an area near Atsbi and Dar'a/Addi-Galamo in northern Ethiopia. GDRT has been equated with the anonymous king of the Monumentum Adulitanum, which would date his reign c. 200 – c. 230. However, the two rulers are thought to be distinct; however the French scholar Christian Robin, studying the inscriptions at al-Mis`al in Yemen, has shown that GDRT, his successor `DBH, lived in the earlier half of the 3rd century. The inscriptions of GDR represent the oldest surviving royal inscriptions in the Ge'ez alphabet; the oldest of these was found at Addi-Galamo in the regions of Atsbi and Dar'a in eastern Tigray Region in northern Ethiopia. The area is rich in pre-Aksumite artifacts, inscriptions of a pre-Aksumite kingdom called Dʿmt have been found in the region.
The inscription mentioning GDR is the only evidence of his existence from the western side of the Red Sea: gdr / ngśy / ʾksm / tbʿl / mzlt / lʾrg / wllmqThe Addi Galamo inscription was written on a sceptre or "boomerang-like object". J. Drewes therefore interprets mzlt as meaning a royal emblem; the inscription's meaning is uncertain, but if mzlt is taken to mean a sceptre, ʾrg and lmq are taken to be place names according to Alexander Sima, the text could mean "GDR, king of Aksum gave sceptre into the possession of ʾRG and LMQ." The South Arabian expert W. F. Albert Jamme, translates the inscription as "GDR king of Aksum occupied the passages of `RG and LMQ", or "Gedara, King of Axum is humbled before the Arg and Almouqah,", assuming that the ʾ in Ilmuqah was assimilated. GDRT is first mentioned in South Arabian inscriptions as an ally of `Alhan Nahfan, king of Saba, in an inscription at Maḥram Bilqīs, at Ma'rib in Yemen, the temple of the moon god Almaqah /Ilmuqah. According to Stuart Munro-Hay, the inscription reads they agreed together that their war and their peace should be in unison, against anyone that might rise up against them, that in safety and in security there should be allied together Salhen and Zararan and `Alhan and Gadarat.
Alexander Sima translates the text differently, specifying that it was GDRT who "sent a diplomatic mission to in order to form an alliance." Both interpret "Zararan" or "Zrrn" as the name of the palace in Aksum at the time, parallel to "Sahlen," the palace of Saba in Marib. This Sahlen-Saba parallel, along with the Dhu-Raydan-Ḥimyar parallel, was used by Aksumite kings in their inscriptions enumerating the territories under their control. A Ḥimyarite inscription confirms the Sabaean text, mentioning that Aksum, Saba', Ḥaḑramawt, Qatabān were all allied against Ḥimyar. `Alhan Nafhan's son Sha`ir Awtar or Sha`irum Awtar abandoned the alliance with GDRT after he became king of Saba'. However, during the first part of Sha`ir Awtar's reign, the two powers seem to have joined in an alliance once again, this time against Ḥaḑramawt. Saba's invasion of Ḥaḑramawt with Aksumite help culminated in the latter's defeat and the occupation of its capital, Shabwah, in 225. Sha`ir Awtar's attack represented a major shift in policy as, before the attack, the king of Ḥaḑramawt, Il`azz Yalut, was married to his sister.
Although Saba' was allied with Aksum against Ḥimyar, both Ḥimyarite and Sabaean troops were used in the attack against Ḥaḑramawt. Following the conquest of Hadramaut, Sha`ir Awtar allied with Ḥimyar against his former ally GDRT. A second Sabaean inscription from the sanctuary'Awam in Marib during the reign of Sha`ir Awtar's successor, Luha`atht Yarhum, describes events in the latter part of his predecessor's reign; the inscription tells of a diplomatic mission sent by Sha`ir Awtar to GDRT, the results of which are unknown. Aksum lost a battle as a result of the Saba'-Ḥimyar alliance, allowing the South Arabian forces to expel GDRT's son BYGT and his forces from the Ḥimyarite capital Zafar, held by Aksum after the Aksum-Ḥaḑramawt-Qatabān-Saba' alliance. Despite this loss, Aksum still held territory in South Arabia, as evidenced by inscriptions of Luha`atht Yarhum, which detail at least one known clash with hbšt troops in Yemen after GDRT's reign. Peace may have been established after GDRT's death, but war and Aksumite involvement was renewed under his successors such as `DBH and GRMT, the whole 3rd century was to be dominated by Ethio-Yemeni conflicts.
