Site hosted by Build your free website today!
Emperor Libne Dingel (Wanag Seged)
His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Libne Dingel (Wanag Seged or Dawit I)

Quick Links:

  • Statement from the Crown Council of Ethiopia and the Imperial Family
  • The Imperial Churches
  • The Imperial Constitutions of the Empire of Ethiopia
  • The Imperial Crest of the House of Solomon
  • Coronation Traditions in Imperial Ethiopia
  • Origins of the The Solomonic Dynasty, the Imperial House of Ethiopia
  • Family Trees of Various Branches of the Imperial Solomonic Dynasty of Ethiopia
  • Emperor Haile Selassie I, Part 1
  • Emperor Haile Selassie I, Part 2
  • Emperor Haile Selassie I, Part 3
  • Emperor Libne Dingel (Wanag Seged)
  • In Memory of Her Imperial Highness, Princess Tenagnework of Ethiopia
  • Emperor Sertse Dengel (Melek Seged)
  • Emperor Tekle Giorgis II
  • Emperor Tewodros II
  • Titles in the Empire of Ethiopia
  • Traditions, Rituals, Practices and Etiquette in the Ethiopian Empire
  • Emperor Yohannis IV
  • Empress Zewditu, Queen of Kings
  • Amha Selassie I,Emperor-in-Exile (Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen)
  • Imperial Burial Traditions
  • Flags and Symbols of Ethiopia
  • Imperial Funeral Events October 30th - November 5th, 2000
  • Emperor Gelawdewos (Atsnaf Seged)
  • Lij Eyasu Michael, Emperor-Designate (Eyasu V)
  • Maps of Ethiopia Across Time
  • Emperor Menelik II : Part I
  • Menelik II Part II: The Post Adowa Era
  • Emperor Minas (Admas Seged)
  • Imperial Monuments of Ethiopia
  • Pictures and Stories on the Imperial Funeral Events
  • Imperial Palaces and Residences of Ethiopia
  • Emperor Susneyous the Catholic (Siltan Seged)
  • The Imperial Family Today
  • Emperor Yacob
  • Emperor Yekonu Amlak
  • History of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church Homepage
  • Coronation Traditions in Imperial Ethiopia
  • Emperor Libne Dingel was a boy of 13 when he assumed the Imperial Throne upon the death of his father Emperor Naod in 1507. Born to Emperor Naod and his wife Empress Naod Mogassa, Libne Dingel was named Dawit (David) but assumed his baptismal name, Libne Dingel upon becoming Emperor. He is sometimes refered to as Emperor Dawit I He was also given the royal nom-du-guerre of Wanag Seged upon his enthronement. Seged means "to whom bows" in Ge'ez, the ancient language of the Ethiopian Church. Wanag means Lion in Somali, so Wanag Seged translates to "He to whom the lions bow." As the new Emperor was a minor, it was decided that a regency council should rule the country in his name until he reached the age of majority. The regency was headed by the widow of Emperor Beide Mariam I, the Dowager Empress Eleni, grandmother of the new monarch. The other members of the Regency Council included Dowager Empress Naod Mogassa, mother of the Emperor, Dejazmatch Wossen Seged of Gojjam, a royal relative who bore the title Gojjam Negash, and several other relatives and officials. Empress Eleni, was the senior of the two Dowager Empresses, and as such, she presided over the council as the chief regent. Empress Eleni was the widow of Beide Mariam the Great, and had also briefly served as regent for her son Naod. She was the daughter of a previous sultan of Adal, and was thus a member of the muslim Walasma dynasty of that vassal state. She had converted to Christianity to marry the Empreror of Ethiopia, and had become a very devout member of the Orthodox Church. Empress Naod Mogassa was the sister of the Bahir Negash Dori. The Bahir Negash was the ruler of the northernmost province which bordered the Red Sea, which roughly corresponds to the modern state of Eritrea. Dejazmatch Wossen Seged was a powerful nobleman who was related to the new Emperor, and was a man feared and respected throughout the Empire.

