Today In Fact, 7 September

One of the more curious characters in my family history was the Ethiopian Emperor, Susenyos.

His grandfather was Emperor Dawitt II and it seemed at first unlikely that he much claim to the throne but through the usual Ethiopian twists and turns of fate and feats of battle, Susenyos became king of kings early in Seventeenth century.

His favourite daughter was Weizero Malakatawit and she married a local dignitary, Yolyos. Ras Yolyos was given the northern mountain area of Simien as a fief and asked to quell the rebellious Ethiopian Jews who lived there.

The Portuguese had sent a mission and a troop of soldiers to Ethiopia and the Emperor converted to Roman Catholicism through the gentle work of father Pedro Paez. The gentle Father Paez died soon after Susenyos’s conversion and his successor was a rigid uncompromising, narrow-minded and intolerant Catholic cleric who also insisted on the forced conversion of all Ethiopians to the Emperor’s new faith. The staunchly Coptic Ethiopians rebelled. One of the rebels was Ras Yolyos but Malakatawit told her father of her husband’s betrayal and Susenyos managed to defeat the insurgents, killing his son-in-law.

Eventually though his own son, Fasilades argued convincingly that his father’s insistence on forced conversions to Catholicism was destroying Ethiopia and the Emperor relented, allowing free religious choice in his realm. Soon too, Susenyos abdicated in favour of Fasilades and died this day in 1632.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer ( )