TIGRAY (Princedom)

Title: Ras (later HH Leul Ras)
State: Ethiopia (North Western) Population:
Present Head of House: HH Leul Ras MANGASHA SEYUM, Hereditary Prince of Tigray and oresent Head of Family of the Tigrean branch of the Solomonic dynasty since 1960.
HH Leul Ras Mangasha Seyumborn 1927, Governor of Tembien 1940/1942, Governor of Hager Selam (now Ambo Awraja), Shoa 1948/1952, Governor-General of Arusi 1952/1955, Governor-General of Sidamo 1955/1957, Minister of Public Works and Communication (with Road and Air Transport) 1957/1960, Governor-General of Tigray 1960/1974, educated at Church School and at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, he succeeded his father as Hereditary Prince and Governor of Tigray with the title of Leul Ras; while in Hager Selam, he developed the city’s electricity supply, built the first secondary school, health clinics, bridges and roads, he also built a road to Wenchi Lake, developing public recreational space by modernizing the natural hot spring water baths in Ambo; as Governor of Arusi, he initiated the provision of potable water to the city of Assela; modernized the area around the natural hot springs to increase tourism; organized distribution of “Marion sheep” to improve the stock and breed; and introduced modern wool weaving equipment; as Governor of Sidamo, he educated coffee farmers, enabled coffee merchants from Addis Ababa to set up processing plants in Sidamo, he also resolved the Borena border conflict with Kenya, as Minister of Public Works and Communication, he built Bole road and Bole International Airport, he played a major role in the establishment of the Ethiopian Tourism Organization (ETO), he renegotiated the Franco-Ethiopian rail contract; he negotiated civil air transport agreements on behalf of Ethiopian Airlines with the German Government, Liberia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Guinea; he served as Chairman of Ethiopian Airlines; his accomplishments subsequently led to the first jet maintenance facility to be opened in Africa as well as the launch of the first civilian Pilot Training School and Hostess Training Institute for women; he built an oil refinery in Asseb; he also built a bridge connecting Begemedir and Gojam at the Blue Nile River close to Lake Tana and also oversaw the development of the city of Mekelle; as Governor General of Tigray hea formed the Tigray Development Organization (TIDAL) to coordinate self-support projects to develop Tigray; he established the first Newspaper printed in Tigray; he also renovated the ruins of Dejazmach Abraha's Castle in Mekelle, turning it into a four star hotel; he developed Axum as a tourist destination, built an airport, built the Governor's residence, preserved Emperor Yohannes' and Ras Mengesha Yohannes' palaces in Mekelle and established a Center for Recording Manuscripts; he established different cottage industries, most notably, incense and cotton weaving; he oversaw the study of geothermal power and the potential of potash mining to supply electrical power; collectively, he built over 3,500 kms of feeder roads throughout Ethiopia; numerous reforestation, terracing (erosion control) programs were undertaken under his watch as well; he built and enhanced airports in Axum and Mekelle and built a gravity driven aqueduct for Adwa from Mai Shana; he also expanded the Mai Shum water reservoir in Axum to provide potable water to the people; due to the revolutionary uprising in 1974, he was forced into exile, but was involved in a leadership role in the resistance movement and continued humanitarian efforts; in recognition of his long life service to his people and exemplary leadership qualities, he has received several Quardons and awards, including - the Royal Victorian Order of the Knight Grand Cross (GCVO) from Queen Elizabeth II in 1965, Menelik's Quardon from Emperor Haile Selassie I, Grand Cross of the Royal Victoria Order from Queen Elizabeth II, Legion d'Honor Order from the French Government and similar awards from the Government of Japan and Yugoslavia, he has also received a fellowship and honorary Master's Degree from Oxford University in the U.K., at the present time, he is regarded as the senior surviving nobleman of the Ethiopian Empire, married 1stly, 1946, Woizero Abonesh Demisse (possibly a daughter of Lij Demissie Mashasha), married 2ndly, 1949, HH Princess Aida Desta, born 8th April 1927, daughter of Ras Desta Damtew, Governor of Jimma, and his wife, HIH Princess Tenagne Worq, and has issue.
