Emperor Tewodros Analysis Essay

Tayo Shonubi IB1 History 28/9/2012 Emperor Tewodros of Ethiopia Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia’s rise to power began in 1845 with a meticulous rule which to his oppositions favor, ended in dismal failure and led him to commit suicide in 1858, after thirteen years of power. Tewodros was the heir-apparent to emperor Tewodros I, his father’s throne, but after his father’s death, he became the adopted son of his half-brother. He grew to be an accomplished soldier and leader and was then allotted governor of Qwara by the nominal then king of kings, Ras Ali who had ruled since 1832.

Tewodros was the leader responsible for reviving the concept of king of kings, and after reforms to his army, he made a determined and driven submission for king of kings. After Tewodros made the realization of his absolute power, he carried out expeditions against Gojjam province where he defeated Biru Goshu in the Ethiopian battle of Taquosha not long after, in 1855, he defeated the province of Tigre was crowned emperor Tewodros II, by Abu Salama, the head of the church of Ethiopia.

Tewodros made one of his most grave and major expeditions of his rule in 1856 when he battled against the Wallo Galla and thoroughly thrashed the Muslim community, shamelessly and filled with pride, he moved on to occupy the province of Shewa where he captured an eleven year old boy known was heir-apparent to the throne of Sahle Mariam, the boy later became known as emperor Manelik. Tewodros responded very favorably to European approaches, ‘expecting not their protection and imperialism but assistance in getting technology and arms’.

One of his earliest European contacts was Britain. Through his association with the British sprouted a friendship with two Englishmen, Yohannes Bell and Walter Plowdon who were part of the protestant German missionaries. On his journey to eastern Ethiopia, Plowdon was killed, upon hearing this news, Tewodros chose to ‘vent’ by organizing an expedition that unfortunately and ironically killed his other good friend, Yohannes Bell. To take over from Plowdon was a man by the names of Duncan Cameron, Tewodros and Cameron did not get along as much as he did with Plowdon.

There was a lack of initiative and enthusiasm coming from Cameron’s end. In 1862, seeing as he had an established relationship with the British, Tewodros wrote to Queen Victoria, the then ruler of Great Britain, concerning the setup of an Ethiopian embassy in Britain. Tewodros never received a reply from Her Majesty, and it was assumed that the letter was either overlooked intentionally or failed to reach her. As does every leader, Tewodros came across challenges during his reign.

The nobility i. e. the upper class were previously not required to pay taxes, however after Tewodros came into the power, they were required to, this change in the system set the aristocracy against him. Furious about this new obligation, they held riots between 1855 and 1861, these rebellions were brutally suppressed by his soldiers who looted and massacred their captives. One may try to control another in order for them to convert/conform to their beliefs such that there is less rebellion.

Although Tewodros was a believer of the Christian faith, he confiscated church property and land and abolished privileges of the clergy, for his personal gain and in advantage of his new found glory and power. The Ethiopian church leaders began to preach against Tewodros making him lose the support of the majority of Ethiopians. Tewodros was a proud man with a lust for power, one of the largest mistakes he made during his power was his amendment to the law of the church. Ethiopia was a predominantly Christian state, and before Tewodros’ rule, any church within the nation was not required to pay tax.

After he came into power, Tewodros felt as though there was not enough tax and he wanted more money coming to him, with this in mind, he lifted this law and made it so that churches were required to pay tax and through this, he was indeed getting more money, but simultaneously getting less support. All these events, occurrences and people in one way or another contributed to the rise and fall of Tewodros. However his ways of self-praise, egotistic ways and pride led him to his own defeat.

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