TDISH: An Empress Takes the Throne

On September 27, 1916, Emperor Iyasu V of Ethiopia was deposed by a palace coup.  His advisors were concerned about Iyasu’s close ties to the Empire’s Muslim minority. In his place, his aunt, Zewditu, took the throne.  She was the first internationally recognized African female head of state.  She modeled her reign after that of Queen Victoria and intended to use her new-found powers to help strengthen the Christian Church in Ethiopia.  Zewditu’s cousin,Tafari Mekonnen (the future Haile selassie_on_time_magazine_cover_1930Selassie) was named Prime Minister.    Mekonnen was a reformer, but Zewditu was quite conservative, worried about giving up too much of the monarchy’s power.  The Prime Minister, however, pushed through reforms such as outlawing slavery and joining the League of Nations.  The Empress focused much of her time to strengthening the Ethiopian Orthodox Church that had been so instrumental in her elevation to the throne.  In 1930, Zewditu’s husband led a revolt against the modernizing Mekonnen in the hopes of consolidating power in the person of the Empress.  Unfortunately, for the ruling family, Zewditu’s husband was defeated and killed at the Battle of Anchem against Mekonnen on March 31, 1930.  Zewditu died under mysterious circumstances two days later as Mekonnen took the throne to rule until 1974 as Haile Selassie I.

Featured Image: “Empress Zewditu.” Public Domain.
Image 1: “Haile Selassie I in November 1930.” By Cover credit: International – http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,1101301103,00.html, Public Domain.
Source: Tesfu, Julianna. “Empress Zewditu (1876-1930).” BlackPast.org.
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