  • Woizerit Rebka Mangasha (by Woizero Abonesh)
  • Lij Sehul Mikael Mangasha, born 1950.
  • Lij Yohannes Mangasha, born 22nd July 1951.
  • Lij Istefanos Mangasha, born 1953.
  • Lij Jaleye Mangasha, born 1955.
  • Lij Seyum Mangasha, born 1958, married Immabet Jill, and has issue, one daughter.
    • Woizerit Zena Seyum
  • Woizerit Menen Mangasha, born 1961.
Predecessors and Short History: During the Middle Ages, Tigray was governed or ruled by the "Tigray Mekonnen", with the "Bahr negus"
ruling much of present day Eritrea and the Shire district in Western Tigray, with the boundary being the Mareb River. In the aftermath of the  Bahr negus Yeshaq rebellion against the central power, the position of Bahr negus lost much of its influence and authority, with the Tigray Mekonnen correspondingly becoming more powerful, though by the middle of the 18th century both positions had become titles in name only. This is the period when Ras Mikael Sehul came into power, and in effect ruled the Empire as well, though in the name of the Emperor. However in 1872, the son of the Shum of Tembien became Emperor, and Tigray became the centre of power till 1889, when the ruler of Shoa became Emperor. Rulers and Governors were....
  • Ras Faris 'the Great', married and had issue.
    • generations
      • Abeto Hezeqeyas Wolde Hawaryot, married Woizero Ishate Mariam Yakub, daughter of Azzaz Yakub, and had issue.
        • Abeto (#1) Blatta Mikael Hezeqeyas [Sahle/Sehul Mikael Isqias/Esqyas], later Dejazmatch and Ras Mikael Sehul (qv)
        • generation
          • Woizero Waletta Selassie, married Emperor Yohannes II, 41st Emperor of Ethiopia.
        • generation
          • Dejazmatch Gabre Maskal (qv)
  • Ras Bitwoded MIKAEL SEHUL ESQYAS, Governor of Tigre 1748/1771 and 1772/1779, Enderase of the Empire [22.1.1768] - [177x], born 1691 (#2) in Na'eder district, he first enters history as having played a part in some of the difficulties that were experienced by the  delegation sent to Cairo to obtain a new Abuna for the empire in 1745; he was raised to the title of Ras in 1755, at the same time as his marriage to the daughter of Empress Mentewab, later he rebelled against his overlord, Ras Anda Haymanot of Hamasien, and killed him in 1759, he returned to Adwa and from there he was able to extract fees and duties from travelling merchants and traders, which enabled him to recruit an army of 8,000 men and arm them with muskets; he was raised to the title of Ras Bitwoded and made Enderase of the Empire on 22nd January 1768, a year later in January 1769, he ordered the Emperor Iyoas I to be strangled, and the next two Emperors met a similair fate, the people of Gondar rebelled and the armies of Fasil, Goshu of Amhara and Wand Bewossen of Begember combined to defeat him in the Three battles of Sarbakusa on 4th June 1771, he was imprisoned for a year and afterwards he was sent back to Tigray where he was reinstated as Governor of that province; married 1stly, Woizero Walatta Gabr'el, died after 1766 at Adwa, married 2ndly, 1755, Woizero Aster Iyasu, daughter of Gerazmatch Melmal Iyasu, and his partner, Woizero Berhan Mogassa Walatta Giyorgis [aka Empress Mentewab, as wife of Emperor Bakaffa of Ethiopia], he also 'married' other wives, and had issue, as well as further issue. He died 1775 or 23rd June 1779.
