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Lij Eyasu Michael, Emperor-Designate
His Imperial Highness, Lij Eyasu
Lij Eyasu Michael was the son of Ras (later King)Michael Ali of Wollo, and Woizero Shewaregga Menelik, and was born in 1901.
Lij Eyasu's father, Ras Michael Ali, was the ruler of the Wollo Oromo clan known as the Mammadoch. He was related to both of the rival
Mammadoch Queens, Werqitu and Mestawat, who had fought each other as well as Emperor Tewodros II on behalf of their young sons for leadership of the Mammadoch and rule over Wollo. Born Mohammed Ali, son of Imam Ali Abba Dulla, a Moslem noble claiming direct decent from the Prophet Mohammed himself, Ras
Michael (pronounced Mika-el)had been compeled to convert to Christianity by Emperor Yohannis IV following the Council of Boru Meda in 1878.
Emperor Yohannis IV stood as his godfather, and renamed him Michael granting him the title of Ras, and the province of Wollo to rule. A long time freind and ally of Yohannis IV, he was at the Emperor's side when Yohannis was wounded and died at Mettema. Ras Michael was a later a key figure during Menelik II's reign as well, after finally aknowledging Menelik as Emperor following initial reluctance, as Menelik had long been the ally of his rival, Abba Watew. Ras Michael would lead the Wollo cavalry which smashed the Italian center force at the battle of Adowa in 1896. As a reward for his submission and recognition of his accession, and to tie him more closely to his
throne, Menelik married Ras Michael to his daughter Shewaregga. Previous to his marriage to the Emperor's daughter, Ras Michael had been
married before, and one of his daughters was Woizero Sehin Michael, whose daughter would become Empress Menen, consort of Emperor
Haile Selassie. Another daughter would marry Ras Seyoum of Tigrai, the grandson of Yohannis IV.
Lij Eyasu's mother, Woizero Shewaregga Menelik, was the younger of Menelik's two aknowledged
daughters. Little is known of her mother, other than that she may have been a servant in the royal household named Desta. Menelik aknowledged Shewaregga after she had reached marriageable age, and the aknowledgement was promoted by Empress Taitu, who may have seem benefits in another step-daughter to marry off to her own political advantage. Shewaregga Menelik was first married to Dejazmatch Wedajo Gobena, son of Ras Gobena Dachi, a close friend and advisor of Menelik, and a major Oromo chief as well as an important military figure in his own right. From this marriage, she produced a son, Dejazmatch Wossen Segged Wedajo, who was eliminated from the Imperial succession due to dwarfism. The marriage to Dejazmatch Wedajo did not last however, and she was soon married to Ras Michael. Empress Taitu's Yejju family had traditionally been rivals of the Mammadoch for domination of Wollo, and her brother Ras Welle Bitul had very difficult relations with Ras Michael. The marriage was thus seen as a way of bringing ballance at court by bringing both Wollo families into the Emperor's family circle, ensuring loyalty from both.
Following her marriage to Michael of Wollo, Woizero Shewaregga produced two children, a son Lij Eyasu, and a daughter, Woizero Zenebework Michael.
Woizero Shewaregga died shortly after the birth of her daughter, and Emperor Menelik took his two grandchildren to Addis Ababa from Ras Michael's seat
at Dessie. Ras Michael continued to be a favorite of the Emperor, and he was close with his children, but they were raised at the Imperial Palace with
other children of Imperial blood under the eye of Empress Taitu. Their governess was the half German Mrs. Hall (whose nationality cause much concern in the British, French and Italian legations in Addis Ababa). At the age of twelve, Zenebework Michael was
married to the much older Ras Bezabih TekleHaimanot, son of King Tekle Haimanot of Gojjam, and went to live with her new husband at Debre Markos.
Unfortunately, the young princess died a year later in childbirth.
Lij Eyasu with his father, King Michael of Wollo. The crown of Emperor Menelik is placed to the King's left
As the Emperor Menelik II had no aknowledged sons who lived to adulthood, the question as to who his heir would be was always open during much of
his reign. He was said to personally favor his cousin Ras Makonnen, son of his paternal aunt, Woizero Tenagnework Sahle Selassie. Ras Makonnen had been a loyal
and faithful subject, who had acted as the de-facto minister of foriegn affairs for many years. He had represented the Emperor at the coronation of King Edward VII in London,
and had traveled extensively in Europe, including Italy where he had tried to negotiate a solution to the crises over the Treaty of Wuchale, which later resulted in the Battle of Adowa.
He had also served at Adowa as a commander, shared most of the Emperor's progressive views, and was quite well respected and liked in court circles. His untimely death in March 1906 however, left
the succession up for grabs as the Emperor aged and became increasingly frail. Other candidates for the throne included Dejazmatch Taye Gulilat, direct decentdant of Menelik's
paternal uncle, Merid Azmatch Haile Michael Sahle Selassie. Another was Ras Wolde Giorgis Aboye, the son of Woizero Ayahilush Sahile Selassie, another aunt of the Emperor. Nevertheless, Lij Eyasu Michael was always a favorite candidate for the possition of heir apparent as Menelik's only grandson. Lij Eyasu was educated at the Imperial Palace in Addis Ababa, and also at the old Shewan capital, Ankober. He also traveled often to his father in Desse. He was taught at the modern Menelik II school with other young noblemen later on. From an early age, he was made aware of his proximity to the throne of Solomon. His step-grandmother, Empress Taitu seems to have had reservations about his position from the beginning. Even as a young boy, and increasingly as he grew older, the prince showed little regard for her, and the childless Empress did not relish the thought of being at his mercy one day. The roots of this may have been in the deep seated rivalry between the Mammadoch clan of his father, and the Empress's Werresheik clan of Yejju, both of whom claimed precidence in Wollo. Although relations between Ras Michael and Empress Taitu were always civil, her brother Ras Welle Bitul was an avowed enemy of Michael, and the two Rases often exasperated the Emperor with their constant feuding. Empress Taitu, in addition to her Yejju lineage, was also of Simien blood, and had Imperial ancestry in the Gondar line. As a thorough northerner, she was resented by the Shewan aristocrats as ambitious for her own family and their pretentions. Indeed, Taitu had managed to marry all her relatives into the major aristocratic houses of Shewa, Tigrai, and Gojjam. It was whispered, that the Empress would prefer Menelik's daughter Zewditu ascend the throne as Empress. As Zewditu was married to Taitu's nephew, Gugsa Welle, son of the aformentioned Ras Welle Bitul who was also of Imperial blood, it was said that she hoped that the couple would rule Ethiopia together, and return the capital to Gondar. Thus her Yejju-Gondar relatives would have unfettered influence at the expense of the Shewan aristocracy which surrounded Menelik and the non-Yejju Wollo nobles whose hopes were pinned to Eyasu. As it was, the Tigreans and the most of the Wollo shared the concerns of the Shewans as far as the ambitions of the Empress, and there was little likelyhood of her being able to carry out this plan. In October 1909, it was decided that Lij Eyasu should be betrothed to marry Romanework Mengesha, daughter of Ras Mengesha Yohannis, and grandaughter of Emperor Yohannis IV. She was also the daughter of Woizero Kefey Welle, and thus great-neice of Empress Taitu. It was a brilliant political match on several levels. This marriage was the second attempt at a union between the Houses of Tigrai and Shewa (the first being the marriage between Ras Araya Selassie Yohannis and Princess Zewditu which ended with the death of the Ras),and it had the added element of involving an alliance between Empress Taitu's family and that of Ras Michael. It was clearly a product of the Empress' policy of political marriage, and served her interests nicely. As the couple were still very young, the nuptuals were not consumated, pending their coming of age. Possibly, no one wanted to repeat the tragedy of Zenebework Michael.
