ETHIOPIA

SHOA

The Solomonic Dynasty

BRIEF HISTORY

The House of Shoa represents the junior line of the Solomonic Dynasty of Ethiopia. The modern official version of the dynasty tracec their descent to Emperor Lebna Dengal, through his younger son Prince Yakob. His great-grandson, Negassi Krestos, established himself as ruler of Shoa in 1682. His son and successor, Sebstyanos assumed the style of Meridazmatch, which became the unique title of the Shoan rulers. Sahle Selassie, great-great-grandson of Sebstyanos, eshewed the style of Meridazmatch and assumed the title of King of Shoa, after he succeeded his father in 1813. Sahle Selassie's grandson, Menelik II, was taken hostage by Emperor Tewodros II soon after his accession as a minor in 1855. He made his escape ten years later, reached Shoa and was acclaimed as King, and eventually achieved Imperial recognition from Emperor Yohannes IV in 1878. Menelik , asserted his right to the Imperial throne, immediately after the death of Yohannes in 1889. His Coronation as Emperor resulted in the restoration of the Solomonic Dynasty in the direct male line after 34 years. However, dying without surviving male issue, he was succeeded by his grandson, Iyasu V. The latter did not prove to be a popular ruler, mainly due to his erratic behaviour, pro-Muslim leanings and profligacy. He was deposed before his formal Coronation in 1916. Zawditu, only surviving child of Menelik II was proclaimed as Empress with Ras Tafari Makonnen as Regent, Heir Apparent and Prime Minister. The latter succeeded as Emperor Haile Selassie I in 1930. He reigned for 45 eventful years which saw the transformation of his country from a feudal society, invasion and liberation from Italian conquest, the advent of Rastafarianism, an abortive coup d'etat in 1960, and finally the humiliation of a catastrophic famine and revolution in 1974. Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed by the so-called Dergue in the revolution of 1974, being murdered by them at the age of 82, shortly afterwards. His son, Asfa Wossen, was briefly been elevated to the throne by the Dergue, after his father's deposition. However, he refused to accept this position, and only relucatantly accepted elevation to the Imperial mantle as Emperor Amha Selassie I, in exile in 1989. His death in 1997 left his son, Prince Zara Yakob, as Head of the Imperial family.
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Wanag Seggad [Lebna Dengal], Emperor of Ethiopia
1507 - 1540
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Prince (Abetahun) Yakob (d. 1557)
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Abeto Segwa Qal (d. ca. 1580)
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Abeto Warada Qal (d. ca. 1625)
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Abeto Lebsa Qal [Lebso] (d. ca. 1670)
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Abeto Negassi Krestos, Lord of Manz
(with whom we treat)

The line of descent that I have given above, constitutes the offical genealogy of the Shoan Royal House. However, this genealogy dates only from the second half of the nineteenth century. None of the individuals named appear in any contemporray documents or find mention in any of the chronicles of the Imperial Solomonic dynasty.
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Morie (p. 409) gives an alternative descent for Negassi Krestos (or Negassi II). This dates from about 1837, when French Roman Catholic missionaries established themselves at the court of King Sahle Selassie and interviewed the then Minister of the Court. According to his version, Emperor Zara Yakob (d. 1468) appointed Prince Malak Seggad, natural son of the Emperor (unnamed), as ruler of Shoa. He took refuge on Mount Afunkara, an impregnable fortress, during an invasion by the Muslims. After their departure, he descended from the fortress, married a daughter of the chief of Manz, and succeeded his father-in-law as chief on his death. He assumed the title of Meridazmatch, made incursions towards Efat, Gouedem and the country of the Gallas, and died by 1500 'aged about 100 years' (i.e. as a very old man). He left an only daughter who married a nobleman of Shoa, and succeeded Malak Seggad. Her son, Negassi I, is described as 'of the race of Solomon through his mother', and a contemporary of Emperor Galawdewos, succeeded ca. 1550. He died ca. 1580, after securing recognition of his sovereignty from the then reigning emperor. Qebryal, son of Negassi I, succeeded ca. 1580, conquered Efat and built the Church of St George at Manz. He later rebelled against the emperor and was killed in battle with Susyenos, 1625. Negassi II, his grandson, took Gouedem, and died ca. 1705.
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At least one of the individuals named in this narrative is readily identifiable from non-Shoan sources. Qebryal, is almost certainly the same as Wolde Qeberyal, mentioned in the Imperial chronicles and in the Portuguese accounts as Lord of Shoa, son (i.e. a descendant) of Emperor Malak Seggad. He rebelled against Emperor Susyenos and was killed by Ras Se'ela Krestos, before 8th September 1626.
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It has not been possible to identify this Emperor Malak Seggad from any of the chronicles. The first Emperor recorded as having used that throne name reigned 1563-1597, so it clearly could not be either him or any of his successors. Furthermore, for his son to be a contemporary of Qwastantinos I [Zara Yakub], Negassi would have been born in the early years of the fifteenth century. One possibility could be the son of Mihreka Nan, who remains unnamed in all available contemporary sources. Despite the absence of a name, the chronicles state that this son was the designated successor of the military officers who deposed his father in September 1433. Being a minor, his father's brother immediately set him asside and seized the throne. However, the same accounts do not elaborate on what happened to this prince, or whether he was killed. Since Ethiopian Emperors were enthroned and assumed their throne names immediately on succession, this short-lived ruler would undoubtedly have received one. However, short-lived his reign may have been. It possible that once Zara Yakub, had deposed his usurping uncle, he may have been freed and eventually sent to govern Shoa.
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Earlier accounts of the Imperial chronicles also mention a certain Prince (Abetahun) Rom Seggad, who died as Sahafalam or Governor of Shoa before 8th July 1564.
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An Emperor of Ethiopia
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Meridazmatch Malak Seggad (d. ca. 1500)
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Daughter (d. ca. 1550)
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Negassi I (d. 1577, bur. Gondi)
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Wolde Qeberyal, Lord of Shoa (k. by Ras Se'ela Krestos, before 8th September 1626)
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A son or daughter
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Negassi II (d. 1703)
(with whom we treat)

continued on the next page.
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SHOA 2 SHOA 3 SHOA 4 SHOA 5
SHOA 6 SHOA 7 SOLOMON BEGAMEDER
GOJJAM HARRAR TEWODROS TIGRAY
ZAGWE ORDERS & DECORATIONS MAIN
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Copyrightę Christopher Buyers, May 2001 - March 2009