    With the help of these regents, the boy Emperor began his long reign. Ethiopia was prosperous and reasonably peaceful at the time. The Islamic Emirates, Sultanates and Imamates of the lowlands were in submissive vassalage to the Imperial Crown, paying their annual tribute. At this time, there were about 60 foriegn nationals in the Ethiopian Empire. Most were Middle Eastern, Armenian, Greek or South Asian (Indian), but one was a man named Pedro De Corbelam, who was Portugese. This man had become very influential at court, particularly with the young Emperor, and the Empress-Regent Eleni. He impressed upon the Queen, the greatness of Portugal and the Christian piety of her King and people. The Empress, troubled by the increasing influence of the Ottomans among the Islamic subjects of the Empire, decided that Portugal might prove to be a valuable ally against the Turks. In 1508, the Turks had provided a large amount of weapons to the Emir of Harrar and the Adal, Mahfuz (or Mahfud), and the Emir had invaded the Shewan district of Yifat and had burned farms and churches. The young Emperor Libne Dingel had led his first military expedition against the Emir, and defeated him in July of that year in Yifat, and was presented with the Emir's severed head. Although the crushing of the Adal forces at Yifat was to provide peace for the following 10 years, Empress Eleni was not reassured. She feared that the Turks would continue to arm the Islamic principalities in the lowlands, and it was only a matter of time before another invasion was lauched. Therefore, she decided to send a letter seeking freindship and a gift of a large gold processional cross to the King of Portugal. As the first Ambassador of the Ethiopian Monarch to be sent abroad, she chose an Armenian merchant named Matthew. Matthew the Armenian set out from Ethiopia in 1510 and arrived in the Portugese colony in India. From India, Matthew traveled to Portugal, arriving three years later, in 1513, and was recieved by King Emanuel the Lucky. The letter from the Dowager Empress Eleni, proposed that marriage ties be established between the two royal families, and that the Portugese with their powerful navy help push the Turks from the Red Sea region. Matthew also relayed a verbal message stressing the advantages Portugal could gain by pushing the Turks from the Red Sea, and having Ethiopia as an ally on the African coast, protecting Portugese interests in the Indian Ocean and it's Indian colony. King Emanuel was so sufficiantly impressed by the idea, that he sent Matthew to Rome to meet Pope Leo X, with a letter explaining the proposal from the Empress-Regent of Ethiopia. The Pope listened to Matthew, and agreed that the only surviving Christian state in Africa must be cultivated as an ally. The King of Portugal and Pope Leo X decided to send a large delegation to Ethiopia. To lead this first European Embassy to Africa, King Emanuel appointed Dom Edwardo Galvam, and several deputies. The Pope added several clerics whose mission was to bring the Ethiopian Church into the fold of the Roman Catholic faith. They included the clergymen Dom Francois Alvarez, Juan Fernandez, and Alfonso Mendez. The King and the Pope wrote letters, (dated November 1st, 1514) and sent them off from Lisbon with Matthew the Armenian in 1515. Their initial attempt to enter Ethiopia was aborted when the leader of the delegation, Dom Edwardo Galvam died suddenly on the Red Sea island of Camaran. Three other members of the delegation also died on the Dahlak Islands off Massawa, so the Portugese decided to go to India. Two years later, with the addition of Dom Rodrigo and George D'Albern, they entered Ethiopia and entered the Monastery at Debre Bizen to await an answer to the announcement of their arrival that they sent to the Emperor in Shewa. Matthew the Armenian died at Debre Bizen, the victim of an epidemic. The Europeans fled the monastery because of the epidemic and went to Debaroa, the seat of the Bahir Negash, who was the uncle of the Emperor. From Debaroa, the Portugese traveled into Shewa and attended the enstalment of the new Echege of Debre Libanos Monastery. Then on November 20th, 1520, the Portugese and Papal embassy to Ethiopia arrived in Antsokia (Antioch), and were recieved by the Emperor Libne Dingel. The Emperor was now of age, and was ruling in his own right without any regents. He was still a young man, and perhaps a bit rash. The Chronicle of Kings states that he had founded a new capital at a place named Bokan. With the protracted period of peace, the Emperor had engaged in war games to keep up the battle skills of his army. The Chronicler was apparently disapproving of the manuvers, as he states that the Emperor's war games had caused the walls of his citadel to crumble and kill many beggars who had come to beg alms. The Chronicler seems to have been implying that this may have contributed to the displeasure of the creator which led to the catastophe of the Gragn wars which were soon to follow. The Chronicle also accuses the Emperor of practicing the Pagan