Iyasu I (Ge'ez: ኢያሱ ፩; 1654 – 13 October 1706), throne name Adyam Sagad (Ge'ez: አድያም ሰገድ), also known as Iyasu the Great, was Emperor of Ethiopia from 19 July 1682 until his death in 1706, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty.
|Emperor of Ethiopia|
|Reign||19 July 1682 –13 October 1706|
|Coronation||19 July 1682|
|Successor||Tekle Haymanot I|
|Died||13 October 1706(aged 51–52)|
|Dynasty||House of Solomon|
Described as the last “great” Gondarine monarch, Iyasu temporarily halted the trend of decline through his brilliance as a military leader, reestablishing control over rebellious vassals and conquering areas to the south of his domain. In addition to his military and political exploits, Iyasu was a patron of architecture, arts and literature. He also attempted to settle doctrinal differences within Ethiopia’s Coptic Church, but without long-lasting success.
Iyasu was deposed by his own son Tekle Haymanot I in 1706 and assassinated by the relatives of one of his concubines. A series of ineffectual emperors followed and imperial power declined until the advent of Tewodros II in the middle of the nineteenth century.
Of Amhara descent, Iyasu I was the son of Emperor Yohannes I by his wife Sabla Wangel.
Iyasu's siblings were brothers Yostos, Tewoflos and Gelawdewos, and sisters Amlakawit and Eleni.
Rise to the throneEdit
After the death of his eldest brother Yostos in June 1676, Iyasu inherited the governorship over Semien. In 1677–1678, he accompanied his father on a military campaign against the region of Lasta. 
Iyasu fell out with his father in 1681, and according to the chronicles, the prince and his followers crossed the Blue Nile and found refuge in pagan controlled areas. At a place called Bete Walato, in Oromo occupied territory, Iyasu met a large number of his father's former subjects, the Kordidas, an largely Amhara group who wished to free themselves from Oromo rule and return to Christianity, the religion of their ancestors. The group made Iyasu promise them that if and when he came to the throne he would help them achieve this ambition. Not long after this Iyasu reconciled with his father.
On 15th of July[note 1] 1682, the ailing Emperor Yohannes I made Iyasu his successor. The dignitaries witnessing Yohannes I final proclamation were Kanafero and Za-Wald (both Azzaz[note 2]), basha Lesana Krestos, blattengeta Akala Krestos, dejazmach's Anestasyos and Delba Iyasus, and fitawrari Fesseha Krestos among others.
Yohannes I died on 19 July 1682 and Iyasu ascended the throne, with the serag masare[note 3] Malkea Krestos putting the crown on his head. The Tsehafi Taezaz's Hawarya Krestos and Walda Haymanot sent sealed letters to various countries to announce the death of Yohannes I, and that the reign of his son Iyasu I has begun. 
His reign is noteworthy for the attention he devoted to administration, holding a large number of councils to settle theological and ecclesiastical matters (the first in 1684, in the public square of Gondar), matters of state, and to proclaim laws.
In the late 17th century, Iyasu I established the Lewa; the first separate armed force with police functions. Its duties were to keep public order in the towns and on the roads.
In 1698, after reports of extortion suffered by merchants, Iyasu I reasserted his control over the growing lawlessness in the Tigray province. In November, Iyasu I summoned the chiefs of Tigray, and interrogated them on the taxes then exacted at the customs posts (also known as the Kella system)[note 4]. This led to decrease of taxes, and tax exemptions for small merchants, which encouraged trade. The monarch declared that anyone attempting to tax them would have his property confiscated, and be punishable by death. Iyasu I ordered the chiefs, and the location of all Tigray Kella, be announced by herald, and recorded in the royal chronicle.
Military campaigns and conflictsEdit
Iyasu I strengthen his control over his southern domains through his alliance with two influential Amhara warlords, Demetros of Merhabete and Negasi of Menz. Having accepted the suzerainty of their northern monarch, Demetros was granted the old imperial title of Sahafe Lam while Negasi was honoured in Gondar with pomp and circumstance receiving gifts from the Emperor.
