Na'akueto La'ab was negus of Ethiopia, a member of the Zagwe dynasty. According to Taddesse Tamrat, he was the son of Kedus Harbe. Richard Pankhurst credits him with the creation of the church located in a cave a half-day's journey from the town of Lalibela. According to a manuscript Pedro Páez and Manuel de Almeida saw at Axum, Na'akueto La'ab ruled for 40 years, a suspiciously round number. A Gadla or hagiography of Na'akueto La'ab exists, in a manuscript written in the 17th century. According to Huntingford, it documents that Zagwe power had extended into Gojjam, credits the king with building two churches: one at Sewa'a "which is said to have been called Wagra Sehin'among Celestrial', Ashetan or Asheten'among Terrestrials'", which Huntingford identifies with an existing church named Ashetan Maryam, a monolithic structure located a few kilometers east of Lalibela. Tradition states that queen Masqal Kibra convinced her husband, King Lalibela, to abdicate in favor of Na'akueto La'ab, but 18 months when the young king's soldiers appropriated a poor farmer's only cow for the king's dinner table, she convinced Lalibela to resume the throne.
Taddesse Tamrat suspects. He argues that this tradition masks a brief period when Na'akueto La'ab "was no doubt a rallying point for disaffected elements in the country, although kept under close watch managed to usurp the throne for a brief period until Yetbarak managed to take his father's throne." The Dictionary of Ethiopian Biography: Nä'akweto-Lä-'Ab
Negus is a royal title in the Ethiopian Semitic languages. It denotes a monarch, such as the Bahri Negasi of the Medri Bahri kingdom in pre-1890 Eritrea, the Negus in pre-1974 Ethiopia; the Negus is referred to as An-Najashi in the Islamic tradition. Negus is a noun derived from the Ethiopian Semitic root ngś, meaning "to reign"; the title has subsequently been used to translate the words "king" or "emperor" in Biblical and other literature. In more recent times, it was used as an honorific title bestowed on governors of the most important provinces: Gojjam, Wollo and the seaward kingdom and Shewa. Both uses and the imperial dignity would meet in the person of a regional prince, Lij Kassa Hailu, the third youngest son of Däjazmač Hailu Wolde-Giyorgis, Governor of Qwara Province, by his second wife Woizero Attitaggab, he rebelled against Empress Menen and her son, the Viceroy Ras Ali II of Yejju, in 1845 and spent the next nine years alternating between rebellion and submission until he was proclaimed negus at Amba Chera on 19 September 1854, after the Battle of Derasge proclaimed himself emperor on 8 February 1855 and was crowned as Tewodros II, at Derasge Maryam the next day.
Emperor of Ethiopia
The Solomonic dynasty known as the House of Solomon, is the former ruling Imperial House of the Ethiopian Empire. The dynasty's members claim the Queen of Sheba. Tradition asserts that the Queen gave birth to Menelik I after her biblically described visit to Solomon in Jerusalem. In 1270, the Zagwe dynasty of Ethiopia was overthrown by Yekuno Amlak, who claimed descent from Solomon and reinitiated the Solomonic era of Ethiopia; the dynasty would last until 1974, ended by a coup d'état and deposition of the emperor Haile Selassie. The Solomonic dynasty was a bastion of Judaism and of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, it is claimed that this dynasty ruled Ethiopia as early as the 10th century BC, although there is no historical evidence to support this claim. Records of the dynasty's history were maintained by the Ethiopian Orthodox monasteries to near antiquity. Yekuno Amlak, an Amhara prince from the old province Bet Amhara, re-established the dynasty, tracing his ancestry to the last Solomonic King of Axum, Dil Na'od.
The Dynasty re-established itself on 10 Nehasé 1262 EC when Yekuno Amlak overthrew the last ruler of the Zagwe dynasty. Yekuno Amlak claimed direct male line descent from the old Axumite royal house that the Zagwes had replaced on the throne. Menelik II, his daughter Zewditu I, would be the last Ethiopian monarchs who could claim uninterrupted direct male descent from Solomon of Israel and the Queen of Sheba; the male line, through the descendants of Menelik's cousin Dejazmatch Taye Gulilat, still existed, but had been pushed aside because of Menelik's personal distaste for this branch of his family. The Solomonic Dynasty continued to rule Ethiopia with few interruptions until 1974, when the last emperor, Haile Selassie I, was deposed; the royal family is non-regnant. Members of the family in Ethiopia at the time of the 1974 revolution were imprisoned. In 1976, ten great grandchildren of Haile Selassie I were extracted from Ethiopia in an undertaking detailed in a book by Jodie Collins titled Code Word: Catherine.
