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The reigning Emperor designates his successor from members of his own family. Primogeniture is preferred, but is not necessarily followed. Candidates for the succession must be descendants of the Solomonic dynasty, in the male or female line. They must also be practising members of the Ethiopian Coptic Church ad their candidature must be approved by the Imperial Crown Council.
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Ethiopian Imperial Orders & Medals

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The founder of Ethiopia (or Abyssinia) and the founder of the Imperial dynasty are held to be Menelik I, son of Solomon, King of Israel, and of Makeda, the Queen of Sheba. According to legend, the brother Kings Ella Abrecha and Ella Asbeha, together with their mother, were converted to Christianity by the Coptic monk Frumentius of Alexandria in 330 AD. Their successor, King Kaleb, considerably expanded the kingdom to include parts of South Arabia. However, the state came under increasing pressure from the expanding Islamic world, gradually being pushed back into the interior of Ethiopia. The Solomonic dynasty lost power to the Zagwe dynasty of Lasta from 1117 until 1268. The former being confined to their traditional fiefs in Showa. According to legend, the Ethiopian Saint Takla Haymanot persuaded Emperor Nakuto Le-Ab to relinquish power in favour of Tasfa Iyasus, a descendant of the Solomonic dynasty. The settlement so engineered, granted the head of the Zewde dynasty the hereditary title of Wagshum together with rule over the Wag region and precedence immediately after the Emperor, together with the right to be seated in his presence on a silver throne one step below his and to the right. Tasfa Iyasus was crowned as Emperor Yekonu Amulak in 1270, and became the ancestor of a line of Emperors who ruled for six hundred years. They succeeded in strengthening the state and expanding their power under several able rulers, including Emperors Amda Seyun I and Zara Yakub. However, increasing threats from surrounding Islamic states prompted an alliance with the Portuguese and a reproachment with Rome. Although initially helpful in stemming the Islamic threat during the sixteenth century, by the early seventeenth century, rivalry between the Roman and Coptic churches had become acute. Emperor Susenyos [Malak Sagad III] was eventually forced to abdicate in favour of his son as a consequence. During the reign of Iyasu the Great, a shift in power at court resulted in the rise to prominence of a number of Galla nobles, eroding the powers of the traditional supporters of the dynasty from Tigray and Amhara. By the end of the eighteenth century, these Muslim Galla noble families were continuously competing for the important positions at court. The Emperors were gradually reduced to puppets. Princes of the dynasty being raised to the throne and deposed with the ebb and flow of military strength amongst the Gallas. This period being known in history as the Zamana Masafint or "Era of the Princes". The provinces regained much of their autonomy, but this resulted in increasing competition between the local rulers. Dejazmatch Kassa, a minor nobleman from Qwara, at the battles of Taqusa and Ayshal, defeated the Gallas in 1855. He did away with the practice of appointing a puppet Emperor, and assumed the Imperial mantle himself as Emperor Tewodros II. He came into conflict with most of his neighbours, and incurred British wrath by imprisoning several British representatives. A punitive expedition under General Napier resulted in Tewodros committing suicide in his mountain fortress at Magdala in 1868. A short period of chaos ended with the seizure of the Imperial crown by Wagshum Gobaze, of Lasta, as Emperor Takla Giyorgis II. He was in turn defeated in battle and imprisoned by another provincial lord, Kassa Mirtcha of Tigray, in 1871. Emperor Yohannes IV died in battle against the Mahdist invaders from the Sudan. His long-time opponent, Menelik II, King of Showa, stepped into the Imperial breach in 1889. As a direct descendant in the male line, from Emperor Lebna Dengel, Menelik's accession marked the restoration of the ancient Solomonic line. *

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Coronation Traditions in Imperial Ethiopia

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