Ethiopian Treasures

Lij Iyasu (1913 -1916)

Soon after Emperor Menelik's death, in 1913, Lij Iyasu took the throne. He was the grandson and designated heir of Menelik II. Iyasu then spent much of his time to improve relations with the Muslim population, as several of his wives were Muslims, rather than leading the modernisation of the country. Iyasu's attempts to improve relationships with the Muslim population and his colourful lifestyle dismayed and annoyed the nobility of Shewa and the clergy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church who feared that he might turn Ethiopia to a Muslim state.

Iyasu ruled for about three years but he was never officially crowned and recognised as emperor so he was known as Lij Iyasu. This was because of his endless and special relationship with the Muslims in the east of the country.

In 1916, Iyasu was overthrown and he fled to the Afar region. He spent much of his time in the Afar lowlands, and then in Tigray and parts of Wello who were hostile to the central government and sympathetic to him. The nobility of Shewa and the clergy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church officially crowned Zewditu, the daughter of Menelik II, as empress of Ethiopia.

After 5 years on the run, Iyasu was captured and imprisoned in Fiche, North Shewa. For details, visit The Plight of Iyasu and Ras Hailu of Gojjam.


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Historical Attractions