The women of the dynasty were released by the regime from prison in 1989, the men were released in 1990. Several members were allowed to leave the country in mid 1990, the rest left in 1991 upon the fall of the Communist Regime. Many members of the Imperial family have since returned to live in Ethiopia. During much of the dynasty's existence, its effective realm was the northwestern quadrant of present-day Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Highlands; the Empire expanded and contracted over the centuries, sometimes incorporating parts of modern-day Sudan and South Sudan, coastal areas of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Southern and eastern regions were permanently incorporated during the last two centuries, some by Shewan kings and some by Emperors Menelek II and Haile Selassie I. In the modern era, the Imperial dynasty has several cadet branches; the elder Gondarine Amhara line, starting with Susenyos in 1606 ended its rule with the fall of the powerless Yohannes III in 1855 and the coming to power of Tewodros II, whose claims of Solomonic descent were never accepted.
Following Tewodros, Wagshum Gobeze claimed the throne linking himself to the last independent Gondare emperors through his mother, Aychesh Tedla, a descendant of Iyasu I, reigned as emperor of Ethiopia with the title Tekle Giorgis II for some years investing in the renovation of churches and monuments in Gondar. Being an heir to the Zagwe throne, his reign was meant to be a unification of both dynasties in the enthronement of a king bearing both lineages. Tekle Giorgis II fought a battle with the Tigrean Claimant Kassai Mercha, the latter, who had retrieved superior weaponry and armament from the British in return for his assistance in the defeat of Tewodros II, would be able to defeat Tekle Giorgis II's army and killing him; the Tigrean line came to power with the enthronement of Yohannes IV in 1872, although this line did not persist on the Imperial throne after the Emperor was killed in battle with the Mahdists in 1889, the heirs of this cadet branch ruled Tigre until the revolution of 1974 toppled the Ethiopian monarchy.
The Tigrean Cadet branch traces its lineage to the main Solomonic line of Emperors through at least two female lines. The more recent link was through Woizero Aster Iyasu; the Shewan line was next on the Imperial throne with the coronation of Menelik II Menelik King of Shewa, in 1889. The Shewan Branch of the Imperial Solomonic dynasty, like the Gondarine line, could trace uninterrupted male line descent from King Yekonu Amlak, though Abeto Negassi Yisaq, the grandson of Dawit II by his youngest son Abeto Yaqob; the direct male line ended with Menelik II –, succeeded first by the son of his daughter Lij Iyasu from 1913 to 1916 by his daughter Zewditu until 1930, by the son of a first cousi
A monolithic church or rock-hewn church is a church made from a single block of stone. Because freestanding rocks of sufficient size are rare, such edifices are hewn into the ground or into the side of a hill or mountain, they can be of comparable architectural complexity to constructed buildings. The term monolithic church is most used to refer to the complex of eleven churches in Lalibela, believed to have been created in the 12th century. A series of eleven monolithic churches in Lalibela are the Church of the Redeemer, of Saint Mary, of Mount Sinai, of Golgotha, of the House of the Cross, of the House of the Virgins, of Saint Gabriel, of Abba Matta, of Saint Mercurius, of Immanuel; the most famous of the edifices is the cross-shaped Church of St. George. Tradition credits its construction to the Zagwe dynasty King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela, a devout Orthodox Tewahedo Christian; the medieval monolithic churches of this 12th-century'New Jerusalem' are situated in a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia near a traditional village.
