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Ethiopian Empire

1270–1974 empire centered in Ethiopia and Eritrea / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Ethiopian Empire (Ge'ez: መንግሥተ ኢትዮጵያ, romanized: Mängəśtä ʾItyop̣p̣ya, lit.'Kingdom of Ethiopia'), also formerly known by the exonym Abyssinia, or just simply known as Ethiopia (/ˌθiˈpiə/; Amharic and Tigrinya: ኢትዮጵያ ʾĪtyōṗṗyā, Loudspeaker.svglisten , Oromo: Itoophiyaa, Somali: Itoobiya, Afar: Itiyoophiyaa),[14] was an empire that historically spanned the geographical area of present-day Ethiopia and Eritrea from the establishment of the Solomonic dynasty by Yekuno Amlak approximately in 1270 until the 1974 coup d'etat of Emperor Haile Selassie by the Derg. By 1896, the Empire incorporated other regions such as Hararghe, Gurage and Wolayita,[15] and saw its largest expansion with the federation of Eritrea in 1952. Throughout much of its existence, it was surrounded by hostile forces in the African Horn; however, it managed to develop and preserve a kingdom based on its ancient form of Christianity.[16]

Quick facts: Ethiopian Empireመንግሥተ ኢትዮጵያ (Ge'ez) .mw-...
Ethiopian Empire
መንግሥተ ኢትዮጵያ (Ge'ez)
Mängəśtä ʾItyop̣p̣ya
1936–1941: Government-in-exile
Motto: ኢትዮጵያ ታበፅዕ እደዊሃ ኀበ እግዚአብሔር
Ityopia tabetsih edewiha ḫabe Igziabiher
(English: "Ethiopia Stretches Her Hands unto God")
(Psalm 68:31)
"ኢትዮጵያ ሆይ ደስ ይበልሽ"
(English: "Ethiopia, Be happy")
The Ethiopian Empire boundaries in 1952
The Ethiopian Empire boundaries in 1952
The location of the Ethiopian Empire during the reign of Yohannes IV (dark orange) compared with modern day Ethiopia (orange)
The location of the Ethiopian Empire during the reign of Yohannes IV (dark orange) compared with modern day Ethiopia (orange)
CapitalMobil[note 1] (1270–1635)
Gondar (1635–1855)
Magdala (1855–1868)
Mekelle (1871–1889)
Addis Ababa (1889–1974)
Common languagesAmharic (dynastic, official, court)[3][4]
Ge’ez (liturgical language, literature)
many others
Demonym(s)Endonym: Ethiopian Exonym: Abyssinian
GovernmentAbsolute monarchy (1270–1931)[5]
Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy (1931–1974)
 1270–1285 (first)
Yekuno Amlak[6]
 1930–1974 (last)
Haile Selassie
Prime Minister 
 1909–1927 (first)
Habte Giyorgis
 1974 (last)
Mikael Imru
LegislatureNone (rule by decree)
(until 1931)
Chamber of Deputies
Historical eraMiddle Ages to Cold War
16 July 1931
3 October 1935
5 May 1941
 Coup d'état by the Derg
12 September 1974
21 March 1975[8][9][10][11]
13441,500,000 km2 (580,000 sq mi)
19541,221,900 km2 (471,800 sq mi)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Blank.png Zagwe dynasty
Derg Flag_of_Ethiopia_%281975%E2%80%931987%29.svg

Founded in 1270 by the Solomonic dynasty nobleman Yekuno Amlak, who claimed to descend from the last Aksumite king and ultimately the Biblical Menelik I and the Queen of Sheba, it replaced the Agaw kingdom of the Zagwe. While initially a rather small and politically unstable entity, the Empire managed to expand significantly under the crusades of Amda Seyon I (1314–1344) and Yeshaq I (1414–1429), temporarily becoming the dominant force of the African Horn.[17] Yeshaq's reign was however challenged by Sultan Jamal ad-Din II which led to Yeshaq's death.[18] Under the rule of Zara Yaqob (1434–1468), the Hadiya Sultanate was invaded by Ethiopia and the captured Hadiya princess Eleni converted to Christianity leading to her marriage to Zara Yacob.[19][20] Muslims in the region as well as Adal Sultanate rejected the marriage alliance and repeatedly invaded Ethiopia, finally succeeding under Imam Mahfuz.[21] Mahfuz's ambush and defeat by Emperor Lebna Dengel brought about the early 16th-century Jihad of the Adalite Imam Ahmed Gran, who was only defeated in 1543 with the help of the Portuguese.[22] Greatly weakened, much of the Empire's southern territory and vassals were lost due to the Oromo migrations. In the north, in what is now Eritrea, Ethiopia managed to repulse Ottoman invasion attempts, although losing its access to the Red Sea to them.[23]

Reacting to these challenges, in the 1630s Emperor Fasilides founded the new capital of Gondar, marking the start of a new golden age known as the Gondarine period. It saw relative peace, the successful integration of the Oromo and a flourishing of culture. With the deaths of Emperor Iyasu II (1755) and Iyoas I (1769) the realm eventually entered a period of decentralization, known as the "Era of the Princes". Regional warlords fought for power, with the emperor being a mere puppet.

Emperor Tewodros II (r. 1855–1868) put an end to that state, reunified the Empire and led it into the modern period before dying during the British Expedition to Abyssinia. His successor Yohannes IV engaged primarily in war and successfully fought the Egyptians and Mahdists before dying against the latter in 1889. Emperor Menelik II, now residing in Addis Ababa, subjugated many peoples and kingdoms in what is now western, southern, and eastern Ethiopia, like Kaffa, Welayta, Aussa, and the Oromos. Thus, by 1898 Ethiopia expanded into its modern territorial boundaries. In the north, he was confronted with an expanding Italy. Decisively defeating it at the Battle of Adwa in 1896 using imported modern weapons, Menelik ensured Ethiopia's independence and confined Italy to Eritrea.

Later, after the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, Benito Mussolini's Italian Empire occupied Ethiopia and established Italian East Africa, merging it with neighboring Eritrea and the Italian Somaliland colonies to the south-east. After World War II, the Italians were driven out of Ethiopia with the help of the British army. The Emperor returned from exile and the country became one of the founding members of the United Nations. However, the 1973 Wollo famine and domestic discontent led to the fall of the Empire in 1974.[citation needed]

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. It was the second-to-last country in Africa to use the title of emperor, as after it came the short-lived Central African Empire, which lasted between 1976 and 1979 under Emperor Bokassa I.[24]