Iyasu (r. 1682-1705) succeeded his father Yohannes and tried to impose the Unionist religious dogma on Ethiopia by punishing the Tekla-Haymanot for their new theories. Iyasu spent years fighting the Oromos and establishing his authority in Baher-Meder and Tigray. Iyasu led the expedition to the Sidama plateau in 1704. French missionaries abandoned Ethiopia after their emissary was murdered at Sennar in 1705. When Iyasu withdrew to an island in Lake Tana, his wife made their son Tekla-Haymanot king. In 1706 her kinsmen assassinated Iyasu, but Tekla-Haymanot was murdered two years later. Iyasu’s brother Tewoflos died in 1711, probably of poison; but the nobility’s attempt to end the Solomonic dynasty by making Yostos king ended in 1716 when he was deposed.
Dawit III (r. 1716-21) was poisoned by a servant, and another son of Iyasu called Bekaffa gained the throne. His army with Oromo forces subjugated Wag and Lasta and made the nobility of Tigray and Baher-Meder submit. When Bekaffa became very ill in 1728, Queen Mentuab ruled as regent until his death and afterward for her infant son Iyasu II, whom she married to the Oromo princess Wobit. Mentuab’s brother Walde-Li‘ul expanded the territory of Ethiopia. Because he was called “little,” Iyasu invaded Sennar in 1744, and nearly 20,000 Ethiopians were killed or captured. An icon of the Christ and a piece of the cross were captured, costing the Ethiopian treasury 8,000 ounces of gold to buy them back. When Iyasu II died in 1755, Mentuab and Walde-Li‘ul made Iyasu’s young son Iyo’as king so that they could continue to rule.
Tigray’s Governor Ras Mikael Sehul gained authority over Ethiopia’s eastern provinces. After Walde-Li‘ul died in 1766, Iyo’as asked for Mikael’s help against Mentuab’s kinsmen. Mikael commanded a large army and defeated the rebelling coalition of Amhara, Agaw, and Yejju chiefs in 1768. King Iyo’as told Mikael to return to Tigray; but instead he turned on Ethiopia’s troops led by Fasil Warena, who fled to Damot. Mikael ordered Iyo’as killed. Thus began in 1769 the era of the war-lords in Ethiopia that would last until 1855. Mikael executed anyone he suspected, and in 1771 Fasil and allies defeated Tigray’s army and exiled Mikael to Shoa. A coalition of Amhara’s nobles defeated and killed Fasil in 1775. Mecha’s Chief ruled at Gondar until 1781. Meanwhile Muslim chiefs of Wallo burned churches, killed priests, and sold Christians into slavery. In 1784 the commander of the guard, ‘Ali Gwangul, deposed the King. Although he converted to Christianity, his despotism was resented by Christians. ‘Ali died in 1788, but his brother Aligaz Gwangul, though challenged by his own relatives and Wallo chiefs, ruled Amhara until 1803. Ras Wolde-Selassie (r. 1795-1816) managed to rule over the provinces east of the Tekeze.
Shoa’s Chief Asfa Wossen (r. 1775-1808) expanded his territory by taking Oromo land; he became independent of Ethiopia and reformed taxes. His son Wossen Seged (r. 1808-13) took the title of ras and fought with Tigray’s Ras Wolde Selassie against Wallo and Yejju. Wossen Seged’s son Sahle Selassie (r. 1813-47) was a powerful ruler of Shoa and called himself negus (king), extending his authority over ‘Yefat, the Oromo people, and Gurage. He kept the peace; but after his death, his son Haile Malekot (r. 1847-55) had to face an Oromo uprising.
Bofu ruled the Oromo in Enarya and was succeeded by his son Abba Bagibo (r. 1825-61), who enriched the kingdom by trading slaves, gold, ivory, and civets. To the south Abba Magal founded the kingdom of Jimma-Kakka and was succeeded by his son Abba Jifar Sana (r. 1830-55), but Abba Reba (r. 1855-59) provoked war with his Oromo neighbors and was killed in battle. His brother Abba Boko (r. 1859-62) promoted Islam by having mosques built, and his son Abba Gommol (r. 1862-78) expanded the kingdom.
In Ethiopia after the death of Wolde Selassie (r. 1795-1816), a succession struggle resulted in Sebagadis Woldu (r. 1822-31) taking the throne. He fought the Yejju dynasty but was eventually captured and executed. Ras Wube gained control of Tigray and fought Yejju’s ruler Ras ‘Ali with rifles the French gave him, but he was captured while celebrating and was released on ransom to Tigray. Amhara’s ruler Ali Gwangul was succeeded by his nephew Gugsa Mersu (r. 1803-25), who nationalized the land as Islam spread. Gugsa’s son Ras Yeman (r. 1825-28) favored Muslims over Christians, but his nephew Ras ‘Ali Alula (r. 1831-53) shared power with his mother Menen, who converted to Christianity.
Kassa Hailu was the son of a Qwara chief and a poor widow; he became a soldier and took the title dejazmach (commander of the gate). He took over Gondar by force in 1847, capturing Yejju’s Empress Menen, whose granddaughter he had married. The next year he attacked Egyptians but could not take Sennar because of their firearms. Kassa revolted against Menen’s son Ras ‘Ali in 1852 and defeated Gojjam. Tigray’s Wube joined with ‘Ali, but Kassa defeated them too, burning Ali’s capital Dabra Tabor in 1853. The next year he captured 7,000 firearms from Wube at Derasge.
Crowning himself Emperor in 1855, Kassa took the name Tewodros II. He invaded Wallo and made the fortress of Magdala his capital. Then he took over Shoa and appointed the deceased King’s brother Haile Mikael his governor there while taking the latter’s son Menelik as his hostage. Tewodros tried to break tribal ties and discipline his army by paying them himself. He imported firearms and especially wanted artillery. He issued strict laws and executed bandits who refused to farm. He got his men to build roads by working along with them. Tewodros believed he had a religious mission and ordered Muslims to become Christian within a year, and he expelled Roman Catholics. He caused resentment when he imprisoned the church leader, Abuna Selama, tried to reduce the number of priests, limited ecclesiastical land, and made clergy dependent on state salaries.