    • Dejazmatch Wolde Hawaryat Mikael Sehul, married 1755, Woizero Altash Iyasu, daughter of Gerazmatch Melmal Iyasu, and his partner, Woizero Berhan Mogassa Walatta Giyorgis [aka Empress Mentewab, as wife of Emperor Bakaffa of Ethiopia]. He died 1760.
    • Dejazmatch Wolde Samuel Mikael Sehul (qv)
    • generation
      • Ras Wolde Gabreal, died about April 1788.
    • Woizero Hiruta Mikael Sehul (by Woizero Berhan), married HIM Emperor Takle Giyorgis I, 44th Emperor of Ethiopia, and had issue. She died after 1830.
    • Woizero Gelilawit Mikael Sehul, married Dejazmatch Qale Krestos, and had issue.
      • Woizero Workwoha Qale [Worq Weha Qale], married Dejazmatch Wolde Kidan Wolde Mikael, and had issue.
        • Shum Mercha / Mirtcha Wolde Kidan, married Woizero Silas Dimtsu, died 1867, daughter of Dejazmatch Dimtsu Debbab (see below), and his wife, Woizero Tabotu Agawe Waldu, and had issue. He died about 1863
          • Emperor Yohannis IV, Emperor of Ethiopia (also see below)
          • Dejazmatch Maru Mirtcha, married and had issue.
            • Dejazmatch Hadgu Maru
          • Dejazmatch Hagos Mirtcha
          • Dejazmatch Gugsa Mirtcha, married and had issue.
            • Dejazmatch Haile Mariam Gugsa, died 1889.
          • Empress Dinqinesh Mirtcha, married 1stly, Ras Bitwoded Gabre Kidan, married 2ndly, H.I.M. Emperor Tekle Giyorgis II, Emperor of Ethiopia, and had issue.
  • ...... 1771/1772
  • Dejazmatch WOLDE SAMUEL MIKAEL SEHUL, Governor of Tigray 1779/-
  • Dejazmatch WOLDE GABRIEL, Governor of Tigray -/1788, he attempted to crush Walde Selassie when the latter was in Wogera, but after besieging him for 20 days, he came off the worse, and made peace by proclaiming Walde Selassie as Balgadda, or governor of the salt-making districts. He died about April 1788 in battle against Ras Aligaz of Yejju.
  • Dejazmatch GABRE MASKAL, Governor of Tigray and Enderta 1788/1790, he fought against Walde Selassie, and was defeated and imprisoned,
  • Ras Bitwoded WALDE SELASSIE, Governor of Tigray and Enderta 1790/1816, born about 1745 (#4), second son of Dejazmatch Kiflu Iyasu, Hereditary Chief of Enderta, and his wife, Woizero Walatta Seyon, after years of fighting, he became overlord of Tigray-Mereb Milash, afterwards he sent an army against Gabre Maskal, he defeated and imprisoned him and took over as Governor of Tigray, he then marched on Gondar, but the two Emperors granted him the titles of Ras and Bitwoded in 1790; he made his seat of government in Chalacot, but maintained his capital at Antalo in Enderta Province, where he built four palaces; he played a role in the politics of the Imperial Throne, although at first he cooperated with Ras Aligaz, the Imperial Regent, but after he became more powerful, he came to challenge Ras Aligaz for that office and the first years of the 19th century saw a fierce struggle between the two warlords until he was the victor, thereafter he effectively ruled the country as Enderase until his death; married (a), Woizero Mentewab Hezeqeyas, died of smallpox in 1812, daughter of HIM Emperor Hezeqeyas, Emperor of Ethiopia, married (b), 11th July 1812 at Fellegdarro, Woizero Sehin Takla Giyorgis, born 1799, daughter of HIM Emperor Takla Giyorgis I, Emperor of Ethiopia. He died 28th May 1816 in Hintalo, Enderta.
  • Dejazmatch WOLDE RUFAEL DEBBAB, Governor of Tigray 1816/1818, he succeeded his paternal uncle as ruler of Tigray, under the regency of Dejazmatch Gabre Mikael of Tembien; married Woizero Aster Gugsa, daughter of Ras Gugsa Mersu, Ras of Begemder and Enderase (regent) of the Emperor of Ethiopia.