It was during his reign that individual Oromo first found service in the Imperial court. In 1704, Iyasu I settled various Oromo groups who accepted Amhara culture, adopted the Amharic language, and converted to Christianity such as the Gawe on the north bank of the Abbay as a bulwark against attacks by other hostile Oromos living south of the Abbay.
Several ethnic groups suffering from persecution and raids in Oromo occupied territories, from the Kordidas Amharas in 1681 to the Talatas in 1695, aligned themselves with Iyasu's government, in hope of securing succour from the monarch. In 1689, Iyasu's Armenian trade agent, Khodja Murad told the Dutch in Batavia that the king of Hadiya had ‘‘submitted of his own free will to the rule of Abyssinia.’’ after suffering defeats and pressures by Oromos. The chief of Hadiya ‘‘together with his entire people’’ had ‘‘embraced the Christian religion’’, and married ‘‘a certain princess from the dynasty of the Abyssinian emperors.’’
Iyasu I also had a separate squadron of soldiers from the Beta Israel and units of Wellag[note 5] soldiers under his command.
In the second year of his reign, he confronted an invasion of the Wollo Oromo into Amhara, defeating them at Melka Shimfa.
Campaign against the Wechales and WolloEdit
In 1684, Iyasu despatched scouts to areas under the control of Oromos. Scouts returning from Wollo Province informed Iyasu. The Emperor, after consulting his advisers, decided to proceed to Wollo. Before doing so, however, he sent his commander, Ras Anestasyos, to confront another nearby Oromo group, the Wechales, who lived west of Wollo. Iyasu then carried out his main assault on the Oromos living in Wollo, who were so terrified by the fate of the Wechales, and so afraid of passing through the latter's burning fields, that they were unable to offer any resistance. The Emperor pillaged their area, killed many of their soldiers, and seized many women, and large herds of cattle.
After Qegnazmach Wale of Damot and Tabdan the Hermit proclaimed Yeshaq emperor in his fourth year (1685), Iyasu quickly suppressed this revolt, and captured Yeshaq, then waited a year before marching beyond southern Gojjam in a punitive expedition against the Agaws who had supported the rebels.
In 1688, he led a campaign in Dera, passing through Woremo against a rebellion in the Tulama country. The leader of the rebellion, a native of Debre Werq was captured after a pitched battle in a narrow defile, and condemned by a tribunal of ecclesiastics.
Expedition against Gisa, Gorsi and WambaryaEdit
Iyasu carried out his first expedition against the Shankella in 1688, when, advancing by way of Metekel he attacked the ‘‘Shankella town’’ of Gisa. He set fire to it, killed many of its inhabitants, and led away not a few slaves, besides numerous cattle. He proceeded to Gorsi, another ‘‘Shankella town’’, where he also captured many male and female slaves.
He advanced next to what the chronicle refers to as the ‘‘rebel country’’ of Wambarya, which had defied three previous rulers, Susenyos, Fasilides and Yohannes I. Killing two of the enemy, one with a rifle and the other with a spear, Iyasu reportedly wrought further destruction, killing many of his adversaries, and taking tremendous loot. He then crossed the Dura river, where the Shankella, on seeing the size of his forces and the number of his fire-arms, fled, and ‘‘disappeared like smoke’’.
In 1689, Iyasu delivered on the promise he had made to the Kordidas, while still a prince years ago. The Kordidas were suffering under Oromo rule, and begged the then prince to assist their return to the Christian fold once he became Emperor. This happened when he marched south to Dara, where he took many of the Tulama Oromos prisoner. He then freed the Kordidas, no less than hunderd thousand of whom, accompanied by their women and children, are reported to have entered his camp singing and dancing with joy. This figure, if correct, was truly immense in view of the country's small population at the time.
In 1692, the king undertook an expedition in the Mareb river valley, against the Dubani, or Nara, in present-day Gash Barka. At the sound of the musket, the tribesmen were terrified and fled.