The death of Ras Makonnen at Kulibi in March 1906 eliminated the man in whom Menelik and many of his more progressive nobles had the most confidence, from the succession. Menelik was determined not to turn to Dejazmatch Taye Gulilat, who in fact after Menelik, was the next Shewan prince in the male line of succession. (Makonnen himself was in the female line). The Fit-ha Negest gave preference to direct male line decendants of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba over female line decendants. Like Menelik II, Taye Gulilat had uninterrupted male line ancestry to the founders of the dynasty. In contrast, all other potential claimants from the houses of Shewa, Tigrai and Gojjam could only claim decent through a female link. However, years earlier, Taye Gulilat's grandfather Merid Azmatch Haile Michael had claimed the Shewan crown for himself and rebled against his nephew Menelik. In his brief uprising, he had managed to burn the town of Ankober, but was quickly defeated and placed under house detention. Menelik had never forgiven his uncle, and held his decendants in deep suspicion. Menelik's options had narrowed, and the situation was about to get more urgent. Not long after the death of his cousin Makonnen, Emperor Menelik collapsed while watching renovation work being done on the Church of St. Mary on Mt. Entoto where he had been crowned. Although he had recovered swiftly, and returned to the Palace, attempts to keep the incident quiet failed, and rumors of his ill health intensified. Menelik had actually suffered a stroke at Entoto. The visiting Italian governor Martini of Eritrea would state that signs of the stroke were apparent in the Emperor's eyes. Menelik suffered yet another stroke in August 1907, and although he endured the various celebrations of his 63rd birthday on August 19th, he looked very unwell to all who saw him. On May 18, 1908, Emperor Menelik was again on Mt. Entoto, on his way north to Sellale with the Empress to attend the dedication of a church, when he suffered yet another stroke. This time, his right side was paralized temporarily, and he was greatly weakened. He was unable to return to Addis Ababa until the 10th of June. Immediately upon his return to the capital, Empress Taitu began to tightly regulate access to the Emperor and began to assume more and more executive power. The Emperor had become dependent on support to walk, and his speech was greatly affected. His physical decline was steady after that. The cabinet continued to function in running the government, but with her control of access to the Emperor, and by force of her formidable personality, Empress Taitu easily dominated the decission making process. Over the next year, all the nobles and the foriegn diplomats were informally notified that Lij Eyasu was the legitimate heir to the Emperor of Ethiopia. It had been generally assumed since the death of Ras Makonnen, but it took on a more formal existance now. Then in early May, 1909, the nobles were assembled before the Emperor, and Empress Taitu approached him and asked publicly who his successor should be. The weakened Emperor whispered in her ear and she turned to the assembly and said "He says Lij Eyasu". However, a few days later on May 15th, 1909, at Jan Meda (the Imperial parade ground), a proclamation of the Emperor was read to assembled throngs of nobles, diplomats and subjects. It read "My child (lij) will succeed me". There was no mention of Lij Eyasu's name, nor of any other person qualified to be called the Emperor's child. The proclamaition of the Archbishop anathamizing anyone who refused to accept the Emperor's choice of heir also did not mention the name of that heir. Some have said it may have been an attempt by elements of the Shewan aristocracy, most notably the governor of Ankober, Welde Tsadik, to put Taye Gulilat on the throne when Menelik died, or by Empress Taitu to place her nephew Ras Gugsa Welle on the throne, as he was married to Menelik's daughter Zewditu, and thus qualified to be called the Emperor's "child". It was clear to many that the Empress was unhappy with the idea that Eyasu might succeed her husband. However it was also clear that the wishes of Menelik were known to a great many of the most powerful people at court, and those wishes were clear that Lij Eyasu was the designated heir. It was at this point that Taitu arranged for her great-neice, Romanework Mengesha be betrothed to Lij Eyasu. The young bride was the daughter of Ras Mengesha Yohannis, granddaughter of Emperor Yohannis IV. Her mother was Woizero Kefey Welle, neice of Empress Taitu and daughter of Ras Welle Bitul. The marriage was regarded as politically brilliant since it united the Shewan, Gondar/Simien and Tigrean branches of the Imperial dynasty as well as the Mammadoch and Yejju houses of Wollo. Shortly after this betrothal, on October 30th, 1909, it was publicly and unabiguously proclaimed that the Heir to the Throne and Crown Prince of Ethiopia was indeed, Lij Eyasu Michael, grandson of Menelik II. The Emperor also had his chairman of the cabinet of ministers, Ras Tessema Nadew proclaimed Lij Eyasu's guardian and Lord Regent of the Empire, and that he would serve in this capacity if Menelik should die before Eyasu reached the age of majority. Menelik had chosen Ras Tessema for several reasons. Ras Tessema was the elderly head of the powerful aristocratic Adissge clan, and a man generaly respected by the nobility. He was a man who had long displayed little personal ambition and had served Menelik loyaly and with true affection. His father, Ato Nadew, had been Menelik's much loved childhood tutor and advisor, and had been treated as a family member by the Emperor. This act however deeply hurt Menelik's surviving first cousin, Ras Wolde Giorgis Aboye, who as an elder member of the Imperial family had believed (along with many others) that he was the natural choice for the Regency. He retreated to his province of Keffa, clearly offended that he was not made Prince Regent and guardian of the Heir to the Throne.
Menelik's health deteriorated to the point where he became unresponsive, and Ras Tessema began to rule the Empire in trust for Lij Eyasu. However, Tessema not being the agressive autocratic type, was quickly and completely eclipsed by Empress Taitu . She continued to make decisions and issue edicts, make appointments and demotions at will. Soon her favorites, her Yejju and Semien relatives, and her various in-laws, were being appointed to all the posts of power and influence. This displeased large secitons of the Shewan and Tigrean nobility, and the Wollo relatives of the heir. A showdown was inevitable. In particular, the minister of war, Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis Denagde, was unhappy with her appointments to high office and her conduct in general. The old loyal soldier of Menelik found all her appointments to be scandalously nepotistic, and approved only of the appointment of Dejazmatch Taffari Makonnen to Harrar in succession to his late brother Yilma, and his father Ras Makonnen. The brief tenure of Dejazmatch Balcha Saffo (Abba Nefso) to Harrar following Dejazmatch Yilma's death had proved disasterous, and the appointment of Dejazmatch Taffari was regarded positively by most quarters.
Taitu's conduct continued to irritate the Shewan nobility and angered the paternal relatives of the Heir to the Throne. When Ras Tessema and Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis urged the Empress to halt appointing only her relatives to office and to cease causing alarm to the foreign diplomats in February of 1910 with her cold beligerence towards foreign powers, she angrily called Ras Tessema an imbecile and Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis an invalid. This was the last straw. The two men summoned several other notables to Hapte Giorgis'home and resolved to remove the Empress from state authority. The group included Dejazmatch Gebre Selassie Baria-Gabr, ruler of Adowa and prominent Tigrean noble man, Dejazmatch Lul Seged (later Ras), Dejazmatch Demissew Nessibu, Dejazmatch Wesene Tirfe and Dejazmach Merid Hapte Mariam. After ascertaining the support of the Army, these prominent nobles notified the Archbishop Abune Mattiwos of their intentions (the archbishop was a long time foe of the Empress)and had sworn to him that they would not shed any blood. The Archbishop asked to go to the Empress to speak to her first and try to convince her. When he arrived at the Palace however, the women of the Imperial household staff came running out and threw stones at the cleric, calling him a dog and a son of foreigners, telling him to go back to Egypt. Archbishop returned to his residence and sent the Empress a terse letter in which he stated that if she did not recieve him she would be turned over to soldiers. Taitu, aware of the plots, and also aware that the army was supporting her opponents, reluctantly agreed to recieve him. After some tense discussion, the Empress agreed to recieve the conspirators in audience, and the Archbishop left to convey this message to the nobles. The nobles (significantly without Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis) arrived dressed in court dress, and made the proper bows to the Empress. Dejazmatch Gebre Selassie then stepped forward and politely asked Her Imperial Majesty to confine herself only to the caring of the sovereign, her husband, and halt her involvement in the daily affairs of government which were the rightfull duties of the Regent of the Empire, Ras Tessema Nadew, in the name of the Heir, Lij Eyasu Michael. Although the Dejazmatch and the others had been meticulous in their etiquette, the Empress could not contain her rage. She berated Dejazmatch Gebre Selasse as a coarse and disgusting person, unrefined, and a mere shepherd. In a dig at her own Semien origins (Semien being known for it's sheep), the Dejazmatch elegantly replied "If not for Emperor Menelik, we might all be shepherds, but thanks to him we are now shepherds of men." Exasperated, she then turned on Ras Tessema demanding to know what action she had ever taken without consulting him as regent, and asking him if it was not he who constantly involved her in state matters because of his insistance that she was far more experienced in these matters than he. His answer was considerably more feeble than the Dejazmatch's quick witty reply. He mumbled something about her constant interference. Ras Mengesha Atikem of Agew Midir, a man who had recently been agrieved by the Empress and who had been dispossesed of his province by her, had arrived in Addis Ababa to appeal against the Empresses decission to remove him from Agew Midir, and happened to be at the palace when the delegation of nobles arrived. Although at the palace to complain about the actions of Empress Taitu against him, he was never the less offended at this affront to the wife of his master, and stormed angrily into the chamber. How dare these people "raise even thier eyes" to the wife of their master, much less conspire against her he demanded. Ras Mengesha Atikem and Dejazmatch Nessibu came to fisticuffs, but were calmed down and separated by the Archbishop. The Empress than sat on her throne and haughtily looked away from the assembled nobles and in a sign of displeasure, refused to talk directly with them further. Instead she had a spokesman read a statement from her that asked for permission to leave the capital and take the Emperor either to Gondar, or if they insisted he remain in Shewa, to the monastery of Debre Libanos, or her personal fief of Bulga. She would care for him there with her servants and go into seclusion as she was clearly not wanted in the capital. The nobles were startled and pleaded with her not to leave, and to remain in the city and care for the Emperor in the Palace where he and she rightly belonged as the reigning monarchs of the Empire. They did not want Taitu marching off with the Emperor into territories where she could easily raise up a rebellion. Her spokesman replied that Her Majesty would think about it. She would eventually agree, and the woman who had ruled Ethiopia along with her husband, probably the most powerful Empress-consort of Ethiopia ever, was thus deposed and relegated to simply caring for the Emperor. Ras Tessema was now the de facto as well as the de jure ruler of Ethiopia, and all business would now be conducted in the name of the Heir to the Throne, Lij Eyasu, rather than in the name of Menelik, King of Kings. Empress Taitu retreated to the Imperial chambers and continued to nurse her stricken husband with the help of her step-daughter Zewditu and a host of servants. All officials were discouraged by the government from meeting the Empress for any reason. Even social visitors were discouraged. Her personal staff was decreased little by little over time. Increasingly her only outside contacts were the doctors that treated Menelik. She herself became quite ill during 1912, and Menelik's cousin, Tsehaiwork Darge (daughter of Ras Darge) came from her fief in Sellale to nurse both the Emperor and Empress much to the grief of the palace staff which feared and disliked this particular Princess with a vengence. Cut off from the world, Taitu's staff was continually being reduced, untill the point that she only had a few women helping her and Zewditu. She would complain in writing to the Regent "Why am I being deprived of male servants? Am I to be forbidden from hearing male voices?" The Empress and the others who nursed the Emperor depended on male attendants to lift him and bathe him. It was becoming very difficult to care for him. On certain occasions she was asked to present the Emperor for inspection by a delegation of nobles to ascertain his continued incapacity to rule. The Regent and the cabinet of ministers, and all the highest nobles would file into the Imperial bedchamber and approach the bed where the King of Kings lay completely unresponsive and shrunken away to a faint image of his once robust self. The nobles would weep and sob openly for their stricken master, and Taitu, regally seated in a chair nearby, would only look on in cold silence at the men she believed had betrayed her as they bowed before her before walking out backwards. She would slowly thus sink into isolation.