After his wife Tewbech died in 1858, Tewodros II took several concubines and let slave-trading resume. He allowed missionaries to hold religious services but expected them to repair muskets and produce weapons and ammunition. In 1863 he began imprisoning missionaries. Suspicious that the British were allied with Egypt, Tewodros had Consul Cameron and his staff arrested in 1864. Two years later he released them but kept other European prisoners. In 1867 Lt. General Robert Napier invaded from India with a British force of 12,000 men. Tewodros burned Debre Tabor and retreated to Magdala. A negotiation nearly was achieved, but Napier rejected Tewodros’ peace offering of 1,000 cows and 500 sheep as too large. When the British stormed his fortress with their superior breech-loading Snider rifles, Tewodros shot himself on April 13, 1868 with the pistol Queen Victoria had given him.
After defeating and killing the rebel Tiso Gobeze, Wagshum Gobeze was crowned Emperor Tekla Giyorgis II in August 1868, and three years later he tried to capture Adwa, the capital of Tigray. Kassa of Tigray defeated him and became Emperor Yohannes IV in January 1872 at Axum. He built many churches and gave extensive lands to the Church. He converted the Muslim Halima before marrying her, and he prohibited witchcraft and the use of tobacco. Yohannes sent an appeal to England for help against Egyptian encroachment. In 1874 the Egyptians occupied Zeila and Harar. Yohannes declared war on Egypt on October 23, 1875 and raised an army of 70,000 to stop the Muslim invasion. On November 15 at Gundet the Ethiopians destroyed most of the invading army, capturing 2,500 Remington rifles and 20,000 Maria Theresa dollars. In February 1876 Egypt’s Khedive Ismail sent 20,000 men to Akele Guzay at Gura. Emperor Yohannes sent troops into Hamasien with Ras Alula to rule them and mobilized his army of 100,000 Christians to fight the Muslims. During the battle of March 7-9 the Ethiopians killed, wounded, or captured about 5,500 Egyptians, who then asked for a truce. The Egyptians evacuated Ethiopia except for Bogos, and the Ethiopians captured 12,000 Remington rifles and 16 cannons.
Menelik was born on August 17, 1844. He was King of Shoa 1866-89, and in 1876 he was fighting against Ethiopia’s ally, Ras Adal of Gojjam. In 1877 he extended Shoa’s influence over Wollo, Begember, and Gojjam. He took the courtesan Bafena as his consort. She urged him to attack Yohannes and plotted to put her son on the throne of Shoa. During Menelik’s campaign in Gojjam conspiring nobles occupied Ankober, and she declared herself regent. Menelik discovered her plot and ended it in early 1878. Ras Adal contributed 20,000 men from Gojjam to Yohannes, and he marched his army against Menelik, who negotiated a truce and then agreed to pay tribute on March 20, 1878. Six days later Menelik was crowned King of Shoa while Yohannes was present. That summer Yohannes convened a religious conference in Wollo, and clergy from Shoa, Tigray, and Gojjam with the Emperor proclaimed the Unctionist doctrine valid and gave Christians two years to conform. Muslim officials were given three months to renounce their religion, and Muhammad Ali of Wollo converted and was baptized Mikael. Menelik went back to Shoa and converted many Muslims and Oromos.
In the next ten years Menelik tripled the territory of Shoa in the south. In 1879 he hired the Swiss engineer, Alfred Ilg, who served as his advisor until 1908. Count Pietro Antonelli led an Italian Geographic Society Mission and offered King Menelik a treaty of friendship and trade. Menelik delivered tribute to Yohannes including 600 mules and horses, $80,000 in cotton goods, and $50,000 cash in December 1880 and $50,000 in grain, flour, cattle, and butter and $10,000 cash in May 1881. Menelik’s army had stolen most of this from his southern enemies with the King receiving more than half the booty. Gobana was an aristocrat from Oromo, and he helped Menelik conquer the Shoan Oromo.
On January 20, 1881 Emperor Yohannes crowned Adal as Negus (King) Tekle Haimanot of Gojjam and Kaffa and gave him 8,000 rifles to conquer Kaffa. King Menelik sent Ras Gobana, and his army was stronger than the Gojjami army. Tekle Haimanot’s General Ras Dereso gave them the tribute he had collected from Jima. Tekle Haimanot challenged Menelik to a battle in Gudru, but he was defeated and captured on June 6, 1882. Yohannes recognized Menelik as King of Kaffa, and Menelik gave his territory in Wollo to the Emperor’s son, Ras Araya Selassie, who wedded his six-year-old daughter, Zewditu. Menelik married the well educated Taitu at Easter 1883. He continued to exploit the south, and Jima’s Abba Jifar II (r. 1878-1932) submitted, paid tribute in slaves and other items, and was granted autonomy. Antonelli delivered 2,000 Remingtons, and he signed a treaty with Menelik on May 21.
After the Mahdi took over part of Sudan from Egypt, Yohannes wanted Egypt to withdraw. British Vice-Admiral William Hewett was Governor of Suakin and came to negotiate. On June 3, 1884 Ethiopia, Britain, and Egypt signed a treaty in which Ethiopia was given back Bogos but not Massawa (Mitsiwa). On February 5, 1885 Italians landed at Massawa, and Yohannes soon learned that the Italians had blocked Ethiopia’s access to the sea. In November a revolt in Wollo was put down by Yohannes with help from Menelik. In February the Emperor made Ras Mikael governor of Wallo and transferred his son Araya to Begemder.
Menelik managed to get thousands of more rifles from the Italians. Emir Abdullahi persecuted Christians, and his new monetary system imposed in 1886 impoverished the Oromo and provoked them to rebel. He refused to pay tribute to Menelik and attacked the Shoans on January 6, 1887, the day they celebrate Christmas. Menelik’s Shoans were ready and counter-attacked, defeating Harari forces at Chelenqo. Abdullahi fled to Somaliland, and his uncle surrendered. Menelik appointed his cousin, Dejazmach Makonnen, to govern Harar, which soon became active in the lucrative arms trade. On January 25 Ethiopia’s General Ras Alula attacked an Italian fort at Sahati and was repulsed, but the next day he ambushed and wiped out 550 Italian soldiers at Wadi Dogali in Ethiopian territory. In April Emir Abdullahi was blamed for the massacre of Italian explorers in Ogaden. In October Antonelli promised to deliver 5,000 rifles to Menelik within six months.