Oromo tradition of painting the forhead of his horse with the blood of a slaughtered sheep and engaging in Pagan ritual including the smoking of tobacco. The chronicle also states that the Emperor sent loads of incense to the monasteries of Debre Libanos and Tana Qirqos and begged the monks to pray for war, so that he could earn glory on the battle field like his ancestors. These acts are what the chronicler believed caused the chaos to come. Perhaps Libne Dingel had behaved poorly in the early years after assuming full power due to his youth. Now he was faced with the first group of Europeans to visit Africa in an official ambasadorial capacity. He had apparently expected the Portugese to bring him weaponry, but instead, most of them were priests. This displeased him emensely, and he told the delegation so. However things were quickly smoothed over. The delegation included a painter and a doctor. The painter was quickly put to work making religious Icons, and the doctor was also put to work. After a stay of 6 years, the Portugese (with the exception of the artist and the doctor) returned to Europe. They were accompanied by an Ethiopian priest, Tsega Ab, who was sent as an emmisarry to the King of Portugal. Dom Francois Alvarez was appointed as emmissary to the Pope. A gold crown was sent as a gift to the new King of Portugal, John II, and a gold cross was sent to the new Pope, Clement. The Emperor requested that artisans, builders and weapons be sent to him. They set off for Europe in 1526. They were expected to return as soon as possible. Ten years later, however, with no sign of a reply, the Emperor sent one of the Portugese who had remained behind, Juan Bermudez to Lisbon. This time the messenger brought dire news. The Christian Empire of Ethiopia was on the verge of being utterly distroyed at the hand of a Moslem prince, and the Heir of the House of Solomon was pleading for help. His Empire was being crushed by a Moslem leader who had swept into the Christan highlands and was systematically erasing every trace of the Christian faith that he could find. His name was Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim Al Ghazi, better known to Ethiopians as Mohammed Gragn.

    The origins of Gragn are obscure. Popular legend has a colorful story of his origins however. It is said that in those days, the Emirate of Adal and Harrar would send as annual tribute to the Emperor of Ethiopia, 700 white mules, 50 nuggets of gold, 30 carpets, 1300 shawls, 1000 bulls, 3000 goats and sheep. On the occasion of the delivery of this tribute one year, Gragn's mother, Shemshia, accompanied the caravan from Harrar to Debre Libanos. While she was there, she met a young monk who seduced her. The monk, who in his haste to return to the evening vespers service after this act, accidentaly put her muslim cap on his head instead of his monks cap. Upon entering the chapel wearing the cap of a moslem woman, all his fellow monks realized that he had slept with one of the moslem women from Harrar, and in anger they beat him with their prayer staffs. He was so badly injured that he died. Shemshia returned to Harrar and gave birth to Ahmed, who was ridiculed by his playmates for not having a father. These circumstances are said to be the reason why Gragn so hated the Christian highlanders, and monks in particular. Although this legend is rather colorful, it defers greatly with the account of his life preserved by the Harrari, Afar and Somalis. Their account states that Ahmed was the son of Ibrahim Al Ghazi, and that he grew up in the Port town of Zeila. His father is said to have given him a slave named Abdeli who remained his close retainer for his entire life. He entered the service of the Emir of Harrar and the Adal, Mahfuz, who would later be killed fighting Libne Dingel in Yifat. During his service under Mahfuz, his father Ibrahim was killed by the Sultan Abu Bakr of Zeila, earning the hatered of Ahmed Al Ghazi. He would lead a force against the Sultan and defeated him, and recieved the title of "Sheik of Zeila" from the Turks. Ahmed married the daughter of the Emir Mahfuz of Harrar and the Adal, Bati Dil Wenbera (whose name translates to Victory is her Throne). Upon the defeat and beheading of Emir Mahfuz in Yifat, Ahmed siezed the throne of the Wellasma dynasty in Harrar, and defeated all rivals. His wife, through whom he claimed the Emirate, urged him to avenge the death of her father. The Turks increased the amount of arms and aid they were sending to Harrar, and continued to encourage rebellion against the Emperor and the dominating Christians of Ethiopia. They provided him with the latest in weaponry in very large amounts. The Turks were naturally reacting to the growing alliance between the Portuguese and the Ethiopian Empire, and were determined to undermine it. Ahmed began to use the title of "Imam" and the Moslems of the Empire began to regard him as their great hope of taking the leading role. As time passed, armed with the latest weaponry, and led by a new ambitious ruler, the Adal moslems grew in confidence.