Dejazmatch Gebre Selassie Baria-Gabr, prominent Tigrean nobelman, and a leader of the group which removed Empress Taitu from State Authority
Dejazmatch Demissew Nessibu, Shewan Noble, hero of Adowa, and a member of the group which removed Empress Taitu from State Authority
Quickly, everyone at court began to rush to realign themselves with the new powers in the land. The first victims were Empress Taitu's female relatives who had been married into the great noble houses and to powerful figures at court and across the land. One by one they were divorced by their husbands who quickly went about finding brides that were related to Lij Eyasu or to the Regent Ras Tessema. Most notably, Lij Eyasu's unconsumated marriage to Romanework Mengesha was desolved. He was instead married to Seble Wongel Hailu, daughter of Ras Hailu Tekle Haimanot, and granddaughter of King Tekle Haimanot of Gojjam. His new father-in-law, Ras Hailu of Gojjam also divorced his wife, Aselefech (a niece of Taitu) as a result of this rush away from the Empress's circle. In order not to alienate the House of Tigrai however, Lij Eyasu arranged for his ex-brother-in-law, Dejazmatch (later Ras) Seyoum Mengesha to marry his half-sister, thus keeping Seyoum as his brother-in-law inspite of his own divorce. Lij Eyasu would father a daughter by Woizero Seble Wongel named Alem Tsehai Eyasu (created an Emebethoi by Emperor Haile Selassie). She was his only legitimate child. Dejazmatch Taye Gulilat was arrested as a rival claimant, and Ras Gugsa Welle was also arrested and charged with murder (his aunt Empress Taitu was to haughtily comment "Even if he had commited this murder, how dare they charge someone of his rank with a crime!?!") Gugsa was placed under house arrest at Falle, while his wife, Princess Zewditu remained in the capital caring for her stricken father with her stepmother. Ras Tessema now had a host of problems. First Ras Welle rebled against the government and was preparing to go to war against Ras Michael, father of Lij Eyasu. He believed that Ras Michael was behind the humiliation of his sister the Empress and the imprisonment of his son Gugsa. When Ras Tessema urged Empress Taitu to help him calm her brother down, she wrote to Ras Welle, as well as to Ras Michael to try and defuse the situation. When however, she was asked by the Regent to suggest a person for a delegation to be sent to Ras Welle to further molify him, she coldly informed the Regent that as she was not the cause of her brother's rebelion, the Regent should appoint whoever he chose. Ras Tessema was also concerned with Dejazmatch Taffari Makonnen. The Dejazmatch had been denied the governorship of Harrar when his father died even though Ras Makonnen had explicitly indicated that this was his wish. Menelik had reasoned that the boy was too young for such a huge responsibility. Empress Taitu had also actively promoted the intrests of Makonnen's elder son Yilma, who was married to one of her neices. However, upon Yilma's death, she had appointed Dejazmatch Balcha Saffo, whose tenure in Harrar was a disaster as he had offended many of the local notables with his direct and undiplomatic manner of doing things. Taitu had then appointed Taffari to succeed his brother and father in Harrar, just one day before she was deposed. Although most of her appointments were reversed, most of the nobles had agreed that this last appointment should not be changed. Harrar was a major source of foriegn trade duty income for the Empire, and most nobles were confident in the young Prince's ability to handle it, as well as it being the wish of his late father. Now however, concerned that the Prince was a potential threat to the Heir to the Throne, as he was popular with the nobility and had Imperial blood in his veins, Ras Tessema thought that somehow Dejazmatch Taffari's loyalty to Lij Eyasu should be cemented. He summoned Taffari to the Palace, and urged both princes to swear loyalty to each other. It is very telling that the oaths that the princes made that day would be conditional. Taffari swore to be a loyal brother and subject "..as long as my rights in Harrar are upheld by Lij Eyasu", and Lij Eyasu swore to be a loyal brother and friend "..as long as Taffari upheld my rights to the throne". Both Taffari and Lij Eyasu were men with a very progressive bent in their thinking. It would be logical that they be firm friends as well as relatives. However, Taffari was an advocate of gradual change, change in stages, and in harmony with ancient traditions, and by convincing the aristocracy and the conservative elements of Ethiopian society. Eyasu was all for forcing change on the recalcitrant aristocracy and power structures regardless of what they liked. Lij Eyasu also had views on religion and class structure that Dej. Taffari along with most of the rest of the nobility probably found dangerous. For the time being though, Ras Tessema had created a suitable alignment between the two. Ras Tessema's other royal problem was the public behaviour of the heir himself. Lij Eyasu exasperated the old man to no end. The Ras was constantly telling the Prince to behave in a more royal manner, to dress more aproprately, and to pay more attention to serious affairs of state. Lij Eyasu had grown into a handsome dashing young man, intent on seducing every woman in sight. It was rumored that even Woizero Beletshachew, wife of Ras Tessema, was one of the Princes lovers. He took to wearing wide borders on his netelas and shemas (shawls) that had customarily been reserved for women, and took great pride in starting this trend among young men of his age. This behavior was regarded as unseemly by the regent, who continuously repremanded the boy and act more seriously, heed his elders more closely and waste less time with his young co-horts and hangers-on. Then quite suddenly, on the night of April 10th, 1911, Ras Tessema Nadew, Lord Regent of the Empire of Ethiopia, died suddenly at his home. His body was quickly taken to Debre Libanos and buried before the news was announced. The entire court was shocked, and people began to whisper rumors of poison. Suspicion flowed in two directions. First it was rumored that Lij Eyasu had ordered the poisoning, as he was growing tired of the lectures and the restraint on his authority that the regent represented. It was suspected that Tessema's widow, Beletshachew also had a hand in it as she was suspected of being Eyasu's mistress, and perhaps hoped for an elevation of her position with her husband out of the way. She fanned those fires even further when she refused to go into mourning for her husband. The other suspect was the Empress Taitu, who people regularly blamed for the deaths of her enemies and people in her way. Rumors aside, no proof has ever been made public that the regent was murdered.
Lij Eyasu was now in fact free of the Regency. His father arrived from Desse to try and organize a structure for his son's minority. Between November 1911 and January 1912, he reorganized the cabinet and the council, making them guides and advisors to Eyasu, rather than governors over him. He believed perhaps that the added responsibilties would calm the boy down and focus him. However, Lij Eyasu would now do pretty much as he pleased. It was said he enjoyed insulting the nobles and sleeping with their wives and daughters. It was said that he could treat a prostitute like a princess, but that he also treated a princess like a prostitute. This was not the only act that aggrieved the aristocracy. Lij Eyasu's closest companion was "Tilahun" a former domestic servant to his mother. Tilahun was maliciously rumored to have offered Lij Eyasu his own wife (whom he later divorced) so that the prince could lose his virginity years before, and that the prince had happily accepted the offer. To make matters worse, Lij Eyasu granted Tilahun the title of Fitawrari, and the two led a group of young companions on boisterous pursuit of drink and women. To the horror of the Shewan aristocracy, Lij Eyasu arranged for Tilahun to marry Woizero Sakamyelesh Seyfu, decendant of King Sahle Sellasie of Shewa and a member of the Imperial house. He began to refer to the nobles and ministers of his Emperor Menelik as "my grandfather's fattened sheep" and contemptuously told many of them that their time had passed, and that it was time for him to choose new nobles and new ministers of his own preference and his own generation. He continued however to seduce their wives and daughters.
In February of 1912, Lij Eyasu went to Wollo to visit his father. He spent much time there meeting with people of many backgrounds, but Moslems in particular, trying to show them that he was concerned about their interests as much as those of his Christian subjects. The aristocracy and the church hierarchy began to whisper uneasily about why he chose to spend so much time with moslems. He began to roam the north extensively, and even founded the town of Alem Tena (named after his warrior or horse name Abba Tena). He then led an attack on the Afar to punish them for their attacks on the Jille Oromo of Shewa. In yet another even more brutal contradiction of his seemingly benevolent progressive views, he led a raid on the Gimira in the southwest and forcibly enslaved tens of thousands of them after a bloody campaign. He was gone for a year. His return to Addis Ababa would be quite remarkable in it's disruptive scope.
Lij Eyasu returned to Addis Ababa with his huge band of new Gimira slaves, and made it known to the council of the realm that he wished to take up residence in the Imperial Palace, and have the invalid Emperor Menelik moved elsewhere. The aquiecent ministers began to make arrangements to move the Emperor to Ankober. The ministers approached Empress Taitu with the plan as "a change of scene for His Imperial Majesty", and asked her for an audience with her to discuss it, and to see the Emperor to certify that he was fit to travel. Taitu was furious, and instructed the commander of the Imperial Guard, Gebre Mariam, to prevent them from entering the Palace. Gebre Mariam took seriously his job to protect the Emperor and vowed to never allow anyone to remove Menelik from his Palace as long as he breathed. Lij Eyasu ordered the Palace with all it's soldiers and servants and royals, completely surrounded by his soldiers and laid under seige. He commanded that only enough food for the Emperor to be let in. The tension between the Imperial Guard and Lij Eyasu's soldiers grew by the second, and on February 8th, 1913, an all out gunbattle broke out. Bullets shattered the windows in the Emperor's room, and the Empress had to take refuge with her catatonic husband and their servants in a basement room while battle raged through the palace grounds. When the Archbishop heard the fighting he rushed to the palace from his home and quickly negotiated a truce. 30 people were dead, and 60 wounded, but the captured Gebre Mariam was not executed as Lij Eyasu would have prefered, but exiled to Gojjam thanks to the promises of the Archbishop which had ended the crisis. Lij Eyasu arrived at the Palace just in time for the Empress to emerge and publicly berate him as an ungrateful grandson who wanted to kill his grandfather and the cause of all the bloodshed. He stood sheepishly as his step-grandmother angrily related how the staff had to carry the Emperor from his bullet riddled room into the basements to protect him. She then imperiously declared that neither she nor the Emperor were going anywhere and stormed back to her rooms. Taitu had won the day.