Lalibela is an important center of Ethiopian Christianity, today is a place of pilgrimage and devotion. Lalibela is one of the world's heritage sites registered by UNESCO. Many other churches were hewn from rock in Ethiopia, outside of Lalibela; this practice was common in Tigray, where the outside world knew of only a few such churches until the Catholic priest Abba Tewelde Medhin Josief presented a paper to the Third International Conference of Ethiopian Studies in which he announced the existence of over 120 churches, 90 of which were still in use. Despite Dr. Josief's death soon after his presentation, research over the next few years raised the total number of these rock-hewn churches to 153. There are a number of monolithic churches elsewhere in the world. However, none have the free-standing external walls of the Lalibela churches, they instead more resemble cave monasteries in that they consist of tunnels converging into a single rock. Examples include: The Geghard monastery, Kotayk Province, Armenia The Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo, Bulgaria near Ruse The subterranean St. Jean Church in Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, France Church in Saint-Émilion, France Temppeliaukio Church in Helsinki, Finland The subterranean rock churches in Cappadocia, Turkey which number beyond one thousand and contain some superb examples of Byzantine wall-paintings, representing both the academic classicizing trend in Byzantine art, some archaic popular styles Rock-cut architecture Monolithic architecture Bochnia Salt Mine List of cave monasteries Petra Ellora Caves Saint-Roman abbey website Website about monolithic monuments
Axum or Aksum is the site of the historic capital of the Kingdom of Aksum. It is now a tourist town with a population of 66,800 residents; the Kingdom of Axum was a naval and trading power that ruled the region from about 400 BCE into the 10th century. In 1980, UNESCO added Axum's archaeological sites to its list of World Heritage Sites due to their historic value. Axum is located near the base of the Adwa mountains, it is surrounded by La'ilay Maychew district. Axum was the centre of the marine trading power known as the Aksumite Kingdom, which predated the earliest mentions in Roman-era writings. Around 356 CE, its ruler was converted to Christianity by Frumentius. Under the reign of Kaleb, Axum was a quasi-ally of Byzantium against the Sasanian Empire which had adopted Zoroastrianism; the historical record is unclear, with ancient church records the primary contemporary sources. It is believed it began a long and slow decline after the seventh century due to the Persians and the Arabs contesting old Red Sea trade routes.
Aksum was cut off from its principal markets in Alexandria and Southern Europe and its trade share was captured by Arab traders of the era. The Kingdom of Aksum was destroyed by Empress Gudit, some of the people of Aksum were forced south and their old way of life declined; as the kingdom's power declined so did the influence of the city, believed to have lost population in the decline, similar to Rome and other cities thrust away from the flow of world events. The last known king to reign was crowned in about the 10th century, but the kingdom's influence and power ended long before that, its decline in population and trade contributed to the shift of the power center of the Ethiopian Empire south to the Agaw region as it moved further inland. The city of Axum was the administrative seat of an empire spanning one million square miles; the alternative name was adopted by the central region, subsequently, the present modern state. The Kingdom of Aksum had its own written language, Ge'ez, developed a distinctive architecture exemplified by giant obelisks, the oldest of which date from 5000–2000 BCE.
The kingdom was at its height under King Ezana, baptized as Abreha, in the 4th century. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church claims that the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum houses the Biblical Ark of the Covenant, in which lie the Tablets of Stone upon which the Ten Commandments are inscribed. Ethiopian traditions suggest that it was from Axum that Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, journeyed to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem and that the two had a son, who grew up in Ethiopia but traveled to Jerusalem as a young man to visit his father's homeland, he lived several years in Jerusalem before returning to his country with the Ark of the Covenant. According to the Ethiopian Church and Ethiopian tradition, the Ark still exists in Axum; this same church was the site where Ethiopian emperors were crowned for centuries until the reign of Fasilides again beginning with Yohannes IV until the end of the empire. Axum is considered to be the holiest city in Ethiopia and is an important destination of pilgrimages.
Significant religious festivals are the Timkat festival on 19 January and the Festival of Maryam Zion on November 24. In 1937, a 24-metre tall, 1,700-year-old Obelisk of Axum, broken into five parts and lying on the ground, was found and shipped by Italian soldiers to Rome to be erected; the obelisk is regarded as one of the finest examples of engineering from the height of the Axumite empire. Despite a 1947 United Nations agreement that the obelisk would be shipped back, Italy balked, resulting in a long-standing diplomatic dispute with the Ethiopian government, which views the obelisk as a symbol of national identity. In April 2005, Italy returned the obelisk pieces to Axum amidst much official and public rejoicing. UNESCO assumed responsibility for the re-installation of this stele in Axum, by the end of July 2008 the obelisk had been reinstalled, it was unveiled on 4 September 2008. The Kingdom of Aksum has a longstanding relationship with Islam. According to ibn Hisham, when Muhammad faced oppression from the Quraysh clan, he sent a small group that included his daughter Ruqayya and her husband Uthman to Axum.