  • Dejazmatch SABAGADIS WALDU, Governor of Tigray and Semien 1818/1831, born 1770, son of Shum Agawe Waldu Kumenit, married and had issue. He died on or about 14th February 1831 after the battle of Debre Abbay.
    • Woizero Dinqinesh Sabagadis, married 1828, Dejazmatch Wube Haile Maryam, and had issue (see below).
    • Shum Agawe Aregawi Sabagadis, married and had issue.
      • generations
        • Dejazmatch Kassa Sebhat fl.1937
  • Dejazmatch WUBE HAILE MARYAM, Governor of Tigray and Semien 1831/1855, born 1799, a powerful noble from a family that was reportedly descended from Emperor Fasilides, and who was virtual ruler of all of northern Ethiopia during the 1840's; he had long harbored ambitions of becoming Emperor himself, but he was defeated, chained and imprisoned for life along with his sons; married (amongst others), (a), Woizero Dinqinesh Sabagadis, daughter of Dejazmatch Sabagadis Waldu, Governor of Tigray (see above), married (b), Woizero Lakiyaye, died after 1868, and had issue (see Semien). He died 1867 in Magdala.
    • Woizero Hiruta Wube, married Ras Ali II Alula, Ras of Begamder and Chief of the Oromo in Yejju, and had issue.
    • Lij Kassa Wube
    • Lij Gwangul Wube
    • Woizero Turunash Wube [H.I.M. Empress Turu Worq], married in February 1860, HIM Emperor Tewodros II, 58th Emperor of Ethiopia, and had issue, one son. She died 15th May 1868.
  • Ras ARAYA DIMTSU, Governor of Tigray 1855/-
  • Ras BARIAU PAWLOS, Governor of Tigray 1863/1867, married Woizero Altash Tewodoros (married 1stly, 1864 (div. 1865), H.I.M. Emperor Menelik II, 61st Emperor of Ethiopia), daughter of HIM Emperor Tewodros II, 58th Emperor of Ethiopia.
  • ..........
  • Leul ARAYA SELASSIE YOHANNES, Governor of Tigray 188x/1888, Governor of Wollo 1883/1886, Governor of Begamder 1886/1888, born 1867, married, 26th September 1884 at Borumeda, Woizerit Zawditu Menelik (later H.I.M. Empress Zawditu), and had issue by a lady from the Werehimano, Wollo, Oromo or a noble lady from Agame region. He died of smallpox on 10th June 1888 at Makalle, and was buried there.
    • Leul Ras Gugsa Araya Selassie (qv)
  • Ras MANGASHA YOHANNES, Governor of Western Tigray 1889/1906, born 1865 (or 1868), he was raised as the nephew of Emperor Yohannes IV, however the Emperor announced on his deathbed that Mangasha was his "natural" son and designated heir. It is still disputed among Tigrean royal descendants whether Mangasha Yohannes was indeed an actual son of Yohannes IV, or a nephew that Yohannes adopted on his deathbed in order to name him as his successor as his legitimate son Ras Araya Selassie Yohannes had died previously. He submitted to Emperor Menelik II on 2nd June 1894, and was declared pardoned, two years later he fought on the side of Emperor Menelik II against the Italian invaders at the Battle of Adowa. In 1899, he rebelled against the Emperor when he was refused the title and status of Negus of Zion, he was captured and placed under house arrest at the old palace at Ankober in Shoa, married (amongst others), March 1896, Woizero Kafay Wale, daughter of Ras Wale Betul, and had issue (see Ethiopia). He died 29th December 1906 in Ankober.
    • Woizero Romana Worq Mangasha (by Woizero Kafay ), born 1902, married (as his 1st wife), 16th May 1909 (div. 1910) in Addis Ababa, HIM Emperor Iyasu V, Emperor of Ethiopia.