A sulking Lij Eyasu left the capital almost immediately after the palace fiasco, and stayed away for six months, as he roamed about the country again, and returned then for only a brief stay before again leaving to go stay with his father in Desse. Lij Eyasu returned to Addis Ababa on December 9th, 1913. In the early hours of December 12th, 1913, Emperor Menelik II, the Elect of God, Conquering Lion of Judah, and King of Kings of Ethiopia, the victor of Adwa, died queitly in his sleep. As his widow, his daughter, and servants wept over his body, and before anyone outside of the palace knew, men were sent out to inform Lij Eyasu that he was now in fact Eyasu V, Emperor of Ethiopia. They found him at Jan Meda, the Imperial Parade ground. He was playing a game of Gugs ( a horseback mock battle game). Lij Eyasu refused to stop playing and return to the palace. Some have interpretted this as a sign of contempt for his grandfather. Others see it as a deliberate action that was endorsed by the government in secret so as to not reveal the Emperor's death to the public. Indeed, even the diplomats in Addis Ababa were not to be told of the Emperor's death until a week later. Indeed, there was no public announcement made of the death at all, but word slowly leaked out. The ministers seem to have determinded to hide the news of the Emperor's death in order to shore up the support of Lij Eyasu and ensure a smooth transition and avoid disorder. Empress Taitu was secretly taken out of the city, under heavy guard, in the wee hours of the following morning. She was taken up to the old palace on Mt. Entoto and ordered not to show her face in the capital so that her obvious mourning would not make the death of the Emperor obvious. She would live out the rest of her life on this mountain perch looking down on the capital city that she had founded, reiciving few visitors. Princess Zewditu was kept under house arrest in the palace for a short time, but was later sent to join her husband at his place of arrest in Falle. As for Menelik the Great, he was secretly buried in the Se'el Bet Kidane Miheret Church (Our Lady Covenant of Mercy Church) on the Palace grounds. No family attended his burial. It is not known if this was actually ordered by the Cabinet and Lij Eyasu. It was an oddly forlorn death and burial for one who had brought so much progress to his people and successfully defended them from European colonialism, the only people in Africa to acheive this. The fact that the people were prevented from mourning and weeping for their beloved "Imiye Menelik" was one point for which Lij Eyasu could never hope for forgiveness in later years.
Lij Eyasu decided that he was not ready to be crowned Emperor yet. Athough he was in fact now Emperor Eyasu V, he insisted on being refered to as Abeto Eyasu or Lij Eyasu, or in his more grand moments "Abeto-hoi, Lij Eyasu". The Archbishop also believed that it would perhaps be better to wait till the Prince reached the age of 18 before crowning him. Therefore, it is by the title of Lij that Eyasu is remembered today. He may have been reluctant to wear the Imperial crown immediately, but he had no problem with granting a royal crown. Lij Eyasu proclaimed that his father would now become King of Zion. This title gave Ras (now king) Michael hegemony over all northern Ethiopia, not just Wollo, but Tigrai and Gondar as well. The northern nobility were furious that they were now being presided over by a former muslim whom they had formerly out ranked. In particular, the Tigrean princes were enraged as the title "King of Zion" had last been used by Emperor Yohannis IV, and they believed their family had been robbed of it's inheritance. Shewans and southerners were not pleased with this sign of the ascendency of the Wollo relatives of the heir. In particular, the much overlooked Ras Wolde Giorgis, cousin of Empror Menelik II was resentful that he, a senior prince and member of the Imperial House was relegated to the mere title of Ras while Michael was made King of the north. He had already been offended that he hadn't been appointed Regent for Lij Eyasu instead of Ras Tessema, and now he was being superseded in rank and title by a non-Solomonic scion of a Muslim clan. The prominent Tigrean noble, Dejazmatch Gebre Silassie Baria Gabr, who had played a key role in removing Empress Taitu from state authority, rebelled against the declaration of Michael as king of Zion, hoping the heirs of Emperor Yohannis would join him in the rebellion. However, Seyoum Mengesha, grandson of Emperor Yohannis, and son of Ras Mengesha decided it would be prudent to obey the powers that be, and he joined King Michael against Gebre Silassie. The Dejazmatch was defeated in battle and fled. He went into hiding and did not emerge until Lij Eyasu's fall. Michael was crowned King of Zion on May 31st, 1914 at Desse, and rewarded Seyoum Mengesha with the title of Ras. In deference to the sensitivities of the heirs of Emperor Yohannis, Michael stopped using the title "King of Zion" almost immediately and began to use "King of Wollo".
Lij Eyasu's only legitimate child, Emebethoi Alem Tsehai Eyasu (left) with her mother, Woizero Seble Wongel Hailu (right) daughter of Ras Hailu, and Grandaughter of Tekle Haimanot, King of Gojjam
Lij Eyasu did institute many major reforms. He ended the practice of creditors and debtors, plaintiffs and defendants being chained together when appearing before a judge. He forbade the practice of druging young boys with substances that supposidly gave them the supernatural power to detect theives. Lij Eyasu also ended the practice of the state seizing all the property of a convict, letting the prisoner's wife, children or other heirs take over the properties. He establishd the metropolitan police force for Addis Ababa for the first time. He also waged a far ranging corruption probe in the government, and spoke often of expanding the rights and protection of the interests of previously marginalized groups and particularly moslems. He advocated the establishment of a meritocracy, where one would advance on his abilities and talents rather than on birth, pedigree or patronage. He also did his expected Christian duty by building the Church of Medhane Alem (Saviour of the World) at Kechene, and dutifully, if reluctantly, attended the feast days of various saints at their respective churches. He did not hide his impatience and boredom during these events. He wanted to reduce the power of the church and the feudal landed nobility and expand the powers of a cadre of the largely non-noble progressives who initially supported him. At the same time however he would compromise these acts and ambitions with his unpredictable behavior. He would continue to frequent the most disreputable parts of town into the wee hours with his freinds in drunken debauchery of women, and then engage his newly formed police force in shoot-outs. When the police realized who it was that was engaging in gun battles with them they were horrified, along with the rest of the population. While conducting his corruption probe, he also made sure that people he didn't like, but who were otherwise honest, were framed along with the corrupt. His boon companions, mostly men who were trained as gardeners, chauffeurs and other low level palace retainers, became the beneficiaries of his largese, recieving titles, property and concessions. Lij Eyasu even granted the customs of Harrar, a major source of income to his Syrian freind, Ydbilli, an act that infuriated his cousin Dejazmatch Taffari Makonnen, the erstwhile governor of Harrar. Ydbilli deliberately provoked Dejazmatch Taffari by refusing to aknowledge his jurisdiction as the regional governor. Eyasu spent a very large amount of time absent from the capital touring the Empire, which allowed his opponents to freely plot his downfall. He had dreams of expanding his Empire at the expense of the European colonialists that surrounded Ethiopia. He secretly encouraged the rebellion of Somalis in British and Italian Somaliland, sending them weapons in secret, and dreamed of pushing the Italians out of Eritrea. This angered the Europeans who began to secretly incite people against him, and encouraged his enemies. In particular, as World War I broke out in Europe, Lij Eyasu showed increasing signs of favoring Germany, Austria and Turkey over France, Britain and Italy. The British in particular were alarmed at these signs as they feared that the increasingly pro-Islamic occupant of the Ethiopian throne might encite their moslem subjects in Somaliland and the Sudan against them and in favour of Turkey. This would complicate matters by opening a new front in the world war in their colonies, not something they could easily deal with. These suspicions were encouraged by Lij Eyasu's repeated pro-German and pro-Turkish statements he made in private company. In particular, the allied diplomats in Addis Ababa looked with deep suspicion on the influence of Mrs. Hall, the German woman who had been the governess of all the Imperial children during the reign of Emperor Menelik, and was something of a mother figure to Lij Eyasu. Lij Eyasu however would later also fell in love with a picture of Princess Jolanda of Italy and made inquiries as to how he might propose a marriage alliance with the House of Savoy. The full story of this incident is to be found further down in this history, but aside from amusing the bigoted Italian officials, these inquiries angered his own nobles who still regarded Italy as the enemy and were angered at the prospect of a Catholic European born Empress. His domestic marital adventures were causing enough contraversy as it was. Lij Eyasu had divorced Romanawork Mengesha of Tigrai, and married Seble Wongel Hailu of Gojjam. He remained married to the Gojjame princess, and they had produced a daughter, Alem Tsehai Eyasu (later granted the title of Emebet-hoi by Emperor Haile Silassie). She would be Lij Eyasu's only legitimate issue. Lij Eyasu had a dream of creating a new nobility in Ethiopia. This nobility would replace the old, and would be comprised of various ethnic and religious backgrounds, no longer dominated by the Orthodox Christian elites. This Eyasuist nobility would be created by him personally. he would do this by having children with the daughters of the various noble, royal, princely families, and with the daughters of all the chiefs and sultans and imams in the land. They would be Christians, Muslims, Oromo, Amharia, Tigrean, Afar, Northern, Southern, Western, Eastern, just from every region and sub-group imaginable, and they would all be tied to the throne because they were the blood of Lij Eyasu. He set about this task with great relish and enjoyment, and had much illigitimate issue. Much to the horror of the Christian clergy, he "married" the daughter of the Afar Sultan Abu Bakr, as well as the daughter of the Sultan of Jimma Abba Jiffar, and the daughter of the Harrar nobleman Haji Abdulahi (the former Emir), and also the daughter of the Wellega heir of the Kingdom of Leqa Qellam Dejazmatch Jote. Dejazmatch Jote's daughter, the beautiful Askale Mariam was said to have been converted to Islam by Lij Eyasu and renamed Mumina. These poligamous marriages scandalized the church and the clergy, and the fact that these women were muslims did not endear him to the Orthodox church at all. The Wollo noblewoman Tiruwork Aligaz was then installed in a palace in Addis Ababa as an Imperial concubine, and even presented to foriegn diplomats as such. Lij Eyasu also had a vast number of illigitimate children with a host of other women of varying backgrounds. All this while he remained legally married to Woizero Seble Wongel, grandaughter of the King of Gojjam. It was rumored in the more vicious anti-Eyasu circles, that Lij Eyasu had given Woizero Seble Wongel a venerial disease. Lij Eyasu was said to never let a pretty face pass by him without taking advantage of his Imperial authority and his skill at seduction.
