A Brief History
On July 20, 1779, Tekle Giyorgis I (meaning “The Plant of Saint George”) became Emperor of Ethiopia, a member of the Solomonic dynasty of Ethiopia. Between ascending to the throne on this day, and June of 1800, he would 5 more times be named Emperor, having lost his status each time previously for a total of 6 stints as Emperor, probably a World Record for times any person became Emperor!
As you probably guessed already from the name of the dynasty the Ethiopian Emperors supposedly descended from, it is the same Solomon one finds in the Bible, the son of King David of the Israelites, the one that slew Goliath. Ethiopians claim their emperors descended directly from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, the first of these Solomonic Emperors being Menelik I, who reigned in the 10th Century BC. According to Ethiopian tradition, the Queen of Sheba was Makeda, an Ethiopian woman. (Note: Absolutely no evidence from an archaeological or historical standpoint exists for the existence of David, Solomon, the Queen of Sheba or Menelik I.)
The first reign of Tekle Giyorgis I lasted from his coronation in 1779 until possibly 1784, when war lords were warring over control of Ethiopia. April of 1788 saw Tekle Giyorgis I regain his throne, in spite of 2 pretenders contesting his right to the throne. By July of 1789, Tekle Giyorgis I once again lost his throne, in a chaotic year that saw 5 different Emperors in Ethiopia. Not to be dismayed or discouraged, Tekle Giyorgis I seized his throne back in 1794 for a third reign, this time lasting only until April of 1795. By December of 1795, guess who was back? Yes, it was Tekle Giyorgis I, once again Emperor but only until April of 1796. The fifth go around for this indomitable monarch was from January of 1798 and lasted until May of 1799, at least this time for over a year. The sixth and final term as Emperor for Tekle Giyorgis I ran from March of 1800 until June of 1800 when he was once again deposed.
Tekle Giyorgis I died in 1817 at the age of 66, reportedly of natural causes, and he had never stopped trying to reclaim his throne. His last bid for his old job came at the hands of Ras Wolde Selassie, Ras of the Tigray province between 1788 and 1816 and Regent of the Ethiopian Empire between 1797 and 1800, who Tekle Giyorgis I had hoped would restore him to the throne, but Ras Wolde Selassie refused to help the former (x6) Emperor and there would be no seventh term.
If any of our readers know of a monarch that had 6 separate terms on the throne of a country, kingdom or empire, please let us know. Meanwhile, we assume Tekle Giyorgis I is the record holder! (Note: The last Ethiopian Emperor was Amha Selassie who reigned from 1974 to 1975, the son of the more famous Haile Selassie, known also as Ras Tafari.)
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For more information, please see…
Abir, Mordechai. Ethiopia and the Red Sea: The Rise and Decline of the Solomonic Dynasty and Muslim European Rivalry in the Region. Routledge, 1980.
Tiruneh, Gizachew. THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SOLOMONIC DYNASTY OF ETHIOPIA. TSEHAI, 2015.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Sailko, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.