    • Leul Ras Seyum Mangasha (qv)
    • Woizerit Almaz Mangasha
    • Woizero Berhane Mangasha, married Dejazmatch Haile Selassie Aba Gebel, and had issue.
      • Lij Yohannes Haile Selassie, he married and had issue.
      • Woizero Kefay Haile Selassie, she married General Nega Haile Selassie, and had issue.
      • Woizero Gebaynesh Haile Selassie, married General Merid Mangasha, born 1912, died 1966, and had issue.
    • Woizerit Aster Mangasha
  • Ras WALE BETUL, Governor of Tigray 1900/1903 and Governor of Begamder (qv)
  • HH Ras MAKONNEN WALDE MIKAEL, Governor of Tigray 1903/1906 and Governor of Harar (qv)
  • HH Leul Ras Sir SEYUM MANGASHA K.B.E., Governor of Western Tigray 1910/1935 and 1941/1947 and Hereditary Prince of Tigray 1947/1960, born 21st June 1887, he accompanied Ras Tafari Makonnen on his European tour in 1924, during which he was awarded the Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE); from October 1935 to February 1936, during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, he commanded the Army of Tigray, and with the forces under his command, they played significant roles in the Ethiopian Christmas Offensive, the First Battle of Tembien, and the Second Battle of Tembien and on 31st March 1936, he stood with Emperor Emperor Haile Selassie at the Battle of Maychew; with the Italian occupation, he chose to stay and fight the invaders, but finally surrendered and submitted, he was kept under "house arrest" in Addis Ababa, after liberation, he was able to retain his position as Shum of western Tigre Province and was a member of the Crown Council from 1945 until his death; in 1943, the "Woyane Rebellion" broke out in southern and eastern Tigray Province and he was suspected of supporting the rebels, consequently he was recalled to Addis Ababa and replaced as the Commander of the Army in Tigray; in 1947, he was made Governor of eastern Tigray as well as of western Tigray, as a result, he was Governor of all Tigray Province, which he held till the end of his life; in December 1960, the Imperial Guard launched a coup d'état and seized power in Ethiopia while the Emperor was on a visit to Brazil, the coup leaders compelled the Imperial Crown Prince to read a prepared radio statement, in which he accepted the crown in his father's place and announced a government of reform; however, the regular Army and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church both refused to accept the new government, the Emperor returned to Ethiopia and the Army stormed the palace where members of the government were being held prisoner by the Imperial Guards, the Guards fled, but not before killing many members of the government and the nobility that had been held prisoner in the Green Salon of the palace, he was amongst those who were machine gunned to death; married 1stly, Woizero Tuabech Mikael, daughter of Negus Mikael of Wollo, and his wife, Woizero Manalebish, married 2ndly, Woizero Debretu of Gondar, married 3rdly, Woizero Atsede Assefaw, daughter of Dejazmatch Assefaw Darge of Shoa, and had issue. He was killed on 15th December 1960 in Addis Ababa.
    • Dejazmatch Kassa Seyum
    • Leult Walatta Israel Seyum (by Woizero Tuabech), born 1906, she was a talented artist who liked to paint religious paintings and icons; married 1stly, Dejazmatch Gabre Selassie Baria Gabre, Governor of Adwa, born 1872, died 14th October 1930, married 2ndly, 9th May 1932 in Addis Ababa (div.1944), H.I.H. Meredazmatch Asfa Wossen, later H.I.M. Emperor Amha Selassie, 65th Emperor of Ethiopia, and had issue. She died 1988.