In 1915, on the occasion of the birthday of the Sultan of Turkey, Lij Eyasu made a suprise appearance in his capital after yet another extended jaunt around the Empire, and visited the Turkish mission to attend a celebration dinner. It is said that Lij Eyasu declaired that as the Patriarch of Alexandria, who was the head of the Ethiopian church, was an Egyptian subject of the Sultan of Turkey, Ethiopians were also the religious subjects of the Sultan. He went on to proudly proclaim his own decent from the Prophet Mohammed, and presented the Turkish minister with an Ethiopian flag with the words "Allah is Great, and Mohammed is his Prophet" embroyedered in Arabic where the Lion of Judah would have been. The allied diplomats in Addis Ababa were extremely angered at this overture to the Turks, the nobles who had always seen the Turks as old enemies were furious, and the Orthodox Church hierarchy was scandalized. This unpredictable behaviour of the Emperor-designate, which had at first amused the indulgent people as youthful hot blood, something the young heir would outgrow, was now seen as scandalous, reckless and horrifying. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was beyond disturbed, the hierarchs were deeply angered. Lij Eyasu's lurid marriage games were not limited to himself. As stated above, a high ranking woman of Imperial blood, Woizero Sakamyelesh was made to marry to his co-hort Tilahun. He also ordered his neice, Woizero Menen Asfaw (daughter of his much loved half-sister Sihin Michael) to divorce her husband, Ras Leul Seged, and marry his royal cousin Dejazmatch Taffari Makonnen as a way of keeping that prince loyal to him. Although they had known each other well in youth, Lij Eyasu and Dejazmatch Taffari would soon have a major falling out.
Lij Eyasu with his neice Menen Asfaw, later Empress Menen, consort of Emperor Haile Selassie I
Lij Eyasu's repeated mission was a conciliation between the state and Ethiopia's moslems. He spent much time in the moslem areas of the Empire meeting with their elders and nobles, and addressing their concerns, winning their affection. He ate with them and dressed like them, and visited their mosques and homes. To us today, it would appear as an admirable effort to address the wrongs commited against a large group of Ethiopians, and to make them feel a part of the family that was Ethiopia. It was infact a very admirable desire that unfortunately came much to early, and would probably have met with greater success a few decades later. However, Lij Eyasu coupled this with some behaviour that simply was not acceptable in the Christian monarch of the Ethiopian Empire. Blatta Tekle Hawariat, a Russian educated noble and progressive, who was a friend of Eyasu, and initially very sympathetic to him, states in his unpublished autobiography that in conversation, Lij Eyasu said to him that Christianity was "too difficult" a religion, and that he prefered Islam or Atheism. The Blatta was shocked speachless by this statement. He also wrote that Lij Eyasu, during a visit to Dire Dawa, entered a Roman Catholic Church to attend Mass (itself an act that would outrage most of his nobles and the Orthodox Church heirarchy), but had then proceeded to horrify the Catholic clergy and faithful by lighting a cigerette and smoking it during the Mass. Ras Imiru Haile Selassie in his unpublished autobiograhpy states that he and Lij Eyasu argued ferociously over the issue of Lij Eyasu's disdain for the Orthodox faith itself, and his conduct. Lij Eyasu spent much of his time in Harrar and Dire Dawa meeting with undesirable elements, and consuming large quantities of the locally grown narcotic Khat. He made unannounced visits to French Somaliland and spent much time with the muslim notables of Tadjura and Djibouti consuming Khat and during one visit, completely emptied the funds of the Ethiopian legation there in order to indulge in his habits. His frequenting Moslem homes and places of worship, his many wives and concubines, and his actions at the Turkish Embassy looked as if he was returning to his father's old roots and was converting to Islam. The Entente allied powers (France, Britain and Italy) did much to encourage this belief. They obtained pictures of Lij Eyasu in Moslem garb, some which may have been doctored by them, but many which were authentic, and had them spread far and wide as evidence that Lij Eyasu was a secret moslem. However the evidence provided by these nobles who were close to him indicates a general lack of respect for religious institutions or rules. Lij Eyasu was dissipated and becoming a desolute figure comprable to the later Roman Emperors.
Lij Eyasu dressed in Islamic Harrari garb, in the home of a Harrar noble. This picture, unlike others showing him in Islamic garb is authentic and not the result of European doctoring.
In February of 1915 Lij Eyasu marched north and ordered Ras Yimer, Ras Wolde Giorgis, and Wag Shum Gebre Hiwot to join him with their armies and cross the Mereb river and invade Eritrea. The time had come to return Eritrea to her motherland he said. Not everyone was convinced that this was something that could be done, and there were many on both sides who were eager to avoid a confrontation at this time. The Italians sent as an emmisary to Lij Eyasu, the Italian educated Ethiopian, Afework Gebre Yesus, a man who had served them often and well in their past and future adventures in Ethiopia. Afework Gebre Yesus had been studying in Rome when Ras Makonnen had arrived in Italy to witness the ratification of the Treaty of Wuchale, and had warned him about the Italian interpretation of a protectorate over Ethiopia. Later however, he had been key in convincing Lij Gugsa Darge to co-operate witht he Italians when they invaded Ethiopia with hopes of placing him on the throne, but was thwarted with the defeat of Italy at Adwa. Afework had later returned to Ethiopia and had a huge falling out with Empress Taitu over the quality of religious paintings he had ordered for her from Italy, and had left Ethiopia in anger after the Empress cursed him by saying "May you be crucified". He now approached Lij Eyasu at the behest of the Italians, convincing him that there was no way Eyasu could beat the Italians, and that he should try to encourage better ties with them. The crafty Afework Gebre Yesus, knowing Lij Eyasus's weakness, produced a photograph of Princess Jolanda Margherita of Savoy, Princess of Italy, (who would later marry Count Carlo Calvi di Bergolo) and urged the Lij Eyasu to enter into marriage ties with the House of Savoy to cement a new friendship with Italy. It was then that the thought of marriage to an Italian princess was born in Eyasu's mind. He proclaimed himself in love with the Princess, raved about her beauty and goodness, and then ordered his troops back to their homes. He then made what he imagined to be subtle inquiries as to the possibility of asking for the Princesses hand in marriage. What his long suffering wife Seble Wongel thought of all this can only be imagined. His behavior angered his generals and his nobles to no end while causing much gigling and laughter in the diplomatic circles in Addis Ababa as well as among Italian authorities in Asmara and Rome. Having made a fool of his monarch, Afework Gebre Yesus smugly scoffed at Eyasu's lack of sense, and returned to his Italian friends to tell them their colony in Eritrea was safe for the time being, thanks largely to the beauty of Princess Jolanda.
Princess Jolanda of Savoy (Later wife of Count Carlo Calvi di Bergolo)The Princess of Italy whose photograph disuaded Lij Eyasu from attempting to retake Eritrea
All these actions, Lij Eyasu's repeated insults against the nobles of his grandfather, his irresponsible behavior, his flirtation (real or fabricated) with Islam, his inconsistancy, his exteded absences from his capital, and his humiliating conduct vis-a-vis the Italians all conspired towards his inevitable downfall. The biggest mistake however was in alienating two men. The first was Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis, the man who commanded loyalty in the Army, and who had served Menelik as a loyal and devoted officer. He had been the bulwark who had protected Eyasu from challenges. Now however, insulted and relegated to a powerless position, and deeply angered by the prince's actions, he was determined to end the farce that Lij Eyasu's reign had become. The other man that Lij Eyasu should not have alienated was his cousin, Dejazmatch Taffari Makonnen, who as the leader of the progressive elements of the nobility, seperated Lij Eyasu from the only group that might have been his support.