On January 18, 1888 Mahdists from Sudan invaded Gojjam and defeated Tekle Haimanot, seizing Dembea, burning Mahbere Selassie’s monastery, and taking thousands of Christians captive to Metema. Tekle Haimanot raised a large army and attacked Metema. An Italian expeditionary force of 20,000 men landed at Massawa. Emperor Yohannes mobilized for war and boycotted Massawa, believing it was in Ethiopia. Ras Mikael came to Tigray with 25,000 Oromo cavalry. The Mahdists sacked Gondar as Menelik arrived too late.
The British envoy, Gerald Portal, tried to prevent a war between Italy and Ethiopia but to no avail. In March 1888 the Ethiopians attacked the Italians; but their army was too big to besiege the fort, and they retreated. Alula left Asmara in April and withdrew to Adwa. Ras Araya Selassie, the son of Emperor Yohannes, raised a large army in Begemder, but in June he died of smallpox. Yohannes sent an order to Menelik, but he made a defensive alliance with Tekle Haimanot, challenging the Emperor. Menelik negotiated with Antonelli in July to get more rifles from the Italians, who prepared to march on the highlands. Yohannes crossed the Blue Nile into Gojjam in August and was joined by Ras Alula and a Tigrayan army in September. They devastated Damot, causing Amhara resentment. Shoa declared war on Ethiopia in November, and Antonelli brought to Shoa 10,000 rifles in late December.
On February 6, 1889 the Italian army occupied Keren, and three days later the Governor of Akele Guzay took over Asmara, capital of Tigray. Ras Mengesha, the second son of Yohannes, led an imperial army of 100,000 to Metema by the end of February. The Mahdists attacked Begemder, and Yohannes went to fight them. In the battle on March 9 Yohannes IV was mortally wounded. Before he died, he named Mengesha his successor; but he declined the throne.
Menelik learned the news of the Emperor’s death on March 25. He signed a treaty with Italy mediated by Antonelli in Italian and by Geraz in Amharic on May 2 at Wichale in Wollo which recognized him as heir to the Ethiopian throne. The imperial army had scattered. Menelik’s forces marched north, and he accepted the submission of Lasta, Yeju, Gojjam, Welo, and Begemder. The Italians officially occupied Keren on June 2 and Asmara on August 10. Using the Italian version of the treaty, Italy claimed a protectorate over Ethiopia based on the 1885 Congress of Berlin.
Patriarch Matewos crowned Menelik emperor of Ethiopia on November 3. He believed the Italians mistranslated the treaty, and he tried to clarify the meaning by writing letters to European leaders. In 1889 the British confirmed Italy’s claim to a protectorate over the Somali coast north of Kismayu, and a company was chartered to administer the colony from Mogadishu. On January 1, 1890 Italy proclaimed Eritrea its Red Sea Colony, taking in Ethiopian territory north of Massawa down to France’s territory around the Gulf of Tajura. For three years Tigray was fought over by Italy, Tigrayan princes, and Menelik. To win over Menelik the Italians gave him thousands of rifles and millions of bullets. In February 1893 Menelik declared his kingdom independent, and the next year he issued Ethiopia’s first national currency.
Menelik found common ground with the Russians in the Orthodox Church, and in 1891 they sent him a gift of rifles. In 1892 the French Resident Lagarde moved from Obock to Djibouti. On June 2, 1894 Mengesha, Ras Alula, and two others submitted to Menelik, who pardoned them and brought Tigray back into the empire. That year Eritreans led by Dejazmach Bahta Hagos of Akele Guzay revolted against Italian colonists, but Bahta was killed on December 17 in a battle against Italians led by Major Toselli. They had appealed to Mengesha, who refused to withdraw his troops from the border. After Italians attacked them, they crossed the border but were defeated near Senafe on January 15, 1895. With help from Abba Jifar II of Jimma and his generals, Menelik attacked King Tona’s army and took the King to Addis Ababa as a prisoner in early 1895. This consolidated the southwest. Menelik rejected an alliance with France in July but got arms from them. He ordered his army mobilized for war on September 17, and he and the Empress began marching north with them in October. By November they had 100,000 men gathered at Worailu near Tigray.
After going to Rome to get more money, General Baratieri returned to Adigrat in October. He proclaimed Tigray part of Eritrea and moved to Makelle. Menelik sent Ras Makonnen to Zeila to offer peace talks, and by the end of November he brought his Oromo army to Amba Alagi in southern Tigray. There Major Toselli had 2,000 Italians and about 3,000 natives, and they sent the peace offer to Baratieri. Ras Mengesha Yohannes and Taitu’s brother, Ras Wole Betul, brought their armies with 30,000 men. In a battle on December 7 Toselli lost 2,000 men and was killed. Makonnen besieged Italians at Makelle, and they surrendered on January 21, 1896. Baratieri had 8,463 Italians and 10,749 Eritreans with 52 cannons, but Menelik had 100,000 men with more than 50,000 well-armed. During the battle at Adwa on March 1 some of the Eritreans defected to the Ethiopian side. Baratieri retreated, and it became a rout. The Italians had about 7,000 killed and 2,000 taken prisoner while the Ethiopians lost about 6,000 dead. Ethiopia was united, though Italians remained in Eritrea.
In the 1890s Ethiopia suffered from pandemics and famines. Rinderpest killed most of the horned animals, and many people suffered and died from cholera. Menelik proposed a railway to connect Djibouti to Addis Ababa, and a French company began construction in 1896. Italy recognized the independence of Ethiopia in the Treaty of Addis Ababa signed on October 26, and most prisoners were returned in the next year. In March 1897 Menelik sent Ras Wolde Giyorgis to subdue resistance in Kaffa, and after capturing their king he was appointed governor. The French signed a treaty granting Ethiopia the desert lowlands. On May 14 Menelik signed a treaty with the British that defined the Ethiopian border, and he promised to stop the armies of the Mahdi from passing through his empire.