      • Dejazmatch Zewde Gabre Selassie, (by 1st marriage), born 1927, educated at the Haile Selassie I High School, at School in Egypt and then at Oxford University, and afterwards served in a variety of government posts, including district governor of Shire, Tigrai, Mayor of Addis Ababa 1957/1960, Ambassador to Somalia, Minister of Justice, Deputy Prime Minister in 1974 and Foreign Minister, he accompanied the Imperial family into exile in Britain during the Italian occupation in 1936, he was a noted historian and an unequalled source of information on the personalities of the Ethiopian monarchy, and briefly taught at Oxford University, before returning to serve in the final two cabinets of Emperor Haile Selassie's reign, and briefly served the provisional government as Foreign Minister until his voluntary exile after the events of November 1974; married Woizero Alem, and had issue, one son and two daughters.He died in December 2008 in Addis Ababa.
    • Woizero Hoy Kebedetsch Seyum (by Woizero Debretu), married Leul Dejazmatch Abera Kassa, and had issue (see Begamder).
    • HH Leul Ras Mangasha Seyum (by Woizero Atsede) (qv)
  • Dejazmatch GUGSA ARAYA SELASSIE, Governor of Eastern Tigray 1921/1932, born 1885 (or 1888), married 1917, H.I.H. Princess (Leult) Yeshash Worq Yilma, born 189x, died 1979, daughter of Dejazmatch Yilma Makonnen, Governor of Harar, and his wife, Woizero Assalafetch Wolde Hanna, and had issue, one son and two daughters. He died 28th April 1932.
    • Dejazmatch Haile Selassie Gugsa (qv)
    • Emabethoy Kirosawit Gugsa (Kiros) (Dejebirhan Monastery, Jerusalem)
  • Dejazmatch HAILE SELASSIE GUGSA, Governor of Eastern Tigray 1932/1935, born possibly in 190x, educated privately, he succeeded his father as Shum of Eastern Tigray on 28th April 1932, he was the commander in the Mek'ele sector when the Italians invaded Ethiopia on 3rd October 1935, and a week later he went over to the Italian side on 10th October 1935, and collaborated with the occupation authorities during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War and subsequent occupation of Ethiopia, during this time, he remained loyal to the Italians, who used him for propaganda purposes and honoured him with the title of Ras which had been denied him by Emperor Haile Selassie (which was not recognized in Ethiopia after liberation); he was temporarily placed in power in Tigray in 1941, by the British towards the end of the liberation of Italian East Africa by British, Commonwealth, and Ethiopian Arbegnoch forces, after liberation he was soon caught corresponding with the Italians, and placed in their custody in British held Asmara, afterwards he was removed from there and sent him to the Seychelles for safe keeping; in 1946, after continued requests for extradition, he was returned to Ethiopia, where he stood trial, and declared a fascist collaborator and a traitor in 1947; he was sentenced to death, but the Emperor showed him mercy and commuted the death penalty to life imprisonment; he was placed under house arrest at Gore, and later at Ambo for the remaining years of his life; that same year Eastern Tigray was merged with Western Tigray and was governed by Ras Seyum Mangasha as hereditary prince of all Tigray; he was freed in 1974, when the Derg abolished the monarchy, but they still continued to regard him as a fascist collaborator and as a traitor to his country and was carefully watched for the few remaining months of his life; married 14th July 1932 in Addis Ababa, HIH Princess Zenabe Worq Haileselassie, daughter of HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, and his wife, HIM Empress Menen. He died sp in 1975.
  • HH Leul Ras MANGASHA SEYUM, Governor of Western Tigray and Hereditary Prince of Tigray (see above)

1. Both of his parents claimed descent from the Solomonic dynasty, through his ancestor Ras Faris the Great, and his father used the title Abeto, a prince of the imperial cadet line.
2. Other lifespans given by different sources are 1686-1780 and 1693-1775.
3. Some historians date the beginning of the "Zemene Mesafint" era of the decline of the monarchy and the rise of the regional aristocracy and the fragmentation of state power, to the murder of Emperor Iyoas I on the orders of Mikael Sehul.
4. Estimated age of 64 in 1809 in "A Voyage to Abyssinia and Travels into the Interior of that Country [1814]" by Henry Salt (London: Frank Cass, 1958), p. 325