This picture is interesting in that it depicts Lij Eyasu with two men who he perhaps had reason to fear. Dejazmatch Taffari Makonnen who had Imperial blood, and Ras Birru Wolde Gabriel, who it was often whispered (though never confirmed) to have been the illegitimate son of Emperor Menelik II
In July of 1916, Dejazmatch Taffari Makonnen was summoned to Addis Ababa from Harrar by Lij Eyasu, and he arrived promptly and went to the palace for his audience. Upon arriving, he was told Lij Eyasu was not at the Palace. He was told that the prince had gone to Entoto. Lij Eyasu had gone up Mt. Entoto to pray at St. Mary's Church and pay a courtesy visit on Empress Taitu at the old Palace there. Empress Taitu ordered that the old mesob (elaborate free standing basketwork table) that had been used by here late husband Emperor Menelik be set for Lij Eyasu's meal. When Lij Eyasu arrived for his visit, he heeded the dire warnings of his co-horts and refused to eat anything provided in the Empresses house for fear of poisoning. After a brief conversation, he returned to Addis Ababa, leaving a deeply insulted Empress. Almost as soon as he left, Dejazmatch Taffari, who had finally been able to evade the guards placed on him on Lij Eyasu's orders, arrived at Entoto Palace and paid his respects to the Empress. Once hostile to him, the Empress had later been won over by Taffari Makonnen's impecable manners and his deep respect for her. She warmly urged him to eat the untouched food set out for Lij Eyasu. Dejazmatch Taffari demured, saying he was surely not worthy of eating from the same mesob that Menelik the Great himself had eaten from. Taitu assured him that he was, and he complied. One might speculate that much was whispered between the two about the plight of the state and what could be done about it. Returning to his house in Addis Ababa, Dejazmatch Taffari was informed that Lij Eyasu had sent him a telegram from Harrar where he had gone almost immediately after leaving Entoto, informing him that he was removed from the governorship of Harrar and had been made governor of the wealthy gold and coffee producing province of Kaffa. Lij Eyasu also handed over the extremely lucrative customs office to his good friend, the Syrian born merchant Ydbilli, with the title of Bejirond, much to the anger of Taffari and much of the Ethiopian nobility. Dejazmatch Taffari was furious at the deception employed by Lij Eyasu, and was angry at being deprived of his birthright. He found himself confined to the capital, and unable to go anywhere without an armed escort guarding him under orders of Lij Eyasu. He would be escorted to take up his new post in Kaffa soon he was told. The oath that he and Lij Eyasu to support each other, that they had given before the late Regent Ras Tessema, had been distroyed by Lij Eyasu himself. Lij Eyasu was even then traveling through the Ogaden visiting with the Qottu and Somali clans, assuring them that the Christian domination they had suffered under Dejazmatch Taffari was over. He entered Harrar city itself, staying at first with a wealthy Harrari merchant, and ordering the return of property that St. Michael's church had recieved in the city from moslem residents in a land swap. Dejazmatch Taffari asked to be able to return to Harrar where his wife (Lij Eyasu's neice) was about to give birth to their second child. Lij Eyasu refused permission. In the mean time Lij Eyasu took up residence in the governors palace and anounced that henceforth he himself would govern Ethiopia's leading moslem city himself. He ordered Taffari's wife (his own neice) to vacate the governors palace immediately. Woizero Menen was reaching the end of her pregnancy and begged her uncle for permission to deliver the child before having to move. Reluctant, but not wanting to hurt the feelings of his favorite sister Woizero Sehin (Menen's mother), Eyasu agreed. Dejazmatch Taffari and Woizero Menen became the parents of the future Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen (Emperor-in-exile Amha Sellassie) in August of 1916. Lij Eyasu permitted Woizero Menen to remain in the house till the baby was Christened, then on September 6th, Woizero Menen, her little daughter Tenagnework, the infant Asfaw Wossen and Kegnazmatch (later Ras) Imiru were put on mules and sent to Dire Dawa to board the train to Addis Ababa. Now that the progressives in the Empire were disillusioned with Lij Eyasu, his break with Dejazmatch Tafarri provided this camp with a new progressive champion prince to support in his stead. The conservatives under Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis were just waiting for the the moment when Eyasu would be weakest. Without solid support from the progressive camp, Eyasu had virtually no chance. Little did Lij Eyasu realize that his days on the Throne of Solomon were numbered, and he had undercut himself.
Begining on August 30th 1916, the nobles under the leadership of Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis had begun to assemble to discuss the deposition of Lij Eyasu. Dejazmatch Taffari Makonnen is often credited with "Bringing Down" Lij Eyasu. Although clearly a member of the group that brought Lij Eyasu down, the assembly of nobles was dominated by conservatives led by Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis, who was the moving force and leader of this Palace Pusch. The progressive camp that congregated around Dejazmatch Taffari had not yet aquired the necissary numbers, power, or savy to pull off the dethronement of an Emperor. The government was being run by the powerful Negadras Haile Giorgis who has recently married Lij Eyasu's sister Woizero Sehin (mother-in-law of Dejazmatch Taffari) and was an Eyasu loyalist. He had got wind of the conspiracy and warned both the Coptic Archbishop Abune Mattiwos, and the second ranking church heirarch, Echege Welde Giorgis not to attend the conspirators meetings. However, further investigation revealed to the Negadras that the conspiracy included virtually the entire aristocracy of Shewa, Gojjam, Beghemidir and Tigrai, and that only Wollo seemed resolutely loyal to Eyasu. The Negadras decided that he would prefer to be on the winning side in what was coming, so he showed up at the summoning of nobles that had suddenly been issued from the palace on September 28th by Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis. Upon arriving however, the Negadras was told he could not enter unless he brought both the Archbishop and the Echege with him so that they could attend. He hurried off and returned with both clergymen. With the Orthodox church represented, the assembly could now claim full legitimacy. A list of charges was read against Lij Eyasu that were submitted as evidence of his conversion to Islam. A message from the diplomatic representatives of France, Italy and Britain (the Entente powers) had been circulated warning of the dangers to Ethiopia if Lij Eyasu allied the Empire with Germany, Austria and Turkey. The nobles for the most part seemed to care little about this message, but were stirred more deeply by what was charged to be his "islamic behavior" and evidence that was provided by some of these same diplomats. His frequenting the homes of moslems, his eating their food, his visits and prayers at their mosques, the flag he had presented to the Turkish legate, his multiple marriages (in order to ensure the participation of Lij Eyasu's father-in-law, Ras Hailu, much was made of the insult to the honor of Woizero Seble Wongel and the House of Gojjam), his affection for wearing moslem clothes, were all discussed openly. The diplomats provided pictures of him in muslim Afar and Harrari costumes. There is reason to believe that some of the pictures provided by the western diplomats were forgeries, but at least two of these pictures were genuine. Less emphasis was put on the radical progressive views of the Prince that galled the conservatives so much, as these would have lost them the support of Dejazmatch Taffari Makonnen and his supporters. The Archbishop was clearly taken aback. He was dismayed at what was clearly a certain sympathy for Islam and moslems on the part of lij Eyasu. However, he seems to at first have stated that all this was not sufficient evidence to prove that Lij Eyasu had converted to Islam, even if it was highly disturbing. Abune Mattiwos may have wanted to hear from Lij Eyasu himself whether or not he had become a muslim. The nobles and the Ethiopian born clergy were furious. They began to all talk at once, telling the Egyptian monk that this was all more than enough evidence, and that he was making this more difficult than it had to be. The Echege declared (in violation of canon law) that he would excommunicate Lij Eyasu himself if the Archbishop did not. After some further arguement the Archbishop relented. The Echege propelled the Archbishop to his feet and to the center of the room where he stood behind Abune Mattiwos, and both clerics stood holding up their hand crosses. The somewhat reluctant Archbishop Mattiwos then declared "From this day forh, you are all freed from your oath to the apostate Lij Eyasu, and I the humble servant of God hereby excommunicate him from the body of the Holy Church." The nobles kissed the crosses of the two clerics and began to rush about organizing the deposing of a monarch and the succession of another. Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis had his triumph. The question as to who should inherit the Throne of Solomon was in the air. The person who was next in the direct male line after the late Menelik II, Dejazmatch Taye Gulilat, was eliminated from the succession because it had been made very clear that Menelik had been strongly against such an occurance, and the wishes of the late Emperor were important to the nobility. Ras Wolde Giorgis, the senior prince of the House of Shewa at the time, was considered too advanced in age and in uncertain health. Dejazmatch Taffari had been involved in the conspiracy to remove Eyasu, but he was a progressive, and the plot had been largely engineered by the conservative camp around Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis. There were several things working against Taffari Makonnen. First, the majority of the nobles were very conservative, while the Prince was a known progressive whose views they disliked. Ideas of educating the masses, modern administration, reducing the role of the nobility, centralizing all military functions under the central government, a written constitution, and the abolition of slavery and increasing contacts with foriegn powers were not to their taste. Secondly, there were other members of the Imperial family who could put forward as strong a blood claim to the throne as Taffari, in particular, Dejazmatch (later Ras) Kassa Hailu, son of Woizero Tisseme Darge, who was the daughter of Ras Darge Sahle Selassie, and granddaughter of King Sahle Selassie of Shewa. Kassa's father Hailu Wolde Kiros was also the non-royal half-brother of Emperor Tekle Giorgis III. Dejazmatch Kassa Hailu however was not interested in being Emperor and refused to even be considered for the crown. A devout member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, he was a married priest, and considered his priestly title to be higher and greater than his royal one. He had generally conservative leanings but did share some views with the progressives. His friendship with his cousin Taffari was very firm, and he would be his closest confidant and advisor for almost half a century. Considered the senior Prince of the Blood after the death of his cousin Ras (later King) Wolde Giorgis, and the long time President of the Crown Council, he would become the second most powerful person in the Empire after the Emperor during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie. Another road block to Taffari's accession to the throne was the same deep loyalty that the nobles felt to Menelik II, and to his blood line, that was the deterent to Taye Gulilat. Although he did not face the strong opposition of the late Emperor that Taye Gulilat faced, Taffari was faced with the fact that the late Emperor's wish that Lij Eyasu succeed him was being overturned by nobles who still remained passionatly loyal to Menelik's memory. There was the nagging feeling on their part that they were violating the will of Menelik the Great who they continued to love so deeply, the man whom they credited with making them the men that they were. Dejazmatch Taffari however was a consumate diplomat, and the nobles found him to be polite, courteous, attentive to their views, and appropriately respectful of the memory of Emperor Menelik, all qualities that Eyasu lacked. He had the Imperial blood that was required, and they believed he was someone who would always take their views into account when making decisions, even if he was a progressive. A compromise was struck. The following day, at the celebrations of Meskel (Feast of the finding of the True Cross) September 29th, 1916, for the first time since the Queen of Sheba, a woman was proclaimed monarch of Ethiopia in her own right. Zewditu, daughter of Menelik II and Woizero Abechi, was proclaimed Empress, Elect of God, Conquering Lion of Judah, and Queen of Kings of Ethiopia. Dejazmatch Taffari Makonnen was proclaimed Crown Prince, Heir to the Throne, with the title of Ras. Fitawrarri Hapte Giorgis, the ring leader of the plot to dethrone Eyasu, was proclaimed the supreme commander of the armed forces. Ras Wolde Giorgis Aboye, the senior Prince of the Blood was made King of Gondar. In order to prevent a return to power of Empress Taitu and her family, her nephew Ras Gugsa Welle was compelled to accept his forced separation from his wife, the new Queen of Kings. He was restored to his governorship of Beghemidir however, and sent to Gondar to govern that province from the ancient capital. Empress Zewditu also added to the charges against her nephew Lij Eyasu, that he had denied her father (his grand-father) Emperor Menelik, a proper and fitting funeral "..what was not even denied to a stranger murdered on the road..." She asked her subjects "Have you heard of Christian dying in the country where he lived, and it was forbidden to have his name said in church or celebrate his funeral?" She stated that for two years, three months and two days, she had held her father's corpse and wept in the palace until she had been driven away to Falle. This ofcourse was a symbolic claim as she was indeed in the palace mourning her father deeply while under arrest, but his body had been buried in the Se'el Bet Kidane Meheret Church on the palace grounds. Empress Zewditu had resolved to build the Ba'eta Le Mariam Monastery (Presentation of the Virgin Mary to the Temple Monastery, the feast day of which was the day the Emperor had died)also in the palace grounds, and re-bury the late Emperor there in Imperial splendor. This did much to win over the emensly pro-Menelik population to her side and against Lij Eyasu, who had played gugs as his grandfather died, and who had kept the news of Menelik's death from them so that they could not weep for their "father and Emperor". The people came out to bow and ulultate to the daughter of their beloved and much missed monarch of blessed memory. The child of "Imiye Menelik" whose very name brought tears to their eyes. The response to Zewditu was imense and solidified the new government's position. The reign of Lij Eyasu, the unproclaimed and uncrowned Emperor Eyasu V was over.
The Coptic Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Mattiwos, who was pursuaded to excommunicate Lij Eyasu and release the Nobility from it's Oath of Loyalty
Every effort was made to avert an angry reaction from Lij Eyasu's father, King Michael of Wollo with his tens of thousands strong Wollo army. Public statements of Lij Eyasu's crimes always included phrases that Lij Eyasu had done everything he did against the advice and urging of his father, who had tried his best to set Eyasu on the right path. It was of no use. Michael of Wollo was furious at the deposing of his son by the Shewans, and he promptly made preparations for war. In Harrar, news of his deposition reached Lij Eyasu and utterly shocked him. He ordered that seven priests from the Church of St. Gabriel at Kulibi be brought before him. As they stood before him, he placed his hand on a bible and a silver cross and swore that he was and always had been a faithful Christian and son of the Orthodox chruch. Although this act shook the clerics into doubting the story of his conversion to Islam, it did not help him. A force of soldiers was headed to Harar to seize him he was told. He called on the moslem population to defend the city against the government, and soon attrocities were being commited by the Harrari moslems on Christians and anyone who remained loyal to Ras Taffari. This did not last long, as Eyasu and his loyalists realized that they could not hope to hold on to Harrar as their military force was dwindling as soldiers were leaving by the minute to join the government forces. It was decided that Lij Eyasu should leave Harrar and join what was left of his force with that of his father in Wollo and march on Addis Ababa from there. It was a sensible plan, and had he been able to get a message to King Michael, his chances might have been better. Instead he was only bearly able to leave the city before the forces of the Imperial government swept in. In fact an advance force had approached the town of Meisso, and were about to enter, when suddenly, Lij Eyasu with his escort came out of the town and passed directly infront of them on his mule. Without specific instructions to arrest him, and probably in awe and instinctive respect for the heir of Menelik, the officers and soldiers that had been sent out to fight and capture him, instead fell to their knees and kissed the ground as the ex-monarch passed after a very brief shoot out. Lij Eyasu had escaped. The government forces entered the city of Harrar which was in open rebellion. An angry battle followed and Eyasu's loyalists were defeated. Hundreds died, and many fled into the Ogaden desert to disappear forever, or to engage in banditry for a while before fading away. Eyasu cut through the Afar lowlands northwards to Wollo. He would arrive too late. What he hadn't realized was that the trusted noble he had sent to Wollo to tell his father to wait for his arrival before marching on Shewa, had been attacked by a swarm of bee's and was forced to take to bed to recieve treatment and had never made it to Desse. Eyasu's father had already mobilized a huge force of close to 80,000 troops and marched south from Desse without waiting for Eyasu and his forces. An army was quickly assembled by the government under Ras Leul Seged Atnaf Seged, former husband of Ras Taffari's wife, Woizero Menen, the Crown Princess. Ras Leul Seged and King Michael met in battle at Tora Mesk on October 17th, 1916. The army of Wollo was victorious, and Ras Leul Seged was killed in battle. Panic spread among the nobles in Addis Ababa. Thoughts of defeat and being charged with treason must have cast fear into all their hearts. However, Fitawrarri Hapte Giorgis was determined. He sent conciliatory letters to the King of Wollo to buy time, and quickly assembled a new army. The Wolloye's and the Shewans met for the second time in battle at Segelle on October 27th. More Ethiopian blood would be shed at this battle than even at Adwa. The forces of Wollo were crushed utterly, King Michael was captured, and Lij Eyasu's chances of restoration reduced to ashes. In November of 1916, the King of Wollo, with gold chains marking his royal status shackled to his arms and legs, was made to march through the crowded streets of Addis Ababa carrying a rock of repentance on his shoulders. The King went into the throne room of the Imperial Palace and kissed the floor before his enthroned sister-in-law, the new Empress of Ethiopia, and asked for her mercy. Ras Tafari was not at the submission ceremony in consideration of the feelings of his wife Menen, who was the granddaughter of the King of Wollo. Thus publicly humiliated, the king was placed under house arrest at Emperor Menelik's country house at Holeta with his close relatives. He would die there in 1918.