Mengesha was frustrated that Menelik did not make him a king, and he revolted with an army in 1898, supported by Ras Makonnen; but Mengesha surrendered in February 1899 and died in prison in 1906. In 1902 Ethiopia and Italy agreed on the Mareb River as the Eritrean border, and on May 15 the Emperor signed a treaty with Britain in which he promised not to build anything on the Blue Nile that would divert its water which was needed by Sudan and Egypt. Menelik also signed a commercial treaty with the British on December 27, 1903. On July 4, 1906 Britain, France, and Italy made a treaty defining their interests in Ethiopia, but they did express respect for Ethiopia’s integrity.
Menelik had been ill since 1904 and on October 25, 1907 he appointed Ethiopia’s first cabinet and established appellate courts in the provinces to relieve himself of handling appeals. Ethiopia had enough post offices by 1908 to qualify for the International Postal Union. Menelik suffered a second stroke in May 1908 and was incapacitated. Empress Taitu governed Ethiopia. The Emperor had the right to claim any inheritance in Ethiopia, but on October 5, 1908 a new law formalized inheritance by will except in capital cases. Menelik made the minister of War Habte Giyorgis the prime minister. In the summer of 1909 Menelik named his grandson, Lij Iyasu, his heir and Ras Tessema as regent. By then it was clear that Menelik was dying of syphilis. On March 21, 1910 military and civil leaders went to Ras Tessema and Habte Giyorgis, and they agreed to take away the governing powers of Empress Taitu. By February 1911 Ras Tessema was as ill with syphilis as the Emperor, and Tessema died on April 11. Menelik died on December 12, 1913.
Tafari Makonnen was born on July 23, 1892, and he was baptized as Haile Selassie, meaning “power of the Trinity.” He was educated by a French missionary and in the Orthodox school named after Menelik. His father, Ras Makonnen, was a cousin of Menelik, and he got Tafari appointed governor of Garamulata near Harar. After his father’s death in 1906, Tafari went to his memorial service in Addis Ababa, and Menelik made him stay as a page. After gaining governing experience he was assigned to govern Harar in 1910. Ras Tessema made Tafari and Iyasu promise not to scheme against each other. Tafari won popularity at Harar with tax reforms, and he married Iyasu’s niece, Menen Asfaw, on August 3, 1911.
During the Great War young Iyasu sent weapons to the “mad” Somali rebel, Muhammad ‘Abd Allah al-Hassan. When Iyasu inclined toward the Central Powers, the Allies became concerned. On August 13, 1916 he removed Tafari from Harar and assigned him to Kaffa. On September 27 the aristocrats persuaded a prelate to excommunicate Lij Iyasu, and he was deposed and replaced by Menelik’s 40-year-old daughter, Zewditu, who agreed to divorce her fourth husband, Ras Gugsa Wole, and became Empress of Ethiopia.
Lij Iyasu sent troops toward the capital; but they were defeated on October 22 by the army led by Habte Giyorgis as thousands died. Iyasu escaped into the Ogaden desert. Wollo’s King Mikael supported his son, but he was defeated at Segale on October 27. Iyasu fled toward Eritrea and asked for help from Tigray’s nobles and Italians. He was besieged at Maqdala but escaped on July 18, 1917. Iyasu went back to Wollo and got the peasants to revolt, but on August 27 he was defeated again by Ethiopia’s army led by Habte Giyorgis. Ras Tafari and Habte Giyorgis returned to the capital on November 2 and were honored by a victory parade. Iyasu escaped once more and wandered for years before Gugsa Araya Selassie finally captured him in 1921. Iyasu was put under house arrest and escaped one more time in 1931. During the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in November 1935, Iyasu died; but stories of how he died vary.
Zewditu was crowned Empress of Ethiopia on February 11, 1917 and pledged to rule justly with her regent Tafari. The capable young Tafari was named as her successor and acted as foreign minister and took charge of the army, the judiciary, and civil appointments. He formed a political alliance with Ras Kassa Hailu of Shoa. Tafari accepted money from men wanting jobs or favorable policies, Europeans, Asians, and from the central treasury. He also had investments in Hararge. Tafari distributed money to the poor and to soldiers. In 1917 the Franco-Egyptian railway reached Addis Ababa. Isolation during the war made life in Addis Ababa hard in 1918, and one-fifth of the people succumbed to the influenza pandemic. Many were unemployed, and soldiers had not been paid.
On March 20, 1918 Tafari dismissed the council of ministers, and power was taken by the regency council of Zewditu, Habte Giyorgis, and Tafari. The ministers were arrested and exiled to their home provinces. Tafari then appointed directors of the government departments. He issued an edict banning the slave trade. In July 1923 the League of Nations requested information about slavery in Ethiopia, and on August 1 Tafari applied to the Assembly for Ethiopia to enter the League. He promised they would not buy and sell arms in Africa and that slavery would be abolished. On September 28 the League of Nations unanimously voted for Ethiopia to become a member.
Tafari had two printing presses imported to publish books in Amharic, and in 1923 he began the weekly newspaper, Berhanena Selam (Light and Peace). On March 31, 1924 Tafari decreed the gradual emancipation of slaves and on April 9 weapons control. Then he left for Europe and visited Cairo, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Sweden, England, and Greece. He inspected schools, factories, churches, and hospitals, and he met with heads of state and foreign ministers. In March 1925 Ethiopia asked the League of Nations for the equal right to purchase arms, and with French help their restrictions were lifted two months later. Tafari abolished barbaric punishments and superstitious trials by ritual. On December 14 letters were exchanged between London and Rome so that the British could build a dam on Lake Tana, and the Italians could construct a railway from Somalia to Eritrea, basing them on the Tripartite Treaty of 1906. The French warned Tafari that Ethiopia’s rights were being violated. Berhanena Selam waged a media campaign against Italy, and both proposals were withdrawn. He opened a school named after himself, and in 1926 instituted a 6% education tax on all imports and exports.
On August 2, 1928 Tafari signed a friendship treaty with Italy, and this was resented by the head of the palace guard, Abba Weqaw Biru. He mutinied, and the Empress persuaded him to surrender. Tafari recalled Dejazmach Balcha from Sidamo for collecting taxes without issuing receipts, and he sent his son-in-law Desta Demtew to govern coffee-rich Sadamo. Tafari’s followers urged that he be crowned, and on October 6 Empress Zewditu had him crowned “King of Ethiopia, Heir to the Throne, and Regent Plenipotentiary.” Her former husband, Ras Gugsa Wolie, exiled in Begemder, was upset and criticized the modernizing Tafari. In early 1929 starving Muslim pastoralists and Christian farmers in Wallo and Tigray, suffering from drought, locusts, and no tax relief, battled for water holes and pastures and rebelled. Gugsa also opposed Tafari, and mediation failed. The imperial army marched to Dese, and on March 31, 1930 they bombed Gugsa’s headquarters and soldiers from an airplane. The ten thousand men ran away, and Gugsa on his horse was killed. On the next day Empress Zewditu died of paratyphoid fever in the capital.