In 1704, emperor Iyasu I campaigned south of Abay in the kingdom of Ennarea, where he was confronted with a civil war between two throne claimants.
His Royal Chronicle recounts how when the Ottoman Naib of Massawa attempted to levy a tax on Iyasu's goods that had landed at Massawa, he responded with a blockade of that island city until the Naib relented.
Solomon Getahun observes that "unlike his immediate predecessors, Iyasu's tenure was noted for endeavors to establish diplomatic ties with Christian monarchies like Louis XIV of France and Ethiopian delegates had been sent to foreign countries." In 1689, an embassy, led by an Armenian named Murad was sent to Batavia, Dutch East Indies. One of the benefits of these efforts was that Emperor Iyasu received a bell from Johannes Camphuys, governor of the Dutch East Indies, which was then donated to Debre Berhan Selassie Church in Gondar.
This also led to the visit by a French physician, Charles Jacques Poncet, who traveled to the Empire to treat Iyasu and one of his sons. Poncet arrived at Gondar 21 July 1699 and stayed until September 1700. Poncet published an account of his visit to Paris in 1704, which included his personal impression of Iyasu the Great:
- Although' he is not above one and forty years old, yet he has already a numerous issue. He has eight princes and three princesses. The Emperor has great qualities – sagacious genius, a sweet and affable humor, and the stature of a hero. He is the most handsome man I have seen in Aethiopia. He is a lover of curious arts and sciences, but his chief passion is for war. He is brave and undaunted in battles, and always at the head of his troops. He has an extraordinary love for justice, which he administers to his subjects with great exactness; but whereas he is averse to blood, 'tis not without reluctance that he condemns a criminal [to death]. Such eminent qualities make him equally fear'd and belov'd by his subjects, who respect him even to adoration.
In 1705, while he was campaigning in Ennarea against the Oromo. Iyasu learned that his favorite concubine, Kedeste Kristos was suffering from a terrible illness, he abandoned his campaign and returned to Gojjam where he found her already dead. Stricken with grief, he retired to an island in Lake Tana.
In 1706, supported by the scheming concubine Malakotawit, some of the officials argued, that he had abdicated, and crowned his son Tekle Haymanot Emperor. According to some accounts, this was not Iyasu's intent, and he marched from his hermitage in Lake Tana towards to Gondar to protest this; in any case, during this time he fell sick and was assassinated at Tekle Haymanot's orders by his maternal uncle's, Dermen and Pawlos.
Iyasu's death caused much distress in the capital, especially amongst the priests of Debre Berhan Selassie, who openly displayed his gifts to them, and mourned their dead monarch for a month. Bruce writes that Iyasu was buried on Mitraha Island, where he was shown Iyasu's body interred amongst "the bodies of all his ancestors".
Once his brother Tewoflos became Emperor, he initiated Iyasu's canonization.
Consenquences for the KingdomEdit
The political history of Gondar after the assassination of Iyasu I is that of a fairly steady decline. The power of the monarchy was weakened by frequent coups d'etat: no fewer than twenty-five emperors were deposed in the century and a half between Iyasu I and Tewodros II.
Spouse and concubinesEdit
In September 1683, Iyasu married Walatta Seyon, a native from the northern region of Hamasien, located in modern day Eritrea. They had a son and a daughter. Walatta Seyon died in May 1693. She was Iyasu's only wife by marriage.
Iyasu’s numerous offspring (including four of his sons who became emperors) were children of his concubines. One of them, Malakotawit was one of the main co-conspirators behind Iyasu's abdication and later assassination. Emperor Tewoflos ordered a prosecution of all those who participated in the conspiracy against Iyasu, his brother. On 13 October 1708, Malakotawit and her brothers (Dermen and Pawlos) were executed.