    In 1525, a relative of the Emperor named Fanuel, ruler of the district of Wag was ordered by the Emperor to march into Adal territory. He did so, looting the moslem territories along the way. When news reached Imam Ahmed, he gathered a force and defeated Fanuel, taking back the looted property that Fanuel had seized. The Harrari's were jubilant at their victory, and the Emperor and his court were horrified. Word spread of the left handed ruler of Harrar, "Ahmed Gragn" or "Mohammed Gragn" who had slaughtered the forces of the powerful Fanuel. It seems that a quick attempt was made to crush Gragn at this early stage by encouraging his rival and enemy, Sultan Abu Bakr of Zeila to attack him. This was the same Abu Bakr who had killed Gragn's father years earlier. The Sultan was intitially successful, driving Gragn from the city of Harrar itself, pushing him all the way out to Hobat. However, Gragn lauched a counter offensive and crushed the Sultan, becoming the undisputed leader of the Moslem lowlands. Therefore, in 1527, the Emperor decided to send his response. A large force led by Ras Degelehan, husband of the Emperor's sister and governor of Bale, marched and clashed with Gragns forces. The battle is said to have lasted for three days and was a bitter and bloody one. In the end however, the moslems were victorious, and the captured many great christian nobles, and a huge amount of weapons and loot. Again the following year the Emperor sent another important general, Wenag Jan, to fight Gragn. They fought a two day battle in Yifat with the moslems again emerging victorious. Wenag Jan was killed, and many christian soldiers are said to have defected to the victorious moslem side. Gragn then marched into the town of Antsokia, the district seat of Yifat, and burned down the Church of St. Mary. When news that the moslems had marched into the highlands and burned the Church of Our Lady in Antsokia, the Emperor rose to defend his faith and to firmly put the rebellious lowlanders down. The Emperor marched forward with his vast army.

    The Battle of Shinbera Kure
    The Emperor of Ethiopia marched from his capital at Bokan with 16 thousand horsemen, and 200,000 foot soldiers. So in late 1526 or early 1527, the forces of the King of Kings of Ethiopia met with with army of the Imam of Harrar and the Adal, Ahmend Ibn Al Ghazi at Shinbera Kure, in Shewa. It's exact location is not know today, but it is sometimes said to be near Mt. Ziquala in the vicinity of the modern towns of Debre Zeit and Modjo. After a vicious battle in which victory seemed to move back and forth between the two sides, towards the end of the day, the Imperial forces broke and began to flee. Although the Emperor tried to rally his troops, recieved re-enforcements, and tried to fortify the town of Antsokia and the mountain fortress at Aiyfer Amba, his forces had been crushed. All of south western Shewa had fallen to the Imam. The battle of Shinbera Kure had been a death knell for the old Empire of Ethiopia. Gragn, armed with the latest weaponry from the Turks found that the Emperor with his thousands of troops could not match him. His victory turned into a route of the Emperor's army and he began to sweep forward. At this point, the "Gojjam Negash" Wossen Seged, who had once served as a regent for the Emperor heard of the defeat of the Imperial army. He assembled his own Gojjame forces and marched into Shewa, and sent a message to Gragn saying simply " Do not mistake me as being like the nobles that you have fought thusfar, for I am Wossen Seged, so it would be better for you if you were to return to your lands." Gragn's reply was simple in it's scorn for this most feared of the Emperor's princes. Gragn ordered parties of his troops to spread out into Shewa and began to loot the entire land. The moslem troops marched through the country and burned down the town of Ankober. They