Tafari was proclaimed Emperor Haile Selassie and continued to modernize the army and the nation, though he was not formally crowned until November 1930 in an impressive ceremony. He hired European advisors. He agreed to limit annual arms purchases to under £400,000 a year and was treated as a sovereign nation in the treaty with the Tripartite powers. The Bank of Abyssinia had been founded in 1905, but its bank notes issued in 1915 had failed. During the financial crisis in 1929 Haile Selassie transformed it into a state bank that issued currency. He used his own money to pay £190,000 to the National Bank of Egypt, the holding company, in two installments, and the Bank of Ethiopia opened for business on July 1, 1931. Fifteen days later he signed Ethiopia’s constitution that was based on Japan’s. A chamber of deputies was elected indirectly based on property, and the senate was appointed by the Emperor, who had to promulgate a law to make it valid. The first parliament met on November 3. The Ministry of Education had been established in 1930, and the Ministry of Public Works began in 1932. In April the Emperor fined Ras Hailu of Gojjam and kept him in the capital. After Hailu tried to help Iyasu escape, he was imprisoned and had his wealth confiscated. Ras Imru became Governor of Gojjam.
After accusing Abba Jifar II of Jima with raising an army against him, the imperial troops invaded on May 12, 1932. Abba Jifar maintained his title, but Ras Desta Demtew was appointed governor. Hailu of Gojjam was another threat, and Gojjamis complained about his economic policies. Haile Selassie agreed and laid large fines on Hailu. Hailu plotted to betray Iyasu to the Emperor, who found out and arrested him, and the state confiscated his wealth. Ethiopia was gaining revenue from coffee exports, and in 1932 the Bank of Ethiopia replaced the Maria Theresa dollar with paper money and coins.
In 1932 Haile Selassie announced that Ethiopia would buy machine guns, rifles, and ammunition for £150,000. Italians had been encroaching on Ethiopian territory for many years. The Emperor used an Anglo-Ethiopian demarcation team to expose the Italian infiltration, and on November 22, 1934 they camped by the Italian perimeter near the wells at Walwal. In December an Ethiopian patrol clashed with them, and Benito Mussolini claimed it was a provocation. Ethiopia called for arbitration by the 1928 treaty, but Mussolini refused and accused Ethiopia of aggression. On January 7, 1935 France’s Premier Pierre Laval signed a pact with Mussolini, giving Italians a free hand in Ethiopia. In March the French banned shipping war materials from Djibouti. In Geneva at the League of Nations the Ethiopians accused Italy of provoking war. In May the Europeans banned arms sales, hurting Ethiopia the most.
Italy had 200,000 men in the Horn of Africa with 140,000 more getting ready. Selassie ordered Ethiopian troops to stay thirty kilometers from the border to avoid incidents. When he learned on October 2, 1935 that Italians had crossed the border into Awsa, the Emperor ordered general mobilization. The next morning 100,000 Italian troops led by General Emilio De Bono crossed the Mareb River and invaded Tigray. After two days of bombing they entered Adwa. On October 11 Haile Selassie Gugsa, who ruled eastern Tigray and was being paid by Italy, defected with 1,500 well-armed men. On October 15 the Italians garrisoned Axum. The Council of the League of Nations had declared Italy the aggressor on October 7, and on November 18 they imposed trade sanctions on Italy. Laval of France and British Foreign Minister Samuel Hoare objected and announced their policy of appeasement on December 7.
General Pietro Badoglio had replaced De Bono, and Selassie ordered an attack that pushed the Italians back. Badoglio used poison gas bombs and stopped the attack by December 22. General Rodolfo Graziani was ordering bombardment with gas against Ras Desta Demtew’s army, and on January 10, 1936 thousands of fleeing Ethiopians were killed. An Italian offensive began on February 10, and Badaglio’s forces defeated Ras Mulugeta at Amba Aradam, Ras Kassa’s army in Temben, and Ras Imru in Shire. Ethiopia made its last effort to attack in the north on March 31, but on the third day they retreated. Italian planes bombed them with gas on April 4. Haile Selassie returned to Addis Ababa on April 30, and his council persuaded him to flee the country to maintain his government in exile. On May 2 he took a train to Djibouti, where he boarded a British ship. On May 5 Badoglio’s army entered Addis Ababa.
Haile Selassie traveled from England to Geneva, and on June 30, 1936 he spoke to the League of Nations Assembly, pleading for help. He had appointed Ras Imru as regent in western Welega. During the rainy season of 1936 forces led by Ras Desta Demtew maintained control of northern and central Ethiopia. The Italians treated resistance as brigands and shot those captured. Ras Imru was captured and exiled by December. Three sons of Ras Kassa were hanged, and many others were executed.
On February 19, 1937 two Eritreans tossed seven grenades into a crowd of dignitaries with Graziani. Three Italian soldiers were killed, and security guards fired into a crowd of Ethiopians. More retaliation followed, and Italian Fascists slaughtered people in Addis Ababa and other places, killing about ten thousand. On May 21 at the Debre Libanos monastery in Shoa 297 monks were shot along with 23 others. Graziani was recalled in November and was replaced by the civilian Duke of Aosta. Tigray was made part of Eritrea and Ogaden part of Somalia. Britain and France recognized Italy’s sovereignty over Ethiopia by treaty in April 1938. During the occupation the Italians built 4,000 kilometers of roads in Ethiopia. Italy’s occupation army of 150,000 was spread thin in vast Ethiopia, and by 1941 they had 250,000 soldiers there including 75,000 Europeans. The former police chief of Addis Ababa, Abebe Aregai, was the most successful leader of the guerrilla movement, using units of fifty men.