Iyasu's favorite concubine was Qeddesta Krestos;[note 6] with whom he had five children. Qeddesta was a native from Bahrkanta, a settlement near the Lake Tana shore. The cause of her death (either killed or succumbed to illness) in 1705 is disputed by the sources. It was however a turning point in Iyasu's life, and a precursor to events that led to his abdication and then murder.
Another concubine mentioned by the sources is Maryamawit[note 7] the mother of Emperor Bakaffa.
● Fasilades was Iyasu's firstborn son by his official wife, Walatta Seyon. The prince was Iyasu's initial heir and was given the namesake of his great-grandfather Emperor Fasilides. The prince died prematurely in 1700.
● Walatta Rufael was his daughter by his wife, Walatta Seyon.
● Emperor Tekle Haymanot I was Iyasu's son by his concubine; Malakotawit, who later encouraged him to seize power from his father in 1706. Tekle Haymanot brief reign ended in the spring of 1708, when he was killed during a hunting expedition.
● Emperor Dawit III was his son by Qeddesta Krestos. Iyasu seemed to have later favored his son Dawit and sometime between 1698-1699 had him leave the royal prison of Wehni, a mountain fortress where all the candidate heirs to the throne were kept. From that time on Dawit accompanied him. Dawit reigned from 1716 to 1721 as Emperor.
● Emperor Yohannes II was his son by Qeddesta Krestos, Yohannes briefly assumed the throne in 1769.
● Yonathan was his third son by Qeddesta Krestos.
● Emperor Bakaffa was the son of Maryamawit, Bakaffa succeeded his half brother Dawit and reigned from 1721 to 1730.
● Yostos was Iyasu's seventh son, mother is unknown. His descendant Iyasu IV would briefly ascend the throne in early 1830's, albeit as a figure head.
● Walatta Selassie was Iyasu's second daughter, mother is unknown.
● Walatta Israel was Iyasu's third daughter, mother is unknown. Her son was Gerazmach Iyasu, the second husband of Empress Mentewab.
- ^ Source say 15th of Hamle which is 15th of July, see Ethiopian calendar for more information.
- ^ Azzaz is a common term for civil administrator. During the 17th century Gondarine era, the term was a common one for officials whose duties were to supervise the execution of daily affairs in the various departments of the royal court. All such chiefs were called Azzaz, with some addition to this title to indicate their special function.
- ^ Serag masare was one of the highest official court titles. During the Gondarine era, the serag masare was a palace official whose was responsible for activities including the planning, hosting, and presiding of ceremonial events for visiting chiefs of regions and heads of monasteries and parishes, as well as coordinating logistics for the visits. He arranged itineraries for foreign dignitaries visiting Ethiopia and accompanied the emperor on all official travel. During the coronation, the serag masare took part in the coronation rituals by offering oil to the metropolitan and to invest the new emperor with the crown and royal vestments.
- ^ A Kella is a customs post, checkpoint or toll station. The Kella system was instrumental in collecting taxes in feudal Ethiopia.
- ^ Wellag referred to half caste offsprings of highland Ethiopians (or Abyssinians) with the Shankella of the western lowlands. Units of Wellag soldiers are first mentioned in 1689 when they served under king Iyasu I on a military campaign.
- ^ Qeddesta Krestos is also spelled in various sources as Kedeste Krestos
- ^ Maryamawit is also called in various sources as Mamit
- ^ a b c Budge, Ernest Alfred Wallis (2014). A History of Ethiopia: Volume II (Routledge Revivals): Nubia and Abyssinia. Routledge. pp. 408–424. ISBN 9781317648970.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Uhlig, Siegbert; Bausi, Alessandro, eds. (2003). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: He-N. Wiesbaden. pp. 249–250. ISBN 9783447056076. OCLC 921905105.
- ^ a b Pankhurst, Richard (2001). The Ethiopians: A History. Wiley. pp. 110–111, 113-116 and 119. ISBN 9780631224938.
- ^ Levine, Donald Nathan (1972). Wax & gold: tradition and innovation in Ethiopian culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 23. ISBN 0226475638. OCLC 1036909730.
