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 –,16641,1101301103,00.html, Public Domain.
Source: Tesfu, Julianna. “Empress Zewditu (1876-1930).”

TDISH: The Shortest War Ever

From about 9:00 AM to 9:40 AM on Thursday, August 27, 1896 the shortest international war in history took place as several ships of the British Royal Navy bombarded the tiny state of Kalid_bin_Barghash.jpgZanzibar one day after sudden death of its sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini.  Thuwaini was succeeded under somewhat dubious circumstances by his cousin Khalid bin Barghash.  The new Sultan Khalid’s rise to power enraged the British who had signed an unequal treaty with the small sultanate giving the British consul the authority to approve any new sultan that came to the throne.  The British authorities would veto Sutlan Khalid’s reign in a very emphatic way.

In the morning on the day after Sultan Hamad’s death British naval forces under Rear Admiral Harry Rawson issued an ultimatum for Khalid to stand down and when he received no response from the palace proceeded to bombard the defenses of HMS_Thrush.jpgZanzibar along with the royal palace.  Sultan Khalid’s brief reign ended as he sought refuge in the German consulate.  The British then put Hamud bin Muhammad on the throne since he was more amicable towards British interests.  The Anglo-Zanzibar War ended up with about 500 causalities on the side of the sultanate and with one British sailor suffering a minor injury.

Featured Image. “Damage to the Palace of Zanzibar.” By Richard Dorsey Mohun (1865-1915) – from zh wp 23:13 2005. Captmjc (Talk) . . 574×425 (94376), Public Domain.
Image 1: “Sultan Khalid bin Barghash.” By Unknown – (تاريخ الحكام والسلالات الحاكمة) arabic source, Public Domain.
Image 2: “HMS Thrush.” By William Frederick Mitchell –, Public Domain.