Tekle Haymanot II of Ethiopia

Tekle Haymanot II of Ethiopia

Tekle Haymanot II (Ge'ez ተክለ ሃይማኖት, "Plant of the faith"; 1754 – 7 September 1777) was "IPA|nəgusä nägäst" as Admas Sagad III (Ge'ez አድማስ ሰገድ "to whom the horizon bows"; 18 October 1769 – 13 April 1777) of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the son of Yohannes II by Woizero Sancheviyar, at the Imperial prison of Mount Wehni.

Tekle Haymanot became Emperor at the age of 15 when Yohannes II was killed by Ras Mikael Sehul; he was largely the figurehead of the aged warlord of Tigray. He lost the throne briefly in 1770 when Susenyos II was made Emperor by three rebel generals of Ras Mikael, but regained it when the Ras returned to the capital city of Gondar on 23 December of that year.

Upon entering the city, Ras Mikael immediately killed a troop of travelling actors who had performed a satire of him. A number of former rebels, who had switched sides, brought to him a number of prisoners, including the "Abuna" Abba Salama; after a show trial, Ras Mikael had them brutally executed. In the days that followed, Ras Mikael wrought his vengeance on all who had opposed him; as the Scottish explorer James Bruce (who was in Ethiopia from September 1769 to November 1771) wrote:

:Fifty-seven people died publicly by the hand of the executioner in the course of a few days; many disappeared, and were either murdered privately, or sent to prisons, no one knew where. The bodies of those killed by the sword were hewn to pieces and scattered about the streets, being denied burial. I was miserable, and almost driven to despair, at seeing my hunting dogs, twice let loose by the carelessness of my servants, bringing into the courtyard the head and arms of killed men … the quantity of carrion, and the stench of it, brought down the hyaenas in hundreds from the neighbouring mountains; and, as few people in Gondar go out after dark, they enjoyed the streets to themselves, and seemed ready to dispute the possession of the city with the inhabitants. [Cited in Ref Ethiopia|WallisBudge-1928|pages=p. 473 Bruce's account is an important eye-witness record for Tekle Haymanot's reign.]

The next year saw Ras Mikael Sehul defeated in the Three battles of Sarbakusa against his adversaries near Teda in May, which forced the Ras to retreat to Gondar, where he surrendered to Wand Bewossen on 4 June, 1771. Wand Bewossen imprisoned Ras Mikael for a year, then sent him back to Tigray to live out his last years as governor of that province. As a result, Ras Gusho replaced Mikael as the power behind the throne. When Tekle Haymanot, who had been taken captive with Ras Mikael at Dagola in 1771, attempted to exert his independence, Wand Bewossan forced him to abdicate. Weary of the continuing power struggles with his regional governors he repudiated the throne, 13 April 1777. He became a monk and lived as a hermit in Waldebba, where he died a few months later. [Ref Ethiopia|WeldBlundell-1922|pages= p. 330]

Despite this political turmoil, art and scholarship flourished in Gondar. Pankhurst credits the construction of seven churches built in or near that city as being built during his reign. The most important was Ba'eta Maryam, built in 1775, which originally had a large bronze cross on its roof that towered over all of Gondar; the others include: Qeddus Qirqos (dedicated to St. Cyriacus), Qeddus Petros we Pawlos (Ss. Peter and Paul), Farta Lideta ("the Nativity of Mary") at Farta, Yohannes Walda Nagwadgwad (St. John the Evangelist), Abageale Tekle Haymanot (St. Tekle Haymanot), and Debre Tibab ("the Mount of Knowledge"). [Ref Ethiopia|Pankhurst-1982|pages=178f]

References


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