Menas of Ethiopia

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Mural depicting Emperor Menas slaying an Ottoman Turk at Ura Kidane Mehret Church, Ethiopia
Emperor of Ethiopia
SuccessorSarsa Dengel
Wag, Ethiopian Empire
ConsortAdimas Moas
IssueSarsa Dengel
Lesana Kristos[1]
Regnal name
Admas Sagad I
HouseHouse of Solomon
ReligionEthiopian Orthodox Tewahedo

Menas (Ge'ez: ሜናስ, romanized: mēnās) or Minas, throne name Admas Sagad I (Ge’ez: አድማስ ሰገድ, died 1563), was Emperor of Ethiopia from 1559 until his death in 1563, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was a brother of Gelawdewos and the son of Emperor Dawit II.

Early life[edit]

According to a genealogy collected by James Bruce, Menas' father Lebna Dengel arranged Menas to be married to the daughter of Robel, governor of Bora and Selawe; upon becoming empress she took the name Adimas Moas. They had two children, Fiqtor and Theodora.[2]

During Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi's invasion of Ethiopia, Menas had been captured but treated well as a valuable prisoner. The typical fate of prisoners of war at the time was to be castrated and enslaved.[3] This clemency came to an end in 1542, when the Imam, desperate for help from his fellow Muslims, included Menas in an assortment of extravagant gifts to the sultan of Yemen in return for military aid. However, Imam Ahmad's son was later captured in the aftermath of the Battle of Wayna Daga, Gelawdewos used his prisoner to recover his brother Menas; according to Pankhurst, "when the royal family was reunited there were many days of celebrations."[4]


Menas was crowned emperor at Mengista Samayat, now called Mengisto, southwest of Debre Werq in Gojjam, and shortly afterwards he campaigned against the Beta Israel in Semien province.[5]

Menas made no use of his ancestors capitals in Shewa and Fatagar or of his predecessor's (Galawdewos) in Wej, and instead He established his residence in Guba'e (now known as Emfraz) a settlement located near Lake tana.[6]

He banished the Jesuit bishop André de Oviedo and his companions to a village between Axum and Adwa called Maigwagwa (Tigrinya may gwagwa, 'noisy water'), which the Jesuits had optimistically renamed Fremona, after the missionary Frumentius.

About one year into his reign, Bahr Negus Yeshaq rose in revolt in Tigray against Menas, proclaiming Tazkaro, the illegitimate son of Emperor Menas' brother, Yaqob, as negus. Tazkaro was supported by the leader of the Portuguese who had followed Cristóvão da Gama into Ethiopia, and allegedly by "the Prime Men of the Kingdom."[7] This revolt occupied Menas' attention for the remainder of his short reign. He marched into Lasta, at which point Yeshaq retreated into Shire. The emperor found him there and defeated Yeshaq, then turned south to Emfraz where he defeated the remaining supporters of Tazkaro on 2 July 1561. Tazkaro was captured, and Menas afterwards ordered him thrown from the rock of Lamalmon to his death.[8]

Bahr Negash Yeshaq then obtained the support of Özdemir, the Ottoman Pasha of Massawa, and proclaimed Tazkaro's infant brother, Marqos, nəgusä nägäst. In April 20, 1562 Emperor Menas defeated, or at least put to flight, Bahr Negash Yeshaq and his Turkish, Arab, and Portuguese allies.[9]

According to the Royal Chronicle of his reign, which Bruce follows in his account, the Emperor fell back to Atronsa Maryam to regroup for another assault on the Bahr Negash, but came down with a fever during the march, and died at Kolo on 1 February 1563.[10] Budge, however, states Minas returned to Shewa, and then to the lowlands of Wag, where he was seized by the fever and died after a short illness.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Budge, E. A. Wallis (1928). A History of Ethiopia: Nubia and Abyssinia (Volume 2). London: Methuen & Co. p. 356.
  2. ^ Bruce, James. Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1805 edition) vol. 4 p. 97, editor's note.
  3. ^ Whiteway, R.S. (1902). The Portuguese Expedition to Abyssinia in 1541–1543. p. xxxiv. OL 6934058M.
  4. ^ Pankhurst, Richard (1967). The Ethiopian Royal Chronicles. p. 72f. OL 5646190M.
  5. ^ Huntingford, G.W.B. (1989). The historical geography of Ethiopia from the first century AD to 1704. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-19-726055-5.
  6. ^ Pankhurst, Richard (1997). The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century. The Red Sea Press. p. 285. ISBN 978-0-932415-19-6. Archived from the original on 12 March 2023. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  7. ^ Letter of Emanuel Fernandez to James Leynez, dated 29 July 1562, cited in Baltazar Téllez, The Travels of the Jesuits in Ethiopia Archived 12 March 2023 at the Wayback Machine, 1710 (LaVergue: Kessinger, 2010), p. 142
  8. ^ Bruce, Travels, vol. 3 p. 231
  9. ^ a b E.A Wallis Budge, Ethiopia and the Ethiopians, vol. 2 p. 359
  10. ^ Bruce, Travels, vol. 3 p. 234
Regnal titles
Preceded by Emperor of Ethiopia
Succeeded by