- ^ a b c d e f Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh (1980). "The Imperial House of Ethiopia". Burke's royal families of the world : 2. vol. London: Burke's Peerage. p. 46. ISBN 9780850110296. OCLC 1015115240.
- ^ a b c d Pankhurst, Richard (1997). The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century. The Red Sea Press. pp. 309–312. ISBN 9780932415196.
- ^ a b Alāf Sagad, Zenahu la negus negast (1955). Annales Iohannis I, Iyāsu I, Bakāffā. Louvain L. Durbecq. p. 60. OCLC 1244212657.
Le 15 de hamlë, le roi se reposa des afflictions de ce monde passager, a la pointe du jour, un dimanche — evangéliste Marc — lian du monde 7:75. Ce meme jour les fonctionnaires qui etaient presents la-bas, a savoir le blattsengeta Akala Krestos, le da-Baz mas Anestasyos, 1 azai Za-Wald, l'azäz Kanäfero, le graz- mag Tequre; le fitawräri Fesseha Krestos (B Giyorgis), le dagazmaäë Dilba Iyasus, le basa Lesäna Krestos, avec les aza et les liq de droite et de gauche, proclamèrent roi son fils Iyäsu, comme porte l'usage des dispositions de la loi du règne.[On the 15th of Hamle, the king rested from the afflictions of this passing world, at daybreak, on a Sunday — Evangelist Mark — lian du monde 7:75. That same day the officials who were present there, namely the blattsengeta Akala Krestos, the da-Baz mas Anestasyos, 1 azai Za-Wald, the azäz Kanäfero, the graz-mag Tequre; the fitawräri Fesseha Krestos (B: Giyorgis), the dagazmaäë Dilba Iyasus, the basa Lesäna Krestos, with the aza and the liq of right and left, proclaimed his son Iyäsu king, as carries the use of the provisions of the law of the reign.]
- ^ Uhlig, Siegbert; Bausi, Alessandro; Yimam, Baye; Crummey, Donald; Goldenberg, Gideon, eds. (2003). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: A-C. Azzaz. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. p. 422. ISBN 9783447047463. OCLC 722894586.
- ^ Uhlig, Siegbert; Bausi, Alessandro; Yimam, Baye (2010). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: O-X. Serag masare. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 630–631. ISBN 978-3-447-06246-6.
- ^ Alāf Sagad, Zenahu la negus negast (1955). Annales Iohannis I, Iyāsu I, Bakāffā. Louvain L. Durbecq. OCLC 1244212657. pp. 60–61:
Le seräg masare Malke'a Krestos mit la couronne sur sa tête; lanai Hawarya Krestos et l'azai Walda Haymanot, qui étaient sahafe te'zaz, envoyèrent dans les divers pays des lettres scellées pour annoncer que son père Ÿohannes élait mort, et que le fils de celui- ci régnait à sa place. li n'y eut pas alors de trouble ni de confusion dans la capitale ou dans le pays; mais la tranquillité, le calme et la paix régnèrent parlout, comme auparavant.[The seräg masare Malke'a Krestos put the crown on his head; lanai Hawarya Krestos and the azai Walda Haymanot, who were sahafe te'zaz, sent sealed letters to the various countries to announce that his father Ÿohannes was dead, and that his son reigned in his place. There was then no trouble or confusion in the capital or in the country; but tranquility, calm and peace reigned everywhere, as before.]
- ^ Uhlig, Siegbert; Bausi, Alessandro; Yimam, Baye (2010). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: O-X. Police. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 165. ISBN 978-3-447-06246-6.
- ^ a b Uhlig, Siegbert; Bausi, Alessandro, eds. (2003). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: He-N. Kella. Wiesbaden. pp. 379–380. ISBN 9783447056076. OCLC 921905105.
- ^ Huntingford, G.W.B (2017). Some Records of Ethiopia, 1593-1646: Being Extracts from The History of High Ethiopia or Abassia by Manoel de Almeida Together with Bahrey's History of the Galla. Taylor & Francis. p. 135. ISBN 9781317052715.