marched on and set fire to every church and monastery they could find, beheading preists and nuns as they went. The great church of Astit Kidane Mehret (dedicated to Our Lady Covenant of Mercy), the Church of Misalle Mariam were sacked and distroyed. Most significantly, the Monastery of Debre Libanos, the leading seat of eclessiastical learning in the Ethiopian Church, was burned to the ground, it's manuscrips, it's clergy, it's relics distroyed. It is said that the commander of the troops that captured Debre Libanos was named Abu Bakr, and that he knew how deeply Ethiopian Christians revered Debre Libanos, and had tried to start negotiations with the monks on them handing over valuable vessles, robes gold and jewels in exchange for the monastery being spared. While he was engaged in the talks with the willing clergy, one of his soldiers, in violation of orders, entered the knave of the church and set it on fire. In the confusion that followed, the clergy were butchered by the army of Gragn. Shortly afterwards, in 1530, Ahmend Gragn led his forces agains the Gojjam Negash, Wossen Seged. Wossen Seged and his army were able to repel three attacks by the Moslems. On the fourth attack, Wossen Seged began a vicious hand to hand duel with Garrad Abid, a general in Gragn's army. Garrad wounded and disarmed the Gojjam Negash, and even though he knew he would recieve much glory for capturing the kinsman of the Emperor and a former Regent, he went ahead and killed Wossen Seged. When news of the death of Wossen Seged and the fall of Debre Libanos reached them, Imperial officers and soldiers began to defect to the moslems by the hundreds. The Emperor saw that all was futile. Together with his sons Gelawdewos (Claudius), Yaqob (Jacob), Fiqtor (Victor), Minas, his daughters Amete Giorgis, Sebene Giorgis, Welete Kidusan, Taodra (Theodora), his wife Empress Seble Wongel and the aged Dowager Empress Eleni, and the extended Imperial family, he fled Shewa. However, when the Imperial family reached the district of Menz, he left behind his son Yaqob to be protected by the loyal people there in hiding. This was done in the event that the family were captured and massacred, there would at least be one prince in hiding to re-establish the dynasty. Yaqob would father Fasil (ancestor of the elder Gondar line of the Imperial dynasty), Sigwe Qal ( ancestor of the Shewa line of the Imperial dynasty), Teskaro and a daughter Welete Mariam. He is thus the ancestor of all Ethiopian monarchs after the coronation of Susneyos the Catholic in the Gondar, Shewa and Tigrean lines.

    The Imperial family fled into Wollo and Amhara Sayint. Gragn marched into Wollo in pursuit of the Emperor and his family, but his forces were repulsed by Ras Degelhan and his forces. In a crafty scheme to capture the Emperor and his family, Gragn then instructed his troops to speak only in Amharic rather than Harrari and Arabic, and to tell the country fold that they were the men of Ras Degelhan, and forbade them from firing any guns so as to allay all suspicion. Thus disguised, the forces of Gragn were able to approach the mountain citadel that Libne Dingel and his family were hiding. However, a renegade moslem soldier set fire to a church and alerted the population of the arrival of Gragn. As panic set in, a furious Gragn leading a force of his best soldiers himself, rushed forward on the Emperor's tent to capture him personally. The Imperial guards however fought fiercely and Gragn was unable to approach the Imperial tent. Under cover of darkness and heavily disgused, the Emperor fled the scene. Gragn finally was able to overwhelm the guards and entered the tent to find the magnificent throne, and large quantities of precious metals and stones, but not the Heir of Solomon. Gragn realized, that although a large part of the Empire was now his, he would never be aknowledged as the ruler of