Solomonic dynasty

 

The Solomonic dynasty, also known as the House of Solomon, is the former ruling Imperial House of the Ethiopian Empire. The dynasty's members claim patrilineal descent from the biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Tradition asserts that the Queen gave birth to Menelik I after her biblically described visit to Solomon in Jerusalem.[1] In 1270, the Zagwe dynasty of Ethiopia was overthrown by Yekuno Amlak, who claimed descent from Solomon and reinitiated the Solomonic era of Ethiopia. The dynasty would last until 1974, ended by a coup d'etat and deposition of the emperor Haile Selassie.
During much of the dynasty's existence, its effective realm was the northwestern quadrant of present-day Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Highlands. The Empire expanded and contracted over the centuries, sometimes incorporating parts of modern-day Sudan and South Sudan, and coastal areas of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Southern and eastern regions were permanently incorporated during the last two centuries, some by Shewan kings and some by Emperors Menelek II and Haile Selassie I; although much of the central and southern regions were previously incorporated into the empire under Amda Seyon I and Zara Yaqob, peripheral areas were lost after the invasion of Ahmad Gragn. In the modern era, the Imperial dynasty has several cadet branches. The elder Gondarine Amhara line, starting with Susenyos in 1606 (although often credited to his son Fasilides who established his capital at Gondar) ended its rule with the fall of the largely powerless Yohannes III in 1855 and the coming to power of Tewodros II, whose later claims of Solomonic descent were never widely accepted. Following Tewodros, Wagshum Gobeze claimed the throne linking himself to the last independent Gondare emperors through his mother, Aychesh Tedla, a descendant of Iyasu I, and reigned as emperor of Ethiopia with the title Tekle Giorgis II for some years, highly investing in the renovation of churches and monuments in Gondar. Being also an heir to the Zagwe throne, his reign was meant to be a unification of both dynasties in the enthronement of a king bearing both lineages. Tekle Giorgis II fought a battle with the Tigrean Claimant Kassai Mercha (Yohannes IV), and the latter, who had retrieved superior weaponry and armament from the British in return for his assistance in the defeat of Tewodros II, would be able to defeat Tekle Giorgis II's army, imprisoning and killing him. The Tigrean line came to power briefly with the enthronement of Yohannes IV in 1872, and although this line did not persist on the Imperial throne after the Emperor was killed in battle with the Mahdists in 1889, the heirs of this cadet branch ruled Tigre until the revolution of 1974 toppled the Ethiopian monarchy.
The oldest junior cadet branch of the Solomonic Dynasty is the Gojjam branch which traces its ancestry to Woizero Romanework, daughter of Na'od and sister of Dawit II. Its most prominent recent members include Tekle Haimanot King of Gojjam, his son Leul Ras Hailu Tekle Haimanot, who was the most senior Ethiopian noble who submitted to the Italian occupation of 19361941; and his nephew Ras Hailu Belew who was a noted figure in the resistance against the Italian occupation.
The Imperial Coat of arms was adopted by Haile Selassie I, and is currently held by his direct heir in the male line, Prince Zera Yacob, and by the Crown Council of Ethiopia. The arms are composed of an Imperial Throne flanked by two angels, one holding a sword and a pair of scales, the other holding the Imperial scepter. The throne is often shown with a Christian cross, and a Star of David, (representing the Christian and Jewish traditions). It is surmounted by a red mantle with the Imperial Crown, and before the throne is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The Lion of Judah was the central emblem of the Ethiopian tri-color flag during the reign of the monarchy, and now serves as the chief symbol of the Ethiopian monarchist movement. The Lion of Judah has also been adopted as the leading religious symbol for the Rastafari movement (a Western, African diaspora movement) that regards Emperor Haile Selassie as divine.