Sarsa Dengel

Sarsa Dengel (Ge'ez: ሠርፀ ድንግል śärṣä dəngəl, Amharic: serṣe dingil "Sprout of the Virgin", 1550 – 4 October 1597) was nəgusä nägäst (throne name Malak Sagad I, Ge'ez: መልአክ ሰገድ mal'ak sagad, Amharic: mel'āk seged, "to whom the angel bows") (1563–1597) of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty.

Sarsa Dengel
Emperor of Ethiopia
Died(1597-10-04)4 October 1597
Ge'ezሠረጸ ድንግል śarṣa dingil
Amharic'śarṣa dingil
DynastySolomonic dynasty
MotherAdmas Mogasa


The son of Emperor Menas and Empress Admas Moas, Sarsa Dengel spent his reign in constant campaigning, repelling Ottoman advances inland from the Red Sea and Oromo advances from the south.[citation needed]

He was elected king by the Shewan commanders of the army and the Dowager Empress. Upon his coming of age Bahr negus Yeshaq, who had rebelled against his father, presented himself to Sarsa Dengel and made peace. However, Sarsa Dengel had to confront a number of other revolts: his cousin Hamalmal in 1563, another cousin Fasil two years later. Yeshaq once again revolted with support of the Ottoman Empire; Sarsa Dengel then marched to Tigray in 1576, where he defeated and killed in battle the Bahr Negash and his allies, Özdemir Pasha and Sultan Muhammed IV of Harar. When the Ottomans attempted to advance inland to capture Debarwa in 1588, Emperor Sarsa Dengel responded by sacking Arqiqo the following year.[citation needed]

Sarsa Dengel was the first emperor of Ethiopia to confront the encroachment of the Oromo and campaigning in the south, Sarsa Dengel defeated the Oromo in a battle near Lake Zway. He campaigned against them again in his 15th (1578) and 25th (1588) regnal years.[citation needed]

Sarsa Dengel campaigned against the Beta Israel in Semien province in 1580, and again in 1585. He also campaigned against the Agaw in 1581, and in 1585. He campaigned against the Gambo who dwelled in the lands west of the Chomen swamp in 1590. He made a punitive expedition against the Ottoman Turks in 1588, in response to their raids in the northern provinces. Sarsa Dengel campaigned in Ennarea twice, the first time in 1586, and the second time in 1597. On the final campaign against the Oromo, his Chronicle records,[1] a group of monks tried to dissuade him from this expedition; failing that, they warned him not to eat fish from a certain river he would pass. Despite their warning, when he passed by the river the monks warned him about, he ate fish taken from this river and grew sick and died.[2]

His body was interred in Medhane Alem church on Rema Island. When R.E. Cheesman visited the church in March 1933, he was shown a blue-and-white porcelain jar, which his entrails were brought from the place of his death.[3]


  1. ^ Partially translated by Richard K.P. Pankhurst in The Ethiopian Royal Chronicles. Addis Ababa: Oxford University Press, 1967.
  2. ^ G.W.B. Huntingford, Historical Geography of Ethiopia (London: British Academy, 1989), p.149.
  3. ^ R.E. Cheesman, "Lake Tana and Its Islands", Geographical Journal, 85 (1935), p. 498
Preceded by
Emperor of Ethiopia
Succeeded by