Ethiopia as long as Libne Dingel lived. He gave the order to his soldiers to burn every church they could find, and personally oversaw the burning of the church of Mekane Silassie (House of the Trinity). He then went on to Atrons Mariam church and demanded that the monks give him the Arc, relics and treasure of the church which they refused. He had them massacred and burned down the church, and recoverd the treasure with the help of informants. When he went on to burn the Church of Bete Semayat (House of Heaven), many monks were so distraught at this, that they threw themselves into the flames and burned themselves to death along with their great church. He also distroyed the ancient monastery of Bete Negedguad (House of Thunder). In 1531, the now fugitive Emperor fled the overrun Amhara Sayint and crossed the Beshilo river into Beghemidir. Gragn ordered his General and In-law, Garrad Ahmishu, to pursue the Emperor. He could not find him. Instead, he found what was left of the Emperor's advance guard holed up in the monastery of Our Lady on Amba Gishen. The Gishen Mariam Monastery is reveared by Ethiopian Christians emensely as it is said that a fragment of the true cross is kept at the church. The Church and monastery crowns a formidible mountain with sheer sides that is virtually impregnable. When Garrad Ahmishu and his troops attempted to assault the mountain monastery, the Imperial soldiers would send down avalanches of rock and caused significant losses to the Moslems. More significantly, when the Christian population of the area heard that the Emperor's men were besieged on Gishen, there was a huge uprising in defence of the fragment of the True Cross, and peasants young and old, male and female rushed out to become martyrs of the Cross and protectors of the monastery of the Holy Virgin. Garrad was overwhelmed. His forces were beaten back from Gishen, and he himself was captured. Dragged before the Emperor in his place of hiding, Garrad was brutally executed as Libne Dingel watched. Gragn began to pursue Libne Dingel through the land. Trying to capture the King of Kings was not easy. Even though many local moslems, jews and even christians rallied to the vitorious Gragn, and tried to help him find the Emperor, Libne Dingel evaded him for months. Gragn entered the town of Axum and burned down St. Mary of Zion Cathedral and looted much of the treasure there, although the monks had already taken away and hidden the great relic which they claim to this day, is the Ark of the Covenant. Gragn's Vizier, Abdel Lenim fought a brutal battle with Tesfa Leul, ruler of Hamasein, and was defeated. Tesfa Leul ordered the beheading of the vizier, and the head was presented to the Emperor Libne Dingel. The triumph was short lived, for Gragn marched into Hamasein himself and crushed Tesfa Leul, and had him killed brutally. The Emperor and his family continued to flee from hiding place to hiding place pursued by Gragn, as the moslems laid waste to the ancient Ethiopian Empire and it's Orthodox Christian church. At the height of his power, Gragn decided that perhaps he could negotiate an end to the conflict with Libne Dingel. He sent an emissary to the Emperor saying "To battle against Gragn has become equivalent to doing battle against God, so be reasonable and send your daughter to be my wife, and let us be reconciled." The Emperor replied that "Rather than give my child to a non-Christian, to a man whose religion is not known, and achieve re-conciliation, I would rather fall dead at the hands of Almighty God, the punisher of sinners. As He is merciful forevermore,, he will one day weaken the strong and strengthen us the weak." He thus proudly refused the gesture, and further insulted Gragn by not even aknowledging him as a muslim, but refering to him as a pagan, using the term "a man whose religion is not known". The insult would have stung deeply.