- ^ Uhlig, Siegbert; Bausi, Alessandro; Yimam, Baye (2010). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: O-X. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 460. ISBN 978-3-447-06246-6.
- ^ Marcus, Harold G (1995). "The First Twenty-Two Years: 1844-1866". The Life and Times of Menelik II : Ethiopia, 1844-1913. Lawrenceville: Red Sea Press. p. 8. ISBN 9781569020104. OCLC 31754650.
- ^ Uhlig, Siegbert; Bausi, Alessandro; Yimam, Baye, eds. (2003). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: D-Ha. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. p. 79. ISBN 9783447052382.
- ^ Uhlig, Siegbert; Bausi, Alessandro; Yimam, Baye, eds. (2003). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: D-Ha. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. p. 715. ISBN 9783447052382.
- ^ Pankhurst, Richard (1997). The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century. The Red Sea Press. pp. 333–334. ISBN 9780932415196.
- ^ a b Uhlig, Siegbert; Bausi, Alessandro; Yimam, Baye (2010). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: O-X. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 1179. ISBN 978-3-447-06246-6.
- ^ Uhlig, Siegbert; Bausi, Alessandro; Yimam, Baye, eds. (2003). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: D-Ha. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. p. 843. ISBN 9783447052382.
- ^ Bruce, Travels, vol. 3 pp. 454f
- ^ Bruce, Travels, vol. 3 pp. 456–460
- ^ E. A. Wallis Budge, A History of Ethiopia: Volume II : Nubia and Abyssinia (London, (Routledge Revivals), 1949), p. 411. https://books.google.com/books?id=umMtBAAAQBAJ&dq=history%20of%20ethiopia&pg=PA411
- ^ a b Pankhurst, Richard (1997). The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century. The Red Sea Press. pp. 357–360. ISBN 9780932415196.
- ^ E. A. Wallis Budge, A History of Ethiopia: Volume II : Nubia and Abyssinia (London, (Routledge Revivals), 1949), pp. 414. https://books.google.com/books?id=umMtBAAAQBAJ&dq=history%20of%20ethiopia&pg=PA414
- ^ Hassen Mohammed, The Oromo of Ethiopia: A History 1570-1860, 1994
- ^ Translated in part by Richard K. P. Pankhurst in The Ethiopian Royal Chronicles. Addis Ababa: Oxford University Press, 1967.
- ^ Solomon Getahun, History of the City of Gondar (Trenton: Red Sea Press, 2005), p. 7
- ^ Richard Pankhurst, Armenian Involvement in Ethiopian-Asian Trade 16th to 18th Centuries, p. 119-147, https://books.openedition.org/editionsmsh/11382
- ^ William Foster, editor, The Red Sea and Adjacent Countries (London, Hakluyt Society, 1949), pp. 130f. The translation is an anonymous work printed in 1709; glosses appearing in square brackets are by Foster.
- ^ ИЯСУ I By Anon Container: www.pravenc.ru URL: https://www.pravenc.ru/text/1237987.html
- ^ a b c Ofosu-Appiah, L.H (1977). Dictionary of African biography. Encyclopaedia africana. New York: Reference Publications. pp. 89–90. ISBN 9780917256011.
- ^ a b Uhlig, Siegbert; Bausi, Alessandro, eds. (2003). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: He-N. Wiesbaden. pp. 690–691. ISBN 9783447056076. OCLC 921905105.
- ^ Richard P.K. Pankhurst, History of Ethiopian Towns (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1982), pp. 142f
- ^ Bruce, Travels, vol. 3 pp. 528f
- ^ Levine, Donald Nathan (1972). Wax & gold: tradition and innovation in Ethiopian culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 24. ISBN 0226475638. OCLC 1036909730.
- ^ Uhlig, Siegbert; Bausi, Alessandro; Yimam, Baye (2010). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: O-X. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 283. ISBN 978-3-447-06246-6.