Sabla Wangel Hailu

Sabla Wangel Hailu (also written Seble Wongel Hailu, Seble Wengel Haylu or Seblewongel, d.1970) was an Ethiopian aristocrat and the second wife of the uncrowned Emperor of Ethiopia, Lij Iyasu.

Sabla Wangel Hailu
Seble Wongel Hailu.gif
Sabla Wangel Hailu (right) with her daughter
Empress-designate of Ethiopia
ReignApril 1910 – 1916
PredecessorRomane Werq (Aster) Mengesha
SuccessorFatuma Abbaa Jiffaar
Mummina Jootee
Died1969(1969-00-00) (aged 72–73)
SpouseLij Iyasu
IssueAlem Tsahai Iyasu
HouseHouse of Solomon
FatherHailu Tekle Haymanot
MotherWoyzero Askale Mariam
ReligionEthiopian Orthodox


Sabla Wangel Hailu is frequently confused with her 16th-century ancestor, Empress Sabla Wangel, whom the modern people of Gojjam also believe to have been connected to their region. To differentiate the two famous women, people refer to the earlier queen as Sabla Wangel 'Teleq' (the great) or 'Kedamawit' (the first), while the modern Sabla Wangel is referred to with the suffixes 'Hailu', derived from her father's name, 'Dagmawit' (the second), or 'Tinishi' (the little).[1]


Sabla Wangel Hailu was born the daughter of Hailu Tekle Haymanot, the ruler of Gojjam, and Askale Mariam Mengesha.[2]

Marriage to Lij IyasuEdit

At the age of 14, she was selected by the Emperor of Ethiopia, Menelik II, to marry his presumptive heir, Lij Iyasu. The marriage was an alliance between the throne and a powerful Christan family, as well as an attempt to reduce the political influence of Menelik's wife Itege Taytu, as Sabla Wangel had no links to Taytu's family.[3] She was the first of Ras Mengesha's descendents to marry a designated heir to the throne, the second being Medferiashwork Abebe.[4] As Lij Iyasu's first, brief marriage to Romane Werq was probably unconsummated, Sabla Wangel may have been his only official wife.[5]

Sabla Wangel had one daughter with Iyasu, named Alem Tsahai Iyasu. The pair divorced in 1916.[6]

Later lifeEdit

Sabla Wangel's paternal grandfather, Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam, had rebuilt a church at Mängəśtä Sämayat in 1887. In 1956, Sabla Wangel restored this church once more. The church's founding was associated with the 16th century queen of Lebna Dengel, also called Sabla Wangel.[1] A memorial text written on the modern Sabla Wangel's death in 1969 records:

She loved Our Lady Mary deeper in her heart and due to this, she built a wonderful church in her name called Mängəśtä Sämayat, the country of Säblä Wängel the first, the wife of Ləbnä Dəngəl, King of Ethiopia.

— Herman 2009, p.7


  • Father: Hailu Tekle Haymanot (1868–1950)
  • Mother: Woyzero Askale Mariam
  • Husbands and their respective issue
  1. Lij Iyasu (1895–1935, div. 1916)
    1. Alem Tsahai Iyasu, married Dejazmach Abebe Asfaw[7]
  2. Dejazmach Yigezu Behabte
  3. Dejazmach Mangasha Jimbirre



  • Augustyniak, Zuzanna (2014). "Lïj Iyasu's marriages as a reflection of his domestic policy". In Ficquet, Éloi; Smidt, Wolbert G. C. (eds.). The Life and times of Lïj Iyasu of Ethiopia: New Insights. Zurich: LIT Verlag. pp. 39–47.
  • Herman, Margaux (2009). "Sabla Wangêl,the queen of the Kingdom of Heaven". Addis Ababa University Institute of Ethiopian Studies XVII International Conference of Ethiopian Studies. Addis Ababa: HAL archives-ouvertes. pp. 2–30.
  • Sereke-Brhan, Heran (2005). "'Like Adding Water to Milk': Marriage and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Ethiopia". The International Journal of African Historical Studies. 28 (1): 49–77. JSTOR 40036463.
  • Sereke-Brhan, Heran (2002). Building bridges, drying bad blood: elite marriages, politics and ethnicity in 19th and 20th century Imperial Ethiopia (Doctoral). Michigan State University. Retrieved 10 June 2020.