GDRT was most the first Aksumite king to be involved in South Arabian affairs, as well as the first known king to be mentioned in South Arabian inscriptions. His reign resulted in the control of much of western Yemen, such as the Tihāmah, Najrā, Ma`afir, Ẓafār, parts of Hashid territory around Hamir in the northern highlands. Furthermore, GDRT's military alliances and his conquests in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, the required formidable fleet for such feats, the extension of Aksumite influence throughout Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia all reflect a new zenith in Aksumite power, his involvement would mark the beginning of centuries of Aksumite involvement in South Arabia, culminating with the full-scale invasion of Yemen by King Kaleb in 520, resulting in the establish
British Expedition to Abyssinia
The British Expedition to Abyssinia was a rescue mission and punitive expedition carried out in 1868 by the armed forces of the British Empire against the Ethiopian Empire. Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia often referred to by the anglicized name Theodore, imprisoned several missionaries and two representatives of the British government in an attempt to get the attention of the British government, which had decided against his requests for military assistance; the punitive expedition launched by the British in response required the transportation of a sizable military force hundreds of miles across mountainous terrain lacking any road system. The formidable obstacles to the action were overcome by the commander of the expedition, General Sir Robert Napier, victorious in every battle with the troops of Tewodros, captured the Ethiopian capital and rescued all the hostages; the expedition was hailed on its return for achieving all its objectives. Harold G. Marcus described the action as "one of the most expensive affairs of honour in history."
By October 1862 Emperor Tewodros's position as ruler had become precarious: much of Ethiopia was in revolt against him, except for a small area stretching from Lake Tana east to his fortress at Magdala. He was engaged in constant military campaigns against a wide array of rebels. Abyssinia was threatened by the encroachment of Islam as Muslim Turks and Egyptians invaded Ethiopia from the Red Sea and from Sudan while the Muslim Oromo tribe was expanding throughout Central Ethiopia; as a final attempt to recover his standing, Tewodros wrote to the major powers for help. As Donald Crummey recounts, "Now came the definitive attempt, at the turning point of the Emperor's career. Success might stabilize the internal situation, he proposed to send embassies with the ultimate objective of obtaining military alliances and agreements for technical progress."Tewodros sent letters to the Russian Empire, the Austrian Empire, French Empire and the British Empire. The French government responded with demands on behalf of a Lazarist mission in Hamasien, at the edge of Tewodros's realm.
Tewodros's letter to Queen Victoria appealed to Christian solidarity in the face of Islamic expansion but found little sympathy. The British Empire's interests in Northeast Africa were quite different from those of the Ethiopian Emperor; the English did not want to conduct a Christian "crusade" against Islam but instead to cooperate politically and commercially with the Ottoman Empire and the Sudan. This was not only to protect the route to India but to ensure that the Ottoman Empire continued to act as a buffer against Russia's plans for expansion into Central Asia. More-so, as a result of the American Civil War, deliveries of cotton from the Confederate States of America to the British textile industry were declining making the British dependent on Egyptian-Sudanese cotton. In the view of these interests, the English Foreign Office did not look favorably on supporting Tewodros; the letter was preserved but not answered. However, the first European to cross his path after this lack of a response happened to be Henry Stern, a British missionary.
Stern had mentioned the Emperor's humble origins in a book he had published. At the time Tewodros was insisting on the truth of his descent from the Solomonic dynasty, Tewodros expressed his rage in many ways, including having Stern's servants beaten to death, Stern, together with his assistant, a Mr Rosenthal, were "chained treated, the latter thrashed on several occasions."The British consul Charles Duncan Cameron, along with the Abuna Salama III and the group of missionaries based at Gafat, all interceded for the release of the imprisoned pair, for a while it appeared that their efforts might succeed. Shortly afterwards, Tewodros ordered most of the Europeans in the royal camp put into chains; the British government sent Hormuzd Rassam, an ethnic Assyrian Christian from Mesopotamia, to negotiate a solution to this crisis, but "security in Tigre, the King's indecisiveness, continuing confusion about the envoy's instructions" delayed Rassam's arrival at Tewodros's camp until January 1866.
At first, it looked as if Rassam might succeed in the release of the hostages: the Emperor showed him great favour, establishing him at Qorata, a village on the south-eastern shores of Lake Tana, sending him numerous gifts, having Cameron and the other hostages sent to his encampment. However, about this time C. T. Beke arrived at Massawa, forwarded letters from the hostages' families to Tewodros asking for their release. At the least Beke's actions only made Tewodros suspicious. Rassam, writing in his memoirs of the incident, is more direct: "I date the change in the King's conduct towards me, the misfortunes which befell the members of the Mission and the old captives, from this day." Meanwhile, Emperor Tewodros's behaviour was becoming erratic, his actions included acts of friendship towards Rassam, paranoid accusations, sudden violence upon whoever happened to be around him. In the end, Rassam himself was made a prisoner, one of the missionaries dispatched with the news and Tewodros's latest demands in June 1866.
The Emperor moved all of his European prisoners to his fortress on Magdala, continued to parley wi