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Emperor Yagbe'u Seyon (Amharic: ይግባ ጽዮን), also Igba Zion[1] or Yagbea-Sion (throne name Salomon), was an Emperor (nəgusä nägäst) (18 June 1285 – 1294) of the Ethiopian Empire and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He succeeded his father Yekuno Amlak.

Yagbe'u Seyon
Emperor of Ethiopia
PredecessorYekuno Amlak
SuccessorSenfa Ared IV
HouseSolomonic dynasty
ReligionEthiopian Orthodox


Yagbe'u Seyon served as co-ruler with his father Yekuno Amlak for the last few years of his reign, which eased his succession. A Memorandum in the Four Gospels of Iyasus Mo'a of a gift of vestments and utensils to Istifanos Monastery in Lake Hayq states these gifts were in the name of both Yekuno Amlak and his son Yagbe'u Seyon.[2] He sought to improve the relations of his kingdom with his Muslim neighbors; however, like his father, he was unsuccessful in convincing the powers in Egypt to ordain an abuna or metropolitan for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. A letter from him to the Sultan of Egypt, dated Ramadhan A.H. 689 (towards the end of AD 1289) is mentioned in Etienne Marc Quatremère's Mémoires géographiques et historiques sur l'Égypte… sur quelques contrées voisines (Paris, 1811), where he protests the Sultan's treatment of his Christian subjects, stating that he was a protector of his own Muslim subjects.[3]

King Yagbea-Sion (left) and his troops battling the Sultan of Adal and his men. Le livre des Merveilles, 15th century.

Marco Polo mentions that one of the "princes" of Ethiopia planned in 1288 to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, following the practice of a number of his subjects; he was dissuaded from this project, but sent his "bishop" in his place. On his return leg, this bishop was detained by the "Sultan of Aden", who attempted to convert the ecclesiastic to Islam; failing to do so, the sultan then had the bishop circumcised before releasing him. The "prince" then marched upon Aden, and despite support from two other Muslim allies, the sultan was defeated and his capital captured.[4] A number of historians, including Trimingham[5] and Pankhurst,[6] identify the ruler with Yagbe'u Seyon, correct Polo's reference to Adal not the Arabian seaport, and name Zeila as the sultan's capital.

Another incident during his reign was the revolt of Yi'qebene, who attempted to take the Imperial throne from Yagbe'u Seyon. This threat is recorded in Yagbe'u's own words in a note he wrote in the Four Gospels of Iyasus Mo'a:

I, Yagba-Siyon, whose regnal name is Solomon, adorned this book of the Four Gospels and gave it to (the church of St.) Stephen. After that, there came Yi' qäbänä and he wanted to take away my throne; but I defeated him and destroyed him with the power of Christ, my God.[7]

Historians are divided over the situation that his successors faced following Yagbe'u Seyon's death. Paul B. Henze repeats the tradition that Yagbe'u Seyon could not decide which of his sons should inherit his kingdom, and instructed that each would rule in turn for a year.[8] Taddesse Tamrat, on the other hand, records that his reign was followed by dynastic confusion, during which each of his sons held the throne.[9]


  1. ^ James Bruce's Chronology (read at Gutemberg).
  2. ^ Tadesse Tamrat, "The Abbots of Dabra Hayq, 1248-1535," Journal of Ethiopian Studies, 8 (1970), p. 91
  3. ^ Cited in Henry Yule, The Travels Of Marco Polo (London, 1871), in his notes to Book 3, Chapter 35.
  4. ^ Marco Polo, Travels, book 3, chapter 35.
  5. ^ J. Spencer Trimingham, Islam in Ethiopia (Oxford: Geoffrey Cumberlege for the University Press, 1952), pp. 69f.
  6. ^ Richard P.K. Pankhurst, History of Ethiopian Towns (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1982), p. 55.
  7. ^ Tadesse Tamrat, "Abbots of Dabra Hayq," p. 92
  8. ^ Paul B. Henze, Layers of Time, A History of Ethiopia (New York: Palgrave, 2000), p. 60.
  9. ^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia (1270 - 1527) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 72
Preceded by
Yekuno Amlak
Emperor of Ethiopia
Succeeded by
Senfa Ared IV