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Ethiopia

Iyasus the Great coincided with a ‘Golden Age’ in Ethiopic architecture, literature and art. 1706: Emperor Iyasus I died. There followed a period of instability, dispute about the succession and encroachment from Muslims. This era of instability became known as the Zemene Mesafent (‘reign of the princes’). late 18th century: Although power still theoretically rested with the Imperial throne, it was effectively exercised by the military authority of the provincial nobles of the highlands and other regions: the Tigraians, the Oromo and the Amhara. 11 February 1855: Ras Kassa Hailu was crowned Emperor Tewodros (Theodore) II. He spent much of his reign consolidating his power and controlling the Shoa kingdom. Despite his reputation for ruthlessness, slavery was abolished during his reign. 1860s: British officials visited the court of Emperor Tewodros II. The Emperor imprisoned them, and the United Kingdom then launched an expeditionary force to rescue them. The British received assistance from the Governor of Tigrai, Dejaz Kassa Aba Bezbez of Mercha, a noble dynasty of Tigrai. 13 April 1868: As the British forces approached, Tewodoros committed suicide. Tekle Giorgis, King of Lasta, succeeded him as Emperor, but he was a weak ruler and would be able to hold onto the throne only for a few unstable years. 11 July 1871: At the Battle of Adua Dejaz Kassa’s British-trained forces defeated and imprisoned Emperor Giorgis. 21 January 1872: Dejaz Kassa assumed the throne as Emperor Yohannes IV. His coronation took place at Axum, emphasizing the return of the Imperial crown to Tigrai. 1875: Emperor Yohannes IV defeated the Egyptians at the Battle of Gundet; the following year he repelled an Egyptian invasion at Gura. February 1885: The United Kingdom, seeking to bring as many reinforcements into the area as necessary in their bid to relieve the siege of Khartoum in Sudan, recruited Italy in that cause. The Italians duly landed and captured the port city of Massawa, which is now in Eritrea. Emperor Yohannes IV saw the Italian occupation as an indication that the British had betrayed him. zv179 1886: The Dervishes, troops loyal to the Sudanese military leader Mohammed Ahmed, known as the Mahdi (‘Guided One’—an Islamic prophet whose coming is held to be a precursor of the end of time), invaded Ethiopia. January 1887: Emperor Yohannes IV’s army defeated the Dervishes at the Battle of Qallabat and expelled them from Ethiopia. 1888: The Dervishes again invaded Ethiopia. 9 March 1889: At the Battle of Matama, the Ethiopian forces again defeated the Dervishes; however, Emperor Yohannes IV was fatally wounded in battle. On his deathbed he named his nephew, Ras Mangasha, as his successor.