Sahama, the Aksumite king, gave them protection. He refused the requests of the Quraish clan to send these refugees back to Arabia; these refugees did not return until the sixth Hijri year, then many remained in Ethiopia settling at Negash in what is now the Mibraqawi Zone. There are different traditions concerning the effect; the Muslim tradition is that the ruler of Axum was so impressed by these refugees that he became a secret convert. On the other hand, Arabic historians and Ethiopian tradition state that some of the Muslim refugees who lived in Ethiopia during this time converted to Orthodox Christianity. There is a second Ethiopian tradition that, on the death of Ashama ibn Abjar, Muhammed is reported to have prayed for the king's soul, told his followers, "Leave the Abyssinians in peace, as long as they do not take the offensive." The major Aksumite monuments in the town are steles. These obelisks are around 1,700 years old and have become a symbol of the Ethiopian people's identity; the largest number ar
Emperor of Ethiopia
The Emperor of Ethiopia was the hereditary ruler of the Ethiopian Empire, until the abolition of the monarchy in 1975. The Emperor was the head of state and head of government, with ultimate executive and legislative power in that country. A National Geographic Magazine article called imperial Ethiopia "nominally a constitutional monarchy; the title of "King of Kings" rendered imprecisely in English as "Emperor", dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, but was used in Axum by King Sembrouthes. However, Yuri Kobishchanov dates this usage to the period following the Persian victory over the Romans 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 of Gojjam, the seaward provinces and Shewa, received the honorific title of nəgus, a word for "king." The consort of the Emperor was referred to as the ətege. Empress Zauditu used the feminized form nəgəstä nägäst to show that she reigned in her own right, did not use the title of ətege.
At the death of a monarch any male or female blood relative of the Emperor could claim succession to the throne: sons, uncles or cousins. Practice did not always enforce it; the system developed two approaches to controlling the succession: the first, employed on occasion before the 20th century, involved interning all of the Emperor's possible rivals in a secure location, which drastically limited their ability to disrupt the Empire with revolts or to dispute the succession of an heir apparent. Ethiopian traditions do not all agree as to when the custom started of imprisoning rivals to the throne on a Mountain of the Princes. One tradition credits this practice to the Zagwe king Yemrehana Krestos, who received the idea in a dream. Another tradition, recorded by historian Thomas Pakenham, states that this practice predates the Zagwe dynasty, was first practiced on Debre Damo, captured by the 10th-century queen Gudit, who isolated 200 princes there to death. Taddesse Tamrat argues that this practice began in the reign of Wedem Arad, 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, was sometimes revived to full effect after some unfortunate disputes – and that the custom started in time immemorial as Ethiopian common inheritance patterns allowed all agnates to succeed to the lands of the monarchy – which however is contrary to keeping the country undivided. The potential royal rivals were incarcerated at Amba Geshen until Ahmed Gragn captured that site in 1540 and destroyed it. Rumors of these royal mountain residences were part of the inspiration for Samuel Johnson's short story, Rasselas. Although the Emperor of Ethiopia had theoretically unlimited power over his subjects, his councillors 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 leave their prisons with help from the outside; as a result, by the mid-18th century the power of the Emperor had been transferred to his deputies, like Ras Mikael Sehul of Tigray, who held actual power in the Empire and elevated or deposed Emperors at will.
The Emperors of Ethiopia derived their right to rule based on two dynastic claims: their descent from the kings of Axum, their descent from Menelik I, the son of Solomon 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, through his father, although he defeated and killed the last Zagwe king in battle, his claim to the throne was helped by his marriage to that king's daughter though Ethiopians 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 the descendants of Menelik I. 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 accept it as evident fact. At the other extreme, others understand this as an expression of propaganda, 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, or between Axum and the pre-exilic Kingdom of Judah. Due to lack of primary materials, it is not possible as of 2006 to determine which theory is the more plausible; the restored Solomonic dynasty, which claimed descent from the old Aksumite rulers, ruled Ethiopia from the 13th century until 1974, with on