    It was at this moment of utter desperation, that Juan Bermudez was dispatched to Lisbon to plead for help from the King of Portugal. It is at this critical point that the seeds of future conflict were planted. Bermudez claimed that Libne Dingel had agreed that if the Portuguese could free his people from the moslem yoke, then he would proclaim the Roman Catholic Church to be the established faith of his Empire, that the Ethiopian church would submit to the Pope, and that Libne Dingel had removed the Coptic Bishop of Ethiopia, Abune Markos from his see, and had enthroned Bermudez as Bishop of the Ethiopian church in his place. Bermudez presented these claims to both the king of Portugal and to the Pope. The so called "Settlement of Libne Dingel" would for years be the basis of claims by the Vatican of hegemony over the Ethiopian Church. If this act was indeed carried out by a desperate Emperor, it was very ill advised considering the real and significant doctrinal differences between the Church of Alexandria, which Ethiopia was a daughter of, and the Church of Rome. Many European historians have maintained it's authenticity, while Ethiopian sources reject it as an invention of the ambitious Bermudez. There are no surviving writen texts to prove that this Settlement did indeed take place. Never the less, rather than take the more conventional route to Portugal by trying to board a ship to India, Bermudez used the much more dangerous but less obvious route of Nubia, Egypt and Jerusalem to get to Rome with the Emperor's plea. He was captured by the Turks, who perhaps didn't realize that he was the ambassador of the Emperor of Ethiopia to the King of Portugal and to the Pope. He escaped and finally arrived at the Holy See in 1536. He was recieved in audience by Pope Paul III, and horrified the Pontiff with his eyewitness account of the burning of great churches and monasteries, of vast libraries of ancient texts put to the torch, of monks, nuns and deacons butchered and burned, of a fugitive Emperor and Imperial family who claimed decent from Solomon himself, hiding in caves and forests. He repeated his preformance for King John III of Portugal. King John was in the process of appointing a Esteban Da Gama as Vice-Roy of India, and ordered him now to send military aid to the Emperor of Ethiopia. Da Gama (Son of the famous navigator, Vasco Da Gama) prepared to send 400 troops armed with the best in Portuguese armor and firearms under the command of his brother Christophoro Da Gama to Ethiopia. It seemed that Christian Ethiopia was about to be saved from certain distruction, and Libne Dingel restored to the throne of his fathers. Fate had different ideas.

    Following the departure of Bermudez, the Emperor had left the Amhara lands of Beghemedir and Amhara Sayint, and entered Tigrai to fight on. During his campaing here, an epidemic and a famine broke out and decimated his forces. On Good Friday, of 1536, the forces of Gragn's general, Abu Bakr Kateem attacked the Emperor's traveling party and after a long and bloody battle the Emperor found that his loyal generals, Azaj Tekle Giorgis, Azaj Amha, Azaj Michael Derese, and his confessor from the Debre Bizen Monastery, Abba Tinsae Christos were all dead. The devastated Emperor carried bravely on. Shortly there after, he recieved even worse news. The Imperial family had split up to make it harder for Gragn to eliminate them all, and his sons Fiqtor (Victor) and Minas had gone to Shewa with an army and had battled the moslems at Dewaro. The elder Prince, Fiqtor had been killed, and the younger, Minas had been captured. In an act of his supreme contempt for the House of Solomon, Gragn enslaved Minas, and sent him as a personal slave and servant to Zebid Pasha, the Turkish ruler of Yemen. The Emperor was a devastated and broken man when he recieved this last awful news. One son dead, another captured and enslaved, it seems that Libne Dingel, Wenag Seged, "He to Whom the Lions Bow" could take no more. The broken hearted Emperor traveled to the impregnable natural fortress of the monastery of Debre Damo, and encamped near by on an equally formidable mountaintop. The local ruler, Bahir Negash Yishaq, was a maternal cousin of the Emperor and so perhaps he fealt secure against betrayal. While there, the Emperor fell ill and weakened, giving up hope of saving his people, and devastated by the fate of his sons. Finally in November of 1540, Libne Dingel, Wanag Seged, King of Kings of Ethiopia died at Debre Damo. Athough Gragn had been unable to successfully assault Debre Damo due to the sheer cliffs that surround it. The monks were so affraid of his wrath that they refused to allow the royal retainers to bury the Emperor at the monastery. His body was taken to Debaroa, the seat of the Bahir Negash, and after some considerable time spent by Bahir Negash Yishaq pleading with the monks, the remains were finally taken to Debre Damo and buried with pomp. Libne Dengil is regarded by Ethiopians as a tragic figure who started out his reign with able and compitent regents, who then started ruling on his own as a foolish and rash youth, but who matured to become a pious, holy, prayerful, yet brave and resolute monarch who fought valiantly to protect his church and his Empire. He was unlucky.

    eXTReMe Tracker