After Italy declared war on the Allies on June 10, 1940, the British declared Selassie an ally on July 12. The British trained a force in Sudan. British Major Orde Wingate used Ethiopian patriots under British officers and moved into Gojjam, followed by Selassie on January 20, 1941. Italians fled into their forts, and often thousands of Italians surrendered to hundreds of Ethiopians. In March a British force from Aden captured Jijiga, Hargeisa, and Harar. In Debre Markos 14,000 Italians were surrounded by 300 and surrendered. Haile Selassie defied the Occupied Enemy Territory Administration and returned to Addis Ababa on May 5. The Duke of Aosta was besieged at Amba Alagi and surrendered on May 18, and General Nasi gave up in Gondar by the end of November. The British recognized the sovereignty of Ethiopia in an agreement signed on January 31, 1942.
Ethiopia regained control over Tigray and introduced a new tax system, but the Ethiopian officials appointed exploited the lawless situation and provoked a rebellion. In January 1942 at Kobbo the rebels killed three British officers and some Ethiopian soldiers trying to collect taxes. Planes were sent to bomb the area, but it took 30,000 soldiers from the south to suppress the tribesmen between April and July. Fines were imposed, but many in Tigray still refused to pay taxes. In May 1943 an attack by a large Ethiopian force at Wejerat failed, and the commander was captured. In eastern Tigray rebels tried to govern themselves with elections. Haile Mariam Redda, who had helped the Italians govern, emerged as a leader with Tigrayan chiefs. On September 12 they besieged a garrison at Quiha and then moved west with 20,000 men and captured the fort at Enda Yesus, taking Makelle. Haile Selassie sent an army led by the minister of War Ras Abebe Aregay, and their British artillery and air power helped the Ethiopian army defeat the Tigrayan rebels in October. The Emperor appointed Ras Abebe governor of Tigray, and his pacification of the province was brutal. Haile Mariam finally surrendered in 1946 and was exiled for twenty years.
The United States was especially helpful to Ethiopia and signed a lend-lease treaty on August 9, 1943 to provide arms, ammunition, and technical advice. The Emperor suppressed the Woyane insurrection led by Belai Zelleke and Mamo Hailu, who were tried and hanged. The Interior Minister Makonnen Indalkachew became prime minister. Ethiopia signed a better trade treaty with the British on December 19, 1944.
The imperial family, government, and aristocrats owned the Ethiopian National Corporation that controlled the import and distribution of textiles, returning in 1944 a profit of about £1.5 million, which was double the standard margin. US President Franklin Roosevelt met with Haile Selassie in Cairo on February 13, 1945. Ethiopia’s goals were to own the railway to Djibouti, gain access to the sea, recover Eritrea, get war reparations from Italy, develop a modern army, and get US investments. In 1946 Trans World Airlines and the Boeing Corporation helped establish Ethiopian Airlines, which depended on American pilots and technicians at first. The United States contributed $800,000 in economic aid to Ethiopia, and in 1946-48 the US Export-Import Bank loaned $2.7 million to improve ground transportation. The Ethiopian government tried to use the American Sinclair Oil Company to regain Ogaden, and they did so by September 1948. Selassie’s cabinet leader, Wolde Giyorgis Wolde Yohannes, led the Society for the Unification of Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the Emperor’s agents in Eritrea helped found the Patriotic Association for the Union of Eritrea and Ethiopia. In November 1947 Ethiopia imposed a supplementary land tax to pay for new schools and teachers. By 1950 Addis Ababa had received more than $10 million from the Import-Export Bank to buy equipment for Ethiopian Airlines.
The Suez Canal opened in 1869, and that year an Egyptian ship visited Berbera. The next year Muhammad Jamal Bey claimed the Somali coast at Bulhar and Berbera for Egypt, which occupied Somalia until 1884 and promoted Islamic culture. Northern Somalia was a dependency of the Ottoman empire. In 1875 Egyptians occupied Harar, and their administration of Zeila and Berbera was confirmed by the Ottomans. In 1877 the British recognized Egyptian jurisdiction, but during the crisis in Sudan in 1884 they persuaded the Egyptians to evacuate northern Somalia. In the next two years the British made several treaties with northern clans such as the Isa and Majerteyn. The Genoese shipping company of Raffaele Rubattino had bought the land of Assab from Afar’s Sultan of Obock in 1869, and ten years later they sold it to Italy, which occupied that part of Eritrea in 1883. The east coast as far north as Mogadishu was a dependency of Zanzibar. When the Omani empire was partitioned in 1886, Italy obtained the east coast of Somalia. In June 1884 the French appointed Léonce Lagarde to govern Obock, and the next year their small protectorate around Djibouti became known as French Somaliland. The British encouraged the Italians to head off the French and claim Eritrea from Assab to Massawa in February 1885.
In 1887 the British signed more treaties with Somali sultans, and on July 20 they declared by the General Act of the Berlin Conference that the coastal section between the French and Italian colonies was a protectorate called British Somaliland. In 1888 the British and the French agreed on a border between Zeila and Djibouti. Italy’s consul Vincenzo Filonardi started a company to manage Benadir, and in 1891 he established an Italian station at Adale (Itala). In 1892 the Sultan of Zanzibar leased to Italy the ports of Brava, Merca, Mogadishu, and Warsheikh for 25 years at the rate of 160,000 rupees per year, and they proclaimed the protectorate of Italian Somaliland. Somalis wanted to maintain their independence, and some clans took up arms to assert them. The British had to send expeditions against Isa in 1886 and 1890, against the Habar Gerhajis in 1893, and against the Habar Awal in 1895. Some Italians were massacred at Harar in 1887, and the Bimal people killed fourteen Italians in 1896. Menelik’s Ethiopia tried to occupy Ogaden but met Somali resistance. By 1900 about twenty clans in northern Somalia were fighting each other.
Sayyid Muhammad ‘Abd Allah al-Hassan was born on April 7, 1864, and he went on a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1894. There he studied with the Sufi, Sayyid Muhammad Salih (1853-1917), and he joined his Salihiyya tariqa (way) before he returned to teach at Berbera. Al-Hassan was concerned about Christian proselytizing and wrote polemic poetry. He preached against smoking, chewing the Kat plant (Catha edulis in the benzedrine family), alcohol, and other indulgences and luxuries. By April 1899 he raised an army of 3,000 men from several clans to defend Islam and their Somali homeland. In August he made peace between two Habar clans and with their support occupied Burao, a center of the Isaq clans, in the middle of British Somaliland. That month he wrote an open letter to the British accusing them of oppressing Muslims and ordering them to pay tax to a Muslim ruler or face war.
