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Wedem Arad (Amharic: ወደም አራድ) (died 1314) was Emperor (nəgusä nägäst) (1299–1314) of the Ethiopian Empire and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the brother of Yagbe'u Seyon, and seized power from his nephews.

Wedem Arad
Emperor of Ethiopia
PredecessorSaba Asgad
SuccessorAmda Seyon I
HouseSolomonic dynasty
ReligionEthiopian Orthodox


Only one military action is recorded for this ruler. In the first year of his reign, one Sheikh Abu-Abdallah had gathered a large following, and proclaimed a jihad against Wedem Arad's realm. Wedem Arad sent a number of agents into Abu-Abdallah's camp, who were able to persuade most of his followers to defect. Without sufficient manpower, Abu-Abdallah was forced to agree to a treaty with Wedem Arad, in return for providing "them with all their needs until they are completely satisfied". Taddesse Tamrat suggests this involved giving them land to settle on, and notes that on the edge of the territory of Shewa there is a locality known as "Abdalla", which might be that settlement.[1]

In 1306, Wedem Arad sent an embassy of 30 envoys to Europe seeking the "king of the Spains" (probably Castile and Aragon).[2] Perhaps hearing of the Christians' successes against Al-Andalus in Iberia, Wedem Arad sought to negotiate a mutual defense pact with them against their common Muslim enemies. Whether or not the envoys reached their destination is unknown, but they did visit Rome and got as far as Avignon. Delayed on their way home, they spent some time in Genoa, where they were interviewed by the geographer Giovanni da Carignano. Giovanni's account of their country based on the interviews is lost, but was summarized by Jacobus Philippus Foresti da Bergamo in his Supplementum Chronicarum; this is the first text that associates the legendary figure of Prester John with Ethiopia.[3]

G.W.B. Huntingford speculates that the settlement of Tegulet first became the capital of Ethiopia during Wedem Arad's reign.[4]


  1. ^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 131. ISBN 0-19-821671-8.
  2. ^ Salvadore, Matteo. "The African Prester John and the Birth of Ethiopian-European Relations (Introduction)". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Silverberg, Robert The Realm of Prester John (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1972), pp. 164–165. ISBN 0-8214-1138-1.
  4. ^ G.W.B. Huntingford, The Historical Geography of Ethiopia (London: The British Academy, 1989), p. 78
Preceded by
Saba Asgad
Emperor of Ethiopia
Succeeded by
Amda Seyon I