Lij Eyasu realized that his cause was lost. He knew that nothing could restore him now that his father was defeated and Wollo crushed. Lij Eyasu would roam the Afar lowlands for years, eluding capture with a small band of followers. He even fortified Magdalla at one point to make a great last stand in a Theodorean fashion, but had to retreat when his position their became untenable. He entered Tigrai, and secretly entered the protection of the Hereditary Prince, Ras Seyoum Mengesha. However, the Prince got wind of the fact that the government had learned he was protecting Lij Eyasu and once again Eyasu had to flee. He entered Eastern Tigrai, the domain of the other Tigrean hereditary prince, Dejazmatch Gugsa Araya. However, one of Lij Eyasu's entourage betrayed his location, and on January 11, 1921, Lij Eyasu was surounded in the Church yard he was hiding in by the soldiers of Dejazmatch Gugsa Araya. Before he could even put up a fight, it was over. Dejazmatch Gugsa, grandson of Yohannis IV, walked into the presence of Eyasu Michael, grandson of Menelik II. Gugsa was so overcome with being in the presence of the man who might have been his Emperor, that he fell to his knees and kissed Eyasu's shoes before arresting him. Four months later, Gugsa handed him over to the government. The Empress rewarded her former step-son Gugsa (his father had been her first husband) with the title of Ras, and the Crown Prince would give him his neice, Princess Yeshashework Yilma as his wife. Eyasu himself was placed in the comfortable custody of his cousin Ras Kassa Hailu at Fiche, where he would remain. Empress Zewditu, inspite of her accepting the throne, seems to have been wracked with guilt for violating her father's will by going along with the deposing of Eyasu. She also seems to have had much personal affection for her nephew even though he had treated her abominably for years. However, Zewditu would die in 1930, and she was succeeded by Nigus Taffari Makonnen who became Emperor Haile Selassie. The new Emperor bore him deep resentment for not only violating their mutual oaths, but for treating his wife and newborn son with such disregard. Eyasu did not help matters by escaping from Fiche in 1931. He was quickly re-captured and a plot was uncovered that angered the Emperor deeply and lost Lij Eyasu the protection of Ras Kassa who was livid at the escape. The plot was an intreguing one. Apparently, Ras Hailu Tekle Haimanot of Gojjam was angry at not having been made king of Gojjam by Haile Selassie. He resented the fact that he had gone against his son-in-law Eyasu and supported his deposing and didn't get anything out of it. Negotiations to marry Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen to Hailu's daughter Dinkinesh had fallen through and the Prince had married Princess Wolete Israel Seyoum of Tigrai insted. Now he decided that one way or another he would become king of Gojjam, and a daughter of his would be an Empress, so he had arranged for Lij Eyasu's escape from Fiche. Money was paid to an Italian adventurer (with the knowledge of the Italian colonial government in Eritrea) to fly an airplane full of weapons to a field between Holeta and Addis Alem. Lij Eyasu would escape from Fiche and come to this location, and he and the weapons would be flown to Debre Marcos in Gojjam and Ras Hailu, where Eyasu would be proclaimed Emperor Eyasu V, and Seble Wongel Hailu restored as his only and legitmate wife and Empress (which would have required something be done about her new husband, Dejazmatch Yigezu Behapte). Ras Hailu would be proclaimed King of Gojjam and they would march on Addis Ababa and depose Haile Selassie. Unfortunately for Eyasu, he was unable to escape on the planned day, and by the time he reached the rendez-vous with the plane, the nervous Italian pilot had taken off and returned to Eritrea. Eyasu had then tried to make it to Gojjam by horse, but he was quickly captured and taken to Addis Ababa. Ras Hailu was arrested and found guilty of treason and sentenced to die. The Emperor commuted the sentence to life immprisonment, and confiscated Ras Hailu's considerable property. Lij Eyasu was put on a special train in Addis and taken to Harrar where he was imprisoned in a specially constructed prison in Garra Muleta in conditions much less comfortable than before, but far from uncomfortable. It is said he now had to live with bars over his windows, but that beautiful young women continued to be brought to him for his pleasure. Eyasuism would continue to rise it's head in small outbursts of rebellion here and there, especially in Wollo during the rest of Eyasu's life. However upon the facist Italian invasion in 1935, leaflets were said to have been dropped by Italian airplanes over Addis Ababa and Wollo announcing that Italy only wanted to restore "the legitimate Emperor Eyasu V". Only a short time later, it was announced that Abeto-hoi Lij Eyasu Michael, grandson of Menelik II, had died. Stories of his death are plentiful, but none can be confirmed. One states that Emperor Haile Selassie's father confessor, Abba Hanna Jimma, came to Garra Mulleta and personally strangled Lij Eyasu, and that his remains were tossed into the Shebele River or left somewhere in the open in the Ogaden desert. Another story, advocated by Lij Eyasu's grandson, Lij Girma Yohannis, maintains that shortly before the Emperor was to leave for the northern front, he had Lij Eyasu brought to Addis Ababa, to his Guenete Leul Palace (the Little or New Guibi as it was called then)which is now the campus of the Addis Ababa University. Lij Eyasu was killed there he claims, and buried in the yard of St. Markos Church in the palace compound with Empress Menen (Lij Eyasu's neice) and some of her Wollo relatives in attendance at the burial. Others maintain that Eyasu was poisoned and buried near Garra Mulleta. None of these stories can be confirmed, and are all rather farfetched. What is certain is that Lij Eyasu died sometime in late 1935. His legal wife, Seble Wongel Hailu had remarried Dejazmatch Yigezu Behapte, and would live a relatively peaceful and uncomplicated life as a respected senior member of the aristocracy and granddaughter of a king, if never an Empress.
Lij Eyasu's daughter Alem Tsehai Eyasu, the only legitimate great-granddaughter of Menelik II was given the title of Emebet-hoi by Emperor Haile Selassie, married a nobleman, and remains in Ethiopia, largely unharrased through the governments of Emperor Haile Selassie, the Derg, and the current Federal Republic of the EPRDF, the elderly matriarch of the Eyasuist house. She has never claimed the Imperial throne for herself or her heirs. The same cannot be said of all her half brothers and nephews. Lij Yohannis Eyasu, son of Lij Eyasu by the daughter of the Sultan of Jimma was closely watched by Emperor Haile Selassie. Upon the facist invasion, he led a guerilla band of soldiers against the Italians, and corresponded regularly with the exiled Emperor. This won him a degree of favour from the Emperor, and when Haile Selassie returned to Addis Ababa in triumph on May 5th 1941, Lij Yohannis Eyasu was riding in an open car, alone, immediately behind the Emperor. Given the title of Dejazmatch, he fell back out of favor, suspected in being involved in a host of anti-government plots, and ended his days banished from court in Jimma, quietly. Another son, Lij Menelik Eyasu was the son of Eyasu by the daughter of the Afar Sultan. He lived most of his early life in exile in the French territory of Afars and Issas (French Somaliland) which is the Republic of Djibouti today. Upon the news of the death of his father, the Italians had approached him about him accepting the Ethiopian throne as a puppet monarch when their defeat of Haile Sellassie at Maichew made victory probable for them. Lij Menelik refused saying that Ethiopia had only one Emperor. Emperor Haile Selassie was greatful and he recieved Menelik in audience when Lij Menelik returned to Ethiopia after the restoration. He lived quietly also, acting as an occasional emmisary of the Emperor to the Afars. Two other sons and a grandson have been much more agressive with their claims. Lij Meleke Tsehai Eyasu was a boy of 16 when in 1936, Balambaras Abebe Aregai, and other notable guerilla leaders assembled on Amba Aradam and crowned him "Emperor of Ethiopia" as a symbol to rally the people against the Italians. In return "Emperor" Meleke Tsehai bestowed the title of Ras on Abebe Aregai. The Italians mobilized a huge force to hunt down this "Emperor" or the "little Nigus" as the Italians called him, and pitched battles were fought all over northern Shewa to find the pretender. Emperor Haile Selassie was furious at this afront to his title as well. However it was not the exiled Emperor or the Italian occupiers that did Meleke Tsehai in, but malaria, which killed Lij Eyasu's son later that same year. Emperor Haile Selassie resented Abebe Aregai for this action for a long time, and it was only under the strong urging of his British allies that he desided to recognize and confirm the title of Ras for him in order to co-opt his soldiers into the liberation forces in 1941. Ras Abebe knew the Emperor was resentful and angry over this episode, but won him over with a spontaneous gesture. Shortly before the Emperor was about to board his car to re-enter his liberated capital from Mt. Entoto, Ras Abebe arrived with a huge guard of honor for the Emperor, rushed up to him and with tears streaming down his face, said in very simple language, without using words like Emperor or majesty, "I never thought I would live to see your face again!" and fell to his knees and embraced the Emperor's shoes, moving Haile Selassie deeply. All was forgiven, but not forgotten. Eyasuist pretenders and their supporters did not generate much sympathy from Emperor Haile Selassie. Another Eyasuist claimant was Lij Mesfin Eyasu. Unknown before the 1974 revolution, he claimed that he had been confined to a monastery by Emperor Haile Selassie, and had only been able to leave because of the revolution. His arrival in Addis at the hieght of the Red Terror was interesting in that he would attend mass at Holy Trinity Cathedral and cry out the full titles of the Emperor of Ethiopia in the places where the Emperor's name had now been omitted from the service. Even Lij Eyasu's known decendants voiced doubts as to the truth of whether or not he was a true son of Eyasu, and in fact never aknowledged him as such. Although he started out poor in Addis Ababa in the mid seventies, he ended up quite wealthy by the time the Derg fell. When a demonstration was held to ask the new transitional government to demolish the statue of Emperor Menelik II in Addis Ababa by revisionists, Lij Mesfin conspicuously paid for the statue of his great grandfather be guilded with silver (much to the chagrin of many who thought this ruined a beautiful statue). Lij Mesfin also personaly wrote a letter to then Transitional-President (now Prime Minister) Meles Zenawi requesting that the wall built accross the main entrance to Holy Trinity Cathedral by the Derg be removed. The government printed his letter in the newspapers, and then dismantled the wall the following week much to the jubilation of Addis Ababa's Christian population. When the Emperor-in-Exile, Amha Selassie (former Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen) announced from Washington D.C. the formation of the Moa Anbessa monarchist movement, and gave some interviews to the press, Lij Mesfin made his own pretentions official by giving an interview to the Ethiopian Review Magazine and stating that "Prince Asfaw Wossen is welcome to return to Ethiopia" but that "I (Lij Mesfin) am the legitimate and true Emperor of Ethiopia." His public behavior was reduced to theatrics as he insisted people bow to him, kiss his hand and refer to him as "majesty". He ran afoul of the EPRDF government and rumors spreat that he was to be arrested although he remained free. He died in 1999 and was buried at the Bale Wold Church (Church of the Feast of God the Son, also known as the Church of the Four Heavenly Creatures) which is part of the complex of Holy Trinity Cathedral. The current Eyasuist pretender to the imperial throne of Ethiopia is Dr. Girma Yohannis Eyasu, known also as Lij Girma Yohannis Eyasu. Lij Girma is listed in the Almanach de Bruxelle as the Eyasuist claimant, with the claimed title of Crown Prince of Ethiopia, and his German wife Claudia Bertram with the claimed title of Princess Claudia Iyasu Menelik. Like Lij Mesfin, Lij Girma also claims to have been confined to a monastery (in his case Asebot Monastery) during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie. He insists on carrying the style and titles Abeto Lij Girma Eyasu Menelik, Crown Prince of Ethiopia (both the name and titles other than the title of Lij are not legitimate, as they imply he is the son of Eyasu and that Eyasu is the son of Menelik, when in fact they are the grandson of each). Lij Girma Yohannis claims that all the post 1917 governments in Ethiopia are illegitimate. Eyasuist claimants have seen much of their support dwindle from broad support in the mid-twenties to virtually nothing today. They are outside of the mainstream monarchist movement in Ethiopia.
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