In September the Sayyid led a jihad against Christian Ethiopia, plundering and destroying the Dandariwiyya settlement at Shaykh. When Dulbahante’s garad (clan-leader) ‘Ali Mahmud sided with the British, the Sayyid’s agents assassinated him. Al-Hassan faced enemies and withdrew to live with his relatives among the Ogaden Darod. They imported rifles and ammunition from the French at Djibouti and from ports in Majerteyn, and his force increased to about 6,000 Dervishes, as they were called. In March 1900 they looted Jigjiga and raided the Idagale Isaq, making the Isaq clan their enemy. When Muhammad Zubayr sent a delegation to the Sayyid, he made unreasonable demands and put to death the 23 elderly envoys.
In five years the British sent four successful expeditions against them, though on April 17, 1903 at Gamburu Hill nine British officers and 189 men were killed. The British called al-Hassan “the Mad Mullah.” In January 1904 Sayyid’s forces were weakened by a major battle at Jidbale, and he withdrew to the Italian Majerteyn Protectorate. On March 5, 1905 he signed the British-approved Treaty of Illing with Cav. G. Pestalozza, the Italian consul from Aden, making peace with Britain, Italy, and Ethiopia. The Anglo-Italo-French Agreement signed on December 13, 1906 pledged cooperation to maintain the status quo in Ethiopia and recognized Ogaden as an Italian sphere of interest.
The Sayyid wrote poetry defying the British, and he raised another army in 1908 that attacked the British, who began pulling back from the interior in November 1909. After the evacuation was completed in April 1910, the Isaq used firearms for internal conflicts. The Sayyid’s reputation was further damaged when he had the respected Qadiriyya Shaykh Uways bin Muhammad of Brava assassinated in 1909. His raids drove many clans from their grazing land, and a famine in 1911-12 killed about a third of the people in British Somaliland. In August 1913 his Somali army destroyed the new camel constabulary. The British reacted by forming an alliance with the Ethiopian Governor of Harar, but then they were preoccupied with the First World War for four years. In February 1915 the British did capture the Dervish fort at Shimbereris. Sayyid Muhammad ‘Abd Allah al-Hassan died of influenza (or perhaps malaria) at Imi on December 21, 1920.
Italian Somaliland imposed an annual hut tax, and the British taxed Somalis’ livestock. In 1907 the Government opened a school in Mogadishu to teach Italian to Somalis, and soon it had a trade school. In 1908 Governor Carletti ordered the Resident Commissioner at Giumbo to reserve 10,000 hectares of arable land for Italian farmers, and serfs were forced to work for them. During the First World War the French made 2,000 Somalis labor; 400 of them were killed, and 1,200 were wounded. Italians continued to force Somalis to work on their plantations, and many Somali protests rose up in the years after the war. When colonial administrators ordered the Somali chiefs and elders to surrender firearms and ammunition, Hadji Hasan of the Galjal Haya refused and sent a defiant reply to the commissioner. He was captured, but the Bantu Eile people rebelled near Bur Acuba.
In 1920 the Duke of the Abruzzi founded the Societa Agricola Italo-Somala on the Shebelle to develop a consortium for producing cotton, sugar, bananas, oil, and soap. In 1924 each worker was allocated one hectare, half for his own use and half for the company at its rates. When labor was inadequate, the Administration used coercion to recruit workers from the Baidoa and Bur Hacaba regions. Governor Cesare Maria De Vecchi (1923-28) authorized extending motor roads by 6,400 kilometers. By 1929 missions were operating elementary schools at Merca, Brava, Gelib, Afgoi, Villagio, Baidoa, Kismayu, and Ras Hafun.
When the Italians announced they were incorporating Obbia and Majerteyn, their sultans could not agree to fight together against the aggressors. Obbia was annexed in 1925, and Sultan Yusuf ‘Ali Kenadid was sent to Mogadishu with a pension. The Italians appointed ‘Umar Samatar as chief of the Majerteyn clan, and he seized El Bur’s fort with his forces. When Italian forces besieged them, the people in the area led by Herzi Gushan, Sultan ‘Ali Yusuf’s district commander, besieged the Italians. The Italians lost 38 men including the Italian Resident before retreating to Bud Bud on November 15. Fifteen days later Italians were ambushed and defeated at Bot. Samatar led some followers across the border into Ethiopia and campaigned against Italians in the Ogaden at frontier posts. Majerteyn’s Sultan ‘Uthman Mahmud held out against the invaders for two years before he was arrested at the end of 1927. His son Herzi Bogor was supported by traditional chiefs, and they also attacked several Italian bases.
Governor Guido Corni (1928-31) encouraged the economic and political infiltration of clans into Ethiopia. The Aljuran sultan Ololdin was paid and armed by the Italians to attack Ethiopia’s expeditions gathering tribute in the Mustahil region. In September 1931 a large Ethiopian force evicted the Italian post from Mustahil and threatened the Italian headquarters at Beletweyn. Yet on December 5, 1934 at Walwal the Italians used superior weapons to force the Ethiopians to withdraw. Salt was a major export, and by 1933 the plant at Ras Hafun was producing 260,000 tons of salt annually. In the late 1930s about 200,000 Italians migrated to work in Italian Somaliland. On May 7, 1936 Italian armies began the invasion and conquest of Ethiopia, and the Fascists imposed discriminatory laws based on race. In 1939 still only 1,776 Somali and Arab pupils were in elementary schools in Italian East Africa, but this was more than in British Somaliland. In August 1940 the Italians invaded British Somaliland, and they held it for seven months before its liberation by the Allies. French Somaliland had a Vichy regime until it declared for De Gaulle in 1942.
In British Somaliland the Somalis believed that attempts to impose Western education threatened their religion, and proselytizing by missionaries was strictly banned in 1910. Direct taxes imposed in 1921 were resisted, and riots broke out at Burao in 1922 and at Baro in 1936. The British Government provided nearly £200,000 a year, and Governor Harold Kittermaster invested much of it in agriculture and famine relief. The Colonial Development Fund paid for digging wells that eventually prevented such bad famines. Local revenue covered less than half the budget for British Somaliland, though exports, mostly hides, skins, cotton, and bananas, helped reduce the annual deficit from nearly 131 million lire in 1927 to under 29 million in 1934.
