Emperor Minas: Admas Sagad

When Emperor Gelawdewos died in battle on Good Friday, 1559, he was succeeded by his brother Emperor Minas. Years earlier during the reign of their father, Emperor Libne Dengel, Minas had been captured by the forces of Gragn, and sold into slavery to the ruler of Yemen, Zebid Pasha. Emperor Gelawdewos captured Gragn’s son in battle, and traded the Imam’s son for his own brother, and Minas returned from his inslavement in Yemen. One of the first acts of the new Emperor Minas upon assuming the throne, was to declare that his wife, Empress Silus Haila (also known as Admas Mogasa), would have presidence over his mother, the Empress Seble Wongel. This in effect removed Seble Wongel as major power in the Empire. The Dowager Empress was a very popular woman because of the many hardships she had endured over the years of the Gragn wars, and the Emperorwas seen as an ungrateful son. Emperor Minas had difficult relations with the Portuguese Catholic clergy that had accompanied the soldiers to Ethiopia to war on the Moslems. This was caused initially with their continued efforts to bring the Ethiopian Orthodox Church into the the Roman Catholic faith. This was agravated when the Bahir Negash Yisaq, ruler of what is today Hamasien in Eritrea, rebeled against the Emperor, and proclaimed the Emperor’s nephew, Tezkare Qal, as the new “Emperor”. The Bahir Negash was briefly successful, but the new “Emperor Tezkare Qal”, in a rash act, rushed forward to attack his uncle, and was soundly defeated at Wegera, and captured. Tezkare Qal was thrown off the cliffs at Lemalemo to his death. Bahir Negash Yisaq then proclaimed Tezkare Qal’s brother Fasiledes as “Emperor” and entered into an alliance with the Turks to fight Minas. During all this, the Portuguese clergy were preaching from the pulpit about the corruption of the Emperor and his court and his own failings as a Christian. They made no secret of their sympathies with the Bahir Negash and the rival claimants. Learning of this activity, Emperor Minas summoned the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Portuguese in Ethiopia, Andreas Oviedo, and ordered him to stop preaching. The Bishop angrily refused to do so, and the enraged Emperor is said to have grabbed the cleric’s beard and collar and threatened violence. However, they were separated by some attending nobles, and Oviedo was placed under house arrest. Minas ordered that no Portuguese would be allowed to marry an Ethiopian woman, as had occured frequently already. Oviedo issued a rival order telling his flock to disregard the Emperor. Minas had Oviedo brought back before him, and ordered him to explain his treason. Instead, Oviedo undid his collar and told the Emperor to hit him again, or perhaps behead him. The Emperor is said to have grabbed a sword from an attendant and was about to oblige him, when the Empress and some nobles interceded and saved Oviedo’s life. Soon afterwards, the Catholic priests escaped from their imprisonment and fled to the camp of the Bahir Negash and the claimant Fasiledes. Angrily, Emperor Minas marched north and crushed the forces of Bahir Negash Yisaq, but was unable to capture the Catholic priests because they had once again fled. He had to quickly turn back south to crush an uprising of Oromos in the Shewan district of Doba. During this campaign, the Emperor became ill with Malaria, and died shortly there after in 1563, after a reign of only six years. He was buried at the Church of St. Mary at Tedbabe.