Until about 1930 some 300 slaves a year were being transported through Djibouti to Arabia. The French also met resistance and deported the Sultan of Gobaad to Madagascar in 1931. Awsa’s Sultan Yayu arrested Lippmann, the new French governor at Dikhil. In 1935 his successor, Albert Bernard, and sixteen of his Somali troops were murdered at Morheito. Colonial administrators often partitioned frontiers without considering the grazing needs of clans. Isa was divided between Ethiopia, the British, and the French. In 1932 the officer in charge of the Anglo-Ethiopian commission to fix the boundary was killed.
In the early 1920s the poet ‘Isman Yusuf Kenadid devised a new Osmaniya alphabet for the Somali language so that they would not have to use the Arabic script or Latin letters. Somalis organized social political organizations. The former colonial official, Haji Farah Omar, became a nationalist in 1920, and the British exiled him to Aden, where he founded the Somali Islamic Association. In Djibouti the Seamen’s Union was founded in 1931. The Somali National League was formed in 1935. Educated Somali clerks began agitating for employment security, agriculture, and education, and in 1937 they organized the Somali Officials’ Union. That year shaykhs opposed to innovations in education led riots that forced the Government to stop secular education in Qur'anic schools and not use the Roman alphabet for teaching the Somali language.
In 1941 the British were welcomed as liberators by the Somali people. They disbanded the Italian police, and British officers recruited the Somalia Gendarmerie which increased to 3,070 Somalis and Africans under 120 British officers by 1943. A police school was opened to train Somali officers. Agriculture improved, and by 1943 Somalia was supporting itself with food. Restrictions that Italians had placed on political associations were abolished. Thirteen representatives of the main clans founded the Somali Youth Club at Mogadishu on May 13, 1943. Military Governor Gerald Fisher (1943-48) was credited with progressive policies, and the Protectorate Advisory Council was formed in July 1946. That year the British Military Administration estimated that the Club had 25,000 affiliates, and the next year the name was changed to the Somali Youth League (SYL). Their four goals were to unite all Somalis, educate the young, use constitutional means to eliminate prejudices, and to develop the Somali language with the Osmaniya script. Nineteen public elementary schools were added by 1947 along with three private schools and a teacher training center for Arabs and Somalis.
Elections were held for assembly leaders, and District and Provincial
Advisory Councils were formed. The Patriotic Benefit Union (Jumiya) represented
southern Rahanweyn and Digil tribes, Bantu people, and local Arabs, and on March
25, 1947 they formed the Hizbia Digil-Mirifle Somali political party. Other
groups supporting the Italians joined to form the Conference. On January 11,
1948 the SYL, which opposed returning to Italian rule, held a large public rally
in Mogadishu that was attacked by armed Italians and their supporters. A battle
developed, and 51 Italians were killed. In September 1948 the Four Power
Commission made their report. The British, French, and Americans were willing to
give the trusteeship over Somalia to Italy, but the Soviet Union favored
collective trusteeship by the United Nations. On
November 21, 1949 the United Nations General Assembly gave the trusteeship of
Somalia to Italy for ten years, angering many Somalis. The Italian Trust
Administration for Somalia was formed and approved by the UN Assembly on
December 2, 1950.
After Ethiopia’s Emperor Yohannes IV was killed in March 1889, the Italians moved into the northern plateau and established their colony of Eritrea by the end of the year with the capital at Asmara. In the treaty signed at Wichale on May 2 the Italians recognized Menelik as Emperor of Ethiopia, and he recognized Italian sovereignty over Eritrea. In December 1894 the Bahta Hagos rebellion protested the confiscation of land for settlers. Governor Ferdinando Martini (1897-1907) curtailed settlement plans and presided over moderate development. Italian administrators relied on the Eritrean elite to collect taxes and let the Eritrean chief speak for the people. In 1908 the Italians began recruiting Eritreans to control Somalia and to pacify Libya, and they trained 10,000 by 1910. The Italians had a railway built from Massawa to Asmara that was completed in 1911, and it was extended to Keren in 1922 and to Agordat by 1930.
At the end of 1923 the first Fascist governor, Cesare de Vecchi, arrived in Italian Somaliland with armed police, machine guns, and artillery. In 1925 the Sultan of Obbia was deposed and sent to Mogadishu. In July the British transferred the port of Kismayu and its hinterland to the Italians. Many laborers migrated from Tigray. The Italians only allowed elementary education, and only 1,500 students were enrolled by the early 1930s. Some could get more education from Catholic and Swedish missionaries. The Italians were afraid that the Swedes were encouraging Ethiopian nationalism. In 1932 they stopped allowing in Swedish and American missionaries, and in 1935 they expelled the Swedish mission. Young Eritreans often went to Ethiopia for education. Eritrea had no newspapers or magazines in the native language. In the 1930s the Fascists classified Eritreans as Africans and denied them Italian citizenship. In 1935 Italy created a banana monopoly by forcing people to buy Somali bananas at twice the price other Europeans paid for other bananas. By 1939 those speaking Tigrinya had become 43% of the population.
In 1941 the British defeated the Italians and governed Eritrea with a military administration, allowing many Italians to stay. Christians wanting to unite with Ethiopia formed the Unionist Party. The Christian Separatists who wanted an independent Eritrea eventually became the Liberal Progressive Party. In 1946 the Muslims formed the Muslim League, and they also favored independence. Italy gave up any claim to Eritrea in the peace treaty of 1947. The four Allied Powers could not agree on what to do with Eritrea and turned it over to the United Nations in 1948. Fighting broke out between Christians and Muslims in 1949 in several places. After Haile Selassie offered to send Ethiopian battalions to help UN forces in Korea, the United States was confident that Ethiopia would protect American interests in Eritrea. On December 2, 1950 the United Nations General Assembly voted 46-10 that Eritrea would be “an autonomous unit federated with Ethiopia.” Twelve days later the Bolivian Eduardo Anze Matienzo was appointed UN Commissioner to help draft a constitution for Eritrea.